We packed up Tuesday with what we thought was everything under control. The car carrier trailer we needed wasn’t ready to be picked up until later in the afternoon. The truck seemed heavy after loading and I called the truck place asking what the maximum weight was just to be on the safe side. They said it 15500 pounds was the maximum loaded weight. I weighed it at a truck scale and it was only 13600. I guessed everything was cool. After our car carrier was attached and loaded with the rain soaking us for two hours Gram wanted to test the lights on the trailer. Most of the time I would assume that the people who rent trucks only rent stuff that worked but did it anyway. The blinkers and brake lights didn’t work on the trailer. I called the truck place and told them things didn’t work right and they referred me to someone else who referred me the 800 number who referred to a guy named Rob in Portland who referred me back the second guy I talked to. Along the way an offer to come out and fix the truck was kind of made but instead stopping in Medford on the way the next morning was decided to be the best way. This was a good thing because we would have been screwed.
The next morning everyone hopped in the cars and went as quick as we could to Medford after fond farewells. In Medford the second guy I’d talked to drove the truck around the corner and into his shop to fix the lights. After a few minutes I walked into the guys shop to see how the fix was going. He looked concerned and said that the truck weighed way too much. For some reason I took the comment calmly and explained what the girl at the truck place had told me about the maximum weight and then went on to explain that I was a photographer, not a truck driver. I rent a truck from them assuming that what they tell me is true. He made a call to see what his boss wanted to do and then waited. I walked around outside patiently waiting optimistically for some reason. This whole move has been more work than anything else I’ve ever done. It seemed only fitting that this kind of disaster would be the apex of the move. I told my family of the news and walked back over to the shop where the second guy was talking on the phone. He said that his superviser wanted to talk to me. I took the phone and he made an offer to upgrade the truck because I was missinformed about the actual capacity by the truck place and that they would up grade my truck to the next size up if I would transfer all of my stuff from one truck to another. ‘Okay,’ I said calmly though full well knowing that I had just gotten the good end of a deal that was going to get someone yelled at an awful lot. All they had to do was find a truck that was the right size.
My mind was racing now. I had asked the help of everyone I new in Grants Pass to help me get loaded up. Now I was in Medford and didn’t know as many people who could be easily available. I needed someone to help me. I called Andy and Ann to see if they could help us and got Davy to come out though he wouldn’t show up for an hour. I called John Sloan and left a frantic message about ponies and meth users and also asked him to help me load the new truck too. Finally they found a truck for us and brought it to the Medford rental yard, backed it up to our truck and brought out the loading gate. No one had shown up so I started moving everything that I could. The new truck was 8 feet longer than our existing truck so there was no problem loading everything. In fact there seemed to be so much room that I began planning on driving back to Grants Pass and getting my table saw, my bike, bike trailer, bar-B-Q and a few other things that had been abandoned. John Sloan called up and let me know that he could help and came a little bit later. I had half of the new truck loaded before anyone showed up to help me. I left the biggest heaviest things and everything got moved pretty quick. It took about an hour and a half to reload the truck. As soon as we were done we got in the truck and drove back to Grants Pas, picked up the stuff we had left behind and finally got on the road towards Aunt Mary’s house in Turlock six hours later than we had expected.
Driving over the Siskiyous was uneventful though we found out that Budget does not let you put chains on their trucks and expects you to hold up in a hotel until bad weather had passed. That was rather refreshing to me since I really didn’t want to put chains on truck tires in the freezing cold anyway. Budget would give an extra day of travel for free instead of allowing the chains. Driving was tough. It was like being beaten by a army of angry midgets. By the time night came on I was ready to sleep. Edmond was riding with me and watching videos and playing games on the powerbook and passed out as soon as it got dark. I turned on the radio much to my terror as I weaved around in my lane. All of my life I had tried to avoid listening to talk radio. There were too many people all saying the same thing or exactly the opposite. Then one day I got fed up with listening to music and turned on talk radio. As I weaved, I found some talking heads expressing there partisism and listened.
Passing was quite a bit of stress when I first started driving. My truck was 7’10” wide and the lane I was driving on was 10 feet wide. That didn’t leave much space for error. Especially when passing trucks which were just as wide. Even worse were RVs who were just blind elderly people who wanted to go out with a big bang and run me into a ditch while doing it. I passed a midsized truck with a travel trailer on the back and felt my heart in my throat as they weaved around and came uncomfortably close to scraping the side of my $45K truck. I was happy that I lived and didn’t pass too may more times that night.
As we came close to Turlock it dawned on me that Aunt Mary lived on a culdasack and started thinking about what I would do with the truck. Walmart was the first answer into my mind. They always had semis, RVs and other long haul vehicles in there parking lot overnight. Conveniently there was a Walmart around the corner from Aunt Mary’s so all of my worries were limited to the people who might come and break in the the back of the truck and steal all of my crap. Those would have to be crack smoking morons if they think that I have anything nice or anything worth anything. I got out of the truck, locked it and went in our other car to Aunt Mary’s. I hit the bed and was asleep almost immediately.
The next morning I got up around 9 and lazily dragged my self into the shower where I tortured myself with the hot cold treatment and was wide awake as soon as I got out. We had a lovely breakfast and fun time with Aunt Mary before collecting the massive amount of stuff that we had somehow brought in and getting back to the truck to find that nothing had happened at all and we had been freaked out about nothing.
When we got back on the road I made a decision that I just could not drive into LA down to Oma and Opa’s house and would rather stay out at Aunt Karen’s in Palmdale, a considerably less stressful place to get to though not as comfortable to stay at since it was couches the floor or a tent in the back yard. On Highway 99 we cruised along at a whopping 55 MPH on the roughest road imaginable. I was watching the trucks in front of me moving the slabs of highway like riding on a teeter totter and bouncing along horribly as we went. I found my back was starting to hurt in an awful way and holding my bladder was almost impossible. At last my back could take no more and I got off of the freeway at a rest stop and tried to twist myself with stretches. I noticed my wallet in my back pocket and removed it during my stretches. As soon as I removed it my back felt better.
After too many hours we came to the Antelope Valley where so many of my stories, personality and neuroses were formed. It was beautiful as we drove into the valley; a windy high desert valley where the wind never gave up and the rain and snow were normally kept
at bay. I had planned on visiting the old adobe house where I had spent seven years, raising goats, pigs, and lambs, fighting fires, fighting chickens, building fences and playing in the dirt. from a good distance we could see the Big tree, though it looked small and depressed after its long years in the wind. The fields around the old house were filled with weeds instead of some crop as when I had lived there. Obviously Farmer Barnes had either retired or died and no one wanted to farm the land he farmed. It was an awful place to live and work. I would have died if I had been there as long as he had. I’ll add more soon enough……