Day 1: 12/27/2015 – Harrisonburg, VA KOA

Destination: Harrisonburg KOA, Virginia

Route: County Roads to 15S, to 81S, to more county roads

Mileage: 330

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Prior to departure, we spent 3 frantic (Why? Check out this post) days repacking our 6′ x 10′ trailer that contained our brewing equipment, Alex’s crib, clothing, bicycles, and Alex’s little red wagon. Unfortunately, Dave’s motorcycle did not make the cut for the trailer based on weight and the space it occupied.

We wake up to a gray and rainy (no surprise here) departure day. We had also been cautioned by snow bird friend of Jess’ parents that Sunday was a bad travel day because everyone started their journey south on Sunday. Throw in a very emotional good-bye with Jess’ parents, this day is going to be tough.


With tears in our eyes and a catch in our throats, we hit the road around 10 am. We are hoping we made the right decision for our family. We try and comfort ourselves with the idea that while Alex will see his Mimi and Grandpa less frequently, we hope the longer duration of the visits results in a net positive in regards to time he spends with Jess’ parents. Fortunately, we have problem to solve and therefore can’t dwell on the sadness that comes with moving away from family and friends. Simply, how are we going to get our cargo trailer to New York?

As we slog through the rain, we decide to stop in Liberty, PA for our halfway mileage break. Dave pulls us up to the diesel pump and notes that we are sitting next to a truck and goose neck trailer combination. After initially laughing off Jess’ suggestion to ask him if he is for hire, Dave does just that. The gentleman, Gary, just happens to be for hire. We leave with his card hopeful that we will finally get the trailer moved out of Delaware. Time is especially critical because closing is being moved up from February 1st to an unknown date in the middle of January. What can really go wrong with hiring a stranger to move your household goods?

We continue on south in the drizzle thinking that our luck is turning around. The drizzle continues until the Virginia border where it stops and we enjoy gray clouds. And we see the sun! For approximately 15 minutes before it was overpowered by clouds. At our exit for the KOA, we fill Abby up. The next day is going to be long and we will need an early start.

The Harrisonburg KOA is very nice. Dave has stayed here years ago on a motorcycle trip. Clean rest rooms, spacious shower stalls and sites that are roomier than what you tend to see at commercial campgrounds. The campground is wooded and had a nice atmosphere. The hot water is plentiful with excellent water pressure. The playground is great for Alex to burn off some energy and there is even an area for dogs to be off leash.Not a bad first stop. Dave de-winterizes the water system, fixes the bathroom faucet, and we settle in for the night.


Moving Mishaps to the 5th Degree

How does selling a house and packing up all of one’s belongings relate to wandervogel? Not having a house to maintain generates a large amount of free time. It is also the beginning of the adventure – a key part in fact. It illustrates the power of the Delaware vortex, where residents fall into three major categories: born, raised, never left; came to University of DE and never left; or left and returned. How carefully planned logistics are destroyed. We were determined to leave, but the vortex is strong.

Our house was on the market for approximately 90 days; Dave’s fellow realestate agents were confident we would be under contract within 10 days. However, we sat on the market despite a steady stream of interest, the house was always the bridesmaid for a variety of reasons (not secluded enough, don’t like the neighborhood, too small). We reluctantly accepted that we weren’t going to leave Delaware clean; we would have to maintain the house in show condition while we were in California. And nothing would be packed up in order to maintain show condition.

Then, on the second night of Chanakauh, approximately 3 weeks ahead of our departure from Delaware, we had an offer, by the fourth night, we were under contract. The purge and pack had been underway but was now thrown into high gear. But things did not come easy. Oh no. What follows is what happened during our move.

Monday (12/14): We were trying to leave to head to upstate NY to stay with Jess’ family for the holidays before leaving for California and all the inspections are scheduled for that day: well, spetic and home. To accomodate the inspectors, the fence gates must be left open. The result is three dogs and a toddler, are underfoot. Dogs are quivering with nervous excitement, Alex is not amused by Cars and wants to be held and held only by Mama. Packing has descended into chaos where stuff, unsorted and unorganized, is thrown into the partially organized RV and trailer. Sort and organize later is the motto!

Why the rush? The buyer and the home inspector are arriving at 1:30 and we want to leave by noon to ensure there is no overlap.

There’s a knock on the door at 11:30. The dogs begin barking, Alex is wailing because it is lunch time and he is starting to get tired ahead of his noon nap. Jess steps out onto the front porch, shutting the door on chaos and causing Alex to wail louder. A man introduces himself as Ryan and Jess assumes he is the septic guy. Ryan quickly dispels this assumption and identifies himself as the buyer and had a few questions regarding the house. Jess, despite the choice words flowing through her head, manages to plaster on a smile and answer them. Ryan wants to speak with Dave, who is throwing items into the trailer and verbalizes Jess’ internal commetary when informed of the situation.

Shortly after Ryan left, his real estate agent calls to inform us that inspection has been moved up, the inspector is on his way, and that her client wanted to stop by and ask us questions about the house. Better late than never telling us what is going to happen at our house. We determined the good enough stage has been achieved. House is locked, and we roll out 12:30.

Sunday (12/20): We (Dave and Jess) leave Alex and the dogs under the fantastic care of Mimi and Grandpa and return to Delaware. The plan is to finish packing up the few (just a few things, really) remaining things in the house and then supervise movers loading the 35 foot gooseneck cargo trailer that we purchased and then haul the trailer to NY with Jess’ Dad’s truck. We are going to be on the road Monday afternoon at the latest. Easy peasy.

We arrive in Delaware around noon and work for 12 hours packing up the house and only stopped because we were exhausted. A feeling of dread had set in because looking at all that had to go into the trailer it seems an impossible feat. The trailer wouldn’t hold half of our household. Fools, we are fools!

Monday (12/21): The movers show up early and take stock of what we need loaded. They are confident that they can get everything in with room to spare. We take a deep breath, step back, and let the movers work their magic. The trailer is loaded within 4 hours, and with room to spare. People often view the job of movers as just brawn, and no brains, but there is a science behind packing a trailer right. Esuring the load is balanced, making sure nothing will shift, and fitting odd shaped pieces in requires a sharp mind and a keen eye. The movers were worth every penny paid. That said, looking around at the odds and ends that still needed to be packed, we quickly realized we would not be leaving Delaware on Monday. Our friends and neighbors, Bob and Margie, let us crash in their spare room for the night.

Tuesday (12/22): We finished packing the trailer, organized donation items for the VVA to pick up, and got the house broom clean. All that is left to do is hook up the trailer and drive away. Except we can’t get the hitch and receiver to line up. Maritial communication was quickly deteriorating and a change is instituted. Jess goes from providing guidance to driving and Dave goes from driving to providing guidance. Maritial communication quickly turns hostile when Jess places the truck in drive, and, with her foot firmly on the brake, experiences the truck accelerating forward. Accusations are made of not knowing the difference between the brake and gas pedals, which results in another driver switch. Dave promptly puts the truck in reverse, and with his foot clearly on brake, the truck accelrates into the trailer.

Visual inspection demonstrates that no physical damage has been done to the truck or trailer. It is noted that brake fluid is leaking from the area of the master cylinder. We frantically call the Chevy dealer, which seems to be logical. The dealer is pretty confident they ‘should’ be able to handle the repair if only we can wait for December 29th. This is the first opening they have in the schedule and is when we are scheduled to arrive in Florida on our cross country trip. The receptionist will not budge even after Jess tells her to name a price, any price, to speed up the process. A call to the local independent repair shop, Campenella’s, results in sucess. They can get us in the next day and send their tow truck to take the pick up to the shop. We go back to Bob and Margie’s, to do laundry since we only packed for two days, and wait.

Wednesday (12/23): The truck is finished around 3 pm! The issue: corroded brake line failed. We manage to hook the trailer up on the first go! We decide that our struggles from the previous day were the universe watching out for us and preventing us from driving  the trailer away with a brake line that was soon to fail. As we pull out, the truck needs to cross part of the neighbnor’s yard before we can make the swing. Perhaps now is a good time to mention is pissing down rain and has been doing so since late Monday.

Dave cuts wheel to make the left turn out of our driveway and a loud pop, followed by a tinkling noise is heard. The trailer head is too long for the short bed truck and we have blown out the rear window of the truck. We can’t pull this trailer as planned since right angle turns are impossible to excecute with out further damaging the truck. We decide to return the trailer to the driveway, redneck engineer a garbage bag rear window, and return to NY. We’ll worry about finding someone to haul the trailer later.

With all the rain, the ground is saturated and extremely soft. The truck is now stuck in neighbors yard. Fortunately, our other neighbor Carl has truck capable of pulling the rear of our truck back to solid ground. All the remains is to maneauver the trailer back into the driveway. We quickly discover that the front tires, key for direction, will only slide on the sloppy ground, and, despite many efforts and materials to help the tires regain traction, defeat is admitted and we call for a tow. First State Towing, the third company called, was actually able to send two trucks out.

Rupert and Lonnie from First State Towing were amazing and were able to use a rollback truck to return the trailer to the driveway, all while the rain fell harder. While they were working on that, with the truck now free of the trailer, Jess took the truck to Bob and Margie’s garage to engineer a more permanent fix to the broken window using plastic tote lids, garbage bags, and duck tape. With the truck weather tight and the trailer in the driveway, the return trip to upstate NY began at 8:30 pm; Jess in her car and Dave in the pick up. A dinner and a coffee stop later, we rolled into the farm at 1:30 am Christmas  Eve morning.

Saturday (12/26): We received a text from the moving company informing us one of our checks was stolen by their employee. We rush to call our bank to close our account – and curse the fact that we still have three outstanding checks that have yet to clear. We are afraid to find out what goes wrong next.