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Go West, young man. (edited w/ pics)



Every day this week I wanted to sit down and chronicle this last trip. Don't know that I'd call it an epic adventure, but there were plenty of highlights and interesting new experiences.

Where to start.

I'll go back all the way for review, in case anyone needs a refresher. Connor, my #2, finished his masters in Public Health last spring and had been trying to get work in the field ever since. Those who have or who know someone who has been in the job market understands how discouraging that can me. He had a few interviews, but not much more than that. Finally, he had a really good Skype meeting with a small non-profit in Tacoma, WA. Then a second the next week, and in the end they made him an offer. To us (that parents), it seemed like a pretty small amount for someone with a master's degree, but apparently that's the nature of his business. And it's a foot in the door as well as a way out of Kentucky. Not that the Bluegrass State is a bad place, but there's some baggage in Louisville that we's all just as soon leave behind. and the PNW is about as far as he can get, so ...

Fortunately, his possessions are fairly minimal, since he's been in school and working for Home Depot for the last few years and med school before that. We made a reasonable guess and rented a 10' UHaul for his move. I took a week off work to help driving, apartment hunting and moral support. Mrs. Dave was in DC the week before, for one of those old high school girlfriends' things. Plan was for me to drive down, help load the truck and put his car on a tow dolly. Then she would fly over at the end of her play week and drive home while we headed west. I worked a couple of hours every day that week so I could leave early on Friday without burning more vacation time. Since Mrs. Dave was gone, there was no reason for me to be home anyway, except maybe to run before it got dark now that we're on Standard Time. I find it hilarious every fall when the memes about hating DST come out because it gets dark earlier.

We didn't know back when Connor got married how quickly and badly that would end. Nor could we have guessed that our sort-term in-laws would turn out to be literal saviors to him in a number of amazing ways. They stayed in contact with him (and us), helped and mentored him through the divorce, his return to grad school, and even dog sat for Ollie on many occasions. When they heard we were coming down to help with the move and would be sleeping on an airbed in the empty apartment for two nights, they insisted we stay in their home. Then they came and spent several hours cleaning the apartment with us. Truly, these people are saints. And it gets better. In the last few years, two of their daughters have married and relocated to (wait for it) the Seattle area, both within 20-40 minutes of his office. Both of them offered a place to stay until Connor was able to move into an apartment. Our other option was grandma's house, two hours north.

We were loaded on Friday but he had some commitments with his D&D group both Saturday and Sunday, so I went for a run on Saturday. 6 miles through a big nice, hilly neighborhood. This was the maiden run of my new DynaFlyte3 shoes. They seem to fit a touch bigger than my old Cumulus, but they also weigh less. Not sure I love them. The reason for the switch is that I'm increasingly disappointed in the tread wear I'm getting with the Cumulus. The last two pair have wore through the outer layer at the ball of my left foot. No doubt I've developed a new shuffle on that side, so it's my fault, but I'd be interested to find something that will last longer. Suggestions for something with a uber-durable sole?

With that question no longer hanging over us, we hitched up the car and hit the road. I've rented trucks before for moving, but never towed a car behind one. We had to watch our speed and be extra cautious for any and every change in direction, but it wasn't terrible. There were a few times with the wind in KS and the mountains in CO where I could feel the trailer trying to swing us off course, and that was a little hair raising. We got a solid 10 miles to the gallon - about $700 just in gas from KY to WA - only lost a few hours from the expected travel time vs. google maps. There was just enough space for Ollie's bed between the two seats. He was a great traveler, and our 2 hours shifts gave all three of us regular walk and potty breaks.

Plan A was driving pretty much straight through, with just a couple of stops for visits. Mrs. Dave and I have employed a 2 hours driving shift strategy for these cross-country drives that's worked well, so that's what we did here, too. That and enough (Diet) Dr. Pepper to last 1600 miles. Before the trip the weather had looked mostly clear all the way, but a winter storm blew across the plains that first night. Fortunately, it blew mostly around us, and while there was some snow, it was a fast moving storm with not a lot of accumulation, so we didn't have much trouble. As as we got closer to Denver and started to get splashback from the other cars and trucks, I saw that the wiper blades on our truck were in sad shape. Any more weather and we'd have real visibility issues, so we stopped at a UHaul dealer that happened to be just off the freeway and asked if they'd replaced them. It's their truck after all. That took all of five minutes (that's UHaul) and we were back on the road. Just in time, too, because things got real messy right after that.


Once we were through the Eisenhower Tunnel, the sun was out and the rest of that day was great traveling weather. We stopped in Glenwood Springs for just a few gallons of gas because it's crazy expensive there and filled up in Grand Junction before crossing the desert and entering UT. It was just past sundown when we exited Spanish Fork Canyon into Utah Valley. So many memories of high school and college there. Even though I've been back many times, this was my first look of the whole valley at night and I was amazed that the lights covered all of it. What happened to my little Happy Valley? So many people.

We had decided to stay the night in UT with our best friends the Batemans so our timing for the next day would work better. We first met Brent and Terri the week we moved to MI in '95. It was a sad day when they left for UT, but with kids going to college at BYU since 2002, we've been able to stay close and we stay there whenever we pass through. My sister lives just a few miles from them now, so that was an obligation to fulfill. We did that the next morning and after that, made a detour to Idaho Falls to see my dad and T-Rex. She drove over from school to see the dog mostly. Then I washed the truck and the car.

In the meantime, there was a big nasty storm in the midwest. You may have seen it on the news. Poor Mrs. Dave was stuck with 8 inches of heavy white stuff followed by near single digit temps. Since this hadn't been in the forecast when I left, I'd made no preparations for the snowblower to be ready and she had to clear things out by herself. by hand. Fortunately, a couple of our neighbors helped out with their machines and she was spared the worst of it. Of course, it was all my fault.


She was not amused.


The last leg was a night drive across ID and OR, then north from Portland on I-5 to Tacoma.

More kudos to UHaul. Joe and his crew were very helpful and informative for us rookies. Because of the timing, there was none of our PNW connections to help with the truck, but the two of us were able to transfer everything from the truck into a couple of storage pods in about an hour. Storage for the first month is free, so no worries while he gets into a place to park permanently. And it wasn't raining while we worked.

We drove from UHaul right to downtown and Connor went into the office to let them know he'd made it into town. They had a desk all ready for him to start on Monday and were excited to have him. So it was really happening. We spent the next few hours just puttering around the city, looking at neighborhoods and checking out the exteriors of a few of the apartments he'd researched in advance, deciding on priorities for the next day. Even though he had a place to crash for as long as he needed, he was keen to get into somewhere alone and settle in.

Big Mac and her DH drove down from the north side and had dinner with us. They're excited to have Connor in the area and will be coming to help get him into his apartment when he moves in. One of the former SIL's had a 3 bedroom house near the military base. It was farther out, but we had beds and plenty of room. Plus, they were out of town for the week, so it was all ours. Since we were still on Eastern Standard Time, it was easy to get to sleep, not so easy to stay asleep the next morning. I was up at 4, and that was about as long as I felt like staying in bed.

We quickly noticed that Tacoma (and really, the whole area around there) had tons more apartments than our little corner of the midwest. Space is at a premium along the south and east of Puget Sound, folks. Explains why my MIL's dinky little ranch in Shoreline appraises for nearly $700K. Connor's new salary upgrades him from his Louisville place, but he still had to be budget conscious. There was a sweet spot in the rental rates that let him look at some decent complexes where he was comfortable. We had a dozen or so that were worth looking at up close. Just a $100 less put us in some real ghetto looking areas. Much more would be out of his price range.

The last place we went to was in Lakewood/Steilacoom, not far from the water (of course, almost everywhere is not far from the water). He really liked the layout and the fact that it was on the first floor. And the price was better than most of the others. One problem was the commute. He didn't know if he was ready to make the jump from 10 minutes to Home Depot to 30-40 minutes in good traffic. And Seattle isn't known for having good traffic every day. This would require some thinking, but we were encouraged after the first day. That night we drove up to Grandma's house for dinner, stopping at one of the former SIL's to drop off the dog. They have one and thought the two would get along famously. There was an accident (surprise!) on I-5, so we took a detour that I think saved us some time. Stopped for gas at a Costco that I swear was twice as large as any I've ever seen.

Next morning we decided to get some laundry done. I'd stay at our free airbnb and he'd check out the commute time from the place he liked from the day before, then look at a few more places. We had planned on me taking a bus or train up in the afternoon, but the travel time and logistics from where I was to where he was turned out to hardly be worth the effort, so I hung out at the house all day, just being available if he needed anything. There was one point when his brakes (2008 Accord) started making a terrible screeching noise. An Uber was the only way I could get there, and it was far enough to be prohibitively expensive. Well, I'm not ashamed to say I prayed. It was quick and silent but 100% sincere. He was at an apartment building off the street. He jacked up the offending wheel, turned it a few times freely, trying to determine exactly what was making the noise. At first it was constant, then isolated to one spot on the rotor, then it stopped altogether. Prayer answered.

It took him an hour that afternoon to get back to the house. His commute experiment from the other apartment took over a half hour. He decided he's not ready for a long commute yet, so the #1 apartment became #5 or #6. Also, the two dogs decided they didn't like each other after all, so Connor had to spend another two hours on the road bringing him back.

Now it was Saturday, and the apartment question was still unanswered. The night before, he'd thought he had a place, but they had an income requirement that he was just short of with his new, master's degree level salary. We understood that I could co-sign the lease, but that turned out to be a misunderstanding and we were jointly rejected. So, we went with choice #2. It was a little more expensive, but he actually liked it better - just not better enough for the price difference. Since option #1 was no longer available, this one moved up and he signed up. They had a special discount if you had a piece of Seattle Seahawks clothing or decoration, so we stopped at Target and bought a pair of socks. $8 and it saved him over $200 on his lease papers. Mission accomplished.

There was a little window finally for me to get a run in, so I went out for 5. I ran out one road until I ran out of sidewalk. On the way back, I passed a woman in a US Army sweat shirt running in the other direction, and then a guy came onto my route from a side street. He stopped to check his watch or music and started up again just as I was passing him. Being a friendly runner, I offered to run together for a mile or two, as long as our routes were aligned. So we stayed together. I figured since he was a fair bit younger than me, I'd let him lead and try to stay with him as long as it wasn't too uncomfortable. It wasn't long before he seemed to pick up the pace bit by bit. I looked over surreptitiously, wondering to myself if he was playing me, testing me, or maybe showing off. Couldn't tell. But I could feel the speed continuing to increase. We were getting down to what felt like 5K pace to me. I knew I could run that fast for a couple of miles, but it wasn't going to be a relaxed, friendly little run. After about a quarter mile at 7:00 pace (checked the Garmin/Strava data later), he abruptly pulled up, saying, "This is faster than I usually run." What? I swear I was just following. I dropped back to 9:00 pace again, then stopped to check a text from Mrs. Dave who has the most uncanny ability to call or text whenever I'm least able to respond. The speedster came up behind me, introduced himself as Justin and took off again before I could finish dealing with my text. Strange encounter. Anyway, since I'd had to turn around before my planned point, I added some extra mileage down another street. I was getting ready to turn back when I saw a sign that said, "Entering Olympia," not far ahead, so I kept going so I could say I ran to the capital of Washington, which I hadn't done before. I'd thought about doing a race while I was there, and even found one not far away that had 5K/10K/HM that weekend, but since we spent the morning still apartment hunting, had to let that idea go.

There was one friend who hadn't been able to get to Mrs. Dave's DC week and she lives a couple of hours west of where we were, in a tiny little retirement/tourist place right on the coast. She invited the two of us out for dinner. Connor had never been to the Pacific Ocean, so we went. We got there just at sunset, which would have been beautiful if it hadn't been all PNW-cloudy. It was still quite a sight. I love the northwest coast of America.

I had a 5:55 AM flight the next morning, and the airport was an hour away, making for a really short night. But 4 AM is a good time to go through security I must say. Long flight from SEA to BWI (yes, I flew from Seattle to Baltimore before going to Detroit - don't ask me how that makes sense), then a shorter one to DTW, where I landed back home 8 hours later.

Took me until yesterday to get back on Eastern Time. 5:30AM is my normal wake up time, and 3 hours before that is no joke. Got short runs in Monday and Tuesday, but skipped Wednesday. Had to blow some more leaves before rain on yesterday and I was just too beat. Took a nap from 5:30-7:00 and was still ready for bed at 10. The rain and wind chased me inside yesterday for 6 on the dreadmill. Listened to the last half hour of my latest Daniel Silva book and then watched the news. Gosh I hate that dreadmill, but I'm working on my mental toughness. Today is colder but no rain.

Still haven't decided what to so about my spring marathon. Do I spring for another Loopfest and go to Atlanta? March 1 is just so early.  I probably would have to start training today or a couple of weeks ago. Guess I can do an abbreviated schedule and keep expectations low. IDK.



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So glad Connor was able to find something! Hopefully this is a springboard to something amazing for him! 

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2 hours ago, eliz83 said:

So glad Connor was able to find something ! Hopefully this is a springboard to something amazing for him ! 

Your contact was his first interview. Even though he totally blew it, it was a VERY valuable learning experience and no doubt helped him land this job.

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On 11/24/2019 at 7:03 PM, SIbbetson said:

Re : uber - durable shoes - I can run 1 , 000 miles in a pair of Hoka Cliftons !

+1, haven't logged the miles but still running in a pair of Hokas from 2012.. have not yet managed to wear out any of my Hokas, though several pairs of Altras, Brooks etc have come and gone.. 

best of luck to Connor, PNW is a good place.. 

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