On August 20, 2015 Xena and I left the lakes area of northern Michigan to embark on a new adventure. After two years there was finally a solid offer on the sale of my home. My hope for many years has been to live in the west. Friends from high school have been living in the state of Montana since college. I believe if they and Hattie could live in Big Sky Country, so could I. (Thank you Kirby Larson.)
After having made the trip to Montana last year, I found I would rather look at the Mackinac Bridge than cross it. This year I went south into Indiana and Illinois. After only a few wrong turns (I was still learning the GPS on my car.), Xena and I spent a restful night in Normal, Illinois.
Bright and early the next morning we traveled to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. When the two of us walked that evening, I noticed a funny cast to the sky and setting sun. Checking the National Weather Service it mentioned possible severe thunderstorms in the area the next day along with a high wind advisory and high wind warning for the entire state. I made the decision to alter my route going as far south as I could, staying on main roads.
Needless to say, from one side of South Dakota to the other the winds were terrifying. It was two-hand-death-grip-on-the-wheel driving. At one point I took the closest exit because my hands ached and were shaking. This exit was a little two-track dirt road leading to a small white church with a tall steeple, probably room for about thirty people, and a single home. I pulled into the parking lot.
The winds were so powerful, at a standstill, my car rocked with every gust. When I looked up after about ten minutes, a cement truck pulling a trailer had stopped also. Thankfully, I had Tim Federle's audio books about Nate to listen to as I weathered this storm.
Finally arriving in Rapid City, South Dakota I decided to eat. I waited and waited for my name to be called. They kept calling for a Parker to pick up their meal. Looking at my slip I discovered I had a new name. It was a relief to arrive in Gillette, Wyoming for the night. Before the sun set the next day, Xena and I arrived in Missoula, Montana.
For the next two days, I looked at more than twenty houses. At the end of the second day, we found a new home. It was touch and go as to whether we would have a contract but by Friday, Xena and I were headed back to Michigan.
On the way home we learned:
Always ask what pet-friendly means... we ended up walking at a lovely park and path around the local hospital because the hotel was surrounded by cement right next to a busy main road.
If you ever get lost among residential and county roads in the dark of night, unable to find the main highway, there is a wonderful woman named Kelsey who works the 911 line in the St. Cloud, Minnesota area.
Anywhere near Chicago, traffic can and does come to a complete stop, more than once, even on a Sunday.
Always check your hotel room before unloading anything from your car, especially if there is a funky smell. (The night manager said it was disgusting when he saw it.) We ended up on the second floor that night. Xena got her first ride in an elevator. (This guy deserves a raise after all the help he gave us.)
Going through the center of Fort Wayne, Indiana is still better than taking the by-pass.
Even though she is fifteen years old, Xena can still protect me. Stopping at a rest area, we were walking when a man and a child approached us. My usual friendly companion started barking. They backed away and I sighed with relief as I hugged her.
Xena, my warrior princess, was so happy to get home she nearly ran around the house outside and inside. I joyfully joined her. Two days later the packing started. Today (Sunday) I finished with help from many friends and neighbors.
My contact who gave me an estimate for the move told me no one has ever transported this many books before me. The majority of my weight is for the almost eighty boxes filled with books. Those stories will travel from state to state to state.
I have missed visiting with all of you on Twitter and Facebook. The connections in the children's literature community are wonderful. Hopefully I will be a more frequent presence in the upcoming weeks.
The move will begin in less than forty-eight hours. Anticipation fills the air. A dream is coming true.
I wish you all good things each and every day.