Friends and family members were worried about last week’s post. Sorry about the cliff hanger! Before you continue reading, I want to clarify a few things; we are not moving back to Portland nor are we having kids. With that out of the way, I’d like to share some big news!
When we moved from Portland to Northern California, we planned on staying at the ranch for a few weeks and then moving further south to Chico. We opted to stay at the ranch because it’s peaceful, quiet and beautiful. Also, we wanted to give rural living a try and it’s been a delightful five-month adventure. I love having my in-laws as neighbors and waking up to Mt. Shasta everyday is an awe-inspiring gift. In addition, the ranch has been a great place to write, take photos, and to reconnect with nature.
There are a lot of benefits to ranch life and there are also challenges. For us, one of the biggest challenges is being car-free. I love cycling in this area. Yet, being twelve miles from town makes a daily bike commute difficult. I’m a strong cyclist, but my knees can’t handle a twenty-five mile bike ride everyday.
There is public transportation in Siskiyou County, but it’s not easy to access. The closest bus-stop is five miles away, in Montague. Also, there is no Greyhound bus depot or train station in Yreka which makes it a challenge to visit my mom in Red Bluff and friends in Portland. The closest train station is in Dunsmir and the bus depot is in Weed; both are 45 minutes to an hour south of the ranch. Luckily my mother in-law works in Weed, so when we take trips to Portland, Red Bluff or Chico we car-pool to Weed and catch the bus.
We could buy a car, but I have conflicted feelings about that option. Cars are expensive and I’m concerned that buying a vehicle would increase our cost of living, erode our health, and wouldn’t solve the challenges we face on the ranch. As I noted above, there are many benefits to living on the ranch. However, I’ve experienced cabin fever and a sense of loneliness out here. I work alone and since we’re so far from town, it’s been difficult to volunteer regularly and meet new friends. To mitigate this problem, we’ve been talking about renting a car for the rest of winter.
After making lots of lists and talking about our circumstances, we decided to move to Chico in the spring. It feels like the right thing to do at this point in our lives. Currently, we are working with a realtor to find a space for our little abode in Chico and Logan is scouting for teaching opportunities in the area. He has always wanted to teach at the college level and is hoping to find a teaching position at Chico State or at a community college in the area. Plus, we will be able to get around by bike and family is nearby. My brother and sister in-law live in Chico, my mom lives close by in Red Bluff, and it’s only a three-hour drive from Chico to the ranch. And since our house is on wheels, we can always move back to the ranch if circumstances change.
Thinking about our upcoming move is scary. I feel safe and secure at the ranch. But life never stays the same and things can change in an instant. For me, that lesson was reaffirmed over the weekend. I received news that our friend Nils died suddenly. Nils was a gentle giant; tall, kind, and funny. He immigrated from Norway to the United States as a teenager, built a life in the states, and has a wonderful family. He and my step-dad were friends for over 30 years and both Nils and his wife — Majean — were a constant source of support as my dad’s health declined last year. Hearing that Nils died so suddenly floored me.
I know that Nils and my dad are having a party in the clouds. And I also know they would encourage us to move to Chico, to try new things, and to be open to opportunities as they arise, even if those options are scary.