Trial and Error Visits LA: Day 1 of ?

Today is my first full day in LA. I’ve spent the last week trying to get down here, and I might spend the next three months trying to get home.

I spent all last Wednesday moving the stuff that’s too big to fit in my car and not important enough to move to LA with me. My furniture and a few boxes of stuff went to my storage unit (with the help of my friends Aaron and Rachel), leaving behind what I thought was just enough stuff to fit in my car and take to California.

Turns out I’m very bad at judging these things.

Loading my car should have taken three hours, by my calculations. As it was, it took about eight, not including all of the other running around I had to do on Thursday. By the time night fell on Thursday (by which point, since my dome light was obscured and there was no outdoor lighting, I was forced to stop loading my car), I still had another four hours worth of work ahead of me.

There’s somethig about the kitchen that defies making predictions about how much is there and how long it will take. Maybe it’s all the cabinets.

With the car fully loaded (with the exception of the front seat, which was set aside for my cat DJ), I finally got on the road on Friday afternoon, about 18 hours later than I’d planned. I had planned to spend Thursday night at a friend’s house in Corvallis, OR, but that of course fell through when it became 10 PM Thursday and I still had another three hours of loading to do.

My first stop was in Yreka, CA. In a minor triumph, my little car made it through the entire state of Oregon (and about a third of the state of Washington) without refueling. They say that the mandatory attendant gas pumping in Oregon doesn’t affect the price of gas that much, but I’m still skeptical.

After spending the night in Yreka (at a discount motel with no appreciable air conditioning), DJ and I headed down to th Bay Area, which is where I grew up. I’d set up a Facebook event for people to come and say hi at a bar near where I went to community college, but only one person showed up. I guess you really can’t go home again. I did, however, go on a Segway tour of San Francisco on Sunday, so I did have a good time all the same. (I checked — the ones in Seattle are somehow more expensive.)

My friends with whom I stayed in the Bay Area had a cat of their own (so DJ couldn’t be out and about unsupervised) and an air mattress for me to sleep on (so DJ couldn’t sleep with me, since kitty claws and inflatable things are incompatible). Poor DJ spent most of last weekend locked up in the guest bathroom. I felt so bad for him — he would let out these loud pathetic cries (not bad for a deaf cat).

We left for LA yesterday afternoon, taking I-5 (sorry, I’m in SoCal now: The 5) the whole way down. DJ was much calmer on this leg of the trip than he had been before. Maybe he was more used to the carrier and the car, maybe he was just glad to be out of that bathroom. We didn’t hit traffic until we got into downtown LA. The community where I’m staying is east of the city, so we had to go downtown and then take another freeway heading away from downtown which was, at that time of day, overtaken with going-home commuters).

I arrived last night and promptly turned the cat loose in my room since he hadn’t been able to use the litter box all afternoon. I tried to sign on to my housemates’ wifi network, only to be met with, ‘oh we don’t have a wifi connection’. (Seriously? What is this, 2003?) They also like their TV loud in the living room (right outside my door), so I picked up some earplugs rather than make a big deal out of it.

Today I went up to Costco and picked up some delicious breakfasty things. I also spent an hour or two at Starbucks, using their wifi so I could update my e-mail (well, update it better than I could on my phone, anyway) and clean out my Google Reader.

Lessons learned?

Pack your car up first. Do this before you make any assumptions about how much stuff you can fit in it.

Get a bigger storage unit. No, even bigger than that. They give you the first month free, so use the money you save to get a bigger unit.

Do not drive large rental trucks up 35th Ave NE in Seattle. It looks wide enough, but it isn’t.

Feed the cat. He gets meowy if you don’t.

If you forget the food bag (stupid), treats do not count as food.

He won’t use the litter box at rest areas, so don’t even bother.

For all his meowing, the cat is more resilient than you think.

Make sure the rental agreement says ‘includes wifi’.

Leave enough time to take to Goodwill the stuff that won’t fit in storage and won’t fit in your car.

Just because you’re on the road doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want. Bleh.

Everything that sucks about the Bay Area is everything that sucks about LA. But that’s about it — one isn’t really better than the other. Years of antipathy towards southern California seem silly now, since brown hills all start to look alike after two years in green rainy Seattle.

Alx! is the best BFFLS ever.

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