It’s been a long process, but we’re finally all together in Orange California. It’s hard to believe that this all started some many months ago. At that time, it seemed like this day would never come.
The process was complicated by the fact that I needed to continue working at Kent State until the end of August in order to reach 25 years-of-service with the State of Ohio. While I did not retire, I am now eligible to retire at any time if we need the extra income. For now, I am planning to focus my energy on developing our business and doing some outside consulting.
This all started when Carolyn was approached by Chapman University to apply for the position of Chair of Public Services at Leatherby Libraries. While we had talked about moving out of Ohio, we had not considered southern California as a relocation destination, but the opportunity seemed like a good one, so Carolyn interviewed and was offered the job. When we decided in December that Carolyn would accept the position, we were confronted by the complex logistics of moving her, our five cats, and me across the country over an eight-month period. We are pretty good planners and the plan we created actually worked pretty well! It did require many trips between Ohio and California and it would not have been possible without the fabulous understanding of the folks at Kent State and Chapman. We thank everyone for this.
Our overall plan consisted of four parts: 1) move a portion of our stuff, enough for Carolyn and the cats to live on temporarily, right away, 2) move Carolyn, the cats, and her car, 3) move the remaining portion of our stuff that I did not need in Ohio, and 4) move me, my car, and whatever was left in Ohio that we still needed.
January – Carolyn flew to Orange (into John Wayne, our local airport) to search for a place for us to rent. We had found a real estate agent in Orange who was very helpful. Carolyn looked at a few places, sending me photos as she went. It’s hard to know the right thing to do when you’re not familiar with the area. Rentals are very expensive in Orange compared to Ohio prices. We decided on a recently renovated house in Orange, 1.2 miles from Chapman. With a destination address we were able to start the process of hiring a moving company. We discovered that United Van Lines has a container service that would allow us to send a significant amount of stuff and have it delivered on a specific date. This was critical since Carolyn would only be in Orange for a short time to take possession of the rental and receive the storage container.
February – We had figured out everything that had to go in the container and had arranged it all in the basement of our condo, ready for loading by United. The container is a fixed price regardless of weight, so we sent all of our books and my rocks together with some furniture and cat stuff among other things. It turned out the container held more than we had imagined. The movers were really great about helping us prepare additional things to pack. We got a lot of stuff in the container, saving us money on the second move.
March – Carolyn’s last day at Kent State was March 6th and she flew to Orange to take possession of the rental and receive the container on March 10th. As a small added complexity, before we knew we were moving, we had put a down payment for a cruise — the first Moody Blues cruise — and we decided to go ahead and do it. We flew to Florida on March 19th and returned to Ohio on March 25th. On March 28th, we packed up the cats and started our three-day car trip to California.
We spent a lot of time and brain-power trying to figure out the best way to move our five cats across the country. We read about other people’s experiences using different strategies. The options seemed to be: rent an RV and drive, fly them on a commercial aircraft in the cabin (we’d read too many cases of bad things happening while traveling in the baggage compartment), fly them on a private aircraft, or figure out how to fit them into our car and drive. Because the RV would be a one-way rental (and would use so much gas), it turned out to be as expensive as buying five plane tickets and flying them in the cabin with us. We thought we could get Carolyn’s niece, her niece’s boyfriend, and Carolyn’s brother to go with us, each with a cat under the seat in front of us. This would be quickest way to get them all out there. The cats could not come out of their traveling containers during the flight and we didn’t have any idea how they would travel. One cat, maybe; five cats, too risky. A good friend, Gayle, who is a private pilot, did the calculation of the cost to rent a private plane and pay for fuel for the trip. If we could find a student pilot that would take us without charging for his or her time just to get the hours, it was as expensive as the RV or commercial flight options — and would take two days.
Since we had to drive Carolyn’s Suburu Forester to California at some point, we decided that we would just pack up the cats and drive as quickly as possible. It’s about 2,400 miles from Akron to Orange. We were able to do it in three long days. In order to accommodate five cats for three days, we built special crates that filled up the back of the Forester. Each crate was about 20 inches wide and five feet long. The frames were made from wooden 2x2s, the top and bottom were covered with corrugated plastic (fabulous stuff!), and the sides were covered in hardware cloth. Each crate has a door on the side that swings into the crate so we could feed them and change the litter boxes, which were also made from corrugated plastic. We divided the three boys from the two girls so we wouldn’t have to worry about them fighting for food when we fed them. The boys had a two-level crate with an opening that allowed them to go up and down. The girls had a single story crate with a perch in the back. In the photo, to the right you can see Remy and Romy in the bottom of the boys’ crate and Cassie on the perch in the girls’ crate. There was very little space for anything else after we packed the cats’ food and litter. So, Carolyn and I had just a few things of our own for the trip. Fortunately, we had stuff waiting for us in Orange and didn’t need to take much on this trip.
Three days later we were all in Orange. The cats did very well on the trip and didn’t complain much until the very end — when all of us were ready to be done. We had decided to make the third bedroom of our rental the cats’ room. Carolyn had prepared their litter boxes and put a kitty condo in that room earlier. We were planning to keep them in their room overnight and then introduce them to their new home the following day. By evening it was clear that they were ready to get out of that room, so we opened the door and they started their exploration, including a brief foray up the chimney by Remy. They adapted much more quickly than we thought they would. Perhaps anything looked good compared to being stuck in those crates.
April – Carolyn started her new job on April 3rd and I flew back to Ohio on April 7th. After working one day, I drove to Indianapolis, with our vendor booth in the back of my little Toyota Celica, for a library conference. Carolyn flew to Indianapolis from Orange and I picked her up at the airport. We had a great conference. Fortunately, Carolyn had found a good cat sitting service in Orange and we were able to leave the kitties alone for the five days she was gone.
May – One of the biggest items we had to accomplish was to sell our condo in Ohio. In preparation for this, we had to do some painting and replace some of the carpet. Since I was staying in Ohio through the summer with only a few pieces of furniture and we had no idea how quickly we could sell the condo, we decided I would move to a small apartment, making it easier for the work to be done and possibly more attractive for a buyer who wanted to move it right away. I moved into an apartment on May 2nd with the help of Two Men and a Truck. United Van Lines came on May 3rd to take everything that remained in the condo. On May 24th I made my first trip to see Carolyn and the kitties.
June – I returned to Ohio on June 2nd. Our grandson’s first birthday party was on June 23rd, so I flew to Brooklyn for the weekend. Unfortunately, Carolyn wasn’t able to join me, but we did have a FaceTime session while I was there so she could see the birthday boy. I made my second trip to Orange on June 28th.
July – On July 14th, I returned to Ohio to find that some critter had chewed through the gas line on my car. I was able to get it replaced the next day. This incident started us thinking about whether I needed to take my car to California. I was not looking forward to driving across the country again. I could ship the car, but it is not cheap to do that. I knew that once I was there full-time I would be working from our home. We had our bicycles there and the weather is pretty nice all the time. Orange is very flat and it’s easy to bicycle around town. We live a little over a mile from downtown, so it should be a simple matter to bicycle wherever I needed to go. If I absolutely needed a car, I could take Carolyn to work and pick her up. (As it happens, she is bicycling to work most days.) So, we decided to sell my car. Remarkably, shortly after we made the decision, I happened to meet someone in the grocery store parking lot that was interested in buying it. I gave her my phone number so she could think about it.
August – I made my final visit to Orange on August 2nd. While there, the woman I had talked with called to say she wanted to buy my car and was working on getting a car loan. She was willing to wait until I was done using it at the beginning of September, so we arranged for her and her son to test drive it after I returned to Ohio. I returned to Ohio on August 18th and they came to test drive my car on the 24th. She agreed to buy it from me on September 3rd. Carolyn flew to Ohio on August 31st to help me finish up the remaining tasks before leaving Ohio for the last time.
September – On Labor Day, September 2nd, our friend Zoltan came to my apartment with a U-Haul truck and took the few pieces of furniture I had. We cleaned up the apartment and headed to Amherst to see Carolyn’s family. On the way back, we stopped at Cleveland Hopkins Airport and rented a car so we could still get around after we sold mine. Since the apartment was empty, we stayed at the new Kent State Hotel and Conference Center. My last day at Kent State was September 3rd. We sold my car that morning and Carolyn ran errands while I finished up at work. On September 4th we returned the rental car and flew to Orange where our kitties were waiting for us to come home.
When I think about it now, I can’t believe we pulled it off without a hitch. Now we’re on to a new chapter of our life in California. Stay tuned!