Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis: The Great Adventure West

Sunday, July 24, 2005

The Great Adventure West

As I think you all know, Kim and I have moved to Denver, CO. Kim earned a promotion to Tier 2.5 (beating out 48 other candidates apparently) and I’m making a lateral move, keeping the same pay and getting video training apparently. Needless to say, we had to pack up everything we own, including two cats, and move 2,000 miles.

First of all, I want to say that I don’t think we could have gotten nearly as much of our stuff packed and certainly not any anywhere near the time if we had not had a huge amount of help from both our families. My Mom and sister (my brother offered, but I insisted he work instead of call in), Kim’s Dad, Mom, Stepdad and brother all gave us an enormous amount of assistance in getting things loaded. Even though Budget “lied” about how much a 16’ truck could hold (2 bedrooms… I think not!), we were still able to pack nearly everything we owned up. By the time we had loaded everything, even the front seat of the Honda CRV was crammed full. As is, we ended up leaving both computer chairs and my computer desk due to lack of room. We scooped up the cats, had an all too brief emotional goodbye and hit the road.

We had originally planned on driving to my grandparents the first night, but between leaving after 3pm on Sunday and the exhaustion of loading the truck, we decided to instead spend the night in Tallahassee. Kim and I had discussed trying to see some of our friends there before we left, though after a shower we came to the conclusion that we wanted to spend more time with my family and we were entirely too tired to go out anywhere that night. Instead, we had a very enjoyable evening chatting with my family before we collapsed into bed before midnight. Both cats spent half the night hiding under my mom’s bed.

Despite every mapping program telling us that visiting Foley, AL was out of the way, Kim and I both felt they could take a long walk off of a short cliff; my grandparents have never been and never will be out of my way to visit. We stopped by and had a short visit with them. My grandparents treated us to lunch at this great restaurant called The Shrimp Basket where everyone but grandmom had delicious fried oysters (fried in cornbread) and she enjoyed the shrimp. After an all too brief visit, we rescued the cats from my grandparents’ guest bedroom and pressed on to try to get as many miles behind us as possible. We survived the “state road that never ends” thru Alabama and overcame poorly marked interstate signs in Mississippi to get as far as Forest, Mississippi the second night. The cats behaved well and were most happy to crash for the evening and surprisingly left us alone while exploring the hotel room.

Tuesday, day three of our journey, brought one expected and one unexpected change to our traveling routine. We had previously discussed the possibility of stopping in Little Rock and visiting a friend there. Fortunately nothing was set in stone and she’d stressed that it was okay with her if we needed to simply drive thru, which is what we had to do since we were running somewhat behind on our time schedule. This was also the day that our trailer started acting up. Partly wind and mainly road, I found that we had to drive no faster than 60 mph and frequently slower or we would get too much sway out of the trailer. Once it starts to rock, the only thing you can do is slow down and hold the vehicle as straight as possible until it gets back under control. It was somewhat unnerving but manageable experience thru Arkansas. This was also the first state we went thru that had some lovely scenery; unfortunately for us we found it right as sundown so it was just a brief glimpse. We spent the night in Oklahoma, where our cell phone met an untimely demise. Kim got out of the Budget truck to rent the room and didn’t realize the phone fell out when she got out. When she motioned for me to pull around the phone got smashed so we ended up having to pick up a pay as you go phone the next day.

Oklahoma, demon state. If we never go back to Oklahoma again, it will be too soon. The roads there are so rough that I thought they’d shipped up road workers from Louisiana to pave the interstate; at least Louisiana has the excuse of being below sea level and doing the best they can. I’d estimate that about 1/10th of the interstate were under construction, resulting in us having to drive in a single lane, usually uneven, for 10 to 20 miles at a stretch. There were patches of good interstate, but at least half of what was not under construction was so bumpy that we were experiencing much more sway on the trailer. The winds were whipping bad enough that the truck rocked some even while parked. When it was all said and done, I had driven over halfway thru Oklahoma at no faster than 50 mph due to driving and weather conditions. Kansas was a welcome sight indeed.

Kansas is nearly exactly what everyone thinks it is, except that it has hills and is not completely flat. There is a gas station company called Sinclair that seems to be throughout Kansas that uses a dinosaur for their emblem. While you’d think it would infer to fossil fuels, I personally feel that it has more to do with their business plan of driving themselves to extinction. Sinclair stations apparently close shop at 5pm, since of course no one in the towns they are located in or driving along the interstate would ever need gas after 5pm. Oddly enough, in one of the towns we stopped and tried to get gas, the Auto Parts store was open and the gas station was locked up. Fortunately I considered a ¼ tank time to fill up so we were able to get gas. We also got our last major surprise in Mingo, Kansas, where we got a flat tire that I fortunately noticed right after sunset. Mingo had an unmanned gas station with a credit card reader, four pumps and a shack with a way too small fire extinguisher and a pay phone. While I was annoyed that Budget gave us a trailer with tires too threadbare for the trip, but they had someone out to replace the tire and the one next to it that looked ready to go within 45 minutes.

We had people scheduled to help us unload the truck on Thursday at noon, so we pressed on thru Kansas and into Colorado. There are not the major switchbacks you’d think there would be to get into the mountains, just a constant gradual climb. I’d planned on trying to find a place to stay for the night about 50 miles outside of Denver but we were not able to find a place that both had room and accepted cats until after we got into Denver proper. The cats were very restless at this point and telling us all about how unhappy they were; not that we were happy to still be driving at 4am EST either. We finally found a dive and crashed for the night.

I must say that the movers who helped us unload on Thursday were worth every penny we paid them. Kim and I were helping them initially, but we quickly ran out of steam. They were not kidding when they said breathing was more difficult here, though you usually don’t notice it until you attempt something strenuous. You tend to get out of breath faster, and can get altitude headaches and even lightheadedness. We Florida natives can even be cheap drunks without the alcohol at times. Luckily we had help getting everything unpacked, otherwise I think it would have taken us a full day to unload I’m sure.

For a sight unseen apartment, Kim choose a great place. It only costs $15 more a month than we were paying before, but the house itself is roomier for the most part (guest bathroom and kitchen are smaller). We have a scenic view from our back porch of 2 different small manmade ponds with fountains, a nice community area and a fitness center on site. Each apartment building has its own laundry facility too, making up for the fact they have no rooms with laundry hookup. Right across the street we have a host of restaurants, including Chinese (2, one of them kosher), Italian, Mexican, Indian, Japanese, a sports bar and others. We also have 2 movie theatres within easy walking distance; one is a first run while the other is a $1.25 second run. I’m just shy of 2 miles from work and it looks like a nice relaxing walk. The neighbors are very nice, with James in particular was most helpful in giving us directions and telling us all about Denver. We even have a Wal-mart (with a parking garage no less) within a mile and a half from us.

I have to admit that I’m very happy with Denver. The people are nice, the city is beautiful and the humidity nonexistent. While I most certainly will miss friends and family, this does seem like a great city to work on expanding both Kim’s career and mine. We’ll be starting classes again at University of Phoenix in about a month or two, giving us some time to become accustomed to our new surroundings. I must say that I think we’ll definitely like it here.



Blogger CelticDiva said...

Great story, Erick!

It sounded like the trip went quite well, actually, in spite of a couple of glitches.

I especially got a kick out of this:

There is a gas station company called Sinclair that seems to be throughout Kansas that uses a dinosaur for their emblem. While you’d think it would infer to fossil fuels, I personally feel that it has more to do with their business plan of driving themselves to extinction. Sinclair stations apparently close shop at 5pm, since of course no one in the towns they are located in or driving along the interstate would ever need gas after 5pm.

Hahahaha...welcome to the Midwest! Every summer when I was a kid, we went to see our huge extended family in Iowa. We always got gas at the DeWitt, Iowa Sinclair Station.

By the way - if you look at the Sinclair dinosaur, he looks a lot like Dino from the Flintstones. Sinclair has been around forever so I wouldn't be surprised if that was the influence.

I'm very glad you guys like it so far and I hope you are as happy in Colorado when winter arrives!

7/24/2005 11:00 AM  
Blogger Erin said...

Hey now --- I live in KS, and we're not quite "that bad" - J/K...A great summary of your adventure!! And you're right - KS isn't completely flat!!

7/24/2005 3:24 PM  
Blogger Graham said...

Good luck with the move :)

7/24/2005 3:26 PM  
Blogger Trée said...

Great blog and likewise, good luck.

7/24/2005 4:06 PM  

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