Go West Young Man

I’ve never lived outside of Indiana before and had only visited San Diego twice, but when I heard the plans for a West coast office, I was terrified!  But the more I thought about it, the better it sounded.  I was still (relatively) young, no wife or children to transplant, and it felt like the kind of shake up I needed, so I volunteered to relocate.

I picked a time of year where I could hope for some decent weather and moving companies shouldn’t be too busy (end of April; I figured college students wouldn’t be migrating home yet) and got to work.  First step was to find where I would be living.  I’m sure I could’ve made other arrangements, but shoving all my stuff into a truck with nowhere to store it at the other end was too risky for my blood.  This ended up being easy as I only checked out a couple of places, and selected the first place I visited, which just happened to be across the street from the hotel I had been staying at.  Pure coincidence, I promise!  It turned out to be lucky, as well, as shortly after signing the contract for one apartment, the new landlord called me up to apologize; that apartment wasn’t going to be available.  But the same model one building over would be.  I wouldn’t be able to view it as it was currently occupied, but I checked out the building’s location and figured it’d be fine.  It was several weeks after I had moved in I realized that the replacement apartment had an ocean view, even if it was just a sliver between a large hill and a commercial building across the street.  And the 5.  And a marsh.  But it was more than I ever had in Indiana!

But, I’m getting ahead of myself.  My next step was to figure out how to get my things across the country.  The thought of just selling everything and buying new did have a certain appeal, but I didn’t want to have to mess with selling my things and I’d be paying more to replace them in California.  I knew I didn’t want to haul everything by myself, having never driven large trucks (I did happen to pass a freshly overturned U-Haul on my trip, by the way) so I tried looking at moving companies.  Having never done so before, I didn’t realize the difference.  My first inquiry was to a nationwide franchise that specializes in local moves.  The off-the-cuff quote they gave me was $15k.  Later I realized why this made sense.  I alone would be responsible for the salary, fuel, and room and board for the moving men not just to California, but back as well.  So, I learned about van lines.

A local company will arrange to pick up your stuff, store it as necessary, then load it onto a semi from a van line heading your way.  Since they could fit several people onto one truck, and the truck would likely be able to get more jobs at the destination, your cost would be much less.  There are some limitations to keep in mind going this route, however.  First, they should send someone out to give you an estimate by looking at the things you’ll be shipping, or else they may have a website where you enter a list of everything to get that estimate.  Second, your delivery date will be variable.  Unless you happen to be the last load on the truck, your stuff will likely sit in storage a few days while they try to get enough stuff for a full truck.  Even if you are the last on the truck, all the deliveries may not be to your city, so the truck may have other stops before it gets to you.

It’s the second fact that made me decide to drive my car out.  I could have had it towed or carried and flown out, but then I would only have what I brought with me on the plane or bought there.  So into my car I packed everything I thought I’d need for the couple week wait I would have for the things I was shipping (actually ended up being closer to a month’s wait) as well as anything I deemed too delicate or important to hand over to someone else.  In the end, my car was fully packed; I had to leave some minor things behind just because I couldn’t find any more space.  Part of this was the small square cooler I had bought to keep on the passenger seat with drinks, snacks, and sandwich fixings to ease the travel and hopefully reduce the stops I’d be needing on my trip to Californy.

(Elly May, Granny, and Jed would have had to find their own way, my car was far more tightly packed!  I didn’t even have room for a dog.)

I’m not much of a tourist by nature, and the thought of sightseeing while my most important possessions sat stuffed into my car in a parking lot ensured that I would just try to make the trip as quickly as possible.  So, I left Indianapolis on April 30th at 11:42AM.  The route I selected was through Iowa, Nebraska, Denver, and then Las Vegas.  I can’t regret my choices as I don’t know what might have happened otherwise, but since I didn’t have a firm leave time (I left as soon as the movers finished loading my things to take to storage), I didn’t try to plan places to stop and sleep, I just drove.

I only stopped for fuel and at rest stops.  When I got tired, I’d park, lean the seat back as far as I could, and nap in my cramped car.  That was… regrettable, but I didn’t want to stop to sleep at a motel for the same reason I didn’t want to sightsee.  So, I drove and napped my way across the country, letting mile after mile of boring Midwest pass me by.  I didn’t start to appreciate my surroundings until I approached Denver.  Driving through the mountains on I-70 was breathtaking (pun referencing the altitude not intended).  More than once I was tempted to just pull over and find a place to live there.  Then I would imagine what it must be like in winter, or see a pull-off meant specifically for putting on snow chains, and so I just kept driving.

After that, the only other thing that stuck out to me about that drive was Utah.  I had my doubts; wasn’t it just all rock and desert through there?  What could there be to look at?  But I was wrong.  It was beautiful in its own way.  I would have stopped to take pictures at one of the many scenic overlooks along the way except for one problem.  I had been warned ahead of time that there was a 100 mile stretch with no services along that road.

I fully intended to fill up before starting it, but when I got to the last station, my car assured me I had 150 miles remaining.  I figured 50 miles would be plenty.  What I didn’t count on was the terrain.

I was doing a lot of climbing, so I watched in horror as the “miles to empty” decreased more quickly than the miles driven increased.  I never stopped for a picture for fear of losing momentum and using more fuel getting back up to speed.  Not to ruin the suspense, but I made it.  Had better than 20 miles left when I filled up, but I regretted the pictures I’d missed.

(An example of the kind of picture I missed out on.)
(The picture I took after filling up in Salina.)

What I don’t regret is that, despite zero trip planning, I managed to sneak through Las Vegas in the dead of night; all told I didn’t have any trouble with traffic, but Las Vegas had me worried up to that point.  However, I did have a couple other problems.  My pace would put me in San Diego in the very early hours of the morning.  No way I’d be able to get into my apartment that early.  On top of that my hygiene left a bit to be desired so I decided I would stop for a bed and shower in Barstow.  My paranoia is not so easily put aside, so I did carry in a few things I didn’t want to leave in the car; of course, nothing happened, but I slept better for giving in to my fears.

And, so it was that I rolled into San Diego on May 2nd, at 8:25 AM after 34 hours of driving, covering 2217 miles, and using 54.75 gallons of gas.  That’s 8:25 AM PDT, so it had been almost exactly 48 hours since I had left Indy.  I was tired, sick of my car, and eager to unwind, so as soon as I could I unpacked my car, set up the inflatable mattress, and slept.

-Jerry Jeffers

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