Thursday, June 28, 2007

Nous sommes arrives

We have arrived in Grand Rapids. A long-winded account of the trip will be coming in the next few days, but I will post the basics here:

1. We packed all of our belongings
2. We closed out our lease at Shadow Creek
3. We moved all of our belongings to Denver, CO
4. We unpacked (aprox. 75% done)
5. We drove to Grand Rapids

More details to come. If anyone wants to hook up, chill out, or blow stuff up, just email or ring us on the telly.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ok... Disregard

So, that last post, ignore that. It's wrong. We decided against using the moving company. We read several bad reviews of them on various forums, and just felt uneasy about entrusting all of our worldly possessions with a company. The insurance on the items sucked. For example, if our TV were to turn up missing (which happened often, according to various reviews) we would only be able to recoup the $450 worth of damages. The insurance is based on weight, you see.

Anyway, as is our style, at the last second we changed plans and are now driving a U-Haul truck out to Denver, dragging the Contour behind. Mandy parents, wonderful people they are, are driving down from GR tonight to help us pack tomorrow (Friday). We're going to have everything packed into the U-Haul by tomorrow afternoon, run some errands in the evening, then leave Saturday morning around 6:00AM. The shot from Cinci to Denver is about 18 (based on Google Maps), but that's not considering driving a fully loaded U-Haul dragging a car. We're hoping to hit either Topeka or Saline, KS Saturday night around 7:00PM. Go to sleep. Then finish the last 6 hours early Sunday, arriving at our place mid-afternoon. We'll unpack some of the stuff Sunday, the rest on Monday, drop off the U-Haul and be done. Damn it.

Then, we're heading back to Grand Rapids in the Contour either Tuesday or Wednesday. Another two drive puts us in GR Thursday or Friday of next week. By that point, we will have packed, unpacked, and driven over 2,500 miles in a U-Haul and Contour. We'll deserve a vacation at that point, and a vacation we'll have. We plan to stick around GR for at least two weeks, hanging out with peeps and relaxing. Then we'll pack the two beeping cats in the car and drive back out to Denver.

Yes, it's crazy. Yes, gas is ridiculously high. And yes, it's going to be awesome.

We're dropping the broadband modem off tomorrow, so Mandy and I will be pretty much offline for the next week or so while we traverse the country in various vehicles. We'll post updates as time and internet access provides. If you're bored at any time starting Saturday, please give us a call. We'll have lots of talking time on our hands.

"Good mornin' America, how are you?
Don't you know me? I'm your native son!
I'm the train they call the City of New Orleans
I'll be gone 500 miles when the day is done." -Arlo Guthrie

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Travel Schedule

As promised in yesterday's post, here is our updated and semi-permanent travel schedule. The times and dates are subject to change, though, by this point, it's a pretty safe assumption that most are solid.

June 19-25 - Packing / Cleaning
June 26 or 27 - Moving company shows up, loads all of our worldy possessions on their truck and drives away.
June 28 - Turn in our keys, drive to GR
June 28 - July ?? - Hang out in GR
July ?? - Drive to Denver with cats (woot) await moving truck

That's as solid as it gets. I'll periodically update this week with some amazing, vibrant pics of us packing and cleaning our apartment. I can feel the anticipation from here.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Trip Update

I was planning to put this post up last night, but Mandy and I got stuck in a Paper Mario marathon that lasted until 1:00AM. You'll all be happy to know that we beat the game this afternoon, and Count Bleck was defeated. Rest assured.

We arrived back in Cinci Friday night about 11:30PM. After collecting our bags, we made it home about 1:30AM. The flight wasn't too bad apart from a death dive that happened about 15 minutes into the flight when the plane hit some turbulence that caused the plane to bank about 45 degrees to starboard. Everyone on the plane gasped, a few screamed, and I sighed. Other than that, the flight was good. We even landed about 10 minutes early.

An apartment has been procured. We signed the lease Friday, and after much wrangling with the certifiably insane landlady, we were handed our keys. Here is a link to the apartment on Google Maps.

The apartment is located south of Denver, in a neighborhood called Platt Park. It's a very eclectic area, complete with books stores, coffee shops, bars, live music venues, and a movie theater about five blocks away. Another very cool aspect of the location is that is near both the bus line and the light-rail transit system. Mandy's school is about 8 miles away, so that's really cool.

The apartment is in a single building. It has two bedrooms, a small kitchen, and lots of windows. The cost is a little shy of $200 less than what we are paying to live in Cinci, so that's good, especially considering neither us have jobs yet. It's also cool because it's a 6-month lease, and when the lease is up, it goes month-to-month with no additional charge. We're kind of looking at it as a place to hold up, get better aquainted with the city, and find our semi-permanent place. If we end up really liking it, we'll probably stay on through Spring. The only major downside is the fact that's ground-level and we can't have a dog, but that's being pretty nit-picky.

Here's a short video I shot of the apartment. Keep in mind it was shot on our little Cannon Powershot, so the quality totally sucks.

(An amazing tour of the new apartment)

Here are a few more pictures from the trip. I'll update the blog with more info on our moving schedule tomorrow. The important part is we're having a company move our stuff to Denver and we'll be back in GR for about two weeks over the 4th of July holiday. Hooray! This will likely be the last time we're in town until Thanksgiving.

(Hard at work looking for apartments)

(King of the mountain)

(A creek running through the Rockies)

(One of many shots of the Rockies driving W I-70)

(A comparison of the SUV we rented and the Canyonaro from The Simpsons)

(Looking on towards a bright and shining future)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Clear Air

The hunt is on. We continue to seek out apartments and cool places to see. We've found a couple places that are really good looking. They're on the pricey side, but nothing we can't handle. One is in a more urban setting, walking distance to restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. It is complete with hardwood floors, lots of windows, and all utilities are included. It's a bit of a hike to the school Mandy will be attending, so that's a concern.

The other place is a townhouse. It's beautiful, spacious, clean, and right near her school. It's more expensive than the first, which probably puts it out of the running. The other catch is it's in really suburban area. Chain restaurants, malls, and auto places are on every corner. It's right next to the mountains, and it really laid out nicely. It's a tough call either way.

We're trying to find more places to check out today, but we're not getting many responses from people. Hopefully, we'll have our decision made this afternoon and have our appliation and deposit off to the place we want to stay.

Here are a few pictures of the city.

(View of the Rockies to the west)

(One of the many beautiful homes downtown Denver)

(Driving into Denver)

The other great thing about the area is what's going on. There are so many events, nature trails, and festivals, it's been hard for us to pick which ones to check out. For example; there's a Breckenridge Film Festival tonight. This is a seasonal event where local filmmakers get together to watch films... in the beer gardens behind a microbrewery. There are little mini-magazine I've picked up that just show what's playing in the many locals film houses. The print edition of The Onion is free, it's everywhere.

The trick is going to be making enough money that we don't have to always be dipping into our savings to pay for rent and other necessities. With all the opportunity in this area, those prospects are looking good. More to come...

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Maybe the sun will shine today...

Good news on all fronts!

Last night, Athena returned to Mandy's parent's place. A portion of tuna fish was left on their doorstep while her dad looked on from the windows. She came back around 3:30 in the morning and he snatched her up and locked her in a safe in the basement. Crazy thanks go out to the Sterk parents for an entire day of hunting for the little bugger. Good job, and thanks again!

With Athena back in custody, we were able to turn our thoughts to other things. Namely: How, what, and where we're planning to spend the next two years.

We flew out of Cincinnati this morning on an express United Skywest flight. The flight was mostly crap. There are bands of storms raging across the planes states and flew through all of them. Anticipating my hatred of flying in a tiny Canadair 700 and its tendency to be tossed about like so much salad, I popped a zanax prescribed my doctor a year or so ago. It worked like a charm. It really is a bizarre drug. When I sat down to fly, I felt tense, fidgety, and keyed up. About 10 minutes after taking it, the plane could've smashed into a mountain and I doubt I would've noticed. It's especially strange because it didn't really do anything to deal my mental side, just the physical. I still had my paranoid thoughts, its just there was no physical reaction to them. For about 45 minutes, I let the plane's constant buffeting turbulence lull me to sleep. Very strange.

We arrived about 10:30AM (MDT) and proceeded to check out a house and an apartment. The house was sub-ghetto. Complete with low-hung ceilings and a neighborhood of houses beset with all manner of gates, bars, and alarm systems. The landlady seemed nice, but the cost, house, and neighborhood just didn't add up to anything promising.

The apartment we checked out was in really cool neighborhood. Near a huge park, lots of little shops, bars, and restaurants. We could fully flex our hipster legs in such a place... if it weren't so friggen small. It was about 600 sq/ft and only one bedroom. We are planning to downsize our belongings and go back to in-college mode for a while, but I'm not sure how we could happily pare down to this size. We'll see.

Tomorrow we have an appointment to check out a property at 10:00AM MDT (that's 8:00AM EST), another at 3:30PM and a couple that we can show up to look at anytime we please. We're hoping to see either a neighborhood or apartment/house that we can concentrate on on Thursday, leaving us Friday to drive out to Rocky Mountains or some such.

I'm writing from a business-center PC, so I'll have to post pics tomorrow when I can get my laptop connected to another network.

From Denver, with much love.

Monday, June 11, 2007

"Well I'm going out west where the wind blow tall..." -Tom Waits

(Denver at Twilight)

Mandy and I are flying out tomorrow morning. We should arrive in Denver around 10:00AM MDT. Our hotel provides an internet connection for $9.99 a day, which totally sucks. I'll try to keep this updated at the various free WiFi spots I can find peppered throughout the city.

I'll post some pics and thoughts as they come about.

On a sad note, our cat Athena has escaped from Mandy's parent's house and is lost somewhere in their neighborhood. The little bugger loves to dart out of open doors, run away, and hide. Our guess is she's hiding somewhere in the neighborhood right now. It's really crappy timing considering how we have to concentrate on our apartment hunting, but now we're totally distracted by the missing cat. Ah life. So full of little twisty turns.

We'll keep everyone updated on both the trip and Athena.

"And I'll be high as a kite by then." -Elton John

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Reject Wii Games

I really don't have any to add. It's hilarious. My personal favorite is "Seal Hunter." I'd play that.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Contract Done - Testing Over

This past Friday I finished out the contract with my client. My hope is that will about wrap it up for me and testing. With our impending move to Denver, I hope the three fates will shine on my job hunt and provide me with a lovely video job. My only concern about leaving the testing profession behind is money, and with Mandy heading back to school full-time, there may be a compelling reason to head back to the dark side. We'll do everything we can to stay away from that, since one of the goals of heading to Denver is for both of us to get into careers we actually enjoy.

Here's me saying goodbye to my work nameplate:

(YouTube added the crazy white wash-out at the beginning. Eh, whatayagonnado?)

Friday, June 01, 2007

It's official: Denver, CO for 2+ years

We're moving to Denver, CO. Here's the tentative plan:

  1. Matt finish work 06/01
  2. Mandy finish work 06/08
  3. Fly to Denver 06/18
  4. Explore city, look for place to live, eat food 06/18 – 06/22
  5. Fly back to CinCity 06/22
  6. Pack 06/22 – 06/27
  7. Drive to Denver with all possessions 06/27 – 06/28
  8. Unpack, return trailer, sleep 06/29 – 06/30
  9. Drive to Grand Rapids 07/01 – 07/02
  10. Chill in Grand Rapids 07/02 – 07/12
  11. Drive back to Denver 07/12 – 07/13
  12. Stay in Denver until Thanksgiving while working, entertaining guests, and going to school. Maybe get a dog.

Obviously, these dates are subject to change, but that's our tentative schedule. The big question mark in all of

this is how / if we're going to get back to Grand Rapids for the 4th of July celebrations. We may or may not, it really depends on how burnt out we are from traveling, packing, and driving around with two half-drugged, screaming cats. We're really going to try to make it down around then to see everyone, because it will likely be months before we fly back East.

Next week, I'll write more on the impetus for the move as well as some personal reflections on my time spent in CinCity and what I hope to accomplish over the next couple of years. I'm hoping Mandy will do the same.

For now: Denver dreamin' on such a summer's day…

(Ugh, all these damn formatting issues. This is what happens when you compose posts in Word.)