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The past couple of weeks have been a dizzying array of logistics from sending notarized documents, researching pods and movers, moving vehicles, booking transport for household stuff, getting boxes, and packing. Most of it has been rather labor-intensive. I am constantly fighting my inner voice. Remember when I talked about planning trips? I’m a maximizer in making all of these silly decisions. [I came to terms with this a few years ago, when I read The Paradox of Choice (here’s good video summary of some of the points of the book), and I have some some strategies to minimize the effect, but that isn’t what this post is about.]

Through the process, there has been one logistic that I thoroughly enjoy taking care of – actually planning the cross-country trip that we will be taking from Texas to California.

I took 2 road trips “out West” about 10 years ago; both were out to the Grand Canyon with other stops along the way and back to AR. But, this is the first trip that I am planning myself. I’m excited to revisit places like the Grand Canyon, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, and Window Rock. And I’m really looking forward to checking out some new places like Santa Fe National Forest and Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks.

I’m also excited about packing up the car, putting ice in the cooler, and doing a traditional road trip. It’s possible that it has been 10 years since I’ve done this. I’ll have podcasts, audio books, and music to help make it through the first 2 legs of the trip (to Amarillo and then to Santa Fe). 

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And for those of you wondering, the apartment confirmation finally came through!

Finally, I can see the end to this awful heat. It isn’t because Dallas has cooled down at all. (No, it was 97 degrees at 9:30pm last night so we went for a swim!)

I can finally announce that M and I will be moving California – Los Angeles, or rather Hollywood, to be specific. The interviews are over, the visa is transferred, and we’re in the midst of a frantic dash to take care of a lot of moving details.

By far, the most difficult aspect has been finding a place to live. Partially, the challenge has been because it is very expensive if you want a short commute, but the most difficult requirement was finding a place with less than a year lease. In and around DC, this is pretty easy to find if you rent from landlords, rather than an apartment complex. Based on my search, I’d say 98% of LA residents renting out an apartment, guest house, or duplex require a year lease. (Perhaps if we were willing to battle an awful commute each work day we could have found a more flexible lease arrangement in the burbs; I don’t know.)

Once I finally found a potential apartment, the paperwork required to secure it was actually more than was required to buy a condo and get a mortgage in Northern Virginia. (Apparently, after reconciling yourself to the terrible traffic of L.A., you must next completely re-calibrate your expectations for getting things done in CA, which is “a litigious state” I’ve been told). Sadly, I’m still sitting in limbo, waiting to find out whether the application will be approved. One of the required application items was proof of rental history for the previous 2 years. That’s when I realized that I don’t have a scrap of paper (or contact to refer to) to prove that I was residing in Afghanistan for 10 months, and even if I did, I’m not sure it would really help my application.

In the meantime, I’m trying to assume that it will all work out ok, and seeing this video, which is pretty great, reminds me how lucky I am to have my kind of problems.

It’s great seeing real ingenuity being used  to substantially improve people’s lives.

I’ve been taking advantage of a lot of online tools as we begin thinking through the process of moving away from Dallas. There are some pretty fantastic free tools to enable researching all phases of moving (or traveling). Check some of these out:

Hipmunk allows you to easily sort through available options for flights (using even swaps idea) with great visuals.

Padmapper allows you to pull craigslist ads,, and into an easily sortable map. And the best part is adding the heat map overlay of walkability and mass transit options. This is great for large cities that you aren’t familiar with (and you can even use the heat maps for booking hotels in good locations).

TaxiFareFinder calculates what you should expect to pay for taxis (making it easier to compare with Super Shuttle or a rental).

Zilok allows you to search for anything you might want to rent (great for people who don’t want to buy items seldom used). Need a ladder to take down drapes or wall hangings? A great alternative to Craigslist, which focuses on owning items.

Homestyler allows you to create a 2D and 3D visual layout of your home (or to-be home) based on dimensions, furniture, and colors. It misses a few elements (like good office chairs), but this is a great way to think through home design issues.

Add your favorites in the comments.

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