Wednesday, January 25, 2017


January 25, 2017 marks the official five year anniversary of our move to Portland, Ore. I have already documented our relocation process and adaptation to life in the Pacific Northwest in several blog posts,
When Less is More (i.e. The Big Purge) and For the Love of Portland so I thought I would take this opportunity to summarize what has happened over the past five years.
This is all we brought with us!
We moved here without jobs, without a car, and having never seen the furnished apartment we rented via Craigslist for the first four months. Greg started looking for full-time employment right away, while I got steady work as an extra on Grimm, Leverage, and Portlandia. I also immersed myself in the local beer scene, primarily by volunteering at all of the festivals. We spent all of our spare time exploring Portland and its suburbs on public transit, and occasionally rented a car for excursions to Hood River and Mt Hood, the coast, and Bend.
Alethea the TV cop
Greg started working for Cambia Health Solutions as a Problem Management Analyst in June, 2012. We extended our lease at the first apartment off SE Hawthorne Blvd as it turned out to be a great location and nice set-up for the time being. I had a very lucky year in the sense that I frequently won local contests including a new bicycle, a prize package worth over $2,000 from Portland Monthly magazine, and much more. I was less fortunate health-wise as the hip pain I started feeling just before we moved became almost unbearable. Once we had insurance through Greg’s new employer, I was able to see a doctor and determine that I had a torn labrum that would require surgery.
I won a bike!
2013 was the year of surgeries, physical therapy, and maxing out our out-of-pocket medical expenses. After six months of rehab from my hip surgery, which took place in mid-January, during which time I also had sinus surgery in late April, I developed severe pain and audible grinding in both knees. Even after more physical therapy specifically for my knees, along with Synvisc injections to help lubricate and cushion the joints, I still wasn’t getting any better. It doesn’t help that, in August, we moved into Irvington House, where I took on the role of full-time caretaker of the licensed vacation rental. This added a physical labor component to my daily routine, which was not the best thing for my knees. Within a few months my doctor recommended I have arthroscopic surgery, which we scheduled for December 31, 2013. The year was not entirely bad; we still made time for adventure and travel, including a two-week trip to Alaska, visits from family, and a winter vacation in Southern Oregon.
Rehabbing after my hip surgery in a CPM machine
Needless to say, 2014 started out pretty rough for me. After double knee surgery on New Year’s Eve, physical therapy was a long and arduous process. It took much longer to be pain-free than after my hip surgery and, even then, it seemed like I would never regain full mobility. I also developed severe pain in my upper back and neck, which required additional physical therapy as well as epidural steroid injections. Thankfully I had other things to look forward to, particularly travel planning. We took a wonderful trip to Europe in the spring, hosted several friends and family members throughout the year, and drank copious amounts of local craft beer. I also started writing for Oregon Beer Growler magazine, and I helped Greg prepare for his first marathon. All of this occurred while I continued to work as the caretaker of Irvington House.
At OHSU for physical therapy after double knee surgery
After another busy year, we wanted to start 2015 with a relaxing vacation. A 10-night cruise to Mexico out of San Francisco fit the bill, so that’s how we spent part of February. Little did we know how much things would change over the next few months. After much deliberation, Greg decided he wanted to look for another job as he just wasn’t happy at Cambia. Meanwhile, I was getting tired of the physical labor and being on call 24/7 that was required with my job at Irvington House. It turned out I didn’t have to quit; the owner’s sister and her husband had recently relocated to Portland and needed a place to live, so we were given short notice that we needed to move.
You can't see it clearly in this photo, but we're swimming with a whale shark in La Paz, Mexico!
Just as we got this news, I was departing for a one-week vacation in Alaska with my mom’s extended family. I had recently started doing freelance writing work for Brewery Consultant Group as well as helping out at Culmination Brewing as needed. Greg’s youngest brother got married in Indianapolis in early June so we flew there for his wedding. Thus, we finally started looking at apartments and even pursued the idea of buying a house in mid-June, but quickly hit a wall because of low inventory and high prices. Just when we thought we might have to leave Portland, Greg got a job offer from Trimet and I managed to secure us a lovely two-bedroom apartment on Mount Tabor. We moved shortly afterward, on the weekend of my 41st birthday.
This is the view from our deck at the new (and current) apartment. Mount St. Helens is visible on a clear day.
A few weeks later, on the evening on August 2, I got the kind of phone call you always dread. My beloved Uncle Jim, with whom I had just spent seven days in Alaska in late May, had taken his own life. I was beyond shocked. I immediately threw some clothes in a suitcase and got on the next plane heading east toward Indiana to be with my family and assist with the funeral arrangements. Jim’s death continues to affect me to this day but, even in the weeks after I returned home from the memorial service, I knew I had to keep my chin up and try to focus on the good things in my life. Thankfully, I had something to look forward to, as Greg and I had already planned and booked a two-week trip to Iceland in early September and we would also be traveling to Greg’s brother Doug’s wedding in Tennessee in October.
Cruising in Alaska with my family in May 2015. My Uncle Jim is the third person from the right.
2015 was a bit of a roller coaster ride so I definitely wanted and needed 2016 to be focused even more on what I enjoy most in life -- travel (and beer!). I succeeded, for the most part, by visiting seven states and nine countries on two continents in a total of nine different trips. I also helped Greg prepare for another marathon, started my own business, and spent some quality time with friends near and far.
Cruising the Panama Canal with our families in December 2016.
That pretty much sums up the past five years of life in Portland. As this post is already quite lengthy, I'll save the "future plans" part for my next post. :)

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