Our road trip to from Seattle to Atlanta with three kids under four in tow...
This is the story of our cross-country move and the painful, fun & funny events along the way.
We already knew we were going to have to haul three kids across the country - even before we decided to move back to Georgia. We were all to be attendants in the wedding of Brian's sister and her then-fiance, Mr. Coy, who chose a darling Georgia beach town as their I-do destination. The girls were going to be flower girls, Little Man a ring-bearer, and Brian and I a groomsman and a bridesmaid.
The idea of The Big Haul was daunting... would we buy a plane seat for each one of the kiddos? Would we trade any potential ounce of comfort for an infant-in-arms designation on our boarding pass? A five-hour flight was one thing, getting three crazy babies through two airports was something else entirely.
Or - and this was my favorite idea - would we rent an RV and drive across the country, leisurely perusing all of the national parks and monuments along the way?
We never made that decision. Instead, we changed our lives.
We decided not just to visit Georgia, but to move there. My parents were in Spokane still, so that would be hard. But Brian's parents, my brother, his wife, and most of our dearest friends were all in Georgia. I loved Nordstrom - being a marketer there seemed like a dream career - but we weren't fulfilled as a family unit in the northwest. Brian was stuck at home with the kids, and while I did love the Nordstrom discount, I didn't love the work I was doing there, at least not as much as I loved my family.
We made the decision to move back to Georgia while I was on maternity leave with baby #3. I could have waited until the end of leave to tell HR about it - that would have ensured they pay me the whole time - but I felt too guilty. I'd been offered an interim position sitting in for a senior marketer on my team, and I couldn't let them think I was going to take it and screw them into finding a replacement, last minute. So I told them - my boss and HR. They were so. cool. I got paid through maternity leave, got my vacation days paid out, and my boss offered to be a reference for me as I looked for new jobs in Atlanta. When you hear Nordstrom is one of the best companies to work for - believe it.
Suddenly, The Big Haul took on a whole new meaning, complete with a slew of new questions. Where would we live? What would we do for work? What were we going to do with all of our stuff? We figured it all out, Brian's parents offering room and board. We chose a relatively affordable moving company (who sucked), found a nice clean storage facility for our stuff, packed up the minivan, and headed south. That's the short story.
The long story is...
Part 1: Moving Day
Ah, moving days. Aren't they the best? Brian's parents - aka Grams and Poppy - had flown out to help with the move. They graciously agreed to drive our dogs in our car all the way back to Atlanta (yes, they are amazing).
On moving day morning, we loaded the trunk of one car to the brim, puppy-proofed the back seat to make sure our golden retriever and mutt would be comfortable, and waved goodbye as Grams and Poppy took off, due east . That's when the real fun began.
The movers were about an hour late. Annoying, because we were due on the other side of Washington - where my parents lived - that same day. Although I tried to block this day from my mind, the remnants of frustration still linger.
We'd already packed up all of our boxes and let our full service movers handle disassembling the big stuff and loading the truck. There was so much to love about this company...
#1 - Their truck was far too small. Although we sent them an itemized list of all our belongings, detailed the square footage of our home, and even sent measurements of the larger items, they brought a pee wee truck big enough for a two bedroom apartment.
#2 - They smelled really bad. Before they started. Then, by the end of the day...
#3 - They took forever because they wrapped every. single. thing. in one thousand layers of plastic wrap. They even wrapped up Gerald, our four-foot tall stuffed giraffe, like a mummy, which was ironic because then they lost him. Don't worry, we ordered a replacement immediately, of course.
#4 - Along with Gerald, they lost tons of our stuff. Including a memory box and 100% of our Christmas decorations...
About four hours later, they couldn't fit one more thing in the truck, so they closed it and drove away - leaving us with a garage full of things that wouldn't fit. We were exhausted and furious. We didn't see another way around it - the rest of our goods had to go somewhere. Goodwill, it was. Four van loads of donation runs later, we FINALLY had an empty house. We stuck the kids in their car seats, stacked suitcases in between, and shoved the doors of the van closed. Time to head to Spokane.
The first two legs - first to Spokane then to Billings - were hazy with smoke. Wildfires were rampant in the PNW in early August of last year.
After a lovely weekend of rest at my parents house, we packed ourselves up again and got started on The Big Haul.
Part 2: The Big Haul
Our first stop was Billings, Montana - an 8-hour leg. One hour into our journey, as we winded through the mountainous terrain of Idaho, Parker starts puking. And keeps puking. I'm in the backseat with a grocery bag, trying to catch the chunks. In between rounds, I clean the nasty little contents of her stomach out from her car seat buckles. I do a pretty good job. All 12 times.
Finally we make it to Billings, after a very disgusting ride. As soon as we got out of the car, Parker was fine. We gave her some anti-nausea medicine, though I don't think she needed it at that point. It's always fun to discover that your kid has car sickness at the beginning of a week-long trip across the U.S.
After Billings, we decided to head to Denver, another eight hour drive, and stay for two nights. We spent our day in Denver checking out the Denver Zoo - and it was AMAZING. The layout is brilliant, the exhibits well designed... and they serve beer.
After our Denver retreat, we packed up well before the crack of dawn and set out for our longest leg - a 12-hour haul to St. Louis. Let's just say we were in a hurry to get the driving done. This leg flew by, and we owe everything to our Honda Odyssey. We made great time, the kids slept for the first several hours, we put movies on the rear entertainment system that they watched the entire time. Even though we stopped often to stretch our legs, we made it in record time.
The rear entertainment system complete with two pairs of wireless headphones on the Honda Odyssey EX-L saved our butts.
The last leg, from St. Louis to Atlanta was a breeze, and we were home before we knew it.
The whole trip was really fun. We didn't dilly dally much, only that brief respite in Denver, and the only terrible part of the journey was Parker puking on the first leg. Well, that and the fact that I left my wedding ring in Billings (oops). But that was only temporarily terrible, the lovely housekeeper at TownePlace Suites tracked me down and FedEx'd my rings to me. If you ever find yourself in Billings, Montana, stay at here. Not only was it really clean and beautiful, but they're good people, too.
It was fun! If you're thinking about your own long haul with a lot of little people in tow, don't be afraid. Make sure you stop and smell the roses at least once - the memories will be worth the trouble. AND PACK SNACKS. Lots and lots of snacks. And buy a Honda Odyssey with a rear entertainment system. And Sirius XM. Also pack wet wipes and trash bags and anti-nausea medicine. And that's it. That's all you need.