Leaving the San Francisco Bay

www.pachd.com (photo credit)

Sometimes I can be so irrational.  Sometimes that can be a good thing.  I woke my husband up VERY late one night (or perhaps it was even morning already) after I read about the “next big one.”  It was an article describing how experts warned that the next big earthquake would be incredibly damaging to all the thousands of people living in the Bay Area.  The area of concern was most concentrated along the Hayward Fault.  Unfortunately, this was the same fault line that sat directly underneath our house.  We knew it when we bought our house back twelve years ago.  But when you are young and buying something as cool as a house for the first time, it is amazing what you are willing to look past in order to make your dream reality.  The experts had been expecting this for years, but with hardly any seismic activity in recent history, it was inevitable that the next quake could be catastrophic and could take place any minute.  The part that scared me the most was that BART (the Bay Area Rapid Transportation) was heavily relied on by most of the community as they made their commute towards San Francisco.

The article said that BART had only begun their underwater tube retrofitting.  Unfortunately for me, I take the BART train every single morning and evening for work.  It is about a forty-minute ride from Oakland to San Francisco.  I have been working as a Project Manager in hospital construction.  Hospitals are required to be built with earthquake safety in mind, as hospitals are a place of refuge in times of major catastrophe.  So I already had this heightened awareness about seismic retrofitting and safety.  I couldn’t believe that the tube had still not been retrofitted. But most importantly, I knew that if the next big one hit while I was at work, there were few ways that I could travel back to Oakland.  All transportation would be halted.  Even during regular commute times, traffic can be backed up for hours.  Imagine me trying to get back to check on my two boys, my husband, my two dogs and my home.  Or worse yet, I would be stuck in the BART tube under the water when the earthquake struck.  It was unimaginable to me.  I am extremely claustrophobic to the point where I have had several panic attacks on the train rides when they fill up with passengers.  So you can imagine the thoughts that run through me on a daily basis…..yes, I live in constant fear…..like I said, I can be irrational. 

With this latest article and the fact that the recent California wild fires had completely wiped out the city of Paradise, I felt it only right that I crazily wake up my husband up at 1am to explain that we needed to move.  This conversation needed to take place right then or maybe I would never have the courage to bring it up again.  He of course, did not exactly love the idea of discussing in that very instant.  It was dark and even though I couldn’t see the look of frustration on his face, I knew by his tone that he was not thrilled.  Lucky for me, my husband is still sweet to me after all my neurotic episodes over the years.  After talking through my worst fears and recognizing that the Bay Area was becoming more difficult for us to afford with two young kids, he hesitantly agreed that we should consider moving out of California.  For me this meant game on.  Full speed ahead!

Over the next few months, we poured over numerous Zillow house advertisements.   Locations ranged from Vermont, Colorado, Oregon and back to other areas of California.  The one stipulation was that we had to live closer to nature.  For me that meant skiing/snowboarding.  For my husband, that meant mountain biking.  We both grew up in rural areas.  I lived in northern Michigan right next to a couple of the local ski resorts.  I basically lived at the ski hill throughout my youth, skiing three days (Thursdays were called off to take a ski day) and two nights per week religiously.  Ryan, my husband grew up in Maine and New Hampshire where he learned all about his passions: fitness, training and bike racing.  We wanted to raise our two energetic boys in similar landscapes where they could spend countless hours enjoying the great outdoors. 

Oakland offers a ton of nature to explore with several regional parks in our back yard.  That was one of the many reasons we moved there in the first place.  However, with our work commutes, stressful school drop offs and juggling the city life, we were finding it harder to find time to enjoy what we loved even with it’s proximity to our home. 

After researching areas to live, we realized that living near skiing was not going to be so easy.  Most ski towns are incredibly expensive and do not offer many options in way of high paying jobs.  One day, I saw a Zillow post offering a reasonably priced Bed and Breakfast only minutes away from Killington Ski Resort.  It needed quite a bit of work but could potentially be a revenue generating business that Ryan and I could do together.  When I mentioned it to him, I was shocked that he admitted it was my best idea yet.   I thought for sure he would say I was crazy.  Even though he always heard me talking about owning my own business someday.  I talked endlessly about opening a small interior design shop, coffee shop or café since we were first married.  I even once opened an online webstore, which was more of a hobby than anything.  I didn’t actually take it farther than a few sales due to lack of storage space for the retail items or issues calculating the shipping.  After a few months, I closed it but it was a really fun to build up and I couldn’t let the idea of owning a business of my own someday. 

When he agreed to my idea of opening a B&B, the idea of moving became really exciting.  For the first time, I started to think that we might actually have a shot of starting a new life in a dream location while having a chance at owning my very own business. 

Looking for a bed and breakfast to own, is not as easy and glamorous as it seems.  Or maybe everyone else already knows this but it’s funny, I like to jump into crazy ideas and realize they are in fact, ridiculous and much more difficult than I thought to pull off after I have committed deeply into it.  I do not know why I do this, but Ryan sometimes thinks I am crazy.  This was another one of those ideas where I start out full speed ahead.  It is super fun to think about, I tend to obsess over it for a while. I spent hours researching the industry. After several long hours over many days, I realized that there is so much beyond my control to make this happen.  Most normal people would probably stop there, face reality and head back to their normal life.  However, for us turning back was not an easy option.  We lived in a small house and after having a second kid, we really needed another bedroom if it was to fit our growing family.  Buying a larger house was not going to be affordable or would end up landing us an added thirty minutes onto our already long commutes.  Maybe we could “afford it” but we would likely be paying a ridiculously high mortgage until well into our seventies.  That is an option but not one that appealed to me much. The thoughts of living right next to skiing, was the vision I held onto.  

I knew that if we could figure this puzzle out and just keep moving towards this, that it would be all worth it.  The question was, how in the world are we going to find one that fits our budget and our extensive checklist. 

We needed an Inn that was located within twenty minutes of epic skiing.  We preferred not to be at the type of ski resort where the lift lines were long, but somewhere with a local ski town vibe.  The skiing had to have nice long runs, yet difficult enough terrain to keep the us on our toes.  Ryan loves the back country, so any place that had plenty of that would be ideal.  The town needed to have good schools, a sense of community and of course lots of biking.  But how would we ever find a magical place that fit all the checkboxes?

(to be continued)

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  1. Congratulations on stepping out in faith! I live in Southern California, maybe I’ll be able to book a stay with you someday soon! Theresa (Vogel) Gatzke is my cousin, my Dad Dennis Hoffman is her first cousin. I was hoping to visit Michigan this September and see Theresa but it wasn’t in the cards for me to go. Maybe I can see her at your Bed & Breakfast! I promise to pay full price, no b.s. request for a freebie! I run my own business in SoCal, I know how it is when people want something for nothing. Best Wishes to you all! You’re brave to follow your dreams!!

    Liked by 1 person

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