Okay, so now we can laugh about it! Yep, most of our family and friends by now know that we recently moved halfway across the country from Kansas City, to Charlottesville,Virginia, a place that 3 months ago we had never really heard of. I can’t believe that its already been about 4 weeks since we’ve been here! But what few people know is how the beginning of this journey east, could either be described as a newsworthy drama fit for the movies, or a made for television sitcom.
We made the decision to move so that we could be closer to Marc’s family in Baltimore. The goodbye’s were becoming much too awful when we would visit – the girls would be in tears insisting that they didn’t want to leave Grandma, and that they wanted to stay with their cousins.
Although we love Kansas and know that it’s a fantastic place to raise a family…well, we were just missing ours!
The majority of Marc’s family is in Baltimore and my family lives in Texas and Oklahoma. Besides Marc’s youngest brother who lived a couple miles away, we were pretty much isolated from most our family members. We decided that we wanted to give the girls an opportunity to get to know their peeps.
So why Charlottesville?
It all began on a hot day in July 2013. Marc and I had finally come to the decision that we would be open to moving away from KC. Sitting at his mom’s dining room table, he opened his laptop and Goggled, the best places to live on the east coast. We were pretty certain that we did not want to live in the city of Baltimore – we wanted something a lot more low key.
Charlottesville was one of the locations that popped up on the internet search.
We were only vaguely familiar with the town – University of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson, etc., but that was the extent of it. Then we began reading a list of accolades that were enticing:
- Voted Best City to live in America.
- Top 5 in Best places to raise a family.
- Top 5 of the Healthiest Cities.
- Top 10 in Best places to start a small business.
- Top 5 of the most scenic places to visit.
Wowzers! It all seemed to good to be true so we had to see it for ourselves. Grandma boarded a plane from Baltimore and headed out to Kansas City to sit with the girls for a few days, while we hopped a flight bound for Charlottesville. We were going to find out if this town truly lived up to the hype that it claimed on paper.
Guess what happened?
Well, we fell in love! We knew almost instantly that this would be our new home! We quickly understood the reasoning behind the slogan, Virginia is for Lovers.
Once we verbally decided to make the big move, next came the hard part – physically moving!
This grand feat would need to be accomplished in 30 days, because the girls would need to start at a new school in early September. The For Sale sign went up immediately in front of our house.
I did not fret, as a matter in fact, I sprung into action ready to take on the challenge! That’s just my personality, I always try to make things work. There is no “can’t” in my mental repertoire.
Unfortunately for Marc however, I couldn’t get time off from my job and had to work up until the day that we were scheduled to leave town. We pride ourselves on being DIYers, so we picked up our moving truck and began the arduous process. I had high expectations that Marc, and his two brothers could disassemble and pack up the entire house in one day so that we could roll out the next morning.
The Big Move
Suffice it to say, when I returned home from work that evening, expecting to find the whole house mostly packed up, what I found instead was the moving truck only about a quarter full and the boys looking hot, exhausted, and hungry from working hard in the late summer sun.
In the end, it took three whole days to pack up and clean the house. After we got the last of it loaded, we set off at around midnight, tired after a full days work, but excited to begin our new life in Virginia.
What was supposed to be about a decent 15 hour trip ended up taking 32! We thought we could drive straight through and maybe only stop for food and a couple of quick snoozes here and there at a rest stop. However, we were in for a rude awakening.
Marc was driving the mini-van, with us and as much of our stuff that we could cram inside, while his brother and his brother’s brother-in law operated the moving truck which included my car in tow.
Since this was not your typical road trip, and we were not traveling alone, we had to comply with the needs of all of those who were on this epic journey. Turns out this required not short, but loooong sleeping rest breaks that seemed to happen every couple of hours and lasting for a couple of hours each time.
This was most likely the consequence of leaving out at midnight!
Also, the big rig that basically had become our whole house on wheels, had an average speed of about 50 -55 MPH with the pedal to the metal, so we weren’t able to roll out on the highway like we had hoped. Additionally, the road from KC to VA is very scenic, but also very curvy, mountainous and full of inclines once you cross into West Virginia – so imagine navigating this new terrain in the dark, especially in a big clumsy moving truck.
So yes, I think I can speak for us all when I say that our frustrations were mounting over the course of this 30 hour voyage. This was certainly compounded by 3 cranky children and a wrong turn – adding extra time and frustration.
Then worst of all – getting the big rig stuck, in the middle of the night, up a steep hill in the tight parking lot of a backwoods Bates Motel. It took nearly and hour to get ourselves unstuck. Forward an inch, cut the wheel, back and inch…repeat. Marc, his brother and brother- in-law, each took turns zigging and zagging with that dang “backing up horn alert” blaring into the night – BEEP-BEEP-BEEP!!
Welcome to Charlottesville
Finally after what seemed like an eternity, Charlottesville was in sight. Marc and I developed a saying while we were caged in our vehicle – “It could always be worse, let’s just remain calm and just get there!” I swear, we must have said this at least 10 times to each other. And then, glory hallelujah, we saw the first exit signs for Charlottesville.
I thought our worries were over, so just for a moment I decided to doze off. I was soon startled awake by Marc urgently asking me which Charlottesville exit that he was supposed to take. I had pulled up the info on GPS, but as we were soon to discover Charlottesville’s grid is very complicated. Without enough time to react, Marc ended up taking the business district exit into Charlottesville. Oh well, we thought, all exits lead to Charlottesville, right?
So, we excitedly entered into the city of Charlottesville, recognizing some of it from our previous trip here. We passed many downtown businesses, a very tight and compact residential neighborhood, and The Corner – which is a hangout spot for UVA students located on part of the UVA campus. We beamed with pride, looked at each other and proclaimed, “Yes, we finally made it,” and gave each other a quick kiss. It was a beautiful sunny morning. We saw all of the joggers getting their early morning exercise on – as Charlottesville has been listed in the top 10 of the healthiest cities to live, which is another reason why we chose it.
As we neared a rusty low bridge near The Corner and passed under it, the girls excitedly remarked about the train going across the top of it. Several seconds later, we thought we heard what seemed to be a crashing sound, but perhaps it was just the noise of the train rumbling across the tracks. We looked back into our rear view mirror and did not notice anything suspicious. The big rig was now pulling out from under the bridge, and we chalked it up as a very noisy train.
After several minutes, and with our new home location in sight, we were sitting at the stoplight getting ready to make our final left turn. The cell phone rings and brother in-law says, “Um, how close are we to your new place? Um, because I think, um…the whole back end of the truck is about to fall off!”
We had no comprehension of what he meant. How could the back of the truck fall off? We looked back at the big rig which was right behind us at the stop light and watched brother in-law jump out and run to the back of the rig. With a horribly startled expression, he quickly ran to our vehicle and confirmed, “Uh…the whole back end of the truck is hanging off.”
Our brains hadn’t quite caught up yet to allow us to formulate words. He continued, “As we were getting ready to go under that bridge with the train back there, we realized too late that we might have trouble fitting through it! And then all of a sudden…BLAAM!”
“So that was the loud crashing sound we thought we’d heard,” I reasoned, staring blankly out at the final road that was to lead us to the start of our new life. I must have been in shock.
Marc pulled over into the closest parking lot with the big rig staggering close behind. I couldn’t move nor did I want to see the damage – I didn’t want to have anything to do with it.
Marc bravely got out of our car and I nervously watched him through my rear view mirror walk with the boys to the back of the rig. Marc’s expression was priceless and indescribable…amazement, turned to calm, turned to surrender. I was so confused and could feel the warm tears running down my cheeks, but then I felt the strangest rising sensation deep down in my gut, growing, raging, bursting inside of me, finally reaching the point of hysteria.
It began as a chuckle and slowly grew into a laugh, the kind that I have never known. I mean a bone chilling, gut wrenching, crying hysterically laugh.
I could not stop!
I was doubled over in my seat laughing harder than I have ever laughed in my life. The girls in the car with me were silent and maybe somewhat fearful, because they had no frame of reference for this behavior of mine. Heck, I had no frame of reference for this behavior of mine.
Apparently, Marc had made his way back to our vehicle to report what he’d seen, and was bewildered to find me in such a condition. He slowly climbed back into his seat and I remember not being able to look at him, turning my face toward my window.
At first, he thought I was crying, the sound was soft, yet delirious, so he couldn’t tell what was going on. After a moment, he could tell I was crying but that I was also laughing. Finally we made eye contact, a soft chuckle started to emanate from his mouth, until finally he was also laughing hysterically.
We were laughing so hard and long that we were both sweating. When we were finally able to compose ourselves, Marc looked at me and said, “Well, we’re here – Welcome to Charlottesville baby!” Again, more hysterics.
Our New Home
Not sure what our traveling companions were thinking behind us, Marc started the engine, and we limped the rest of the way in the direction of our new home. We were battered and bruised but we made it.
Imagine the thoughts of our new neighbors as they watched in amusement as we pulled up to the curb with the entire side of a big moving truck hanging off. The back door detached from the top of the truck and was damaged so badly, that we had to call someone to come out and cut the back door off so that we could get our things out! Thank God, that we had the good sense to take out the extra insurance on the rig, because that truck was a done deal.
I again defiantly declared – “It could’ve been worse, but at least we made it!” I know both Marc and I earnestly felt the same way, like we had been through the fire and had made it out safely on the other side. Although we couldn’t say the same for the big rig, our family was still intact, and our thoughts and feelings had already transcended beyond our current circumstances – for we knew in our heart that everything was going to be alright.
The embarrassment began to wear off, along with the thought that we must look like The Beverly Hillbillies moving in – “Hi y’all, we from Kansas!” Some of our neighbors came to give us warm greetings – which I’m sure was mostly out of curiosity to find out about the hicks in the dilapidated truck.
If one could endure what we had just endured to get here to Charlottesville, then this was another minor bump in the road. We had big hopes for this new lifestyle change, and we weren’t going to let certain mishaps dictate our attitudes or spoil our new beginning. Marc has since compared the adventure to the labor pains of childbearing. You’ve got to go through the pain to get to your bundle of joy, likewise, we had to go through our labor pains in order to birth the life that we want to create for ourselves. And we can honestly say, that we are “winning.”