Brett & Laura Have Left the Building

Saturday evening’s final sunset view

We met our landlord yesterday morning at 8:15, turned over our keys, and were out of our apartment before 9:00 and on our way to breakfast at the Kalaheo Cafe. After breakfast we headed up to Princeville for a very enjoyable (and long overdue) visit with our friends Joy and Les, then headed over to our condo at 3:00 and promptly collapsed. The condo is small, but it’s nice to be sleeping on a real mattress again. We also have enough space and appliances to make our own meals for the rest of our time on Kaua’i.

Last Thursday the apartment’s new tenant asked us if we would move out on Saturday so she could move in a day early, but we told her via the landlord we had paid rent until May 1, and would be staying the night unless she was willing to pay for a hotel room for us (she wasn’t). The apartment was clean as a whistle when we left on Sunday and our entire deposit was returned. Such a difference from our last move-out experience!

The yard was in full bloom this past week. We’re going to miss the yard most of all, I think.

Besides cleaning the apartment all last week, we took care of some other business:

  • I consolidated my student loans to a Direct Federal Loan. I sort of wish I had done this earlier, but I had been afraid I would have to take on a much higher interest rate. However, it turned out my new interest rate will be just .375% higher than my old rate. Because I will again have a direct loan from the government versus a private lender I will be eligible for maybe some of my loan to be forgiven if rumors of that turn out to be true. President Biden is not going to forgive every student loan out there, or even forgive $50K from everyone’s balance, but an amount may be forgiven based on a sliding scale and/or have the interest reduced, maybe to 0%. We’ll see. Whatever happens, having a direct federal loan is all-around better for me for a variety of reasons than what I was previously locked into, and we have committed ourselves to paying off the balance in less than five years, forgiveness or not.
Our little guy is going to stay little. He’ll maybe only weigh 9-10 pounds when fully grown.
  • We got a puppy! Brett and I have missed owning a dog and decided we were ready for another. Our previous dogs were all rescues, but after much thought and a LOT of research we decided we wanted a puppy this time. We found a reputable breeder located near Nashville that had the breed that we were looking for and we made a deposit on a male Shih-poo (Shih Tzu and toy poodle mix). Shih-poos are smart, affectionate, hypoallergenic (they don’t shed), and are devoted to their owners. They require regular grooming, but only every 2 to 3 months. We’ve named our little guy Kaipo, Hawaiian for beloved boy or sweetest boy. He’s currently eight weeks old, but the breeder is going to continue to provide care until we can pick him up in August as well as make sure he is up to date on vaccinations. Our granddaughter is over the moon as she will be away from their family’s beloved Boston terrier for the next two years, but now will have our little guy for her to play with and help train.

We’re expecting a quiet week coming up; the only big tasks we have left are turning in the modem to our Internet provider, getting our wills witnessed, notarized, and mailed off to our son in Japan, and mailing the inflatable mattress to YaYu. We hope we’ll be able to sit out by the pool this coming, or maybe even go to the beach up here (the condo comes with beach chairs & umbrella) but the weather is expected to be less than ideal all week so that probably won’t happen.

One last look back as we headed out the door.

One week from today we’ll board a plane and leave Kaua’i once again. We didn’t think we’d be coming back when we left in 2018, and yet when the call came for Americans overseas to go home in 2020, Kaua’i was where we headed because it was home. Setting up again was a crazy ride, but with help from some very kind people on the island we found a great apartment and were able to get it furnished. Kaua’i has been a wonderful, safe place to ride out the pandemic, and we’ll always be grateful that for almost a year we were able to experience the island without any tourists to contend with (they are currently visiting in record numbers, even more than pre-pandemic). We plan to come back to Kaua’i once more though, for our 50th anniversary, but for now, it’s time to move on to new adventures!

29 thoughts on “Brett & Laura Have Left the Building

  1. What a cute puppy! The little one will be just thrilled to play with him. It seems like everything is going according to the plan and try to enjoy the last days on the island.

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    1. We’re super excited our little guy and so happy we found him. We have owned this mix before – best dog ever! – and were fortunate to find a reputable breeder in the area.

      We’re relaxing now – so nice not to have a backlog of tasks to complete.

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  2. Love the puppy! I had a Lhasa Apso when I was kid, which is similar to the Shih Tzu. Your granddaughter will have so much fun!

    Enjoy your final week on Kauai! Glad to hear your move-out went smoothly. I regret that I wasn’t able to get there to meet you and Brett. I am planning to visit my nephew near SF in June and I was thinking of continuing on and going to Kauai, but what you said about the increase in tourists makes me think I won’t do that. The prices must be crazy!

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    1. We previously owned a Shih Tzu – poodle mix and loved the breed. Super easy to care for and personality plus, and just the right size. We did a LOT of research this time about the best dog for us at this stage of our lives, and Kaipo will be a perfect fit! He has a longer snout that our last Shih-poo and will look more like a Llasa than Shih Tzu, we think.

      Prices here are NUTS right now. Gas is over $5/gallon, long waits and high prices for a rental car and lodging, but worst is the number of visitors now on the island, more than were coming at the previous peak in 2019. We’re leaving at the right time.

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    1. We think he’s adorable as well! We owned a Shih-poo before and they are a great and easy-to-care-for breed. This guy will be a little bit smaller than our previous Shih-poo, but still a nice size and perfect for an apartment.

      We’re dreading our flights back to the mainland, but we’ll get through them somehow.

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  3. Cute puppy. What wonderful adventures y’all will be having. It is wonderful y’all will be able to see your grandchildren and daughter-in-law in the near future. Best wishes.

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    1. Thanks, Jan! We’ll be seeing our daughters in around a week, and then on to Mexico. We’ll see the rest of the family at the end of July which will be here sooner than we realize, as will the last part of August when we pick up our puppy. Lots going on, but it’s all good!

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  4. I have been following your adventures for a while and continue to be impressed with your level of motivation and ability to get it all organized and done on time — Incredibly inspiring! Looking forward to this next chapter of your adventure. Thank you for taking the time to share your story with all of us.

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    1. First, thanks for being such a devoted reader – I appreciate it!

      I learned a lot about organization, and ways of staying on top of things when Brett was in the navy and we moved every 2.5 years and I had to take care of EVERYTHING because he was usually gone right up until the moment we left. Those skills I acquired have sure paid off over the years.

      I’ve been thinking recently about how much the trajectory of our lives will change now because of our going to Tennessee. Lots to think about, but lots of adventure still ahead.

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  5. You had a unique experience of Kaua’i without tourists. The pandemic had a silver lining on that front. Having plans to return for your 50th sounds perfect.

    That dog is so cute. I am surprised every day by how much we love our new doggie. Our previous dog was great, but he was not a cuddler. She wants to be with us all the time and we are both just loving her.

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    1. We will never forget and be forever thankful for the experience of living here without having to deal with hordes of visitors. The numbers of visitors now is currently above what they were during the peak of 2019, and prices are off the charts – it’s a good time to be leaving.

      We are so excited about owning a dog again. Shihpoos are extremely affectionate – their whole purpose as a breed is to love their owners – so we are looking forward to him joining us. We owned a Shihpoo rescue in the past, and the breed is a perfect fit for us and our lifestyle. We’re so impressed by the breeder and the kennel they run and feel lucky to have found it (can’t tell you how many we researched). We know he will be well-taken care of until we’re ready for him in August.

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    1. Lots and lots of changes coming up, both in the near future and beyond. We’ll take them one at a time though and see where life leads us.

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    1. Thanks, Vivian! We are honestly dreading the long flight back to the east coast (nonstop from Honolulu to Atlanta) but we’ll manage.

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  6. What an adorable puppy! Your granddaughter sounds like she will a great help in taking care of your new puppy.

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    1. Thank you, Julia! Our granddaughter has been involved in the training of their Boston Terrier, so we want to get her involved as much as possible with us in training our puppy. Believe it or not, we’ve never raised a puppy – we’ve always gotten rescues who are older so there will be lots for us to learn as well and help will be welcomed.

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      1. The teething am be the worst with a puppy. When our Athena was a puppy, we found her with a bloody mouth. We couldn’t see any reason for the blood and rushed her to the vet. She was teething and had lost a tooth! The shelter told us our current dog, Nox, was at least a year old. Turned out they were wrong and she was about 6 to 7 months old. She more than doubled in size! Nox had some puppy habits that she outgrew, but we weren’t expecting since she was supposed to be a year old.

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      2. We have never dealt with a puppy before so we’re going to be on steep learning curve. I’m already researching how to get through the chewing and teething period. Any and all suggestions welcome! All of our rescues have been well past puppy stage, and all were housebroken.

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  7. I find myself struggling with the understanding of someone who travels the world which is a luxury also talking about how perhaps the government, that is me and everyone else subsidize that lifestyle by forgiving loans voluntarily taken.

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    1. Dave, when I read your comment the first thing that comes into my mind is that this is someone who doesn’t know how student loans are structured, why they have become so problematic and a massive burden for so many, and why there is a movement for forgiveness. First of all, repayment is not the issue. Almost everyone who borrows for their education has every intention of repaying their loans. I certainly did/do. But these loans are not structured like a mortgage, a car loan, a personal loan, a credit card, what have you and they’re certainly not designed to get the money paid back to the government. They are designed to make loan servicers a LOT of money over a LONG period of time. The government may back the money loaned but they are not getting the interest paid back on student loans; the servicers are. In fact, it can take years and years before the government gets any of the principal back based on how the loans are structured.

      When you borrow for a mortgage or car loan, interest is the bulk of the payment at the beginning of the loan. Same with a student loan, but the difference is your mortgage or car payment covers all the interest due that month with a little of the principal paid. However, most student loan payments do not cover all the interest that is due and what isn’t paid is then applied to the principal. Borrowers pay and pay and pay but instead of the principal decreasing, the amount owed just keeps going up! Combine the cost of an education with this system and you have people owing double what they borrowed in less than ten years – the loan can never be paid off. The government is not getting their money back, the borrower owes more principal than they began with, and the servicers are tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars richer. There are some absolute horror stories out there of people borrowing $15K, paying for 20 years and still owing $80K in principal! And contrary to what you and others may think, that this could happen is not explained clearly or even at all when the loan papers are signed.

      People do pay off their loans but they are lucky, and either have help or make enough to pay more than the regular payment and still have enough to support themselves and maybe get ahead. Brett and I somewhat fall into that category because I’ve always been able to make my payment but nothing more until this year. I borrowed $76K for my undergraduate and graduate degree (needed to work in my field) at a public university and began paying my loans in 2000, I have never missed or been late with a payment, and I still owe just under $40K of the principal as currently half or just over half of my monthly payment still goes to interest. My loans were sold by the government to a private servicer in 2005; I and 12 million other borrowers at the time had no say in that decision (the government ceased selling loans in 2010), and we have not been covered by the CARES act. I have continued to pay my loan with interest throughout the pandemic; I am one of the lucky ones that has been able to keep up with my payments, but yes I would like forgiveness for some of the massive amounts of interest I have paid to my servicer for the past 20+ years.

      For the record, we have paid off one student loan of mine (that wasn’t sold) ($$$$), the federal parent’s loan we took out for our son’s senior year of college ($$$$$), and Brett’s federal student loan ($$$$$). But my big loan turned into a nightmare, as these loans have for so many others. And, even though I pay each month, you’re not getting “your money” back because the servicer, not the government, gets most of it. Government officials (Congress and the executive branch) in the early 2000s set up this system to benefit banks and servicers, not students and not the government or taxpayers.

      What I hope will happen is that some of the current student loans will be forgiven (not all), interest rates lowered to and capped at somewhere between 0% or 1% for both current, and future borrowers, and a tax credit given to those who have already paid back their loans. And then something needs to be done about the current cost of getting a college education in this country because it’s obscene.

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    2. P.S. Our travel lifestyle could be considered luxurious if we still owned a house and a car, and had those to return to whenever we tired of traveling or wanted to take a break. We instead pay rent to overseas landlords while we visit their country (and U.S. ones when we’re back in the States) and we don’t own or maintain a car, etc. We live out of our suitcases, and store less than 500 pounds of stuff we own at our daughter’s. And, I still make my student loan payments every month, on time and in full.

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