Friday, October 30, 2009

it's tough being the princess

Poor little Becky has had a challenging time with this move. First, she was worried for an entire month as we packed all our belongings into hundreds of boxes. Then she was really worried when all the boxes and all the furniture disappeared, leaving the Maine house empty and echoing. Once we got into the truck she crashed and was practically unconscious for the whole road trip, which was good because I don't think she slept at all in the motel rooms what with the fretting at the new and different environments.

Then, when we first got to Utah, there was that terrifying thunder-, lightning- and hail storm which scared her so badly that I thought she'd shake out of her skin. Now that we're in the apartment she's settling down a bit, but she doesn't like all the new dog-smells when she's trying to, ahem, squirt, and she gets scolded a lot because she growls or woofs whenever she hears a car door slam or voices outside. Luckily this apartment complex is pretty quiet but still, there are many more noises than she's been used to in her life with us.

This all is why when we went to the self-storage units last time we picked up the over-stuffed armchair. Because despite having her dog bed, her crate, our bed and all of the remarkably cushy carpeted floor to sleep on, B prefers her throne.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

how do you say that?

Do you all know how to say these Utah place names like the locals? Give it your best shot phonetically in the comments and I'll post again later with the actual pronunciations.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

our first utah snowstorm

It snowed yesterday! Pretty much on and off all day too, going from white-out conditions to glimpses of blue sky; we couldn't see the Wasatch Mountains behind us and definitely couldn't see west across the valley to the Oquirrh Mountains. Snowfall totals weren't that impressive: in the valley, a couple of inches that didn't stick; up on the benches a couple of inches that did; and around 10" up at Alta. Still, the rooftops are all white and there's more snow in the immediate forecast. Guess winter's coming early this year.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

hiking in the mining district

October 25, 2009, Sunday. On Sunday we confirmed that any expedition with Captain Mike requires (a) an initial, dramatic, uphill ascent, (b) sturdy shoes, (c) provisions for a noontime snack, (d) at least four hours and (e) time for a beer afterwards. You know, I can totally live with all of that – although I may grumble a little for part (a).

We had thought to stay close to home on Sunday, maybe do a short hike up one of the Cottonwood Canyons, but when Captain Mike said he’d hoped to take us on a tour of some of the Park City area mines, we were all for it. We picked him up at his house and then drove into Park City proper, up through the Old Town portion (lovely, older, fantastically-painted and $1M price-tagged mining shacks) to the trailhead. We started off going UP immediately, following a recently improved dirt road, then moved off the road onto a heavily overgrown singletrack. Despite the sunshine overhead it was chilly down out of the light in the canyon, with remnants of the previous day’s hail crunching underfoot. As we ascended, we passed small “prospects” – where folks had thought there might be stuff worth mining – and the waste-rock dumps from these digs.

When we emerged from the depths of the canyon, we were at the base of the Silver King Mine, an expansive, complicated operation that had its heyday at the turn of the century. Located under the upper terminus of the Town Lift for the Park City Mountain Resort, the mine ruins consist of a massive mill derelict, the building containing the mine proper, several smaller (and by “smaller” I mean medium-warehouse-sized) buildings, wooden watertowers, tram towers, explosives sheds and the mine dump. Captain Mike had a book* with him with historical pictures of the mine - the complex was massive. It’s still massive – it’s just falling apart now.

Captain Mike took us into the mill building where we entered at the ground floor and went up at least five stories, coming out at on the top floor where the ore carts had rolled in on their rails from the mine. Although the mill building is clearly on its last legs, it was also clearly built to last, with metal stairs between the floors, huge steel beams and concrete floors – all necessary to support the enormous metal machinery and the tons and tons of rock it had to chew up. These impressive industrial ruins were just incredible and H took picture after picture after picture.

Next was the mine building which contains the mine shaft** (descending some 1400+ feet straight down into the earth), the giant steel hoist which held the elevators that went up and down the shaft, bringing men and ore to and from the surface, as well as the electrical switch room, a machine-shop and a smithy. We peeked over the edge of the shaft: it goes a long way down. Captain Mike said he’s dropped little stones down there before and he’s never heard them hit bottom.

After checking out the Silver King mine building, we inspected the other area outbuildings and then continued our hike, back down the other side of the canyon. On the way to the next mine we were duly impressed by some serious hand-made mountain biking elements that some local kids had constructed in the woods. Let me just say right now that I will never, ever, ever ride on bridges like those.

We saw the remains of the Massachusetts mine (just a concrete footer for the hoist, the rock dump and a few abandoned ore samples) on our way down to the Alliance mine. All that is left here is the old mine manager’s office – a wooden building filled with broken core samples – and the power plant. We also saw the terminus of the Judge Mining & Smelting Co.: the building is completely sealed off (and is a Federal Offense to trespass here) because they still use the old tunnel to channel water down to Park City.

After we finished the day’s hike – a four-hour loop, of course – we took a quick tour of the Deer Valley ski resort (which is Captain Mike’s ski area of preference, based out of the Silver Lakes Lodge), and then took him home. He’s determined to take us up his favorite Wasatch trail near the Brighton ski resort before the snow gets too deep, however, so we may have more hiking to report on for next weekend!

* Treasure Mountain Home: Park City Revisited, by George A. Thompson and Fraser Buck (1981).

** We learned this terminology: the shaft is the vertical hole that runs from the surface to however far down the mine goes; any level horizontal hole into the earth is called an “adit;” an adit that angles down is a “decline;” an adit that angels upwards is an “incline;” and an adit that goes all the way through to come out the other side is a “tunnel.”

Monday, October 26, 2009

back to work

Retro-post from October 13, 2009, Tuesday: Poor H went back to work today. Becky and I sat around and WAITED for Comcast to finally come and hook us up to cable and thus reinsert us into the wired and televised world. I sent some résumés out for some administrative positions up at the U, went to the bank, the post office (thanks for all the cards, H’s family!) and grocery store, and generally puttered around.

For the record, although the Porcupine has Cheap Beer Night on Tuesdays … we did not go [- that Tuesday, anyway.]

Saturday, October 24, 2009

utah 23, air force 16

October 24, 2009, Saturday. Because we are determined to throw ourselves wholeheartedly into being Utahans, we went to the U's homecoming football game against Air Force. I had swung by the Rice-Eccles Stadium on Tuesday to get tickets ($28 per) - so exciting, my first big college football game!

We'd heard on the radio that the UTA (Utah Transit Authority) was going to be running extra trains from our neck of the woods up to the stadium, so we thought we'd try that instead of fighting traffic and searching/paying for parking. Tickets were $4/per person round trip and the train dropped us off right at the stadium.

Although most of the crowd - about 45,000 in attendance - was awash in a sea of red, our seats were right by a bunch of Air Force cadets who'd road-tripped in from Colorado Springs. This kept things entertaining: whenever they got excited about something down on the field, they'd fling wrapped slices of processed cheese into the air like frisbees. The nearby Ute fans didn't care much for being smacked in the noggin with cheese, so a couple cadets were escorted from the stands for a while. (Security let them come back for the last quarter and the OT - I guess because Utahans are just nice.)

Even though our seats were in a corner and way up high, we had a great view of both the game (despite it not being that exciting until the Utes scored during overtime) and the storms which struck the nearby mountains with lightning before briefly drenching us in the first quarter. Neither team had much of a passing game, but here are the highlights: Air Force made a lot of first downs but couldn't seem to score; Utah had difficulty making their first downs but managed to score enough to win (eventually, 16-16 into overtime); and we did see the second longest pass reception for a touchdown in Utah's history - very exciting.

Afterwards the crowd was polite and orderly (as there's no beer allowed in Rice-Eccles, except for the cans of PBR the Air Force cadets snuck in) as we filed out of the stadium and onto our waiting trains ... until we picked up a bunch of soccer hooligans* on their way to Real Salt Lake's last regular season game. It took us about an hour to get back to our car at the light rail station's parking lot, plus drive-time home, although I suspect the commuting time during the week is much shorter.

Despite the less than dry weather, the less than thrilling play, the no beer at college venues and the longer than we expected travel times, we had a great time. And H is a little itchy to see better college ball, so I'm off to the ticket office tomorrow to try get seats for next Saturday's game against Wyoming. Go Utes!!!!
PS - BYU got totally blown out in their game this weekend against TCU, so our random decision to become Utes fans rather than Cougars fans is paying off. Note to selves: must buy more red outerwear!

* Loud and raucous (a la "the game hasn't started but I'm already drunk"), singing songs from their printed playlists (these are very well-organized soccer fans) and hooting into their kazoos, they kept us entertained for several stops before disembarking for the Rio Tinto Stadium. Not very hooligan-y in actual fact, just noisy and boisterous. BTW, final score: Real Salt Lake 3, Colorado 0 ... RSL earned the last MLS playoff spot - home game TBD!

"shoes and chaos"

That was a fellow bargain-hunter's reply when asked what was in the storeroom at REI's members-only garage sale this morning. Held several (?) times a year, REI allows co-op members (those of us who've signed up for their rewards program) to purchase used/returned goods at drastically reduced prices. Roof racks, sleeping bags and tents, skis, ski and snowboard boots, bicycles, clothing ... you name it, people were climbing over each other for it. REI employees handed out playing cards and then let folks inside by randomly calling out the cards - judicious, but still a mob scene. H and I skirted the periphery but when we attempted the "shoes and chaos" room, the crowd was just too much. Next time we'll prepare a go-to list - today was just too nuts for casual browsing.

Friday, October 23, 2009

books, BLM, boxes and beer

October 12, 2009, Monday. On H’s last day of vacation, by the time we’d each gotten through our torturous runs/rides, we decided that it was too late to seek out another beginner level hike, especially since we’d already been to the nearest canyons (Big Cottonwood, Little Cottonwood, Millcreek and City Creek). Instead we went city-exploring to locate some places of interest. Of interest to us, at least.

First we found H’s new office, a mere six miles down the street our apartment is on – what a cake commute! Next was the Central Book Exchange (2017 South 110 East, Sugarhouse), reportedly the best used bookstore in all of SLC. “Used” and “second-hand” are our new watchwords, btw. Central Book Exchange is pretty small but chockablock full of all kinds of books – meaning that it’s that much harder to find what you’re looking for because there’s not that much organization. Still, the variety is terrific and excellent condition paperbacks seem to go for $3-4. There’s tons of fiction in all sorts of genres, so that’s great for me.

Unless I’ve just been to the main branch of the City Library in SLC (210 East 400 South). Holy frickin’ moly – this is the coolest library I’ve ever seen. Please click through to see the photographs. H and I walked up the exterior stair wall to the roof garden where there’s a 360° view of the city. Inside the towering glass atrium are a café, art museum and multiple shops (including a branch of what will become my new comic book store, Night Flight Comics). I didn’t get a library card when we stopped in but I will soon. What an awesome place.

Our next stop was the State of Utah Department of Natural Resources Map & Bookstore (1594 W. North Temple) because H had read somewhere that this was the best place to go for maps. Indeed, they’ve got every kind of map – from the streets of SLC to hiking the Wasatch range to technical BLM charts – for all of the state. Here H selected a trail map to supplement the books on area hiking we’d just picked up at the CBE.

As you might imagine, all of this was thirsty work, so we swung by Squatter’s before hitting the self storage place and then heading home.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

birthday (belated)

October 11, 2009, Sunday. For his birthday breakfast, H made us “huevos H‑os”: corn tortillas, scrambled eggs, refried beans, onion, salsa verde and cheese – no mean feat given the limited amount of kitchen equipment we have with us currently. Muy delicioso!

After breakfast I went for a run and H rode his bike, each of us going in opposite directions from the day before. Still hilly. Long, steep hills. Seriously, these are ass-kicking hills out here – no matter which way you go, it’s going to be hilly. I’m not a good runner at all and my route today started with twenty minutes of steady up. I managed to run for 17 of those minutes, and walked for the final three, before turning around and heading – downhill (yay) – for home. I’m not sure I could even name a 17-minute hill in the greater Portland area. I just keep telling myself, as I’m gasping and grunting and wheezing and grateful that no one within 1,000 miles of here knows me, that it’s all training for ski season.

To treat ourselves for refusing to acknowledge that the hills conquered us conquering the hills, we went for a hike. Because that’s what you do here in Utah: you go outside every single day you possibly can. It wasn’t even a particularly nice day today but still, once up in the canyons, the outdoorsy types were out in droves. We explored Millcreek Canyon today (the site of the other Turkey Trot H is guilting me into), which is located at 3800 South, off Wasatch Boulevard, in Holladay. We drove as far as we could up the canyon until the road got too narrow and too snow covered for us, so we still don’t know what’s at the top. (It all goes up though, in case you were wondering, for at least seven miles.)

We turned around and then pulled in at the Rattlesnake Gulch trailhead, intending to take the Pipeline Trail, which follows an old flume up the canyon. We must have missed that trail, however, because we found ourselves going up and up and up, until we were skirting a ridge that took us to a fantastic lookout over the Salt Lake Valley. It took us under an hour to go up, and about half an hour to descend, even accounting for having to stand aside in the brush as all the mountain bikers and their well-behaved dogs blew by us. This was a nice little hike, close to town, immediate view rewards and impressive elevation gain for very little effort.

The best part of the hike, of course, was that the road leading to our apartment back from Millcreek Canyon goes right by the Porcupine. We had to stop in and split a pitcher of Full Suspension pale ale (from Squatter’s Brewery) – it would have been wrong not to stop.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

wherever you go, it’s up

October 10, 2009, Saturday. So, because I’ve been forced into it, I went for a run (a thirty-minute slow jog, to be honest) and H went for a bike ride (from our apartment to partway up Little Cottonwood Canyon). We both returned, reporting Very Hilly Terrain. And miles to go before either of us have any real aptitude for the altitude. Afterwards we swung by our P.O. box (thanks, SB!) and then headed to the Capitol area of SLC. This is where you find City Creek Canyon (375 No. Canyon Rd.).

City Creek Canyon is a six-mile, paved path that follows the creek up a narrow, heavily vegetated canyon. We parked to the south of the canyon by a pretty, well-kept park called Memory Grove. There’s an off-leash dog park on one side of the creek in Memory Grove but we kept to the other side and B was so busy sniffing and marking her new territory (she’s such a lady) that she didn’t mind the other dogs frolicking nearby.

CCC itself has lots of picnic areas and clean outhouses all along the way. And it climbs steadily the whole way up. We saw several cyclists, a good number of pedestrians and just a couple of joggers … which was not a good sign as CCC is the site of one of the Turkey Trots H is telling everyone I’ll be doing. We didn’t end up walking the whole thing (six miles one way, remember?) – just perambulating for 1.75 hours , but this place is such a great oasis in the city that we’ll be back for sure.

After our walk (B = tired!), we swung by the self-storage place for our television (no cable (or internet) ‘til 10/13 but it’s best to be prepared) and a few other random pieces of furniture, and then headed home for a quiet evening in.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

case of the gloomies

It's raining; my brakes squeak; I've only had one interview emerge from the two dozen or so resumes I've sent out; I have sock farmer-tan lines on my calves from last Saturday's hike; and spyware seems to be plaguing my computer (for which I blame Comcast - had no issues with TimeWarner in our 4+ years with them).

On the plus side, $2.00 beers at the Porcupine tonight.

Monday, October 19, 2009

a little chicago along the wasatch

Yesterday (October 18, 2009, Sunday) we got up, loaded the truck with empty boxes and tubs, and drove to the northern end of SLC to Emigration Canyon to meet my dad's college roommate and his wife for breakfast at Ruth's Diner. They are lovely people who have lived in the area for about seventeen(-ish) years and thus had lots of good local information for us - most importantly, a veterinarian and kennel. Not that we need one right now(!!), but it's good to know where to go. Fortuitiously, they use the one right around the corner from our apartment; it's on my jogging route, even.

H and I had been to Ruth's Diner on our two prior trips to SLC, but it has undergone a massive renovation since then and, while still serving extremely tasty huevos rancheros and great coffee, retains only the barest modicum of retro diner car-ness. It's lovely and bright, with comfy booths and that great outdoor seating (and the bathrooms are much improved). It's just not old-school anymore.

After breakfast we attempted to go to our storage unit to drop off the empty boxes but ended up having to go later in the day because the gate was only open from 1-5 p.m. It was imperative that we go, however, because: I had offhandedly remarked to H that there would be no Chicago-style Italian beef for dinner in the apartment this fall/winter since the crockpot was somewhere in a box in storage. This put him into a total panic and he was entirely unable to relax until we located (box #64) and retrieved the crockpot. I got my box of recipes (box #139) too, even though I've made Italian beef so many time that I've memorized it by now.

Go here and you can make it too.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

hiking in the uintas

October 17, 2009, Saturday. On Friday night, before going to the Cotton Bottom, H and I stopped by the local REI for new light hiking boots - we had plans to hike in the mountains on Saturday and thought the snow might be over the tops of our low-cut trail shoes - fully aware that buying brand new boots sixteen hours before hitting the trail is dumb.

On Saturday morning,we headed out early, leaving B at home alone (in her crate) for the first time. We stopped at a Dan's Market (open 6 a.m. to midnight, 7 days/week!) where it took us twenty minutes to find trail mix fixins ... and also band-aids, just in case (see: above re: new hiking boots). We drove east into the rising sun to Park City, noticing that the temperature bottomed out at 31F, where we met Captain Mike. Our friend ARJ in Portland had connected us with his friend, Mike, a former airline pilot, Maine-to-Utah transplant and all-around powerhouse of energy, athleticism and knowledge about his adopted state. Even though we'd not met Captain Mike before, we knew it was he when a Subaru (a very Maine car) drove up to meet us. Since it had been snowing recently in the Uintas, he was a little concerned about the conditions and brought three pairs of snowshoes, three pairs of hiking gaiters and an alternate plan in case the trail he intended was impassable. The forecast, however, was for mid 60s and sunny, so we just went for it.

We drove on Route 150 through Kamas - stopping at the Samak Smokehouse for a package of cherrywood smoked local trout - then paid for our $6/3-day pass to Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forests, accessible via the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway. After stopping at a couple of scenic overlooks, we parked at the Crystal Lake trailhead. Now, ARJ had warned us that Captain Mike was a "hiker extraordinaire." With the trailhead at about 10,000 feet, the captain was a little concerned for us: usually this is a 4-6 hour hike, depending on how long one lingers over the views; we really hoped not to make this his first 7+ hour hike, and I really hoped to avoid headaches and vomiting at this altitude.

The hike was stunning. We didn't gain a whole lot more elevation, but we saw so many beautiful little lakes (not in any order): Wall, Clyde, Cliff, the Twins, Lily, the Three Divides, Crystal, Trial, Petit ... I had no idea that there were so many lakes and ponds around here. The trail conditions varied from slightly muddy open ground to frozen crusty snow to having to post-hole in snow over H's knees. (As both Captain Mike and A are somewhat vertically challenged, it's H's legs that were the benchmarks.) We stopped up at the Notch for lunch (that smoked trout = awesome) and H and I were relieved to hear from Captain Mike that we were fifteen minutes ahead of his normal schedule. The lunch spot was a known mountain goat haunt but although we seem to have shed our Bad Weather Karma, our talent for not seeing wildlife is alive and well: no mountain goats.

Although the trails we took out and back were not technically connected, Captain Mike, through his prior aerial surveillance, had determined that they were connectable and successfully bushwhacked us through. Seems the captain believes that a loop is better than an out-and-back, just like my dad does. We finished the hike without embarrassing ourselves high altitude-wise and then, rather than retrace the road back through Kamas, Captain Mike suggested a scenic loop through Wyoming to Park City (again, a loop is always better). His knowledge of the area's history and geology were seemingly unlimited, and he also suggested several additional natural and historical sites for our future exploration.

Captain Mike invited us back to his house in Park City for a post-hike beer: Moose Drool Brown Ale, from Big Sky Brewing Company (brewed in Montana, which means regular levels of alcohol!). We got to meet his wife, Nancy, and their very personable Welsh corgi, Dudley. Captain Mike and Nancy seemed to suggest that we ought to focus our housing search in Park City, no offense to SLC (none taken).

Afterwards, the drive from Park City to SLC was much less terrifying (read: not at all) than when we were pulling the trailer upon our arrival here in Salt Lake. We noticed that H's face and my legs were sunburned - from the sun's reflection off the snow. We liberated B from her kennel: she was glad to see us and, since there was no nasty note on our door saying that she'd been barking for hours, it seems she did just fine. And so did our feet: despite the brand new boots, no blisters!

Random notes for the day: Whilst partaking of a post-post-hike beer at the Porcupine, we chatted with the young couple sitting next to us who were thinking of moving to NYC. Since we recently accomplished a pack-up-and-leave-behind-everything-you-know ourselves, we encouraged them to follow their dream. Also, the bartender remembered us as being the people from Maine; we're pretty sure he'll call us by name next time we're in there. Finally, dinner was takeout pizza from Wasatch Pizza (2065 E 7000 S, Cottonwood Hts) - yummy and we think they use a lot of rosemary in their crust.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

cotton bottom

October 16, 2009, Friday. I actually had to go to work on Friday: a temp job at a small law firm downtown. They were so impressed with how well I did (making changes to documents) that I actually had to stay late - until 6! on a Friday! for a temp job! - so we could get a package out that they totally didn't expect to get out 'til Monday. I'm just that good. But, since that had been the most I've worked since September 21, I was exhausted and so H and I had to go out for beers and food - I couldn't possibly cook.

We turned once again to our trusty Insider's Guide and, once again, it did not let us down, this time directing us to the Cotton Bottom Inn (2820 E 6200 S, in Holladay). This place is local with a capital L, and a wicked dive that probably hosts a bunch of bikers in warmer days. We'll go back in daylight sometime and get a photo. It's tucked into this nice neighborhood in Holladay, with an unlit sign from about the 1950s, lights in the trees, rock-n-roll piped outside. It's tiny, with a small bar, a few tables, a pool table and a juke box on which the bartender kept playing Janis Joplin.

They serve beer (we had Emigration Amber by Squatter's Brewery) and the menu, a chalkboard on the wall, lists: garlic burgers, garlic cheeseburgers, burgers, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, cheesedogs, grilled cheese and "grilled cheese loaded." As intrigued as we were by "grilled cheese loaded," we both got garlic cheeseburgers which our guidebook called "legendary." (If by "legendary" you mean "can still taste them in the morning," then yes, they were definitely legendary.) These burgers were huge, smashed thin and redolent of garlic. They're served with lettuce, pickles, tomato and sliced onion on fantastically chewy crusty bread, garnished with a pepperoncini and a bag of Lay's Classic potato chips. Awesome.

Note: even though both H and I worked on Friday, we weren't able to leave Becky at the apartment because the landlords were doing their annual smoke detector/sprinkler checks. She got to go to work with H, like she did all last winter in Maine, and since he parks in a covered parking garage, she was well-shaded and comfortable.

Friday, October 16, 2009


October 10, 2009, Saturday. H found a 6K Turkey Trot in SLC for November 26 – two of them, actually: one in City Creek Canyon and one in Millcreek Canyon – and immediately started emailing my friends to tell them that I would be running for T’giving. So now I have to start running again and H, that wretch, does not because his knees won’t take it. I had my first go at it this morning and managed 30 minutes at a very slow pace without losing a lung in the process, this being my first time running above sea level. For the record: Cottonwood Heights is very hilly.

insider information

A word here about this great book we’ve been using and dog-earing ever since our first trip to Utah: the Insiders’ Guide: Salt Lake City. We have the fourth edition (copyright 2004) and I’m sure there have been updated editions released, but boy, I love this book. It has yet to steer us wrong: Fiddler’s Elbow, Little America Hotel and Towers, Ruth’s Diner, Lone Star Taqueria, Beans and Brews coffee shop, Desert Edge Brewery, Red Rock Brewery, the Shooting Star Saloon (Huntsville), Rooster’s 25th Street Brewing Co. (Ogden), Wasatch Brew Pub (Park City), etc. Aside from the food and drink listings, the book is packed with information on day trips, hikes, skiing, neighborhoods, used bookstores, you name it. Now that we’re here, I think we’d like to pick up a newer edition but in the meantime, this guidebook is our constant companion.


October 9, 2009, Friday. This morning, waking up before the sun – because we’re nestled in the foothills with the mountains looming over us to the east, not because we’re getting up early – we decided that we would rest on our laurels and have a day with no errands. I mean, look at what we’ve accomplished in nine days: sold our house, drove 2,500 miles across the country, found an apartment, practically furnished said apartment, and got me actively on the job hunting trail! We deserve a day o’ fun.

So we went to Antelope Island, a state park about seventeen miles north of SLC. Antelope Island is the largest island in the Great Salt Lake (15 miles long and 5 miles across, 44 miles of shoreline and mountains rising more than 2,000 feet above the lake. There’s a small marina, if you’re brave enough to put your boat in the lake which ranges from two to eight times as salty as the ocean, a visitors’ center, campsites, hiking and biking trails, and a historic ranch that’s extremely interesting to explore. There are American bison on the island (put there in the late 1800s), pronghorn antelope and bighorn sheep (introduced in the 1990s), bobcats, coyotes, mule deer and a plethora of birds and smaller mammals. We saw plenty of bison up close and personal and one coyote in the distance slinking around the salt flats but none of the other large mammals. I can report that Becky was largely uninterested in the bison. I’m not sure she understood what they were.

After the island … beer! At Squatter’s! And then off to the self-storage place (which is not that far from Squatter’s – and that’s not why we picked that one, by the way) for a table, a bureau, a bookcase and a desk chair. We are very close to being furnished – although the guest bedroom is a disaster, all unpacked boxes and bags – which is great. But I think we’ll spend some time at the self-storage units and try to organize them somewhat. The movers put furniture in one, and boxes in the other, but some of the boxes are caving in, and we’re afraid that some of the furniture may have suffered somewhat during the trek across country and subsequent stacking. We’ll see.

We went grocery shopping on the way home, something I really hate to do with H as he is not organized and keeps crisscrossing the store haphazardly and wandering off by himself so that it takes twice as long to do the shopping because I have to keep finding him. And, gotta tell you, we’re not so impressed with the big grocery store chain in town, Albertson’s. There’s not nearly as good a selection of items as I would have thought (or am used to) and some things seemed expensive for what we got. Maybe I need to find an Albertson’s in a swankier neighborhood than the one we hit tonight, or maybe I need to explore some of the other local chains (Smith’s, Dan’s). I know there are some specialty markets that I want to check out – Italian, Greek, Mexican – but I do not want to have to go to six different grocery stores just to do the week’s shopping. I’ll keep you posted – I know you’re fascinated.

The best part of the grocery shopping (aside from cooking our very first meal with our own dishes in our new apartment) was that H picked up ingredients for huevos rancheros and, since he is the breakfast chef of the household, looks like I’ll only be on dish patrol in the morning!

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Before I go any further, we really need to say thank you to H’s and my families and friends for all their support and love during this process. Everyone who took the time to see us before we left: Paul and Cindy, Hope, Bill and Debbie, the Quiet Dan Ski Club, Heidi and Rob, Phaedra, Steve and Shari, Greg and Jennifer, Betsy and Erik, Tom and Erin, Tony and Hillary, Heidi and Bud, Jessica and Bill. Sue, Julie and my dear former co-workers, Betsey, Paula, Kevin, Martha, Ann and Laurie. H’s tremendously generous, supportive and too numerous to mention current co-workers. And, with great love, each of our parents, our brothers, our sisters-in-law and our nieces and nephew, our aunts and uncles and cousins.

Thank you for making sure we ate in those last frenetic days, for the supportive words and umpteen supportive beers, for the road trip care packages that enabled us to only have to spend money on one meal a day during our trek out here, for the multitude of phone calls and emails to let us know that we are still connected to all of you, regardless of distance. We’re very grateful that all of you have supported us in this dream we seem to have realized, at long last.


October 8, 2009, Thursday. At last we heard from our moving truck! It’d been in Grand Junction, Colorado, for the night and planned to be at our self-storage place around midday. The plan was for H to meet the truck, and the Atlas Moving movers there, and then I’d get there as soon as I could.

I had something else to do, you see: I had an interview with a job placement firm! I had had the foresight to bring with me one skirt, one interview-caliber (and no ironing needed) blouse and a pair of heels – the recruiter was just going to have to deal with no stockings because, at that moment, they were all on a semi-truck somewhere between Grand Junction and SLC. The interview went fine, even the typing test (which was tough because it’d been DAYS since I’d been on a computer keyboard) and I actually got a phone call later Thursday afternoon about a legal assistant position for which the recruiter wanted to submit me. (We’ll see: the firm does mostly litigation – which I am not particularly inclined to do.) I’d like to not have to take the first offer I get but I’m not sure how choosy I can be in today’s economy.

After the interview I changed out of my skirt/blouse/heels and into my jeans/t-shirt/hiking boots right there in the parking lot. Classy, huh? I drove up to the self-storage place and met all the movers. Everyone is SO friendly here, regardless of how many teeth they have. (Actually, because of the dearth of teeth, I felt like I was right back in Maine.) It took the guys about two and a half hours to unload our stuff from the truck into the two storage bays and as they took stuff off, H and I put a bunch of it into our own vehicles. We took that first load to the apartment and then went back for a second trip, finally installing our bed, two leather chairs, the dining room table and chairs, all our clothing and enough kitchen stuff to last us six months. Note: no more than two people at a time can come stay with us because we only have table settings for four.

We were exhausted after all this (need I remind you about the third floor walk-up?) and even though I had promised H that we would stop eating out and start saving money by cooking at home, we decided that we were SO exhausted that it would be better to go to a nearby local taco joint rather than unpack the kitchen stuff, and then go grocery shopping, and then cook.

So we hit the Lone Star Taqueria (2265 East Fort Union Blvd., SLC). It’s awesome: wicked casual (you order at the counter and they bring the food to you) with both indoor and outdoor seating, bright colors, Mexican music blaring, cold bottled beer in a tub of ice. The joint was jumping, so packed with people that a young couple took pity on us and asked if we’d like to share their table. I had a huge, tender and perfectly spicy pork chile verde burrito, which put the Hopper’s version to shame, and H had a carne asada burrito. Next time I’m totally getting the handmade tamales – you can’t get real tamales anywhere in Maine. The couple we were sitting next to gave us some great insider information on food (for different Mexican, on the other side of town and with a mole to die for, the Red Iguana – we’ll get there soon, RPE&B, promise, I’ve saved out the $), nearby bike shops (Canyon Bicycles and Fishers) and skiing (their regular mountain is Sundance, down Provo way, with $45 weekend tickets and NO lift lines).

And how exciting is this: sleeping in our bed with sheets and pillows, and not on the floor in sleeping bags. Outstanding.

snow in solitude

October 7, 2009, Wednesday. Another clear, cold and sunny day – love it. We tossed the dog in the car and took a drive up Big Cottonwood Canyon, nearly all the way to the end to Silver Lake, just before Brighton ski resort, at the Solitude Nordic Center. Once we got there, we learned that dogs are not allowed out and about in the canyon because it’s an environmentally protected watershed so B had to guard the car instead. She’s fine with that – means she can sleep more.

We tried to hike to Lake Solitude but lost the trail and decided that bushwhacking in 8 inches of snow while wearing short cotton socks was not the best idea. Still, the skies were perfectly clear and deep blue and the aspens were just brilliant against them. It was wonderful to just get out and walk for a while.

After the little hike we split a quick sandwich from Subway and then went to the Bohemian Brewery (94 East 7200 South, Midvale). This place is newish, I guess, and I don’t think it was open when we were last in SLC because we’d never heard of it. And we pretty much scout out every brewpub in the area when we’re on vacation. The Bohemian brews Czech-style beers, only four different ones; we each had an amber which was good enough, but expensive (over $7.00 for a 20-oz. beer – it’s all low alcohol, keep your pants on). The bar ceiling was decorated with tons of dried hops – very cool – and we did get some free peanuts to snack on.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

moving in

October 6, 2009, Tuesday. Finally clear and sunny … and cold! On this day we accomplished the “move in” portion of our move to Utah. We got a P.O. box, signed up for utilities at the new apartment and signed the lease (all 22 pages of it – jeesh, corporate landlords). The apartment is great: 9-foot ceilings, ceiling fans, two bedrooms, two baths, large open living/dining area, decent sized kitchen, small balcony, lots of closets, washer/dryer in the unit, one covered parking space (for me) and plenty of first‑come‑first‑served parking spaces for H.

It’s a third floor walk-up, of course, so we after we signed the lease we then lugged all the stuff we’d carried out here in the truck and the Subaru into the apartment. Let me tell you, we’re situated at about 4,600 feet and although I don’t get altitude headaches here, that’s just enough to get me completely winded while toting boxes up 37 steps. To be fair, H was puffing pretty hard too. Makes me nervous: if I can’t breathe now, how am I going to be able to ski another 4,000 feet higher?

After moving in what little stuff we had brought with us (sleeping bags, duffel bags, financial records, aerobed, computer, B’s kennel, toys and blankets), we deemed ourselves done and went for another late lunch/early dinner at Fiddler’s Elbow, a roadhouse in the Sugarhouse neighborhood (1063 East 2100 South, SLC). It’s in a great space, a former warehouse or garage or something, one huge room with a high raftered ceiling, a couple of pool tables, a short bar and lots of tables and booths. They’ve got a sampling of all the Utah microbrews on tap – H and I decided to be cost-effective and split a pitcher of Uinta Cutthroat Pale Ale – and hearty food to accompany it. H had the chicken-fried steak special, not a huge piece of meat but yummy, with real “smashed” potatoes; I had the “San Franciscan” sandwich which was thinly sliced sirloin (darn close to Steakums, if you ask me) with peppers, cheese and horseradish mayonnaise on great crusty bread.

After all that, we went back HOME. To celebrate the first night in the new apartment we had some champagne. But because all we had with us was what we’d brought with us, we sat on the floor in front of the gas fireplace and swigged the bubbly straight from the bottle. Champagne has never tasted so good!

H has already declared that he likes this apartment better than he ever liked our Maine house. B says she would like to reserve judgment: since it’s in an apartment complex, there’s lots of car doors slamming, and people going into and out of their apartments … way more noise than this poor little dog is used to. So she woofs when she hears something, and we scold her, and she pouts. But she’s already relaxing and is thrilled to have her crate again.


October 5, 2009, Monday. Today we stopped by a local bank branch to establish a relationship there and then toured a bunch of apartment complexes, looking for one that accepted dogs and would give us a 6 month lease and wasn’t in a completely sketchy neighborhood. Despite all my pre-move online research, and our poring over the “apartments for rent” booklet we picked up, the apartment we decided upon was one that we just happened to drive by while on our bank errand.

It’s in Cottonwood Heights, south of the SLC downtown, approximately halfway between Big Cottonwood Canyon (the road to Solitude and Brighton ski resorts) and Little Cottonwood Canyon (the road to Alta and Snowbird ski resorts). To celebrate the finding of our new home – and while we waited for the new landlords to run our credit check – we had a very late lunch/early dinner at Hoppers Grill and Brewery, just down the street from our motel (7200 South 890 East, Midvale) The beers were tasty – I really do think that Utah microbrews are extremely flavorful and served at the correct temperature more often than not – I had an English-style mild ale and the red ale while H stuck with their pale ale. The food was decent too, fairly straightforward brewpub cuisine: I had a pork burrito with chile verde (good, tho' not very spicy, and huge – I gave H nearly half).

Oh: so much for clear, dry skies and sunshine here in the desert – it snowed on and off all day, finally clearing in the late afternoon.

first day

October 4, 2009, Sunday. We woke up to big thunder and spectacular lightning out over the valley, having brought our Terrible Weather Karma with us (sincere apologies to all Utahans – we really meant to leave it back on the east coast). Then it started raining, and then it started pouring rain, and then, around 9:00 a.m., it started to hail. There was a HUGE clap of thunder, nearly simultaneously with some lightning, and then all the fire alarms in the motels erupted. Awesome. And incredibly ear-piercing. Poor Becky, already scared by the morning’s thunder, was completely traumatized. We escaped to the truck for our day’s errands … but not before I noticed that SLC firefighters (there to shut off the alarm) = cute.

The first thing to do was to get some breakfast. We decided to go back to a diner we’d found on our first trip to SLC, The Other Place, an unobtrusive, rather local place located at 469 East 300 South. It was packed, full of families, students from the U (University of Utah, which is just around the corner) and neighborhood folks. I had the “Greek breakfast” which is eggs scrambled with feta, tomato and onion, plus coffee and toast, and H had a Denver omelet and diet Coke. The service is prompt and friendly; the food is hot, tasty and reasonably priced; and we plan to go back again and again.

We put another 100 miles on the poor truck on Sunday, doing drive-bys of nine different apartment complexes (and ruling out at least five of them as potential domiciles), completing the paperwork at our storage units, taking a stroll through Sugarhouse Park (one of the city’s many lovely public spaces). Finally, our work done for the day, we retired to Squatter’s (147 West 300 South) for several well-deserved and well-received beers. Big shout-out to the Quiet Dan Ski Club for their generous Squatter’s gift cards!


One thing that did keep us entertained on the long drive out here was keeping track of RV names (we also did license plates, but that's for another post). We had noticed a couple of years ago that there seemed to be a wide range of often euphemistic names for these highway behemoths; on the drive from Maine to Utah, we made a list.

We recorded 168 distinct RV names:

1. Advantage
2. Adventurer
3. Airstream
4. Alfa
5. Allegro
6. Allegro Bus
7. American Clipper
8. Arctic Fox
9. Atrium
10. Austen
11. Big Foot
12. Big Sky
13. Bighorn
14. Born Free
15. Bounder
16. Brave
17. Cameo
18. Cardinal
19. Carriage
20. Carri-Lite
21. Chalet
22. Challenger
23. Chaparral
24. Chateau
25. Chateau Sport
26. Chinook
27. Coachman
28. Concord
29. Cougar
30. Country Coach
31. Coyote
32. Cruiser
33. Cub
34. Daybreak
35. Designer
36. Discovery
37. Dolphin
38. Dutch Man
39. Dutch Star
40. Eagle
41. Edge
42. Embassy
43. Endeavor
44. Endura
45. Everest
46. Express Superlite
47. Flair
48. Four Winds
49. Freedom Elite
50. Friendship
51. Frost
52. Fun Finder
53. Georgetown
54. Gold
55. Gray Hawk
56. Gray Wolf
57. Hawkeye
58. Hideout
59. Hitchhiker
60. Hitchhiker II
61. Hornet
62. Hurricane
63. Independence
64. Intrepid
65. Itasca
66. Jamboree
67. Jay Feather
68. Jay Flight
69. Jayco
70. Journey DL
71. Kingsley
72. Kiwi
73. Kountry Aire
74. Kountry Star
75. La Palma
76. Lance
77. Land Yacht
78. Laredo
79. Layton
80. Legacy
81. Luxury
82. Lynx
83. Majestic
84. Mallard
85. Matrix
86. Melbourne
87. Microlite by Flagstaff
88. Minne
89. Miranda
90. Montana
91. Mountain Aire
92. Mountaineer
93. Navicon
94. Neptune
95. North Country
96. North Star
97. North Trail
98. Open Range
99. Outlaw
100. Outlook
101. Pace Arrow
102. Palomino
103. Pinnacle
104. Premiere
105. Presidential
106. Pusher
107. Quest
108. Qwest
109. Rambler
110. Raptor
111. Renegade
112. Road Warrior
113. Roam Free
114. Rockwood
115. r-Pod
116. Salem
117. Sand Storm
118. Sandpiper
119. Scotty
120. Searcher
121. Shadow Cruiser
122. Shamrock
123. Shasta
124. Sierra
125. Silverback by Cedar Creek
126. Southwind
127. Spirit of America
128. Sportsman
129. Spree
130. Springdale
131. Sprinter
132. Sprite
133. Stagecoach
134. Star Craft
135. Starwood
136. Summerland
137. Summit
138. Sun Burst
139. Sun Star
140. Sun Valley
141. Sun Voyager
142. Sunseeker
143. Super Nova
144. Survivor
145. Tall Grass
146. Terry
147. Tioga
148. Trail Cruiser
149. Trail Master
150. Trailrunner
151. Tuscany
152. Ultra Work-Play
153. Unihome
154. Valencia
155. Veri-Lite
156. View
157. Vision
158. Vista
159. V-Lite
160. Wildcat
161. Wilderness
162. Wildest
163. Wind Jammer
164. Windsport
165. Xtreme
166. Yellowstone
167. Zanzibar Safari
168. Zinger

We also found that many of them seemed to fall into specific categories:

Arctic Fox, Big Foot, Big Horn, Cardinal, Cougar, Coyote, Cub, Dolphin, Eagle, Gray Hawk, Gray Wolf, Hawkeye, Hornet, Jay Feather, Lynx, Mallard, Palomino, Raptor, Sandpiper, Wildcat

Place Names
Everest, Georgetown, La Palma, Laredo, Layton, Melbourne, Neptune, North Country, Open Range, Pinnacle, Salem, Sierra, Springdale, Summerland, Summit, Sun Valley, Tioga, Tuscany, Valencia, Wilderness, Yellowstone, Zanzibar Safari

Advantage, Born Free, Brave, Challenger, Discovery, Endeavor, Flair, Friendship, Independence, Intrepid, Freedom Elite, Legacy, Luxury, Majestic, Renegade, Spirit of America, Spree, Survivor, View, Vision, Wildest

Adventurer, Bounder, Cruiser, Fun Finder, Hitchhiker/II, Jay Flight, Journey, Mountaineer, Pace Arrow, Pusher, Rambler, Roam Free, Searcher, Sprinter, Trail Runner

Big Sky, Chaparral, Chinook, Daybreak, Four Winds, Frost, Gold, Hurricane, Mountain Aire, North Star, North Trail, Rockwood, Sand Storm, Shamrock, Starwood, Sun Burst, Sun Star, Sun Seeker, Super Nova, Tall Grass

My favorite: "Road Warrior," of course. (This is how we managed to drive across the country with no radio - by doing this sort of geeky, compulsive thing.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

road trip

September 30, 2009, Wednesday. I won’t repeat the nightmare closing/not-closing saga listed below, but we got up at a leisurely 6:30 a.m. and loaded our “few dearest possessions” (per H) into the truck: clean underwear, the dog and our soon to be obsolete non-powder skis. After the interlude at the title company, we were surprised by a good friend in the parking lot: she’d been driving around South Portland, looking for our truck, to give us homemade Maine-style, sugar-coated fried doughnuts, homemade chocolates for H’s dad and dog biscuits for Becky. We also stopped in at H’s work for a few last minute goodbyes and then were heading south on the Maine Turnpike at 10:27 a.m.

We saw our first Utah license plate at 11:56 a.m. and took that as a good omen. At 3:30 p.m. we crossed the Hudson River and said goodbye to New England. At 7:55 p.m., 484 miles into the trip, we arrived at H’s parents’ house in upstate New York. H’s brother and his family graciously drove 1.5 hours from Syracuse to see us, which, on a school night for the kids, was sooooo nice of them to do. We had dinner, family photos and hugs all around and then H and I crashed into bed at 10:30 p.m.

October 1, 2009, Thursday. With a long day ahead of us, we got up at 5:30 a.m. (luckily H’s parents are early birds). We had breakfast, family photos and hugs all around, and we hit the road at 6:55 a.m. We managed to hit Buffalo, NY, right at the morning rush hour, but H utilized the concentration that got him through three actuarial exams and we made it through unscathed. We then hit Cleveland (the Cuyahoga River was not on fire) just in time for the lunchtime rush hour. Also, we hit Chicago in time for the evening rush hour. It’s a gift.

It was unfortunately too dark and rainy to see the Mississippi River when we crossed it. Also unfortunate was all the roadwork that made it challenging to find/get to any motels for the night in Davenport, Iowa. At last we managed to maneuver our caravan into a brand new Comfort Inn that allowed dogs … and we even ponied up the extra $15 that allowed B to have her own queen-sized bed.

Random notes for the day: Our friends P and C had given us a Garmin as a going-away present and, although we were really only taking five roads (95, 495, 290, 90 and 80) for 2,500 miles, we were definitely enjoying the little gadget. When we lost satellite reception for the GPS for about ten minutes this day, H was quite distraught, having to go old school (you know, maps and road signs) for a bit. Also: any large farm equipment in the fields that are not easily identified as “tractors” are “combines,” according to H and A. And “Fangboner Road” is the best road name ever.

October 2, 2009, Friday. The eastern horizon was clear enough for a great sunrise this morning … and then the rain started. For most of the day we had 40 degrees and rain (our second least favorite kind of weather) although we did manage two hours of sunshine in Ohio on Thursday – the best weather of the trip to date. Unfortunately we didn’t stop at the World’s Largest Truck Stop because it was only eight miles from our Davenport, IA, motel, but it’s certainly impressive from the highway, even at 59 mph.

Western Iowa and all of Nebraska was extremely windy – blowing 30 mph and gusting to 50, making for very challenging driving – I’ve never seen so many cornhusks sailing through the air and at one rest stop, the wind ripped the truck door right out of H’s hand. The skies cleared and the winds died in the early evening, just as we neared the far western edge of Nebraska.

We stopped for refueling, dog-feeding and to answer nature’s call just over the Wyoming border, then continued to drive another 40 miles into Cheyenne to our motel … where we discovered that I had left the truck’s tailgate DOWN. OMG: we could have lost everything out the back. After that, A was no longer allowed to muck about in the bed of the truck.

This night we stayed at a Day’s Inn where we got a free upgrade because the room we were sold wasn’t clean, and this time $5 scored B her own queen bed. Dog is going to be spoiled when we try to make her sleep in her crate again!

Random note of the day: Lots of hunters in Cheyenne as mule deer season has arrived.

October 3, 2009, Saturday. You know, I’m sure that Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons are gorgeous, but the parts of Wyoming that we traveled through on Saturday were just not that interesting or pretty. We got our first view of the mountains just before 7:00 a.m., looming large and snow-capped. We crossed the Continental Divide at 9:37 a.m., at 7000 feet; at 12:12 p.m. we saw our first sign for Salt Lake City, 144 miles ahead; we crossed into Utah proper one hour later.

For me, the absolute scariest part of the whole friggin’ trip was coming down from Park City into SLC. The truck had only its own set of brakes to stop itself, and the heavy trailer, and the trailered Subaru, and that road is some wicked steep and winding, not to mention all the traffic and semi-trucks. H did a great job but I was pretty scared. Good thing I’d already chewed off all my fingernails from move stress.

SLC came into view for the first time at 2:30 p.m. and was not even too smoggy. We dropped the trailer off at U-Haul at 2:43 p.m. and called that “the Official End of the Road trip.” Now we were home.

So we then had to find a home, at least a really short-term temporary one (motel) before a short-term one (apartment) before a long-term one (house). It took us two and a half hours to find a motel in a non-sketchy part of town that accepted dogs – we rejected several, including one next to a strip club – finally arriving at the Candlewood Suites in Cottonwood Heights. We brought the houseplants into our room, all four having survived the trip (amazingly), and then went up to the Porcupine Pub & Grille (3698 East Fort Union Blvd., Cottonwood Hts.) to celebrate the end of our 2,488-mile journey across the country. Wah-frickin-hoo!!!!

Random note of the day: Mary Beth at the Candlewood Suites = awesome customer service. Also, for the record, we did the entire trip without turning on the radio or iPod or anything other than us. Who knew H was so entertainingly talkative?!


We were scheduled to close at 9:00 a.m., Wednesday, September 30th. We’d had this date and time scheduled for over a month and planned accordingly: we would go to the closing, get the check, head straight for H’s parents’ house in upstate NY, thus starting the westward trek. Here’s the Glitch: while I was running errands on Tuesday morning, H received a phone call from the broker saying that the mortgage company and/or the title company was overbooked and wouldn’t have the paperwork done for 9:00 a.m. Wednesday. There was no issue with the loan, the money was lined up fine, and it was just that the paperwork wouldn’t be ready until maybe 5:00 p.m.

H wisely opted not to tell me this until late Tuesday evening so I wouldn’t fret. Instead we fretted all Tuesday night as we pondered our options: (a) sign all the papers in a “dry closing,” which makes for problems if the numbers are wrong; (b) hang out all day Wednesday in case the closing actually happened at 5:00 p.m., which would put us behind a full day; or (c) sign a limited power of attorney for real estate to our broker so he could attend the closing on our behalf, and give instructions to wire the sale proceeds to our bank account. At 10:00 p.m. I was on the phone with a former co-worker, asking if he would prepare a limited POA for H to sign; K wasn’t going to be in the office Wednesday, but he did the work remotely and emailed the document to the office so we could sign it there if we needed it.

Our devoted broker called us Wednesday morning at 7:25 a.m. to say that the mortgage company would cover the attorneys’ fees if we signed their limited POA at 9:00 a.m. at the title company. So we scrambled to load the truck and the car, and load the car on the trailer, and then drove to the title company where we sat, with our broker, for about a half an hour because the title company hadn’t been informed that we were coming and thus were not prepared for us. Finally they pulled the paperwork together – some of which was wrong and needed to be changed – and we signed the POA to our broker and various other documents, and at last got out of there and on our way.

We got the call from our broker at 6:21 p.m. that night (while in a rest area on the New York State Thruway) that the closing went through and our house was SOLD!!! Except that it was too late and we didn’t have any confirmation that the money had been wired to our account. Our broker promised to follow up in the morning for us and we did the Dance of Joy right there in the middle of the rest area.

A couple of times the next morning (Thursday 10/1) we called the bank but the wire had still not gone through because of a math error the title company had made. We called our broker and he said he’d make some calls … finally, FINALLY, we found out that the money – no earth-shattering sum, mind you, but since we no longer owned the property it was important to us that the cash actually show up - was delivered to our account late Thursday afternoon and so finally, FINALLY, we had sold our fricking house.

NOTE: I have absolutely no compunction in saying that if you are buying or selling a house in the greater Portland, Maine, area, and you have the opportunity to work with either RMS Mortgage Services or H&D Title Company, don’t do it. We had a bad, bad experience with these companies, with mistakes where there shouldn’t have been any, and awful communication among all parties.


We made it. We're here, in SLC. And now comes the flow of posts to bring you up to speed ...

So, I was driving the Subaru around for days, coasting around on fumes, trying to get the remaining gallons of fuel in the tank down as low as possible so as to keep the weight down – we towed my car on a U-Haul trailer behind the Chevy Silverado (Z71 Off-road edition/optional 535.3L V-8, for you purists) and the less weight the better. I hate having less than a quarter tank of gas so this was quite difficult for me. H also had some errands to run: a trip to the transfer station with five large Falmouth garbage bags, a bunch of stuff for the Take-It-Or-Leave-It shed and all the cardboard boxes we didn’t use to recycling.

The movers were “scheduled” to arrive between 8-10 a.m. but actually showed up at 10:59 a.m. I was running errands and keeping Becky out of the house; H was pacing and cleaning the kitchen until they arrived. It took them five hours to empty the house and pack the truck, leaving at 4:08 p.m. The driver, James, swore that he wouldn’t be in SLC until after Monday 10/5 so we thought we could probably beat the truck to Utah.

After the movers left, our dear friends P and C stopped by with beers to say goodbye. I suspect we weren’t very good company what with the nerves from the closing issues and the general exhaustion from the last few days, but we stood around in the empty house and all toasted each other. I’m so glad they came by.

After P and C left, we were totally wired but too nervous to eat; we declined a dinner invitation and went to a local watering hole for a couple of last minute drinks. A couple beers later, we went back to the house and laid out our sleeping bags on the floor – with no pillows as they were on the moving truck. The poor dog had already been nervous for days at the disheveled house; now she was crazed with nerves because the house was totally empty. When we ran one last load of laundry, the dryer echoed crazily in the empty rooms and she fretted, pacing, having nothing to hide under or in since it was all packed. It was a bad night of sleep for all involved.