Adkins At Large

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Some Hurdles Have Happy Outcomes, Part 1

It’s December 2017 which means in San Diego (and much of Southern California) it is Wildfire Season. Santa Barbara County is still burning as I write. This calendar year has been the worst fire season on record. Including massive wildfire losses in Northern California, earlier this year.

As such, the rental market in California is challenged. What has never been particularly affordable housing is now in great demand. Less home for more money, and more people clamoring for the “privilege” of shelling out big bucks for tiny homes.

Tim was a Fire Captain and I ran a Concierge Company. As a civil service worker and small business owner, we were comfortable but both worked very hard. As the economy ebbed and flowed, so too did our home ownership. We owned, rented, sold, and lost homes along the way, settling in as savers and renters patiently waiting for economic or market changes. We managed to get our two kids into great colleges, one in New York and one in Northern California, and retire while still in our fifties.

When our lease was coming to a close, our plan was to move into a smaller place, better suited for empty nesters, and perhaps relocate to Northern California. Then came the Napa Fires. We knew from experience in San Diego how devastating massive wildfires impact the community, especially the rental market. Now what?

This is where our hurdles have actually helped us be better prepared for what is to come next. Getting bounced around by our lenders and landlords was a hassle but it helped us learn to be flexible and react quickly to changes. We can make the best of any situation, we know because we’ve done it. We have reduced our footprint, learned how to live with less and embrace the things that really matter. We started to think a bit more outside of the box. Since we were were planning on relocating and renting, there really was no restriction on where we could move as long as it was within budget. We started thinking of “what if” scenarios. What if we could live anywhere in the world? Where would we want to live? I started researching things like, “What is the weather like in February in Ireland? (cold!) In Italy? (warmer) Italy, hmmm. Italy!

More Soon


50 Days!

We are just 50 days away from our move to Italy!

We are all-in now: have given notice on current lease, secured our loft in Tuscany (initially for two months), booked our flights, transfers, and have our all-Italy Eurail passes in hand.

Still have checklists but are starting to tick off most of the details.

Wine Tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley

June 2016 was a pretty big month for the Adkins clan. Our daughter graduated high school and Tim retired on the same day!

Dad retires, daughter graduates on same day!

Dad retires, daughter graduates on same day!

After the graduation festivities with friends and family, Tim and I took our first “untethered” trip together to kick-start his retirement. To be honest, he has been away at work for 24-76 hrs at a time when he was a firefighter, so hanging out together without a tight window of time is a new experience for both of us. So far, so good!

Tim is a winemaker and loves trains so we took Amtrak out of San Diego direct into Santa Barbara, then rented a car and drove to the Santa Ynez valley. We bought business class seats — it was worth it! This is a busy route, particularly in the summer months. The train was completely full and every seat in Business was reserved.

Boarding Amtrak in San Diego

Boarding Amtrak in SD

You get a little extra leg room, complimentary newspapers, coffee, juice and pre-wrapped pastries in the morning and a “snack pack” with munchies and one free water, wine or beer delivered to your seat.  The route is mostly along the coast and is quite a lovely ride. The nearly 5 hour journey goes by faster than you think it will.  Leaving San Diego, sit on the left side facing north to get the best oceanfront views as you roll north through Del Mar, San Juan Capistrano, San Clemente and eventually Ventura and Santa Barbara. We went the week that the Sherpa Fire was going and we didn’t experience any smoke or ash, just a whiff of smoke, once in a while. From the Santa Barbara train depot we walked .3 miles to Avis and rented a car. It’s a 40 minute drive to Santa Ynez.

santa-ynez-innWe stayed at the surprisingly upscale Santa Ynez Inn in the center of the small town of Santa Ynez, within walking distance to wineries and less than a mile from the Chumash Casino Resort where there is a very nice spa and casino. Mid-week has great discounts and most of the local tasting rooms are open 7 days, but check first as some are not and others are reservation only. Our first floor room had extra-high ceilings, a quaint courtyard patio and very large bathroom with jet tub and a gas fireplace in each room. Also included are daily breakfast, happy hour with tastings from local wineries and a dessert bar.

A friend from Solvang (yes, people really are from Solvang) gave us a short list of her favorite tasting rooms and also a few nice spots for dinner.  A great local tip she shared was heading first to the fantastic El Rancho MarketPlace where you can pick up snacks and picnic supplies. Try the BBQ Tri-Tip sandwich!

We took our time meandering through the various wineries and will cover our favorites in future posts.  Cheers! — Cynthia


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