In The Land Of Enchantment

Dang. We did it.

After months of planning, and saving as best we could, and second-guessing ourselves, and being thrilled at the prospect while at the same time being nearly paralyzed by the amorphous spectre of “what if?”, we finally made good our threat to move to Albuquerque. Our apartment here is still in disarray (knick-knacks to place, pictures to hang), but it already feels like a home. I’m sitting here looking out of a window at sunshine and blue sky and listening to the sounds of what I assume are white-winged doves (I Googled). Pretty soon (after another cup or two of coffee and maybe a donut (Dunkin’ Donuts has survived! Except they do lattes now. Gah.), I’ll resume the task of putting things where they belong, or rather finding new places for them since we’re dealing with somewhat less square footage in this place and we’re having to be creative. Later I hope to get out and take more photos, perhaps partake of a New Mexican lunch. I’m already partial to the green chiles, but it’s all good.

Turns out the hardest part was loading the truck, and since I did damn little of that myself (thanks again, Rebecca and Davey), I’d say it rocks most excellently to be me.

Actually I have that wrong (not the rocking excellently part). The hardest part turned out to be getting on the damned road. We loaded Sunday afternoon with the intent to set out at five the next morning, but we kept discovering closets and drawers full of possessions that we had apparently overlooked. Maddening! The typical dialogue ensued: “Aaargh! I thought you said you cleaned this out!” “I did!” “Well, the feather must have fallen out of your effing wand then, because guess the eff what?”. As you may have noticed, I’m trying to watch my language here, so I may as well not relate the rest of that conversation. Suffice to say that the next couple of hours were not all that scrapbook-worthy.

When all was said and done, we had this:

That’s right, there was no room in the truck for my bike, and so it traveled the entire distance strapped to the trunk of the car. I kept telling myself that, since the ride was double-suspended back there, it was highly unlikely the bike would escape it’s bonds in pursuit of a second life as a grill ornament for a semi, but my anxiety drove me to repeatedly check the rear-view mirrors for signs of evasive action in our wake. In fact at every stop I was all over that trailer checking straps and chains and seeing to the welfare of the occupants of the car – the cats.

Cats and travel. I may be the first person in the world to actually put those two terms together separated only by an inclusive. This pairing is nearly never a comfortable one, and in fact during one motel room-to-car transfer, one laminated corrugated-board top-loading pet carrier was rendered useless when it’s occupant (Harley) surged through the side of the thing as if it had been made of wishful thinking. Fortunately we were still inside and were able to block his escape. Not all felines find the ride itself that harrowing however:

Boris seemed quite happy to observe the world hurtling by.

Once past The Dalles via I-84 our final glimpse of Oregon saw the hills and dales mantled with snow. Glorious.

A note about my photography. It sucks. I’m aware of it. I simply have no eye for composition, and putting a finer camera than I own in my hands would be akin to giving an ape a sharp rock and pointing at the Monolith. Given that we had little time to sight-see per se (as in, get out of the truck, stroll around, offend natives at our leisure), still I feel my efforts at what I call dashboard photography are fairly passable. Nothing I could do could really convey just how awesome (in the truest definition of the word) is the landscape through which we traveled. Having been valley-hugged in the Northwest for so long, I had forgotten how the vistas east of the Cascade Range illustrate the breath-taking vastness of the West and of the Earth as a whole.

The missus is fond of trees. I like them myself just fine. They’re pretty, they provide shade, and they help make oxygen which comes in handy most days. This sort of landscape, though, has always spoken louder to me. It’s the Earth with the gloves off.

I’m wishy-washy about my belief in divinity at times, but this is the sort of evidence that straightens the spine. The above photo was taken in Utah somewhat near Arches National Park. I wish we’d had time to visit the park, but soon, soon. We saw a LOT of trailers and vehicles bearing mountain bikes; slickrock is a big attraction in these parts. The little woman suggested that I try that style of biking, which isn’t surprising given that we’d been in a truck together for most of two days by then and we’d just recently increased my life insurance.

It was at this point of the journey that we received a phone call from the owner of the moving company that was due to help us unload at our destination. Folks, it’s never a good omen when your moving guy calls you on the phone and you can hear that he’s choking back tears. The missus had arranged the details with this fellow initially, and she had voiced some reservations about him; nothing definitive, just a “feeling”, not distrust, just a…thing. Well, turns out he was calling to inform us that he would be unable to fulfill the contract (we’d paid the rental company to arrange for the unloading service) because the state of New Mexico had shut his business down. Well. Marvy. The prospect of unloading and lugging every single stick we own up a flight of stairs after having spent three days on the road led to about an hour of frantic phone calls until we found a service that would fill the gap at almost literally the last minute (Manny and his crew with Two Guys and a Truck will forever have our gratitude and I recommend them to anyone!).

We stuck to interstates for the trip through Oregon, Idaho, and Utah, but upon crossing the Colorado border (we only nibbled at the southeast corner before turning due south into New Mexico) the most direct route demanded we segue to state routes. I prefer the smaller routes…except when it’s dark, raining, and we’re traversing mountain passes. This should be entered into the Olympics as an X-treme sport. My hands and forearms were cramping by the time we emerged from the last one. You can understand why there are no photos of that leg of the journey. All you would see is a wet windshield or the reflection of my distorted face, lips peeled back in trepidation. So much traffic met us as we wound through these passes (almost all huge trucks, of course!), and so poor the visibility, that I had the brights practically disco-strobing the entire time. I’ll hang-glide that route before I ever drive it after sundown again. (Neither will I ever again drive I-15 through Salt Lake City; it was like the Death Star trench scene in Star Wars except I didn’t have any blasters with which to defend us from the rampaging Mormons.)

We finally made it to our new place at about 10 p.m. Wednesday night, and we were so exhausted that we just yanked cats out of the car and left the truck and trailer parked at the curb. We slept on the floor of the apartment while the cats roamed what I’m sure to them was some sort of gulag.

The next morning we had movers and a cable installer in at the same time, and it all went without a single hitch.

We signed our lease contract that day as well; we actually had no legal business inhabiting the premises before then but the management here have been nothing but gracious and accommodating. I even managed to hook up the digital box, television, stereo, DVD player, and VCR so that all work together as they should, and I don’t believe one “eff” passed my lips, which is a nigh water-into-wine miracle (nor did I perspire much over it; yay for an arid climate!).

As I finish for now, the wife is busy returning phone calls to practically everyone we’ve ever known. Excuse us, we’ve been a might busy this last week. Speaking of which, I must now close this in order to continue clearing the floor of debris from this nesting process. More photos and blather are forthcoming.

Thanks to everyone who helped make this happen. We do appreciate you all, and miss you much.


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