I have arrived in Princeton. I now know why it says "Adventures in Moving" on the side of all U-Haul trucks. I highly recommend AGAINST doing a move of this size yourself. Here was my experience:
First, we started with the fact that my wife Sue got a last minute interview in Pennsylvania so she was gone on Tuesday and Wednesday when we were loading the truck on Thursday. I ran out of box labels at box 100. Where did all this crap come from? So here I am finishing the packing and taking care of my daughter Chelsea all by myself.
The day of the move arrives and, of course, it hits over 90F for the hottest day ever recorded in June in Seattle. The three guys I hired show up only a few minutes late, and it takes us about 5.5 hours to load the truck. However, I'm not done packing. I now need to get the car carrier since you can't pull out the ramp when the carrier is attached. I get the carrier and load the car. We now use the car as extra packing area. Remember this, since it is key later. We finally finish cleaning out the house and packing at about 9:00 p.m. I now try to turn the truck around. However, with the carrier attached to the truck, this turns out to be impossible, so instead I spend about 45 minutes trying to back into the street.
Once I accomplished this, we discover that one of the carrier's tires is flat. It actually turns out to be a slow leak that I have to deal with on the entire trip. I now have to try and get my dog, Quinn, into the car. However, she hates riding in vehicles so I actually have to pick up this 80 pound dog and heave her onto the truck seat, which is about 5.5 feet off the ground.
I finally pull into a quite decent Best Western in Ellensburg (Washington State) about 12:30 am (Thank God for having joined AAA). We get about six hours sleep before getting up and heading for Utah. While this would have been a long day anyway, the fact that the now fully loaded truck won't do better than 25 uphill makes for a really long day. I pull in at about 10:30 p.m. to a barely decent HoJo's, but it does have one redeeming feature--a hot tub.
The next morning after the free continental breakfast (OJ and a chocolate doughnut), we head out at about 7:00 a.m. This turns out to be one of the more interesting days. Somewhere in the middle of Nowhere, Wyoming I hit a rain storm. No big deal except I decide to turn the lights on. I discover that when I do this, the idiot lights go on. In addition, the accompanying noises combines a whining three-year old and the sound fingernails make on a chalk board. After stopping a few times, I realize it only happens when I turn the lights on, so I decide to press on with out using the lights whenever possible.
I finally pull into Boulder, Colorado at about 7:00 p.m. where I will visit one of my fraternity brothers for a day. However, Bryan has no place to park the truck and the trailer near his apartment, so he suggests I park near where he works and take the car off the trailer to get to his place. I discover the now fully loaded car won't come off the trailer so I have to unload the car, take it off the trailer and reload the car to go to Bryan's. When I left Boulder, I had to completely reverse the process. This caused me to leave quite late after getting gas at the Gunbarrel Amoco. Add in the time change going into Kansas and now I was real late getting to my cousin's in Kansas City.
Even with the late start, I feel I'm making real good time since it's all downhill now to the Mississippi. However, in the middle of Nowhere, Kansas (Saline for those of you with a map or a knowledge of useless trivia), I discover what a wall cloud looks like. For you non-midwesterners, a wall cloud is the precursor to a tornado. Well, about 15 minutes after I drive through this dark cloud (without lights) and rain and hail, sirens start going off that are loud enough such that I can here them in the truck over the radio with the windows rolled up. The radio then breaks in with the reports of the sighting of a funnel cloud in Saline, Kansas. So I'm thinking, "Great! Here I am driving down the road in truck that has the same shape as a mobile home (the original tornado magnet)."
As I am driving, they keep tracking the storm on the radio and issuing tornado warnings (they actually have these two guys out in the field doing a play-by-play on the wall cloud.
"I see one edge dropping down and I think it seems to be forming a funnel, oh, no it seems to be going back up...."
Boy, life on the farm is real exciting :-}). I keep looking at the map and figure if I keep going I can stay ahead of the storm. However, I wonder if I have time to stop for gas or to eat. Finally, I make it to Kansas City about 11:30 p.m.
I spend the next day visiting with my cousin and we go out to dinner. Wouldn't you know it, right in the middle of dinner--more tornado warnings (somehow I think Seattle and the possibility of earthquakes was easier to deal with).
The next day I continue on east. This day is pretty uneventful, except for when I hit the rumble strips on the side of the road. This causes Quinn to leap into my lap. Driving the truck is hard enough but even harder with an 80 pound dog sitting in your lap. I manage to get to Indianapolis in time to stop by and see the new international headquarters for my fraternity. I see, like me, everything there is in a box. I then end the day at a HoJo's in Richmond, Indiana. As soon as I pull in I discover that the parking lot is not wide enough in which to turn the truck around. However, I'm lucky in that the place isn't full and in a couple of moves and using the grass I get it done.
The next day is supposed to be the last of my eastward drive. The day gets off to a bad start in Ohio when I pull into a McDonalds for lunch to discover that there is no way through to this parking lot. I then have to try an back out while all these local yokels are trying to pull in. They don't seem too pleased with me, and not one in over 50 cars stops and tries to offer me any help. So much for for friendly Midwesterners. I finally make it to Pennsylvania where after only a few minutes traffic comes to a complete stop because of some accident that has completely closed the highway. After sitting for almost an hour we start moving again. Somewhere in central Pennsylvania, I hit thunderstorms again. However, for some reason, this time I decide to turn the lights on. Again all the idiot lights and noises come on, except this time we have a new phenomenon--NO BRAKES. Yes, in the mountains of Pennsylvania with no brakes.
Luckily, I am only a couple of miles on fairly flat terrain from a rest area. However, while I am coasting into the rest area I hear on the radio a tornado warning for this region. So do I stay or do I go? Well, I stop and call Ryder Rent-a-truck. They come out within two hours and we discover the problem is some frayed wires from the trailer to the truck. How this screwed up my brakes I still don't understand except it may have shorted out the whole hydaulic system. With this problem fixed, I make it the rest of the way to Philly and to my sister-in-law's house.
After getting a good night's sleep we went over to our new rental house. My sister-in-law insisted the front lawn was wide enough in which to turn the truck around. It was not. So I ended up parking the truck sideways between two big trees. I figure after I unload the car, I would maneuver and get the truck turned around. We then went to inspect the house.
While doing the walk-through to note any damage before we moved in, the skies opened up. Since the house is located between the Delaware River and a canal, the ground was kind of soft and moist to begin with. With the additional rain, the truck proceeded to sink up to its axles in mud. We unloaded the car, detached the car carrier and unloaded the truck. Even with the truck empty, we were still stuck, so I had to get a tow truck to winch me out. I then got rid of the truck. Now I started unpacking things and I hooked up the washer and dryer. However, I didn't hook up the washer properly so when I did the first load the drain pipe came loose and I had a basement full of water.
My first purchase upon returning to the East Coast was air conditioner. However, the wiring in my house is a little suspect. Running the air conditioner all night seems to make the hot water heater trip. So I have a choice--do I want to sleep well or do I want a hot shower in the morning?
The house, in a word, is quaint or rustic. There is plenty of land, along with a barn and four horse stalls. However this idyllic scene is interrupted by the I-95 bridge, which is next to the house. Every time a truck goes over the bridge and hits the bridge road joint, the whole house rattles.
The bridge also seems to be a lightening rod. We have already lost power three times. The storm last Saturday night caused a big old locust tree to come down. This took out all the power, the phone and cable lines. It also destroyed the fenced yard that we wanted for the dog. The tree also landed in the driveway, which makes getting in and out difficult. I've been trying for three days to get a hold of my landlady to see what she wants to do. But all I've gotten is her answering machine. Just my luck, she's probably away on vacation.
Oh, well, it's only for nine months. We shall see.