Friday, September 01, 2006

From sea to shining sea…er, I mean Kansas

What you will read below may sound like a big whopping lie – or at least some sort of exaggeration…unfortunately, every word will be true.

Our 1500 mile drive across the country started after 5 hours of sleep, at 6:45 AM on Monday morning.

The reason we only had 5 hours of sleep is we spent most of Sunday hanging out at my parents’ house because someone was supposed to be looking at our house. We got home at 8:30 pm on Sunday, only to find that NO ONE had shown up to see the house…big surprise.

We started loading the car as soon as we got home…it kind of reminded me of my country dancing days when I had to lay down on the bed to get my jeans zipped. There was NO way we were going to get everything into our H3 (which isn’t as big as you probably think). After pushing and pulling and yelling and sweating for 30 minutes, we started to look at all our junk…and decided what we would leave behind. The 200 pounds of extra tile was the first to go. We had planned on tiling our new basement bathroom, but there wasn’t room for our clothes with the tile in the car. Next was the $100 of cleaning supplies…I pared it down as much as I could. B wanted the new propane tank for the BBQ to go with us, but it was ousted, too. After that I sent B to the shower and then I put my engineering skills to work…make everything else fit. About 30 minutes later, I shut (forcefully) all the doors of the truck and headed in to clean the house.

As I walked around picking things up, cleaning sinks and throwing old food out, I realized I was doing all that through tears. We worked REALLY hard on our house…we designed it, we chose the lot, we worked with a builder for almost 2 years, and now we were leaving it. And it doesn’t help that all the feedback from the people who show up to see the house is that they DON’T like it. Whatever.

Anyway, back to 6:45 am…we left our house and headed over to Mom and Dad’s to say a final goodbye. I teared up again as we drove away…but, I dried up just in time to get to Mom and Dad’s…so I could start all over again.

We weren’t there long, just enough time for Dad to pray for us, Mom to give us homemade cookies, my cousin to make silly jokes and then we hugged and loaded up again. After filling up with gas, we hit the road. We had given the puppies small doses of a sedative (prescribed by their vet) to help them from being anxious in the car…not sure I should have cut the pill in half with my teeth as my tongue got numb pretty quickly…guess we know it works, on me at least. It didn’t do much for the pups until we were almost out of CA. It was a pretty painful ride up the mountains – think small child on a plane. This was the longest the dogs had ever been in the car, and we sure were glad that they were in their crate in the back seat.

We drove all the way to Gallup, NM, the first day…about 11 hours in the car. I think we stopped 6 times so the dogs could get out and we could get gas. Even with all those stops, we were never out of the car for more than 10 minutes at a time.

We weren’t sure how far we’d get that first day, so we hadn’t made a hotel reservation. When we got to Gallup, we had 2 choices – the good side of the tracks (there really were tracks) with expensive hotels that may or may not allow pets, or the bad side of the tracks with cheap and scary looking hotels (or is it motels). In the spirit of conserving funds, we chose the cheap side and checked into a Super 8.

The desk chick saw the dogs, so she tacked $10 on to our room rate, and gave us the keys. We were on the 2nd floor at the back of the hotel. We unloaded, dragged the dogs up, and found our room. There was no clock, the single lamp in the room didn’t work, and there was some weirdo hanging out in an ugly van in the parking lot by our vehicle. It was about 8pm, and I hadn’t eaten since lunch, and that “I haven’t had protein in too long” headache was starting to form (thank you, Mom). B told me to go take a shower and he would try to find something to order for dinner.

Well, in my altered state, I went into the bathroom, and somehow thought we had NO towels. B called the front desk, and they told us they had NO towels anywhere – which we didn’t get because the parking lot was empty and we thought that meant most of the rooms were also empty. The chick said she would call us right back. While we waited for that call, we decided to skip out, get our money back and suck it up and pay more for a place on the other side of the tracks. I called her back, said we wanted our money back and we’d be right down. I’m not sure she knew how to take that, but she said ok. As we were trying to drag everything out in one trip (it took 3 to get it up there), B noticed that there were, in fact, towels in the bathroom. Oops.

I forgot to mention that B’s golf clubs had been riding on top of the car the entire time. Since we were unsure of the area around the Super 8, he had taken them down and brought them into the room. So, before we can leave, he has to secure them back on top of the car. I was holding the dogs’ leashes, and B was standing on the running board, so I tried to reach the tie downs for B from the front seat. I guess he didn’t know I was there, and when he stepped down he almost stepped on the dogs, which made him lose his balance, and the golf clubs, in their hard plastic case, came tumbling down. I have NO idea how none of us got hit by them…or how they didn’t damage the car.

We were all ok, but that didn’t stop the stream of 4-letter words out of both of our mouths…the poor puppies were scared out of their minds. I was trying to help, but B didn’t want my help, and we were hungry, tired, hot, grouchy, you name it. We decided to put the dogs back in their crate so B could finish tying down the clubs while I went to get our money.

20 minutes later we were driving back to the RIGHT side of the tracks. We ended up at a MUCH nicer place for about $30 more and we dragged everything inside, AGAIN. I hit the shower while B got the dogs settled, and then we decided to order food from the restaurant next door. By the time B got back with the food, I couldn’t see straight, my head hurt so badly. I popped 3 Advil, downed my eggs and toast, and turned out the light.

I got much better sleep than B did, or the dogs for that matter. B was up at least 4 times with them during the night. It was the first night that the pups had spent away from home, and they weren’t sure what was going on. We didn’t know if they needed to go out or they just wanted out of our room, but we didn’t want to take a chance.

By the time we woke up the next morning, my head was back to normal, but B was still grouchy and tired. We loaded up and hit the road again. The pups did much better the 2nd day, and it seemed like it would be a better day…until…

I think we were still in New Mexico when we got the first phone call. My good friend Michele called to say that our friend was missing from a mountain bike ride (see the previous 2 posts). Not too long after that, we got a call from our loan officer saying she needed a bunch of paperwork (bank statements, W2’s, pay stubs, etc) in order to process our loan. Ok, remember how stuffed full our car is? Well, I do have ONE box of important papers that has some of this, but not all of it. And WHY oh WHY is she calling 24 hours before we’re supposed to close to tell me that she needs more info??? I tell her what I have and she says she’ll call me back in a few minutes.

While I’m talking to her a 2nd time, we’ve started driving through some road construction where it’s one lane in each direction. All of a sudden, we hear a huge THUNK! and what do you know…a rock in the windshield…that spreads immediately. What’s next?

I finish the conversation with the loan gal by promising to email and fax all the info I have from the hotel. Our plan was to make it to OKC, but about 70 miles west of the city, we decide to stop in a small town. We find a nice place to stay, but they don’t want pets, so we have to sneak the dogs in. Our room is close to the office, and it’s not dark yet, so we park a few blocks away and take the pups for a walk. It’s during this walk that I get the call about finding Guy’s body. Please God, what’s next now?

Once it’s dark, we head back to the hotel and sneak the dogs in. After many more broken phone calls, since the reception is horrible, and an hour of frustration at trying to connect to the internet, we turn off the light and get some sleep. At least the dogs handle the 2nd night much better, and B only has to get up one time.

Travel was much easier today (we chatted with a nice Texan couple at a rest stop in OK – people are MUCH nicer here than in CA), but I was a bundle of nerves by the time we drove into Wichita. We had to go to the bank to get money for closing on the house, do the walk-thru and sign all the papers. Before we did that, we talked to our realtor in CA, lowered the price on our house by $50k again, and tried (with no luck) to find out how much $$ we needed for close on our new home. About 3 minutes from the bank, the loan officer finally called back with a number (an estimate).

I was very impressed that the gal in the credit union remembered me and she chatted with me while I waited for my money. We got to the house for the walk-thru about 30 minutes early, so we took the dogs and walked around the lake down the street from our new house. We saw a family of ducks, beautiful landscaping, and some kind of crane. I love our new neighborhood.

I was nervous for the walk-thru because we’ve had a hard time with the sellers (actually I think it’s with their agent), but it went great. The sellers were home, so B sat on the front porch with the puppies while our agent and I walked the house. Everything looked great, and we found out that their movers will move them out tomorrow (not the 1st like they’d said before), so we should get possession at noon on Friday – B’s birthday.

We headed over to the title company to sign all the papers. There were more miscommunications between the title company, the agents, and the lender, so our 3pm close didn’t start until after 4pm. Of course, I found a couple mistakes but I remained pretty calm (for me anyway), and we finished all the papers by 5:05pm. Unfortunately, that was too late for our sellers to get their money. I felt bad for them…but I’m sure they can wait until tomorrow…after all they’re living in MY HOUSE from now until Friday.

As I write this, I’m sitting in yet another hotel – this one is not nearly as scary as that Super 8, we’re all clean (even the dogs), fed, and showered. Tomorrow will be yet another adventure.

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