Sleep Away Montana

Holy crap. It’s June.

There have been a lot of milestone dates as we counted down to our move – January 1 comes to mind (“we’re moving this year!”), as well as March 15 (“99 days – we’re down to double digits now!”) – but none have felt as momentous as today. Because now I can say we are moving this month!

It boggles my mind. I mean, on the surface this just feels like any old Friday, turning of the calendar page notwithstanding. But when this month draws to a close, our lives are going to be dramatically different than they are today. The office I’ve worked in for three years, the apartment I’ve lived in for four, the city I’ve called home since 1996 (!) – all will no longer be a part of my life. It doesn’t even feel like that’s possible, and yet, here we are. Barreling toward that moving date like a runaway locomotive. With broken brakes. Going downhill.

And actually, when July 1 rolls around, we’ll have been living in Rapid City for a week already. I won’t say it’ll feel like old hat by then – I’m sure the novelty will take a long time to wear off – but it won’t be a brand new new thing, either.

Three weeks, man. Three weeks.

This explains why we’ve been so damn productive lately. In the past week we have found a place to live, set up cable/internet and scheduled an installation appointment, Tara bought new tires for her vehicle, I changed the phone number I’ve had for 15 years, and we picked up a hand truck to assist with the move.

Panic is a great motivator, it would appear.

Part of the preparation included taking Sydney to the veterinarian. Our new apartment lease requires proof of current pet immunizations, and I realized that I had not taken my cat in to the vet clinic since I first adopted her. In 2007. Yes, I know that was 11 years ago. I feel badly about that, but at the same time, she is strictly an indoor cat and has never had so much as a single flea, let alone any health problems.

So I scheduled an appointment for yesterday morning and showed up promptly at 9:00. I apologized to the vet that I didn’t have any prior history on Sydney because I’d been lax in my cat dad duties, but there was no judgment on their parts. Instead, they raved over her. Called Sydney a “model patient” and said they wished every cat that came in was as chill as mine. You know, I’ve said many times over the years that Sydney is the best cat ever. I even use that hashtag on Instagram when posting pics of her. Y’all probably just assumed I’m biased, but everybody says that. Even those who profess not to like cats. Actually, the word they end up using is “cool.” And the staff at Hearthwood Dog & Cat Clinic were no exception. They commented on her great personality and even said that calicos are notoriously, umm, not-quite-so-nice. I’d always assumed they were quite docile based on Sydney, but I guess not!

She was super nervous in there; her heart was racing at 210 bpm, but that is because she never, ever leaves the apartment. The car ride in a small plastic box, followed by a strange, brightly-lit room with a bunch of people poking and prodding her freaked her out, I’m sure. Fortunately, she got a perfectly clean bill of health. In fact, the vet could not believe that she’s 12 years old. She’s got good eyes, excellent teeth, a strong heart, a healthy coat, and is the perfect weight. The veterinarian kept telling me “good job!” as if I had something to do with my cat’s excellent genes, but hey – that more than made up for the bad job I did in not bringing her in for regular exams, so I’ll take the kudos. Sydney did not even flinch when they gave her shots for rabies and distemper; the vet said she was probably so hopped up on adrenaline she didn’t feel a thing.

Sydney

Sydney being a trooper.

And before we left, she gave me a small bottle of Gabapentin in 100 mg capsules. “This will help with the road trip,” she said. I wanted to make a joke about how it’s okay, I’ve got stronger stuff I’ll be snorting the night before, but then I realized the pills are for my cat. You can understand my confusion, though; Gabapentin is actually a human drug used to treat pain and control seizures. Turns out veterinarians use it as a mild sedative for cats, as it reduces fear and anxiety and causes them drowsiness. She suggested I try it out on Sydney in advance before dosing her up, but assuming she tolerates it without any problems the stuff should keep her nice and mellow for about 12 hours. I’m hoping she sleeps her way across Montana.

Tonight we’ve got a show at the Doug Fir Lounge. We’re going to see Damien Jurado, an indie singer/songwriter who is sort of a cross between Nick Drake, Neil Young, and Lou Reed. Weird that this will be our last concert in the PNW! Then on Saturday we’re driving to Cannon Beach to say goodbye to the ocean.

Audrey graduates in one week. Our farewell party at Shanahan’s is the next day. Wow – things are happening so fast now!

Countdown: 21 Days

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What’s Old is New Again

I have a coworker who just started watching The Office. He may be late to the party, but boy do I envy him right now. Imagine having nine glorious seasons’ worth of new-to-you episodes of a beloved, critically-acclaimed comedy series to watch?

Actually, I can. That happened to me just last year with Curb Your Enthusiasm.

So now this guy is coming into work every morning raving over the latest episode he has just seen, and his unabashed joy is contagious. God, I miss that show.

The only thing that would be even better than jumping into The Office for the first time? Doing that with Breaking Bad.

I can’t even imagine how amazing that would be.


My parents are currently in South Africa. I also really envy them; everybody talks about traveling the world when they retire, but how many people actually do so?

My folks have been to far too many countries to name. This three-week trip is their first on the African continent, and will include not one but two safaris.

Man. They are livin’ the dream.

I kind of hate that they are gone for such a long stretch right before we move away, but I’m sure they had no idea we were actually leaving when they planned the trip.

Or, knowing my dad, he just said “the hell with ’em – we’re seeing zebras!” and signed on the dotted line regardless.


With my parents gone, our weekend will include borrowing their grill and sunroom again. It’s become a tradition.

We’re also going to hit the farmer’s market for the first time this season (shame on us!). Plus, do some more packing. We missed last weekend since we were out having fun, so we’ve got some ground to make up.

One of the trickiest things is going to be transporting Sydney halfway across the country. She has been on very few car rides in her life, and I want to make her as comfortable as possible. After doing some research, I bought the following carrier, which comes highly recommended by many people.

Sydney

She looks right at home, huh? Acclimation is key. We are leaving the carrier out in the living room, and she frequently makes herself right at home in there.

I think we are going to start taking her on short car rides, as well. So we’ll add that to Sunday’s agenda.

Countdown: 49 Days

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Now that it’s May, I can say we will be moving to South Dakota next month.

Whoa.

I’m pretty excited and anxious to get out there. Right now it feels like we’re living in limbo, standing on the precipice of a brand new life while still going about the daily business of living this current one. Our whole world changes next month and, like the late, great Tom Petty said, the waiting is the hardest part.

My only real trepidation has to do with the fact that we have no idea where we’ll be living yet. It’s hard to look for an apartment long distance when you still have 50+ days to go. I figure by the end of the month we’ll start searching in earnest; our plan is to have a few places lined up and start checking them out the day after we get there. We’ve got six nights booked in a motel and we can always extend that if necessary. I’m more of a planner than Tara so doing it this way makes me nervous, but I’m sure it will all work out.

Also, saying goodbye will be tough. I don’t want to downplay that. It’s nice having family so close by. At the same time, I did live a couple of states away from my folks for a nine-year stretch, and the world did not implode. My brother’s lived far away for a lot longer than that. Leaving Audrey behind will also be hard, but the transition will be a bit easier given that she has already moved out. She wrote us a very heartfelt, touching letter the other day expressing how thankful she is for our love and guidance these past four years. She’s a good kid and we’ll miss her. If she ever changes her mind about coming out to South Dakota with us, she will forever be welcome!

Well, forever is a mighty long time. But I’d say up until 27 or so, lol.

It’s back to reality today after a nice, long weekend, but I don’t mind. Like I said: I’m too anxious at this point to get going. By the way, here’s a pro tip: if you ever go to the Astoria Crab, Seafood & Wine Festival, by all means do it on Sunday. The crowds were about half the size we are used to, so instead of being jammed into the convention center like a can of  sardines (fitting analogy though that is), we were able to move about freely. And with the festival shutting down in a couple of hours by the time we got there, the vendors were willing to wheel and deal. Tara bought two cases of her favorite peanut butter and saved $1 a jar. Score!

Also, I cannot say enough good things about the Sou’wester Lodge. Here’s the trailer we stayed in:

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And the lodge itself:

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It’s just a great, relaxing getaway.

This was our last major trip before we move. Here’s what our Farewell Tour checklist looks like as of this morning:

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With only seven weekends left in the PNW, and four of them booked up, I don’t think we’ll be able to cross every item off that list. A couple more, sure. But places like the zoo and Indian Heaven Wilderness are looking less likely. Still, I like the progress we’ve made.

Countdown: 52 Days

Nobody Cares

I’m writing this post while kicking back in a vintage travel trailer on the Washington coast. It’s the same trailer Tara and I booked in 2014, when we came out to Long Beach on my birthday weekend for the Astoria Crab, Seafood & Wine Festival. Deja vu, ’cause we are here again for the same festival on the same weekend. This is also the place I holed up back in 2016 to kick off NaNoWriMo. What can I say? We love the Sou’wester! And the crab fest, apparently. I’ve been coming here, on and off, for the past 20 years –  five or six times total – so this is one of those bittersweet occasions because it’s our last hurrah. We haven’t even hit the fest yet, and we’re already having a blast!

My birthday began on a less than auspicious note with the following text from my mom.

nobody cares

Ha! I know she didn’t mean that. Tara and I (and about 50 other people on social media) got a good laugh over it.

I took the day off (Friday) and headed out to the Columbia Gorge for what has become a tradition – a birthday hike. I’d always wanted to check out Dog Mountain, one of the most popular hikes on the Washington side of the river; it’s known for brilliant wildflower displays in spring. I’m sure they were awesome, but there wasn’t much of a view because of the low clouds that obscured the peak.

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Let’s talk about that wind, though. Above the tree line, there was a steady wind blowing at what I estimated to be 60-70 mph. No exaggeration. It was so strong it literally knocked me off my feet at one point. Between the dense cloud cover, hurricane-force winds, and bitter cold, it wasn’t a particularly rewarding hike. I definitely consider it the toughest one I’ve ever done, thanks to a 2800′ elevation gain over eight grueling roundtrip miles. Two days later, my knees and quads are still aching. But at least I proved to myself that, despite being another year older, I can still complete a difficult-rated hike. I doubt I would do this one again, though. Good thing we’re moving – there aren’t any Black Hills hikes nearly so steep!

Saturday we set out for Long Beach, making the trip via Highway 4 on the Washington side of the river. We’d never gone that way before, but I’m glad we decided to try a new route – it was quite scenic. We made a stop in Gray’s River to check out the last covered bridge in Washington state, and decided to check out a cute little Irish pub in town for a cocktail and a bite to eat. Looks nice from the outside, right?

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Little did we know of the dark secrets contained within its walls. Turned out to be one of the most bizarre experiences of our lives, from the overly earnest proprietors who slid a handwritten, food-splattered list of specials under our noses to the cornflakes on Tara’s cheeseburger. Most disturbing of all, though? The extensive display of Nazi memorabilia scattered throughout the bar.

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You know that movie The Hills Have Eyes? Let’s just say we felt fortunate to walk out of that place alive.

We checked into the Sou’wester around 4:00 and, once we got settled in, headed across the street to Rod’s Lamplighter, another dive bar (this one free of any Third Reich associations, thankfully). We killed a good four hours there drinking, playing pool, and filling up the jukebox with good music. Tara looked at me askance when the Bee Gees and ABBA started playing, but by then it was late in the evening and I was beyond caring. Came back to our trailer, heated up some pizza from the night before, and watched Sixteen Candles while rain began falling on the roof. It was pretty much perfect! A little too perfect perhaps, because I basically passed out.

Time to get ready for the Crab Fest!

Countdown: 54 Days