I've been in Georgia for three weeks now, so I suppose it's finally time to write about the journey out East. I'd basically been the process of moving for almost two months, since I did the majority of my packing in July before my trips to Mexico and the UK. I essentially lived out of a suitcase and wore the same few outfits repeatedly for all of July and August.
As soon as I decided to come to Georgia in February, my dad offered to road trip with me. We had a general idea of the route we'd take, but didn't have any firm plans other than to stay with my friend Suzanne in Nebraska and cousins in Nashville. We packed up the little u-haul trailer and headed out early Tuesday morning in late August. It was a classically beautiful day in Washington and we headed up and over the forested, green Snoqualmie pass into beige Eastern Washington. Unsurprisingly, my car got horrible gas mileage with a full u-haul behind it. I'm talking, stop every 180 miles just to be safe, kind of bad gas milage. For the first two days, our only stops were at gas stations.
We drove 850 miles a day for two days straight, which was exactly as awful as it sounds. We got to Billings at 10:30pm and were back on the road by 7am the next morning. It was incredibly long, but through the beautiful territory. Coming from the West Coast all my life, I forget that places like Wyoming still count as "the west." 1600 miles of driving and we were still "west."
Wednesday night we got to Lincoln, NE where my good friend Suzanne lives while she is in grad school and UNL. It was so great to spend the night at her house and hear about her time in grad school. It felt like a little breath of fresh air after so much time in the car.
The next day we were able to take at a much easier pace. Unfortunately, I was not paying attention and so for the second time in my life, I have now driven all the way around Kansas without having actually gone to Kansas. We were 2 miles away at one point! So now my quest to get all 50 states requires going back to a place I had no desire to go to in the first place. Alas.
On Friday, we got in the car and headed through Kentucky and stopped for gas about an hour outside Nashville, TN. We were now officially in the South and it felt like it. I turned the car back on and the AC didn't come on at first. We figured it was just overheated and it would come on soon. But as we kept driving, it just got hotter and hotter. I started to get worried so we pulled off at an exit and started calling Honda dealerships in the area. Eventually, we found one that could take a look and started on the worst hour of the trip (maybe our lives? who knows). It was 102°F with the humidity heat index and we essentially steamed like broccoli all the way to Murfreesboro. We were drenched in sweat and I had a migraine the whole time. However, Southern Hospitality did not disappoint and the Honda people were very kind (and very happy to empty my bank account on account of the exploded gasket).
All things considered, this was the best place for car trouble to occur. My cousin Kerry, who I hadn't seen in 6 years, lives only 20 minutes from the dealer we went to and was able to come get us, instead of us coming to her as planned. We had a great time staying with them and catching up after so, so long. On Saturday we explored downtown Nashville, which I loved. The Civil Rights room at the library was closed, which I was very bummed about so I definitely need to go back for another visit.
Thankfully, my car was repaired and we were able to drive the last 4 hour down to Decatur on Saturday night. We got to Columbia at 8:30pm and it was, to put it kindly, hotter than hades. It was 100% humidity and 90°F in the pitch black (not to mention cockroaches skittering across the sidewalk), but of course my dad was determined to get it all unloaded that night. We were exhausted and drenched in sweat by the time we were done 1.5 hours later, but of course it was worth it to not have to unload the next day.
We headed to IKEA on Sunday (aka purgatory) where we spent lots of money for furniture that we would then have to unload and assemble ourselves. We spent all day Sunday building bookcases, beds, and tables, to the point that we were both on the brink of insanity. My poor dad worked so hard. We decided to head into the Decatur square for some dinner, and the Iberian Pig did not disappoint. It's a wonderful (read: $$$) tapas restaurant and it was exactly what we both needed.
After so much work and frustration, it was great to spend one last meal together before my dad left. My parents are moving to Ethiopia for a year because my mom got a job with the US State Deparment as one of their English Teaching Fellows. It's a great opportunity for them, but it means I won't see them for 10 months, which is the longest I've ever gone without seeing them. I deeply love my parents and am so proud to be their daughter. I haven't lived in the same state as them since I was in high school, and while I at first loved this distance and independence, it's a wonderfully bittersweet feeling to wish I lived closer. I am so grateful for the time that my dad and I got to spend together on the road trip adventure and getting me settled in my new home. I absolutely could not have done it without him.
I dropped him off at the light rail early the next morning and started to make this new place my home. I've spent my whole life in the Northwest and I feel like an outsider here. The differences aren't huge and it's not as though I don't know anything here, but I still feel like an observer, rather than a participant of the culture. I'm constantly wondering it what I am seeing is an exception or the rule. One of my primary reasons for choosing Columbia was a desire to live in a new culture and I have certainly gotten it.