The Oregon Trail

I started this blog about halfway through the drive from Augusta, GA to Bend, Oregon… This is how it started and I’ll let you know where I pick up a bit later on. Without further ado:

It’s currently 1:21 am Eastern Standard time. I’m sitting in the lobby of a Hampton Inn in Marion, Illinois. Where would I like to be right now? I’d like to be somewhere around St. Louis, but I’m getting a head of myself. Let’s go back to the beginning. For several weeks now, ever since I flew out to Bend, Oregon for my interview with SmartWaiver, I’ve been focused on getting out of Augusta and to our new home. It was a bit of an obsession really but in reality, I didn’t see a way for us to make the move unless a few things happened. And they were pretty huge “things”. I am still in the process of selling one of my businesses and that would have been a huge factor had that have taken place already. The second was the need for me to land a position in Bend prior to the move.

Apparently I thought wrong though. Sometimes, it takes someone outside of your immediate situation to look from the outside in and see if there are things you’re missing. For me, that one person was my best friend. One day we were talking on the phone and he asks me: “Why ARE you still in Augusta” I tell him the same reasons above and he doesn’t even hesitate or take a breathe when he says

“…Why ARE you still in Augusta? You can work from anywhere, right? You can do what you do without having to actually be physically present in Augusta, right? Then why are you there? Do what you do from Bend…”

He was right. There was nothing keeping me in Augusta. So we fast tracked our move and within 10 days, we had our moving truck packed and we were on our way. We sailed through the drive with no issues and arrived in Bend, only to find a house before we even parked the moving truck AND I had landed a new position.

And we all lived happily ever after…

That was a nice fairy tail right? Riiiiight. Okay. Let’s get to the real story. My friend’s advice stands true and is actually something that was said as was the part about us packing up and being ready to roll out within 10 days. What happened after that is a tad different though. We pulled away from our old house about 8 hours later than we wanted to. We needed to wait for the carpet cleaners but as we like to leave a rental house in immaculate condition, we did have some cleaning to do. Not exactly how we wanted to leave on our last day as we were hoping to be completely relaxed… and that was not the case.

Tash's Point of View. Hey! That's ME!
Tash’s Point of View. Hey! That’s ME!

Long story short, instead of 7:30am, we leave at 3:30pm we headed on I-20 for the West. Around 2 hours later, while driving through Covington, GA I start noticing that the front end of our Budget Truck is vibrating terribly. I call Tash on her cell and ask her to drive alongside the moving truck to give me a heads up on what it looks like. The look of panic on her face told me that it wasn’t good news and she told me to pull over asap. We take the next exit and pull into a gas station. She fears that there is something wrong with the axle with how bad it was shaking so I get on the phone with Budget to let them know what’s going on.

Let me say something right out the gate. Budget Truck Rental, as a whole, have some of the best customer service. Every time we called (and we had to call several times, you’ll see), we didn’t have a problem getting someone coordinated to come out and repair one of the many flat tires. They have this automated texting system that is amazingly accurate. Anyhow, this first call gives me notification that it’s a 3 hour wait until it’s actually fixed.

Where we sat waiting!
Where we sat waiting!

Okay, this is where I pick up the writing from Bend… Enjoy the rest of the post:

We drive around Covington looking for dinner, eating and chilling by the truck for a bit until ultimately, the repairman arrives. And let me tell you… this guy is AMAZINGLY talented. He hops out, jacks the truck up and has the tire off the rim switched out in under 20 minutes. He finds that the tire is over inflated, warped and not roadworthy. Not long until we’re back on the road but by then it was too late to get any real distance and we decided to set up camp in Chattanooga, Tennessee around 1:10 a.m.

McDonalds, Mountains, 'Merica! Our view from Econolodge #1
McDonalds, Mountains, ‘Merica! Our view from Econolodge #1

EconoLodge #1: We booked two rooms at $62 a piece that were joined by an interior door. We load everyone up into the hotel for a nights rest. The kids were a bit of a mess. All of the changes of packing up, moving, breaking down, etc… they weren’t ready to really sleep soundly… they were just so out of sorts. Waking up the next morning, we loaded up the hotel cart with our stuff and I headed downstairs. The hotel manager stops me in the hallway and says “Hey, you know you’ve got a flat right?” Oh come on… you’re talking about someone else, right? You’ve got the wrong guy…

Budget’s Got A Gangsta Lean

I got outside and what do I see? The right front passenger tire of the moving truck has a gangsta lean like it’s “cool like that”. Well hell… Let’s call Budget again. Another 2 hour wait and repairman #2 is here. This guy isn’t exactly sure what’s wrong but pulls the tire off. Not quite as speedy as Repairman #1 but pops the tire off and what does he see? The tire is dry rotted and, you guessed it, not roadworthy. Repairman #2 swaps the tire as the hotel manager watches the entire scene (seriously) and back on the road we go.

Pit Stop Number 2
Pit Stop Number 2

Pushing through the next few states were pretty uneventful. We had stops along the way here and there. Rest stops, gas stations, etc… my 5 year old road in the truck with me the entire time and it was great fun. We take a quick detour to Metropolis, Illinois and WOOOOO!!!! I was in geek heaven. Seriously. The only sad part about this was that it was 6pm and everything was closed. And Metropolis is more around the size of Smallville really. Check out some pics of the area!

After a few minutes here, we pushed on down the road and about an hour after stoppi… POOF.

A cloud of grey smoke pops out of the back of the van (I’m driving behind her) and Tash gives me a call. She tells me that the AC has stopped working completely. we pull over at the next exit and we land in Marion, Ill and lo and behold, there’s an Advanced Auto Parts right off of the highway. The two clerks pop out to take a look and they spot an “uh oh” issue. The AC Compressor is destroyed. It’s spit all sorts of gunk around the engine, etc. The smell of burnt rubber is permeating all over the place. This is something that can’t be driven without messing up the rest of the engine. Soooooo we order the part from Advanced hoping that it can be delivered by morning (otherwise it’s a two night stay in Marion) and we will call a mechanic in the morning. Enter Hotel #2.

Hampton Inn: Marion, Ill. This has to be one of the best hotels I’ve ever stayed in. The staff was amazing and the room was exceptional. My only regret is that I didn’t get to use their indoor pool which looked so relaxing. Anyway, we get up the next morning and after a few calls, I head to the Honda dealership that just happens to be about a half a mile from the hotel. We literally couldn’t have picked a better spot to break down in. The dealership hooks me up with a lift back to the hotel and even though check out was supposed to be at 11, the hotel staff knew our situation and actually let us stay without checking out until the service to the van was done. My family got to relax a bit and I caught up on some work in the hotel until the job was done. Side note… I’m down in the lobby at 2am the night before, working on uploading an episode of Chronicle365 when a ‘gentlemen’ comes into the lobby and asks the room rate. After being told, he proceeds to let the counter rep know that one of his friends in the area told him it was actually “WAY cheaper” than she was quoting him. After showing him the room rates he digresses and checks in. Little did I know, that he was actually a ‘Jugallo’ and there was an Insane Clown Posse concert a town over and the hotel was about to be invaded with fellow Faygo enthusiasts.

F**king Magnets, how do THEY work?
F**king Magnets, how do THEY work?

The front desk clerk told me that I should get going as soon as possible…

We get the call and before you know it the next morning, I pick up the van, check out and we move on down the road. We’re excited now because we feel like we can REALLY make some good traction now. Getting through Missouri, then to Nebraska seemed like cake for the most part. It was driving THROUGH Nebraska that was painful. I swear that if Nebraska wasn’t the state where most people had a child that got lost or ended up with dysentery back during the actual Oregon Trail days, then I’d be extremely surprised. Nebraska is a looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong state to drive through. We decided against getting another hotel and opted to stop at a rest station for a few hours. From 2 to 5 we sleep in the cabs of our respective vehicles while the kids are knocked out. After getting up, we hit the road again, coffee in hand and ready to attack the road until Breakfast. That’s when we hit obstacle #4. Wyoming is a beautiful state. The rest stop is nice too… once we pulled up, we step out and I turn because I hear a hissing noise. And this is what I see: split

Oh come on.. really? Another call to Budget, another 2 hours of waiting. The mechanic that was chosen from Budget didn’t have the necessary tools to fix the tire so he had to take it to a town 2 hours away. Luckily this rest stop had a lot of free space for the kids to run around on.

Repair Number 3
Repair Number 3

After the fix, we are FINALLY back on the road. Not long now. (Just kidding… we’re still 15 hours away at this point). We’ve also started trying something new… Thanks to the Mythbusters, we’ve tried a different sleeping pattern. The myth was that if you sleep for 20 minutes and then continue your objective, you will be more alert than sleeping for 2 or 3 hours. And holy crap, it works. It works in spades! Another rest station for about 40 minutes and we head on the road again.

It took some doing but we finally made it to Oregon. States like Utah, Wyoming… absolutely gorgeous. Nebraska… screw you. Sometimes it still doesn’t seem all that real that we are actually all the way here in Oregon. It was a very very long trip. And honestly I feel like it’s finally catching up to me. But that’s the story. As long and drawn out as it may be… we are finally here!

Here are the rest of the pics from the drive in no particular order! Comment with your travel trip nightmares!

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  1. What an adventure! It seems like you had bad luck and good luck in equal measure. For every bad thing that happened, you had something good to balance it. Maybe. 😉

    Glad you all made it safely to Bend! Best wishes for your new life on the left coast 🙂

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