(Photo by Alesia Kozik via Pexels)
April and May 2022 have been busy months. I didn’t want to share too much online for various reasons, (primarily because I’m bad at keeping people updated and see time as one continuous strip) but I try to use the calendar to maintain some sort of civilized cycle. As I’ve finally begun unpacking and putting my new office space together it seems like a good time to spill the beans.
My girlfriend and I had been planning on moving in together for some time but
circumstances delayed that. Once we had actual dates to schedule for we looked at renting a van. We expected heavy winds in a few states and neither of us felt comfortable driving a full moving truck. Turns out nobody wants to rent a van in one country and have it returned in another. So Solange rented one in Canada, I flew into a town on my side of the border, and from there we started the first leg of our cross-country road trip.
Some couples don’t travel well. The day after my girlfriend and I first met in person, we drove 8 hours so I could participate in Quickdraw Animation Society’s Annual Animation Lockdown. Like making any excursion, before I left I had appointments to make and logistics to work out. After x-rays my dentist told me I had an abscess and recommended a specialist for the required root canal. He put a rush order in for the new crown and I checked that from the list. I also booked a vet visit for my cat Hope so she could get up to date on her vaccinations along with any documentation needed.
If you’ve never driven across time zones before, going East feels like you’re losing time. I mean you are, considering it’s already an hour later across each one than where you’re starting from, but fold that into traveling and you’re always playing catchup. Everybody hates Daylight Savings Time and it was a factor. The van clock was set to Saskatchewan time, my phone took a bit to update the changes, and my girlfriend had her phone set to Airplane Mode accepting wifi to avoid roaming fees. (In Canada my US provider charges $5 extra every 24 hours it connects. Hers is more than twice that in the states.) The night I flew in there was a blizzard warning the coming weekend so we tried to get out of town early. Weather caught up to us a few days with thunderstorms but we made it back to Ohio before Hope’s appointment.
The following days are a blur of packing and loading. We boxed my computers and such at Idea Works, the co-working office I’d been using. The van gave us more room than other options but space was still at a premium. I grabbed things from the basement home studio and my parents helped us empty out my bedroom. One final group visit with my therapist and we started our return trip in earnest.
Driving to Canada
We’d noticed on the way that most of the places we stayed at were part of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts with reasonable pet fees so I joined their membership program. This was supposed to cover both cats and dogs though one location told us they didn’t allow cats. We called the number to reserve our stay for the next night and the person in the call center said there was a similar alert for the planned stop. They offered to help us find an alternative, put us on hold, and the call dropped. We called back, got a different representative, and asked them to actually contact the hotel to check their policy. We got mistakenly quoted a $250 fee they corrected to $25, and later the front desk of the hotel called to confirm cats were welcome. Phew.
Even though we were heading West this time we still had a crunch to drive far enough each day so we didn’t take in much vacationing. In fact we decided to add a day, figuring the $90 CAN it would cost to extend the van rental completely worth it. Turns out we’d already rented for a day longer than we thought we had. We still managed to visit a few spots along the way. Solange was writing a piece for her work newsletter, reviewing the bathrooms as she peed in as many states as possible. She took us to Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana where her dad went, (though it went by a different name then) and several M*A*S*H-related locations like Jamie Farr Park in Toldeo, Ohio and Radar O’Reilly’s Ottumwa, Iowa.
There was one place we both totally agreed we needed to see.
The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota
The comedy music of “Weird Al” Yankovic is one of many things my girlfriend and I both appreciate and enjoy together. Going to see this lovely roadside attraction was an obvious choice. Unfortunately we couldn’t get ahold of any of the volunteers who operate the museum and gift shop to open them for us. (I was totally eager to have my own souvenir miniature ball of twine and a couple postcards. “Greetings from the Twine Ball, wish you were here.”)
Crossing the border was a fairly uneventful event, all things considered. The officials were very friendly and helpful. We were stressed out and tired by that point. Once the paperwork was done, however, it was cause for celebration. We had dinner, drove home, introduced Hope to Solange’s cats with the expected hissing, slept until it was time for unloading and returning the van, got the final tally of ~4,000 miles driven, then went back to bed to finally get some rest.
That’s about when the basement flooded.
Apparently a manhole had issues and ground water got into several houses. We woke up to 4 inches in the basement and our neighbors outside talking with a plumber. Fortunately all my computer equipment was upstairs. My instruments and guitar amp were all propped off the ground. Solange and our roommate had put most of their belongings stored down there in plastic bins, which you really begin to appreciate when you see litter boxes floating by.
A drawer with some of my comic originals leaked. My girlfriend very generously ironed and stacked them with paper towels while they dried. I was mostly in shock until I put them away to come back to at a later date. Honestly, it could have been a lot worse than it was. A few suitcases with laundry got wet, which was perfect timing as the dryer quit working. :V
We ran a shop vac, hung things up to dry, relocated fans, put in a dehumidifier, collected and tossed loads of crap in the dumpster. Much like the road trip had been, it was a shared bonding experience we were all thankful to see the other side of together.
Revenge of Taco Tuesday
Right as we were wrapping up our work on the basement I got hit hard by a foodborne illness. I’ll spare you the details, other than I proved to be the canary in the coal mine as it spread to everybody in the house over a few days. I also had the worst case due to dehydration.
Those have been some of the highlights over the last two months. Lots of changes, lots of getting used to new environments, lots of planning for the future. I plan to make smaller posts after this one. This started out simple and morphed into something almost too big to handle, sort of like the trip itself. I’ve been writing and editing this one for a while. I do need to start posting more again. I think the last few years have hit us all pretty hard in different ways we’re only now coming out from under. I need to find my work groove again. This is gonna be where I post about it. I hope you look forward to following along.