Seven-Year Switch: Remembering My Relocation

Seven years ago this week I climbed into a U-Haul with two dogs and a cat and changed my entire life — relocating from Iowa to California. The past seven years have been a tremendous time; inscrutably so. I thought I would use this week’s blog post to reflect on the blogs I made during that trip.

Day 1

The unseasonably warm Iowa weather in February 2017 meant my U-Haul sank into the mud on the farm I owned back then. The last person I saw was my neighbor, who came up the hill to extricate me from moving truck muck.

This delay meant I only made it to Lincoln, Nebraska on the first day. It also happened to be Valentine’s Day and my neighbors were … celebrating. My two dogs howled along to the noises from next door.

Day 2

Luckily after a long night with little sleep I had the charming vistas of Nebraska to keep me awake as I drove across the entire state on Day 2. I reached Denver, Colorado by the end of the day and came upon two icons of Colorado previously unknown to me: mountains and marijuana smoke. It is surreal to think only three years after this moment I would be skiing down some humble peaks in the Sierra Nevadas.

Day 3

If Day 2’s scenery bored me to tears, the stuff out the window on Day 3 could not have been more thrilling. I met my first gorge on this drive while traveling through southern Utah. There is so much to see on this stretch these majestic gorges and canyons quickly felt ordinary.

During this stretch signs warned of an “elk herd migration next 25 miles” and I saw these terrifying ramps for “runaway trucks”. While I truly despise and avoid driving, it really is a terrific experience to drive a large distance across the United States.

Day 4

On this day we traveled from St. George, Utah to Las Vegas, then cut across to Bakersfield before driving up to my new home on the central coast. While February often welcomes a rainy season, the 2017 weather pattern was catastrophic. I drove the U-Haul into town after 11 hours, finally reaching an unreachable apartment that was struggling with several fallen eucalyptus trees. That soothing smell coated everything for weeks.

My first night in California was spent in the dark, after spending $12 to shower at the nearby truck stop. My dogs, cat, and I had made it without any major incidents and without any clue what was coming for us.

I have now lived in California almost as long as anywhere else in my life, but I don’t yet consider myself a local. And I probably never will. Maybe that’s what happens when you take a long drive.

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