Thursday, April 19, 2012

Esp. one with tolls

To those with excess coinage jingling in their pockets,

Do you know what a turnpike is?  The dictionary defines it as: noun - 1. a high-speed highway, esp. one with tolls.  2. (formerly) a barrier set across such a highway to stop passage until a toll has been paid; tollgate. 

Between Washington State and Virginia, there are a lot of tolls.  This I know.

On a bright and sunny Monday, my sister Mandatory and I climbed into the Jeep and took off across the United States to drive from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean.  We had spent the last few days sorting, packing and loading with the help of obliging and generous family members.  The Navy would be moving the majority of our belongings, but they wouldn't be arriving at our destination until the end of April, and we were arriving in early April; so we needed to bring dishes, blankets, towels, and other necessary things for a few weeks of living in a mostly empty apartment.

Packing like this was nothing new to me, of course, as I had done the same thing for Chicago and San Diego.  In fact, I still had the dishes from those trips stowed in handy totes, so all I needed to do was cram them in the back of the car along with everything else.

Aside from what we would need to live on for a few weeks, we also had to pack items the Navy will not ship - firearms (they actually can ship these, but it requires extensive registration for them to transport and we didn't get around to doing that), ammunition, propane, alcohol (you know how I love my vodka), and as we later learned they also don't pack aerosol cans, spray bottles (this includes perfume), and batteries, among other things.

Then we had to pack certain items my husband, awaiting our arrival on the East coast, needed in short order, like some tools for working on the cars and other various confusing items that I did not understand, but that my brother could name and pick out of boxes and load up for me.  

We loaded the Jeep down with all the supplies we would need to live in
the new house for a month until our furniture and belongings arrive 
Kejmo tested out the passenger seat with her trusty panda!
We finished packing on a Monday.  Not only did we have to pack the Jeep, of course, but since I was leaving everything at home for the Navy to pack I had to get that all in order.

Items staying in storage in Washington had to be sorted, packed appropriately, and stowed in the top of my parents' shed.  I had a lot of canned goods leftover from the last canning season, and the Navy wasn't going to be able to ship them appropriately so I loaded most of these into the back of the Jeep, and gave the rest to my mom.  All the boxes, containing all of our belongings, that I had packed in great haste while Mr H was in boot camp had to be emptied, sorted, and some of them sorted with his assistance via Skype.  We had to offload any excess weight we could because if we were over our weight limit with the Navy move, we would be charged by the moving company - and those fees can be exorbitant!  

Items for giveaway were tossed in one pile, items for trash in another, items for the Navy to pack in another stack, and then still another heap of items was designated to come with us in the Jeep.  We sorted through the items in the shed, and the items in my little upper room apartment at my cousin's house, where everyday use things like our bed and clothing had been living since March of 2011.  Of course, I had spent the majority of the time on the road since then, so I hadn't actually spent a whole lot of time living there; regretfully, because it was beautiful, pleasant, and my cousins are kind and generous housemates.  

The majority of our belongings were stowed in the shed at my parents' house, as I mentioned above, and once all of that was sorted we loaded it into my dad's trailer and drove it over to my cousin's house.  We left it parked in the driveway for the packers to deal with upon their arrival.  

Paperwork had to be finalized and in order; since I wouldn't be present when the moving company arrived to pack our items, I asked my mom (she actually volunteered, before I asked!) to act as our third-party authorized moving agent, a fancy term for The Boss.  Mr H went to the moving and legal offices on his end of the country and drew up a special power of attorney for her and had it scanned and emailed to the personal property offices in Washington, and they added it to their paperwork and we printed off a copy for Mom to show the moving company when they arrived (they actually never asked for it).  

Before leaving on Monday, I had to ensure everything that wasn't being shipped, or items outside of the upper room that were being shipped, was tagged appropriately.  Upstairs, I put a note on our mini-fridge, on a folding table, a small bookcase, a wall-shelf, indicating they were not to be packed.  Downstairs, I put notes on some large bookcases, our chest freezer, a little couch, the barbecue, and other items that didn't fit in the upstairs room, and noted that they were to be packed.  I wrote up a master list of these items and gave it to my mom.  

She ran the move perfectly, texting any questions to me while we were on the road.  The moving company packed everything into boxes on the Thursday after I left, and the driver came on Friday to load it all into the truck.  By Friday nightfall, I was in Virginia and achieved our final destination.  

Mandatory checking messages from home at a stop in Montana
Our road snack of blueberry fizz, havarti, and crackers
Mandatory and Scenery in Wyoming
Me and a barbed wire fence. Yep
At a breakfast stop at Wall Drug, South Dakota
When Seattleites need Starbucks, let nothing get in their way
Mandatory running navigation for the trip
One of our last stops before Virginia ... Chicago, IL to visit the Mysterious
Mrs S and her new baby boy (read her birth story here!).  I compared my 30 weeks
in-utero to her 10 weeks out-of-utero ... hmm, quite a difference!
This was actually the sixth time I've crossed from sea to shining sea in my lifetime.  Adding these miles to the rest I'd traveled in the last eleven months gave me a total of 28,000 miles of trekking back and forth across the US, with 15,100+ of those miles being in a car, in under a year.  On this particular trip we obliged my husband and family members by staying in hotels along the way, instead of my normal sleeping-in-the-car-in-a-rest-area or just powering through without stopping, which nobody seemed to think was a good idea since I was almost seven and half months pregnant.  

From the Ohio turnpike to the Virginia border, we were thrilled to shell out $47.50 in tolls.  I paid for all the tolls using coins from our piggy bank, and this was particularly exciting to one toll-booth clerk who had to receive my $12.50 in dimes and pennies, ten cents at at time (protocol requires that).  She was grim-faced, but I was not interested in coughing up my "real" money on tolls.  

When they tell you they accept credit card at the toll booth, you know there's a problem! 

Our trip was serene and beautiful, completely perfect and uneventful, with the exception of one harrowing night in Ohio ...

But this post is already too long, so I'll need to save that for the next one.

Mrs H



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