The Trip to Bellingham

Well, we made it safely to Bellingham last Tuesday (11/6). Sorry for the very delayed update. We finally got internet set up with Comcast on Tuesday. Prior to that we had been connecting by using Shanna’s Verizon phone as a modem, which was incredibly slow! Anyway, we enjoyed our trip out here far more than we anticipated. We’re thankful to God for the safety and nice weather during the entire trip. Of course, it did start raining shortly after we arrived, but we had been warned that it would rain often, so we were mentally prepared. Our first Saturday here was absolutely gorgeous, though!

I want to thank everyone who came over to help us pack, load the truck, and clean. We appreciate your sacrifice and kindness immensely! Thanks to Josh McCarnan, Jason Cornwell, Dave Wike, Jim Gaston, Josh and Laurel Louk, Melissa and Bryan McKinnon, and Jordan Gons. Thanks as well to those who called and offered to come over. We should have taken more of you up on your offer to help! Thanks as well to all of those who prayed for our trip. We’ll certainly miss all of our friends from Greenville. Please come out and visit us. There’s lots to do in the Bellingham area, and we’d love to have you stay with us!

Here’s a brief day-by-day overview of our trip and the last week and a half:

Day 1: Greenville, SC to Clarksville, TN (400 Miles)

Our first day of traveling didn’t go according to plan. We intended to leave at 7 AM for Kansas City—900 miles away—to stay with Shanna’s brother Ryan and his wife, Erin, and meet their first child, Olivia. We didn’t get on the road until 2:30 PM! We were up the night before until about 3 AM (and the two nights before that until 2 AM), which made rising early challenging and unwise.

When we first got on the road, Shanna was pretty scared; the 26′ truck with our car on a carrier was pretty massive. But after she found out that I was very comfortable driving (thanks to those good old Cleansite days!), she become much more relaxed. We quickly started to really enjoy the trip, especially the beautiful fall colors!

We had one potentially dangerous situation. The straps that go around the front tires of our car that hold it on the carrier came completely off. Oops! We were thankful, though, that the car didn’t move even an inch even after several hundred miles of driving. I quickly properly secured the straps, where they remained for the rest of the trip!

Day 2: Clarksville, TN to Kansas City, MO (500 Miles)

Our second day didn’t go according to plan either. It started off well, but about 100 miles down I-24 our voltage meter started beeping and the needle was bouncing between 12 and 14 volts, sometimes dipping lower. We decided to call Penske and get their recommendation on what we should do. Within minutes we had an appointment at Cagle’s Tire & Wheel in Vienna, IL, which was just a couple of exits further down the road from where we were when we got off the phone. It ended up being a wiring problem, which they were able to fix fairly quickly—once they returned from lunch break. What took the most time was replacing the front tires, which had several large gouges in them. Penske okayed the replacement, and the whole expense was billed directly to them. After about three hours, we were back on the road toward Kansas City, where we arrived safely around 10 PM.

Day 3: Kansas City, MO

We enjoyed a nice day off with Ryan, Erin, and Olivia Prigge. This was our first time meeting Olivia, who was just seven weeks old. We had a great time fellowshipping with them and appreciated their kindness and hospitality immensely.

Day 4: Kansas City, MO to Rapid City, SD (700 Miles)

We left Kansas City and traveled about 380 miles to Sioux Falls, SD, where we met Shanna’s mom and step dad for lunch. They traveled about two hours from Granada, MN. It was very good to see them. After lunch we headed back on the road and ended up driving all the way to Rapid City, SD. Oddly enough, our car managed to get sprayed by a skunk at 70 miles an hour. The smell is finally just about gone!

Day 5: Rapid City, SD to Bozeman, MT (500 Miles)

We got on the road early in the morning and headed to Mount Rushmore. I made the mistake of driving the truck rather than taking the car off the carrier and driving it up. We had some very steep inclines and declines—up to 10%—but the truck did just fine, even if at just 25 MPH. The most difficult part was driving the truck through the car lane to pay for parking! It was the only lane open. I literally had an inch on both sides! At the very end of our trip, we were startled by a huge buck standing right at the edge of the road. I think he scared us more than we scared him. He looked at us rather nonchalantly and continued eating the grass.

Day 6: Bozeman, MT to Marysville, WA (700 Miles)

This was an incredibly long day of traveling! We were on the road for almost 14 hours. We did enjoy some very beautiful scenery, though. Our plan was to stop somewhere east of Seattle, but we didn’t see any hotels. Before we knew it, we were driving through Seattle, which I wouldn’t recommend at night after a very long trip with a 26-foot truck and car carrier! Once we got to our hotel, we had the most challenging situation with the truck. I pulled around back where I would usually park, only to find out that it didn’t go all the way around. It was way too tight to turn around, so I had to back up around the corner maneuvering between the dumpster and some obnoxiously placed metal polls and the side of the hotel. It was quite tense, but we managed to get out of the predicament after a couple of tries. Again, the Cleansite experience paid off.

Day 7: Marysville, WA to Bellingham, WA (60 Miles)

We slept in a little and arrived at our condo a bit before noon. Our Realtor was able to get us early occupancy, so after signing a couple of forms, we had our keys and began the three-day task of moving in—but this time without the help from friends and family!

Here are some highlights since we’ve been here:

  • We visited Silver Beach Community Church on Sunday morning and Immanuel Bible Church on Sunday evening. Silver Beach looks like the best fit so far.
  • I began my job at Logos on Monday of this week. I was a bit overwhelmed with all of the information and responsibilities, but was met with a very warm welcome—and Thanksgiving Dinner (not in honor of my arrival :)).
  • We signed the papers and closed on Wednesday, and now we officially own our new condo (and, unfortunately, our old condo, too!). Our address is 500 Darby Dr #202, Bellingham, WA 98226.
  • Shanna had an interview on Wednesday for a receptionist position at a care facility for the elderly. They seemed to love her. The job is surprisingly very demanding; the previous receptionist quit after her first week!
  • We continue to slowly unpack our belongings. I’ve unpacked my dissertation books. The other 39 boxes await the assembly of the other six bookcases that I purchased from Office Depot.

Finally, some random tips and reflections regarding our move:

  1. Most people discouraged us from driving the truck and pulling our car on a carrier, but I’m glad we did it. It was a fun adventure, and we saved about $2500. It may not be the best choice for someone with little to no experience driving a big truck and pulling a trailer, but it’s certainly worth considering.
  2. I’d highly recommend Penske. After we got married, I drove a Uhaul truck down to Greenville. The trip was miserable. I couldn’t even stay in my own lane! Part of it was no doubt my inexperience, but the truck, which was not in very good shape, drove very poorly—especially the steering. Before our trip to Bellingham, I did a lot of research on the internet. Uhaul generally receives poor reviews. Penske was almost always on the top. Budget would probably be a not too distant second. Our Penske truck was in excellent condition and drove very well. Shanna loved the bench seat, which allowed her to sit right next to me the whole trip. Penske gave us 13 days to make the trip and unlimited miles. Uhaul was going to give us only 7 or 8 days and 2800 miles (to make a 2900-mile trip!). I know whom I’ll be using in the future.
  3. Make sure to pick up two padlocks: one for the truck and one for the trailer.
  4. Bi-Lo and Walmart are great places to get boxes. I got scores and scores of apple boxes from Bi-Lo and banana boxes from Walmart. If you want larger boxes from Walmart, the best time to go is 1 AM. You may on occasion get some during the day, but it’s hit and miss.
  5. You can’t have too much packing tape! Buy the 10 pack from Walmart. You won’t regret it.
  6. Pick up a role or two of stretch wrap from Lowes or Walmart. We wrapped most of our furniture and mattresses in it to keep them clean. It worked very well. You’ll also want a couple boxes of bubble wrap.
  7. Be careful what you put next to each other in boxes or in the truck without padding or protection. Anything that’s touching and able to move even a little bit will wear down. For example. two old bookshelves sat next to each other and in one spot rubbed clear to the bare wood.
  8. The cruise control proved to be especially helpful for driving the declines. Most of the roads were straight enough that going 70 downhill was not a problem. Having the cruise on would keep the truck from going any faster than 70. I wouldn’t even have to touch the break. If I tried to take the cruise off, the truck would easily accelerate to 75 or more, requiring that I ride the brake a lot.
  9. With regard to buying, work with at least two lenders. Get quotes from both, and then take the lowest quote to the other lender. He will generally beat it. The other lender may or may not be willing to beat that quote. We ended up with a great rate by doing this.

Well, that’s all for now. Regular weekly or bi-weekly blogging should resume shortly.

Update: You can now check out some pictures from our trip.

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7 Responses to The Trip to Bellingham

  1. Ryan and Sandi M. November 18, 2007 at 11:43 am #

    We feel happy for you that your trip went without too many hitches (just a little pun there!).

    We’ll pray that your old place sells soon in this buyers housing market, and that your new life in WA helps you glorify God in new and wonderful ways.

    And Phil, it’s obvious that you’ll do well at Logos. Congratulations!

  2. Rod November 18, 2007 at 2:54 pm #

    > the front tires, which had several large gauges in them…

    My, my! A very unique experience. Were they temperature gauges? Or pressure gauges? Or, since they were large, maybe speedometers? ;)

    Actually what I was more interested in was your assessment of the Verizon wireless connection you were using. You commented on it being very slow. Any idea how slow? I have no broadband options were I live, so I finally installed a satellite system last spring. It’s only a one-way system (so I could install it myself instead of paying $300 for a “professional” install of 2-way), and downloads aren’t too bad, but uploads are still dialup speed (511 kbps down and 47 kbps up when I checked just now). There is cell service here, and I’ve wondered about trying wireless service that way. Any thoughts in light of your experience?

  3. David Flinck November 19, 2007 at 2:52 pm #

    What a trip! Glad you made it to WA.

    We might have pasted you on I-90 somewhere in SD as we were coming home from a meeting in Spearfish, SD.

    We are currently packing to move to South Texas on Dec. 29th for language school. Keep in touch.


  4. Phil Gons November 21, 2007 at 12:46 am #

    Thanks, Ryan. We appreciate your prayers and kindness.

    Rod, nice catch on gauges. Oops. I’ve correct it to gouges. Regarding the Verizon connection: most people don’t know that they can connect to the internet for free using their Verizon phone as a modem and a free Verizon application called VZ Access Manager. However, the speed is slower than the AOL dial-up service I used to use in the mid-nineties and should be used only as a last resort! If your phone is broadband enabled, Verizon blocks your ability to access the internet for free, since they apparently have no way of keeping you from connecting at their full broadband speed, which claims “average download speeds of 600 Kbps – 1.4 Mbps and at average upload speeds of 500 Kbps – 800 Kbps.” I think this service costs $60 per month, but I have no idea how fast it actually performs.

    David, I saw from your blog that you’ve been in some of the same areas that we drove through. Too bad we weren’t able to meet on the way out. Blessings to you on your move and your language training!

  5. Rob November 23, 2007 at 7:52 am #

    We’re glad to hear that you made it safely to WA!!! We knew the move was eventual, but had no idea when. The Lord took good care of you and allowed you to use some of the experiences He has allowed you to acquire. We’ll pray that your condo here will sell soon and will keep our ears open to people looking for a place. Will your cell phone number remain the same? If so, I have it.

    May the Lord bless you and continue to prepare you as you serve out on the “left coast.” :-)

  6. Marcia December 6, 2007 at 5:59 pm #

    I got on your website to see if your new address was there. Glad for all of the info. Wish I could have seen you too.
    Are you affected by all of the rain? We have a number of relatives in Oregon. Haven’t heard how any of them are doing. Must be OK.
    I’m glad you didn’t have any hair-raising experiences on your trip. Close calls though. God had His hand on you.
    Will you be here for Christmas? Seems like you will be.


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