Great Westward Migration, Part 2

It’s taken me longer than I would have liked to write this blog. It’s been just over three weeks since we hit the trail – three delirious, multi-time-zone, what-day-is-it-anyway weeks. Since settling in Oregon, I’ve also been waking up to work on East Coast time. It’s nice to stare at a computer all day thinking it’s later than it is, only to realize that “quitting time” is still early afternoon. Bonus hours to accomplish things! Downside is that it keeps my sleep schedule pretty messed up. I finally feel like I’m over the exhaustion of the trip, though. So let’s dissect the blur before it fades.

Pro-tip: Do not use your car’s headlights to pack a Uhaul in the dark. Seems logical, but when you’re lacking sleep and struggling for time… oops. Our intention was to get on the road by 4am but, after waiting for AAA, we didn’t depart until almost seven. I tried to use the extra time to frantically clean the house (I really like our landlords!), but there was no way we were getting everything done. I also had to leave all of my bookshelves! Cried some nerdly tears on that one, but hopefully the next tenants can use them. (This also means that we’re in our new house with twenty boxes of books and nowhere to put them, haha.) 


Saying goodbye to Richmond's street art. Photo by Joe Pollard.

Saying goodbye to Richmond's street art. Photo by Joe Pollard.

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I suppose that’s my moving advice (beyond avoiding needless car issues): extra, extra, extra. Build extra time into the trip. We burned through our entire “day off in Denver” before we even got there. Get extra Uhaul space. Get extra rope and weave yourself a spider-web over every layer of boxes. Set aside extra money (never easy). And, just for good measure, throw dieting out the window and get extra snacks. You need to stay awake, after all.

Once everything was crammed in and all vehicles were functional, it was time for the fun part. The dogs had been growing increasingly unsettled. They recognize suitcases and they only got more freaked out as the boxes began to multiply. Then came Apollo’s worst day ever. His one true love, his everything, his couch went away. Apollo, for those who don’t know, has fairly bad anxiety. He was a shelter dog and, from what they told us, his litter was abused and abandoned. These days, he’s the sweetest pup, completely codependent (I’m his service human). He also hates walks, hates car rides, and has to be convinced to go outside. That last night with the couch in the Uhaul and the air mattress occupied was… dare I say, ruff?

So there was some cajoling to be done. We spread his favorite blanket on the back seat and threw in one of the couch pillows. “See, ‘Pollo? This is the couch. Nothing strange here. You’re just imagining that it’s moving.” Gotta praise him for the bravery. He was such a good boy. Slept most of the way, didn’t really look out the windows, but he got increasingly brave at rest stops, as long as he was firmly tethered to Mommy. Also, Doritos are his favorite form of bribery.

Cookie had the opposite reaction. She rode in the Uhaul with Bobby, sitting up high and looking at everything. She had to be lifted in but she was always 100% ready to go. See the country, sniff the country, pee on all the things. At least one dog appreciated the adventure. She and Daddy also took down a ton of jerky on the way.

Trevor is a grumpy old man but, thinking about it, this was his sixth move. It’s by far the longest, but he’s a pro, resigned to his fate so long as he gets some quality lap time. He only got carsick once and spent a good amount of time wandering into the backseat to comfort his bro, Apollo. Good dogs, all.

Thanks to my sister, I was able to sleep on the first leg of the journey. I did wake up briefly as we passed through Charlottesville, VA. This was the morning of Sunday, August 13th, the day after white supremacists took to the streets, the day after a woman was killed by a Nazi on American soil. Bobby and I had been to Charlottesville a few times before. There was a spa with float tanks that we liked to visit, beautiful natural scenery, and a cute shopping area. It was a place I’d always associated with peace, relaxation, getting away. I couldn’t believe it when we saw the news. Assholes preaching hate, a car purposefully ramming into pedestrians in that same shopping area. I didn’t know what to feel. I still don’t. But that morning, I felt like I had to see the town, to give it a moment as we passed through.

I know Virginia is proud to be “the South.” Coming from the Deep South, we always laughed at that. (In the same joking way that we laughed at Virginians’ complaints about humidity.) But then we started to notice the rot of it. The Confederates gathering to wave their flags in front of the art museum every weekend, the Civil War statues still looming over the streets. You can only yell “shame!” out your window so many times. I’m a jump-to-the-bottom-line kind of person. I like solutions. But, more and more, I was imagining that bottom line as “punch Nazis in the face.” Bobby kept referencing the idea of “getting the hell out of Gilead” (the ultra-conservative East Coast country of The Handmaid’s Tale). Can’t help but feel like we left just in the nick of time.

The first day of the trip took us through Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky. West Virginia is gorgeous. The dramatic mountains, the greenery, the old men bickering at the gas station with that unmistakable accent, the mix of folk twang and Sunday morning preaching on the radio. For maximum authenticity, Meg insisted on listening to local radio. I love my sister, I do. One should not strangle one’s sister who they love, yes? But driver picks the music. Those are the rules.




So glad to have had her with me. We found a good rhythm, too. Both of us were ostensibly “off work,” but our neurotic badass-bitch natures kept us checking in. My boss and my backup were both on vacation during my travel week, so I had to check in every day to approve transactions and put out any fires. Meg was still running her recording studio back in L.A. I’ll always remember her getting on the phone with the manager of a band that I very much like to straighten out a scheduling conflict, coordinating with engineers, and shutting down an employee who was trying to pull some shit. So professional. We both give good phone. Meanwhile, I had my laptop open, making sure that millions of dollars get where they need to go. Sisters getting shit done, mobile style. (Yes, we pulled over when things got too involved.)


The first night saw us landing in Louisville, KY. After a brief hotel debacle (traveling with three dogs complicates matters – props to Red Roof Inn for being the most pet-friendly), we collapsed. Bobby had the forethought to keep the Chromecast handy, so we were even able to watch Game of Thrones and Rick & Morty on the hotel TV. We might be exhausted, hungry, and sweaty, but checking in on Westeros and laughing through my existential angst are Sunday night traditions.

I’m going to cut this here, but more to come. Now that I’m caught up on sleep and the coffee maker’s hooked up, there will be more words to come. Peace, y’all!

Traumatized puppy needs comfort. G'night!

Traumatized puppy needs comfort. G'night!