We've decided that I'm never allowed to help Kevin move ever again. It always ends up taking a day longer than planned when I help, and clearly I must be the cause. ;-)
This time the drama came in the form of belligerent movers. It began Monday morning with the movers being an hour and a half late. When they arrived, Kevin and Rachel met them downstairs. After initial greetings, the movers immediately started speaking about additional charges. There was the long carry charge, because there was someone parked directly in front of the house rather and they'd have to park one house over or across the (very narrow) street. Then the climbed up the stairs and said started talking about there being extra charges for the stairs. Kevin argued that the stairs had been included in the price originally quoted. They said that there were four flights of stairs instead of the two quoted. It was about this point that things started degenerating. Kevin started to look for the original contract, and the movers were telling him to sign the new contract. While all this was going on, I asked the mover, "So why were you so late?" He said, "Why don't you answer your phone?" I said that we would've if he'd called, but we've all three been here the whole time, and the phone records all incoming calls, and none were received. In fact, we'd tried calling him several times starting at 10am to see what the trouble was, and kept getting a message that his phone was disconnected. He said, "Why don't you just go back to reading your book." He said it in a brusque, dismissive manner. Kevin looked up at that point and said, "Look, it's not okay for you to come into my home and insult my guests." The mover said, "Yeah? What are you going to do about it." We all looked at each other, trying to decide whether to salvage the situation or get these people the hell out. I said, "How dare you." He said, "I told you to read your book." Kevin said, "I'm sorry. I'm going to have to ask you to leave." The mover clearly didn't think he was serious. He slowly started gathering papers. Kevin went to grab the phone. When he came back he said, "You need to leave now." The guy said something I didn't quite hear while stepping into the stairwell where he stopped. Kevin said, "No, seriously, you need to leave or I'm calling the cops." Kevin then started dialing 911. Then he started talking to the 911 dispatcher saying, "I have two movers here who have threatened me and my house guests and refuse to leave my home." Then the movers started to head downstairs. The dispatcher was asking about whether to send a squad car. Kev asked her to hang on for just a moment as they were starting to leave. The movers headed out to the truck and sat across the street, waiting.
Kev called off the cops, but they drove by about 15 minutes later anyway, just passing through. We all sat around trying to figure out if that was really as weird as it seemed. It was. Rachel called the moving company and asked them to send someone else. They argued with her saying they'd never had any problems with those guys before and that they're very nice really. She said, "Well there's a problem now and they're not welcome to move our stuff. Please send someone else." She then called her original sales agent. The agent agreed that the scenario was very bad and actually started trying to help her. But by then, we were already working on plan B.
Kevin started researching online. Rachel called the Extra Storage we'd been to for boxes yesterday. The guy there was really nice and recommended some movers the storage place had worked with for the last 14 years - the Grogan Brothers. We mobilized, trying to find a moving company that could pick up the stuff in the next 24 hours, because not only was all of this delaying our trip, the bigger problem was that the new tenant was moving in Tuesday. Kev had to be out by the end of the day, or the next morning at the latest.
We got calls from several moving companies - Viking, Northwestern, etc. - and got a few quotes. It came down to Viking, or the local Grogan Brothers. Then Kev started reading MovingScam.com. Then we decided that the best plan was to go with the locals unless they couldn't help out.
But Ron Grogan is a savior. He got his guys to come in on their day off. They were there at 10am and done by noon, with all of Kevin's stuff tucked neatly into the storage unit. It was amazing. They were all very friendly, easy-going folks. Looks like his cousin is going to be the one to drive Kev's stuff across country when he gets a full load, but in the meantime, it's gonna live for 3-5 weeks in the little storage unit at Extra Storage. If only we'd known Ron in the first place, things would've been much better, but at least this was a highly satisfactory ending to an extremely stressful 24 hour period.
Last night after moving was arranged, we headed out to Cracker Barrel for dinner, and saw Tomb Raider 2, and then stopped by Rachel's place and met her cat Nym, and her roommates cats Lisa and Paul. Nym is a cutie little brendle cat. Paul is the alpha male of the house, and would really be much happier as a single cat, but he was very nice boy with seven toes on one paw and six on another. He's a talker too. He had to tell me all about how hard it was to live with all these girl-cats. Or some thing. I only know a smattering of meow, and Paul had a yinzer accent.
So now we're finally on the road, currently driving through Kentucky, which is beautiful actually. Very lush and green with smooth roads. And the sun is setting, as a glowing pink orb in the sky, bathing Louisville in a warm glow. We're going to drive by the Louisville Slugger museum now. They've got a huge bat out front. Gotta see it.
Greetings from Albuquerque! First the bathroom, then the coffee, then the left turn. We stopped here at Napoli Coffee Company because Rick called to find out what I needed for Vegas and told us that there was free wireless access at this coffee shop. This place is the perfect little coffee shop like I remember from the days before the Starbucks overthrow. The very friendly owner reminds me a bit of Dave. He's the perfect coffee guy. We're seated in overstuffed armchairs, next to the fireplace. This place is just the sort of oasis I love and wish I could find in the bay. More welcoming with less attitude. The coffee guy actually used to live in Campbell, so he knows the area well.
Three days of driving has gotten us this far. We stopped by the bat in Louisville. What a bat! And it's right next to the actual bat factory. After that, we headed down Bardstown road and grabbed a bite of dinner at the local pub - Molly Malones. We sat on their patio outside, enjoying the warm evening, watching the world go by. I had yummy bangers and mash and a half pint of Woodpecker cider. Yummy. Then we drove on to Cave City and crashed at the local Howard Johnsons for the night. The next morning we rose and headed over to Mammoth Caves and took the 10:15 Frozen Niagra tour. After finishing the tour, we headed back to the surface where my glasses thoroughly steamed up from the humidity. Packing those away, we got back on the road and stopped at the Kentucky Action Park to ride the Alpine Slide. Basically, it's a luge that runs down a concrete slide. So we hopped the lift to the top of the mountain and floated leisurely up, and then came down at a screaming pace. It was so cool. I wished we could've done it again. On the way back to the parking lot, the guy running the lift commented on my ankh. He said, "Oh just like mine, only I forgot to put it on today." I told him mine never comes off, and he says his tarnishes too much if he wears it all night. I mentioned that mine always stays polished just by rubbing my clothes and he said he has to wear his under his clothes just so no one gets freaked out. I said, "I don't have to worry about that 'cause I live in California." He asked what part, and I said San Francisco for easy reference sake, and he shook his head and said, "Yeah, it's a lot different from here." Then we hopped the lift to ride back out to the parking lot and off towards California where pagan symbols need not be worn secretly.
Next stop was Nashville to see the Parthenon. I've seen the Elgin Marbles in the British Museum, and I've studied Greek architecture, but there's nothing like walking up to the (intact) temple, seeing the giant Athena Parthenos holding her little Nike in person. Very cool.
Back in the car and on to Nashville, where it turns out it was Elvis Week '03. Our first stop was Graceland, and wow, I say wow, sir. There was an Elvis show in the parking lot. And an Elvis contest in the Heartbreak Hotel. And there was Graceland. It was closed for the night, but since it was Elvis Week, there was still plenty of folks around. I wondered aloud to Kevin, "Will they lynch us if they find out there's no Elvis music in our car?" We grabbed a copy of the Elvis Week paper, got the tackiest souvenir I could find for Elizabeth's collection (a tough call between the "Love Me Tender" conditioning shampoo and the pink Peanut Butter and Banana sandwich recipe potholder), and headed on before our heads exploded. Elvis overload was fast approaching. The Elvis Week paper had directions to several other points of interest around town, like the Peabody Hotel and such, but not to the National Civil Right Museum where the Lorraine Motel is fully preserved just as it was after Martin Luther Kind Jr. was shot on the balcony there, save for replacing the bloodied piece of concrete where he died.
We stopped by the Peabody Hotel to see if we could find an explanation for the whole duck thing. Turns out that back in the thirties, the owner of the hotel returned from a hunting trip with his live duck decoys, and being rather liquored up, thought it would be funny to put the ducks in the lobby fountain. The guests loved it and the ducks became a Peabody Hotel tradition. They have their own penthouse, and march out to the fountain every morning at 11 and retire nightly at 5. And crowds of people come to watch them march daily. People like us. We spent the night at the Howard Johnson's in West Memphis, and came back in the morning to see the National Civil Rights Museum and wrapped things up there at 10:45 so we could race over and see the ducks march. And march they did. From the elevator to the fountain in 2 seconds flat, five little ducks boogied their way across the lobby, knowing exactly where they belonged. Memphis is an odd little town.
From there we headed towards Little Rock, finally deciding that it was worth a detour to Hot Springs. We tried as hard as we could to find the Educated Animals, but the address didn't exist. We thought perhaps it's like Platform 9 3/4 or something, but went on without success. We did find a bizarre little witch shop, full of herbs and scrying mirrors and swords and crystals. It was also inhabited by the geekiest guy I've met in ages. He was much enamored with a very tacky Athena statue they had, not to mention the Excalibur sword they had there. Wog. The actual owner came out at some point, looking every bit the part of Gandalf or Dumbledore in a hippie wrapper. He must have the patience of a saint, or a deep ability to ignore the younger guy. Next we toured the historic bathhouses, particularly the Fordyce. Amazing place. Truly Kiva of a different age. The Buckstaff was already closed for the day, so we headed to another place a little off the main row of historic bathhouses. Tubbing and massages came to $37 apiece, truly a bargain. and my massage was blissful. After that we headed back to Little Rock for a nice dinner at Macaroni Grill and then on to Conway for sleep.
And then came the big crossing, putting as many miles behind us as we could muster. Kev vetoed my suggestion of going through Dallas to Carlsbad and Roswell, so we headed across Oklahoma for the day instead. Oklahoma is a whole lotta nothing, with Oklahoma City in the middle. It's not much of a city, even compared to Louisville or Memphis or Nashville. We stopped by the Murrah Federal Building Memorial site. They really covered their bases with that memorial. But Oklahoma City was both blazingly hot and excessively humid. Staying longer than necessary was out of the question. So back in the car and on the road, into Amarillo for dinner. We stopped at the Cracker Barrel to return our book on tape (Minority Report and other Phillip K. Dick stories), and decided to have dinner as well. Still yummy.
Which brings us to today. Albuquerque. We're not quite sure how today and tomorrow will play out, but Monday is the Grand Canyon and Tuesday and Wednesday are Vegas to see Zumanity and O. Then L.A., then Mountain View. We're better than half way home. And we're full of good coffee and ready to hit the road again.