amanda_lodden: (done now)
There wasn't an update post for Friday, but if there had been, it would have been titled "If it's Friday, I must be sick of being in a truck." By the end of things, it got harder and harder to climb back into the truck after each stop, and I don't mean in a physical-difficulty way.

I had set a mental goal of Indianapolis for Friday, because I know that Indy is about 6 hours away if you're in a car in the summer (i.e., the trip to GenCon every year). I figured that winter and truck would up that to about 8 hours, and that's about how much actual driving we usually did each day (plus lunch and dinner and gas and potty and get-me-out-of-this-damned-truck stops, which translated to about 11 hours between "get in the truck at the previous night's hotel" and "get out of the truck at tonight's hotel.") When we decided to stop for dinner just before Indianapolis in order to avoid rush hour, I mentally readjusted my expectations to Fort Wayne for the night.

A snowstorm that started shortly after we got off the beltway around Indianapolis nixed that. We inched along I-69 for a little over an hour and got about 40 miles north of Indy before we called it quits. We agreed to go to bed earlier, set the alarm clock for earlier, shower the night before, and generally just do everything we could to get out on the (hopefully cleared and salted) road early on Saturday, to make up for the lack of progress Friday night.

It worked; we finished up breakfast and hit the road at about 8:30am, as opposed to our usual 10-11am. The roads were indeed cleared and salted, and we pulled into the driveway around 2pm.

There was a bit of frustration on my part, as I had tried to carefully balance "round up people to help unload" with "our driveway does not have much parking space in the winter". So I had counted on Jacob being here to help, and Chris being able to help. Jacob didn't arrive until after we were finished, and while Chris did eventually help a lot, when we first got here he was laying vinyl in my bathroom (which is not yet finished, despite my high hopes) and I had a hard time getting enough people together to take the first few large-heavy-and-in-the-way-of-everything-else items. Once we got the initial resistance overcome, both the vinyl and the unloading went smoothly.

Matt and Abigail arrived just in time to help get cars moved so that the truck could be backed around to the main plowed part of the driveway. Abigail went with me to drop off the truck, and Matt went with John to help return the vinyl roller and then pick up Abigail and I.

Penske had told me that my drop-off location was open until 6 but did not have an after-hours dropbox. As it happens, they were open until 4, which could have been a big problem for me, arriving as I did at 4:20. But fate was smiling on me yesterday, and the owner of the drop-off business (a Pack+Mail Plus) had taken pity on a customer just before me and had unlocked the door to let him in. So when I strolled in and said "I have a truck to drop off" she sighed and checked in the truck for me. It wasn't until we were midway through the check-in process that she mentioned that she had already closed. It's a good thing we got up early; I'd have been screwed if I'd had to wait until closer to six to drop the truck off.

While we were dropping off the truck, Other Chris* arrived with Connor and was confused at the lack of people. He called to inquire, and I explained where everyone is, and said "But CJ should be there. Just let yourself in, and when you find the guy you don't know, introduce yourself." I completely forgot that Dmitri was still there, and has never met Other Chris. Oops.

Once we were all back to the house, moving boxes up the stairs proceeded apace. There's still a few here and there that got missed, and there's still an entertainment center in the living room, but for the most part everything went up to the right room. There were massages for John and CJ (I have a standing appointment on Friday, and there just wasn't time for three full massages, so I ceded mine to people who don't have one to look forward to), and dinner provided by Chris and John, who had come across a special yesterday on a 3 lb chuck roast and potatoes. Marina made a salad to go with the roast. I attempted to whip up a cake to go with it, as we had a couple boxes, but I got over-eager and made too much cake for the pans I had available. They ended up overflowing the pans, and we had lots and lots of smoke, and some cake that had some not-at-all-done parts. However, it was still yummy, even if some of it was served as cake soup, and the smoke eventually cleared.

There was also some lovely conversation, and Lego Star Wars with a four-year-old (fruuuuuuuuustrating), but you had to be there for that.

Many thanks go out to Matt, Abigail, Chris, Chris, Dmitri and John for helping to unload and haul boxes. Also, thanks to Brian for suggesting Penske, which has much more comfortable trucks than U-Haul, and for a lower price. And also thanks to Jeff for loaning us his iTrip, which meant we had music for the entire trip without having to fuss with CDs or constantly scan for radio stations we could stand.

* Sorry, Chris. I don't mean to imply that you're secondary, I just wanted to keep the Chris's clear, and I'd already referred to Chris-who-lives-here as "Chris"
amanda_lodden: (Default)
Tonight's stop is Rolla, Missouri. To the natives, those two words end with the same sound ("Ral-AH, Miz-ur-AH").

We took a slight detour to avoid a tangled mess of freeway interchanges (including a toll road) in Tulsa, which took us very slightly into Arkansas and through the Ozarks. I'd really like to do it again sometime, in a smaller vehicle and during the fall. Even with all the leaves off the trees, it was a beautiful sight, and I imagine that it must be absolutely stunning when the leaves have turned.

However, I would like to gift the state of Arkansas with some of our new-fangled technology. Here, gentlemen. It's called a "guard rail". Please install some.

For the first time in five days (of driving, plus one at Rose and Brian's), we got stopped by a police officer who wanted to ask questions about what was in the truck (in theory, he stopped us for speeding, but CJ said "Sorry, I was pacing myself off the car ahead of me and didn't notice" and the cop flat-out said "I'm not concerned about your speed"). Mind you, we went through a Border Patrol station in New Mexico, and even that officer wasn't concerned about what we had in the back of the truck. Even so, this cop didn't want to actually LOOK in the back. So, the secret to smuggling in drugs and/or illegal immigrants is to look the officer in the eye, say that you're moving, and have balls of steel so that you don't flinch when you offer him the key to the lock on the back of the truck.
amanda_lodden: (Default)
Entries pertaining to moving CJ into our house can now be found at http://amanda.lodden.com/tag/road-trip/
amanda_lodden: (Default)
We're slightly east of Oklahoma City, in Shawnee. We made decent progress today, which pleases me greatly. A bit of discussion at lunch about how I get antsy when I'm the passenger because there's so very little for me to do (I can't read in the car without getting sick, and I don't know enough of his music to sing along, and we're in a very lightly populated area so there's not a lot to see out the window) led to an agreement that if I need to, we can switch to my music, but I feel guilty about it (I'm thinking I can mitigate that by letting CJ play his music when I'm driving, since I've got other things to pay attention to then). It also led to a trip to Best Buy in Amarillo (motto: "The only semblance of civilization for a hundred miles in any direction") to purchase a Nintendo DS.

Other than Amarillo, northern Texas is cow, more cows, cow, another cow, horse, cow, cow, cow. However, I was pleased to note that about half of those cows were free-range. After watching Food Inc and other where-your-food-comes-from documentaries, I had expected Cattle Country to be a sea of feedlots. And we did pass several, including one HUGE feedlot about 45 minutes west of Amarillo. But we also passed at least a hundred pastures that had small herds of cattle grazing on grass (or sagebrush, since some of those pastures were in New Mexico). I feel slightly better about my beef consumption now.

Checking into the hotel tonight was amusing. After a surprise convention in Lancaster, California the first night of our travel, we've developed a habit of having one of us (usually me, because I make CJ take the last shift of driving) go in and make sure that the hotel has rooms before we park the behemoth of a truck. I hopped out of the truck to ask about a room tonight, and when the clerk confirmed that they had some, I said "Thanks, let me just pop out and tell him it's okay to park. Oh! Do you have a AAA discount? [she nodded] Great, I'll grab his card while I'm out there." A quick jaunt out to the entrance to grab the card and tell him it was safe to find someplace, and I was back with my driver's license, my credit card, and a AAA card with a clearly-male name on it.

And then I asked if this hotel was part of a rewards program, because I couldn't remember which chain Hampton Inn is part of. But between myself and John, we have rewards memberships in nearly everything, and one of the ones we're missing is one that CJ has a membership in. As it happens, Hampton Inn is part of the Hilton chain, and that particular membership is in John's name.

Me: "Oh, that one is in my husband's name. Can you look it up?"
Clerk: "Sure. The same name as the AAA card?"
Me: "No, it's under John Lodden, L-O-D-D-E-N."
Clerk: "He's not your husband?"
Me: "Er, no."

The look she gave me clearly indicated that she Did Not Approve. I tried to explain that my husband does not take road trips well, and that had he come along I would have had to kill him before we got out of New Mexico, but I don't think that improved her opinion of me any.
amanda_lodden: (Default)
Despite Bugs Bunny's constant insistence at taking a left at Albuquerque, we took a right, starting us on the I-40 leg of the trip. I figure I-40 will take about 2 days, less if we're lucky and we manage to get a decent distance in tomorrow.

After three days of rain, today was finally a nice sunny day. It's still cold, though-- I am woefully unprepared for this weather. Tonight, there's snow on the ground. Admittedly, it's less than an inch, but the Great Southern Road Trip still has snow.

Other than the OMG COLD part, the trip is still pleasant. CJ and I have not developed a desire to kill each other, which is a plus. (Or rather: I haven't developed a desire to kill, and if he has, he's hidden it well.) However, New Mexico is fairly boring, and I am completely full up on my quota of sagebrush.
amanda_lodden: (save the earth)
We have made it to Destination: Rose and Brian's (yesterday, but trip reports are not my highest priority).

Driving a truck towing a car is far more effort than originally expected. You have to go slower, and it's harder to keep everything under control, so you spend more time fighting the steering wheel. That means having to stop earlier. Couple that with getting a later start than I had figured, and it all adds up to getting to Rose and Brian's much later than we'd planned. We'd pretty much figured that out by Thursday night, too.

So I was a bit surprised Friday when, outside of San Bernadino, I realized that I was filled with an overwhelming sense of peace. We're seriously late for the only section of the trip that has any sort of schedule attached at all, our triceps hurt from driving, we'd just witnessed a bad accident maybe an hour before... but I've got a charming travel companion whose music doesn't completely suck, the landscape was gorgeous and contained a couple of things that made me insanely happy, and all the planning for this trip was either already done or wasn't going to happen at all. Also, the accident didn't involve us (though it came close, and CJ's comment afterward was "Nicely done", referring to my skills at keeping us out of it), my back has been behaving itself very nicely, and we re-scheduled a little bit to still be able to see everyone we had plans to see (though rain in Tucson ultimately prevented us from seeing Shawn).

So far, it's quite lovely, and now we are thoroughly enjoying Rose and Brian's excellent hospitality before we head off to lunch with my aunt and uncle tomorrow (originally planned for Friday, but they were quite gracious about the reschedule) and then it's first star to the left and straight on until morning. Only without the "until morning" part because we plan to stop and rest whenever we darned well feel like it.

Oh, and those things that made me insanely happy? Huge farms of wind power in the mountains, and cattle happily grazing in the hills (meaning: not in feed lots).

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