Truck Trip & Road Trip

On the morning of Tuesday November 24 Mother, Vivi and I hit the road for a three-day driving trip to the new home in Scottsdale, AZ. We arrived on Thanksgiving Day. A month prior, Melinda (who lives in Sun City West) flew back to Chicago for a visit and then she and her friend Frank drove a 26-foot rental truck to the new home with furniture and household items for us. Frank was able to enjoy a week in Arizona and then flew home. I ordered the largest truck possible and cleaned out my basement and storage unit as well as portions of my garage and shed. My mother contributed a lot of items from her house too.

I gathered up all of the costume jewelry which needed either pricing, repair or both that I have been literally moving from the basement to the living / dining rooms to the garage to the breezeway and back over and over again thinking "I'm going to work on it here, I'll get to it" and put it on the truck to work on at the new home. Also, I sent along all of the furniture, rugs and metal sculptures which had been in the storage unit and need to go online to be sold. The movers did a good job packing and we basically needed all of the space on that truck. Melinda was able to bring her estate sale purchases back home in addition to my two metal rolling racks which she purchased from me for her "she-rage" (girl garage.)

It was a very long couple of days packing and then coordinating the move but I am so glad I was able to let go of the storage unit after nearly a year and a half. It was a great experience there, they run a very tight ship at Extra Space Storage in Mount Prospect but the price kept going up and was going to increase again to nearly $400 / month for a 10x20 first floor climate-controlled unit. Unfortunately while pulling items to send on the truck from the beautiful Tuff Shed in my backyard, I found that some sort of animals chewed through the wood floor. I have a utility rug on the floor but immediately felt the difference and knew what happened when stepping on the area. As a quick fix, Kuochun and I put a bunch of heavy tile on it and this is something I will have to deal with when I return home.

The truck trip went well except for a bad snow / rain storm as Melinda and Frank were traveling through the Albuquerque area. Unfortunately there were two leaks in the truck and some of the furniture and rugs got wet. Luckily it was clean clear water and it dried by the time the truck was unloaded two days later. Having purchased the home sight unseen, we did not know what to expect. I was not even sure how the second floor was quite laid out. I thought I was going to have the original popcorn ceilings removed in the living room and three bedrooms which is a messy job so I had the movers put everything in the garage. However once we arrived I got a quote to have them removed and it was $15,000! That was out of the question so the ceilings will need to stay. The walls are sort of textured in these areas, the living room ceiling is very tall and many of the original architectural features are in place so it is not the end of the world to keep them.

In planning our driving trip, I decided Thanksgiving week was a good time to go since we had no estate sales scheduled. At the time we were not sure if Kuochun and Margot were going to come along, if we all made the trip then we would need a large enough vehicle. Kuochun decided to stay home this time due to COVID-19 and also to help with the business on the home front. I felt I really needed to go because I did not want to leave the home unattended any longer (it ended up being unattended for a month and a half) and I wanted to see if there was any damage to our items due to the truck leaks. Mother thought we would just take her car (Mini Cooper Countryman) but we quickly found there was not even enough room for our suitcases, Vivi and her little doggie car seat! I had looked into renting a car but it would have just been too expensive to keep that long. I said there is only one choice - the Brie's Mobile to the rescue! We loaded my 2010 Ford Transit Connect cargo van with everything we could get together at the last minute to take along, including all of the sterling silver jewelry which needed pricing and all of our polishing and pricing supplies. Poor Vivi was such a good sport, I put her little car seat right behind and between our seats so she could see us. Mother loaded coolers with sandwiches and snacks so we could minimize stops along the way. There was not an inch to spare, Vivi was surrounded! I should have taken a photo. She loves riding in the car and was very patient during the drive. I was sure to stretch her legs as often as possible. A lot of gas stations actually had dog runs on their premises.

The first day was grueling, we drove straight through to Oklahoma City. We left at around 8:15 AM and did not get to the hotel until 12:30 AM. I used the BringFido app to book pet-friendly hotels in advance so we had to get to Oklahoma City or I would have lost the cost of the room for the night. The trip to Saint Louis was pretty uneventful, just some spotty rain here and there throughout Illinois but once we got to Missouri it was heavy rain all the way through. The bad weather continued through Oklahoma as well and was very frightening once it got dark. There was blinding rain, horrible thunder and the lightning lit up the entire sky every time. Mother does not prefer to have the radio on so it was very tedious to drive without music or other entertainment on satellite radio to listen to. She was understandably really scared and wanted to stop sooner but we were unfamiliar with the area and I did not feel comfortable trying to find new lodging in the middle of a storm with a dog in tow. We were very relieved to finally get to Oklahoma City. One thing I really enjoyed traveling through Oklahoma though was seeing the cute signs that listed the attractions for each town. Under better circumstances I definitely would like to check some of those places out.

The second day our destination was Albuquerque, not quite as far of a drive. Thankfully the weather was much better. I do not recall seeing anything interesting going through northern Texas, just a lot of open fields and windmills. BringFido only had the airport Sheraton or Motel 6s available in Albuquerque so I chose the Sheraton. It was a nice hotel but the pet friendly floor smelled awful, not only in the hallways but in the room. We carried out dinner back to the room, some Mexican food which was very good but the smell was hard to overcome. We both woke up very early and decided to get an early start and get out of there. We did not get to Albuquerque until it was dark but it looks like a nice town. Once things get back to normal we look forward to spending some time there. However due to the bad smell and the fact that there was an extra charge for parking I cannot recommend the airport Sheraton.

The third day was the most enjoyable, the weather was clear and the drive from Albuquerque to Phoenix was not only the shortest but very pleasant. It was so difficult seeing all the signs for Native American trading posts and not being able to stop and check out the jewelry! Albuquerque has a high elevation so we took the "shortcut" down the mountain on Melinda's advice. I had only been as far as Sedona which has incredibly gorgeous red mountains. I finally got to see Flagstaff, although it was just driving through. I was amazed at the thousands of pine trees, I felt like I was in the Kettle Moraine in Wisconsin. The trees were all fresh and alive, unlike the trees we saw driving through Pennsylvania. Arizona is such an interesting state, while it will never snow in Phoenix you can drive about 2.5 hours north to Flagstaff to enjoy the snow there. I cannot wait to be able to take day trips around the state again and Flagstaff will definitely be on my list.

After this odyssey, it was surreal to finally arrive at the new home. The realtors kindly left their lock box on site with keys so we could gain access when we needed to. When I first entered the home and walked around, I was totally overwhelmed thinking "WHAT DID I GET MYSELF INTO???" We were tired, the garage was totally stuffed with all of our truck items, the van was completely filled with what we brought and the previous owner did not clean the home after vacating and left a TON of stuff behind. So much IKEA furniture, random shelves and wall cubes everywhere, picture lights and gadgets galore, storage sheds, composter and tons of garden pots to name a few. That first night we just took a deep breath and I was able to find a twin size inflatable bed in the garage which I sent on the truck. We did not find the other bed so we grabbed the couch cushions for Mother to sleep on. We really "roughed it" for quite some time, all sleeping in the living room.

Momentous days were getting the cable TV and the internet set up. The internet has been an absolute pleasure, it has never gone down and has been lightning fast. I paid for the top of line internet connection and it has been worth every penny. I brought my computer from home so that went a long way towards feeling at home here. I experienced a lot of glitches with the cable TV involving several trips to the store and two visits by technicians, but all is ironed out. The first technician was not too hot, but the pair who arrived the second time were awesome. I now have regular and 5G networks to choose from! The previous owner left a flat screen TV behind in the upstairs bedroom so I am grateful to have a place to watch TV to wind down at the end of each day.

We had no beds to bring but Brooklyn Bedding was recommended to us. Luckily they had an awesome Cyber Monday sale of 30% off and we ordered a queen mattress for Mother in the master bedroom and a full mattress for me in the main bedroom on the second floor. Even though Brooklyn Bedding is local, due to COVID-19 orders and shipping were delayed. Mother's mattress arrived way before mine but that was OK, once she had a mattress and frame in her room we could stop camping out in the living room and I could move the inflatable mattress upstairs. My mattress finally arrived but with no bed frame so I could not use it yet, it came a couple of days later. We hired the movers to bring what we needed back into the home from the garage and made several trips to HomeGoods, TJ Maxx and Marshalls to pick up towels, sheets and kitchenwares. I have the TJX Rewards MasterCard which I use for all of my non-business purchases and the rewards rack up quickly. I had $250 to spend which went a long way towards getting the necessities. It is funny to say this but I found the most amazing bowls! They are made by Nautica, are shallow and perfect for pasta or an entree salad. I bought 12 for here, 12 to bring home and I convinced Mother to buy 12 today as well. Check your local stores for them, they come in sets of four for $9.99 and are white on the inside and pale grey on the outside. They are life-changing as I have eaten so many more salads since I found them. It has taken some time to get things livable (I have made a lot of progress but I still have items to sell from the previous owner) but all I can say is thank goodness for Facebook Marketplace! The people I met have been great and nearly everyone I messaged with has been professional and courteous. My last item pickup was by a young man who just moved here from Mount Prospect with his fiancee, what are the chances of that?

Although I miss Kuochun and Margot terribly, it is a good thing they did not make this trip. It just would have been too chaotic with all of us here and the home not set up. Kuochun would have been miserable. Of course with every new home there are projects to do. Other than a headboard for Mother (which is super cool and was only $80 on Offer Up by the way) we are able to get by with the furniture we sent here. I included a photo which we took early on below. I brought a mid-century modern sideboard with three large drawers and a door along with the Arthur Umanoff wrought iron display shelf partially pictured on the right. I brought the vintage globe and pottery planter, the other pottery was left behind by the previous owner. Mother brought her favorite little desk to use as a vanity along with a wrought iron chair. Off to the right is my grandpa's antique table which she is using for her computer at the moment.

Mother loves all things Pendleton so she ordered this bedding from Dillard's department store, as well as bedding for us. She probably would have ordered a more traditional pattern (her traditional Pendleton blanket is hiding under the quilt) but I thought this pattern lent itself well to mid-century modern decor. We cannot wait to have the dirty white carpeting removed and new flooring installed. One of the first things Mother did was to slice the carpet to see what is underneath. There is concrete under this room but upstairs it is a subfloor. I think it would be cool to polish the concrete. We ducked into a local store which specializes in furniture and decor from around the world one Sunday and their floor was a beautiful polished concrete. It looked like they threw acid on it and it had a lot of pretty tones of brown, beige and copper. Mother is vacillating between Mexican, cowgirl and bohemian decor, we will see what develops! Since this photo was taken we found an amazing piece of mid-century modern art featuring an Asian horse in all of the colors of the bedding and hung it over the bed. There will be my influences as well so the decor will be eclectic for sure.

Although the cross country drive was a challenge, especially after driving to New York and back less than a month before that and the overwhelming feelings I experienced when I first arrived, I now know that this was a crazy but a great decision. Even though we cannot go out much now, we know we will be able to soon. Mother got her first dose of the vaccine today and we are hoping to get her in on schedule for her second dose in 3-4 weeks. A couple of weeks after that and she will feel a lot more confident going out (continuing to wear masks and social distancing of course.)

We are really enjoying our time here so far. The weather has been nearly flawless and the home is right in front of a beautiful boulevard with real grass, palm trees and bushes so it is really convenient for quick dog walks. There is a planter bed in the backyard right now that Vivi can use but I have been walking her every evening and as time goes on she wants the walks instead of going to the backyard to do her business. Vivi is really enjoying listening to the birds and both she and Mother have gotten out of the depressing boredom and isolation they were experiencing at home alone for most of 2020. We met some super nice neighbors across the street and hope to meet some more (although I unfortunately have had a couple of unpleasant experiences which are stories for another time.) It is challenging to meet people right now as the clubhouse activities have been postponed indefinitely and the pool is closed but for now we are happy to read the monthly community newsletters and learn more about this historic community.