We are currently sitting in our last hotel room in Oxnard, CA and will be moving into our apartment tomorrow morning! Somebody was apparently exhausted from our 600 mile journey…
It was another early morning and Mackenzie and I split up for the first time on the trip. We took the car off the trailer and dropped the trailer off at Penske so the truck was quite a bit lighter! Although after dropping the trailer I feel like I’m leaving the inner sanctum of truckers. It’s kind of sad, like we’re leaving our squad behind. No more flashes of the lights from my fellow brethren.
Mackenzie and Schmom took off around 7AM to make it to the apartment to get keys and make sure it was clean enough for us to move into. As a reminder to all of you out there, I signed the lease on this apartment without Mackenzie seeing it. This never happens. All decisions are always looked over by the boss. Needless to say I was a little nervous for her to see it for the first time. Rest assured though, she loved it and is just as excited as I am to get all of our stuff in there tomorrow. Man do I hope it all fits.
I was a couple hours behind the ladies as we had a coffee table that needed some additional sanding this morning. I finished the sanding with quite a bit of help from B-Rad and hit the road. My 87 point inspection is now down to only 5 points (given that we don’t have the trailer) so I was pulling out of the driveway in no time.
I hit the California border around 1:30 pm and was prompted by a very nice state border agent who asked if I had any plants or fruit in my truck. I answered “No” and kept going on my way. Thankfully we had limited room in the truck when we had packed it and the house plants were one of the first items to get the boot! As I got closer to LA I got the real welcome to California…gridlock.
But that didn’t last too long and I arrived in Oxnard around 7:30PM. A quick order to Pizza Man Dan’s for dinner…seriously you can’t make this stuff up!
Yes that is a man on a beach in a pepperoni pizza shirt with a pizza hat. And yes that is a corvette decked out in pepperoni pizza paint (I think Dan is also wearing a pizza necktie too). And they say New Yorkers love their pizza!
It’s going to be a long day tomorrow unloading the gigantic truck, but luckily we (aka Mackenzie) hired a couple of Australian men to help unload the truck (not sure who is going to benefit more from that).
What a relaxing few days in Tucson! We had a great time playing lots of pool volleyball, eating good food, and catching up with Kim, Donna, and Grandpa Jim.
We also got to work building our coffee table! Dad and I did lots of sawing, drilling, and assembling. Ian turns out to have a knack for filling the cracks in our lumber with resin. And apparently, he “has a steadier hand after a couple of beers”.
And the humans weren’t the only ones who enjoyed the pool! After taking notes watching Roobie and Gus (his Bergstrom pack), Bandito made quite a few trips into the pool himself to wade across the top step.
Once, he slipped off the step and swam his way back up and out of the pool… then celebrated by bolting back and forth across the backyard. Tucson is so much fun!!!!!
Good evening from Tucson, AZ! After 900+ miles and 13 hours on the road we made it all the way from Parker, CO.
The morning started very early with a 5:30 AM wake-up. We ran around and made sure we had everything all set and packed for the trip. Schmom had made us the best wraps for the road and we made some ice lattes as well. B-rad took Schmom to the airport so she could make her flight to Tucson and Mackenzie and I did our 35 point inspection of the truck, trailer and car (thanks again to Pops Wildman). We needed some air for one of the trailer tires so we stopped close by and filled it up. We were hoping to grab breakfast sandwiches from the convenience store but it wasn’t open. Mackenzie was, however, offered a raspberry danish from a very kind old man who was also waiting for the store to open. She politely declined and we started our trip south.
I almost forgot to mention that we had another guest in our truck for the trip, Bandit!
Bandit did pretty well, but he is a much better flyer than he is a roadtripper. We hit some high winds, crazy rains, lightning strikes and some truly spectacular views. Apparently Penske roofs are very flimsy as high wind gusts dented the roof in and out a number of times. The first time it scared all three of us and we pulled over to a rest stop shortly down the road to see what we had hit. We quickly figured it out and then only one of us was scared every subsequent time it happened (I’ll let you guess who).
The big Penske truck made it up the Raton pass, although it did struggle a bit. We had the pedal floored and we were dropping in speed from 70 to 60 to 50 and finally to 40 where we had to throw our flashers on and practically yell to hear each other over the screaming engine. Needless to say we all breathed a sigh of relief when we reached the top and crossed the border into New Mexico. I was surprised by how green New Mexico looked, they must be getting all the rain that California needs! The rain storms we drove through were quick but severe. We could see that we were going to be driving into them from miles away and then minutes before we hit the storm, we could smell the moisture in the air. The plains were gorgeous and the line about “where the deer and the antelope play” makes a whole lot more sense now. We saw a bunch of lightning strikes close by in the plains and wondered a bit if the cows in those plains ever got struck. There isn’t much taller than they are in those fields.
We got off the highway in Hatch, NM home to the famous Hatch chilis. You could smell the chilis roasting immediately after you got off the highway. We stopped at a McDonalds a bit down the road for dinner and to wait for B-rad who had been playing catch-up all day. I went in to order. A double cheeseburger with no pickle for me, chicken nuggets for Mackenzie and B-rad, and then like a beacon shining on the menu read “Green Chili Double Cheeseburger”. Could this be real? Was this an illusion? I quickly asked if I could add that to my order. The McDonalds attendant said of course and I waited anxiously to show my spoils to Mackenzie. The burger was everything we had expected and we enjoyed every bite. B-rad joined us shortly after it was finished (that was no coincidence) and we proceeded on the final leg of the journey.
We arrived Wednesday around lunch time, and enjoyed a homemade pasta salad a la Dad. So refreshing after all of that truck stop food! We played frisbee, made a beer run, and saw good friends for dinner. Ian and I collapsed in bed exhausted Wednesday night, so proud to have completed the first leg of our adventure.
Thursday morning I woke the boys up early to visit our truck in the parking lot up the street. We were happy to confirm that all of our belongings remained securely in place after over 1700 miles on the road. We unloaded all of our bins of winter coats and sweaters (all marked “I”, “M”, or “B”) and packed them away in the crawl space, which my mother cleaned out recently and is thrilled to have filled with storage for her favorite daughter, son-in-law, and grand-dog.
We headed to Pegasus for our favorite breakfast on earth – breakfast burritos smothered in green chili with a pancake for dessert – and miraculously ran into the one-and-only Barb Brown, who stopped to chat with us while we ate our incredibly delicious breakfast. Such a treat to see Barb Brown, one of our very favorite Coloradans, two meals in a row!
Next we stopped at Home Depot to buy more fencing in order to continue to fortify the prison yard backyard. The short story: my parents’ house (and entire subdivision) is suffering a mule deer infestation.
While at the giant orange mecca, I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw, on an end cap (always the end caps!) a stack of beetle kill pine lumber. Having a flashback to my Ikea coffee table abandoned on the sidewalk in New Jersey, I announced (to my dad’s utter delight), that I would like to build a beetle kill pine coffee table.
Later on Thursday we hosted a subset of the fantasy football league for an evening of catching up, playing yard games, and devouring Schmom’s delicious pork chops.
Friday, Ian headed downtown for his football draft and Dad and I embarked upon our new mission to build a coffee table. We found plans online, made a shopping list, and stopped for lunch before plugging a lumber company into our Google maps that supposedly carries the drool-worthy beetle kill pine which we intend to transform into high class DIY furniture. For any non-Coloradan readers, a breed of beetles has infested and killed a sweeping number of mountainous Colorado pine trees over many years. While the beetles are devastating for our forests, they leave behind a blue-grey stain in the outer rings of the bark that is uniquely beautiful and very special to Colorado.
Anyways, the lumber company was in the middle of nowhere…. plus a little bit farther. But look at this view!
We tried to play it cool and tell the lumber guy what we were looking for, but I ended up admitting (while Dad was in the bathroom) that I had never made furniture before and showing him our plans for his help. We left with a truck full of planed lumber that we fully intend to miraculously transform into an epic piece of furniture.
After a great few days in Colorado, our alarms are set for a bright and early wake up tomorrow to head to our next stop… Tucson!
Day 4 down and we have made it to Colorado! We hit the road around 8 AM this morning and arrived at Mackenzie’s parents’ house around noon after a hit rate of 1 out of 25 truckers giving us the symbolic head-knod (at least we’re getting a better hit rate).
After a quick conversation with the friendly fireman down the road we had secured a parking spot for our rig (that’s apparently what we truckers call it). Once we had parked we opened the back of the truck very tentatively half expecting the contents to spill out onto the parking lot. We should have known that everything would be exactly as we had left it. We did after all have an expert packer. We were very pleasantly surprised.
We spent the afternoon relaxing on the porch and playing yard games. It is amazing to not be sitting in that truck, at least for the next couple days. We had a very nice dinner with some family friends the Jacobs and Barb Brown and are currently sitting around the fire enjoying some well deserved vino. We hit the road again on Sunday to head to Tucson, AZ after my Fantasy Football draft in Denver.
What a few days it has been! Before I get all reflective and tell you all how we really felt when we first sat in that truck, I have to say we are having an absolute blast!
It kind of felt like a skier staring down a double black diamond after just learning how to stop sideways on a bunny hill. OK, it wasn’t that bad, Papa Wildman had made me back-up in the truck with the empty trailer attached and I think had purposefully let me drive home from the rental place so that I would hit a curb with the empty trailer just to get it out of my system. Reminds me of the time he took me out in a full on nor’easter in Massachusetts to teach me how to drive in the snow before I had my license. I recall him saying “What better time to learn?” I have to give it to him the logic seemed sound at the time and to this day I haven’t gotten in an accident in the snow (knock on wood). Needless to say driving a truck with all your earthly posessions towing the only transportation you have is a bit nerve-racking.
Now that we are apparently truckers (Erin – I still think I should have bought the trucker hat at Laughing Man) and have 1,500 miles under the belt, the fear has subsided a bit. We are enjoying the occasional headlight flashes we get after passing trucks to signal we’ve put enough distance between us to move back into the slow lane. Also, it makes us feel that we’re part of the clan, a sort of symbolic head-nod. If we go by proportion of symbolic head-nods, we are accepted by about 1% of the trucker community. Hey, you’ve got to start somewhere.
Another great day on the road! We have been #blessed today by beautiful weather and a much swifter pace.
We left all those “I” states behind while fueled by a couple of chocolate frappuccinos in a jar (crack) and way too many nacho cheese doritos. Yes, my stomach hurts.
We stopped for lunch at another truck stop and dined with all of our fellow truckers.
Mr. I-Will-Never-Listen-To-An-Audiobook enjoyed a few hours of a Neil Gaiman book. I guess that’s what marriage is – being willing to try something you don’t want to and being willing to admit when you like it. Like how I’ve come to enjoy golfing, snorkeling, exercising, and egg sandwiches with mayonnaise. I guess another piece of marriage is not rubbing your victory in your spouse’s face, even when you notice every time he appears to be enjoying the book on tape.
We stopped for the evening in Ogallala, Nebraska. Our hotel is next door to a great little Mexican restaurant. I’m currently munching down a taco salad, and I sadly realize that this is the healthiest thing I’ve eaten all day. The food is great but the service is a little slow… lets just say if we were driving as slowly as these servers are serving, we’d still be in Pennsylvania.
Time to get out of here and to the hotel – we’ve spent the entire day looking forward to snuggling up next to Gary tonight… Gary Farrell, that is – a fantastic bottle of wine from Patrick and Keeley. Cheers!