They say that women who give birth have no distinct memory of the pain,
which is why they are willing to go through it again. I'm not so
sure that's true, but for sure it's not true of moving cross country
with five cats. I remember the pain... and I don't know I could go
through it again.
But you do what you have to do, and we did it, it's over with, and
trying to type this nine months later about all I can remember is
the pain. As Dr. Smith used to say, "Oh, the pain, the
The day before the move foreshadowed the troubles we would
face. We had decided not to pay a big moving company to move
us. The quotes were astronomical, probably because most
cross-country moves are paid for by your employer (and they can write
off the expenses) -- even if you pay for it yourself if you do it while
you're employed you can write it off on your taxes. Not so for us
poor retirees -- we get hit where it hurts, and it hurt. The
cheapest quote was something like $13,000, and I could have sworn we
didn't have stuff that was worth that much. If it wasn't for
sentiment I'd have just left everything and started over.
So we rented a load-it-yourself truck from ABF. Basically they
park a huge truck trailer in front of your house and you load it
yourself (or with hired help) and then they drive it and deliver it for
you. They promised us five days tops, and it was going to take us
four days ourselves for the move so it seemed pretty good. Total
price even with hiring someone to load it was a fraction of the cost of
the big boys (about $4K).
We had already been packing ourselves for the last six months, but it
continued in earnest. Rule of thumb -- always buy more boxes than
you think you need. Then buy about twice as many more. We
visited the U-Haul place so many times we had a tab.
We did one thing extremely right -- we packed with care. The
idea is to not leave any space in a box. Pack 'em tight,
and if the box rattles when you shake it it's not packed properly.
If you pack with care you can survive anything... almost.
We hired someone who had helped us with our last move, and he said he
had lots of experience with packing the ABF trailers. Ah, if we
had known then what we know now... In any case, with hundreds of
things (like filing our change of addresses with retirement, getting
supplies, buying a lock for the trailer, etc. etc) still left to do, I
couldn't help any with the load nor even stay around to supervise, which
was another mistake.
One thing ABF tells you is to make sure you secure the load every 10
feet or so. This is essential. Do not fail to do this.
Do not, specifically, listen to someone you've hired who tells you it
isn't necessary. Let me restate this: no matter what someone you
hire tells you, no matter how busy you are trying to file for a change
of address, getting supplies, buying a lock for the trailer, do not
under any circumstances fail to have your packer secure the load every
10 feet or do it yourself. You'll be sorry.
They were going to pick up the ABF truck by 4pm, and as the time
approached it was obvious we weren't going to make it. This would
be a disaster, since all our plans involved leaving the next morning,
bright and early. We had made reservations at hotels along the way
that would take all of our pets and we had no margin for error there.
Luckily the ABF guy who arrived was nice and patient and waited as
our loaders finished (about 30 minutes late). So the truck did get
away on time. It was the last time anything went according to
Next: The Yellow Brick Road