142. A New Year Begins

Monday 1/1- Being a holiday I had the day off but even so, we didn’t have any plans. Ramie decided early in the day that we should go for a Dusti ride and he wanted to take Skye with us. She has only been for one ride before, and we realized that the set up in the back seat wasn’t ideal for her, so Ramie has made a nice modification to hopefully make it easier for Skye to ride. Part of the problems that Skye was running into are that Dusti doesn't have easily removable rear seats, and that the floor is slippery plastic and has ribs, which makes it hard for Skye to stand on and hold herself in place. We brainstormed for a while and thought about what we could do to make the ride easier for her and came up with a few ideas. Ramie has found a way to make the flip up seats easier to remove and he cut a piece of plywood to fit the space where a person’s feet would go when you’re sitting on the seat, and finally we attached a rubber floor mat to the plywood so Skye could get some traction and hold herself in place. Basically, he made a removable carpeted floor. As far as a “seatbelt” to keep her in, we put her in her regular chest harness and attach a leash around the rollbar. It's kind of similar to the seatbelt attachment that we have for her in the car (of course, an ATV has a different seatbelt receiver than a vehicle so we couldn’t just use the store bought item that we have). She is still able to move around, look out all of the sides and front, but she won’t be able to jump or fall out.

For today’s ride we started by heading to the waterfall, but once we got there we saw it was pretty busy with families having picnics and swimming and decided we would keep going and do a “loop” similar to the one we usually do. Overall, the ride was around 20 miles and 2 hours long. Skye did pretty well and had a lot of firsts on this trip. At one point we saw a guy riding by on a horse and she certainly didn't know what to think about this new animal! She wouldn't stop barking even after the horse was well out of sight. She also saw her first cow and did the same thing. She seemed to figure out her balance and what worked best for her fairly quickly. She would put her head up in the wind when she wanted that but would hide behind the front seats when she wanted to get out of the wind. When the road got bumpy she would lay down so she wouldn’t bounce all over. We think that with a little bit more practice she’ll be a pro at this. One of these day’s she’ll live up to the name Skye the Adventure Dog. 

Checking the depth. We couldn't pass due to the increasing depth and very large rocks under the water that we could get hung up on.

This is so much fun!!!

We found a new road.  Definitely the road less traveled but it was a fun ride.

Skye was unsure about the waterfall. Sometimes she is such a chicken.


Tuesday 1/2- I'm a slave to the grind, so that tells you what my plans are for today… Loren and Nancy let us know that the were going to Panama to do their supply run and Ramie asked to go with them to look for a few items, but the main one being batteries for our gate. The gate to our driveway has battery backup so that you can still open it automatically if there is a power outage, but they aren’t a typical easy to find battery (even though this control arm was bought here in CR).

On the shopping run to the border they made the normal stops, gas station, liquor store for cheap liquor and City Mall for the main part of the shopping. Ramie said that it felt odd this time, because he bought so much less liquor than we normally do, mainly because we still have plenty from the last time we went.

Unfortunately, they didn’t have the batteries that we needed and Ramie was also disappointed in the cheese selection this time (good cheese is difficult to find in CR, last time City Mall had a fantastic cheese selection and we stocked up!) The only thing worth buying this time was pepperjack, so he bought 2 lbs. of it. He did find a few other things that were on our shopping list that are either tough to find or too expensive on this side of the border, and even a few items that were originally on our “bring from the US” list! They finished up their shopping and were back home by about 2:00.

Somebody is back to her old tricks again and hiding under the bed. I'm not sure how she fits under there any more but she seems to enjoy it there.
Thursday 1/4- Today Ramie was needed again to help unload another container. When he told me this I may have given him an evil eye, but Ramie promised not to overdo it and wreck his back again. It was a short day, only from 8 until noon; this container went a lot faster than the prior ones but he spent the entire time inside the container in the high heat doing a lot of physical work. I worry about him, but Ramie really enjoys doing it.

It was my day off, and while he was gone I just did various things around the house and a little bit of work for my side jobs. Nothing exciting at all, but all things that had to get done.

Friday 1/5- Happy 23rd Birthday Taylor!!!!!

Since I had more vacation than I really knew what to do with at the end of 2023, I figured now that the new year has started that I would take a few more days off to make a nice long weekend for myself. With Thursdays & Saturdays being my “weekend” days, and working on Fridays and Sundays, it’s not real often that I get a few days in a row off. When I have the opportunity to take a stretch, I will do it for sure! Life has been crazy lately and I was in need of a break so I took Friday off, but what did I do? Continuing education for work.

Sunday 1/7- To continue the long weekend, I took today off too. Sundays were easier to take off since no one is really looking for me or trying to get a hold of me, so as long as I can get all of my own normal work done the rest of the week, Sundays are a good day to take off. It worked wonderfully as it was a beautiful day today! I mean, it's usually beautiful here, but this morning felt especially beautiful. We didn’t have any plans so we decided to go for another Dusti ride, but this time without Skye. We have the ATV, we might as well use it, right!? We weren’t really sure where we wanted to go but we packed our little travel bag, water, the portable speaker and some music and headed out. As we were headed toward town I asked Ramie where we were going for today’s adventure and he just said something like “oh, I’m not sure, I guess I just naturally went this direction”. It turned out that we went on our usual loop past the waterfall but this time when we arrived in the small village near the top of the mountain we stopped to look at the map to see what else was back here. Ramie chose a different road through this area, which would eventually bring us back to one of the main roads where we’d be able to make our way back home. Today the weather in the mountains was perfect, it wasn't too cool like it sometimes can be, and it wasn’t so hot like it can be at home at sea level. The skies were even clear today so you could see for miles and miles; the views were amazing (but pictures taken on camera just never do it justice). We were home by early afternoon and enjoyed the rest of the day just relaxing.

This baby cow wanted to race up the hill. We let him win!

This is a rainbow eucalyptus tree. As it grows and the bark splits it shows it's amazing colors.  We have 2 baby ones in our yard but they won't look like this for a while.

We passed a kids soccer game in a small village in the mountains. We think it was some sort of tournament because there were all kinds of busses there.  We were truly curious how the busses made it there, though, because the roads in this area are rough!

We got stuck behind a tour group for a while, and this shows the downside to dry season. Its very dusty! Eventually the tour group let us pass.

Monday-Wednesday 1/8 – 1/10- What time is it?? It’s Ramie’s story time. Even though we’ve been in our house for less than 2 years, I’ve come to notice that we already have to paint the exterior. And when I say “we” I really mean just me by myself. After painting the interior of our houses back in MN, Dana isn't allowed to paint anymore (and she is very ok with that). The reason we are painting the house already is because when our house was built, the builder bought tinted primer that matched the color of the paint, primed it, and then just did one coat of paint over the top of the primer. I soon realized that there are sections of the house where you can see through the paint, and other areas that were just primer (like the eaves) or never even got painted the first time around. The house really did need a good paint-job.

We bought the paint a few weeks ago, and at the time we figured that we were going to keep the house a similar gray color, but I wanted Dana to come with just in case we decided to change the color; I wanted to make sure I had her approval. We had the original paint chips and codes that we chose when we built the house, but the store we picked those from has since closed. We also knew our builder didn’t buy the paint from the store that we originally picked the paint chips from either, so he went with something “close to” what we had originally chosen. We are not sure where or what colors exactly actually ended up on our house (interior or exterior) and kind of figured that we were going to have to guess. As it turns out, the store we bought the paint at this time actually had the color wheel paint chip cards from the store that we originally picked from (which is now out of business), so once we found our original chip we could then match it as closely as we could to the current store's selection. In the end we decided to go slightly darker than the original color that we had picked.

We had talked about hiring this out to a company to paint, but at the end of the day, I knew that it probably wouldn’t be done to my standards and would rather just do it myself. I would make sure to take off all of the exterior lights and things that are hanging up instead of just painting around them and would tape around all of the windows so I wouldn’t get paint on them, and I know a company that I would hire probably wouldn’t do the same. My intention was to paint the week between Christmas and New Years, but that obviously did not happen. So, here we are today, and I figure that it will take all week to do this right. My plan is to start on one side of the house in the early morning shade and as the day progresses, move to a different side that is in the shade. Because of the afternoon heat, I’ll probably only paint from about 8-12 to avoid the worst of it. Yes, if I hired a company to do it, they would probably get it done quicker and would probably work all day long, but I’ll do this at my own pace and be ok with that.

Day #1, Monday morning I got started bright and early, as soon as I was finished with my coffee. I had my music, water, and all my supplies ready and waiting. Lets get this going...  I chose to start on the side closest to the neighbor’s house, which was probably the most difficult side because of the close proximity to the fence and difficulty moving the ladder around. I started on the eve and then did the wall, and then went back to the eave again instead of just doing all of the eaves first. It took a while to get into a grove and I eventually realized I was making a lot of work for myself. So I focused on the eves first, then sections of the wall. I did have to mask off windows on this side of the house but I didn't have to remove any light fixtures, outlets, etc.. When the paint was on and mostly dry, I was in shock. The color that our builder had painted our house was much more blue (gray) than the one that we really actually picked out. I have no idea what color he bought, but we now realize that it wasn't even close to what we picked.

New color on the left, original color on the right.  See, not even close to what we picked out (more comparisons to come).

It was about 3:00 by the time I had finished for the day and had everything cleaned up. I was hot and exhausted and spent the next couple of hours relaxing. In the evening before it got dark I went out to look at the finished job and noticed that I had a lot of patchy spots that didn’t look good at all. My guess was that the reason it was patchy, was because I was moving all over the place at the beginning (instead of doing large sections) because of my shortcut to not have to go up and down so many times, and the overlap was just that obvious. UGH, I was hoping to get away with one coat of paint, but it was looking like this may require two coats.

Day #2, Tuesday morning I was off to a little slower start, but I knew I was only hurting myself by delaying. I decided to paint the opposite side of the house, closest to the jungle, today. Here I had to remove some lights and security cameras but, overall, not a lot. I had learned from yesterday’s mistake and this time I painted the eave first, then I moved to the wall without going back and forth. I also decided to try using the paint roller on a stick so that I could do bigger areas without having to move a ladder so much. I was amazed by how much quicker it actually was this way and how much smoother it looked. By the time I was done with the whole wall, where I started was already dry. While I don't think it really needed it on this side, I decided to do a second coat, which went even faster than the first. At some point I realized that the whole time I was out here I was hearing squawking but I was so focused on painting I really didn't pay much attention. I finally decided to look up to see if I could find the Macaws that were making all of the noise, and it didn't take long. They were directly above my head!! I had to take some time to snap some pictures, sometimes I wish I had a good camera with a big lens instead of just our phone cameras. 

Ok, back to work, after seeing how much better this side looked, I decided I would go back to the first side and do a second coat there too, this time with the roller on the broomstick pole. Even after my late start this morning, doing 2 coats on the jungle side and doing the 2nd coat on the neighbor’s side, I was all finished and cleaned up by about 2:00 today. Once again, this evening before it got dark out, I went to take a look at it after it fully dried and side number 1 was no longer patchy at all. Ok, now that I got this figured out, two more sides to go.

Day #3,Wednesday morning I started at 7am and chose to work on the front of the house next.

This side of the house gets the most sun and is for sure the hottest side of our house. I also had a lot of lights and outlets to take down as well as doors and windows to mask off. For the front, I also had to get up on the roof to do the small wall between the upper and lower sections. After I did two coats on the upper section of the roof, since I was already up there, I also took the opportunity to clean all of the screens and windowsills on those little windows. That doesn't happen very often since they are so high.  Since the hotter summer weather is about to be here, cleaner screens mean better airflow. I was off the roof by about 8:45, just as the sun was heating up the metal roof, and then I got started on the lower section of the front of the house. 

I was finished with two coats on the front of the house by 11.

In this picture you can see the huge difference in color. We like the grey so much more!  


Since I still had a lot of day left, and the back wall is in full shade, I might as well at least prep the back of the house. It didn't take long to remove everything and mask the doors and windows, so I thought I might as well start painting that too. That didn’t take long either and I was done painting and had everything cleaned up around 1:00. I took a short break, ate some lunch and headed back to the front of the house to get the lights and cameras reinstalled. By this time of the afternoon the front of the house is in full sun and it was HOT! I did the work anyway and everything was back to normal and I was done with both the front and the back around 3:00.

I really expected this project to take longer because of the sun and heat. I never thought that I would have it finished in 3 days. Now that it was finished, I am very glad that we decided to paint it and that I chose to paint it myself.  The house looks so much better. The color being radically different from the original is still a bit of a shock, but we like it and can't believe we didn’t notice at the beginning that it was not the color that we originally picked. My next painting project, if I can convince Dana, will be our living room and kitchen. We KNOW that this was not the color that we originally picked, and we actually kind of like the color, but I feel that it makes the house too dark, and I want to lighten it up, more like the color that we originally did pick.

Oh, what did Dana do this week? Well, she worked… big surprise there, huh?

Pura Vida!