Moving to a new city… (Part 4)

THE FINAL CHAPTER…

Finally!  Right? So where were we…?  Oh, yeah!

DAY 1:  I set out, heading east on the 105 freeway with LAX (Los Angeles Int’l Airport) in my rearview mirror, then Los Angeles itself.  My future life was on the horizon while I had three howling cats in my ears.  Ooof!

NevadaAbout an hour and a half into the trip, a familiar odor wafted through the air and slapped me, hard, across the face.  If you guessed that one of the kitties had used the “facilities,” you’d be right.  I thanked my lucky stars that I’d been so thorough in the set up of my cats  personal areas and travel arrangements.  Their living/lounging/play space being separate from their dining area and bathroom facilities was a master stroke of genius (or was it just what anyone would have done?) that was already paying dividends.  All I needed to do was crack the window from time to time to alleviate the magnificent aroma and all was good!  Or so I thought…

Las VegasBy the time I hit Las Vegas, I was feeling good about the time I was making and decided to delay making my first stop for gas, food, bathroom and stretching my legs for a little while longer.  By the time I got to the Nevada-Arizona border, the kitty poop smell was still flaunting itself and just as strong as before, so I decided to scoop the litter box and take care of my own potty needs, as well.

UtahImage the look on my face when all I saw in the litter box was some clumped up pee!  If I smell the poop, but it isn’t in the litter box, then it must be… Aw, CRAP! The question then becomes “where exactly is it?”  The process of discovery was nothing short of fantastic!

ArizonaIt ends up that all of the hissing and howling from the the first portion of the trip was the older cats, who have serious issues with one another (who’s the ALPHA?), ended up taking out their frustrations on each other and the little guy.  Muni (pronounced Moo-knee) was so affected by the bullying that he shat himself and in the scuffling that occurred after the fact had spread the mess not only to the area he was in, but to each of the other cats, who in turn helped to spread it throughout the “kitty paradise” I thought I’d established for them.  It turns out that it was simply and plainly…HELL ON FUR! (Or is that smell on fur?)

I spent half an hour removing as much poop from their fur as possible with baby wipes. Man, that sucked!  I cleaned their area as best as I could while they were within it (not easy or fun) and then got back on the road to salvage what I could of the day and get as far as I could before settling in for the night at some random hotel where the real work would take place.

(l-r) Nudge, Muni & Shiva... The morning after the "poop" incident.

Somewhere in Utah (Richfield, I think), I stopped for the night and did my best to clean everything and everyone.  Muni, the victim of the whole dust-up, hid in the bathtub and wouldn’t come out, not even for some one-on-one cuddling… Poor little guy!

DAY 2:  In the morning, after a little food and TV, we headed out and had another fun day of driving together, but with far less troubles than the first day. Boring.  Monotonous.  Painful.  Driving.  The only thing that made the drive halfway decent, was the scenery!  I’d never been to or through half of the states I had on my route to New York/New Jersey, my son and wife and our new life together.

UtahUtah was expansive, while Colorado was breathtaking on multiple levels. There’s nothing quite like driving through the Rocky Mountains.  The sun set behind the Rocky Mountains with Denver  in my rear-view mirror and Nebraska out in front of me, as well as the dark.  I stopped in a town that’s name is too cool not to tell you.  Say it with me…Ogallala!  OGALLALA!

DAY 3:  On a side-note, I lost my camera! The last place I could remember having it was at the Nebraska border where I’d stopped to take a picture of the “Welcome to Nebraska” sign.  I realized this an hour after leaving Ogallala, then drove all the way back to search the room, interrogate the housekeeper at the hotel, and I even considered going back to the welcome sign.  But ultimately, after losing so much time and effort, I finally gave up on it and headed east… 8^(

From here on out things got pretty boring on all fronts, until the next night when I got to Chicago.  I tried to see some of the town, but got lost trying to find my way there and wound up in a place NOBODY wants to be…trust me on that!  So I escaped across the border to Indiana and found refuge in yet another non-descript hotel room.  In reality, the hotel room (each and every one of them) was more for the cats than for me.  I can’t begin to imagine what it must have been like for them, despite having everything they needed, including each cat having opportunities for “private-time” with me along the way.

The Rocky Mountains

DAY 4:  By this time, I was so tired of driving that I was giving serious thought to trying to make it all the way to my family without another overnight stop… I mean, I was on the verge of losing my ever-lovin’ mind from all of the “quality” time I was spending with my cats, the road, and myself!  So I tried to push as far and as fast as I could (without getting a ticket!) and in the process, I nearly completely ran out of gas near Cleveland, OH.  I was incredibly tempted to stop and visit the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame, but didn’t because of the cats.  I couldn’t have left them in the car while I went and enjoyed myself…plus, it’s illegal (I think)!

Sunset over the Rockies

I made it to Pennsylvania and was beginning to feel extremely tired and road-wary.  Remember my good friend Tony that I told you about (He helped me pack up the moving truck…I’ve known him since I was 6 years old)?  Well, his family is originally from St. Mary’s, Pennsylvania.  I figured that because I’d heard so much about them and the town, that it would be a crying shame to miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to meet these people I felt as though I already knew.  A phone call later and I had a destination…Dino’s Place.

I walked in, introduced myself as Tony’s friend from El Segundo, CA, and in an instant, Dino (Tony’s cousin) welcomed me with open arms and teated me like family.  It was more than I could have expected, yet, how I could have expected any less is completely beyond me!  I had a really nice evening and much needed relaxation time without the kitties.  The only bummer about St. Mary’s, PA and meeting Dino was that I couldn’t stay longer!

Most of my trip, as I said before, was through new territory for me, which was mostly exciting, but a little unsettling at the same time.  The people I met in St. Mary’s were really great! They were warm and friendly, hard-working and easy-going…the kind of people you try to surround yourself with no matter where you find yourself.

DAY 5:  I got up and out as early as I could muster and SPED the whole rest of the way to my family in New Jersey!  I made it through Pennsylvania and into Jersey without incident.  The last 5 miles felt like 25 miles…at least!  When I finally pulled up to the house, I thought I could hear my GPS sigh in relief before it fell off the windshield and into a heap on the floormat!

WE MADE IT!  The kitties and I were actually…home! It felt really good to be done with that drive and off the road.  The countryside was beautiful, boring, unexpected and dreadful.  It just depended on the day and state I was in.  Could I do it again?  Yeah, I think so.  Will I do it again?

I SURE HOPE NOT!

Moving to a new city… (Part 3)

So now that you’re up to date on why I moved and how I got my stuff there, it’s time to share the messy, yet inexplicably painful details of how I got from coast to coast (west to east, best to least).

Devan & Vanessa

My wife flew from Los Angeles to Newark, NJ with our then 6 month old son.  It was never even a remote consideration that the two of them would endure such a long drive across this great (and expansive) country of ours.  I, in the meantime,  remained behind to finish packing up our belongings, load them into the ABF trailer we’d arranged to transport our stuff and to tie up any remaining loose ends.  I had two days to complete our business in L.A. and get gone!  By the way, this was the longest I’d ever been away from my wife and son and it was already getting to me by the end of the first day!

My best friends and helpers (l-r: Jason, Tony and ME)

Packing is never a fun thing to do, especially by your self.  Luckily, I had two friends that had offered their services to assist me get the “big” stuff from my apartment into the ABF trailer. As much as I appreciated their help, we didn’t get as much done as I needed to with their help.  They left earlier than I’d anticipated, hence, leaving me with WAY too much to do in far too little time.  That was mostly my fault!  I didn’t have my stuff together as well as I should have.  If not for Tony and Jason, I’d have been SCREWED!  Thanks guys!

Needless to say, somehow, I got it done.  Barely!  There was just one major hitch…we had three cats that had to find their way across country, too.  At the time, we explored several options, all of which proved to be completely ridiculous.  In the end, there were only two viable options…

Firstly, we’d thought about flying them out to minimize the stress on the cats and for ease of responsibility on us.  But that fantasy quickly evaporated when we learned it would cost $900 per cat!  One cat cost 50% more to fly out than it cost for either my wife or my son…FORGET THAT!

(l-r) Shiva, Muni & Nudge

Secondly, we considered them taking the scenic route (with me), driving across country.  I had to plan this out carefully.  Imagine if you will…3 cats and 1 human in a 4-door sedan, traveling 2,800 miles together.  Scary, isn’t it?  Absolutely!

If you ever find yourself, or know of someone, in need of making a similar trip, I strongly suggest you take this to heart and learn from it the best you can.  To begin, this is more stressful than you can imagine for not only yourself, but the cats as well!

What are the absolute necessities involved with such an endeavor?  Here’s what I came up with: Litter box, food, water, baby wipes, paper towels, and most importantly, a barrier between your fuzzy little friends and yourself!  I can not stress enough the importance of this last item!  It will be the difference between making it safely to your destination…or not.

Luckily for me, my car had back seats that folded down allowing access to the trunk area.  I purchased a collapsable pet enclosure/house/containment unit that measured approximately 4×4 feet (octagonally shaped) and 2 feet high, that fit in back of the front seats and sat on top of the folded down rear seats.  I faced the opening of the enclosure towards the trunk opening and then secured and blocked the sides from any possible kitty escapes or entanglements (and OF COURSE duct tape was involved!). There were also two mesh windows so they could look out and feel like they were a part of the action!

The enclosure in the back seat was decked out with lounging stations, towels, toys and assorted kitty treats to be implemented at various times along the route.  The trunk was divided into two areas…the bathroom and the dining room.  I KNOW!  That sounds a little close for comfort, but I really did do a good job creating separate spaces to avoid cross-contamination of the two.  Also, there was water and food in the main area, though it mostly just got knocked over,,,ALOT!

Our apartment in L.A.

The day I left, I managed to get all 3 cats into the car and “cat area” with minimal trouble by doing it one cat at a time.  Did I mention that two of the cats can’t stand each other and were/are constantly antagonizing one another?  No?  Oops! Now you know…

With rampant caterwauling, hissing and WWF style wrestling going on in the back of the car, I got onto the 105 freeway, heading east, and put my home and my life as I knew it in my rearview mirror to the sounds of Bad Religion and Agent Orange pouring out from my speakers (punk rock seemed like the fitting thing to play leaving LA!).  Little did I know that this adventure was about to take on a life of it’s own…

Moving to a new city… (Part 2)

So… As you may or may not know, moving is alot of things, but easy isn’t one of them!  When you do it locally, it’s a pain in your butt, but manageable.  Normally, you rent a moving truck that you pick-up, load, drive, unload and return it all yourself.  Most of us have done this at least once, if not six or seven times, in our lives. I usually rent from U-Haul, as I find they normally have the best deals, no local mileage cost and generally have pretty decent hours, depending on location.  There are plenty of companies to choose from, with most being fairly equal to the next, such as Budget and Penske to name a few.  The choice is yours to make, just make sure you shop around and compare prices, mileage and other details that may pertain to you to ensure your decision  isn’t loaded with unwanted surprises!

Moving across the country, coast to coast, is an entirely different beast!  My wife had performed a reconnaissance mission to find a house for us to land in, whilest I was busy taking care of our 4 month old son and trying to begin the laborious ordeal of packing our lives into boxes, as well as finding a moving company to get it all from Los Angeles, CA to New Jersey.

Needless to say, while I was taking care of our baby, I failed to get very much lot done in the way of packing.  However, I did manage to fight my way through more than a half dozen or more moving companies, looking for solutions to my moving nightmare. And as you know, my first consideration had to be pricing!

Some companies will come out, pack all of your stuff into boxes, load it up, drive it out, unload it and put it all in the house for you…for a hefty price, of course! If you have the money to spare and your main concern is ease of transition for you and your family with minimal physical or mental stress, then this is the way to go!  Besides certain items that YOU must do yourself (i.e. important documents, jewelry, etc.), for your own piece of mind, let someone else have and deal with the headache.  I reminds me of hiring a surrogate to carry your child to term either because you can’t or don’t want to.  Only, instead of a child, it’s your material life.

The next step down in pricing is the one where the company still comes out, loads all your stuff, drives it cross country and delivers it to and inside your house. But the big difference here is that YOU have to pack all of your own stuff into boxes yourself.  This is the most commonly used option I’ve found that people choose to utilize.  Depending on the size of your home and how much additional goodies you have in tow (not including vehicles), this option usually starts around $2,500 and goes up,up, up…

Unless you actually own, or have a friend who owns their own “big rig” (and is willing to help you out), I wouldn’t even begin to disillusion yourself with the fantasy that you might be able to somehow pack everything up yourself and then drive across country on your own.  Seriously? You must be out of your ever-loving mind!  There is no money to be saved going this route… I promise!  I only say this because I explored this possibility (due to my previously admitted cheap streak) and had to slap myself around!  I don’t know what I was thinking, but I swore I’d never smoke crack again!

Laughing yet? Good! That was a joke…you’re supposed to laugh!

As I prepared myself to go into the fetal position over the unGODly amount of money I thought I was going to have to spend on my family’s move, I discovered my saving grace, the answer that restored my sanity and allowed me to breathe again, as though everything might actually work out in my favor…it was the moving company ABF.

ABF will come to your place, drop off a trailer (you know, the big box on wheels that hold lots of stuff and gets pulled/dragged behind the actual truck) and let YOU load all of your stuff on your own in as much or little time as you need to do it.  Once you’ve completed loading it up, you call them up requesting a pick-up and within 24 hours, they’ll come and get it.  The beauty of this, is that you only pay for the amount of space your belongings take up in the trailer.  They have other customers that need items transported also, but don’t require an entire trailer to themselves, just as I didn’t or you wouldn’t.  They reduce the cost for themselves by doing so, and in turn, pass along some of that to the customer as well.  It’s a win-win situation.

I, Señor Cheap-o, got off the hook for between $1,200 and $1,300… WOOOOHOOOOO!  Talk about being a happy camper! It was half the price of the next best option out there! Sorry if I’m hurting your eardrums by screaming (using exclamation points) so much!  It’s just that I get really animated when I recount the money I saved and the piece of mind that I had not worrying about some ding-dong, knucklehead with all thumbs and two left feet, being in charge of loading, driving, and unloading my precious belongings!  I was the only jerk to blame if something went awry due to the packing/loading process.  I could live with that!

After ABF came and picked up the trailer, I drove myself across country, cuz I’m too cheap to have my car transported ($900-1,300), and then upon my arrival, I called them up to let them know I was ready for my stuff. ABF dropped off the trailer at my new home the very next day, I unloaded it over the course of two days, and then they picked it back up after I called to let them know.  It took me five days to travel 2,800 miles with 3 cats (that’s an entire entry right there!) and the day I arrived I made the call.  My stuff was already there and waiting for me, making me happier than I’d imagined I could be.

There are lots of different options out there to suit lots of different needs.  I don’t know where anyone else’s lies, but I found the answer to my moving need within the time I needed and for a price I could live with!

Moving to a new city… (Part 1)

My whole life took a dramatic turn when I met my wife…

Less than three months later, my father died. Seven months after that, we got pregnant!  Due to some really messed up stuff involving my brother and a “family-friend” (that’s a whole different topic that I may or may not get to eventually), we had to move out my house and into an apartment .  I started a new job teaching at a charter school and then BAM!… I get a call from my wife telling me to get home quick!

After a long labor (I swear, her mother being there was more stressful on her than the agonizing pain she endured delivering naturally), our son was born and the whole world around us swung wildly in new directions, unbeknownst to us in that lost moment that seemed to never end, though could never be long enough!

When my son was five and a half months old, I was laid off of my job as a teacher and all seemed lost.  My wife’s family had a business in New York City that had just cleared some legal issues in court and was in need of some TLC, so we packed ourselves up and moved from L.A. to NYC…

Holy crap! I never knew just what a logistical nightmare it was to literally pack up your entire life and move everything across country!  There’s the obvious things such as packing things into boxes and labeling them appropriately to ease in the unpacking process, choosing a moving company to transport your stuff and forwarding your mail, to name but a few.

But ALL of the other stuff tucked inside of those self-evident items of concern, in addition to the cavalcade of other things you never thought of (but are now suddenly thrust into the thick of tackling before they tackle you), can really overwhelm a guy! Who am I kidding?  They did!

Now that I’ve “set the table,” so to speak, what comes next in this story is a host of advise, tips, do’s and don’ts and the inevitable stories that will be sure to make the toughest of you squirm in your seat, experience the heebie-jeebies and flinch in horror (kinda like when you witness another guy get kicked in the jewels – you can’t help but feel the pain!)… And all of this, neatly wrapped up within the next installment of my blog.

Kinda makes you wish you had a beer and some popcorn, don’t it?!  Never fear, for you have me and my misadventures to shed a ray of hope for you and yours… Or so, that’s how I hope this will translate!  If not, at least it’ll be a roadmap you’ll want to make sure you avoid.  Either way, I hope it helps!