Two weeks ago we began packing up our belongings in Key West to get ready for our move to the Outer Banks. For Michael, this entailed disassembling the shelving for his photography equipment, packing up all his cameras, lights, stands, computer, printers, paper, props, etc. and then packing up our hammocks and stands. For me, it was disassembling the kitchen and bathroom and packing up jewelry making supplies. For both of us – packing clothes and putting everything back in the same places as they were when we arrived and doing a general cleaning. Tuesday is garbage pick up so we emptied the refrigerator Monday night except for some breakfast food. Since everything was packed and cleaned, we planned to eat out for lunch and dinner on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, we loaded the U-Haul with the help of a man Michael hired. Michael had arranged with the town to mark the two parking spaces in front of our house as tow zones for Tuesday so we could park the truck right in front as we loaded. On a really small street like ours, this was essential and gave us peace of mind. If the parking spots had been taken, the truck would have blocked the entire road in both directions and we would have been frantically trying to load everything fast or hiking boxes a block or more – not a good thing. It took about 3.5 hours to load the house contents, drive to the storage unit, add in what was stored there and get back to the house to park the truck until morning. The saved parking spaces worked really well and this idea will be added to our list of traveling tips that I am compiling. We spent the remainder of the day doing final organization; having a great lunch at the Blossom Cafe and saying good-bye to the owners, Shannon and Jose; taking Mick for a last dog park romp and then going out for a final dinner at The New York Pasta Garden – good, easy meals with staff who have become friends. I’m really going to miss Jose’s Cajun delights and the great Italian food at NY Pasta Garden.
Wednesday morning, we captured our cat before she left for the day and wrestled her into the cat carrier. We headed to U-Haul to add the car carrier, got the car loaded and headed on our way with the thought that we’d grab breakfast on the road. It’s easy to forget how hard it is to find a truck-pulling-a-car-carrier friendly location that you can pull straight into and then out of without having to turn around UNTIL you get on the road and try to find one (gas is hard enough). Note to self: Feed the husband before embarking or bring good food along in case there are no easy places to stop. This will definitely go on the list!
We drove from Key West to a Holiday Inn about 150 miles out of JAX the first day. Criteria for the hotel: 1) pet friendly 2) able to pull into parking lot easily, have plenty of room to park and the ability to leave without having to do a 26 point turn and 3) a good on site restaurant so we don’t have to drive the truck with car carrier to another location and figure out parking (are you seeing a pattern here?). FYI – if you haven’t checked out Holiday Inns for a number of years, we were very pleasantly surprised. The hotel was lovely, had good-sized, nicely furnished rooms, great bedding and a good enough restaurant (and a great parking lot). I would definitely stay with this chain again.
Our goal for the Outer Banks is to shed enough stuff so we can fill a smaller trailer and pull it with our car. I think this is doable. The houses we have rented are much more fully furnished and accessorized that we expected so we can sell or give away another whole level of stuff. We started this in Key West but the house was pretty small and didn’t lend itself to a lot of clutter while we opened up boxes and consolidated or jettisoned items. We’ve got 4 big boxes of paperwork to review and scan plus another 4 big boxes of old photos that will be scanned – that will be 8 less HEAVY boxes to load up. We will also be getting rid of small appliances, dishes and clothes as well as putting a few more “good” things in long term storage that we want to keep but aren’t worth moving from place to place. We had also packed up all of our large sized cleaning products when we left JAX which filled 4 boxes – everything we don’t use in this second move will go and we will just buy small sizes going forward.
Travel Day 2 got us to JAX early enough in the day that we could go to our long term storage and take out the boxes of photos to be scanned, a bicycle and a few other items we’ll be selling and putting in some items we will no longer travel with and then rented a car to do a day and half of errands and appointments. While we were in JAX we visited our UPS store (our mailing address) to pick up last week’s mail and packages, both of us went to the dentist for a cleaning, Mick had a Vet appointment, we did a little shopping and I got a facial from my favorite esthetician Kim at Bella Skincare Studio(heaven!). We went to dinner with our friend and Michael’s photographer buddy, Holly Gordon, at India’s restaurant and had a great meal and dinner conversation. We were now ready to depart early Saturday (after breakfast) and drive 2/3’s of the way to the Outer Banks.
Good drive on Saturday. Each time, once we get started, we let Black Cat out of the carrier (which she hates to be in) and let her roam around. Mostly she either lies on top of our laps or on Mick (believe it or not) and sometimes he lies his head right on her! They are good buddies and great travel companions. Mick has always been a great car dog, this trip was much easier for our cat than last time. She is really becoming a road warrior.
We stayed at another Holiday Inn – right distance, easy on/off of the highway plus the 3 criteria for staying – pet friendly, large parking lot, restaurant on site. This hotel was really large and looked fairly empty so we parked along one side. When we walked Mick in the early evening we were in for a huge surprise. There was a family reunion happening – 400 people converged on the hotel and every parking spot of the side of the hotel was taken. Michael had maybe 1 foot on either end of the truck to try and maneuver out – YUCK! As we were discussing what we were going to do, I noticed 4 young men talking by one of the hotel doors. We walked up to them and I asked if they knew who owned either of the cars parked next to the truck. They did and the driver was just coming out of another door. They yelled to him and he came a pulled out which gave Michael enough room to get the truck out. YEAH! We pulled way around back, and pulled out saw horses to block the closest parking spots so it would be easy to get out in the morning.
When we left early the next morning all those cars were still parked so we would have been in a real pickle. New note to self: make sure to have a way to block off spots around the truck to we don’t get blocked in. Hopefully the lists I’m compiling will help others travel more easily and joyfully.
Next stop: Duck, North Carolina – a small town on the Outer Banks, just north of Kitty Hawk.