The Longest Move, or How I drove a 26-foot truck 2,400 miles without killing anyone!
It was an innocent and exciting enough moment last year, when Holly and I sat in front of a computer together at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and read from the computer-screen that she had been accepted into the Cardiology Fellowship at the Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University. The event itself seemed familiar, reminiscent of the same scene from just a few years before when we had found out during her first “Match Day” that we were going to Cincinnati. What we did not fully appreciate, however, was just how different this new experience, the experience of relocating over 2,400 miles from our home, friends, and family, would truly turn out to be. Two weeks ago, we found out.
I’ve grappled with how best to recount the events leading up to and occurring during this move, and the best way I can think of is a sort of “play-by-play” running blog format. Because I was not actually keeping a running blog, however, some liberties will be taken with the exact recollection of events (all to paint myself in the best, most gentle and encouraging light, of course). With that said, our story starts as follows:
April 28th – May 1st – Holly and I spend four days in the Bay Area looking at rental homes and apartment complexes in the area around Palo Alto, where the children’s hospital is located. We get a good feel for the area, but we do not find a place to live.
June 5th, 4:30pm – We sign all of the papers that officially close out the sale of our home. We are officially no longer homeowners, though the new owners agree to give us a ten-day window before we have to be out. Thus, we have till June 15th, at which point we would be officially homeless. No living arrangements in the Bay Area at this point.
June 13th, 4:00pm – I pick up our moving truck from Budget. Initially, the plan was to just get a 16ft moving van. After the initial days of boxing the house up, however, it was decided that we needed to go larger. I agreed to change our reservation to a 24ft truck, though this made me extremely nervous to drive, especially since I would be towing our 2000 VW Cabrio on a dolly behind the truck. When I arrive, Budget tells me that they’ve just upgraded the entire truck fleet, and that I’m actually getting a 26ft truck that’s brand new. I officially wet myself with dread.
June 13th, 7:00pm – With the help of our friend Nick, most of our big, “heavy” furniture is loaded onto the truck. With an apparent endless supply of room in the truck, I dismissively reply that “we got way too much truck!”
June 14th, 7:00am – After having spent our last official night in the house, I welcome our friends Ben and Will over for another round of “heavy” moving. Both men give me more effort than I could have asked for in one hour before they both headed off to work/baby duties. After that, we have most of what had been packed up on the truck. I assume at this point that we’ll be on the road by noon.
June 14th, 2:30pm – We’re still not on the road yet, and I’m making a run to a local landfill/transit station with a car load full of furniture and wood scraps that we had to get rid of before we could leave the house. This included a queen boxspring that my friend Kostya and I had first tried to carry down the stairs, then tried to saw in half, then ultimately had to cut up into four different pieces before we could get it down our winding staircase.
June 14th, 8:00pm – Holly and I pause for a dinner break, as the last few remaining pieces of our life in Cincinnati remain strewn around various rooms in what was once our house. This tends to be the most difficult part of the move: getting things on the truck that don’t necessarily belong in boxes, but seem too small or delicate to waste your time with early on. After we both shower up, we finally get the energy to get the plast few pieces loaded up.
June 14th, 11:15pm – We’re officially on the road! After getting the truck finally packed up, and the Cabrio loaded up, our California Convoy has officially begun. Holly is following behind me with the dogs and GVH in the X3. We’ve left when most people would have decided to just lay a blanket on the floor and stay one more night in the house. I, however, was determined to leave the day early that I’d committed myself to! This results in us stopping only an hour and a half later, when Holly explains that she simply is too tired to try to drive safely in the middle of the night. My own heavy eyelids sympathize, and we stop about 15 minutes from the Greensburg, IN exit. After checking that both hotel options their won’t work (too much money/won’t accommodate dogs), we decide to simply try and park in a gravel lot next to a BP and grab some sleep in our seats. Holly is nervous at first, but I assure her that we’ll be safe. It’s approximately 1:00 am by the time we go to sleep.
June 15th, 2:30am – I have noticed two cars parked next to our moving truck and the X3. I immediately wake Holly up and tell her to get ready to move, fearing we’re about to have the truck broken into. In fact, I think it was just a drug bust going down. We go another 30 minutes down the road, and then park at a Pilot to take a longer nap.
June 15th, 5:00am – We finally set out again, and this time we don’t end up stopping until we’ve reached Griffith, IN. Here, we meet up with Holly’s parents. It was originally thought that Holly’s Dad would help with a large portion of the truck driving. However, a quick call to Budget gives a large dose of reality: I was the only one who was there to sign the contract, and now I was going to be the only one who could drive the truck. That’s right – 2400 miles, a 26-foot truck pulling a car, and I was going to be the only one behind the wheel. Sigh. On the plus side, Holly gets a break and her Dad takes over the driving of the X3.
June 15th, 2:00pm – It’s time to stop for gas, and we’ve decided to stop for lunch too. What better place to stop, then, than the World’s Largest Truck Stop near Walcott, IA. It’s as underwhelming as it sounds, I promise.
June 15th, 7:00pm – There’s no way it’s going to be a long night this night, as Holly and I are already both are exhausted from getting no sleep the previous night. We decide to stop at a Travelodge near Lincoln, NE. To say that this motel is sketchy would be an understatement, complete with flickering lights in the hallways. However, with the dogs in tow, our options are limited.
June 16th, 8:15am – After a full night’s sleep, we’re ready to make what is, essentially a final push. We’re looking at a full two days left, but our goal is to be in the San Francisco Bay Area by Sunday afternoon. To help fuel us for the day’s drive, we eat at the Travelodge’s ‘continental breakfast’. I’m pretty sure these biscuits were used as pucks in the most recent Stanley Cup finals.
June 16th, 3:00pm – Throughout the morning, we were going through western Nebraska’s flatlands. It, frankly, was a very boring stretch. However, by the afternoon, we’ve reached Wyoming and the windfarms that are helping create sustainable energy in the west. Wyoming itself is breathtaking, and I’m beginning to get excited about our move West.
June 17th, 1:15am – Holly’s Dad and I have reached an agreement to keep pushing through the night, not wanting to spend money on a hotel or stop for that long. However, by this time of night/early morning, I can no longer keep going without constantly shutting my eyes, so we’ve pulled over at a rest area. On the plus, we have finally made it into Utah.
June 17th, 3:00am- After a quick naptime, we’ve resumed driving, and we’re currently cruising through Salt Lake City. We see the massive temples, but unfortunately we don’t have time to stop. The next three hours will be VERY slow going in terms of feel, but in reality we quickly find ourselves in NV.
June 17th, 6:45am –We stop at a Pilot in NV, and when we go in for breakfast, we quickly see that there’s a casino in the rest area. As we go through NV the rest of the day, we find out that there are casinos in EVERY rest stop in NV.
June 17th, 11:00am – This is, quite possibly, the trickiest portion of the trip. Around this time, we start going through stretches of Nevada where you might go 30-40 miles at a time without seeing a gas stop. You see where this is going. At a certain point, the truck alerts me that we’ve only got enough gas to go about 25 miles. At that point, it simply stops reporting numbers and says “Low Gas”. This persists for about 15 miles. I begin sweating and worrying, and I try to hide just how worried I am from Holly. Finally, with the needle about to plunge below the E line, we finally reach a truck stop. While I’m filling the truck with gas, I look out at the complete barren desert around me, and I let out a large sigh.
June 17th, 12:30pm – We’re finally in California! However, now begins a stretch of driving through winding and rising roads, which for about an hour also involves construction, which sends me into a literal panic attack. Every time the road narrows due to construction, my mind sees me swinging the moving truck into a passing car and killing a billion people. I actually have to take a break at this point, because I’ve begun gripping the steering wheel so hard that my knuckles are hurting. After taking some deep breaths and just sitting for a minute, I get the truck back on the road.
June 17th, 6:30pm – DESTINATION REACHED! We’ve made it to our hotel in downtown San Jose, and this is where I’ll end the diary. The next day, we went and checked out an apartment that Holly’s brother had scouted for us (he’d even put a deposit on it for us assuming we’d like it). That Monday, the 18th, we went in and agreed to take the apartment. Because they didn’t have the paperwork ready, we had to wait till the next day to actually sign the lease. Tuesday, June 19th, we officially became renters at the Arioso Apartments in Cupertino, CA, and were handed the keys to our new California home.
So far, the experience had been great. We’ve enjoyed getting to know the area, and we haven’t had a bad day of whether in the entire time we’ve been here. We have some genuine excitement about our prospects here. Also, all the best songs are about California, so we got that going for us.
That’s all for now. One love to you all.