Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Trip

   Today marks our second week in Tucson. I am not lying when I say we have spent about 12 hours everyday for the past two weeks working on the house. But now almost everything is unpacked and put away, the major repairs are done, we have internet access, and we can sit and take a breath. The past two weeks have been relatively uneventful. We have painted, purchased furniture, ran errands, cleaned, organized, unpacked, cleaned some more, ran more errands, and become permanent fixtures at Home Depot. With the exception of going out to dinner last night and seeing the Dark Knight Rises last week, we really haven't had much time for leisure or exploring. But I digress. The purpose of this post is to do a little bragging....ahem. We made the trip. We did it. Lots of people said we were crazy. We would have to stop. We were going to wreck and kill ourselves. It was a horrible horrible idea. But we did it. Here is the full account.

     We will start with Friday, July 13th. It was a sad, stressful day. We were finishing up cleaning the apartment and getting all of our stuff out so that we could turn in our keys leave out the next day. The pods had been picked up that morning. We were staying the night with our animals at my mom's and would leave there for Tucson Saturday evening. The original plan was for Joey and I, the dog, hamster, and two cats to pile in and make the trip together. That plan had to change slightly. Our cat Rainbow turned 17 this summer. I got her when I was 7 years old from a family that had a "Free kittens" sign in there yard and a truck bed full of cats. She was the only one that curled up and went to sleep when I held her. She had three colors (black, white, and tan) so to a seven year old me it seemed obvious that I would name her Rainbow. At almost 24, I still had a cat named Rainbow. When I was 10, our house caught fire. We lost three of our pets. Rainbow and one other cat survived. When I moved out of my parents after high school, I moved her in with me to my new apartment. That apartment also caught fire (yeah yeah, I have great insurance). She survived and proceeded to move with me back to my moms, into two other apartments, a house, a friend's place, and two more apartments, one of which flooded and she had to live with another friend for a few weeks. She has led a very eventful life to say the least. But the last year things started to change. She started vomiting quite often. She had frequent bladder infections and was losing weight. This spring, things started to get really bad. She stopped grooming and became increasingly lethargic. The week we were supposed to move to Tucson, she barely moved and started losing bladder control. Thursday Joey and I sat down and talked about the situation. We agreed to take her to the vet and get their opinion. So Friday, the day before we left, I took Rainbow in. We explained our trip, our concerns, and the vet was  familiar with her condition. Basically, she was old. Her kidneys were shriveling up and her body was just shutting down. We were told that IF she survived the trip, it would take a lot out of her. Her next illness would most likely be her last. She weighed under four pounds. I couldn't put her through the trip. I couldn't bring her to a new, scary place with nothing familiar. I knew she wasn't going to go to Tucson. We made the decision, and Joey and I got to sit there with her while they sedated her and gave her the injection. I buried her in the back yard of my parents old house next to the other pets I had lost as a child. We left and went back to the apartment to finish cleaning up, realizing we would be making the trip one family member short. 
   The next morning we got up and finished up at the apartment and turned in our keys. I had breakfast with my grandmother and Joey spent the morning with his parents. At my mom's house I tried unsuccessfully to nap (I would be driving the first shift). Later my other grandmother came over and we had dinner with my parents and then began piling all of our stuff into and on top of the car. At 8:30 we pulled out of my parents drive way, stopped at Starbucks, and got on I-40. We had chosen a slightly longer route taking I-40 all the way to Albuquerque rather than driving through the wider part of Texas. It added about an hour to the trip, but there were opportunities to stop along the way and really, what is an hour more when you are going to be driving for a solid day? I had the first shift while Joey slept. The amazing part was the animals. They were great. With the exception of Jiminy crying for the first half hour, we didn't here a sound out of them the entire trip. They either slept or sat there looking out the window as we drove. It was unreal. After about six hours we were somewhere between Ft. Smith and OKC and we stopped to switch off. I tried to sleep but had little success since the sun was starting to come up ( We figure we each got about 4 hours of sleep the entire trip). Our car kept giving us a "low tire pressure" indicator, so we stopped about every three hours to air up the front driver's side tire and top off the gas tank. Finally we threw in some Fix-a-Flat and were able to go about 7 hours between airing up the tire. Six hours later outside of Amarillo (our half-way mark) we switched again. Right before we pulled off the interstate, we got caught in a speed trap we had missed. However the officer was in an extremely good mood, loved Jiminy, and let us off with just a warning while wishing us the best of luck on our move. Joey napped a bit and then we stopped outside of Albuquerque for lunch and he took over driving. I took a little nap, and the rest of the long drive through New Mexico was like any other road trip with Joey and I chatting and listening to music and commenting on the ever changing landscape. 
   That was probably my favorite part of the trip- watching the scenery change. It was so gradual but since we saw it all in a 24 hour period, it was like watching a flip book or something. The big deciduous forests of Arkansas turned into the thin sparse trees and grassland in Oklahoma which became bushes and pasture in Texas. Then New Mexico was just shrubs and less grass, then red mesas popped up along the horizon and everywhere was sand and rolling hills. Finally we were in the mountains. It was beautiful. As we were driving into Arizona, we were greeted by the monsoons which didn't clear up until we were in Tucson. We arrived at our house at 6:30 local time, 23 and 1/2 hours after we left Memphis. To be honest, it wasn't that bad of a trip. Not that I would rush to do it again anytime soon, but it did not feel like we were in the car for an entire day. Everything went smoothly, no car trouble save the tire, the animals behaved and no one got grumpy. Success. 

   So there you have it. We made it to Tucson. Now all we have to do is finish getting the house situated and relax a bit before school starts. Hopefully we will be able to post pictures of the house soon. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Master Plan

    Behind any major feat of human ingenuity is a flawless plan that is loosely adhered to and/or completely scraped during the actual execution. I am what people like to call "Type-A". I was the kid who had her pencil box meticulously organized two weeks before school started. However, my ridiculously anal-retentive tendencies are more often than not mitigated by my ability to give a (insert favorite word here) about multiple stressful things for an extended period of time. I am not sure what "type" Joey is and I don't know what his pencil box looked like in grade school, but I am fairly certain it had Ninja Turtles on it. He does however have a horribly annoying knack for keeping an even keel in terms of interest and effort when completing a task. So between the two of us, we are usually able to come up with a basic outline of plan and just fill in the details as we go. I get really excited on the front end, Joey keeps us focused, and then I have an anxiety attack and make sure everything is completed...possibly a few weeks in advance. You know. Just to be safe.    As an example, I give you- The Master Plan.

     Ok, so that one is actually DaVinci. But let me assure you, getting two adults, a Great Dane, two cats, a hamster and a household across the country is equally impressive. Here is what we came up with:

We got rid of a lot of bulky furniture. My giant four-poster bed is gone, as is our couch and entertainment center. We will just replace some of those items when we get to Tucson. All of our other furniture, belongings, etc. are being shipped in a pod. Well, two pods, actually. The brand Pod is freaking expensive, but we found another company, UPack, that we are using instead. Their pods are smaller but waaayyy more affordable. That leaves the breathing organisms. All of us will be making the drive (the 22 hour drive) in the new car. We will be taking a suitcase with just enough necessities and pet food to last us the 3-5 days for our pods to arrive. Lucky for us, we are down to just one car (and plan to remain that way for the duration of our grad school careers). Because we will all be in one vehicle, Joey and I can take turns driving, so we can make the trip in one straight shot.  This is of course assuming that no spousal arguments, pet deaths, natural disasters, or other unforeseen events take place. We will leave from Memphis at night, that way we are navigating the most familiar territory in the dark and will arrive in Tucson the next evening and can promptly pass out and go to So there you have it. Marvel at our strategy. Me being me, I have had this planned out for about...oh...6 months now. Once we actually start packing the pods and car, the entire thing may very well go out the window. But for now pretending I have a grasp on this whole "moving" situation provides me some degree of stress relief. *begins hyperventilating*