Post # 291 The Trip to End All Trips (maybe)

October 3, 2014 at 8:55 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

So there we were, Friday afternoon, all the boxes we were going to take were filled and taped.  We had tags on the furniture we’re going to bring with us.  We had our itinerary mapped out and were discussing it.  Suddenly, we realized we had not even thought about dinner for that night.  Saturday night was taken care of since we were going to my sister’s for the final goodbye barbeque.  There was still plenty of food in the freezer and fridge for the FiL who was staying in the house until the end of Sept before moving into his new senior living apartment a few blocks away.  But there was nothing either of us felt like cooking.  So we took a short look around and headed out to our favorite fast food taco place to gorge on our last authentic Mexican meal for a long time.  It was a haphazard meal, but seemed fitting for one of our final nights.

Loading the truck went easily.  UHaul didn’t open until 10 so we were back at the house by 10:20.  I backed up into the driveway, pulled out the ramp, and got out the dollies and furniture movers.  After telling my brother in law, and Friend R that all was ready and to head over to help whenever they felt like it, I started loading boxes.  We had purposely used only small boxes to keep the weight down.  And so it went.  Up and down the ramp, sometimes with the dolly, sometimes not.  Packing furniture in tight with boxes all around to keep them from tipping over or getting scratched.  Listening to my BiL constantly talking about how it wasn’t all going to fit (it did).  Sweating in the Arizona summer heat with no a/c on in the house since it was all open, and being told I was out of shape because I was sweating as I tossed a 20 pound box full of books over my head into a space that just fit it, by a guy who was sweating harder than I was.  Suddenly, at 2 pm, just about the time I had predicted, everything was on the truck.  That was it.  There was nothing left to do but wait until morning.

The barbeque was as expected.  Lots of wine, lots of food, lots of emotions.  We started early, but left early.  We slept early, and we rose early.  We have a sleep number bed which is essentially an air mattress and easy to collapse.  That filled the space in our SUV under the seatbacks that were folded forward to allow the cargo space to be filled.  Our essentials filled the space, plus bedding and dogs.  And as simple as that, at ten minutes before six in the morning, with family and friends all gathered around, we took off east to a new job, a new city, and a new house we hadn’t even seen except for pictures.  Straight into the rising sun in the Arizona desert.  Luckily, I had my sun glasses.  I set my phone on Pandora for a Broadway show tunes station, intending to sing along at the top of my lungs since no one could hear me.

Got any idea how boring driving a big ole truck alone down the highway is?  At least in the SUV, he had the dogs to yell at.  An hour into the drive and I was no longer singing, barely listening to the music, just staring at the road and watching the second tick down on the GPS to our destination that night.  We stopped several times for gas.  Our rule was, the truck was the unknown for us so it was leading and when it needed to stop for any reason it would and the SUV would follow.  Midland, TX seemed so far away.  We stopped for the dogs at one point during the afternoon, just before we were to leave I10.  I was hungry, ready to sit down to a good meal and relax for a few moments.  The dogs were ready to eat for the first time all day.  So I said the first real restaurant I saw once pulling onto the highway that would take us into Midland I was pulling over.

That’s how we ended up at The Alpine Lodge in Texas.  We’d blown through Arizona pretty quickly, and New Mexico was behind us by a good hour or so.  We still had a couple of hours to Midland (I think) and here was The Alpine Lodge.  No mountains, no trees, certainly no snow, but the Alpine Lodge stood right there.  We went in.  They had a tiny all-you-can-eat salad bar with the barest of salad ingredients and room enough for two people to fill their plates.  One soup tureen so if you didn’t like what looked like canned chicken noodle soup you were out of luck.  But the menu looked interesting.  Partner/Spouse opted for Schnitzel and I went for chicken alfredo.  Big mistake on both parts.  When traveling, stick to what you know and your system likes.  We also ordered a plain cheeseburger for the dogs.  That seemed to confuse the waitress for some reason.  We had to explain three times what we wanted and why before she wrote it down with a question in her eyes.  But the dogs loved it.

We arrived in Midland, staying at La Quinta.  I think we should become frequent flyer members of their hotel since they are the only reliable pet friendly hotel we’ve ever come across.  I know there are others, but La Quinta seems to be everywhere we go.  And they’re willing to bend the rules for three dogs since they only allow two per room.  We walked the dogs immediately and several times and while the two older dogs who are used to this kind of travel did everything they were supposed to, Buddy went pee but did no big business.  I was concerned, but remembered he’d done the same thing in the move to Arizona.  I knew he was feeling nervous and scared so we cuddled with all the dogs for a while.  Then I cursed madly as I realized I’d left my sunglasses at The Alpine Lodge.  Dammit!  We had spares, but I liked those sunglasses.  Then Partner/Spouse made the suggestion of changing our route so we didn’t go through Washington DC and the beltway, but through VA Beach and across the bay.  Made more sense.

So the next day, we switched out.  I drove the SUV and took care of the dogs.  This was the long day for us.  We drove 14 hours total.  We had special plans for the third day so we wanted to get as many miles behind us as possible.  I drove the SUV again and we ended up in Memphis, TN.  We had stopped at a Mickey D’s for burgers in the late afternoon, so for dinner we just snacked on “healthy” stuff from the convenience store next to the hotel.

Once again, Buddy did not poop.

Then the relatively “short” drive into Charlotte, NC.  That night, we were staying with friends.  They made us pulled pork sandwiches with different sauces to put on top laid out.  Remembering my favorite was mac and cheese, they had a big pan of baked mac and cheese.  And chilled white wine!!  I was good.  I waited until the dogs were walked and fed before I had any wine.

Buddy still didn’t poop and now it was day three.  I was beyond worried, but didn’t know what to do about it except wait and see.

We had a good time sitting on their screened porch, eating and drinking, calling people we needed to call.  When I told my sister we were sitting out drinking wine she replied, “I’m still at work.  It’s only three in the afternoon here.”  Had to laugh.

The next day, though, Partner/Spouse took the lead in the SUV while I took the truck.  He was more familiar with our route than I was and wouldn’t even need the GPS once we were out of Charlotte.  He had a surprise for me.  We wanted to get to I95 to head north so we could pick up the Richmond bypass in VA and head east to get to VA Beach and across the bay.  To do that, he plugged in the address for one of our favorite restaurants.

fave food 9

This is the Bojangle’s in Emporia, VA.  It’s right smack on I95.  It has the best fried chicken of anywhere, and, without a doubt, the happiest, friendliest group of people working there of any restaurant I’ve ever been to.  I don’t know how they keep managing to find these people, but they are the best!  Here’s an example.  When we were ordering, we asked for a chicken strip snack, no biscuit and no sides since it was for the dogs.  They all started talking about the dogs and how many there were, etc.  They put our order together and we sat down to eat what we usually got, three wings, a biscuit and a couple of sides.  It was purely good!  BUT, when we got to the car and I opened up the chicken snack, where there was supposed to be four pieces, there were six – two for each dog.  At no extra charge.  And they waved as we drove away!

Buddy still hadn’t pooped yet.

The drive up the peninsula to our new town seemed endless.  I kept expecting it to be shorter than it was.  Since p/s had the GPS, I didn’t have a clear idea how far we were from our destination.  But finally (!) at 4 in the afternoon of the fourth day, we arrived!!  The house was set in a beautiful development.  It’s the perfect size for us and our dogs.  The keys were exactly where they were supposed to be.  So, after walking the dogs (Buddy still didn’t poop), we unloaded the SUV, locked up the dogs, and went hunting for someplace to buy groceries.  We found a Walmart with a grocery in it, bought what we needed, plus wine, went back to the house and unloaded again.  I wandered around upstairs to check things out and:

EUREKA!!!!   We had major poopage!  Four days worth of small dog poop littered the guest room.  There was so much it looked like it had been backed up nearly to his stomach!  I don’t know how he was managing to eat with all that inside him.  But I was just happy that it had happened.  It took him a couple of days to figure out that it was okay to be on the leash and poop outside, but that was a small price to pay.

So, we’re here.  We’ve found some great restaurants, a wonderful local winery, the best places to shop, some great antique stores.  I’ll be writing about all those in upcoming posts so stay tuned.

And, as always, Enjoy!

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