Last year I’m not sure I would have been able to define home or what it means to me. I couldn’t tell you how much I appreciated it, how I longed to be near my family, and how settling down for my kids was important.
Instead I would have told you that I want my kids to experience the world by seeing it (and, I still do). That moving to find our perfect location was the best bet for us right now. And, finally, that the distance between my family and I would never change how much I see them.
Living in Indiana was a very humbling experience, for many reasons. The distance between my family and I became very difficult to bare for both Zadey and me. Indiana was not our perfect location and hanging around for their forth worst winter in history was nothing short of awful. Never mind that nice high school drama argument I got in to with my “friend.”
After 8 months of being out of California, I couldn’t wait to get back. And, finally we did.
Now, that’s not to say that everything about living in Indiana was bad. We had some really great experiences. We got to see Indianapolis, explore the state, visit Chicago (twice!), I even headed to Wisconsin to meet a long-time friend. And Zadey’s school was a significant improvement over anything California has to offer. Despite all of that, I couldn’t stay. I didn’t want to stay. My blood burned with hatred for Indiana and everything that move stood for. For me, there was no getting out fast enough.
We spent more than two months preparing for our move back. I had so many conversations with my family, laid plans, figured out the right way to move, and ditched anything “extra” we had collected in Indiana that didn’t need to be brought home with us.
On February 21, our plan set in motion when I picked up our UHaul trailer bright and early. Joanne had packed and organized our place so perfectly. We have never been more prepared to move. Everything was out of the house and in the garage, all she had to do was move it 5 feet to the trailer in the drive way.
Because there was so little to put in the trailer and it was ready to be loaded, we left Indiana on the evening of February 21st. I could not have been more excited to get on the road.
Day 1: February 21st – Leaving Indiana
Our plan was to pick up the trailer as soon as we could, get it loaded, and be on our way as soon as Zadey got off the school bus at 3:13 PM. It didn’t quite happen that way, but it wasn’t a bad modification. We had to wait for the property manager to come by the house and do a final walk through. And Joanne did some tweaking and organizing in the car to make sure everything we needed was accessible and easy to reach.
We’re used to getting really late starts when moving, but this one wasn’t too bad. We left our house in Indiana at 5:30 PM and hit the road. We didn’t have a destination this night, we just wanted to make it as far as we could before we got tired. Even if it was barely out of Indiana.
And barely is exactly how that day ended. We decided to stop at 9 PM because the kids were hungry. We stayed in Collinsville, IL. This was a great stop for us since it was the last stop we made on our move to Indiana. By luck, we were also able to stay at the exact same Hampton Inn & Suites.
Day 2: February 22nd – Illinois
Joanne and I strongly considered driving through the night and only stopping if it was necessary. So when we left Illinois we did so with the intent that we would take turns napping and drive through the night. We just wanted to get as far as we could as fast as we could. We had been waiting so long to move that we were just anxious to get back to California!
One of the great things about the way we planned this move was that we could take the time we needed or wanted, but we would also get back in a timely manner.
I knew leaving Illinois that if I did not stop in St. Louis, MO to see The Gateway Arch I was going to be very disappointed, for a long time. I didn’t need to go in it, I didn’t need to get out of the car, I just needed to see it. And, as we were leaving our hotel in Collinsville across the distance I could see it.
It took us about 20 minutes and we arrived at The Gateway Arch. We didn’t make it out of the car but we did exit the freeway, drive around it, and get a ton of pictures.
After seeing Gateway Arch we hoped back on the freeway and drove… and drove… and drove. When the kids decided to start yelling, we decided it was time to stop. There was no way the boys were going to last more than 24 hours in the car. Our stop was in Oklahoma City, OK.
Day 3: February 23rd – Oklahoma
It was about 10 PM when we pulled in to our hotel in Oklahoma. We had a great room and rushed to get in, showered, fed, and off to bed. Even though Joanne and I didn’t want to admit it, we were done. We were over being on the road and the comfortable beds were more than welcomed.
We left Oklahoma the next day around 10 AM. In fact each morning we got out a little later than we normally do which made this trip easier. By the time we left our hotel each day the kids had been fed, played, and were almost ready for a morning nap. And leaving Oklahoma wasn’t any different than the other mornings.
Because we had now stopped a night we didn’t anticipate, Joanne and I decided early this morning that driving over night was not going to work for the boys. Zadey could have done it, but the boys would hear nothing of it. So, before we left Oklahoma, we made our reservations in Albuquerque, NM.
Day 4: February 24th – Albuquerque
Our hotel room in Albuquerque was fantastic. We stayed at a Hampton Inn & Suites and had a double queen suite. It was the first time I had been in one of these rooms, as an avid Hampton stay-er, and I loved it! It was so perfect for our family of 5 that it was almost tempting to stay another night and get some rest.
But, the road called. We were so close now we could taste it! Just like the day before Joanne and I discussed our next stop; Kingman, AZ. We looked at hotel rates and the Hampton rooms in Kingman were a lot more than what we had been paying. We just didn’t want to make the reservation. Plus, Kingman is only 5 hours from Bakersfield.
5 HOURS! That’s nothing. No time at all!
Yet again Joanne and I had our wild idea to try again to drive through the night. The previous night the boys had fallen asleep after eating dinner on the road and if we hadn’t of been tired, we would have skipped our stop in Albuquerque. So we thought, can we repeat the sleep to push past Kingman and make it home?
We got on the road and gave it our best shot. We had no time limits, we had no hotel reservations. It was us and the road. We just wanted to be home already.
After leaving the hotel we gassed up the car and made our way to the freeway. Just as we were about to hit the on ramp a another driver called out to us and told us that our UHaul trailer had a flat tire. I was able to avoid getting on the freeway and made it to yet another gas station. There we put air in the tire, but were concerned about whether or not the air would hold.
I called UHaul, just to get a replacement. I was so worried making this call that we would be set back by hours. I have only had to use UHaul’s road side service once before and it took them 5 hours to show up in Las Vegas. I had no idea what to expect this time. Yet, just 45 minutes later, a tow truck arrived and changed our tire. I was so thrilled that it didn’t take them long and with some peace of mind, we were able to get right back on the road.
Approaching Kingman, AZ
For about an hour leading up to our arrival in Kingman, AZ, we paid close attention to the boys. It was dark. They had a fairly decent dinner on the road, they had snacked, and they were sharing a movie on the portable DVD player with their sister.
From Kingman to Bakersfield is just 5 hours. If they were happy enough or would at least just fall asleep, we could make it to Bakersfield. And, the thing is, we both felt like Kingman was the only stop. If we drove past and continued on, there would be no stopping for the night. We would have to make it!
Before we made it to Kingman all the kids had fallen asleep. Of course, Zadey spent time first begging us not to stop and just to get home. She was so anxious just to see her cousins.
With all the kids asleep, we drove past. But, I have to tell you, I was a bit nervous in doing so. What if we got too tired to drive? What if the boys woke up with uncontrollable screaming?
None of that mattered now, we were on our way.
Arriving in Bakersfield, CA
I managed to continue driving until midnight. At that point I was too tired. Joanne took over the wheel while I napped. It was just 2:30 AM when I woke up to the car stopping. Joanne was making a pit stop for gas and snacks. But, that was enough for me. When I looked around I realized I’m in familiar territory. We’re really close to home.
Yet again, I took over the wheel (I prefer to be the one that drives). And for the next hour I drove. Through Techachpi, down the 58 freeway, and in to Bakersfield.
I almost couldn’t control my tears when I saw the first Bakersfield exit. I’m home. My family is here. My nieces and nephew are here. And as much as I didn’t want to live here, arriving felt like I had left behind a nightmare I was never going to get out of (yes, Indiana was that bad for me).
At 3:30 AM I pulled in to my favorite Hampton Inn & Suites. It wasn’t just another hotel stay. I was in Bakersfield and this particular Hampton is managed by my best friend of 25 years. I knew that when I woke up in the morning I would be able to go downstairs, grab a coffee, and hug my best friend.
I couldn’t have slept better that night. Knowing the drive was over. The nightmare of Indiana was over. Not only was I home, but I had my kids back in the very city they belong in. It couldn’t have been a more perfect feeling.
Will I Leave California Again?
It would require another post to tell you about all the things living Indiana taught me. But, the short answer, without explanation, is no. My sister and nieces would have to move with me if I was going to make the move. The desire to live somewhere else is now gone. I now understand that I much prefer the familiar and will be traveling, instead of moving.