For the first time in a bit over a year, we actually flew somewhere. Sedona, AZ again this time primarily for house-hunting expedition, although we did get some time for hiking!
As of a few days ago, I'm now fully vaccinated! There are a lot more to go, but based on traffic around me, it feels like people aren't waiting anymore. And although Texas isn't showing an incline in cases at all, part of me wonders if they're even counting anymore.
How was flying?
My wife and I flew on American Airlines between Dallas and Phoenix. A trip we've made many times.
Our flights had every seat filled. But both Dallas and Phoenix airports were not nearly as full of people as we've seen in past years.
We wore N95 masks the entire time along with plastic face shields. Most passengers aren't bothering with face shields, just wearing masks as required by the airline.
Overall, the journey felt pretty normal. The flight is only a few hours, so it made us feel a little better not having to break the seal of our masks for any reason, or visit the restroom at the airport or on the plane.
I'll likely be taking my first flight for work in June, so I at least have a feel for what to expect.
We'd love to move to Sedona
Why the trip? Well, last year, right before COVID trapped us indoors, we spent an entire month in Sedona primarily seeing if we really could live there. My wife Pam and I think we can now.
It's been something of a dream for a long time. It is a shift from living in a large metroplex, though. It's a relatively small town where you have to drive somewhere else to visit stores like Target or Home Depot. So it's been in the back of our head about whether or not we'd miss some of the conveniences we've been used to living around Philadelphia and the Dallas areas.
Last year we got to the point where we felt we could do it. And even looked at a few houses then. Just nothing that, at the time, felt like it'd be our next home.
The real estate market has turned upside down in the past year. Particularly in Arizona in general. Those with enough money living in California just up and decided that if California is closed, let's buy a house in neighboring Nevada or Arizona where things are open and taxes are cheaper. They quite literally bought up everything. This meant that by the time we even knew a house was available for sale, it already had pending offers or in the middle of a bidding war.
This has both driven up prices and made it next to impossible to purchase something remotely unless you're willing to make a purchase sight unseen with cash. Even being physically in Sedona for house-hunting it's tough. Low inventory. And homes frequently sold even before they appear on the market with realtors making deals before even taking pictures of a house to post for a listing.
Knowing this before our trip I was optimistic about finding land that we could build on, or a house that was just getting started which we could purchase. We don't have any urgent timeframe to move, so maybe this was a way to circumvent the feeding frenzy of the current housing market.
The answer to that turns out to be a firm no. We did find a few lots that we liked and would normally have been interested in. The problem is that COVID has really messed up the supply chain for builders. Many aren't starting new projects there simply because they cannot estimate cost on anything from wood to appliances at the moment. So they are waiting until things settle down. This means a backlog. If you buy a lot there today, you should not expect to see a finished home on it for two to three years minimum.
So where does that leave us? We did pinpoint the exact neighborhood/area we'd like to live. We spoke with a builder there who has lots and is in the process of developing houses on them. After informing us of the building decisions, he's building them how he wants them so if he can't get something specific he can choose something else without getting into any conflicts with an owner who's already paid for something. So we're high up on his waiting list for a few places.
Meanwhile, we literally went through the neighborhood house-by-house and gave a list of homes to the realtor we've been working with to let us know immediately if any of them come up on the market so we can hopefully get first dibs on them. So we're working from a couple of angles and hoping fate has something good in store for us.
- Time Trap is a film I've had on my list to see for a while having heard good things about it. I found it entertaining and it had some rather big ideas for a small movie. There were some logic issues I had when thinking about it after the film was over. Regardless, it was still fun.
- Godzilla vs. Kong would have been great to see on a really large theater screen. Had a blast with this although I think Godzilla needed more screentime.
- Zack Snyder's Justice League and its four-hour runtime feel more like a four-hour mini-series than a film, which is basically how I digested it. I'm not a huge fan of the DC comics universe Snyder has helped create. All his films (not just these) feel like rather than a story, scenes exist only to get us to some visually iconic eye-candy effects shot. I definitely feel that here, but I do have to admit that it's far better than the original film. Zack's at his best though, as with 300 and Watchmen, when he's focusing on directing rather than story/writing.
- Cool as Ice (1991) started out the April edition of the COVID Monday evening film series I've been watching. April's screenings are going to be about studios trying to turn certain celebrities into movie star icons. Cool as Ice was an attempt to do this with rapper Vanilla Ice. The film is as awful as you'd expect.
The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman
This is the second book in Pullman's Book of Dust series. The first mainly dealt with Malcom Polstead and his childhood adventure delivering the endangered baby Lyra to safety.
This second series picks up with Lyra, the main character of both the original His Dark Materials series and this book, in hear early twenties. Time has jumped well past the events in His Dark Materials. Lyra finds herself once again in constant danger as she chases after her daemon, Pantalaimon, who has disappeared. She's drawn to a mysterious city in the heart of a desert where Pantalaimon must be. A city with a dark secret about Dust that the ones chasing her want very badly and think she is the key to unlocking.
Pullman has a way of writing which puts you squarely in the head of the characters and making you feel exactly how they're feeling. Can't wait now until the third book in this series since this one ends just at the point where you know there will be some answers, but we find Lyra unsuspectingly in more danger than ever.
And I did listen to the audio version of the book read by Micheal Sheen who's performance is stellar. I hope he plans to read the third book, as well.