Moving: From Snohomish, Washington To Roanoke, Virginia.
July came at us quick. It felt like we hardly had time to get prepped after finding out that we would be moving to Roanoke, Virginia. At the time Katrin and I lived in Snohomish, Washington but her schooling was going to take us somewhere new. Being that she was accepted into a decent number of schools, the choices were all over the United States. We ended up Choosing Roanoke over Florida, Texas and the Carolinas. The cost of living in Roanoke is low and the humidity is not as intense as the deep South. Plus, we’re smack in the middle of the coast. Perfect for road trips to D.C. or anywhere North or South.
July 18 was the drop-dead date to leave. At the time we had about 2 months of serious planning to do before actually making the 2,750-mile trip. That included job hunting, apartment hunting, expense planning and researching the city itself as well as the state. Leaving July 18th gave us over a months’ worth of time before School started again in the fall.
We planned to leave one of our 3 cars there in Snohomish. Katrin’s dad drives it now. We would tow our VW GTI with a U-Haul truck on a dolly and drive the Ford Explorer Sport Trac. The Ford would be set up for one driver but also loaded out the exact way we would normally load up for a trip. Minus any dog related things. Cooper and Floyd were staying with Katrin’s parents. Which granted us a lot more space. The VW would be filled with things we might need while the U-Haul itself would take on the things we don’t need for the trip. For us, the U-Haul was getting less fuel range than the Ford. Which hurt us on daily miles, and obviously expense. If you’re planning to use this format, we had a 10-foot box truck. It was a GMC and its loaded fuel range was about 320 miles towing the car.
To help us save money on this trip we would be taking a cooler full of food and camping with our Rooftop tent. As I stated, we were set up just like any other overlanding trip. Most camp sites can accommodate the 3 vehicles and 20 bucks for a campsite with a shower is much cheaper than a hotel. Of course, cooking our own food instead of eating out saved money too. Yay financial responsibility!
I have heard people say this before and I will repeat it because I believe it to be true. On any long trip, plan to make the first day the easiest. Don’t plan to go that far. You won’t make it most of the time and it puts a huge stress on the trip. The first day or section is when you work out all the kinks with equipment, radios, getting last minute supplies, forgetting to put ice in the cooler, suddenly remembering you need 2 jugs of wiper fluid etc. Also, in the event something goes wrong it’s not a huge delay.
Oh, and don’t forget to take a picture at the welcome signs for each state!! Our Idaho photo was less than impressive.
Our first day we only planned to get to Idaho. Just East of Coeur d’Alene. We left at about the expected time and sat in the expected Seattle traffic. Then sat in more traffic due to a fire on I-90. Once we made it to Idaho, it felt like the real adventure had begun now we were away from home and getting into places we haven’t seen or been. This section went smoothly. Which isn’t always the case but so far, so good.
The 2nd day was a miles day for us. We broke camp while trying to film and attempting to Vlog it so we could share what we were doing with our friends and mostly our parents. Still we had to hurry not that we don’t love Montana, and honestly who doesn’t love it? But there wasn’t anything we had a necessity to stop and see. Following I-90 through Montana is a fantastic drive. The scenery is astounding! The super nerd part of me was hoping to see the X Overland crew on the road since we went right through Bozeman. No such luck. We did spot a convoy of other nice trucks headed out to play though.
Things were going smooth until we passed through the steep mountains outside of Butte. That’s when the U-Haul started having significant braking problems, causing the steering wheel to shake violently. Needless to say, we stopped on the side of the highway.
U-Haul took great care of us. They added an extra day to our rental, bought us a hotel room and dinner, plus paid for all the repairs. Shout out to them for good customer service! Once we got to the hotel, we went out to dinner and hung out in town for the night.
On day 3 the repair shop called us and said the truck was ready. Which was magical because they came out with a tow truck well after hours and called us before most of town was even open. They really made it happen for us. Day 3 is nothing noteworthy. Just putting on miles and eating way too many snacks.
Day 4 started on a gorgeous sunny day in Wyoming. Not only did we make it to Mt Rushmore, but we stopped at the famed Wall Drug Store. First of all though, I wanted to say we skipped going over to the Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. I still feel like it was a good idea to skip it for the sake getting to Mt. Rushmore, but I feel a small pang of regret.
If you have the ability to leave one car, like us, I highly recommend going to the Grizzly Creek restaurant in Keystone, SD and parking across the stream in the gravel lot. It was busy but there was plenty of parking and it was free. We left the U-Haul with the trailer and went back up to Mt. Rushmore in the Ford. MAKE SURE YOU GO!!!! It’s very cool to go see it. Regardless of how you feel about it or the lands and history, it is still a sight to behold. Beware though, it will be busy and everything in the gift shop is expensive. If you want gifts go down to Keystone and check out the shops.
If you’re in South Dakota, on I-90, You will eventually see signs for “WALL DRUG”. Initially I was a little confused by the signs. Most of the signs are comical though. Which really helped break up some of the drive. By the time we were getting close to the exit we just HAD to go see it. Honestly it lived up to the hype. We easily spent an hour or so roaming through the store. The city of Wall in South Dakota doesn’t have much to offer a passerby but luckily for them their local drug store decided to rope in some tourism. The store is full of history and quirky items. If you have children, there are activities in the back yard area to help wear them out a little before getting back in the car. Including a fountain and a giant dinosaur. Also, the food is good. Put on your walking shoes for this one.
Day 5. We have discovered 2 things. It was getting humid, and Cicadas. I don’t like either of those things. Getting a little weary of the road, we sped right through the rest of South Dakota, Minnesota, and into Wisconsin for camp. This was an extremely uneventful day.
Day 6 came, and we had plans. We woke up in Wisconsin, but we were ready to steam right through Chicago, IL. Our initial intent was to stop in Chicago and enjoy the sights. Once more the thought of dealing with the U-Haul stopped us. Instead of seeing Chicago now we would try again later. We passed right through the city and its traffic in an attempt to see Lake Michigan via the Indiana Dunes National Park. My first impression of Chicago was that the city (parts that I saw) looked very aged. It didn’t appear appealing. However, the shores of Lake Michigan treated us very well. Stopping for some sun and sand felt like I was back in California. Being that I am a fish, I had to get into the water.
The beach was clean, the sun was warm and the water perfect. A little crowded, but not the end of the world. I was impressed by the fact that the other sides of the lake were not on the horizon. I know the lake is vast, but seeing it is another thing entirely. There is a little shower to wash off the sand and salt back in the parking lot which helps complete the experience.
At camp that night we had a huge field almost all to ourselves in Ohio. We were so close to West Virginia. Our next camp site would be in Virginia! Coming to the East coast, I continue to have 2 primary complaints. The bugs are very large and aggressive, and the humidity is oppressive. This camp site was a testament to both.
Holy mother of god, were we excited. Waking up on day 7, we didn’t need coffee to get going. This was it. Roanoke was within our grasp and we had to get moving. Camp was packed up in no time. Flying through the rest of Ohio at mock Jesus speed into the twisting mountains of West Virginia, we only stopped at the welcome sign for WV. Other than to get gas and pee. Free food was waiting for us along with a warm welcome provided by a friend of mine over in Blacksburg, Virginia.
Only really stopping once more at the welcome center for Virginia and taking an excessive amount of photos as well as performing a happy dance we felt a huge weight off of our shoulders. Back in the trucks we made it Blacksburg and then on to Christiansburg where we stayed at that same friend’s house for a hot shower and comfy bed. If you saw the YouTube uploads of this travel, that is why the last video is called day 7.5. We actually arrived in the city of Roanoke on day 8.
U-Haul provides a storage service for extended moves like this. Utilizing this service was a necessity. We unloaded the U-Haul and some other things into the storage unit. Returned the truck. Additionally, they let us park the VW inside the fenced area for storage too. Now we both were back inside the Ford and were free to roam about the city.
We to camped over at Dixie Caverns. Which was really 2-fold. Not only was it a decent camp spot, but we took the tour of the caverns as well.
Eventually we found an apartment and began to return to a normal stable life. Not before having another adventure first. THAT will be a whole other post.
Special thanks to Juan Martinez, for his continued hospitality.