I've spent the past three hours packing. I don't actually mind packing, but there's no end in sight. And the apartment smells like a permanent marker convention thanks to all the boxes I've marked with labels like 3 SKULLS, LAKOTA DRUM, and FRAGILE FRAGILE FRAGILE.
We can't cross PACK off the travel checklist yet, but in the time since I wrote about our to-do lists, we've made serious progress. So I'm going to take this opportunity to rest and give you a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what we've accomplished so far:
We bought our travel trailer! And I was so overwhelmed, I cried. The tears didn't stem from regret, but from having spent three hours in a hot office reviewing all of the horrible things that could ever possibly happen to us and our trailer while on the road. The salesman called this a discussion of the "extended warranty options." Once we decided exactly how much we'd be willing to pay if our air conditioning broke down, we blew out all four tires, and everything in our brand new trailer fell apart on top of us, we signed a stack of papers five inches thick. One of these papers included an itemized list of every cost to which we'd agreed. Seeing it all spelled out also contributed to my tears. We'd just made the biggest purchase of our lives so far, and we have no guarantee that we're going to like it.
We found our truck! Our trailer weighs 4,300 lbs., and two people typically add 750-1,000 lbs. (plus Fat Charlie) to that. We needed to find a car that could handle hauling that much weight. Dan had scoured the Internet for options—Ford F150s, diesel Jeeps, Volkswagen Touaregs. And then my aunt and uncle invited us over to look at the Chevy Suburban they'd loved dearly and used to tow their boat. It was exactly what we needed, and we know we can trust the owners we're buying it from. I could cry again out of gratitude for family looking out for us as we embark on this new adventure.
We booked a storage space—and movers! The portion of our home that we haven't sold or donated is going into storage. But finding the right unit took a little time. We ruled out the city because of cost, and started looking at options in the suburbs. Outdoor units were the cheapest (about $75/month), and we almost booked one of those. "But what if it floods?" Dan asked. We also started running through belongings that extreme heat or cold could warp: our record collection, TV, Dan's guitars.... We called five or six different companies before settling on a climate controlled, 10x10 unit near the Wisconsin border. Unfortunately, we neglected to book movers for our large items (bed, bookcases, dining table, etc.) until just today—a week and a half before we have to be out of our apartment. With most movers' schedules already filled for the end of the month, we had limited choices. Note to future self: Learn from this.
We reserved our first campground and mapped the first leg of our route! In the initial days of our trek, we plan to limit our driving to about three hours a day, giving ourselves time to adjust to hauling 25 feet of trailer behind us. Having the route and a campsite eased my mind the second we nailed them down. I imagine us pulling into our spot, hooking up our water and electric, and settling into night one of this journey with a glass of wine in our hands and Charlie and Maya at our feet.
We forwarded our mail! My parents will be handling it for us, and again—we're very grateful. USPS offers a mail forwarding service, which involves packaging your mail each week and then forwarding it to wherever you are. But it costs $18/week, and most of the mail we get is junk. My dad immediately countered the USPS service with a great (and free) system for alerting us of any important mail that comes along: He'll scan it to us. He even has a back-up scanner on standby. So...we get you, Kramer.
We've stockpiled road warrior necessities! Jambox, hand-held vacuum, aluminum dinner wear, grilling tools, and all the dog poop bags and hand sanitizer you could dream of. Amazon is probably giving Dan 5-star reviews right now for all the ordering he's done in the past month.
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Our lists still have a lot left on them, but every day we're scribbling a line of black through another to-do. Finding a safe deposit box has been (surprisingly) one of the biggest challenges. Our bank's locations either don't offer the safe deposit boxes or have long waiting lists. We also still have to:
- sort through our clothes
- figure out what we're doing with Dan's motorcycle
- buy our grocery staples
- finish packing
With two weeks to go until our projected launch date, things are looking up. We're so thankful to the friends who have donated moving boxes to our cause, shared RV tips, asked about our plans, and motivated us. Raise your hand if you want a postcard!