Monday, June 25, 2012

The Great American Road Trip

One week from today, we fly out of London back to the US.  Though I am leaving behind a city and country I have come to greatly appreciate, and a job that I love, love, love...I can now say I AM SO FREAKIN' EXCITED to leave and start our road trip!!!

It's been a desire of mine for close to a decade to drive across the country, and about this time last year, I mentioned this to Simon when we started talking about 'how' we would make the move.  We initially decided to be practical and find jobs first, but responses from that effort 6 months ago quite literally made it clear that we would have to be Stateside to properly job-seek.  So, we then thought we'd move, land in NC, visit my dad, and take a week or two to quickly get cross country.  Then you get reminded about how about how short life can be (Simon's dad wasn't even 60 when he passed away 7 weeks ago), and we decided-well, really Simon decided (I was always OK with it...) to take a proper amount of time off (2-3 months), and really make this a trip of a lifetime.

So, about this time next week, we land in Charlotte, NC. We'll spend a week with my dad-car shopping-and then go to the beach with him for 4 days.  We'll return, do some laundry, catch up with a few friends, and then on Sunday, July 15 begin what is currently shaping up to be a 6 week drive across the US!  We estimate that we'll arrive in Seattle around August 30, and I.can't.wait.

We'll potter in the South along the coast for over a week, but then once we hit Atlanta, it's on! :)  Nashville, Memphis, Oxford, NOLA, Houston..that's 2 weeks. Two more weeks gets us thru Texas (Houston, Austin, San Antonio), New Mexico (Santa Fe, Albequerque), and Arizona (Grand Canyon, Sedona, Phoenix).  Then we should hit California at San Diego, and begin 2 weeks pottering along the CA Coast.  We'll then spend the last week in Oregon-before finishing off 2 nights at McMenamins Edgefield in Troutdale (where we got married), then make a last drive to Seattle.

If anyone has any suggested things to see/do/eat/places to stay for under $100 (that hopefully have some "character"), give me a shout-I'd love to know! I'm familiar with everything up to NOLA, and then I've either not been-or it's been soooooo long, that I need a refresher.

Simon is concerned about the heat & humidity of the trip-and up to central CA, it is going to be a challenge for him-er...and a challenge for me. :)  He doesn't deal with heat very well.  So, erm...if anyone has traveled with kids in the heat, I'd love some suggestions as well!  hee hee...

Wish us luck!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

...and Breathe

Wow.  What an intense 4 days it's been. I never thought I could be as stressed as I was when I moved FROM the US, and it turns out...I was wrong!

Saturday was chock full with errands, packing, and last minute details to get the flat ready for the check out guy to review (painting, replacing burnt out light bulbs, etc) on Tuesday.  We also had our leaving-do pub crawl in Borough Market, and I accidentally doubled booked myself at a college alumni event for the first pub of the crawl, so I spent most of the alumni event being stressed about missing my own leaving-do.
Sunday, we packed up the rest of our bits in the flat (movers had already taken most things the week before) that we'll use for the next 3 months while travelling. That was an effort in itself: I over estimated the amount of 'stuff' I was keeping-versus packing space, and there was a sizable moment of panic (in truth, an actual panic attack) when I tried to figure out how to deal with it all-what had to be packed immediately, what I would need for the next 2 days, and what I would need on Wednesday morning in the hotel we were moving into
From the packing, we brought all 6 bags to my office to store until we moved until a hotel on Tuesday night (our lease expired 10 days before our flights).  And then we raced home to get ready to go to a friends flat who was hosting us and our pub quiz team for Sunday lunch.  It was a lovely time-it's always great fun with that group, and the food was simply amazing, but around 6pm, my mind started thinking about all the remaining to-do items that had to be done, so we raced back home to continue pottering in the flat.
Monday, the cleaners came to give the flat the contractually required deep clean, and though they did a good job, they kind of broke the oven-and with the impending check out the next day, that caused unnecessary stress.
Tuesday...good ol' Tuesday.  I was up at 4.30am to catch a flight for work, so that left Simon holding the bag to deal with the check out guy-and juggle the cleaners returning 30 minutes before check out to try to fix the oven (which they couldn't...)-and managing to get the last 2 bags of our things out the door, back to work, and then eventually to the hotel
I finally got to the hotel around 11.30pm last night with barely one eye open, I was so tired.  So, after settling in, I finally took a deep breath and relaxed.

That was just me.  While all of this was going on, Simon has been dealing with his last week of work, a last trip to his Dad's house to deal with estate things, and juggling all of the bits from the move that I wasn't around to do (such as the check out inventory).  It all really seemed to pile up on Simon on Monday, and he had a little mini-breakdown after dinner.  He's made the mistake of not just doing the things that *absolutely have to be done* and is instead also trying to do things he *wants done*...and his list is too long.  Simon is trying to wrap up all of the loose ends, and there comes a point when doing what we're doing, where you have to realize that there are loose ends that won't get wrapped up.  Possibly ever.  At least in hindsight from my US to UK move, I did learn that very painful lesson, and am using it this time.

I think it really hit him hard, so Monday night was spent trying to calm him down and tell him that all of the must-do things WILL get done.  I don't like seeing him so stressed, and though I knew this move would be hard on both of us, since I'm worrying about him as well, I do think this move may actually be a bit harder than the US to UK move.  The logistics are no different (generally speaking...), but I have someone other than myself to think about -and that someone has never done this kind of thing before.

The GOOD news however, is that when I got to the hotel last night, it did seem as if Simon were feeling better about everything, as he seemed more relaxed and back to his usual chatty self (he wasn't chatty the days before).  And, this morning when I got up-and throughout today-I've realized that I am now beginning to look forward to the move, instead of dreading all of the things I have to get done before.

I think the hardest part of this life-change is over (God, I hope so!), and for the first time in a long time, I (we) seem to be breathing a bit easier.  Whew.

Oh, and the picture below?  That's 'home sweet home' until July 2.  Good times...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Let the Anger Begin

I had almost (*almost*) forgotten how incredibly frustrating my move here was 4 years ago.  I had almost (but not quite...) forgotten how incredibly angry I felt for the first 3 months I was living in London while trying to establish my life here, and had to deal with the endless bureaucracy.  Almost.

And, then I was reminded today when I had to go to the Post Office and submit our change of address form.    Oh, US Postal Service.  How I sooooo took you for granted when living in the US-and for that, I will forever be sorry.  I sincerely apologize.  I want to thank you for delivering my mail to me (unlike my current post man who is completely incapable), and I want to thank you for not charging me an extortionate amount of money (or, anything for that matter!) when I submit a change of address form when I move.  Mind you, this could possibly explain why you're currently bankrupt, but I don't want to split hairs...

The UK Post Office, in their piss-poor way, thinks it's OK to charge me £250 for 6 months of mail forwarding.  £125 for Simon. £125 for me.  Because we have different.last.names.  Same house.  Same address.  Both moving.  Different last names. And for that we're being penalized.

Given the track record of mail delivery the past 4 years (my magazine subscriptions 'mysteriously' stopped getting delivered....and last week, I took delivery of *all* of my neighbors mail-one of dozens of mis-deliveries...), I get the sincere feeling that submitting the form doesn't really matter-and we're very likely to only receive 10-15% of all of the mail that we'll be due.

Grumble. Grumble.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Life As We Know It

This is it.  The last week of life as we know it.  The movers come on Thursday to begin packing up, and will remove everything on Friday.  At that point, the flat will be barely a quarter full-compared to now.  That will be weird.
We head out Friday for our last long-weekend in Barcelona-well, at least 'last' for a good while.  We get back to London on Monday super late, and have our final leaving-do the following Saturday, June 16.
Tuesday, June 19, we 'check out' of our flat-and check in to a Travelodge in Covent Garden until July 2.

From there, we fly the friendly skies to the US-and by our estimation, will spend about 58 days on the road.  .

By my count, after Wednesday nite, it will be almost 100 days before we sleep in our bed again.  Excited-and not looking forward to bad beds all at the same time. :)