So This Moving Stuff. . . Not Easy

We’re in our house!  We love it, the dog loves it, the cat loves it – it’s awesome.  You know who else loves it?  The HUNDREDS of boxes that are currently living here.  We closed on Wednesday, received all our boxes and goods on Thursday, had cable installed on Friday and our Ikea furniture was delivered on Saturday.  So it’s been busy around here.  I am happy to report that we have an unpacked kitchen, a complete and furnished living room, an in place dining room table and wine bar, all clothes in a closet or dresser, all bathroom items in their correct location and a beautiful bedroom with our pillow top mattress properly in place.  The problem?  We are lucky to have purchased a very roomy home.  So there are still three bedrooms to be unpacked.  Or as we call them now, three places that boxes may be placed and ignored.

So that’s what we’ve been up to.  And what we will continue to be up to for a while.  There will be lots of photos to go around once there is more finished space than boxes.  For now, take a look at my new favorite blog.  As someone who is spending a great deal of time looking at home catalogs, it definitely makes me giggle.

Our Big Fat Ikea Trip

The past couple weeks have been taken over by this house purchase.  From mortgage companies, to inspections, changing addresses and preparing to move (AGAIN) we’ve had a lot on our plate.  It became obvious this weekend our commitment to the new home was ready for the next level.  That’s right, it was time for a trip to Ikea. 

The giant blue and yellow box can strike fear in many people’s hearts, especially when attempted on a cloudy Sunday afternoon, but I think we manged our trip with as much grace as one can have at a furniture store that features Swedish meatballs. 

We have enough furniture for most of the house, but we really wanted a nice, pulled together, designed look for the main living room, which is the first space you see when you enter the house.

  We sat on many couches in the showroom, pretending to lounge on them to watch football, imagining where a beagle would sit, determining how easily orange kitty fur will show up (and be removed from) the sofa.  It was a long process.  This is the main centerpiece of the room and the one we spent the most time trying to decide on.  In the end we went with this:

 It’s a little smaller than we might have needed, but that is where the genius of the next purchase comes into play. 

 Great to curl up in, plenty of room for orange kitties (if beagles are using too much room on the couch).  The leather of both the chair and the sofa provide an easy cleaning surface, so that fur (and hopefully eventually baby spit up) will wash right off with a wet cloth. 

As you will soon see when the virtual home tour is complete, we have a large space with windows in the front of our living room. A had the vision for a “conversation pit” in that area and so we went searching for appropriate chairs for the area. 

It may not look like much, but these chairs are super comfy. We bought two and a matching footstool for the “conversation pit” and I can’t wait to sit in front of the window and knit or read.  It will provide the perfect spot to watch everyone pass by our house – and I know it will be a favorite bird watching spot for B-cat.

Last but not least with all these sleek, comfy furniture in the living room, we needed some entertainment options.  We had a hard time reaching consensus on the entertainment center – I was looking more for design while A was more concerned with function.  We compromised on this set up and I think it will work out nicely.

I can’t wait for it all to be delivered on Saturday and to set everything up in the house!  Our household goods from DC begin arriving on Thursday so I know we will have plenty to keep us busy and once it is all set, I promise lots of photos and a vlog tour of the place!

In the ‘Hood

One of the best things about our temporary arrangement is that we are in downtown Seattle and have a great opportunity to explore.  We are staying in the neighborhood of Belltown. Apparently CNNMoney named it a great place to retire, which surprises me slightly because it seems more nightlifey than retirement, but we’re enjoying ourselves either way.

We have been good about making meals at home and not dining out (probably in response to a week on the road where we had no choice but to take out all our meals) so we have not really explored the culinary options in our neighborhood.  I bought bread and coffee from the French bakery, as mentioned before.  As I tweeted about, I bought cupcakes for our anniversary celebration from Yellow Leaf Cupcake. We had Sweet and Salty Chocolate Bacon and Ultimate Chocolate.  Both were delicious.  Today’s flavors have me contemplating a walk down to try some today: Irish Whisky, Tequila Lime, Beer, Pancakes n’ Bacon, Lemon Meringue, Coconut, Strawberry.  Our first night in town we had some very creative sushi from Umi Sake House and it did not disappoint.  I am very excited to try these places which have our foodie excitement level up: Lola, Dahlia Lounge and El Gaucho (though Andrew has already tried the steak house).  

We are also very close to many Seattle landmarks, including Pike’s Place Market, the Space Needle, the Sculpture Garden and the Experience Music Project.  We’ve walked Cal through part of the Sculpture Garden and Seattle Center, the park surrounding the Space Needle.  Seattle Center has a small amusement park complete with skee ball and rides (Cal is not tall enough to ride unfortunately).  Key Arena is also in Seattle Center and no offense to Seattle, but it is clear why the Supersonics left town.  Key Arena is a dump.  At least from the outside.  Perhaps my first Storm game will change my mind.  Or American Idols Live. . .   We have yet to walk to the Market or explore the Music Project, but we are looking forward to both, especially the flying fish. 

One thing that we both remembered from our previous time in Seattle and endeared us to the city was the festivals held every weekend.  This weekend the Iranian Festival was at the Seattle Center and Fremont Fair was a few neighborhoods over.  We walked Cal through the Iranian fest and while we missed most of the excitement, it sure smelled great.  Fremont Fair celebrates the Solstice with a naked bike ride and art fair.  We were unable to attend this year, but we watched US v. Italy at the Fest four years ago and had a fantastic time.  This week is Pride Week and the Pride Parade will process down our street.  The following weekend is our favorite festival, The Seattle International Beer Festival. We had a really great time at this four years ago and are looking forward to it again this year, especially since we live walking distance away!  Seattle Center will also host a Bastille Day celebration and there are many Fourth of July events planned as well. 

As excited as we are to get into our permanent home, we are definitely enjoying summer in downtown Seattle and the opportunity to enjoy the new ‘hood.

Traveling with Pets

Our moving plans and journey to the West Coast were made more complicated by the fact we were traveling with two pets.  Neither pet is big on travel, car or otherwise, and we weren’t sure how they would do being in the car together for several days (or rather, how A and I would fair with both of them in the car).  After much planning and scheduling and research, we decided we would drive out with Cal and then fly out later with B-Cat. In the hope our experiences can help others, I thought I’d share more information on traveling with pets.

1. Driving vs. flying:  Cal does not like the car and had not enjoyed the trips to New England for the holiday, so we were concerned how he would handle the 3000 mile trip.  However, if we flew he would have been in the luggage hold (most airlines have a 20lb in cabin limit and at the very least, he would have to be in a carrier than fit underneath the seat and he would be too big for that.)  I did some research, talked to friends who had flown their dog when moving and decided that I could not stomach flying Cal.  If he was nervous being in the car with us, I couldn’t imagine him being by himself for up to 10 hours in a luggage hold.  Also, news stories like this horrified me.  So we decided to drive with Cal.  As for B-Cat, she had done long car trips and flights before (she is very well traveled).  In the end we determined that instead of trying to do both “kids” in the car for 5 days and because B-Cat could be in the cabin with us, we would fly with her to Seattle.

2.  Do research.  Whether traveling by air or car, it is important to do research before taking off with your pet.  We used the Bring Fido website to find hotels that would allow Cal to stay with us.  This website was invaluable and we loved every place we stayed.  Important factors for us were 1) clean, safe hotel, 2) low pet fee, 3) availability of “green space” to walk Cal, 4) in an area that provided some entertainment/food for us.  Bring Fido had reviews from travelers on their site and helped us to identify hotels that truly were pet friendly and had good walking areas available.

3.  Talk to your vet.  We had done some private training with Cal to try to get him over his fear of the car.  He had definitely improved on short trips, but he wasn’t one of those dogs who would leap into the car at the jingle of car keys.  We decided to talk to our vet who recommended Dramamine and Rescue Remedy, as well as the recommended dosages for both.  The Dramamine did not knock Cal out completely but it definitely took some of the edge off and helped him sleep most of the ride everyday.  I think it also prevented car sickness – previously on car trips to New England or longer trips around town he would get sick in the car.  On this trip he did not get sick at all.  We tried the Rescue Remedy but honestly did not see any improvement from it.  It is all natural and I may try to use it on local trips for which we aren’t using Dramamine.

4.  Know the restrictions.  Despite being pet friendly hotels, there were still restrictions as to where Cal could be and what we could do.  No hotel allowed us to leave him alone in the hotel room.  This required some tag team effort on our part to load the car, get dinner, etc, ensuring someone was always with Cal, but it worked out.  For B-Cat it was important to know the restrictions for the flight such as dimensions of the carry on carrier, cost of the pet ticket, if there is a limit on the number of pets allowed on a flight, etc.  I made our reservation for B-Cat as soon as we bought our airline tickets because our airline only allowed 2 pets per flight and we didn’t want to find out she couldn’t come on board with us.

5.  Be flexible.  Even with all our planning and research, we had to be flexible.  Some days Cal would be more fidgety than others, so we’d stop for a longer lunch to let him walk around.  If he seemed hungry, I’d give him a little food in the car.  Other days we only fed him in the morning and evening to try to avoid motion sickness.  After driving all day we would have loved to have a glass of wine or watch the game at a bar to relax each night.  Since we couldn’t leave Cal alone, one of us would buy some beer at a gas station and we’d enjoy it with take out food in the hotel room.  Sure I was tired of eating in hotels by the end of the trip, but we made it work the best we could.

Overall, we were so lucky how uneventful our travels were.  Sure, there was projectile cat vomit, an emergency vet trip in Miles City, MT and I won’t say it wasn’t stressful.  But we all made it, everyone is settled into their new, even if temporary, home and we can say we did a complicated cross country move with a cat and a dog.  That has to  earn us a Girl Scout merit badge of some kind, or at least a nap.

A Quasi Post

Sigh.  That is the sound of (at least) quasi-contentment.  It has been quite a few weeks – but why am I telling you that, you’ve read all about it here.  You know that we have crossed the country 3 times (no really, not “like” three times.  We actually went from DC to Seattle to DC to Seattle.  See?  THREE cross country trips!)  There are a lot of good things happening – such as not having another cross country trip in our future, but each positive comes with a new, different challenge.  For instance, everything is out of our car.  However, everything from the car is now in our one bedroom apartment waiting for me to find a place for it.  I have chosen to watch Gilmore Girls instead.  Because Gilmore makes everything better.  (Thoughts on whether the Jess or the Logan era is better?  I’m torn.) 

I’ve been quasi-productive today.  We didn’t get back to our apartment until after midnight, (I can’t call it home.  It’s a temporary apartment and it’s perfectly lovely but it just isn’t home right now.  I’m ok with that, and probably splitting hairs since the things I care most about are here with me, but for now “the apartment” works fine) and so I generously got up to drive A to his first day of work today.  He was adorable in his new jeans and with his backpack.  I dropped him off at the Amazon building on the hill and off he went.  Cal and I will walk up to meet him in a little bit and we are all excited to hear about his day. 

B-cat and I spent the morning taking care of some around the apartment details – organizing the kitchen, making shopping lists, changing addresses.  I explored the organic French bakery below our apartments.  The barista insisted that their baked goods were healthy.  Or at least, made with all natural ingredients.  I’m pretty sure lard is an all natural ingredient.  (I did not get any baked goods today, I didn’t want to peak too soon.) 

I headed north the the mall and enjoyed the two floor Target complete with shopping cart escalator.  After picking up only the most essential items for the apartment, I traveled to Trader Joe’s. 

Ready, Set, Live in Seattle!

So, we’re here.  And now we even have a place to live that is not our car or a mid-range hotel.  (It’s not permanent by any means, but our corporate housing arrangement at least let us unpack the car.)  We had an amazingly busy day today and we started early. Cal had orientation at “puppy camp” (doggie day care) where they declared him to be a “natural”.  We had a bunch of errands to run, including a run to the post office which went about as well as any trip the post office could go.  I really expected a lot more frustration.  From there we went to meet our real estate agent, who took us on a tour of a few neighborhoods and showed us some homes.  Somewhere in there we checked into our temporary home and watched Shakira on the World Cup kick off extravaganza.

Thank you to everyone who has been following our journey.  It was fun to be able to read everyone’s comments and emails and it meant a lot to all of us.  We hope that you stick around to see how our journey progresses – hopefully eventually ending with a permanent mailing address.

Our readers have raised a few questions, so I thought I’d try to answer some of them in today’s post.

  – Why are you moving to Seattle? Long ago, A went to school at Berkeley (Go Bears!) and I was in the Army and in CO.  A took an internship at a little mail order company based in Seattle and spent the summer of 2006 there.  True to our long distance relationship, I traveled to the city a few times and we really enjoyed the city.  With a full time offer in our pockets, we planned to relocate to Seattle when A graduated in 2007.  The US Army had other plans.  We got married, A went to Afghanistan, I went to Fort Belvoir.  Three years later, the offer came back into our laps and we thought, we not?  Not to make light of our decision, it was an incredibly difficult decision to make, but I think the sun that has been shining here in Seattle the past two days may be telling us we made the right choice.

  – So A has a job, and you?  Well, I have a more than full time job right now – I’m setting up our life here.  Full time house hunting, taking care of all the moving details, dog walking, finding the good Safeway.  Ok, so I don’t have a job.  But I am searching, have some interviews lined up, and am hopeful that my unemployment is just long enough to let me take care of what needs taking care of, but not so long that I start to become comfortable in my time off!

 – How did you handle the planning/driving your road trip?  Basically we typed in our DC address and Seattle in google maps and just followed that route.  A worked out what stops would be good distance wise and off we went.  We planned out what hotels we planned to stay at since we were traveling with a dog and needed pet friendly locations.  (More on that next week.)  A lot of people joked that if we could survive this drive, our marriage could survive anything.  Honestly, we’re really good in the car.  As I mentioned before, we downloaded John Adams and spent a good amount of time listening to that.  Tonight is actually the first waking time we’ve been apart from each other since last Saturday (you know, not counting showers, etc) and I think we did pretty well.  I think we looked at it as an adventure and probably one, if not the, last time we would be doing something like this with just the two of us and we really enjoyed it.  This trip is up there with our honeymoon in New Zealand as one of the best weeks in our marriage.

 – Did you do much sightseeing? Did you see the Giant Ball of Twine?  We did not sightsee as much as we would have liked.  While the 5 days to get from DC to Seattle was completely doable, it was also at a steady pace of about 8 hours of driving a day, including a 30-45 minute lunch break and some pit stops.  We tried to stop in places that might serve a dual purpose of rest stops and interesting things to see.  This worked well in South Bend, Bismarck, Bozeman and our favorite stop on the trip, Missoula.  We were not on a route that had many road side attractions.  We tried to pull off to go Little Big Horn Battlefield, but despite the roadside sign, it was 45 miles off our route.  We did make it to Fort Sauerkraut though. . . 

 – Will you continue the blog now that the journey is complete?  Definitely!  I enjoyed blogging our trip, and we may not always have things as interesting as rattlesnakes at rest stops to share, but we hope that people continue to be a part of our lives, even if from afar, and we hope that we continue to be blessed with great stories to share with everyone.  Keep the questions and comments coming!

Strangely enough, we’re on our way back to the Other Washington tomorrow.  We’ll be flying back to DC to close out the apartment, say good bye to family, become godparents to one amazing little boy and pick up B-Cat.  So look for us back on the blog on Monday.  I’ll let you know how flying cross country with an orange cat goes.


Hey, hey, what is this on the horizon??

We have arrived in Seattle. Instead of the overwhelming relief I expected to feel upon seeing the Space Needle, I’m feeling very apprehensive. We’re here and now we have to make a life here. It is frightening. I remember this feeling when I went to law school – having seen Legally Blonde only days before and being convinced I would be kicked out of class for being unprepared just like Elle – and I was the furthest from my family I had ever been. That’s where B-cat came from – I needed someone to keep me company. It’s funny though, I don’t remember feeling this way in Colorado or DC when I moved to each place. I’m sure time has healed wounds and I was just as nervous and out of sorts when I arrived in each of those locations. I am sure in time Seattle will come to feel as familiar as each of my previous homes have.

Tonight is our last night in a hotel, thank goodness. Tomorrow we move into our temporary housing while we house hunt. I will just be happy to not be living out of the car.

I’ve posted a few photos of our trip today, but will also start a Picasa album with all the photos from our trip, in case beagles and landscapes through car windows are your thing.

We really had such an easy trip and were blessed with safe travels and easy drives and wonderful pet friendly locations. I can only hope that our transition to a West Coast life goes as well as our drive did.How does our last day stack up?

Miles traveled – 476 miles

Number of States Traveled Through/In – 3 ( Montana, Idaho, and Washington)

Interesting facts about John Adams – His son, John Quincy, named his first son George Washington Adams. Having played second fiddle to George Washington his entire career, John Adams was not amused by this. John’s daughter, named Abigail after her mother but called Nabby, was diagnosed with breast cancer. The doctors of the time recommended a mastectomy and it was performed in the Adams’ home without anesthetic. Nabby was described as stoic during the procedure. (I almost had to pull over and be sick when listening to this, so my reaction was not so stoic.)

Tolls Paid – 0 – take that Midwest.

Number of Fast Food Meals – 1

Number of Fast Food Meals that involved a spicy chicken sandwich – 0

Interesting Sites – Columbia River Gorge, Town of George (as in George, Washington), Montana Trout Aquarium and the Space Needle.

“I kinda love Montana”

Today was a good day. It started off a little shaky – Cal bolted out the door as A went to check out of the hotel. Cal ran into the parking lot and was making a break for the highway when A caught him. It definitely took a few years off our lives. Thank God that A was able to catch him and bring him back safely.

After that scare we regrouped, loaded the car and headed out. We got breakfast at Subway – and I have to say, if you haven’t tried their new breakfasts, you really should. It was delicious and completely reasonable in price. My only complaint was the lack of milk for coffee – only powered creamer. But the sandwich was delicious. I highly recommend the Western Omelet sandwich.

We traveled across Montana today. I would not hesitate to call it the most horrifying place I’ve been. Beautiful, but horrifying. As some may know, I have a small bladder and need to pee fairly often. On a road trip, I try to monitor my liquid intake to reduce my bathroom stops. On my morning requested stop we pulled up and saw this sign. Not only did I not get out of the car, I really didn’t even want to stop the car. A announced he had to stop and I was pretty hysterical the entire time he was gone. Because I may have a small bladder, but my fear of snakes is much greater.

Despite the snakes, we enjoyed our day in Montana. We had lunch in Bozeman at a BBQ place. It was very good and I recommend it to anyone who finds themselves in Bozeman.

We are spending the night in Missoula, MT. I don’t think I can speak highly enough of Missoula. It is a college town – site of the University of Montana – home of the Grizzlies. We are at a hotel on the river with a beautiful park and an outside bar and restaurant. We had some lovely microbrews with dinner while sitting by the river. We met so many nice people. Being from the East (or New England as the case may be for me) meeting all these people who want to talk to you makes us quite suspicious. Apparently people are just friendly out here and really want to talk to you. Amazing.

I have to say, today is the first day I’ve been homesick and it’s all because of one person – Stephen Strasburg. A and I have become very big Nationals fans (no really, they exist) and have been there through thick and thin with this team in the past few years. Originally it appeared Strasmas would come on last Friday, our last day in DC. It seemed poetic that we may be able to attend this game our last night in the city. It was not to be and tonight was Strasburg’s premiere. I’m proud of how the team, and especially how Strasburg did tonight and just a little sad that I had to follow it on my iPhone ESPN app instead of being there in person.

I feel like there is more to share from today, but I think that is because the scenery was so impressive. I kept telling A that it reminded me of New Zealand and I think that is because of how naturally beautiful the scenery is. I am going to post a bunch of photos that try to do justice to the amazing views.

What do the numbers look like today?

Miles traveled – 488 miles

Number of States Traveled Through/In – 1 ( Montana – no really, Montana is huge)

Interesting facts about John Adams – While serving as Vice President, John Adams cast more deciding votes in the Senate than any other Vice President ever has. He also won the presidency by only 3 votes.

Tolls Paid – 0 – appreciated Montana.

Number of Fast Food Meals – 1

Number of Fast Food Meals that involved a spicy chicken sandwich – 0

Interesting Sites – Rattlesnake signs, Woolen stores (no yarn involved), white water rapids, the Continental Divide.

Playing the Slots

Tonight we are staying in Miles City, MT. We had expected to take four days to make it to Seattle, but our housing won’t be ready until Thursday so we’ve decided to split up the ride and take five days. This gave us a little extra time today to explore the sights and to get into our hotel a little bit earlier.

After leaving Fargo, we headed west in North Dakota and stopped for lunch in Bismarck. It’s the state capital so we took Cal to see the Capital Building and walked around a gorgeous tree-lined park downtown. It was a beautiful day and a really nice park. Here is Cal and A with Sacajawea, Cal’s favorite dollar coin character.

In the park there was also a Veterans’ Memorial. The Memorial is under a permanent tent of sorts and in the middle of the tented area is a globe with North Dakota raised on the map of the US. At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month (Veteran’s Day) the sun shines through this one hole in the tent roof and hits North Dakota on the globe. It was pretty neat.

We entered Montana in the early afternoon and discovered what they mean by “Big Sky Country”. It’s hard to describe, other than the sky is really big. It’s every where and impressive and beautiful and there are these horses everywhere – not like horses you see in the east, but tan horses with blond manes. It really is gorgeous and I think don’t our pictures do it justice.

We had to make a pit stop in Hebron, ND today as well. It is a tiny, tiny, tiny town. In the “middle” of town is Fort Sauerkraut. This is a “fort” built in 1892 to defend the town against the coming “Indian attack”. It is atop a hill. After the Indians entered the town, the townspeople were able to convince them to surrender. After the Indians gave up their weapons, the people of Hebron shot the men and killed the women and children with their bayonets. As you can see, A is not impressed.

Our excitement for the day was taking Cal to the vet, as he has an eye infection. I cannot speak highly enough about the East Main Animal Clinic here in Miles City – they fit us in at closing and took such good care of Cal. He is going to be just fine, but it was nice to not worry about him going blind before we reach Seattle.

Miles City is interesting – I’ll post a video of the main strip tomorrow when we have a more reliable internet connection. There are a ton of “casinos” – which appear to be bars with 20 video slot machines. As I mentioned on Twitter, there are more than a few within walking distance. The night is young, we just may try our luck at Lucky Lil’s before it is over.

So what did we accomplish today?

Miles traveled – 459 miles

Number of States Traveled Through/In – 2 (North Dakota, Montana – both are very large)

Interesting facts about John Adams – When John Adams became vice president there was no oath of office for the VP, the Senate had not written one yet. Only one for the President. George Washington took a canary carriage with 6 white horses to his inauguration. Both Washington and Adams wore a suit made of Hartford brown broadcloth. Also, John wanted the president to have a title that involved referring to him as majesty. Awesome.

Tolls Paid – 0 – nicely done North Dakota

Number of Fast Food Meals – 1

Number of Fast Food Meals that involved a spicy chicken sandwich – 1

Interesting Sites – Pioneers of the Future statue, Big Sky, water towers, ranch and home stores.

North Dakota Bears

The hotel in which we stayed in Fargo had a bear theme. It was pretty awesome. Here is a photo of the three of us with the “bears” outside the hotel.

There was one bear who peered into our window from the outside. Every time we opened the curtains, Cal would bark and howl at the bear cub. Andrew thought it would be fun to try to capture it on film. Here’s his attempt at that.