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Archive for July, 2009

Greetings from the Land of Famous Potatoes

July 21st, 2009 at 04:26 pm

For the last two weeks, dh and I have been in Boise enjoying our second home. Most of the time the weather's been great but it's gotten very hot in the last few days. It hasn't stopped us from making some great summer memories, though.

Last week we spent two days in McCall, one of my favorite areas and about a two-hour drive from Boise. Payette Lake is in McCall and we found it to be very quiet and not at all crowded during the week.


For a reasonable fee, you can dock you boat at the marina. Payette Lake is popular for waterskiing, jet skiing, and fishing. There are abundant hiking and biking trails at the Ponderosa State Park.


Through our timeshare we were able to stay in a comfortable two-bedroom apartment with great amenities... we were able to cook some of our meals in the well-stocked kitchen.


We had fun watching the resident raccoon. I think he lives under the deck and comes out when he hears folks talking or grilling on the gas BBQ that is provided for guests. "Mmmm... can I have a piece of chicken, pleeeease?"


There was no cost to use the apartment, except for the annual fee that we pay. When you take into account these timeshare fees, it comes to ~$37 a day for accommodations. Not bad for a place that sleeps six.

We are finding that in Boise, most people are friendly and helpful. Life just seems slower-paced and simpler. We can go to the local theater complex and see a movie for $6.75 each (senior discount) and not worry about getting a seat. We went to see Harry Potter on the second day of its release. It was good... it was long and lacked the impact of the first movies, but still worth seeing.

Boise is a bike-friendly city. We've been riding our bikes quite a bit but since the heat wave started, we are riding less. The Boise greenbelt provides about 25 miles of paved pathway. It's great!

We went to the Shakespeare Festival on Saturday to see Comedy of Errors... it was a lot of fun, especially because DD1 and SIL went with us. We enjoyed a nice picnic dinner, followed by DDs homemade strawberry shortcake... which was decadently good.

Even grocery shopping in Boise is more enjoyable for me... you can actually find parking at Costco on a Saturday. That's a big deal for me because, back in Silicon Valley, we NEVER go to Costco on a Saturday due to the crowds and difficult parking.

I'm finding that the cost of living is much less in Boise, especially food and gas. I used Sperling's calculator and found that it is 42% cheaper to live in Boise than in San Jose. Housing is 62% cheaper in Boise than San Jose. This is good news for us because our retirement dollar should go farther when we move here permanently next year as planned.

In our neighborhood, it seems that the real estate market is perking up. Last year in June there were 40+ properties for sale (newly-built homes and lots). Now there are about 12. With a few exceptions, the homes in our neighborhood are well-cared for, thanks in part to our HOA that is doing a better job of monitoring CCR enforcement.

Our Boise home has limited storage so we are getting bids for adding a large storage area in the attic space above the garage. We will be getting two or three bids and will make our decision after we analyze the proposals. It will be interesting to see how ID construction costs compare to CA.

Carbon Footprint Update

July 8th, 2009 at 02:16 am

I'm happy to report that we continue to make good progress on the goal of reducing our carbon footprint by saving energy. Here is the analysis of our PGE bill (gas and electric) for the last three months compared to last year:

4/2008 $116.63
4/2009 $76.87
~35% less

5/2008 $94.53
5/2009 $80.31
~16% less

6/2008 $84.45
6/2009 $ 36.59
~56% less

The June figures are somewhat skewed because we were gone for several weeks, but I am still pleased that our usage has been lower each month in comparison to the previous year.

Ouch! A $254 mistake...

July 3rd, 2009 at 06:29 pm

I pay the majority of our bills via auto-payments that are easy to manage online and ensure bills get paid on time. One exception is our property taxes. Our Idaho taxes were due in June and I mailed the check well before the due date. When we returned from our vacation, the payment had been returned due to a .02 shortage on the postage. Two cents!! I guess I was in la-la land when postage rates were raised to 44 cents in early May. So, my 2-cent mistake resulted in a $254.49 late fee.

So, I mailed the tax payment again, along with the late fee and included the envelope that showed the original postmark. Then I called the Ada County Treasurer's office to explain the "check was in the mail." To my surprise, they informed me I will not be charged the late fee because the original postmarked envelope proves it had been mailed by the due date. Instead, they will return my check. Lessons learned: 1) Not all government agencies are unreasonable; 2) From now on, I will only buy the "Forever" stamps.