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Posts Tagged ‘alabama’

Prologue

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I’ve been thinking about writing this post (or posts?) for more than three months now, and each time I consider it, I give up before even trying.  How can I possibly organize the bajillions of pictures and five days’ worth of stories into a coherent, readable whole?  But I realized I’m writing this post more for myself to remember, and the memories are becoming fuzzier every day.  For that reason, at 2:30 in the morning, I’ve decided the best plan is to just start writing already, damn it.  I can’t guarantee that it will be readable or pretty, but if you feel like reliving my trip with me, I hope you enjoy the ride.

After living my entire life in Alabama, it was decided in January 2011 that I would be moving after finishing my psychology degree at the end of the year; long-distance relationships are tough, and don’t let anyone tell you differently.  But Stephen and I had a light at the end of that tunnel.  Unfortunately, moving across the country is neither a simple nor inexpensive task.  We decided against flying—I was worried the trip would be too long for Fritz to go without pottying, or that he would be altogether too big for the cabin pet size limit.  We also weren’t comfortable driving a U-Haul, especially with a cat.  So we utilized a nice service called U-Pack to take care of my belongings and drove ourselves in my beloved little Mazda 3.  Our course wound up looking something like this:
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That's a whole lotta country.

Trip Map

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With one person driving (Stephen doesn’t drive stick, and maybe I have some control issues I wanted do all the driving), the trip would take five days.
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Day 1: Tuesday, December 27th. Total Miles for the Day: 701.3

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All my bags are packed / I'm ready to go

Stuffed Trunk

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This was the longest day of the trip and probably my least favorite.  It was rough enough saying my goodbyes with my family, and too little sleep plus too much anxiety didn’t help.
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Car takes gas, Joie takes coffee

Coffee always helps, though.

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We at least had a gorgeous morning to see us off.
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Will the sky look like that in Washington?

Morning Sky in Alabama

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Fritz, whom we’d originally planned to allow free reign of the car but whom we wound up confining to a large carrier on the recommendation of my vet, became very, very agitated after about 45 minutes of driving—and very, very loud about it.  And he wasn’t stopping.  “Just give him time,” I said.  “He’s just anxious.”
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Kitty Jitters

"I did NOT sign up for this."

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But I knew Fritz could make the hour commute from my apartment to my parents’ house without complaining.  After just one hour of driving, we were stopped in Union Town, a notorious speed trap.

But we were not stopped by police.  We were stopped by my cat crapping in his carrier.

Really?!  Already?!  This trip couldn’t have given me ONE DAY of smooth sailing to ease into it?!

Fritz was given free roaming (and constant access to a litter box) from that moment of the trip forward.
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"Don't even look at me. Don't. You. Look at me."

Also, he was no longer speaking to us.

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Crossing over into Mississippi felt monumental.  Construction work in Alabama was the slowest and second most agonizing part of our trip; but crossing into a new state, where we could actually go the speed limit, was the first time I really felt I was on an adventure.  I allowed my brain to tell itself, “Wow, we’ve already gotten to another state!  And we only have to go through like, seven, so we must be close already!”
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The state that consistently makes Alabama look good.

The free coffee was welcome enough.

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You need these kinds of things when you’re going to be in a car for four and a half more days.
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It's only balanced if you eat two bags.

You also need healthy food, which Mississippi's rest areas were happy to highlight.

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The rest of the day went surprisingly well.  We passed into Louisiana from Mississippi (crossing the bridge was gorgeous!… and something we failed to get a picture of).  My brain congratulated itself on conquering another state; my butt congratulated itself on not being asleep yet.  I had some major Sleepy Moments in Mississippi and Lousiana, but they passed as we entered Texas.
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"We have to go deeper!... into Texas!"

At least, I THOUGHT I woke up. But then there was this Texas within a Texas... TEX-CEPTION?!

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Our original strategy was to take Interstate 20 all the way to Interstate 5 in California.  But somewhere shortly before Dallas, we were advised to take Interstate 40 instead.  I was wary of this, given the blizzards that much of I-40 had seen in the week or two before, but I gave in, and we started making our way north.
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"Still not speaking to you."

"What kind of cat carrier is this?"

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Even at no-traffic hours, driving in Dallas was terrifying.  I can’t imagine commuting in that city.  We got ourselves as far away as we could for the night in hopes of avoiding any traffic the next morning.  It was a wise decision, but it left us completely exhausted.  We stopped at a friendly Comfort Inn in Decatur, Texas, managed to order pizza ten minutes before Pizza Hut closed, and finally, we relaxed for the day.  My left knee was killing me, I suppose from being ready to hit the clutch for the last 12-13 hours.
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That's gotta be like, 75% of the country or something, right?

Map of Day 1


Coming Up in Episode 2:  Texas!  Texas!  And more Texas!  Texas represents 67% of the area of the United States of America*.


*Not even a little bit true

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I’ve mentioned this to a few people already, but after a lot of complications, things are at last finalized enough that I can officially announce to the whole wide Interwebz: at the end of the year, I’ll be moving to … Seattle!

Plans to move to Boulder had actually been in the works for a few months.  But when Stephen was unexpectedly offered a job in Seattle, plans had to change.  I mourned for a few days—Boulder was a love-at-first-sight kind of town for me, and Seattle was even farther from my family—before I began to get excited about the new possibilities this change brought with it.  Unfortunately, as a person who has spent her entire life in a quadrant of the country that’s largely uninterested in, well, blue states, I knew next to nothing about Seattle.  And as much as I hate the stereotypes associated with Alabama, my knowledge of Seattle was pretty caricatural; probably a flannel-wearin’, Starbucks-drinkin’, Space-Needle-lookin’-at community, right?

Something like this, I guess?

Imagine my surprise upon learning there’s actually a lot more to Seattle than grunge music, landmarks, and coffee (although to be honest, I love all three of those things).  Stephen spent 4 years living there, but as his main promotion has been, “Oh, man, there are so many good teriyaki places,” I was sort of left on my own to learn more.  Here are a few things I’ve discovered.

1.  Its nickname is “The Emerald City.”  Which basically means I’ll be singing this song every day when I wake up.  The nickname comes from the lush greenery all throughout the area.

2. Apparently there’s like, you know. A mountain.  This is one of those things that I guess normal people know but I don’t.

No, really! There is!

Source.

That would be good ol’ Mt. Rainier, hilariously named given the Pacific Northwest’s rain…ier…ness.  It’s listed on the Decade Volcano list, a.k.a. potentially dangerous ones that are being studied.  I suppose living near an active volcano is a good way to make up for the fact that I’m leaving one of the most tornado-prone areas in the country?

3.  It’s currently ranked as the #2 most literate city in the country.  (Note that that’s not “most literatest.”)  Check the Top 10 and it’s right behind Washington, D.C.  I was also thrilled to learn they have a pretty excellent library system.  MY NERD SENSE IS TINGLING.

4. It’s just been ranked as the most walk-friendly city in the United States.  In fact, it’s the only platinum-level city on WalkFriendly.org’s list.  AND NOTHING MAKES ME WANT TO WALK MORE THAN THE THOUGHT OF OVERPRICED PRECIOUS METALS!

5. ICHIRO.  Finally, an excuse to say his name all the time.

ICHIRO!

 Source.

And all of this doesn’t even begin to get into how much the area is bursting with shows, events, and culture.  I get overwhelmed just trying to look into it!  Any thoughts or recommendations from any Seattle-savvy readers out there?  My move from one corner of the country to the other isn’t for another 6 months, but I’m already imagining my life as a Seattleite!

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