Into the Desert

That it only took several hours of packing up and 45 minutes to load a moving truck with our belongings belied the difficulty we’d have with this move after achieving those two goals. Ahead of us was the Snoqualmie Pass, the 3,022 “low point” in the midst of the Cascade Mountains. This range is the dividing point between the volcanic rain forest on the west side, and the dry scrubland leeward. I like to point, snickering, at the evergreen trees emblazoned onto all of Washington State’s license plates, because while they account for 95 percent of the state’s self marketing, they only refer to about a third of its land mass. From late October to mid-June the Pass is touch and go—perhaps it will be clear, or in the midst of a white-out blizzard, or anywhere in between. We were careful to check the weather conditions before heading out, but as I was dragging thousands of pounds in a 16-foot rental truck, I had some trepidation about me.

Susanne had made a pit stop for gas that had, as these things do, morphed into a wild goose chase and she wound up about 20 miles behind me. At some point as I was climbing up the side of the long slope, her mobile phone rang. It was the landlord for our new place. Little problem, he said. The previous tenant still has all of his stuff inside. Or a good majority of it. Susanne made the executive decision not to inform me of this until we were back on flat land, and I can’t really blame her. Careening off the side of the Cascades would not be to anyone’s advantage. So I just cruised to some classic rock and carried on until we met up for lunch in Yakima.

“The good news is, we’re sleeping in a hotel tonight,” she said all chipper, as we sat next to a fireplace. My back was happy to be in flames.

“Wait a minute, why are we sleeping in a hotel,” I asked. Was our car breaking down? Did some sinkhole eat the house? Was Walla Walla in some kind of whooping cough quarantine?

“And the bad news is, the old tenant hasn’t moved out yet,” she said. She barely caught a breath. This is a woman who knows me pretty well.

“Oh. So,” I started.

“So the landlord is going to get his things out today.” She’s always 10 steps ahead of me.

We wondered if we could shift the date when the movers would get all of our stuff out of storage and into the house, but they were booked all week. So a 1-day reprieve it was. I ate lunch slowly and considered where we’d be staying for the night. Clean sheets and a bed I wouldn’t have to rebuild myself didn’t sound like a bad idea. Who was this person who was so amenable to such a dramatic shift in expectations for the day? Who handled this sudden change of events so smoothly and with massive levels of aplomb?

Me? Who the hell am I, I wondered. What happened to Mr. Type A, Go Go Go and CHAAAARGE’s menage a trois’ love child?

I was perfectly okay with settling in at the Best Western on 2nd Avenue. Oddly enough, I was perfectly okay with being perfectly okay about it.

I snapped out of my zen, meta moment to concentrate on driving. Part of our bed frame was propped against the corner of the truck bed right behind my head, and it thunked the whole 250 miles across the state. I cranked up the volume on the radio.

Sure enough, the Best Western awaited us, gleaming in the fading dusk, all happy and blue and gold. It occurred to me that this would be the first time I’d stayed in a Best Western in the actual West. Would there be rodeo? Cowgirls at the door?

No smiling, fringe-clad people greeted us, although there was a small bowl of Werther’s Original candies on the counter. Hey, I’m a sucker for suckers.

Oh my goodness, who am I?

The next morning, we rose early, dining on Fruit Loops and small tubs of yogurt. I often want to make the DIY waffle at hotels like this, but I can’t stand there for the two minutes and seventeen seconds, for fear I’m going to over or undercook it. So to keep my stress level down I just pour a bowl of sugary cereal and hope for the best. We ate and ran, me meeting the movers at the storage unit, which I now know was like a little slice of the Sahara, what with all the hot dust that came as unwanted guests on every box. Susanne trekked to the house and assessed what needed to be fixed or attended to. Lo and behold, by the end of the day everything was fixed and cleaned, and we patted ourselves on the back because this will be a very nice home for us for the next whatever.

If only the boxes would unpack themselves.

Photo credit: Ario_ on Flickr.
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2 Comments on “Into the Desert”

  1. January 16, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

    Welcome back to Walla Walla!

    • evmaroon
      January 16, 2011 at 3:57 pm #

      Thanks! We’re enjoying the sunshine right now…

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