While working for the National Park Service over the past few years, I've become very efficient at moving. However, the stakes were high as we attempted a multi-park transfer to get me from my detail at Theodore Roosevelt back to Fort Larned and then over to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. It was a logistical challenge involving multiple parties, multiple U-Haul vehicles, eight days, and 2,000 miles of travel.
The mission was completed successfully.
We packed up in North Dakota and had the benefit of reasonably warm weather - above freezing - for packing the cars. There was a big sheet of ice at our bottom step, so I had to be very cautious. Accidents at this point would really throw off the whole tight itinerary we were on. After finishing cleanup in the morning, I towed the U-Haul trailer down the road some distance behind Amber and Alison, who got a head start to make up for time lost during feedings and diaper changes. We made it all the way to North Platte, NE that first day, which was very far to go with a baby but necessary since options are very limited in western Nebraska.
After arriving in Larned the next day, I got checked out of Fort Larned NHS, returning materials to the park, cleaning out my locker, and visiting with everyone there. We opened up the storage unit and I began to fret over how everything was going to fit in our rental truck. Amber had (in retrospect, wisely) rented a 20 foot U-Haul truck, a new size in their fleet, on the premise that if it didn't fit into the truck, it wasn't going to fit into our apartment.
The next day was dedicated to packing the things from the storage unit and the trailer into the truck. I was at my wit's end by the time Amber's parents showed up to help, having flown in for just that purpose. With help from a couple folks from Fort Larned who came over to help at the end of the work day, we got nearly everything loaded onto the truck, sorted out for the auction house, the giveaway pile, or the dump, leaving us with a minimum of mopping up to do.
The next day, we got out of town in the late morning and made it to Independence, MO. The next day, Effingham, IL, then a full day of driving in non-stop rain to St. Clairsville, OH, where it started snowing as the sun went down. The snow wasn't a big factor as we cruised across the snow-covered mountains in Pennsylvania to Harrisburg, PA, where we dropped some exercise equipment and lawn & garden equipment for her sister in her new house.
Finally, we drove to Alexandria and got checked into our apartment and, rather remarkably, got the truck unloaded just as it was getting dark in the evening. It was rather exhausting moving everything up two stories in a building with no elevator. There was a tense moment when we tried to get the big couch through the door and into the living room, a maneuver that left us with millimeters to spare.
We're still working on finding a place for everything, but it looks like we will do just fine. Paring down the amount of stuff we have made all the difference. Last summer, I offloaded half of my books and half of my DVD collection. We got rid of games and other things. We just gave them away.
One thing we've learned is that we are tired of having things. We are all guilty of saving things that have nostalgic value, and these things tend to accumulate. Then they start to weigh a person down. The struggle is to recognize that the thing is not the same as the memory and to let the thing go. Getting rid of old things is not a rejection of the past. The acquisition of new things is not a portent of the future.
So far, we have enjoyed being in the big city. Our apartment is remarkably quiet and the residents friendly. We like all the options for dining, entertainment, and shopping that are so easily accessible if you can brave the traffic. I'm learning what it will take to get into the city to work in the morning, centered on the metro, but maybe expanding to include a short bus ride to fast forward my morning commute.
This is going to be interesting.