Oh, my, it’s been well over a month since I last posted. And that was the one about selling our house in Florida and buying a new home in north Georgia. What a whirlwind life has been since that time. The first half of December was taken up with clearing out and packing up our Florida home. There is no way we could have come close to our deadline to be out on the morning of the 16th if my dear sweet sister-in-law had not helped us pack. I really miss her! We lived in that house for 20 years and I’m the first to say, it was hard to give it up. But all good things come to an end. Well, maybe good things don’t always come to an end but they very often change to the unexpected. So before I get into what it’s like living here in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, I thought I’d share our last day in Florida and the [nightmare] trip to Georgia!
We had to be out by 1:00 p.m. on the 16th of December so the buyer’s realtor could do the final walk through before the closing. Of course, our plan had been to be on the road by about 8:00 a.m. One of my dearest friends (and one who was extremely hard to leave behind) was a tremendous help in assisting us in getting rid of so much stuff. Of course, half of it we now know is stuff we’re replacing because we didn’t think we’d need it. HA! But that’s okay. My friend runs a charity and helps a lot of people so that’s a good thing.
Well, let’s see if I can put the thrill, the fear, the excitement, the surprise, etc. into actual words…
Anyway, about 1:00 p.m. we had hubby’s pickup filled to the hilt in the back. I had five crated cats (among other stuff) and he had two crated cats and the dog inside his truck. The back of his pickup was full and piled up. We lined the truck bed and covered everything with a very heavy plastic tarp to protect the stuff from the elements. It was time. Oh, dear, was I really ready for this? My biggest fear at the moment was trying to figure out how to get to north Georgia without going through Atlanta again. But I get ahead…
We had a good plan. Yes, we were driving our two vehicles but we would not be alone. We hooked up our iPhones to the chargers in each vehicle and kept the phone line open with the speakers on. Yep, we were alone in the cars together. So, off we go on our new adventure. Or so we thought. A few miles down the road, heading to I75, I noticed that the plastic tarp was already coming loose on the truck (Tom was the lead driver). So we pulled into the Super Target along the way so he could get some real heavy duty tape to fasten it down even more. We parked a ways from the store out in the parking lot. It was hot (naturally), somewhere in the 80s. I was parked right behind him. I stayed with the vehicles while Tom went in the store. We left our cars running for the air conditioners would keep the animals cool. He was gone only a short time. I was sitting in my car watching him go from side to side of his truck. Then he tells me that his truck is locked and the keys are in the ignition. HOW CAN THAT BE? What do we do now. Of course we have spare keys to the vehicles. Do you think we’re nuts? Well, maybe just a bit. Because WE HAVE NO IDEA WHERE THE KEYS ARE. They’re packed somewhere. I thought I knew and thought we could get to them. So we ripped open a couple of things. Nope. Out of options. We ended up placing an emergency call for a locksmith. Yep, nice beginning, huh? After waiting a bit, the locksmith appears. He’s not surprised when he looks at the truck. He said he knows exactly how it got locked.
Looks real innocent, right? Turns out (and it never occurred to us) that Pippin got excited about being left alone in the truck and stood up on the door and pushed the lock down. And, yes, he was harnessed and seatbelted but he could still move around a bit. Oh, if we could only teach them to undo certain things. Well, it took the locksmith about one minute to get the door open and $65.00 later we’re back on the road — over two hours later. It’s now about 4:00 p.m. That’s about when we had anticipated being through Atlanta. Yep, our plans had been to be on the road by 8:00 a.m. or thereabouts.
Let me back up a bit. I had been worried about where on earth we were going to stay when we got to north Georgia since we have seven cats and one dog. The closing on our new house wasn’t scheduled until the 17th. I couldn’t let the cats out of the crates along the way. I’d be terrified someone would scoot. I was so stressed because the owners of the Georgia home said we couldn’t stay in the empty house before the closing. That meant we had no place to go. No hotel (or person for that matter) would welcome in two people with eight animals. At this point, let me sing the praises of both our realtors — the listing agent of our Florida home, Geoff Coggin, and our agent in Blairsville, Jimmy Camp, who split the cost of a cabin for us in Blairsville so we would have a place to go. Jimmy Camp rented a cabin for us for two nights so I could stop stressing (at least about that!). But all in good time. Let me get back on the road…
All was going well. Okay, we were already tired but at least we were on the road. Only about eight or nine hours to go. As we headed north, lo and behold, it began raining. Then it poured. And just to jump ahead in the story, it never stopped storming all the way up. Lovely. But we kept each other company via our phones. They were a God-send. We just didn’t feel so alone on this trip. Because we were so tired, we decided to take a few minute stretch at each rest stop. We walked Pippin but my poor kitties (who, by the way, were angels who had no accidents the entire trip — but I would have completely understood if they had) were kept in their new crates.
About 9:00 p.m. or so we stopped somewhere in south Georgia to grab something to eat. I think it might have been around Tifton or thereabouts. We got a couple of yucky burgers from a Burger King and ate standing by the cars (the rain had let up temporarily). I wasn’t about to leave my babies alone. Then we headed on again.
Finally, sometime between 11:00 and midnight, we decided to stop at a rest stop. It might have been the last one before Atlanta. Yep, we’re still not there yet. We were exhausted so we decided to try to take a cat-nap (pun intended) for about 30-45 minutes. I was able to rest my eyes a bit but I just really can’t sleep like that. I’m not a sound sleeper anyway. I had set the alarm for 45 minutes and woke Tom up. Poor guy. He suggested we stop somewhere for the night but I told him that nobody would rent us a room. Besides we were now (supposedly) not more than two or three hours away from our destination. We’ve come this far, let’s keep plodding along. So, once again, back on the freeway.
Well, we picked up the rain again outside of Atlanta. Of course, we did. And, so, on we drove for another hour or more. And guess what two extremely exhausted people did. In Atlanta, the freeway splits between I75 and I85. Well, we missed the I75 exit we were supposed to be on so we stayed on I85. Well, why not? They both would get us where we’re going. And maybe we could avoid all that Atlanta traffic. Wait! What Atlanta traffic? To the best of my recollection, it’s now about 2:00-3:00 a.m. There’s hardly any traffic. It would have been a piece of cake. And Blairsville is only about two hours from Atlanta — if you stay on I75 through it. Well, well, well. We pulled off and looked at the GPS. Hmmm, seems we could still get there by taking the I85 route. It might be just a little bit longer. But we certainly didn’t want to try and backtrack. Not at this time of the morning. All we could think of was that little cabin waiting for our arrival…
And the rain was coming down again. Keep plugging, we’ll get there. I now know why most people don’t take that route to get to Blairsville. You leave the freeway. It becomes two lanes (not bad traffic at all at 4:00 in the morning). BUT, and that is definitely a big BUT, those two lanes are tiny, winding and straight up the mountain. Oh, heaven help us. And the rains weren’t the least bit helpful. We could see drop-offs going around the curves (with no barriers, mind you). We were only able to progress at about 35-40 miles per hour and sometimes that felt like we were speeding. I believe I almost lost Tom at one point. I knew he was tired but there was a curve coming up and he wasn’t turning. I screamed into the phone. Luckily, he heard my scream and came back to life. Scared us both. In all honesty, the drive up was an absolute nightmare. I don’t see either one of us driving back down to Florida ever again if it means we have to drive back up through Atlanta again. I’ve lived in some pretty big cities — Phoenix, Dallas, Orlando — and I’ve driven through Los Angeles before but I’m not sure anything would be as bad as the Atlanta traffic.
Well, we finally made it to the cabin at 7:00 a.m. (To this day, we’re still trying to figure out why it took us so long.) It had been left open for us and a light left on. It was fabulous. I would highly recommend the Alpine Cabins in Blairsville! We got all the animals inside and, needless to say, they were a bit freaked. I’m sure they were feeling our stress and it wasn’t helping them cope in the least. You would think I would have slept like a log. Couldn’t do it. Too wound up I guess. So, I tried relaxing a bit and tried to calm down the cats. No sleep would come for me while Tom was peacefully snoring away! Anyway, that afternoon we finally attended our closing. The house was ours and we were finally mortgage free. What an amazing feeling. Or it would be when I started feeling anything again. By the time we left the closing, I had been up for 38 hours without sleep. I couldn’t tell. I must have gotten my second wind but I could tell my brain wasn’t running on all cylinders. Instead of trying to move into the house that night with no furniture, we went back to that little cabin. I felt like I could finally relax — except for stressing about the cats and the potential havoc they could wreak if they wanted to. But they were so good. Probably as traumatized as me. The best part of the cabin?
They had a big spa tub in the bedroom that I immediately put to use. FABULOUS! I want one. I was finally so relaxed. Got out of there, got my book, and sat in a most comfortable chair by the fire. I finally got some sleep that night, albeit broken up by episodes of cats.
The next morning we loaded up the animals and headed over to our new home to meet the movers. More to follow!