Moving Across the Country…
It was almost one year ago exactly that I decided I was moving to California. I boarded a flight across the country on very short notice to start 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, I lived in a single room inside one of the properties that I was working on. It 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. I worked around the clock in order to get a feel for how everything would work and eventually, I 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.
We chose U-Haul to help us with the transportation of all of our household goods, even though there wasn’t much to move. We 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. The way their service works is a person who is moving can choose to have a small, empty U-haul shipping container dropped off at their property or they can elect to go to a location and pick a container up themselves and tow it home. We were located in the middle of several of their stores but 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 and we 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. When the time came, we brought our empty container home and began the packing process. We were loading up approximately two large bedrooms worth of furniture and possessions, 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, after a person fills their container with their household items, is that the loaded container needs to either be picked up by U-Haul with a truck or the people moving have to return their container to a U-Haul store for U-Haul to load it onto their truck which they then drive across the country to the mover’s new address. 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, but we were so excited to get out of New Jersey that it didn’t really bother us all that much. We breathed a sigh of relief once the container was out of our hands as we hoped for the best once it arrived at our place in California.
It was time for Heather and I to move across the country together. We had our last few get-togethers with friends and family and then we finally boarded our plane with a one-way ticket. We 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. It was an interesting perspective that would soon be reversed as we would be on the ground looking up at our first pretty California sunset together.
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! I’m not sure about you, but in our house, we celebrate with Tacos. We headed out the door and drove to a spot on the south side of town which until this point, Heather had never tried. The Guadalajara Grill in Salinas has the best shrimp tacos in the United States of America. She didn’t believe me. It was time to prove that I knew what I was talking about. By the time we were done, the look on Heather’s face said it all. This was our new 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. It tastes so good. We would eat there every day if we could, and that is saying something because we rarely go to the same place twice let alone order the same thing. If you ever find yourself on the central coast, we can not recommend it enough.
Fast forward a couple of weeks and things were going well. We were slowly acquiring home furnishings to the point where our apartment could be called a home. We had picked up a nice blue velvet couch from Amazon, a desk and cabinet from Ikea, a mattress from lull.com (which we LOVE, btw), a nice flatscreen TV and had begun to set up our art gallery wall in the living room. All we needed were the things we packed in the U-haul box and the moving process would be complete.
We anxiously awaited the day when our things were delivered to the U-haul store in Monterey and it finally came on April 3rd. We made our way to them early in the morning and arrived at our appointed time only to wait roughly 20 minutes for help. Great. We 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. When we were finally given our truck/trailer/box, we noticed that there were numerous metal bands wrapped around the container itself (the U-boxes are made of plywood) but thought that maybe it was a standard process for shipping. The employee helping us offered no explanation. We signed the necessary paperwork and moved along with driving our belongings home. We 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. We backed the trailer into a space near our building and braced ourselves for what could be a horrible tragedy. Would our things be shaken and smashed to pieces inside the container? Did we do a good job of packing? Was everything ruined or would everything be okay? We 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. I tried with all of my strength but 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.
After a few minutes, I asked her 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 and the door had barely held while we drove at highway speed for 30 minutes back to our home. We couldn’t believe it. How dangerous and stupid! 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 we 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. I was relieved. The physically hard part of moving everything up our staircase still lay ahead, but it seemed like everything was intact for now. I felt a wave of relief washing over me. 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. We could finally move on. We returned the truck and container back to the store and let them know how badly they screwed up. They couldn’t care less. U-Haul clearly had no intention of making anything right by us. They 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 collection of them to greet us on our porch every day. We get lots of sunlight in our windows and the temperature is always pleasant enough for us to leave them open. We are a short drive from Big Sur, Monterey, Carmel, as well as several of our favorite national parks and we have made every effort to visit them all or plan trips to see them. We feel like we were blessed with the opportunity to come here and can’t wait to see what the next year brings our way!
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!