Blogger says it’s been since October that I’ve been here. Wow. A lot has happened since then.
Halloween came and went. No big deal there. Except for yet another pair of birthdays in my family. I used to enjoy those.
Another Thanksgiving came and went, only this time it was far from pleasant. Nor was it a family gathering. I was reminded that Thanksgiving, as it is “celebrated” today, is a far cry from what the original was. Much of what the “first” Thanksgiving was about has been forgotten by the history books.
Christmas also came and went, but this time it bore news of impending change. I was engaged in what seemed endless hours of preparation. You see, at that time, we knew we were relocating. Again. Yes, it was another move prompted by Walmart. We actually had to make a choice, but even that was made for us. Other choices had to made, too.
The choice was between two stores in New Mexico: Taos, at almost the extreme northern end of the state and closer to “civilization” and Silver City, near the extreme southwestern end of the state and a LONG way from “civilization”. That choice was made for us when the Silver City store came up with a “signing bonus” for her that paid for the move. They allowed her to take an advance on the bonus so we could pay for boxes and packing materials and a moving truck and gas.
We chose, however painfully for some, to keep the new location concealed until we arrived. We had our reasons. Nobody bothered to ask. That’s ok, too. It is what it is. (Our new philosophy of life.) We left another choice in the hands of the one whom it would affect. He chose not to accompany us on this new journey. It would seem he made the right choice for himself. So be it.
I managed to pack 90% of our belongings. The last couple of days before the move, she was able to help. That actually made it a little tougher to keep track of what went where and we lost a frying pan in the process. There have probably been a few other things, too. We decided, for cost purposes, to go with a twenty foot truck and an auto carrier. My car went on the carrier because she has an agreement with my car: She won’t drive it and it won’t stall on her. (Manual transmission and she don’t get along well.) Whenever I’ve moved myself, I’ve always had a twenty-four foot truck. I figured this time would be no different but deferred because of the cost difference. I’m no sure the extra four feet would have made that big a difference after all. We ended up leaving several items in Fresno, luckily most went to good homes.
On the Saturday before our departure, we got invaluable help from my daughter and her husband, and a few people from Walmart. I had laid out the garage and the second bedroom for loading into the truck. That plan worked really well, with all the helpers knowing what went where when. As the truck became more and more full, we began to realize it was not all going to fit. “Do you want that?” “Do you want this?” Like I said, good homes were found. I also threw out a BUNCH of crap as I was packing. Made several trips to Goodwill. Ok, more than several. But it was worth it to not haul all that STUFF halfway across the country.
Planning a trip like this, three states and just over a thousand miles, you rely on information provided by others. Like the company from whom you rent the truck. They tell you on their website that the truck gets almost 20mpg! What they don’t tell you is that is with an empty truck. On level roads. With a tailwind. If you drive from Fresno to Bayard, NM, you WILL encounter uphill roads. You WILL encounter headwinds. You WILL have a serious load in the back, not to mention a two thousand pound car. All of that conspires to bring that 20mpg down to about 9mpg. That can seriously affect your calculations for where to stop for gas!
The Sunday of our departure, I had planned to hit the road around 11am. You know what they say about plans. Well, we hadn’t “quite” finished packing. More like we still had about 4 hours of work to do. However, we were still going to make progress. Between my car, the cab of the truck, her back seat and trunk, we finished up with only a few items left homeless. I don’t even recall what any of them were, just know that something (besides the frying pan) got left behind.
I’ve towed several cars behind my moving truck in the past. I don’t ever remember hooking it up to the truck! That showed when I wanted to attach my car. Oh,sure it only took a couple of approaches to get the two vehicles lined up, and the hitch secured. But it was a bit frustrating. Our first stop was the gas station before getting on the road. The truck needed serious volume and her car needed topping off. The adventure begins! I plan my approach to the gas station to minimize the angle of the turns. I pull in the driveway and the auto carrier pops off the hitch, I don’t know it and pull up the pump none the wiser. She comes up and points out that I’m now DRAGGING the auto carrier. Great. Now I have to finish filling the tank, then figure out how to get the two bits lined up and reattached. There goes another half hour of the “plan”.
I have a couple of alternate routes to get through LA on a Sunday evening. I decide we’ll take the slightly more direct route, over the Grapevine, and then the 210 out toward San Dimas. Hopefully, that will be our first gas stop. It worked! We pulled in, fueled the vehicles and ourselves, and pulled out. Pretty efficient stop. As part of the “plan”, I had decided to keep walkie talkies in the vehicles. In part for emergency situations, in part for on-the-road communication. We decide that we should go ahead and stop in Blythe, CA for the night. There is gas and several hotels from which to choose. We picked a pretty neat little motel and rested well.
We got up early the next morning and stopped for gas to start the day. I think we went to breakfast somewhere in town, too. Part of our goal was to get into Silver City before the real estate office closed, so we could pick up the keys and not have to spend the night in another motel. I knew that her car would outlast the truck, even though she carried half as much gas. So the truck would be the deciding factor for stops. From Blythe, we barreled on through Arizona until we reached Casa Grande, between Phoenix and Tucson. Made a great place for a lunch and fuel stop since there was an In-N-Out. Probably the last time we’d see an In-N-Out for who knows how long.
Back on the road as quickly as possible, we motored on to Lordsburg. I was a little iffy about the ability of the truck to make it to Silver City so I stopped for gas. Glad I did, too. The road from Lordsburg to Silver City is a torturous mountain road. Torturous for a moving truck, that is. I pressed hard to make it before 5pm. We had left Lordsburg at about 4pm. We pulled into the real estate office at 4:45. Yards of dead tree later, we had keys in hand. I had studied both Streets and Trips, and Google Earth to know the route from the office to the house. We took our time, checking out the local scenery and businesses along the way. Oh, and Hwy 180 is also a bit of a mountain road. The truck was none too happy to be at 6000 feet with hills in the final stretch.
I knew which side of the street I wanted to be on and how to get there. I pulled up across the street, unloaded my car and the auto carrier, then went up the block and turned the truck around. I put the back door right at the edge of the driveway. We opened the door to the truck and the front door to the house. We carried the mattress and box in from the truck, the bedding from her car and we spent the first night in New Mexico IN our new home. I have to say, that was just about the best rest I’d had in a month!
Inside the truck was a placard that claimed we could get unloading help. Yeah, that didn’t work out so well. So she called the place where we planned to drop off the truck and they said they new nothing about that but could send a guy over. Hmmm, ok. Well, he showed up. Yes, he. One man. But let me just say now that he was amazing! I stayed inside to direct and redirect. They would bring things from the truck and I would shuffle them into one of three rooms: kitchen, office, bedroom. The truck was empty before 1pm! She had planned to pay for up to four guys to help, so she gave the whole wad to him. He earned it. We were able to clean out the truck and get it back two days early.
That afternoon, we snuck into the Walmart to see what she would encounter as the new Assistant Manager. It’s a super center, so it’s big. There seem to be a lot of empty shelves. She’ll have her work cut out for her. And so it has been. They started her on overnights, presumably to help clean up their stocking difficulties. Six months in and it’s time to shuffle the Assistants, but she’s not getting shuffled. She’ll be staying on overnights for another year. So, it’s still up to me to maintain the household and pay the bills. She works four on four off. It’s a bit like living alone. During her “on” rotation, we see each other for a couple of hours in the morning and maybe an hour and a half in the evening. On her “Saturday”, she still needs to sleep most of the day, having just spent all night at work. On her “Sunday”, she’ll nap most of the day so she can stay up all night getting back into “overnight” mode. In reality then, she works four nights, is off two nights and the other two nights are, well, a bit in limbo.
So here we are in Southwestern New Mexico. Walmart is the biggest thing in town. It’s the only thing open 24 hours. NONE of the other big box stores, except a KMart, are within 100 miles. It’s quiet. It’s high desert pretty. We’re within half an hour of a National Forest. All in all, we’re happy here. And really, that’s all that matters.