“And the Road Goes On Forever”

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The less said about the last two days of driving across the country, the better. Suffice it to say that there was a great deal of traffic on the interstates once we got past Chicago. The dogs no longer had the freedom to romp across vast empty fields. So they began to get cabin fever. More traffic meant meaning to have to pay closer attention to angry drivers which meant we were getting grumpier. McDonald’s consistent food tasted the same,which is their point, but it got very very tiring to eat it.

I was so elated when we came to this sign that I pulled the van into the Welcome Center and ran in and said, “Welcome us. We just arrived from Oregon.” We got our first taste of New England reserve when neither clerk responded. Then my husband, from Alabama, saw the road was now called “The Yankee Highway.” We decided not to take a photo of that to send to his mother! My husband had actually been taught in the 1960’s that the Civil War was the “war of Northern aggression.” He didn’t believe it then or now, but the sign did spark a lively conversation about our different high school history classes.

We finally arrived at a local motel where we stayed before we signed the final papers to purchase the house. We couldn’t understand why the wife was so unhappy to be selling us their home.( I will write about that soon.) We got the keys, drove over to our new home, entered and learned that the movers were delayed for another three days. We had no furniture, save one lawn chair. We did have blankets, drove straight to Sleepy’s Mattress, pleaded our case, and had a new bed by that evening.

It may have been unfurnished, but the heat worked, we had appliances, and I cooked us real food–the first in over a week.

The dogs ran around the back yard, reluctant to ever enter the van again. We had made it across the country in the dead of winter and we were still speaking! Thank G.O.D.!

“Eastward Ho The Minivan”

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In late middle age, you can continue on in your usual rooted patterns–tenured faculty position, solid civil service job, kids launched, and routine established. Or, you can lay it all down and move 3000 miles away to restart your life. We felt very strongly that this was God’s intention for our lives. That will seem odd to many, but it felt true for us. Our daughter lived in New York City, so that was a logical reason to relocate, for those who needed logic.

We left Portland, in February 2001, just as scores of new people began flooding into Oregon, the new hip place to be. We went to Connecticut, just as people were leaving Connecticut for the lure of Oregon. Nearly everyone we met had an adult child who had left for Portland or Seattle.

My husband had a job offer in Hartford, and I could teach in the local community college. We worked with a real estate buyer’s agent long distance to find a house. We wanted to live in a racially diverse neighborhood, with sidewalks, walking distance to a grocery store. We flew out one weekend in the fall and bought the lovely colonial revival house pictured above. It was bigger than our old home, had a larger yard, and cost less than the one we had sold. A great start. It also looked exactly like my childhood doll house!

But we were moving in February and we had two Australian Shepherds. Airlines won’t fly dogs in the dead of winter, so we needed to drive ourselves across the country. It was a very good thing that we had purchased that minivan the previous spring. So on February 14, Oregon’s birthday, we loaded ourselves and our dogs into the Dodge and left for the East.

More tomorrow.