Saturday, July 5, 2008

A Rocky Start to Our Adventure Year

For those of you planning to take a family adventure year, be sure to leave yourself plenty of time on the front end before leaving - a valuable lesson learned the hard way for us! While we had certainly planned on using our last week to relax and enjoy our home, it seemed everything came down to the last minute and the stress of leaving was almost unbearable. In the hopes of helping others avoid such a fiasco, I will share with you some high(low)lights of our last day in California: As we awoke to the sound of the moving trucks coming up the driveway, it was clear that today was going to be crazy. Although the packers had started boxing up the day before, there was plenty still to be done. Plus, we were struggling with what items to bring for a whole year, and it was becoming painfully clear we had way too many bags. We had to start jetisoning our luggage, and fast! To make matters yet more complicated, our new tenant, Zen had arrived and we still had to finalize what items to leave with the house for her (as the house was still on the market for sale). So for the rest of the morning, we had people scurrying all over the house with too many questions about what to take and what to leave behind. Now all of this might have been manageable, were it not for 2 additional issues: a) we had still not sold our Camry, and b) we apparently were missing some critical visa documentation. As for the car, in a feat of desparation, I called up the ONLY person who had previously inquired about our Craigslist posting and begged him to come over that morning. I don't think he fully appreciated the leverage he had over me at that point, but ultimately he came and we agreed on a price on the spot. I couldn't believe we were actually unloading the car. Talk about last minute! We hurried over to the bank and started filling out the paperwork and as we returned to the car after transferring the funds, I was shocked to discover the car would not start. Nooooooo!!!!! He looked at me with equal parts scorn and derision as I explained that this had NEVER happened before, and perhaps the battery was low (we had been running the AC while the car was off). Fortunately, a quick jump start took care of things, but it was a very uncomfortable and anxious ride back to the house. I breathed an audible sigh of relief as he finally pulled out of the driveway, thankful that he hadn't demanded his money back. As I got pulled back into the chaos of our move, we received an unexpected call at 12:30 from the Spanish Consulate in Los Angeles. Apparently, they had just received some "very important visa papers" that we needed to pick up immediately. Up until this moment, I thought we had everything we needed. There was too much left to do and there was simply no way I could get down there today. The Consulate informed me that they would be closing at 2 pm (true to the Spanish siesta!) and these papers were absolutely critical for us to establish residency on our arrival. Aaarrrggghhh!!!! I frantically made some calls and begged for help. Ultimately, it took 3 different people to make this happen - Kenny, who made it down to the Consulate right just as they were closing, Justin, who got the papers from Kenny, and ultimately, Michol, who would bring them to our hotel at LAX late that night. I will forever be grateful to the three of them for coming through in the clutch. I still couldn't believe we were dealing with all of this so close to our departure the following morning. We finally got the movers out, and were still hastily trying to lighten our load when the shuttle arrived. We still had about 1 1/2 ours of work! I was stuffing things into boxes in the event that we wanted to ship out extra winter clothes and some optional scuba and camping gear. All told, after all the work to jetison clothes, we were left with 10 bags to check and 6 carry-on items - 16 bags in all! Our entire possessions for the next year layed on the floor in front of me and I cringed to think about how we were going to get all these bags over to Spain, plus keep our eyes on three very mobile children. As we finally loaded everything onto the shuttle and started to head out of the canyon for what might be the last time, Suzanne was struck with an "oh my God, what the @#$%^ are we doing?" moment - and proceeded to break down sobbing and shedding tears. I must admit that this caught me completely by surprise. I wasn't quite so sure myself at that moment, and I felt a surge of emotion and nostalgia for the wonderful life we seemed to be saying goodbye to. I did my best to put on a brave front and focus on the excitement of our upcoming adventure, hoping inside that things would start looking up once we were finally on the plane. I'm not sure either of us could handle another day like this...

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