A little late, but finally I have a few minutes ...
Part The First - the packing and move out
There were boxes, many many boxes - we started with 24 + whatever was already in the storage closet (perhaps another 30) and ended up with over 100. These were all filled during my non-working week, which made me doubly glad I only did a 7-day notice sort of thing. It took just about the entire week, with repeated trips to Office Max for more boxes, bubble wrap and tape. I got a little smarter this time and didn't spare the bubblewrap; it made the entire process a bit more streamlined.
About 5 days into packing I was just about ready to be done with everything, but it was not to be. On Saturday, our scheduled packing day, the movers walked in, took one look at our apartment, one look at our 16' foot truck and promptly declared that fitting everything in was plain impossible. A stroke of luck enabled us to obtain a 26' truck that day and reschedule movers for the next, so we ended up with only a one day delay.
We set out Monday around 10, after ~3 hours spent packing up the remainder of our stuff, throwing out the rest, and cleaning up the apartment. Finally, all was packed, the car was up on the trailer (the trick to those things is to take a flying leap onto the tongue, otherwise it won't seat/unseat correctly) and .... we almost finished right there as I was unable to take the very first corner in the (now) articulated truck. Only thanks to Joan's great piloting skills I was able to reverse and re-attempt the turn. After that we were finally off.
Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana (May 28, 2007)
We did the entire width of Minnesota and North Dakota on day one. For obvious reasons, I don't recall much of it, except that we passed the same people numerous times, and vice versa. After getting used to the 55 mph limit the miles were slowly eaten away and progress was made - but I don't remember much of North Dakota. The most tricky part was getting used to the perceived delay between the car's drifting and it actually occurring - it's not that it does drift, it's that you're so much farther away from the road in a rig that you can't tell it's happening until you're on (either left or right) line. So you tend to overcompensate, which flings you to the other line. Repeat until you figure out that you really need to make fine adjustments just like in any car ... it took most of the day to sort that out!
We crossed the border and started getting loopy late in the evening, but at least before that we got to enjoy the tallest metal sculpture in North Dakota and a 2 hour long sunset, courtesy of a steady 55mph westward. It was the best part of ND, really :D Then we found out that the Glendive, MT hotel was teeny tiny teeny with no space for trucks and a closed office - after much hysterical giggling all was resolved and we passed out almost instantly. The hotel was quaintly intriguing, and there was a whirlpool of DOOOOOOOM circling endlessly in its indoor pool. Eerie.
Montana (May 29, 2007)
Montana is wide - so wide that, having crossed three states the day before we only managed about 9/10s of Montana alone. It was a much more exciting terrain however, with lots of ups and downs and engine-assisted braking and runaway truck ramps. We finally got to pass a few people on the uphill - the rigs can coast downhill easier than the Penske 26' - they have the intermediate gears whereas the Penske goes from 4th at 60mph to 2nd at 30mph - a nice 45 would be too much to ask, I guess. So yeah, they caught us up and passed us on the downhill and flats, but hey - we finally got to pass. For Montana coolness, see the pictures - but in short we passed through desert, forests, foothills, snowy mountains, forested hills and some more plains and valleys. Tons and tons of variety.
In Montana we also realized we achieved civilization - you can buy booze in grocery stores and gas stations, and the local Famous Dave's (MEAT!) had 11 West Coast (and thus somewhat local) beers on tap. That's just inconceivable in Minnesota - if you get one local brew you can consider yourself lucky. The Best Western in Missoula was fully loaded, had several parking places for rigs, an excellent breakfast and a fantastic quality bed with soft, soft sheets. We slept far better than the first night, but it helped that the drive was shorter and we weren't as contorted at the end of it.
Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon (May 30, 2007)
We got an early start since the bed was so comfortable (a very good night's rest); we actually beat the other Penske truck in heading out. Naturally he passed us several hours later ...
Crossing the ridges into Idaho was exciting again as was most of Idaho - I see now why the state wanted to lay claim to that thin (only 73 miles wide) strip of land up in the Rockies. There is a huge lake at Coeur d'Alene surrounded by beautiful forested mountains; not something a state would want to miss out on. After Idaho the land slowly flattened out and Washington became an almost completely flat desert complete with scrub grass, wind generators and dust clouds on the horizon. The occasional freestanding water only emphasized the emptiness since it was more often than not surrounded by a very sparse prairie - no oases here!
Since we were coming into Oregon from the east it was likewise arid and flat but in a few hours that changed quite drastically. When Mount Hood popped up on the horizon we cheered a bit, but it wasn't until Multnomah Falls that the first Holy Shit was dropped. That waterfall is really amazing, and it only got prettier, greener and more exciting after that. After Portland we thought we would have an easy drive and we would have except for ... our landlord who decided to provide a dose of stress by claiming he would only wait exactly 2 hours for us. Considering we were going into the 35th hour of driving and were pretty loopy, this sounded somewhat insane - Portland to Eugene at the mandated 55mph is right around 2.2 hours, and the amount of traffic on the road wasn't exactly up to us. In any case, we ended up getting there just fine, but the stress of wondering whether he'd still be there when we arrived (and if not, what the hell do we do?) was entirely unnecessary. So yeah, thanks for that.
In any case, we got in just fine, parked the big bad yellow outside our cottage, had a conversation the contents of which I completely fail to recall, pumped up the air mattress and collapsed.
Guess I need to update my profile and EMAR to reflect the new location, huh? Hello Oregon noders!