Greetings and welcome to Dinosaur Bear!
Well, here we are again – another move. While Dinosaur Bear is much younger than yours truly, it is old enough to have documented several moves in the past few years of my life. While moving is exciting, moving is also challenging. However, I much prefer to write about the fun side of moving – which, for SB and I – one of the most fun parts of moving is the road-trip portion (we’ve had non-road trip moves, but we still like the road-trip part the best). When we were planning our first big-people move of any noteworthy distance we had family help us and used trailers to move our things. While that move was a decent clip (~110 miles) it was also nothing compared to say… 1000 or 3100 miles. Once we hit those distances we knew we needed to be even bigger peoples and do it with a rental truck (since movers were not, are not, and likely never will be within SB and I’s budget) – or airplane. We did a lot of research on U-Haul, Budget, and Penske, as well as secondary options such as the moving cubes and lesser-known rental trucks. However, my grandfather – a former trucker (and engine builder) himself and person whom I generally consider to be the best driver I ever knew – recommended Penske. So we went with Penske. We had been leaning toward Penske – despite them being the most expensive – already, and his recommendation sealed the deal. Turns out it was an extremely good decision. We’ve now driven nearly 4,000 miles in a Penske and the only issue we’ve ever had was a non-issue where the onboard computer temporarily couldn’t read the PSI of a right-rear tire because it was something like 100 degrees outside.
So, with the specter of moving on us once more, there was no consideration – Penske or bust!
In keeping with the “L” and female themes of our past Penske trucks we went with Lucinda, a fitting name considering that we were headed to the Southwest. If you were wondering about the female thing, we have an entire system in our head-cannon for Penske trucks. First, Penske trucks come in the following sizes: 12′, 16′, 22′ and 26′. We have determined that the size of truck relates to its stage of “growth” (yes growth). Therefore a 12′ is younger than a 16′, a 16′ younger than a 22′, and a 22′ younger than 26′. Penske also offers Semi-Truck rentals, and the Semi-Truck sized Penskes are the “Grandmas” of the bunch. While Penske is nearly synonymous with yellow trucks, they also have less common white trucks. The white Penskes are male, and follow the same size-to-age algorithm. As there was far more yellows than whites, Penske trucks live in a matriarchal society. Thus if you want to empower women, go with Penske. The male Penske trucks are just fine, but Penske trucks are a society of women-haulers, make no mistake.
All of our trucks have been 12′ and yellow, thus they have been “babies” and female. Lucinda was the oldest of our trucks – we think she was about to grow into a 16′ and she was showing signs of her “terrible twelves.” There was nothing wrong with her, but she was a bit “rough around the edges” – a sure sign of a truck about to schlep off its old skin and grow. Lucinda, being near adolescence, also had a fiery spirit and liked to go fast (her cruise control liked to stay on the higher end of whatever you set it at 🙂 ).
Anyways, as we had gathered all our stuff for the first time since.. ever, we knew that the 12′ Penske was going to be tight. We almost went up to the 16′ (as the 16′ is generally the same price as the 12′ since Penske has way more 16’s than 12’s) but decided to stick to what we knew. Subsequently, my organization-loving self put the Tetris abilities of my mind to their full use and we packed Lucinda to the roof and to the door. In the end my mental planning worked and we had less than 1/4″ of clearance – space well used! I didn’t do it alone though. SB helped a lot and Tristen helped by talking about how “manries” it all was.
Penske calculates the minimum amount of time you have to rent a truck for one-way rentals based on the distance between pickup and drop-off. For us it was 7 days this time, so we ended up picking up the Penske a couple of days before leaving and keeping it for a couple of days after we arrived (which ended up being very handy since we had no car). While having a full 1.5 days to load the truck was very nice (big stuff on day 1, boxes, etc. on day 2), it still went by very quickly and before too long the room where we’d been staying at MIL & FIL’s was all but empty!
Thus, on a Friday morning we were on our way. While we’d had mostly great weather during out past moving road-trips, this time we had unintentionally timed our move with the inland arrival of Hurricane Florence, which resulted in a lot of rain until we got past the middle of the country.
For their part Lucinda and the Boys didn’t seem to mind, though the long portions of heavier rain made for stressful driving on my part. Our first night was in Gardner, KS and there it rained pretty much all evening and night. The next day we proceeded the long way through Kansas where the trip was still rainy and cloudy, but with a bit less rain than in IN and MO.
Aside from the dreary weather the trip was pretty uneventful – which is something anyone who has driven through the Great Plains is probably well versed with. We had intentionally went with “secondary” routes and had avoided the larger interstate highways precisely so that we’d get more of a true heartland road trip experience. So, the long, long, long portions of nothingness didn’t really bother me (I am actually a big fan of vast open spaces), and thankfully the rain decreased as we continued west. Plus, we got to make lots of stops in small little towns – including one such stop where Tristen met some of Sinclair’s family!
However, by the time we got to Guymon, OK (where we stayed the second night) the clouds were starting to give way to more consistent bits of blue. That night we checked the weather and knew that we were going to be mostly sunshine bound for the rest of the trip, which made us all excited. The Boys were already excited because they had their own bed, so the prospect of sunshine only made them even more excited and thus difficult to get settled into bed.
As you probably just noticed, Floppsy was with is! Yes, we adopted Floppsy before we moved! Floppsy had lived at MIL & FIL’s the entire time we had known him, and he was such a very good friend of the Boys that he decided he wanted to come live with us. So, with MIL’s permission Floppsy joined our family. Floppsy is a stay-at-home sorta bunny (who loves living in elevated places with friends – which is how he spent a lot of his life, on top of a dresser with comic book figures), so he’ll largely be helping care for our myriad of other stay-at-home buddies, but he is the newest member of the family! This was his first major trip, as up until that point sleepovers at Grandma Meem’s house were about as far as he had ventured. So Floppsy was a bit nervous about such a life change, but the Boys kept him good company!
The next day we woke to clouds, but no rain. Plus, we knew the sun was coming, so we continued westward. Before too long we hit Texas, which made Tristen quite excited. To say he was happy about being in Texas would be a gross understatement.
We weren’t in Texas a (comparatively) long amount of time as we were just skirting through the panhandle, but Texas marked the transition from the cloudy weather we’d left behind to the glorious sunshine that we’d have for the next several days. After a decent drive through the panhandle (where we saw, literally, 100,000+ cows – and I mean literally in the correct, non-millennial, sense of the word) we crossed the border into our new home: New Mexico.
Yes, SB and I are now residents of New Mexico – and have begun the (likely infinite and impossible) task of trying to become “New Mexicans.” 🙂 We had decided that NM was our goal quite some time ago, based in no small part on my own experiences there. Now, NM was also one of the more difficult places we were considering from a job perspective (we moved with zero jobs, and the one job prospect I had that seemed solid turned out to be a bust), but it was the goal and so we went with it!
Because SB and I like to arrive at our new homes early in the morning to maximum truck-unloading time, we did something similar to our move to Boston and stopped an hour or so away from our home for the final night of the road trip.
Tristen also liked our decision to stop because we took him to IHOP. The Boy loves him some restaurants like Cracker Barrel and IHOP and he had been asking for such a place for the entire trip. Actually he’d been asking since before we even left. Fortunately there was a nearby IHOP that we were able to just walk to.
Oddly enough, despite the gorgeous weather of the day, the evening brought with it a CRAZY thunderstorm. I’m talking extreme lighting and torrential, street-flooding rain. Of course the storm hit the same time we decided to go to Wal-Mart to get a few things for the next day, but that’s life. Even more funny, in all the time we’ve been here since we haven’t seen a storm as intense as that first night. When we got up the next morning you’d never guess it had poured the night before, the skies were clear blue and the earth was bone dry again.
The final stretch of a moving road-trip is always a bit of an antsy period. For one, with the magical journey of the road-trip nearing its end you have to start processing the fact that you are about to, you know, move. Then you start thinking about all the secondary things such as setting up your new home, establishing new accounts, buying things (double points for when you have no income), not to mention the quickly approaching unloading process. Fortunately, NM offered up some wonderful scenery as we drew closer to our new home.
Luckily for us, our new landlords have a very seamless move-in process and so all the paperwork and administrative stuff was very quick. It didn’t take us long to get the unloading process started and we even met one of our new neighbors who let us borrow a moving dolly. Heck, we got through the unloading process in record time! We once again determined that our mattress (not the box-springs, just the mattress) is the biggest moving PITA of the stuff we had, though new post-move acquisitions such as my desk would be far worse.
So, once we were moved-in we began the slow and steady (and ultimately nearly one month long) process of organizing, cleaning, and acquiring. Part of what made this move’s “settling” process so long was the fact that SB and I had so very little in the way of actual furniture. We had 1 – Office Chair, 1 – Small Bench, 1 – Couch (from a box, lol), 1 – Bed, and 1 – End Table. That was the extent of our furniture for what was to be the largest apartment we’ve ever rented. So, we had to spend a lot of time finding furniture within our budget. Said furniture ended up coming from a myriad of used furniture stores, Wal-Mart, Target, Amazon, and Office Max (who we no longer recommend). As such, basically all of it had to be assembled. There was so much assembling, in fact, that I got mega blisters even with the nice gloves FIL got me years ago.
However, not all of the organizing/etc. was stressful, one fun part was finally getting to combine my Icelandic beer bottle cap collection with my preexisting Murkan one.
Another fun thing is getting to know your neighborhood. I’m too reclusive to get to know many of my neighbors, though the ones I’ve met here have been nice so far. One of our neighbors has a bunch of cacti on their front porch, so that’s pretty awesome.
We tried to move all our plants outside – thinking we were being good plant parents. Turns out our sensitive indoor plants (even the Three Amigos!) were NOT prepared for the NM sun and they got sunburned! Poor Rosita looked like someone had burnt some of her leaves off with a lighter. Fortunately we noticed it pretty quick and now they are all indoors and have fully recovered. For the record, Little Friend did just fine outside. In truth Little Friend appeared to be thriving, even while his fellow cacti got roasted in the sun. He is one bad mofo, which makes his “death” all the more crazy to me, but he is doing good now!
I’ve also taken to some of the animals in our neighborhood. Of special note are our neighborhood Roadrunner – yes, an actual Roadrunner!
Our other new friend is “Alfred.” Alfred is a little lizard bro who hilariously has one particular spot he likes to soak up the sun in, and generally speaking gives no shits about you walking right next to him.
We see Alfred during portions of the way when he spot is getting the most sun, and he is a bit of a more frequent guest than the Roadrunner (who is probably out thwarting a coyote – which speaking of coyotes, we heard them out in the nearby desert one night, way cool). I have told Alfred that when Meem comes to visit she would love to meet him!
In the larger sense we’ve also been exploring our new town – mostly out of necessity, but hey that’s still exploration!
In addition to more mundane things such as acquiring furniture and consumables, we’ve also spotted a few “would like to try” places, namely Tristen’s self-proclaimed “must have or I will die” restaurant, Church’s Chicken.
Now, we’ve yet to have Church’s Chicken and Tristen is still quite alive, but the way he talks about it he is convinced every day we don’t take him is another day of Hell on Earth. We do have coupons for Church’s though, so I’m sure we’ll get it for him eventually. Another brand we’ve encountered that is new-to-us is Kodiak Cakes, a brand which specializes in pancake and waffles mixes AND – more importantly – not only features a bear on their logo, they donate a portion of their profits to help bears in the wild. As such, it is 100% Valentino approved (and sometimes aggressively required, lol).
I’ve also been exploring and revisiting beers – naturally. The one beer I was SUPER excited about was Odell Brewing Co.’s “90 Shilling” – a by most accounts good but unexceptional beer which I hadn’t been able to find for years despite having really liked it the first time I had it.
But, small stuff aside, the first BIG acquisition we made – yes even bigger than fancy beer – was our new car! Again, this is a “new-to-us” acquisition, not an actual new car, I’ll refer you back to the “no-income” bit above. 😛
So a fun fact. SB and I haven’t both owned a car since 2010, and we haven’t own a car at all since 2014. The cars we sold were both 1998s. As we now live in a place where the public transportation is either A) Non-existent or B) Way too limited, we knew we had to get a car again. We were nervous about this not only because of financial reasons, but also because this was our first “on-our-own” big-people car purchase. We also knew we had to get one quick since our rental cars: Felipe (2018 Ford Focus) and then after that, Roger (2018 Chevy Malibu) were quite expensive on a per-day basis. After deciding that the first car would likely be mostly SB’s, she – based in no small part on her time with Felipe – decided she wanted a Ford Focus. The nearest ones we wanted to look at were in Texas, so we drove to Texas for the big day.
After some test drives, a lot of discussing, even more nitpicking, some financial soul-searching, and ultimately a gauge of “prettiness” SB and I (with the final call between two cars going to SB) decided on a 2016 Ford Focus! SB knew off the bat that it was a girl, but it was several days later before her name was revealed: Felicia!
Felicia is the newest, nicest car SB and I have ever owned. Going from a 1998 to a 2016 is a heck of a jump: there are many buttons in Felicia that we had to learn via trial-and-error what they did. One of the two salespeople we spoke with was VISIBLY surprised the last car we owned was a 1998, but at least he humored our car ignorance (while trying to sell us the car, of course : ).
After adopting Felicia (adoption is expensive, yo’) our stress levels dropped substantially. Getting a car was – after an apartment – one of the main fiscal/mental hurdles we needed to jump. Sure, a lot of secondary expenses such as furniture and electronics (for instance we have no TV, I still miss Philip) added up, Felicia was the big expense and really the big requirement (you can go through day-to-day life without a TV with no real difficulty, a car – here – not so much). Now, of course we’re almost definitely going to need to get a second car, but the process will be less stressful because we won’t be relying on rental car in the interim, and now we know more about what to expect!
Of course our stress levels may have also just been lower because we had a pool day – Pigsten knows whats up.
So, that’s basically the biggest points of our Westward Bound move. We’re now mostly settled, we’ve made a lot of progress on the job front (including some better-than-expected results, and some worse-than-expected results, all at once), and the last thing we don’t have is a TV – though as of me writing this one has been ordered, so hopefully (REALLY hopefully considering the post timeline I have planned) we will have one of those too by the time this actually gets posted. We aren’t going to get cable or satellite, that’s what the interwebs and Smart TVs are for, and frankly we don’t watch enough TV to justify anything like that anyways. The main reason we are getting a TV is to watch Sehrmit videos and also so Tristen doesn’t kill us.
With all that in mind, consider the Taco Household’s HQ to now be the Southwest!
In celebration of that, I have a couple of short NM trips we’ve taken in the blog pipeline to share with you all! I also have a couple of other posts in mind, so hopefully I can keep this writing machine spurt I have going for a bit longer.
Until next time,