Our three final days in Chicago

Fred and the guys at Ehrhardt's going over the towing system
Fred and the guys at Ehrhardt’s going over the towing system

Thursday-Saturday, May 29-31 — Wow – we are moved out!  Knowing in advance that we would have some loose ends that needed to be tied up (like returning the cable boxes back to RCN, delivering some of our plants to their new caregivers, etc.) we planned to stick around the area through the end of the week to wrap things up.  This has proved invaluable as there is still some work to be done on the RV, too – matching up the tow plate on the front of the car that was installed by Blue Ox in Nebraska with the tow arm that Tim & Dave and the Ehrhardt’s guys installed on the back of the RV.  We ordered a bike rack that can mount on the back of either the RV or the Subaru, so they are installing that, a mud flap, and a few other small items.

Final night dinner with family & friends
Final night dinner at Anne’s – Fred, Claire & Kyle, Anne, Tom & Eric

We are very much enjoying being Anne’s roommates for these last three days in Chicago. She’s a dear friend who has generously opened her home up completely to us and all of our remaining odds & ends.  She also happens to have an extra car, so an additional set of wheels has been invaluable as once again we’ve had to split up to get things done.  And while we are doing some running around, we are also able to sleep in, relax in the mornings, and enjoy some final dinners with friends and family.  We will miss Chicago and our friends very much, but at this point we are very excited to launch – we will do so in the morning.

Three crazy days!!

Monday-Wednesday, May 26-28 — Divide and conquer – that’s what we have to do to make deadlines and complete everything on our list. We need to be out of our condo by Wednesday, the 28th, so here’s how we spent Monday through Wednesday:

Blue Ox in Pender, Nebraska
Blue Ox world headquarters in Pender

Fred –  Drove 520 miles to Pender, Nebraska, to have Blue Ox install the towing system on our new Subaru – seems they haven’t built a model tow system for any 2014 Subaru Crosstreks yet, so if we bring it out to their factory in Pender, we’ll get the tow package for free – a great deal for us except that we need to be in Pender at the same time we have our move scheduled.  So Fred broke in the new Subaru on the drive out, and then on Tuesday when the Blue Ox guys were working to build our prototype tow plate, he drove 100 more miles in a loaner car up to Sioux Falls to pay the taxes on the Subaru and get the title then 100 miles back.  Then Wednesday late morning he started the 520 mile trip back to Chicago — make that Evanston, for as of Wednesday we are homeless, so staying with our dear friend, Anne, who’s giving us her guest bedroom for a few days. We figured we needed a couple more days here in Chicago to tie up loose ends and say final farewells before we launch on Sunday, June 1.  [Launch – this is now a noun and a verb for us.]

The piles are overtaking the house!
The piles are overtaking the house!
Our packers' handiwork
Our packers’ handiwork
Move out day!
Wednesday move day!

Laura – Meanwhile back at the condo, I was sorting household goods into what comes with us vs. what goes into storage for two years.  Tuesday was packing day, so for eight hours Ivan and Jose from our moving company carefully packed up our entire house.  When I went to bed Tuesday night, I looked out at my view of the city one last time, then realized all my pillows were packed, so I just curled up with my duvet (in the ‘comes with us’ pile) and fell promptly asleep on top of the crappy RV mattress.  Wednesday started early, as have most mornings for the past two weeks.  Unfortunately by 5 a.m. my mind starts racing with all the excitement of our journey that is to come, and my head begins swirling thinking about the many To-Dos still left to do.  Our movers arrived at 8 a.m. to begin wrapping up the furniture, then by 9 a.m. four strong men were taking everything down the elevator and loading it into the truck.  By noon the job was complete!  I finished cleaning up the condo and was out of there around 4 p.m.

Anne & I opened a much-needed bottle of wine as soon as we got to her house and made dinner, something I hadn’t been able to do in over a week which is so unlike me.  I was very happy to be back in a kitchen again, even though my own is all packed up and will soon be in a big warehouse for the next two years.  We waited for Fred who showed up around 8:30 p.m. road weary and hungry, but with all the towing gear we will need on the Subaru.  I fell asleep on Anne’s sofa and missed the epic double-overtime Game 5 Blackhawks goal to keep us in the Stanley Cup playoff finals, but fortunately they whooped loudly, I woke up to see the replay, then promptly went to bed and was asleep again before my head hit the pillow.

These have been crazy, exhausting days for us, but they’re behind us now, and we are so keen to wrap up our time here, visit with a few friends and family members one more time, and then hit the open road on Sunday!

5 days ’til move-out; going away for the weekend?!?!!

Another big load goes out to the RV
Another big load from home going to the RV

Friday, May 23 — We’re taking a big load of stuff out to the RV today before we head down to Chenoa for the weekend.  Are we nuts leaving for 48 hours when we’re moving out and putting all our life’s contents into a storage facility for two years?!?  I think so!!!  But nonetheless we have Fred’s 40th high school class reunion this weekend as well as nephew Andrew’s high school graduation, and both those events will be fun, so off we go to load some more stuff into Charley then on down to Chenoa….

First loads… final coffee

Final coffee with the Chocolate Moon boys
Final coffee with the Chocolate Moon guys for a while….

May 22 — We were up and at ’em early to join the Chocolate Moon guys for morning coffee at Elijah’s. Fred has known these guys for 15+ years now, and when he lived out in Elmhurst, joined them on many mornings to ensure a good start to his day.  Since moving into the city, however, visits out to the ‘burbs to meet up with the boys have been less frequent.  Still, Fred finds the steadiness of this group and easy friendships a cherished part of the rhythm that is our life in Chicago.

As with our “NOT Goodbye” dinner with my city girlfriends last week, saying ‘goodbye’ is not something we want to do as we’ll be back in Chicago often over the next couple of years… goodbyes seem so final.  Instead, as John K. said as we were all leaving, “You know where to find us.”  Indeed, this group of guy friends will be thought of often when we’re Out There, especially during the Super Bowl, March Madness, Indy 500, Kentucky Derby and other sporting contests when occasion calls for drawing the winning team/racer/horse out of Jerry O.’s neatly-labeled jar of contenders.  Guys, we do know where to find you, and we’ll see you the next time we’re back in town….

While out in the vicinity of where our RV was, we dropped off an SUV load of “stuff” to take along in Charley. Our journey is becoming more and more real as we are now in serious packing mode back home.

Our new “Toad”

Fred with our new Subaru "toad" (towed vehicle)
Fred with our new Subaru – this will be our “toad” (towed vehicle) behind Charley

Thursday, May 22 — Indeed this was a busy day for us!  We also went out to Naperville to pick up our new “toad” (towed vehicle; many also call it a “dinghy”) – a 2014 Subaru Crosstrek.  This is going to be a great little SUV for us to make runs into nearby towns for groceries and to do laundry, drive around inside the national parks and park areas, drive to trailheads for hiking, and to drive back to Chicago when necessary.

Fred put a lot of research into what we needed for a tow vehicle and came up with this Crosstrek.  It’s a manual transmission model which is required for towing, at least for this vehicle; we need to put it into Neutral while towing.  [You can tow other automatic transmission vehicles but those models are heavier (translation: higher fuel costs for Charley) and we didn’t think as sporty as the Crosstrek.]  We are happy with our decision and excited to have yet another important item checked off our list.

               TOAD – CHECK!

T-11 days until we launch; we’re picking up speed…!

Tuesday, May 20 — We made two trips out to Charley today to take out our bikes as well as our mattress.  Not surprisingly, the mattress you get in an RV is not all that comfortable, so we are taking our good one from our home and swapping it out with the crappy one in the RV.  Crappy goes into storage for two years along with the rest of our household goods, and we get to sleep on our nice queen-size mattress from home in comfort.

And meanwhile back at home, the condo looks like… well, it looks like we’re getting ready to move out!  Fortunately it’s already sold, and move-out day is just eight days away!  As we keep reminding ourselves, “…it will all get done….”

Picking up Charley

Fred installing our new SD plates on Charley
Fred installing our new SD plates on Charley
Fred beginning to pack in his clothes into one of his three drawers
Fred packing his clothes into one of his three drawers

Friday, May 16 — Today we brought Charley out of winter hibernation down at Pontiac RV and drove him back up to Ehrhardt’s RV in Des Plaines for de-winterizing and some other work.  Although we’ve had a few summer-like days this spring, today felt like winter all over again which was just plain cruel, for we’ve already had enough of this particularly harsh winter!  Donned in cold-weather clothing still, we easily made the two-hour drive down to Pontiac and started to pack in the beginnings of what we will need to live in Charley full-time for two years – clothing, bedding, some kitchen items, etc.  We drove back up to Chicagoland were we dropped Charley off in the good and capable hands of Tim & Dave and the crew at Ehrhardt’s.  We reviewed with them some of the work we want to have done on Charley including installing the Blue Ox towing system we need to use to tow our car, installing a mud flap to cut down on mud & rocks being sprayed off the back of Charley and onto the front of our “toad” (towed vehicle), installing a bike rack, and performing various other little tasks to get Charley ready for our two-year road trip.  The pace of what we’re doing is now starting to pick up as there is a lot to do now in a short amount of time.  Ready or not, our “launch” is just two weeks away!