It was meant to take 14 days. It was meant to be a semi-relaxing adventure. We were meant to explore. But guess what? Not so much. Suppose that’s what you get for moving across a continent during a global pandemic. Who knew?
Like the best laid plans, that all went to shit rather quickly. But considering I’m writing this post from the comfort of the living room couch in our new house, you can guess that it all turned out alright.
The lead up to the move deserves about 10 posts by itself, but I don’t feel like writing about that right now. So we’re going to do this Star Wars-style. Completely out of order. The rules are made up and the points don’t matter.
Virginia Beach, VA
Subdivision with Nicely Trimmed Hedges and I’m-Judging-You-for-the-Length-of-Your-Lawn Vibes
The “last few things that wouldn’t take any time at all to finish” took time to finish. Shocker. So we started our 5,000-mile journey at 4PM on a Saturday evening. So the moving cookie crumbles.
We listened to ABBA and got a cool cloud show. Said goodbye to Virginia and hello, West Virginia. No mountain mammas were spotted.
Creepy Ass Econolodge
Way to kick off the trip. An insanely seedy motel with a front desk attendant who 1,000% had Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and the rest of the clientele lived up to everything you’d expect. Our introduction to West Virginia did not disappoint. No matter. All six of us — three humans, two dogs, and a cat — crammed in for the night in a tiny one-bed room.
We woke up the next day and the gifts kept on coming. Pretty sure there was some traveling dog breeding ring also staying in the hotel. People were uncomfortably interested both in our nice new truck and our very handsome Great Dane. We left posthaste. Bye, Felicia.
The journey from here to the next stop was pretty pleasant. Said hi and bye to Indianapolis and got to see Chi-town for the first time. Looked up if we were driving anywhere near Les Wexner’s mansion because we just got done watching the Epstein docu-series on Netflix. Conclusion: Downtown Chicago on the water is lovely. More than 6.5 blocks inland? Hide yo kids, hide yo wife.
FUN FACT: The (most recent) Chicago shooting/riots/looting rampage to grab the headlines happened the same night we drove through the Chicago area. GET US TO ALASKA, PLEASE.
Holiday Inn Splurge
Hotels on a massive journey add up to a tidy sum, so we tried to stay for cheap when we had the option. And that NEVER went wrong.
Except that it did. We booked a Super 8 for the night and I was so pleased. We had booked before arriving, confirmed pet friendly, and I was way more chilled knowing we had a place to stay when we rolled into town. Except guess what. They didn’t actually have availability. YAY. We rolled in and were told to roll out because there was no room at the inn. Which I only found out after waiting in line for a man holding a bong to stop flirting with the front desk lady and then subsequently after a woman who dangerously resembled a worn out leather feed sack wearing an oversized Harley Davidson Myrtle Beach t-shirt got done complaining about how long of a ride they’d had that day. I was definitely in the mood for alllllll of that.
Thank the travel gods, because that forced us into a Holiday Inn and we were able to take a shower without fear of getting a foot fungus or waking up with bed bugs. It’s the little things.
Same Chain, Different Diaper Change
Let’s be real. I don’t remember what the hell hotel we stayed at this night. We had just traversed nine hours of very flat land punctuated with moments of “hey that’s kind of pretty” and a bunch of wind turbines. What I DO recall is that this was the first place we changed Emelia’s butt on the tailgate of the truck. Like I said, it’s the little things.
Verdict: Very nice people with amazing accents. And Fargo is basically in Minnesota. North Dakota just needs to give it up.
We awoke with many much and all the nerves. The Canadian border crossing was up next.
It’s Pronounced RegĪna. Like Vagina.
Let me start by saying I’m sure Canadians are super nice. The handful I’ve known personally are absolute gems (Hello, MacKenzie family!). But when the US is ranked #1 for the Coronas, you can bet Canada is like fuck off, eh. Stories of people getting turned away at the border, vehicles with American plates getting vandalized, and people calling the cops on Americans just because . . . well, America.
We got to the border with everything in hand and ready to deploy. Passports. Daniel’s green card. Pet vaccination records. Proof of our closing date on our new home in Alaska. $1,000 in bribe money. That last part is a joke. Kind of.
First, we were grilled by US Border Patrol when leaving the country. WTF. Never have I been grilled when leaving the country. They played good cop/bad cop. Someone had a big head from too much power and no doubt a glory-days high school football career cut short. After they decided we weren’t trying to smuggle Ghislaine Maxwell and/or 30 keys of illicit drugs, they decided to let our innocuous family of three pass. Thanks, Gandalf.
Next was the Canadian gate guard. The “handy” CANAPP whatever that you’re meant to use to speed up your border crossing didn’t do jack. Commence second grilling.
Finally we were sent to the actual guard building. We went inside. Handed over the keys to our truck. And all of our belongings were unceremoniously pillaged for an hour while we gave - in great detail - information about our plans. Where we were stopping. How long we were stopping. Why we were traveling. What we did for work. And a myriad of other things including if we were traveling with firearms. When I said we had shipped them to our destination, we had to present proof. Whaaaaat? Why do you care if I mailed my guns? GTFO of my business, Canadia.
After then being left to sweat it out in the waiting room with zero indication of what the outcome might be and if we were going to be turned around and left to figure out how the hell to make it up to Alaska, they said the were good to go. But not before telling us that we had AT MOST seven days to get through the country. Or else there would be a warrant out for our arrest. No joke. And more warnings about vehicles being vandalized and people having the cops called on them. And being given a placard saying ALASKA that we had to display in our window at all times. You know. So we didn’t get arrested or attacked. Real friendly like.
Setting off into this brave new world (we’d never been to Canada before), we were filled with a great sense of relief. The biggest hurdle was done. But relief was short lived, because it turns out Saskatchewan looks like Kansas and Nebraska had a baby. And we were headed for Regina. Let’s just say it’s not the crown jewel of the country.
We got to our whatever-the-hell-chain-hotel, ordered some Indian food (shockingly high numbers of Indian restaurants in Regina), and called it a night.
At this point, we’re thinking that Canada had better have some pleasant tricks up its sleeve, because this was NOT a great first impression.
SPOILER: It did.
UP NEXT: The Road to Alaska - Part 2
Because it’s late and I’m tired and there’s still a lot to cover. Sue me.