Moving Across the Country: The U-Haul Way

BlogHer Original Post

If there's one thing I should have remembered about moving it's that nothing goes according to schedule. I somehow forgot that little tidbit of information when I was planning how many "Moving Across the Country" blog posts I would have made by now. I'm behind on blogging and I'm behind on everything else. Moving is a huge time suck.

Anyway, back when we were talking about the really serious issues related to moving, I we I decided that there was no way we could afford to pay someone to move us. It's a lot of work to move yourself, I know that, but I didn't feel too badly about telling TW that she would be driving the 26' truck from Florida to Illinois. After all, she's been bragging about driving a big moving van from Maryland to Florida for years now. She likes driving those big trucks, she's said so a million times.

We rented a U-Haul and we rented some guys on both ends to help us load/unload the truck. We spent months giving away or selling most of our belongings and by the time we reached the day of the big pack out, I was no longer worried that we'd get everything on the truck. Either we would or we wouldn't, worrying wasn't going to solve that. TW decided to take that moment to begin worrying. Nice how that worked. I worried for three months while she swore it would all fit. I stopped worrying and she picked up the slack. She also made some tough decisions that morning and gave away stuff she'd been holding onto.

Before I talk about the actual pack up, I'm going to give y'all a chance to make some lesbian U-Haul jokes. It's ok, I'll even help you out a bit. When we picked up the truck, a lesbian was working at U-Haul and she was very interested in having TW call her... anytime... just to chat! Of course she was, any lesbian knows that two lesbians and U-Haul means the relationship is on its way to over... might as well try and hook up your next date. Hah. Whatever.

TW drove the truck home and we packed that "grandma's attic" part of the truck with all of TW's china and stemware. The 21 year old was there to help. (Did I forget to mention that TW dropped the bed on my toe that morning and I was wandering around with a broken toe? Oops. My bad. She did and I was.) We finished loading that part and were quite proud of our work and then we waited for our rental loaders to arrive. When they were a little "late", I called them.

Oops. TW had given them our home number and I, trying to save some money, had disconnected it. So, they weren't sure they were still supposed to come. I gave them directions from Jacksonville to our home and they said they'd be there in an hour. After a good bit of nagging, TW convinced us that we could move the heavy, heavy furniture into the truck ourselves. Chris and I were skeptical but willing to give it a try and we did manage to do it ourselves. Color me SHOCKED and TW smug.

90 minutes had passed, the loaders still had not arrived so I called them back - they're lost. It's really easy to get to our house from Jax. I gave good directions. I gave them more directions and we kept on loading. Chris had to go to work but the 24 year old who lived with us for years arrived and he picked up where Chris left off.

An hour later, the loaders arrived and when they see that we've loaded more than half of the truck without them - they were ANGRY. We called them all the way out here to pack THIS? How dare we waste their time. I wasn't amused by this attitude. They did get to work, and while we weren't impressed with them they did get the rest of the truck loaded while TW and I sat and rested and were happy because yes, it was all going to fit on the truck... even my grafted gardenia in the really huge pot.

We spent the 4th of July cleaning the house, trying not to be weepy about leaving the big kids behind and trying not to be too grouchy about moving. And the next day... we were off to Illinois.

I drove the brand new Prius full of STUFF and the cockatiel and TW drove the 26' U-Haul full of STUFF and the dog. It was only a couple hours into the trip before TW made it clear that she didn't really LIKE driving big trucks. In fact, it's really hard and she had hoped to never do it again. Umm huh? First I'd heard of her ambivalence about truck driving. She always said how much she loved it. Oh well, too late.

We hit the halfway point, Manchester, Tennessee and stopped for the night. I took that moment to email the rental guys who were supposed to arrive at our house in Illinois on Monday to unpack the truck. I didn't want a no-show repeat. The nice gentleman emailed me back and said yes! They'd be there! Thank goodness, that was one less thing to worry about for the last leg of the trip, which we made almost uneventfully. There was a detour at the Indiana/Illinois border that caused us an extra hour of driving and put us smack in the middle of Wrigleyville as the ball game ended. There was the insane driver coming onto Edens Expy at Dempster RD who tried to kill TW and the U-Haul. Other than that, no problem.

The next day, we woke up early and we started unpacking the truck. We didn't do much. We were tired and stuff was wedged in there like crazy. When 9am arrived and the unloaders were not there, I called. And left a message. And the gentleman called me back and said "We weren't sure if we were still supposed to come because when we called the number was disconnected." I was, by that point, done with these rental guys and not so gently reminded him that I had emailed him on Saturday night and that he had replied. He questioned that the email exchange had ever occurred and then realized that was the wrong thing to say and vowed to get a team right out.

An hour later - no unloading guys. I called. They called back "we're on 294, we'll be there soon." An hour later - no guys. I called. Left a message. 20 minutes later, two guys showed up. A man older than me and a young man my son's age. He apologized... the boss was angry, the directions were bad, the other crew gave up on the directions and went back, he got sent out to take their place, etc.... and then he and his son got to work.

And boy did they work. TW and I helped a good bit but those guys seriously WORKED. They didn't complain a bit about the very very heavy furniture. They manhandled it, not even bothering with the dolly. They did, however, do a bit of complaining about the sheer number of boxes ... and about the very large number of boxes of books. I can't blame them. We had hundreds of boxes of books.

In the end, it all worked out. Not quite the way we'd planned and not even close to my carefully planned time schedule. But we made it and - not a single thing was broken, except my toe.

Lest you think I'm the only one dealing with moves this summer, here are some folks who have had their share of moving struggles.

My old friend Click Michelle moved from Florida to just a wee bit north of Atlanta, in a U-Haul, and she never wants to move again. I can't relate. I'm counting down the days/months/years 'til we can move again. But then again, my truck didn't get stuck like hers did.

After I went through the walk-through and the lease signing, and the agent left, husband went to pull the U-Haul up to start the offloading. That’s when the real fun started. The truck looked like it was going to tip over when it made the steep turn from road to driveway. Then it got about halfway up the hill and just sat there, engine revving, wheels spinning, in one place. No more movement. Stuck. OK, so husband decided to back the truck off the drive, and try a different approach. Then the grinding noise, the halt, the lack of movement again. In either gear, forward OR reverse. The back deck where the hitch is had embedded into the asphalt of the road. I wanted to be sick right there. The truck was not damaged, but our confidence sure was. Neighbors started to walk by with dogs and look at our predicament. No one said anything to us and I’m not sure if that meant they are too snooty to help, or didn’t want to add insult to injury because they didn’t know what to do either.

This Military Mama did her moving immediately after BlogHer 08, I did mine immediately before BlogHer '08. We're both probably nuts, but you do what you have to do. Her move is a bit different from mine, she's doing a military move which means some nice folks are driving her stuff across the country for her. Lucky woman. I remember military moves fondly, they were hard but in different ways.

It's now hitting me that we are moving. Those nervous, scared, sad feelings are boiling through. Even though I know this move will be good for us I still just hate the moving process. No matter how much I prepare good byes are really hard for me and hellos can be difficult too.

Oh, I forgot to blog about this part of moving - the part where you stop buying real food and start shoving really odd foods down your kids' throats so as not to waste money or food. Thankfully Stephanie blogged it. By the way, she's not moving "just across the country," she's moving a lot further than that.

We're getting down to our last two weeks before we move and this is always a time of eating down the fridge. We move nearly every year, so this is a familiar routine by now. Especially this time, since it's not just a move across town--or even across the country--we can't take it with us.

Even when you're just moving across town there are hurdles to cross, as Liz reminded me while we were at BlogHer '08.

The water pressure in the new house is pathetic--if the shower is running in bathroom #1, the toilet won't flush in bathroom #2. (It's not the pipes, they are copper).
I can't get the asbestos folks to call me back (I am 90% sure the textured ceiling treatment isn't asbestos, but they won't call me back to tell me test results....)

Last but not least, have you met Skimbaco? Her moving van didn't show up, which is considerably worse than having your loaders and unloaders not show up.

They called us back a few minutes later. There was no moving truck coming. The move was cancelled in the system because the price the sales rep quoted us was too low. Maybe they thought we wouldn’t pay for the extra. Who knows.

We found out about this three hours after the movers should have already been here. GRRREAT.

Flamingo House Happenings

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