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Our Move to the Mountains

This is the story of our road trip, moving from Los Angeles, CA to Asheville, NC. Traveling was my husband Ron, myself, and my best friend and long-time business partner, Jennifer. We left LA on Sunday, August 28, 2011, driving 2 big Penske trucks each towing cars. We arrived in Asheville on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 5, 2011.

The following is a combination of emails sent to the family and friends who were praying for us along the way. Photos would have made this a lot more interesting, but the trip was so intense, no one realy thought about taking pictures. En-joy.

Hello Family,

First of all, the three of us are all well. Jennifer and I are happy, Ron, being the man that he is, is totally stressing.

We got two large Penske trucks on Saturday morning. The movers met us at the house around 9am to load the trucks. First truck got loaded with mostly boxes and a bit of furniture. We expected to be fully loaded by 5pm. Around 7pm they tell us they think they cannot fit everything onto the second truck. We now have all of our furniture sitting outside and its getting dark. Ron is about to blow a gasket! I go inside, literally go into the closet where it's quiet, I send a text to Leeann and Rebecca to pray. I go into prayer myself. I come out of the closet, go outside and Jennifer is just arriving from saying good bye to her folks down in Orange County. She takes one look at my face and says what's wrong. I tell her. Now if you don't know this, Ms. Jennifer worked for UPS for 16 years and knows intimately how a truck is supposed to be packed. She climbed up onto the truck and said it wasn't packed properly.

Poor Ron - he didn't blow it, he just threw his hands up saying now what do we do. Remember it's getting dark. Jen suggested the crew (4 guys) go home and come back refreshed tomorrow (Sunday) morning. I suggested they do whatever it takes to finish the job and do it right. Jen said the truck would have to partially be unloaded and repacked. So under her direction, and in the dark, they unloaded the truck and she guided them in repacking it piece by piece. All the furniture fit, of course, Jen is AMAZING! Ron says she put those 4 men to shame! Not just with intelligence and brilliance, but physically as well. You should have seen her moving things around!

I had encouraged Ron last week to buy a couple of air mattresses. They came in handy. The crew finished around 12:30am and we got to sleep in the empty house on our new air mattresses - very comfortable I might add.

Ok, so Sunday morning we’re all refreshed, get up, clean the house and off we go. We drive the two trucks to Penske to hook up the car carriers as we are towing the Honda and the BMW (one on each truck). All goes smoothly. By the way, I’m still in prayer for our journey.

We get to our first stop, in Barstow. Jen is driving one truck (newer tuck) and I’m riding with her. We are happy, listening to music. Jen has some old Walkie Talkies so we’re checking in with Ron and he’s checking in with us. It’s fun until we hit the desert. Ron then realizes the air conditioning in his truck is not working. But he says he’s fine and he’s just rolling with it – no biggie.

Once we arrived at our first stop in Barstow Ron called Penske about the air. BTW it’s only 106 degrees Barstow. They referred us to the nearest mechanic that has a contract with them Penske. Turns out, they are located right down the road from where we are staying – another blessing. We decided to get a good night’s sleep and take the truck in the next morning (today).

We took a leisurely stroll down the road to get food. Remember both cars are being towed on trailers so we have to walk wherever those big trucks won’t go – parking can be a real problem when you’re diving a 26 foot truck and add another 8 feet for a pulling a car carrier behind it. And backing up –forget it. You have to find a place to park in a lot so you can pull out forward. This is an adventure within itself. But lucky, the hotel we stayed in had a truck parking lot made for pulling in and driving straight out. Being the city girl that I am I never thought about this sort of challenge.

We had a great meal at a Chilies restaurant at the Barstow shopping outlets!!! We ate like pigs! The food was soooo good. As we walked back through the shopping center, we wished all the stores were open.

Ron got up early and took the truck over to the shop. They fixed the air, then he mentioned that the truck had more vibration while driving than he had expected. They checked it out and found something not working. They didn’t have the part to repair it so Penske had to send a replacement truck. Guess what, that meant repacking the darn truck AGAIN. Gee Wizz!

Reminding myself that everything happens for a reason, and talking to my friend Toni, she reminded me that we’re in a very nice hotel room with air conditioning and not stuck in the desert on the side of the road. Okay, yes, life is good and we are blessed.

12:00 noon the new truck arrives. They send 3 men to unload the old truck and pack up the new truck. What a job. I hope they got paid overtime, just for bearing the heat!

It’s 5:30pm and all is well. Ron is okay, he has a new truck now. I think he created this because he really wanted a new truck like the one Jen and I were in. Ha.

The 3 of us are doing just fine. Our ETA for Asheville is now Tuesday. BTW Ron was awesome in guiding the guys to pack the new truck – he learned a lot from watching Jennifer direct the packing of the truck back at the house.

Well the drama lessened – sort of. Monday we traveled from Barstow to Winslow, AZ, 410 miles. We left Barstow around 8:30pm and finally arrived in Winslow around 8:30am the next morning. We drove all night. We learned that 400 miles at 55mph up and down hills and through road construction zones while driving big trucks with trailers is a bit challenging and can make you ROAD STUPID. Jennifer and I were in the truck following Ron in his truck. I kept looking at the car on the carrier he was pulling and it looked like it was bouncing up and down. I ask Jennifer if the car looked stable to her. Nope, she say it bouncing around as well. The car almost bounced right off of the trailer. We called Ron and had him pull over to examine. A safety pin had fallen out that was connecting the belt holding the right tire down. We pulled into a truck stop around 2am. And guess what – someone there had an extra safety pin! We tied the car back down and kept moving. Just another angel watching over us, a blessing from God!

We later pulled into a gas station. While filling up our tank, Ron spilled diesel on the truck and all over his shoes (remember, we’re a little road dazed by now). We laughed saying hope no one lights a cig (not thinking that diesel does not ignite like gasoline). As we go driving down the road, a big rig trucker behind us is flashing his lights. We figure something must be wrong because we were in the slow lane and he could have easily passed. We pull off the road at the next off ramp and see that the chain holding Jennifer’s car on the trailer is dragging the ground and creating sparks! So, if we had been using gasoline, that could have been REALLY BAD! Another blessing. I’m learning that truckers really do take care of each other. Kind of nice.

We finally arrive in Winslow around 8:30am Wednesday morning totally exhausted! Check out time is 11:00am, they feel sorry for us and say we can stay as long as we’d like. We are so Road Stupid we didn’t get a clue when we made the reservation and they said park in the lot for the “train station.” H-e-l-l-o – a Train Station! We just wanted peace and quiet so we could get some sleep – and now we have to listen to a freak’n train going in and out of the station! When we pulled into the hotel, we were surprised that the train is – yep - right there… Okee dokee. The good news is they were able to give us a room on the other side of the building away from the station. The thing that was pretty amazing was the hotel itself. A place with a LOT of history. It’s a very special place and I know we were blessed to experience it. Check it out Had we known where it was located, we would not have gone there - no way! But it was truly amazing.

After sleeping for 4 hours and having a good meal, Wednesday evening we head out to Albuquerque, New Mexico, only 266 miles – we’ve learned our lesson – slow down and enjoy the view. It’s a much better/shorter drive and all goes well. We’ve done short trips, under 300 miles a day and have traveled through Amarillo, Texas, Oklahoma City (during the wild fires, but were not affected), Little Rock, Arkansas. We were amazed at how clean the highways are in Arkansas, you can drive for miles without seeing one piece of paper along the roadside. There are highway signs everywhere saying “report littering” and I guess they take it serious! Everything to this point has been brown and dry. Oklahoma was greener, but Arkansas is beautiful with many shades of green, a variety of trees and rolling hills. Speaking of rolling hills, some of roads leading out of Texas were terrible! It felt like we were riding a bucking bronco! My boobies kept slapping me up side the face. I had to hold the girls down! Too much!

All along our journey I am amazed at the rest stops. Not at all what I expected. We’ve seen nice clean bathrooms and beautiful truck stops that are picknick areas. I’m also struck by the big rig trucks. I use to perceive them as annoying. After riding among them for so many days, you become one of them and start to appreciate all they go through. We had a little car pull out in front of us and we almost ran over him. Drivers of cars don’t always realize you can’t just pull out in front of a big truck and expect that it can stop on a dime like a car. It’s scary. So I will never cut off a big truck again. You can’t just stop a big truck going a full speed!

I noticed there are a lot of proud truck drivers who take special care of their trucks. There were trucks of all colors, blue, red, yellow, green, purple – all shiny and clean. We pulled up to a truck stop for gas next to an amazing all white big rig with shiny sparkling chrome – driven by a woman! I use to think of truckers as being all dirty and, well, you know. Not the case so much these days. It’s a culture. Jen was saying that truckers know their route and where the speed traps are and will sometimes box in a car that’s going too fast so it can't pass, saving the driver from a ticket. How cool is that. Although the unknowing driver would probably be cursing them out not knowing what’s really going on.

We make it to Memphis, Tennessee, we cross the Mississippi River, the next day we travel to Nashville, then Knoxville and on to Asheville (a lot of “villes”). We stayed at the Hampton Inn & Suites as much as possible and they are great! Very comfortable beds, free high speed internet and free hot breakfast each morning. The nice thing about staying at the same hotel chain is you become familiar with where everything is and how things work so you almost feel at home. We even did laundry twice while being on the road. Most of the Hamptons are new so it feels like total luxury for half the price. Every place we stopped for dinner along the way was amazing. I tell you – we have been so blessed and I know it’s because of the many prayers of family and friends! We were fortunate to not hit any heavy rains, but witnessed two enchanting rainbows. The Angeles were watching over us.

We arrived on Labor Day. Life is good!

Love, Wanda

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