Hi! So glad you’re here! I’m Erika, wife to a wonderful hubby and mom to 4 fun, wild, crazy kids. Three months ago we left everything in our Northern California community and traveled to the great State of Tennessee! If you were able to check out our About Us section you may have noticed I am not here all by myself… I have two other bloggy friends, Lindsey in Idaho and Michelle in Texas. (Be sure to check out their posts soon! I know you’ll be encouraged.) This is not a political blog. We aren’t here to convince you to move out of State as we did. We just want to share with you some things we’ve learned along the way. It turns out trekking across the country with 4 kids, two cats and a shih tzu isn’t the easiest endeavor, but it is a possible one and if you are wanting to make the journey to a red State we’re here to tell you, you CAN do it! We want to share with you all we’ve learned along the way so your new adventure can go as smoothly as possible.
Do you see those two crazy kids down there? That’s my husband and I flying out to Nashville in September to meet a realtor we contacted just a few days before. He showed us 7 properties in a span of about 24 hours. From older country homes with lots of land to brand new houses on smaller lots, we had him show us a little bit of it all. We flew home the next day, decided which home to put an offer on and found out within 24 hours…our offer was accepted!
At this point, we had no idea where our children would go to school (though we had researched what appeared to be several good options), what church we would attend (though we saw there were two that lined up with our Reformed Baptist beliefs) or even whether or not Target had same day delivery to our new address! (They don’t- gasp!) But, nevertheless, we spent the next month selling what felt like all our worldly possessions on Facebook Marketplace, packing only what was absolutely necessary to take (mostly memorabilia) and stuffed those Uhaul pods to the brim!
We were so pleased with our Uhaul experience (and no, this is not a paid advertisement). All of our belongings arrived on time without anything broken or missing. We found this was the most cost effective way to transport the stuff we really didn’t want to leave behind. We started with two pods and ended up adding a third. Here’s the link if you want to check out availability and pricing. http://UHaul.com/UBox/
Not long after we waved goodbye to our pods, we began our four day journey out of our home in Rocklin, California to Middle Tennessee. Our mission: transport four kids, 2 cats and a dog to a free state asap! Well to cut the story short, we made it but not without a couple of hiccups along the way…
First of all, whoever invented cat leashes should, in the words of my 14 and 12 yr old sons, “Die in a hole.” (Not really, but come on now.) When we made a quick stop in Reno for lunch, my husband decided to let our two cats out on their leashes so they could “get some fresh air.” (One of the many reasons I love that guy – always kind to animals and children.) After a 5 minute walk around the park, both cats were startled by a loud noise and wriggled out of their leashes in a matter of seconds. They both scattered in different directions. My husband managed to grab one but our other cat (a very special birthday present our 10 yr old daughter received from her bff) darted under a fence surrounding a swimming pool with barbwire at the top. Our daughter started crying hysterically. It was bad. Really bad. The lowest point of our trip. I thought for sure her cat was a goner and we would be arriving in Tennessee with a very sad, traumatized little girl. We stepped aside and prayed while the boys tried to figure out what to do. By some miracle, our oldest son and my husband were able to lure our kitty to the edge of the fence and grab her thru the bottom. We were so thankful but it was a TERRIBLE experience. Moral of the story- please don’t ever, EVER use a cat leash! Having your pets go without fresh air is far better than arriving without your pets, especially after you’ve already had to leave friends and family behind.
After we recovered from the drama of missing kitties, we arrived at our hotel. Our first night we stayed at the Residence Inn Salt Lake City in Murray, Utah. It was clean and met our needs well. But, our second night we were SO EXCITED at the service we experienced at Tru by Hilton North Platte in Nebraska! Our kids were delighted to see the way they greeted our pets with little doggy and kitty treats. The hotel rooms were extremely kid and pet friendly with ample space for all the necessary things when traveling, places to hang leashes and big bathrooms. It was a great spot for a welcomed rest both for pets and people alike after all the driving. When one of our kids forgot to shut the van door, the front desk called us and let us know they shut it for us. Sweet, efficient people! For room info and availability check out: http://www.hilton.com/en/hotels/lbfruru-tru-north-platte/rooms/
On our third night, we stayed at another Tru hotel in Kansas City, Missouri and had another wonderful experience. We found Tru hotels to be the most welcoming to big families like ours. (And being married to a traveling salesman, we’ve stayed in most of them!)
Our total expenditures to get from Northern California to Middle Tennessee:
- $5,500 3 Uhaul Pods
- $750 3 hotel night stays
- $500 Gas for two vehicles
- $300 4 days of lunch and dinner (breakfast was included at our hotels)
Total Cost: $7,050
Not as easy as flying, but road trips are always an adventure and it solidified in our kids’ minds, the reality of how far it was we were moving. A sad in some ways, exciting in others, very necessary reality for all of us to accept. Plus, it saved us the hassle and expense of having to sell our cars in California and find comparably priced ones in Tennessee. (Which, due to the crazy inflation in our country over the last year, would be impossible.)
When we arrived in Tennessee, we had two additional hotel night stays until we closed escrow on our home so we decided to show the kids the outside of the house and the neighborhood before we got our keys. I’ll never forget driving down the street for the first time with our kids in the car. When our daughter saw the house, she said “Is it that one? Is it that one?” We told her, “Yes!!” and she replied with a big grin, “I was hoping it was!”
Exhausted from all the driving and so happy to be in our new home, we didn’t mind at all sleeping in our sleeping bags the first night. Our mattresses arrived the next day. I was so thankful my husband had ordered them for us in advance when we were still in California.
The first stranger we had on our doorstep was the Costco grocery delivery man! He saved us from the hassle of having to go out to a grocery store right away. Everything arrived for us right on time and right on our doorstep. So helpful!
Over the next few weeks, we went to Costco, Sams Club and every furniture store we could find to furnish our new home more times than I can count. Moving from a 1,700 square foot house to double that, and having gotten rid of almost everything, we needed all the things!
After all the furniture was unwrapped, a hugely obscene pile of cardboard seemed to multiply on our doorstep daily. Our garbage man told us, “Oh just leave all of that at the bottom of your driveway and I’ll pick it up when I come by to pick up your garbage.” We were floored. Seriously? We never heard that in California! In fact, we usually felt guilty about having a big family that produced a lot of garbage. We were regularly having to send some off with my father in law so he could toss it out in his business dumpster. There was never enough room in our two trash cans! We were so thankful.
Over the next month, we set up a functioning household, got our kids acclimated in their new schools and began the hunt for a new church home. It hasn’t been an easy journey, but there have been so many hidden surprises along the way that we did not anticipate. More on all of that to come… Stay tuned! And HAPPY NEW YEAR!!