Update #5, Baton Rouge road trip, Wednesday, 8/19/15

The report on our China shipment is that it passed through customs, and we owe some money. We’re not sure for what, but we’ll find out later. Our stuff should begin traveling this direction after it arrives at the company’s receiving warehouse and gets sorted out into destinations. It could be here as early as the end of next week. Here’s hoping!

Judy and I made it to Baton Rouge this past weekend and had a great visit with Mom and Robert & Susan. She’s steadily improving and making progress from her broken leg in May. She gets really tired after a short walk around “The Haven”, but she’s making it, and isn’t fighting and arguing with the rehab folks like Dad regularly did.

Courtney flew in Saturday morning. We picked her up at the airport, and headed over to Mom’s for the day. I’ve been showing her lots of photos of our travels. Last summer, she was so “foggy” she didn’t see any of our cruise photos. We had a lot of trip photos she hadn’t seen, and she did a good job of staying awake while I worked through them.

We enjoyed some nice evening meals with Robert and Susan. I’d forgotten how large portions can be in restaurants in the US. We ate so much, and it was great. I’ve also traveled around Baton Rouge enough now that I’m beginning to feel comfortable with finding my way around.


Some Baton Rouge beignets.

Sunday morning, we finished off our Baton Rouge visit with a trip for all of us to IHOP. Afterwards, we started the drive home. There are some long stretches of road without much interesting scenery. Eight hours later, we dropped Courtney off at her apartment, and then headed to our place in Fort Worth. This was the first “road trip” Judy has taken since we left for China. She’s not sure which she dislikes the most, flying, or driving.


Good times at IHOP!

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On our way out of town we stopped at the Louisiana Capitol Building.


Checking out the Mississippi River.

Back in Fort Worth, we settled back into our Fort Worth schedule of morning exercise and afternoon job/errand completion. I’ve started playing table tennis with the DFW Table Tennis Association. They play in Las Colinas on Monday evenings, and Saturday mornings. There are lots of good players. I’m going to have my hands full trying not to be the worst player in the group.


Update #4, Wednesday, 8/12/15

There’s no new info on our China shipment. I guess it’s still stuck in Customs.

We continued our morning exercise schedules, and are beginning to get past the “pain” a little bit. We spent a couple of days looking for a media center, but had no luck. We did find some furniture for our balcony area. We picked out a tall table, and two chairs. We plan on enjoying some time outside, enjoying the view. It was delivered on Tuesday (Tuesday, again).

We thought we might be making a trip to Baton Rouge this week to visit my mom, but we couldn’t get things to line up right. Maybe next weekend will work.

We enjoyed “Friday Night at the Modern”. The cafe served a really nice meal, and then we enjoyed live music in the lobby. It’s so weird to look out the window of the café and have such a good view of our condo.


Looking out of the Modern Cafe toward our condo building in the background.


We’re beginning to realize that an “estate/liquidation” sale of all our stuff in storage is gonna be hard to set-up. We don’t have a place to hold it, and none of the estate sale specialists have any advice on where to have it. They don’t have places to big enough to spread it out and look at it. We’re beginning to look for some other options.

I did a mini-project on our closets. We’d already had Elfa shelving installed in our closets. We’ve been here long enough now that we decided to add a few more shoe shelves. We’ve got lots of shoes still coming from China, plus whatever is in our storage vaults. I managed to make some adjustments and found room to add 2 more shoe shelves for my shoes, and 3 more for Judy. I think we now have 15 shoe shelves, and it’s probably not enough. I’ll be glad when everything arrives, and we can get it all put away.


Some of our new sliding shoe shelves.


Update #3, Walking around, Wednesday, Aug. 5

The latest news on our China shipment is that Customs flagged it. This should add about two additional weeks to our delivery schedule. It’s not a surprise, but sorta frustrating.

We’re beginning to get into a schedule, of sorts. Judy goes out early, around 6:30 am and walks around the area. She’s having a blast checking out all the sculptures and outdoor art around the Cultural District. After her walk, she returns to the condo for breakfast and then a trip to the spa to work on the tightness in her right leg. She hurt it running in Beijing back in April, and it’s still bothering her some.


Fort Worth Museum of Science and History

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Cowgirl Hall of Fame



Kimbell Art Museum

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The Modern



Looking back up to our condo.

I’m getting out of the condo around 7:00 am to ride my bike around the Trinity Trails. I’m trying to stretch out my distance each day. I’m averaging 6 to 8 miles daily before my Chick-Fil-A stop for breakfast. Next, I head over to the gym for a workout, followed by a swim session. I’m swimming 1800 yards at least 4 times a week (at least right now). After my workout, I head back to the condo for lunch and whatever activity the afternoon holds.

Lately, we’ve been visiting furniture stores, finalizing purchases on more items for the new place. Tuesdays are turning into big delivery days. Last week we had a big delivery (bedroom furniture). This week, we had another big shipment of living room furniture (sofa, recliner, and chair/ottoman.) We’re still looking for a media center, for all our audio/video junk, and then the fun with lamps, tables, and décor items will begin.

Update #2, A little travel, 7/29/15

We’ve had a lot of travel since my last update. The first item is the status on our shipping. We’ve received word that our stuff arrived in Long Beach, but is waiting for customs clearance. The movers are not sure if our stuff will be selected for special customs handling, but they did say most of the stuff from China gets “special attention.”

I also found out that Judy’s final salary payment from the school has been deposited in her Beijing bank. I’ve begun the tedious task of daily jaunts to the ATM. Fortunately, there’s one close to the Chick-Fil-A where I eat breakfast after my morning bike ride. Since there’s a maximum daily withdrawal limit, I’ll have at least 10 days of ATM visits to access the money.

I drove to San Antonio (300 miles) to attend the Texas Bandmaster’s Convention (TBA) on Friday, July 24. I left early (5:00 am) to allow myself most of the day at the convention to wander around and let myself be seen and renew acquaintances. I’m trying to let people know I’m back in the US, if they need a judge or clinician. I was lucky enough to spend time with Roger Edwards and Cody Myers, the guys in charge of judges for Region 1 (Amarillo). They were in need of a judge for UIL Marching Contest on Oct. 17. Hooray! My trip to TBA worked.

Another friend I ran into, Dick Clardy, is the Director of Instrumental Music for Fort Worth ISD. His office in FW is less than a mile from our condo. He said he might be needing a mentor for several new teachers in his school district. I have a meeting with him Friday to talk about it.

I left San Antonio Saturday morning, and drove to Brady for the celebration of Judy’s dad’s 80th birthday. Judy drove in from Fort Worth with Brad and Courtney. The party was out at the ranch, and almost everyone was in attendance. We had a great time eating and talking, and eating and talking some more.


Judy, with her Dad, brother Stanley, and sister Nancy


Brad and Courtney with Papaw Knight


The family, out in the sun!


Same group, in the shade.

We had new furniture delivered yesterday. Some movers came in first and took out our old bedroom furniture and living room furniture. We found someone who could use it, and it’s in great shape. Next we had our new bedroom furniture delivered as well as a sofa-bed for our office/2nd bedroom. At the end of the day, our new mattress was delivered. It was a big day for the freight elevator in our condo.

Update #1, Cars, insurance, furniture, & exercise, 7/22/15

After a week, our sleep cycles are beginning to adjust. The jet lag has been easier coming from Europe where the time difference is 5 to 7 hours, instead of the China 13 hour adjustment.

First thing to take care of is our “wheels”. I changed our driver’s license address to Fort Worth. We had listed Courtney’s address in Dallas because the state needed a physical address, instead of a PO box. I also began the process of getting the title changed on our cars back to us, from the kids. That also involved getting our car insurance established again, not as easy as it sounds. First we were enrolled, then cancelled, then re-enrolled, and then cancelled again, and finally enrolled. Most of the issues were created because we had been out of the country with no insurance for two years.

We’ve begun the process of furnishing and decorating the condo. Most of our previous furniture was too large and over-sized. We spent two days with a decorator, developing a plan, and then going out and shopping furniture. Our 2nd day out, we purchased new bedroom furniture and a sofa bed for the office/2nd bedroom area. The new stuff was delivered yesterday, and we’ve been enjoying it.

Judy has begun to establish a workout schedule for herself of walking, and exercises. If we get a good schedule going from the beginning, it’ll have a better chance to “stick”. I found a gym 3 blocks away (walking distance) with a lap pool, exactly what I was looking for. I checked it out and signed up for a 6 month membership. That should get my exercise regimen kicked off. I also opted to get a trainer for a 6-month program. I have always needed someone looking over my shoulder to keep me on track. My first training sessions starts tomorrow.

While I was riding a bike in Beijing, I decided I would like to continue riding in Texas. I found a bike shop nearby and made a purchase. The nearby Trinity Trails, along the river, are a great place to ride. Monday, I started riding the trails and had a great time, but it is work. I have a feeling it’s going to be a love/hate thing on the bike riding.


My new wheels!

Now what? 7/15/15

Well, what now? We slept till we woke up (sometime around 3:00 am), and then began rummaging around for some food. It always takes a while for our appetites to adjust, as well as our sleep cycles.

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Looking out from our Beijing apartment


Looking out off the balcony from our new home in Fort Worth.

Over the last week or so, the reality that we don’t have anything in front of us has begun to settle in.   The part-time nature of what I had been doing has helped me with the adjustment, but Judy is just now enjoying the moment. After years of spending our summers planning for the next school year, our planning now is turning to setting up our new lifestyle.

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Looking up at our Beijing apartment building.


Looking at our building in Fort Worth.

We know we have work to do to get our condo set-up for full-time living. Until now, we’ve only been in it a few days at a time, before we would return to Beijing. We have LOTS of stuff in storage, and are increasingly aware that we don’t want most of it. We’ll have to set-up an estate sale or something.

We have to get our car titles transferred back to us from Brad & Courtney, and get the insurance in place. We need to get our iPhones setup for US use. Right now, our plan is to get new iPhones, unless we decide to wait for the new version of the phone in September.

Our Beijing shipment is scheduled to arrive at the docks in Long Beach at the end of July. I’m curious what kind of hoops we’ll have to jump through as it clears customs, and gets shipped to Texas

I guess the best way to “officially” finish up this blog would be to post a weekly update, until our stuff gets here from China, most likely near the end of August. There are bound to be some surprises as we get ourselves situated in the mean time.

Homeward bound! 7/14/15

We’ve got an 8:00 am flight, so we have to leave the hotel around 5:15.  I scheduled two taxis last night, hoping to guarantee we’ll have transportation.  Our six pieces of luggage, combined with Courtney’s luggage would overload a single vehicle.  The hotel had an early breakfast set-up for people like us, and we grabbed some food before departing.  The drive to the airport took about half an hour.  Check-in was smooth, and immigration and security were equally easy.  There were no crowds to speak of, especially at 6:00 am.

Our flight to Heathrow was smooth, and we arrived on time.  As we tried to figure out where our next gate was, we saw a big crowd gathered around a white board with flight updates.  Our gate had been changed, and the airport personnel at the white board were looking for people on our flight.  They grabbed us and two other couples, put us on an elevator and told us to follow the instructions of the guy on the next level.  Of course, no one was at the next level.  There was only one direction to walk, so we headed off. About a half mile later, walking down empty, deserted corridors, we saw some guy who pointed us to an elevator that took us down to a terminal area where we caught a train to our gate area. Whew!  That was a workout!

As we made our way to the gate, we were told we had been upgraded.  I hoped it was business class, but it was only up to the “extended leg-room” seats (whatever the British Airways title for those seats are).  It was still better than sitting in the really cramped sections, further back.  I had been trying to pay for upgraded seats since we first booked our flights in January, and couldn’t figure out how to get it done.  The trick British Airways has is that you can’t get an assigned seat until 24 hrs until the flight.  The only other option is to pay a sizable fee to guarantee the seats, which I had done, trying to make sure we would at least be sitting together.  Even paying in advance would only guarantee our seats in Economy.

Once on board, the flight was smooth, but long (around 10 hrs., watched lots of movies)  We arrived as scheduled, and breezed through immigration and security using “Global Entry”.  Brad picked up Judy & I.  Courtney called Uber.  We dropped Brad at his apartment and then drove on over to our condo.  We moved our suitcases in, and began the process of unpacking.  It didn’t take long for the excitement of being home to wear off, and the exhaustion of over 3 weeks of travel, touring, and jet lag to knock us out.  Our “China Experience” is officially over.

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This is what our packing situation looked like when we departed DFW, July 27, 2013, headed for Beijing.


This is what we looked like when we arrived back at DFW, July 14, 2015. The rest of our stuff is “on a slow boat from China”, scheduled to arrive sometime near the end of August.