You know the old joke, “What does a lesbian bring on the second date?” It’s a U-Haul!
I brought the first U-Haul into our relationship back in 2005. It wasn’t on our second date though, I waited six whole months after we started dating to bring the U-Haul (the equivalent of five years in lesbian dating)! The distance for that first U-Haul trip in our relationship was only seven miles across Seattle from my apartment on Capitol Hill to Alison’s apartment in Greenwood.
Our most recent U-Haul adventure was just a couple of weeks ago and it was a doozy! Alison did all of the driving because it would have been too stressful for both of us to have Alison as the passenger while I drove the big truck, even if it was only for a couple of hours. The distance for our latest U-Haul trip was 1,513 miles from Seattle to Flagstaff. It took 27 hours of driving time so we stopped twice for the night to sleep within the giant state of California, first in Yreka and then in Barstow.
Moving Around in a Pandemic
We ended 2020 by spending 98 days in England as a way of wrapping up the first chapter of our international nomad life before settling back into one location in the USA again. We got pre-flight rapid Covid tests at Heathrow Airport the day before our flight to Seattle. The process at Heathrow Airport was pretty chaotic because those of us there for Covid tests weren’t sure where we should line up or how and when we would be called inside. The concept of requiring Covid tests before travel was/is still pretty new and the system was still being built when we went through the process ourselves in early January. It all went really well from our perspective and we were glad to test new pandemic rules and processes. Back here in the USA we need more pandemic rules and processes! Most importantly we were grateful to get reliable Covid tests at the airport before our flight home. Our Heathrow tests cost £79 each ($108.52 each) and we had our results in about 90 minutes.
Before picking up our U-Haul in Seattle we got Covid tests again since we had only been in town for a week and we had just flown back to the USA from the UK. We felt great about how safe the flight was but we wanted to make sure we were safe before we moved on since we knew we’d be bumping into family for social distance visits before too long. So we spent our last day in Seattle getting Covid tests from the Seattle Fire Department. Absolutely no surprise that the downtown testing process was very well organized and efficient (we know our previous home town of Seattle totally rocks!). Watching the team in action made us feel like we were in an episode of Station 19 (we love that show!). Most importantly, we were grateful to know that we were still Covid-free after flying back to the USA from England. Our Seattle tests were free, courtesy of the City of Seattle, and we had our results in about 24 hours.
Choosing Our U-Haul Truck
We had a couple of debates about which truck to get. I wanted the smaller 10 foot truck because it seemed like it would be easier to drive and easier to park. I always have opinions like this even though I’m not the primary driver in our family! Alison wanted the 15 foot truck because it would mean we had plenty of extra space to work with while loading the truck, and because the 15 foot truck had a loading ramp. The base price for the 10 foot truck was $100 less than the 15 foot truck, but sometimes saving a little money is not worth the cost in other areas. If we had to lift every box into the truck by hand and then climb up and move things around, the whole process would have taken longer and been more exhausting. Having the bigger truck and the ramp was the right decision for us because time is money and our energy is limited!
Loading the U-Haul
We took an Uber to the U-Haul lot a little before 7:00 AM to pick up our truck. We tossed our travel bags in the back and then drove over to our storage unit which was just a couple of miles away. Alison had predicted that the process of loading the truck would take two hours and her guess was pretty close. It took us two and a half hours to load the truck and hit the road. We put all of our bigger artwork boxes up in the area that hangs over the cab, which they call “Mom’s Attic.” Then we loaded our kitchen boxes at the back, followed by a few bulky things, and the rest of our metal rolling racks closest to the door.
The AOC U-Haul Road Trip
The same day we loaded the truck Alison drove 11 hours to get us south of the Siskiyou Mountains since we were trying to beat a winter weather system up there. We had no trouble at all, thank goodness! That night I went into a store to get some food for a very simple picnic dinner and an hour later Alison was sound asleep. It was a really long day!
On the second day Alison drove five hours to get us to my sister’s house where we had one last bag of clothes stored for our nomad adventures, along with our important legal binder. We were looking forward to getting our hands on that binder since it contains our estate plans, all of our account information, passwords, and more. Life has changed quite a bit for us in the last two years so we are looking forward to updating our legal documents again. Alison drove another 5 hours that afternoon and then we stopped for the night in Barstow, a couple of hours after turning east towards Arizona.
On the third day we drove the last six hours to our house in Flagstaff. There was a small amount of old snow on the ground when we got there but the next big snow storm was still about 24 hours away so we immediately got to work unloading the truck. It took about two hours for us to haul all of our stuff into the house and empty the truck. Then we immediately drove over to the U-Haul drop off location and turned the truck in. And sure enough 24 hours later a big snow storm arrived and dropped snow on us for five straight days. We were thrilled that we were able to home and get rid of the truck before the storm!
Let’s be blunt, the U-Haul was expensive! The base price for the 15 foot truck was around $900 but with one way trip fees the base price went up to around $1,300. And not surprisingly, the U-Haul was quite a gas guzzler. The 15 foot truck only gets 10 miles to the gallon and has a 40 gallon tank, so it seemed like we stopped for gas a million times. Every time we stopped Alison got out and did a few laps around the truck while I pumped the gas. We spent almost $500 on gas driving those 1,500+ miles.
Then there were a few little things we bought to give us a sense of security. Since this wasn’t our first U-Haul we knew we’d have to buy our own padlock for about $11. Why wouldn’t a U-Haul come with a locking back just like it comes with locks for the cab? This question has annoyed us in the past and it annoyed us again this time! Maybe it it was a quick roundtrip rental you can get away without a padlock but that wasn’t an option this time. The rental process also introduced the statistics about how often U-Haul trucks are stolen from hotel parking lots, which really freaked Alison out. After all of this effort to store things for two years we didn’t want to hit the road and then immediately lose it all and be liable for the truck being stolen as well. We asked what we should do about that and the recommendation was to buy a steering wheel lock, which they didn’t sell at the U-Haul store. A what?? I actually had to search online to remind myself of what those are, and then we did buy a steering wheel lock for about $30, mostly for peace of mind.
The Bottom Line
There are more affordable options than what we chose for ourselves, but we have no regrets. We’re really glad we took the time to prepare as much possible for this unexpected outcome. When we put our stuff in storage in 2018 we thought there were two possible outcomes for our storage unit. The first was we might decide to live in Washington State again after a year or two, so storing our stuff in Seattle by our old condo seemed perfect even with crazy high storage unit prices there. The second outcome we thought was realistic was deciding to give away everything in our storage unit so we could continue with our nomad life as super minimalists. We even prepared for that by leaving a set of keys with some friends in case we wanted to pay someone to clear out our storage unit for us while we kept traveling. What we weren’t expecting was getting a U-Haul and moving to Arizona!
The best part of this whole experience was getting messages from people during our road trip with jokes about us being U-Haul lesbians! I have a feeling this will be our very last U-Haul experience, but we are definitely U-Haul lesbians and proud of it!
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