Our venture to the west…
It was almost one year ago exactly that I decided I was moving to California. Boarding a flight across the country on very short notice, I started a new job and a new chapter on the Central Coast. The chance to live in close proximity to Big Sur, Yosemite, Sequoia, and countless other destinations that I’ve been drooling over since I first drove through California was too good to refuse. Ironically, I am now sitting on a flight back to my hometown as I write this, 350 days after I originally left. The journey has not been easy, and there were months where I barely got a chance to breath let alone explore and take pictures. But I would, without hesitation, do it all again if I had to.
I was in Salinas alone for three months and when I first arrived, living in a single room inside one of the properties that I was working on. This gave me time to save money, acquire a knowledge of the area, find an apartment and a car so that Heather could join me and things would be easier when she did. Working around the clock, I got a feel for how everything would work and eventually got comfortable in my position. Once we were both ready financially, I took a trip back east so that Heather and I could say our goodbyes to friends and family as well as take care of moving our things.
Moving – really
We chose U-Haul to help us with the transportation of all of our household goods and opted to use a service of theirs called U-box. The two of us understood that moving west wasn’t going to be an easy endeavor, but it could be a disaster if we hired cross-country movers and they did a bad job. The thought of our precious belongings arriving broken caused a lot of anxiety.
Almost right off the bat, we had issues with their company and simply finding the proper location for us to pick up our shipping container and materials became an issue. Heather and I were located between several of their stores. Since the closest one to our home town was across a state border, they wanted several hundred dollars more from us to pick up our box from that location. This—of course—took several painful phone calls on Heather’s part and hours to alleviate. The two of us ended up having to pick up an empty box from one further location and drop it off at another once we loaded it up with our things.
It gets better, right?
When the time came, we brought our empty container home and began the packing process. Loading up two large bedrooms worth of furniture and possessions was simple, so the boxing process went somewhat smoothly. Moving all the boxes and furniture down a flight of stairs wasn’t exactly simple, but we got it done in a few hours and the U-box was packed from wall to wall.
The next step in the process is the loaded container either being picked up by a U-Haul truck or being transported to a U-Haul store. Since we were pinching pennies, we opted to drive our loaded container back to the store on a rented trailer attachment with our own vehicle. This part of the process was relatively painless, although scary. Upon arrival, the employees at the store weren’t the greatest in terms of customer service. We were so excited to get out of New Jersey that it didn’t really bother us. I remember breathing a sigh of relief once the container was out of our hands. We hoped for the best once it arrived at our place in California.
Now that it’s over with…
It was time for Heather and I to move across the country together. After our last few get-togethers with friends and family, we finally boarded our plane with a one-way ticket. The two of us excitedly sat in our seats and watched the cabin door close on our life in New Jersey. After a few short hours and in-flight movies, we were there. Before we landed at the Monterey airport, we got a nice view of our new town from the sky. I could see the location that I was working on from the air so naturally, I snapped a photo from above to show my coworkers as well.
We landed at our tiny (and gloriously empty) local airport and packed our luggage into our new car which I had parked at the airport a few days prior. The drive into town was lit by the California sun and we enjoyed a notable lack of traffic. Our next stop was our new apartment, which had to be signed for and moved into. We crossed the threshold of our new home and took a look around before signing the lease. It was finally happening! We were Californians!
A brief celebration
This apartment celebrates special occasions with tacos. The Guadalajara Grill in Salinas has the best shrimp tacos in the United States of America. It will make a believer out of you. By the time they were done, the look on Heather’s face said it all. This was the new go-to spot. Their food is insanely good and their prices are insanely cheap. For a shrimp taco that has at least half a dozen shrimp crammed inside of it, you pay roughly $3.00. Everything is perfect.
Maybe moving isn’t that bad
Fast forward a couple of weeks and things were going well. Furnishings were beginning to materialize. A nice blue velvet couch from Amazon. Desk and cabinet from Ikea. Foam mattress from lull.com (which we LOVE, btw), Flatscreen TV. Art gallery wall in the living room. All that was needed were the things that got packed in the U-haul box and the moving process would be complete.
The waiting game
After weeks of waiting, the day when our things were delivered to the U-haul store in Monterey and it finally came on April 3rd. The two of us made our way to them early in the morning and arrived at our appointed time only to wait roughly 20 minutes for help. Great. I had expected things to be poorly done based on our experience with this company in New Jersey, but we were still hopeful. That hope was rapidly fading.
Moving IS that bad.
When we were finally given our truck/trailer/box, we noticed that there were numerous metal bands wrapped around the container itself. U-boxes are made of plywood, so we thought that maybe it was a standard process for shipping. The employee helping us offered no explanation. After signing the necessary paperwork, the next step was driving our belongings home. I slowly drove along Highway 1 back to Salinas without an issue, even though it was my first time driving a large pickup truck with an attached trailer.
The moment of truth
We backed the trailer into a space near our building and braced ourselves for what could be a horrible tragedy. I turned the key in the lock to find out. Nothing. The latch holding the lock had been bent in such a way that it could not be removed by hand. After trying with all of my strength, it would not budge. Oh no. It seemed like that load had shifted inside the container in transit. I was in serious trouble. I didn’t pack the container right. Heather was going to murder me.
Let’s not shit ourselves
After a few minutes, I asked Heather to go into our apartment and grab the screwdriver because I was going to remove the latch altogether. It was the only way into the box. As I did so, something else became obvious: The entire door was being held on to the container only by the lock and the latch, the hinges on the other side were completely disengaged from the container. The door had barely held while we drove at highway speed for 30 minutes back to our home. We couldn’t believe it. This was the reason for the metal bands on our container! They were holding the walls of the box together.
The company had somehow destroyed the box and not said a word to us about it. We were lucky that the door hadn’t fallen off on the drive and that our things weren’t strewn about the highway. Unbelievable. As the two of us started removing the contents of the container, some of the boxes had shifted slightly and a couple of smaller items had fallen from the top part of the pile, but it turns out we packed everything really well.
At least that’s over…
Relief. The most demanding part of moving everything up our staircase still lay ahead, but at least everything was intact. Once everything was inside, we checked Heather’s computer and TV to make sure they were functional after the trip and everything was okay. Thank the moving Gods. We had a canvas print sustain a bit of damage on the way and a decorative coat hanger had snapped in half, but otherwise everything was in good shape. I could finally move on.
You guys are great
We returned the truck and container back to the store and let them know how badly they screwed up. The store employees couldn’t care less. U-Haul clearly had no intention of making anything right by us. The company had our money and were done with us. Never will we do business with them again nor do we recommend them to anyone else. Many people have had a similar experience, and if you are interested in a laugh, go online and read people’s reviews of their service. We wish we had done so prior to enlisting their help.
Since then, we’ve made our home as comfortable as possible. I purchased a hummingbird feeder for Heather’s birthday and we’ve been lucky to have a small bunch of them to greet us on our porch. Lots of sunlight shines in our windows and the temperature is always pleasant enough for us to leave them open. Salinas is a short drive from Big Sur, Monterey, Carmel, as well as several national parks. It’s a real blessing to live in a location like this, especially if you’re into takin photos of landscapes.
The road west hasn’t come without it’s share of setbacks and troubles as any journey usually does, but for us, it’s been worth the effort. We had both been dreaming of California for a long time and when the opportunity presented itself, we had to take the chance. Take it from us, the juice is worth the squeeze!