Sunday, October 13, 2019

Getting Our Kicks on Route. . . 97

'Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.'
                              -- Jack Kerouac

I know, you are thinking I've made a doozy of a mistake. Because everyone knows you get your kicks on Route 66 - that stretch of highway crossing America that has been immortalized in song, fiction, film and travel paraphernalia.

But let me tell you that you can also get some mighty fine kicks on Route 97 as well! 

I'll admit that before setting out on our latest road trip, I hadn't given much thought to that stretch of north-south road known as Route 97. We've traveled it often as a means of simply getting from one place to another. 

Gettin' our kicks on Route 97

Regulars readers know that we are American boomer expats who gave up suburban Seattle life and spend most of our year living in Greece. Last fall we replanted our part-time U.S. roots in the small unincorporated town of Manson, on the shores of Lake Chelan in eastern Washington State.

It didn't take long to realize that even though we both grew up in Eastern Washington, that our familiarity with the area has faded over the decades. In many ways the territory surrounding us here feels more foreign - at least unfamiliar - than does Greece.

Our new wheels being delivered to Manson

So, during our month-long stay this fall, we declared it time to get out and explore this new-to-us territory. After taking delivery in Manson of a Toyota RAV we'd purchased on line while still back in Greece, we set off. Traveling a portion of Route 97 was our first outing. One of the things we learned is just how much of a name for itself, our old - somewhat familiar - Route 97 is making.

Things we didn't know about Route 97 

Route 97 - a scenic wonderland awaits travelers 

* It is one of the longest north-south highways in North America. It runs north from Weed, California, through Oregon and Washington, crosses the Canadian border into British Columbia where it becomes the Alaska Highway at Dawson Creek, B.C. It concludes at Watson Lake.

* If you traveled its full length -- 4,130 kilometers or 2,566 miles -- your journey would take you through semi-arid desert, interior rain forests, grasslands, mountain ranges, urban centers and rural settings so charming they could be movie sets.

* Route 97, in the Pacific Northwest is bordered on the east by the Columbia Mountain Range and to the west, the Cascade Range. The route winds through lush wine country and past old west ghost towns, places once teeming with mining activities.

A tribute on Route 97 to the Indigenous Nations and their people 

* Between Wenatchee, Washington and Cache Creek, B.C., Canada Route 97 promotion is a partnership between North Central Washington, Thompson Okanagan, B.C. and three Indigenous Nations.

*In Washington State the route got its start thousands of years ago as a trail used by the Indigenous people. The Columbia Cascades of Route 97 passes through lands of three Nations: Nlaka'pamux, Okanagan (Syilx)  and Secwepemc. Miners and early pioneers were to follow those same pathways as they settled in what is now the area encompassing three counties: Chelan, Douglas and Okanogan.

Route 97 in Washington State

The Columbia Cascades Route 97 - where we traveled

While our new Washington home puts us within easy driving distance from Canada we didn't make it to the border on our six-hour outing. We went only as far as Omak some 44 miles (64K) from the border.

A portion of Lake Chelan as seen from 'The Butte' 

We set off from Lake Chelan - a glacier-fed 55-mile long lake. Heading north we followed first the Columbia River and then the Okanogan River to Omak. This small town is home of the Omak Stampede, an event that brings the old West to life each year.  The Stampede draws thousands each year to this small town but on this crisp autumn morning we had the place to ourselves.

Omak Home of the annual western Stampede

Murals decorate the buildings in Omak

While there we saw several murals which tourist brochures credit as the work of  Frank Matsura, a 19th Century Japanese photographer. I couldn't find any reference to murals, but the guy's history is fascinating and worth clicking that link to read!

Rawson's Department Store didn't let us down

Then on to Okanogan town, five miles to the south. We once visited a Western outfitters store there, the type that caters to the clothing and supply needs of cowboys and cowgirls (yes, they still exist in the Western United States). The place has been around since the mid-1950's and in itself is worth making a trip to Okanogan to visit. We were delighted to find it still going strong and now it has all sorts of clothing and shoes! Okanogan is so delightfully 'Small Town Americana' that I could have filled this post with photos taken there.

Scenes like this make a road trip special

At Okanogan we opted to return home driving on the 'old Route 97' that cuts through orchards and vineyards high above the 'new 97' that follows the Columbia River.

Apple harvest is underway along old Route 97

We returned to the low lands at Pateros, a town at the confluence of the Columbia and Methow rivers.

Every July Pateros is the scene of the Apple Pie Jamboree. From the size of the apple packing sheds  (those facilities that receive apples from the grower and pack them for world-wide distribution) there was no doubt in our mind that the Apple Pie Jamboree is being held in the right community!

Apple Pie Jamboree - takes place in Pateros

If you go:

Had we wanted to make this outing an overnight trip, we'd have likely stayed at the 12 Tribes Casino and Hotel located just off Route 97 between Omak and Okanogan.  It is a small facility but upscale with the hotel attached to the side of casino. Two eateries on the property make it an easy roadside stop.

Next year we plan to explore several of the other loop drives that take off from Route 97. For maps and tips on those drives in Washington State and Canada check out the Route 97 website, (click the link to access).

Views along Route 97 are spectacular

That's it from the Pacific Northwest. Our month here has gone rapidly and we are packing up to return to Greece. After all, it is almost time to harvest those olives of ours!  Hope you'll be back soon for more tales of expat travel and life. Until then, thanks again for your time here and wishes for safe travels to you and yours ~

Linking soon with:

Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday

Sunday, October 6, 2019

In Greece ~ Where there's a Will, there's a Way. . .

'End?' No, the journey doesn't end here. 
                  Death is just another path. One we all must take.                  
                                                                            --- J.R.R. Tolkien

Death and dying isn't a typical topic for someone whose blog focuses on travel and expat life. But if I approach it from the standpoint of a journey, then it really isn't such a peculiar subject, is it?

As with all journeys, some advance preparation is required.  And preparing for this journey is no different. Well, it is different when it is done in Greece as we were to learn. . .

Our slice of The Mani - Greek Peloponnese

. . .We've oft-times been told since buying our Stone House on the Hill  (and again when we purchased Hi, Ho Silver, our Toyota RAV), that as property owners here we should have a Greek Will.

'It will just make it easier,' has been the explanation for needing a Will. Now while we aren't convinced of that, should the plane go down or other disaster strike us both dead at the same time, but we finally decided to hedge the bet and do it.

The Stone House on the Hill - Platsa, Mani Messinias, Greece
This year seemed a good year to tackle that somewhat morbid task as we were already up to our ears in Greek bureaucracy. We'd made it through the paperwork required for our residency permit renewal and were stuck in Greece waiting for our permits.  We were also searching for the documents required to comply with a Greek government directive to file a cadastry (land survey and registration). So, why not take the stack of paper work a bit higher we asked ourselves and set about our task.

Greece - daydream or nightmare?

Before you can write a will you need to know what you want done with the property. And that was a dilemma:  to whom should we bequeath 'our daydream'?

Daydreams are wonderful things but we had to be honest: how many others see our Greek property as a daydream?  We thought about our small and scattered family (the members of which are still trying to figure out what time zone we live in let alone giving thought to visiting us there). While many friends have ventured to Greece to visit and proclaimed us to be  'living the dream' a few have added they could 'never do it'. 

So our daydream would undoubtedly be their nightmare should they find themselves beneficiaries of it.

The trip to the Mani is a long one from the Pacific Northwest

After doing a quick Google search of the topics of inheritance and second homes, we were comforted in finding we are not alone; similar dilemmas are being experienced by many boomers.  Those folks who chased their dreams and who own second homes, vacation property -- even those with timeshare ownership -- have been roaming the web seeking guidance on what to do with those properties so that family or friends aren't saddled with some unwanted inheritance.  

Sunset in Agios Nikolaos

And there seems to be a lot of us out there:

** The last U.S. Census reported that vacation home ownership had grown by 27.7% in the period between 2000 - 2010 as one million new cabins and cottages had been reported as vacation/second homes.

** The U.S. Social Security department reported in 2016 that half a million U.S. citizens receiving Social Security benefits lived outside the U.S. (I suspect a good deal of them own property and are probably dealing or dealt with the inheritance dilemma.)  

In general, the articles advise simply selling the property. They point to the sudden responsibility of paying for taxes, insurance, maintenance and travel to the property as likely being cost prohibitive for the beneficiaries. In all likelihood that is the route most, including us, plan to take. But our Greek Will is designed for the "Bam - You Are Both Gone!" scenario.

To Write a Will. . .differently

With decisions made that will keep all family and friends from being saddled with unwanted daydreams, it was time to write our Wills and I mean that quite literally.  We'd opted for the 'simple' Will. 'But, of course', as we say in Greece, 'Is anything simple here?'

Writing a Will in Greece - quite literally

First, we had to hand-write a Will on a sheet of lined notebook paper in Greece. No typing. No computer print out. CURSIVE writing. . .you know, that means of written communication that isn't being taught anymore in some schools in the U.S.

Our village, Agios Nikolaos - 

Once our Wills were written, we visited our attorney who in turn translated them into Greek. She then visited the right government offices to have them stamped as accurate translations. Then it was to be a simple matter of going to the Notary in the village and filing them there.  We would each be issued  a number which the survivor or our Executor would present to the Notary when the time comes to dispose of our property.

The Notary (a quasi-judicial figure in Greece) is in the village two days a week. She conducts business in a second floor apartment-turned-office on Mondays and Thursdays. So on a hot summer Monday morning we made our first visit. There is no waiting room so we joined others sitting or standing on the stairway leading to the office-apartment. The Notary was so busy, we were told to come back that afternoon.

The documents with 'those numbers' on them

Back we went. This time we made it to her bedroom-turned-office. The walls are lined with shelves of official document holders.  Here records of land purchase, cadastres and Wills are kept. She speaks little English and we, far-less Greek.  But we understood we would need to return Thursday as she needed to prepare documents in order for us to file the Wills. She told us we'd need to have an interpreter at our next meeting as the document had to be read and explained to us in English.

It was August - the month that most of Europe closes up shop and goes on vacation. We couldn't find an interpreter. Our meeting was moved to the following week when our attorney could join us and interpret the document.

Stamps make documents official in Greece

We gathered in the office, and the documents were read and translated (only after our attorney placed her hand on a Bible and swore that she would translate the document honestly). Basically the three-page document said we were filing a Will. That number we needed was on each document though. They were stamped, initialed and signed. Copies given, copies filed.

We had completed the task, yet I wondered for awhile how anyone would know we were dead if that plane goes down or the car crash happens.  Then I thought, even in Greece 'where there's a Will, there's a way. . .'

Daydreams realized -

That's it for this week! Next week I am switching our focus to the other side of the world where we are making a part-time life and where there's all sorts of country just waiting to be discovered. As always, thanks for the time you spend with us ~ we do appreciate your interest in our adventures and misadventures in the ex pat world. Safe travels to you and yours ~

Linking sometime soon with:

Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday



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