July ’02

After coming home from Roche Harbor we settled into our cute two bedroom, 700 sq. foot rental duplex right in the middle of downtown Issaquah.  It doesn’t get much better than that.  We could walk to everything in town and lived right next door to the skate park.  We took our stuff out of storage and set up with the few things we kept before hitting the road.  Our friend Van hooked us up with a guy who we could borrow more stuff from and, well more on that whole thing later.

We lived on the bottom and three young single guys lived on top.

Ahhh…the taste of fresh picked blackberries that grow everywhere in Issaquah.  We would pick them anytime we went on a hike.  Sunny likes them a lot.

We also found Kurt Cobain’s house in Seattle and went to pay our respects as all Nirvana fans do.  We thought this was his house at first and asked a few of the neighbors if we were right.  Turns out we were not.  We were still honing our Pro-Fan abilities then.

We found Kurt’s house and for those of you who don’t know who Kurt Cobain was ~ he was brilliant.  Came from a small town in Washington.  Parents divorced.  Kurt lived under bridges.  He had passion.  He was bright eyed.  Started a band.  He started taking heroin.  He got famous.  He changed music as we know it.  He had a family.  He loved his family.  Bought a house.  Traveled the world.  Stood up against the music business.  He tried to get out.  But they wouldn’t let him.  Suicide sucks.  We love you Kurt.

There is a public park right next to his property that has been taken over by the emotion he left behind. We ran into the groundskeeper in front of Kurt’s old house and got to talk with him for a little bit (having kids helps make adults look a little less crazy fanatic like). The guy told us that the garage that Kurt’s body was found in had been torn down. The house sat empty for years before the current residents purchased it. They knew little about Kurt and his profound effect on millions of fans and the music industry. They soon learned. The groundskeeper told us there are always fans milling around the house, and most tend to be respectful and safe. However, there was one that found the gate open one day and came racing inside the grounds in her car, jumped out and ran inside taking snapshots of the place like some crazy paparazzi that doesn’t respect trespass laws. She left as fast as she came. Other fans throw mementos and flowers over the fence on a regular basis. There are candle light vigils held in the park on significant days in Kurt’s life. We miss you Kurt. But we gotta get back to Issaquah for the…

Fourth of July parade through downtown Issaquah.  Warning – lots of cheesy photos but cool to see tons of Dads involved.

Even if they were a little fruity.

Or a lot fruity. They were there. And that rules.

At the local park where we hang out often and now lived across the street from, the festival followed with some events and a pie eating contest.  The kids always have hated pie, but for some reason they started liking pie when they heard about the contest.  Hmmm.

What?  I like pie.  For real, I do.

OK, well, yes, yes I do like pie.  Why are you looking at me like that?

I love pie, emmm emmm good.

The kids have not touched pie since.  They do not like pie.  I repeat they do not like pie.

Yet another parade in Seattle, we have soooo many pictures of people we don’t know ~ Why do we do this?

Cuz ya wicked retahted. (…and that was an olympian)

Greg was a little too excited to find our Bronco that we had to sell when we hit the road. It was our favorite ride in the whole world, ever. We found it back in Issaquah after some serious use by the guy that bought it.  We got the Bronco after we bought our first new car ever, a baby blue Ford Windstar Minivan in Austin, TX.  So not us.  Well, as we drove our minivan around our son Austin started gymnastics at a local place and we ended up with a ‘My son is in gymnastics at…’ bumper sticker.  Jenn remembers thinking should I put it on the minivan?  YES, she put it on the minivan!!!  Gahhh…What the heck would you do in a situation like that?  Well, after that our friend Greg Hudgins saw it and flipped out.  You see Greg is cool, and he fell on his knees screaming ‘You didn’t, NOOOOO you didn’t put the gymnastics bumper sticker on the minivan.‘  Crying profusely, he was shocked at our actions as a fellow cool long hair Austin dude.  After that we took the sticker off, but we already felt violated.  Soon after, we traded the minivan in for the Bronco (which cost us dearly, but was well worth it).  Big Texas tube bumpers, four wheel drive, and roll bar.  We then went to dinner with Greg Hudgins and afterwards proceeded to drive over the giant curb when we left.  Greg respected us again.

We then sold it to a young guy and was sure that it would have a good home.  Well, it did.  Notice the missing part of the bumper.  It also had a few more dents and the tires had clearly been used as in drunk spinning and smoking.  Used and abused as a strong truck should be. Good.

At the local community center we would often go and play with the kids.  They set the kids up with all kinds of programs and friends.  Good times.

Greg and our neighbor Mike would often stop the game for a Broadway musical.

Shannon is our friend and now Mike’s girlfriend.  We owned her before Mike did.  We became great friends with Shannon years ago when she moved from Apple Valley in California to live with our Tiger Mountain neighbor and her uncle, John Lennon (aka: Van). She had since rented her own apt and would come to our rental and spend time with us. Mike lived upstairs from us with those single guys that would complain about our constant partying, but he was one of the cool ones that would come party with us. He and Shannon did the hookup at one of our late night Raves. They have been together since Mike quit listening to the Tom Leykis radio show.

During our time in this rental, we would spread out and were actively working on what was next for us with work.  Had a lot of ideas and spent many hours working at them.  Spending time with Shannon and Mike was a nice break for us.

This is what happens when you park in our spot.

Shaun was Mike’s other roommate upstairs and took us out on his boat to wake board on Lake Sammamish.  These guys all worked for H.O. Water sports, formerly known as O’Brien, making wakeboards and accessories.  But the owner Herb O’Brien had a drug problem  and went to jail when he was caught smuggling drugs inside water-skis.  He was ordered to give up rights to his name and multi million dollar business when he went to jail.  But in true Trump style business, he came back, used his initials H.O. for the name, and built up his business to another multi million dollar business with new skis, wake boards, and apparel.  We were later invited to an employee party with Shaun and Mike at O’Briens estate.  It was wicked.

Video that we will probably never watch.

Shaun and these guys lived for wake boarding. All their money and time went to their sport which is probably why they didn’t like the crazy Family living downstairs.

These guys were living rich with little money. They worked to pay for what they love to do ~ got a deal on wakeboards and such and spent their money boat payments, an apt near the lake, a truck to tow the boat, and beer.

During our stay in Issaquah, we got to take a drive that we hadn’t done before on Chuckanut drive. Seriously ~ Chuckanut is not a sport but is a cool drive north of Seattle that winds along Puget Sound to Bellingham near the Canadian border. Bellingham is a really cool college town of just the right size and comes up on our list of places we could consider living for some time. Above is a view of Mt. Baker from Bellingham.  Volcanoes like this are a common sight in Washington ~ Baker, Rainier, St. Helens, Hood, and Shasta are all in the same chain of volcanoes in the area and are more powerful and unpredictable than people and nuclear weapons.  They are covered by glaciers and are only seen a few days out of the year because of the amount of rain and over cast skies in the area.

Back in the Seattle area, we saw the Blue Angels.  This is on one of the floating bridges going into Seattle.  Notice how long they are.  Right before the show the bridges are shut down to traffic and people are allowed to walk on the road.  We thought it would be very cool to walk to the middle and sit to watch the water and show.  We didn’t know that they were going to shut it down to people during the show… when that time came a guy had to walk all the way to the middle to get us and walk all the way back with us in front of thousands.  Embarrassing.

As road people, we learn that you don’t need to live in one place to build close friends and relationships. We talk to the Nodlands on the phone about once every 2-3 months and it turned out they were in the Seattle area when we were. We tend to stumble across each others paths around the country a couple of times a year. They came by to see us when we were in Issaquah with Akumi from Japan.  Akumi saw the NHK TV documentary in Japan that our two families were featured in (and how we met the Nodlands). Akumi contacted the Nodlands and asked if she could come over and travel with them for a few weeks.  She was going to college to study the travel industry and would actually get credit for this.  This would also be her first trip to America, so her dad arranged to come with her and check the Nodlands out before leaving her with them.  They spent a few days together and when he felt comfortable he went back to Japan and Akumi got to travel for two weeks with the Nodlands.  She had her first barn dance experience with them as well as seeing the desert.  She was impressed with the vastness of the desert, because where she comes from it is packed with buildings and people.  Nice socks Ed.  Real nice.

Mitch and Max Nodland have grown up on the road and their adventures are chronicled on roadschool.com. The Nodlands have been living in houses in Arizona and San Diego since around 2003 after something like seven years in an RV. They got the San Diego house (Mission Beach cottage) for a home school project where the kids were to learn how to purchase, renovate, and sell real estate after Max showed an interest in the real estate market and found a great deal on it in late 2002. They have since finished renovation and lived in it, let us live in it, and decided to keep it for some time. Then they found a great deal on a house with a big workshop in Arizona and bought it to build sand rails. One of their last road adventures before purchasing and living between the houses was to Alaska in the winter to run buffalo up the frozen Yukon to the sisters homestead. Can’t make this stuff up.

But what’s interesting is what happens from living on the road ~ you run out of stuff to see and do and challenge yourself to be creative in your adventures outside the box. It gets old to hear from people that can’t get out of the box ~ how do you do it? Assuming that you have to be rich to do something like this. Not the case. The Nodlands have a job that pays them a median income that they do over the internet, ie: telecommute. We used home equity that equaled less than a median annual income to cover expenses for about a year of traveling and brainstorming Family biz opportunities. We’ve met so many that live on the road working in construction, medical fields, internet and telecommuting, camp hosting, vending, performing, contracting, taking any job along the way and moving on. It’s being done by people that are no different than those that choose to spend their time and energy working ‘inside the box’.

Our boxes are just different and we only sleep and eat in them spending most of our time ‘out there’. Akumi was overwhelmed by the RVing Families staring at her.  When we first met her, she shook our hands and said ‘You veddee famous in Japan!’  After the Nodlands left us in Issaquah in our apt, we had this feeling like leaving everything behind again and hitting the road again.  We really missed the road after a year out there.  Not that we were unhappy, we just felt well, we weren’t sure how we felt at that time.

We have a lot of pictures showing how much fun we were having, but at the same time we were really struggling to figure out what to do next.  At this time we were considering lots of things and bought a huge dry erase board that we kept in the living room to brainstorm the ideas we were coming up with.  At this time we also started compiling all the pictures we took on the road and started organizing them for a website we first named GregJennandKids.com cause we couldn’t think of anything we liked.  We thought it would be a great way for friends and family to see what we had done in the past year.  We thought that our Family would be proud of the accomplishments we had made that year and the way we reconnected as a Family.  Hmmm…we would start learning more and more what it means to be part of a Family.  The good and the bad.  And we fit into both of those categories.  We worked for about six weeks at ideas of work ~ mobile marketing, Fuzion! (before we knew we would call it that and what it would become), t-shirt business, hot dogs, carnies, construction, etc…We would work for ten to twelve hours a day most of the time building the site and thinking of ways to generate income. We still had a little savings, most of which we didn’t want to touch but use to launch a biz.  And what’s up with this GregJennandKids.com business?  Lame!

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