• U-Haul boxes being moved by a forklift

      Moving out (Photo- Reg Green)

      All my children, and I have five of them (don’t ask me why) envy me.

      By Reg Green

      Normally they hide it so well that only I can detect it. But today it was on full view. Let me explain.

      Part of the lore of our family is how my wife and I relocated to California from the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC on the coldest night that had ever been recorded in places en route, so cold in fact that, although our Arlington apartment looked straight down on Interstate 66, which leads almost directly due west, the road was closed because of sheets of black ice.

      Instead, we lightheartedly (San Francisco here we come!) planned a slightly longer route by driving south and then picking up another route through Tennessee and Arkansas. It was already late when we started out and a bitterly cold beautiful day had turned into a bitterly cold ugly night.

      Unfortunately, the weather services, also more lighthearted in those days, had neglected to note that the more southerly roads to the west were closed too.

      Daunted only slightly — the Donner party had fared somewhat worse, we remembered — we drove south through the black night to Georgia and — dammit! — their Interstates were closed too. Further south we went and visions of another classic way of reaching San Francisco — rounding Cape Horn — came to mind. And so when we probed into Alabama and a police barrier leading to I-20 had been shoved aside just enough to allow space for a car to squeeze past, I hesitated for only a moment.

      We made good progress in the gray dawn — good progress that is until a policeman flagged us down and with a minimum of conversation handed us a ticket. Arriving in California with a bad driving record was not how I’d visualized it.

      Under his watchful eye we took the next exit and continued our journey south, eventually having what would have been a classic brunch of beignets at a sidewalk cafe in New Orleans if our fingers had not been blue with cold.

      The rest of the journey alongside the Mexican border was memorable only for a chaos of jackknifed trucks in the polar ice cap that covered the hills of west Texas and eventually all came right as we drove over the Bay Bridge where the only surprise in the golden state was the banner headline on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle: “Rain, Rain and More Rain.”

      Why am I boring you with all this? Well, this afternoon, my daughter Eleanor and husband Matt started their relocation from La Cañada to DC in the middle of the day with the thermometer at 104° F and facing the highest temperatures ever recorded for many places on the way.

      As I said, pure envy.

      PS My first official act in California was to write to Alabama claiming that because the police barrier had left a wide enough passage, I should be forgiven for thinking the closure had been lifted. A week or two later I received a note from Hammie Gascon, sheriff, cancelling the ticket and wishing me a nice start in my new state.


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