The house is in escrow and should close any day now. The whole process has gone perfectly – after a couple weeks of prep, the house sold in six days. Our amazing realtor, Ted Clark, is a dream – he and his team handled everything (they even returned our cable TV box and scheduled a house cleaning for us after we had hit the road). The new owner of our house, Shari, joined us at our “Last BBQ…Seriously!” and brought an enormous homemade cheesecake! Our friends and family all pitched in and packed and taped and loaded and unloaded trucks and cars and SUVs and got all our things into storage or sold on CraigsList or eBay. Everything went as well as could be expected…we just needed more time.
Our scheduled departure date was April 28 and we had hoped to be on the road by 8:30am. The day prior, we worked all day and night with a break for cocktails at 6:00 and sushi at 8:00 and…ok, a few more cocktails afterwards… but, at 5:30am with the sky beginning to lighten, we were still packing the RV and taping up the final boxes for storage and building the cargo carrier for the back of the Schwartz and…I hadn’t slept but 19 hours over the last seven days and Anastasia had only gotten a couple hours more than that…regardless, even if we could have been ready to go by 8:30 that morning, we were in no condition to drive to Phoenix, AZ. We went to sleep and planned to wake at noon and get right back into it and be on the road that afternoon…but we needed more time, still.
My mother, Jody, joined us that afternoon and helped us pack…again. All told, she spent three good days packing and running errands for us – thanks, Mom. Even with her help, another long day passed and by 8:30 that evening we had given up hope of leaving on the 28th. Phoenix – and the entire expedition – would have to wait one more day.
We packed, taped, labeled, cleaned, sawed, screwed, painted and shredded until early morning…again. There were so many things left undone on the Schwartz that in the end we just jammed the carpet and padding and tile and cabinet doors and window insulation and curtain rods and curtains and everything else that was not yet installed or put away into the RV bathroom and shower and shut the door – we’d figure it out on the road.
Punchy and Jones’ing to get on the road, we simply put everything else – bed, shelving units, shoes, chairs, tables, plywood, counter top, food, cosmetics, computer, monitor – everything that wasn’t going into storage and wasn’t coming with us went out on the street. I wrote a CraigsList ad that read “FREE! FREE! FREE!” with a laundry list of items and our address. Anastasia called the trash company and scheduled a “bulky item” pick-up for whatever remained after two days and, with our home looking like we had just been evicted, we finally started our expedition at 1:30pm on April 29th.
I should mention that neither one of us have ever traveled in an RV…let alone lived in one. In fact, we had never even slept in the Schwartz before we left, so it would be safe to say we had no freakin’ idea what we were doing. We packed every cabinet and drawer to the gills…and then we crammed in everything else that wasn’t curb-worthy and, well, you could call the vessel bloated.
In case you are an RV novice, too, here are a couple critical differences between your home and an RV: At home, it is a GREAT idea to reuse glass jars for food storage. In an RV, glass is just added weight…and shrapnel. And, at home, you can just give the refrigerator door a shove and it closes with a little kiss. In an RV, that little kiss means nothing…it is not really closed until you give it a good push and hear the travel latch click shut. These are important things to know…before you start driving.
1/4 mile down the road from our house, the road curves a bit to the left and then back to the right and I’ve driven that road hundreds of times…but never in an 11,000 pound rolling grenade. Top-heavy and reeling a bit at the first curve, the doors to the refrigerator blew open. It would be an understatement to suggest that we are condiment freaks…20 types of hot sauce and guacamole and pickles and assorted olives and mango chutney and 30 half-jars of other tasty stuff exploded into the belly of the Schwartz. The dog, Mattie, already a little traumatized by the move and the late nights and this new rattling and creaking rig, leaped into the front of the cab. I was busy trying to keep the whole thing from flopping over to the right when the road curved back the other way and the new upper cabinet door that I installed last night around midnight burst open. Some of the glassware that launched out of the upper cabinet might have survived if not for landing on the jars of condiments rolling through the kitchen.
With glass shards still cascading off Mattie and me, Anastasia pulled up next to us in my Jeep (we were on the road – technically – but still had to drop off my Jeep at the auto broker and run by storage with a “few” final items). She was sooo excited to be on the road and rolled up next to the Schwartz and gave me a big thumbs-up and a wayward smile…I gave her the end-of-the-world look and a hysterical helicopter arm wave. “Pull over! Pull over!”
At the gas station on the corner, we hated to say it but knew it was the right thing to do, “Let’s go home and fix this…and start again.”
We DID leave later that day. And we did drive straight into Phoenix. We made a call at 11:30pm while at a gas station at the border in Blythe, CA to our friends, Greg and Melody Johnson, to let them know that we were on our way, still. “Keep coming!” was all the encouragement we needed and we rolled into the Johnson’s driveway north of Phoenix at 3:00am…and cocktails were promptly served. Again.