My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Decisions, decisions, decisions

There will be photos later on, I promise, but first, I have some thoughts to put into words for my own sanity, and maybe even another bad customer service rant to get off my chest before I get to the photos.

I am getting far enough along in my quest for a new place to live that I have begun to find the flies hiding in the ointment, and the hoops that I will have to jump through. Since I’m not going to have much of a down payment saved up, I will have to use a FHA loan to make the deal happen. I have learned that in order for FHA to approve the loan, the entire condo complex has to have been approved by the FHA in advance.

So, of course the condos that I liked best as far as looking online are not FHA approved, and that leaves them out, darn! They were mid-priced and had mid-levels of amenities, just what I was looking for. That leaves me with two options, go cheap, or go close to the maximum I want to spend right now.

Now I have many decisions to make, as part of planning the rest of my life also involves the purchase of a different vehicle to replace the Ford Explorer that I currently own, but is on its last legs.

If I purchase a really cheap condo, I can afford a brand new Subaru, which will probably be the last vehicle that I ever purchase. But, I’m not sure I’ll be happy in a cheap condo, and that means I’ll end up buying a nicer one later on, and moving one more time in my life.

If I purchase a condo that is on the upper end of what I can afford, it will probably do me for the rest of my life, but that means buying a cheap car that I know will have to be replaced in just a few years.

As part of the decision-making process, it helps to have some actual numbers to go by to help me make the decision. So, to that end, I paid a visit to a couple of car dealerships today in the attempt to get some real numbers. My first stop was the local Subaru dealership. There, I was waited on by a very nice young man, to whom I explained why I was there, and that it would be some time before I actually made a purchase. He grasped that no problem, and spent well over an hour with me going over Subaru’s product line and giving me numbers for their base models, and what my options for financing were. Now I have some real numbers that I can plug into a spreadsheet to help me set up my budget for when I make my move.

My second stop was at a local Ford dealership, and what a difference! I told the salesman why I was there, that I was in the planning stages of what I was going to do, and that I needed some information to help me decide. My first concern when buying any vehicle is will I even fit. I’m 6′ 6″ tall, and not a little guy as far as width, so I need to sit in a vehicle to see if there’s enough room for me.

(BTW, all the Subarus passed that test with flying colors. I owned a WRX at one time, the best vehicle I have ever owned, and it had a ton of head and leg room, even though it is based on Subaru’s smallest model.)

Anyway, looking around the lot, there were four Ford models I was interested in, and asked the salesman if he could grab the keys to one of each of the four models so I could see if they would even work out for me. He returned with the keys to one vehicle, a Ford Freestyle, and then he informed me he had other customers waiting, and that I should just look around. Once again I told him that looking at the outside did me no good, that I had to sit in them and see if they would hold all me gear and hold me, and I asked him if some one else could unlock a few of the other models I had in mind. He told me that he would be back, I waited half an hour in the hot sun, and gave up waiting. I forgot to mention that he was bad-mouthing the Freestyle and trying to push me towards a newer Taurus X or an Edge, both of which are well more expensive than I am looking to spend.

I headed over to the new truck section, as I wanted to check out a Ford Transit Connect van. Those are small delivery vans, something that would work out very well for my camping, kayaking, fishing excursions, as they have a very large cargo area. I had better luck there, at least the salesman took me over to show me one of the Transit Connects, and even let me sit in it.

One of those would work out very well for what I have in mind, I could finish the rear of it off exactly the way I want it to hold all my stuff in a well-organized manner. I did that with a 1972 Ford truck that I owned, and a buddy of mine and I did that to a commercial van that he bought just for that reason.

I am leaning towards crossing the Transit Connect off from my list though, it does have a ton of room and I fit in it, but it looks and feels cheap on the inside, they are under-powered, and they cost just as much as a Subaru Legacy or Forester, either of which get better fuel mileage than the Transit Connect does.

I suppose Ford gets away with pricing the Transit Connect so high because it is a cheaper option than the others available to businesses in the market for a delivery van. It’s a plain-jane vehicle with nothing finished in the rear cargo area, just two-wheel drive, and an engine that is really to small for a vehicle of its type. For the same money, I can get either a Subaru Legacy or Forester which are all wheel drive, completely finished in the interior, get better mileage, fit me better, and are way more fun to drive! I hate to sound like a Subaru commercial, but there are times when I wonder why they aren’t a lot more popular than they are, actually I know the reason, Subarus have the reputation for being practical.

Subaru builds safe, reliable vehicles that well suit the needs of their owners, which is why no one buys them. The buying public wants sexy, impractical vehicles, luckily, I do not suffer from that affliction.

To top it off, there’s the customer service aspect of today’s little jaunt, I will not go back to that same Ford dealer. The salesman that wouldn’t wait on me because I wasn’t ready to buy yesterday sealed that deal for himself. As did the other salesman walking past me shoving pizza into his face and trying to keep the pizza in his mouth while he asked if I was being helped. When I replied “sort of”, he thought that that was funny, and had even a harder time keeping the pizza contained as he laughed. Just a little note to any one considering a career in commissioned sales, do not go trolling for customers while shoving food into your face! Yes, you put in long hours and there will be times you need to eat while on the job, and you may even lose a customer or two by taking time out to eat, but, you would lose those same customers anyway by spitting pizza at them while you try to eat and talk at the same time!

As you may have been able to tell, I am leaning towards a cheap condo and a nice vehicle at this point, after being nearly homebound for the last two years because of my Explorer’s condition, I know that I wouldn’t be spending much time at home in the cheap condo if I had the ability to go places again.

On the other hand, I am not looking forward to moving again, once, let alone twice. I’m sure that a cheap condo will come with bad neighbors, too much noise, and some other negatives as well. The cheap condos don’t have garages, that means I have to continue to pay for a storage unit, but, since my mortgage payments would be around $150, I could easily afford the storage unit.

To help me pull more numbers together, I had already made an appointment with my insurance agent to run some numbers on the different vehicles, and on the cost of home owners insurance versus the renters insurance I have now. In the next two weeks, I hope to have a spreadsheet done with all my options plugged in to help me make the final decision.

Now then, for nature and some photos. The drought is getting worse. The media have just picked up on the fact that we are in a drought, I think it’s only because Michigan has begun to allow the sale of fireworks like other states have allowed for years. Give the media a cause, and they will ride that horse to death. They are more worried about people having fun than they are about everything that’s dying because of the drought.

Several of the creeks here have gone dry, meaning the fish and other wildlife that depended on the water in the creeks for life are dying or dead. I see more trees everyday that are turning brown and losing their leaves, and it just keeps getting worse.

Droughts breed droughts. It is so dry here that the soil and plant life is trying to absorb any moisture that there is in the air, so the humidity levels get even lower over time. Even if a more humid air mass moves over the area that could lead to rain eventually under normal conditions, the moisture in the air mass is sucked out of it by the soil and plants, which helps to perpetuate the drought. That may not be the best scientific explanation as to why droughts breed droughts, but I think that it is close enough.

The weather forecast calls for continued heat, and maybe a slight chance of showers over the next few days, but it may be too late for many plants and animals if the rain does come.

Here’s a few of my photos from the last few days.

Young cottontail rabbit

Young black-capped chickadee

Female Baltimore oriole gathering food for her young


Female house finch gathering nesting material

A pair of house finches

Bullfrog caught mid-croak

Grackle eating a Japanese beetle

American robin

English sparrow with what looks to be several Japanese beetles in its beak

American robin in flight

12 spotted skimmer? Dragonfly

Thistle flower

The courtship of belted kingfishers

The courtship of belted kingfishers

The courtship of belted kingfishers

The courtship of belted kingfishers

The courtship of belted kingfishers

Eastern bluebird in flight

Male northern cardinal in flight

That’s all the photos for this one, but one more thing to say.

Today is the last scheduled day of Internet service for me, so I don’t know how often I will be able to post from now on. I will most likely get behind on replying to comments if you leave them, please bear with me as I will get to them eventually. That goes double for the posts of the bloggers that I follow as well.

When I do get back online, hopefully this blog will get back to what I intended it to be when I started it, a journal of my adventures in nature in the State of Michigan, and not so much of the same old, same old of my daily walks.

Until then, I want to thank those who read my ramblings on a regular basis, and even those that just stop by now and then. That’s all for this one, thanks for stopping by!

15 responses

  1. Great shots of the Kingfishers on the roof!

    Be careful when buying a condo, a friend of mine bought one and the condo fee keeps rising to the point where he says ‘I’m basically paying them 140 bucks a month to mow the lawn. I wish I could mow the lawn and save that payment’. Also, he bought a 2-story condo and wished he would have bought a single-floor unit so that he doesn’t have to worry about using the steep stairs when he’s elderly (that’s easy not to think about when you have 20 years to go before drawing Social Security). One more thing about condos, it can be hard to re-sell them. I’m still a renter, but I thought I’d pass on what I’ve heard my buddy say over the last few years!


    July 15, 2012 at 12:10 am

  2. It often seems hard to make decisions like these. I wish you the best! The perfect place for you to live now… Always enjoy your photos, but the bullfrog especially made me smile. Hope you get back to internet service soon.


    July 5, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    • Thank you Kathy, I see you fell my my shameless ploy!


      July 6, 2012 at 2:25 pm

      • I’ve always responded to commenters, dear quietsolopursuit. That’s about all I can keep up with!


        July 6, 2012 at 4:40 pm

  3. Northern Narratives

    Hope you get some rain and a great place to live too πŸ™‚


    July 1, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    • Thank you very much, it’s an up and down process, but it will work out in the end.


      July 6, 2012 at 2:25 pm

  4. These decisions are always so difficult to make, but I believe that when the time is right, something always happens to show the way. Lovely pictures, as always! πŸ™‚


    July 1, 2012 at 10:21 am

  5. Great shots Jerry, loved the courtship of the belted kingfishers! πŸ™‚ Best of luck in your decisions. Keep in touch when you can but don’t worry, we’ll be here when you’re able to reconnect and share! Take care, Donna


    July 1, 2012 at 7:56 am

    • Thanks Donna! The shots of the kingfishers aren’t very good, but I find it difficult to get birds to pose for me while they are mating. πŸ˜‰
      And thanks for moral support as well.


      July 1, 2012 at 9:54 am

  6. Why not upgrade the inside of the cheaper condo over time? Maybe even soundproofing?? Just a thought. Looking forward to hearing how it all worked out.


    June 30, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    • Thanks, if I get a cheap condo, I will probably do some upgrades over time to increase its value for when I sell it. Part of the reason for a second move would be to get a garage rather than just a carport, and more room for all my stuff. That, and I would rather not have to guess if the noise I hear is fireworks going off or gunfire in the parking lot.


      July 1, 2012 at 9:52 am

  7. snowbirdpress

    No response needed… but thank you.


    June 30, 2012 at 5:47 pm

  8. I’ll look forward to hearing from you again soon. Good luck in making the right decisions. πŸ™‚


    June 30, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    • Thanks Bob, I think that I am going to need all the luck in this that I can get.


      July 1, 2012 at 9:48 am