Originally published June 13, 2021
As promised, I have separated the hectic two-week period into its own chapter because it needs to be appreciated for its logistical magnificence. As I left off, Tyler called me on Friday, April 30 at roughly 4:30 in the afternoon to announce that he not only had a great interview, but that he had been offered a job during the interview and he had accepted the position which would begin June 1.
Now, even though I was the partner pushing for us to move to the East Coast with my (not so) subtle texts of amazing properties in Nova Scotia, I was still a little shocked at the revelation that we were actually going to take a step into the unknown. Tyler got home from work and we did our typical happy dance through the house for about 20 minutes before getting pseudo-serious and talking about how we should approach this move. We promptly ordered pizza for delivery, grabbed a pad of lined paper and started talking about next steps. When in doubt, a list is probably a good place to start.
Our list ended up being short at the beginning:
Seems simple, right? Well, it actually was. In my brief years on earth, I have found that the old adage, "Life is hard" is not always true. Sometimes life just works out and it is my belief that when things just seem to fall in place, you are probably on the right path. But I digress.
By the end of the night I had typed up our resignation letters and were sitting on the counter to take to work on Monday. Later that week when we both had spoken to our employers, the news was met with congratulations and best wishes for us. We were both very grateful to our employers for making the experience easy to us. I had also texted our landlord and he was more than happy to let us cut our lease early- and he even gave me back $500 since we left two weeks early in the month (he was the nicest landlord I have ever had!). Now things were getting real!
I spent some of Friday night looking online for rentals in Halifax but I quickly became overwhelmed with the process. First, I was unfamiliar with Halifax and where we would like to be situated as neither of us had been there before. Secondly, due to Covid restrictions many places required an application process and many of them would not entertain out of province tenants who hadn't gone through the quarantine process. So I spent the evening thinking about alternative options and weighing the costs of each option to determine which one would give us the best value. I also texted our neighbor, Dan, to ask if he might be able to scout some boxes from his work at Cardinal Health. Dan, ever the champ, didn't only scout the boxes but brought three packs of 25 boxes right to our doorstep over the next few days.
On Sunday, we talked a lot about our accommodation and moving options and decided that it was worth looking into an RV that we could possibly live in for the long term. We knew we wanted to buy land as soon as possible (winter is coming!) and an RV is the most affordable option to provide running water, heat and a relatively comfortable home. We would be able to quarantine in the trailer with groceries we purchased for the two week period and we could sell most of our furniture and save on cross-country moving costs since we wouldn't be building a house for a few years and wouldn't need the furniture.
I looked up the local RV dealership, 1000 Islands RV Center, and saw that their models were affordable and within our price range. I called them and we ended up meeting with a salesperson that afternoon. We were shown a few models, one of which had only arrived that week and was not even advertised. Of course we chose this model because it was beautiful and had everything we needed (including limited carpeting- we had our dog Abby to consider and she sheds A LOT). We opted to purchase a Cummins generator as well as the 4 year warranty package that covered all electrical, plumbing and appliances since we were planning on living in the unit year round for a few years. From what I have read in retrospect, this warranty is actually worthwhile and we are pretty happy we chose it. Financially speaking, we opted to finance the purchase of the camper so we could keep our cash available for purchasing a property without a mortgage. Even at this rate, we will be paying the same amount we were paying monthly in rent to have it paid off quickly. Because RVs are considered accessory/recreational purchases, we had to ask Tyler's parents to co-sign for our application. We are forever grateful that they trusted us with this responsibility as we wouldn't have been eligible otherwise. A note to our financial system, I don't understand why we wouldn't be approved for financing when we have more cash available than what we are purchasing, good jobs and good credit scores and no debt...but I digress.
So effectively by Sunday afternoon we had a new home, a way to transport some of our belongings and our resignation letters. We were making good progress on the list!
On Sunday evening Tyler was in full beast mode searching for a new truck. Needless to say, the young carpenter was seriously enthusiastic about being told we had to have a truck so we could pull the trailer, and he took up the task with gusto. By the end of the evening he had an appointment lined up for me to visit Lakeview Motors in Westport the next morning before work and I test drove a very sturdy looking 2010 Ford F-150 that was listed for $6999.99. With no concerns in sight, we requested to have our neighborhood mechanic, Runnings Automotive, inspect the vehicle just to get verification that that it could make the long haul from Ontario to Nova Scotia with a RV payload in tow. I put a cash deposit down on the truck and seriously started pumping good vibrations into the universe that the inspection went smoothly. Tyler also found a cab for the truck for $25 that was being sold by Hotel Dieu in Kingston, so I picked it up the next morning as well as some clamps from Canadian Tire to hold it down. As Tyler would say, you can never have too many clamps!
That brings us to the first Tuesday. We had accommodations sorted, a truck lined up, our jobs were notified and we were in full packing mode. We lived in Gananoque, Ontario, perhaps the most charming town in the province. The small town buy-and-sell network on Facebook is vigorously active and was exceptionally responsive to my posts selling all sorts of household items. I posted all the big furniture, then books and odds-and-sods and then items that would be given away or donated. Even this experience was a smooth one for us, most of our buyers showed up on time and paid the agreed upon amount. In the end our garage sale brought in over $3000.
The rest of the first week of May went by in a blur as I posted items and cleaned in the mornings and we packed boxes in the evening. We reached out to a few friends that had connections in Nova Scotia and ended up having two choices for a location for our quarantine, a family relation of my friend Pam from the Gananoque Public Library and a cottage belonging to Tyler's co-worker, Ben. We decided to take Ben up on his offer because we wouldn't have an opportunity to come across anyone else (for quarantine safety) and he had a spot with water and electrical hook ups for us. We were so grateful to both Ben and Pam for taking the time to help us as we were required by law to provide an address for our quarantine and this took away the stress of finding a suitable place. I drafted a letter for Ben to sign giving us proof of residency and explicit permission to use his property and Tyler brought it into work for him to sign.
Tyler got a call last Monday from his old boss to say that our friend Ben had passed away on Sunday. Ben was a wonderful person and a good friend, the type to help anyone out if he could. We are very saddened by this loss as we looked forward to getting to know him and his fiancée better. Our deepest condolences to his fiancée and his family during this difficult time.
At some point that week I started requesting quotes online from cross-country moving companies and was actively corresponding via email to determine the cost and arrange the date for pick up. I paid the deposit for a pick up on May 15, which gave us a hard deadline to have everything packed before we left on May 16. We tried to clean out our fridge of all the food, packed up the freezer items and dropped them off at my sister Petra's house. We ate nothing but hamburgers, hotdogs and take out for two weeks because it was fast, cheap and easy. By Friday, our truck was ready with only a gentle warning from Lorne at Running's Auto that we should take it easy on her but that she seemed capable of the trip. We finished up the paperwork with our salesperson and drove Roxie home!
On the Monday of the second week our trailer was ready for pick up and we managed to swing the installation of a sway-bar hitch designed to prevent the trailer from moving too much at high speeds/high winds. This ran us an additional $800 but Tyler's parents and my family Whatsapp chat were full of warnings and encouragement that it would be a good investment. In retrospect, the hitch was worth the investment and we were very happy to have the peace of mind. Tyler and I got a full tour of the trailer from the dealership, showing us all the features of our 24 foot mobile home. I learned how to hook up the hitch, how to empty the sewage system, how to hook up to a municipal water supply or use the water holding tank, how to change the propane and switch supplies when needed. It was actually a great tutorial for us because neither of us have ever camped in such a luxurious fashion before. They hooked up the trailer to our new truck and we drove it home via the scenic route to see how it all traveled. It was thrilling.
Now I can say with confidence that I am beginning to understand the aging process because after one week of this dance we were starting to lose steam. Fortunately, we had frontloaded the process so heavily that we were able to slow down a little by the second week and just focus on packing everything well. Now that we had the truck and trailer, I loaded up all the garbage to take to the dump and items for donation and did an early morning run before work. Tyler packed all of our camping equipment our shed supplies and his tools into the back of the truck and we started loading boxes into the trailer. We didn't bother to "set up" the trailer, rather we opted to just stack it very tightly with the matching white boxes so that nothing would shift in transit. Soon the only items left in the apartment was the butcher shop (we will touch on that later) and the stubborn brown couch that refused to sell.
We didn't get a real opportunity to say goodbye to our friends in Gananoque as we really had to focus on our move and there were still Covid restrictions in place, but there are so many wonderful people in the town who made my life really special over the past four years. We were able to visit briefly with Cliff and Glo, my girlfriends Jen and Grace and a great socially-distanced bonfire with the crew at Gan Brewing Company put on by the wonderful Christine. Leaving everyone was probably the most difficult part of moving away but fortunately I didn't really have enough time to process what that would mean until we were already in quarantine. I think the sentiment is generally bittersweet, it is a wonderful feeling to know you mutually love and respect so many people in a certain community and that is never going to change regardless of how far away you are.
We had to make a special trip to Service Ontario to change the registration on our vehicles. We opted to move all of our vehicles into both our names and put insurance under Tyler. We ended up paying only $60 more in insurance for the Yaris, Ford and the Trailer than I alone paid in insurance. We also followed the family's advice and got a CAA Atlantic membership just in case. This was mostly for peace of mind, but having a CAA membership when you live in a rural place is always a good idea, especially because it isn't very expensive.
Saturday arrived and we were visited by Tyler's parents who generously offered to help us with the final push for the movers who were primarily there to transport the veritable butcher shop that we had in our sunroom. The butcher shop belonged to Tyler's parents and we had asked to purchase the equipment from them when they retired in January. We are planning on using this equipment as a commercial kitchen/butcher shop for our farming operation. They showed up around 10 am and we had the entire process done by 11:30 when the movers arrived. It was really wonderful to have the opportunity to visit with them and we were so grateful for the help because we were tired! The movers were three men from Turkey and were super friendly and worked very quickly. They even wrapped up some of our more delicate equipment in large blankets, giving us peace of mind that none of the refrigeration compressors were going to get badly damaged in the move.
After the movers left with our stuff we went to the grocery store. We stocked up on everything we imagined we needed for two weeks and went a little overboard- we ran a $380 grocery bill! We packed all the groceries into the fridge in the camper. We had two filled coolers as well so we put those and the milk crates of pantry items in my Yaris, which would also be transporting our dog Abby, our 3 houseplants and myself inside with our bikes on the back and canoe on top. It might have been a laughable sight but my Yaris is a champ and didn't complain once through the whole trip.
That evening we went for a final farewell dinner at Petra and Eric's house and had dinner with them outside on the patio and drop off the keys to Tyler's Ford Fiesta. Petra offered to sell the Fiesta for us so we wouldn't have to worry about it. Petra made us an amazing meal of skewers, salad, her famous mushroom risotto and a stiff drink. It was starting to hit us that we were going to be leaving them. We were particularly sad to leave our nephew, Gus, who is two years old. We have been lucky to be a big part of his life so far and we are mostly saddened about losing the closeness of this relationship with him as he gets older. We said our final goodbyes that evening and gave Gus his favorite lantern with a clay loon statue that I made that he always played with when he would come over to our house.
On our way home from Petra's, we realized that Canadian Tire closed early (thanks Covid) and we couldn't pick up our solar panel. We decided to forego leaving at 6 am so that we could wait until CT opened and we could pick it up. Fortunately for us, once Petra found this out she promptly invited us over for breakfast so we got to say goodbye all over again (and thus Gus' trauma begins...). Petra made us an amazing breakfast and we popped over to Canadian Tire to pick up our panel. We loaded up the car with the canoe and the bikes, fueled up and went on our way!
In my next chapter, I'll be covering our travel to Nova Scotia and our quarantine period. If you are enjoying the story, feel free to sign up for my newsletter and you'll get an email each time I write something new.