Landed in Austin…and Lessons Learned on the Way

Welcome to Texas

We celebrated our first week in  Austin this Labor Day weekend, and what a week (well, actually two weeks) it’s been!  We LOVE it here and by love it, I mean I have personally turned into the adult-sized version of Jessica’s daily affirmations  – Our house is great, the weather is great, the food is better than great, our neighbors are great, and did I mention that Austin is just freakin’ great? 😉

And now that we’ve arrived in this land of perpetual “great-ness,” we can both look back and chuckle at the path we took to get here…

Choosing the Moving Truck

We pulled up at the Penske truck rental office on a Saturday morning and I instantly knew I had made a mistake.  The only truck in the lot with an open trailer was the size of a small semi.  My partner-in-crime immediately identified it as ours, to which I replied, “No, no, I only reserved the twenty-six foot truck.”  He, the architect with a clear concept of space and size, temporarily humored me, but then was quick to point out the photo next to the 26 ft truck on the office sizing chart.  He also then pointed out one more line – “For 3-5 bedroom homes.”  What?!?

By way of full disclosure, I have never actually moved myself interstate.  I either pack it all into my car and ship the leftovers via UPS or, yes, I *gasp* hire someone to move me.  I’ve even hired someone to move my car before so I could fly.  I am a great packer though – I have got the fold and roll down to a science and, while I sometimes do buy boxes, I rarely ever have to buy packing materials because I have become an expert in the clothing-to-glassware ratio necessary to prevent breakage along the way.  Needless to say, however, I have never rented a moving truck.  But I am an attorney.  I navigate the complexities of legal and contractual obligations all day.  Reserving a Penske truck on a website shouldn’t be that difficult, right?

Wrong – clearly.  When the website said “3-5 rooms,” I read it as bedroom, living room, kitchen, dining room…ok, that’s 4 rooms right there.  Nope, they meant 3-5 BED rooms.  Our truck was big enough to hold the entire contents of our one-bedroom apartment, my partner’s wood- and metal-working studio, and have enough room leftover to drive my Honda CR-V into the back of it (had we wanted to).  It was so big there were three steps to get into it and, when you turned off the engine, some hydraulic thing made it lower so that you could get out of it easier!  One look at that giant, diesel tank and partner-in-crime asked if we could exchange it for a smaller truck.

We ended up with a perfectly full 16 ft truck, and a promise that never again would I be the one to reserve a rental truck.


My “in-laws” live in Southern Missouri a little less than half way between Des Moines, Iowa and Austin, Texas.  So we planned our trip around visiting them – He drives the truck down to Missouri on Monday, I meet him Thursday to finish up some work, and then his mother joins us on the drive from MO to TX on Friday.  That would give us the entire weekend to unload, clean, unpack before we had to take his mom to the airport Monday.  Perfecto!

Again, wrong – 4pm Friday afternoon, about 6 hours into our drive (with at least 3 more to go), with two anxious dogs next to me in the front seat, and I’m stuck in Dallas-Fort Worth rush hour traffic.  To give this some perspective, DFW was rated 5th worst metros for traffic in the entire United States.  We were going so slow that I didn’t even get mad when my partner starts texting me while driving the (now, only 16 foot) Penske truck.  I mean, we were both at a complete standstill so technically I count that as “stopped” for the purposes of texting safety.

Note to self – don’t move from Austin for a long, long time.  And when you do, check arrival times and traffic patterns before planning your exit strategy…

Clean Doesn’t Always Mean Clean

Our lease specifically said “professional cleaning” would be done before we moved in.  The previous tenants had a puppy…and as indicated by the “one-hitter” pipe left in a windowsill, also had a smoking habit.  Apparently “professional cleaning” did not include removal of said “one-hitter” from the windowsill, nor dust, dirt, grime, stains from any other parts of the unit either.

Enter – purple, rubber-gloved “mother-in-law” armed with a Costco-sized bottle of bleach.  “I’ll clean, you two unpack.”  About 5 hours later, we hear repeated hollow coughing from behind the closed bathroom door.  We knocked to make sure she was OK and when she opened the door the fumes from the bleach were enough to make both of our eyes water!  We banned her from using anymore bleach or even cleaning for the rest of that day, and the next day had to threaten to withhold the bleach bottle until she agreed to wear a painter’s fume mask (I learned a lot about my partner that day, as I watched him square off with his 5’2″ mother over whether or not she would make him give her the bleach back).

Our place looks amazing and is cleaner than any professional probably would have gotten it.  Next time we sign a lease, we’ll leave out the professional cleaning and insert “bleach and painter’s masks provided”  🙂


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