cross country road trip: we made it!

we're here in washington!! the last couple weeks have been a flurry of packing, and a 50 hour car ride with the animals from south texas (way south) up to the bainbridge island area. yes...50! we decided to tow a uhaul trailer with our small suv [something, incidentally, i do not recommend and that we definitely should have researched in more detail before leaving!] you can't go much more than 55 miles per hour with said trailer so between our slowed speed and additional stops with the pets our cross-country drive took quite a while. 

this was a very different move from our florida to texas voyage thanks to three factors that will vastly affect any relocation: distance, timing and weather. 3 years ago i thought our 19 hour drive down south was CRAZY, but it proved to be simply an amuse-bouche for the 50 hour bonanza we were in for this time around. we were hustling to get up north with some time to unpack, relax and get acclimated before joe started his new job, which was also compounded by completing the drive in winter...something neither of us southerners have much experience with! we even bought our first snow chains.

some things that made our trip [as low stress as] possible:

1) dramamine, benadryl, happy traveler treats, blankets and some pet pads. both animals got a little carsick, so the dramamine and happy traveler treats were a lifesaver for our dog. they smell pretty gross [and they will make your pets' breath um...odiferous] but we managed to administer them BEFORE she saw us loading up and her travel anxiety set in so they were maximally effective. we wanted to minimize their distress, so we consulted our vet who was able to provide dosage information for over the counter meds, paired with the anti-anxiety treats. i was beyond relieved we were able to make it work without resorting to anything stronger for our little senior citizens.

as for our cat, we ended up having to take him out of his carrier after he got extremely stressed, sick and claustrophobic. we quit the medication for him after day two, [it seemed to be doing more harm than good] and i sat in back with him so he could roam loose for the remainder of the drive. while it's probably rolling the dice to set a cat loose on a road trip, it ended up being the solution we needed. we lined the seats they were sitting on with pet pads in the event of an accident (thankfully this ended up just being precautionary) and their favorite blankets so they would be comfortable.

2) trip checks: driving during winter was especially tricky over the mountain passes. we plotted our course deliberately taking weather into account. we had to forgo california due to all the flooding, and made the mountain passings our shortest days on the road. we checked the weather each morning and night, and the following sites were especially helpful for checking road conditions and closures with cameras showing the roadway: 

Colorado Trip Check
Utah Trip Check
Idaho Trip Check
Oregon Trip Check

3) pet friendly hotels - we were partial to marriotts, best westerns and la quintas located within walking distance of restaurants, and those with continental breakfasts. since we couldn't stop and leave the animals in the car during the day to go eat it was nice to have convenient breakfasts and dinners planned. some hotels have full restaurants on site, which was perfect in that it allowed us to go have a real meal, and not leave the pets alone too long in the hotel room. [can you tell we don't trust them AT ALL?] online reviews were also a godsend in determining which hotels were located in the safest areas.

4) rest day. halfway through our trip we penciled in a day to just rest! we hung out with my brother and cousins in boulder, and it gave us and the furbabes a much needed break. this day and a couple additional days we padded onto the end of our trip in case of extreme weather took any urgency out of our drive, and ensured we would get up there well before joe needed to report. 

5) loading and unloading routines. by the end of a looong day it's easy to get flustered and impatient, especially with antisocial animals to wrangle. we developed a nice little choreographed routine over the course of our trip (and got a small taste of how parents must feel shuffling kids and their accouterments around!)

joe would pull up to the hotel, check in and get our room key while i loaded nico back into his crate and walked morgan. then we'd park as close as possible to our room, and unload the animals, their food bowls, food, nico's litterbox, and valuables first. i would stay in the room to assemble nico's travel litterbox, show him where it was, set up their food and water, and let them get acclimated while joe fetched the remainder of our overnight bags. we cleaned out the car each time we stopped for gas so that was taken care of by the end of the day. we would perform the whole thing in reverse (loading the animals in last) the following morning.

6) netflix! we ran through just about every stand up comedy special we love, which i recommend in addition to movies and shows you've already seen so the driver doesn't feel left out only being able to hear and not watch. it helped pass the time very well!

and finally 7) no sweating the small stuff. due to an issue with the trailer we hit the road almost twelve hours later than planned on our first day. as someone who tries to plan with military precision this was stress city! we were both hungry, tired and frustrated before our drive even began, but staring down the barrel of a 7 day road trip we both decided we didn't want to start our trip (and new chapter) off with a fight. staying cool and calm was everything! we became more flexible in our plans remembering we would get there when we get there, and if that meant stopping earlier than expected or adjusting plans for safety, it was worth it. after that first leg and due to it being the off season, we also discovered we could roll up to the hotels without reservations, which didn't commit us to an exact location. it was one of the first times ever when i found that under-planning was the way to go. 

we also managed to dodge the storms that hit almost every state we traveled through at some point during that week, did not have to use our snow chains, and our little car tolerated pulling the trailer with no issues. aside from the initial hiccup and the animals being a little nauseous, i still kind of can't believe how smoothly it all went.

cheers to life in our new city!