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Moving to San Francisco (part one)

Started: 2016-04-30 17:42:48

Submitted: 2016-04-30 21:07:50

Visibility: World-readable

In which the intrepid narrator packs up and moves back to California

After returning from China, I had nearly a week in Colorado before heading to San Francisco to start my new job. I spent my time recovering from jet lag, meeting with some of my old coworkers, and packing for my multi-stage move to San Francisco. I also managed to squeeze in a weekend family ski trip to Keystone -- in which we actually skied (except for Calvin, who did not seem especially interested in skiing). I found a condo on Airbnb within walking distance of the main lifts, and skied at Keystone on Saturday after setting up our au pair Montse with her first-ever ski lesson and rentals.

Snowy view from Keystone's base area
Snowy view from Keystone's base area

Then it snowed eight inches overnight, and we dropped by A-Basin for a morning of skiing on Sunday before heading back to Boulder.

Montezuma on a powder day at A-Basin
Montezuma on a powder day at A-Basin

To actually transport myself from Boulder to San Francisco, I had two main options: I could fly (and ship my car), or I could drive; in either case, my new employer would pay my expenses. Several factors encouraged me to drive:

  • I wanted to take my car with me, on the theory that, while I would plan to take transit for my daily commute, it's still difficult to get around all but the most-dense urban areas without a car. (In San Francisco, the Market Street Subway serves the downtown, Financial District, and Embarcadero well, but coverage in the rest of the city is spotty.) The way my relocation package ended up, my employer would pay for one of my cars to be shipped, and we thought it would make sense to start out with two cars, especially since our family no longer fits in my car, at least until we have a chance to reevaluate the situation.
  • Since I needed to move out to San Francisco four months in advance of the rest of the family, I needed some stuff with me, and the easiest way to do that was to pack it in my car and drive. (I did look at other moving options, and the cost to ship a well-packed crate from Boulder to San Francisco was about $1500, so I decided I didn't really need to spend that since we were moving the rest of our stuff a few months later.)
  • Kiesa wanted me to take Willow with me, so that she wouldn't have to deal with Willow while trying to sell the house. (Willow tends to like me better anyway, and is quite skittish around our children.) It's theoretically possible to take a cat on an airplane but this did not seem like it'd be a good idea with Willow.

[We are now a one-cat family; Kiesa surrendered Cat5 to the Humane Society in the fall, when Cat5's medical problems (most notably, her tendency to defecate at random places in the house where Julian could crawl and investigate the exciting new object that appeared on the floor within his reach) became intolerable.]

I looked at the drive from Boulder to San Francisco, which weighed in at about 1255 miles miles, which seemed tractable for a two-day drive (at least if I didn't have children in the car to worry about). My new employer would pay for mileage, hotels, and meals along the way, as part of the comprehensive relocation package.

I looked at the map carefully and saw that Park City, Utah was roughly at the half-way point in the middle of the drive. (It was really at the 40% point of the drive, but I figured it was close enough.) This gave me an idea: the Epic Local ski pass I bought included the Park City ski area, now that the whole thing is operated by Vail. I could squish my driving into two days, separated by two days skiing in the middle, arriving in San Francisco on Friday night, before starting my new job the following Monday morning. I found a kennel in Park City that would take Willow while I skied, which seemed like a better idea than letting her hang out in my hotel room.

Jaeger packs to move to San Francisco
Jaeger packs to move to San Francisco

I spent Monday packing and loading my car with everything I thought I might need (and could fit in my car) for two months in a furnished apartment followed by two months in whatever probably-unfurnished dwelling we found as a permanent residence. Kiesa packed several boxes of kitchen supplies for me, and I ended up with my Rav4 comfortably snug, but not overpacked. I strapped my bike to the back and put my skis in the carrier on the top.

On Tuesday morning, 2 February, the day I was planning on leaving, one flaw emerged in my plan: A major snowstorm had hit the Rocky Mountains, resulting in blizzard conditions that forced I-80 to close in Wyoming. In Colorado the roads were slow and snowy but open, so I woke up early and took the obvious alternate route, following I-70 up and over the Rockies. When I left Boulder there was a foot of snow on my driveway, which seemed like a sign of something, but by the time I left my neighborhood the roads were snowy and slow but passable.

My route replayed in reverse the route my family took to move to Colorado in 1991. The drive gave me a chance to see for one last time all of the places I've visited over the years in Colorado (or at least the places that I could see from the highway). I drove up and down Floyd Hill, through Idaho Springs, past Empire and Georgetown and Loveland Ski Area, though the Eisenhower Tunnel, through Summit County, up and over Vail Pass, past Vail and Eagle (where an accident caused west-bound traffic to be diverted on a slow frontage road for five miles). The snow diminished as I drove west; it was sunny when I stopped for an early lunch in Vail. When I reached Glenwood Canyon it was overcast again, but the road was merely wet.

I turned off I-70 at Rifle and headed north on a series of two-lane state highways. The sky was gray and cold, and the rolling hills were drab and dormant. When I stopped for gas in Rangely the sides of my car were coated in ice kicked up from the road.

Motoko after driving through a Colorado snow storm
Motoko after driving through a Colorado snow storm

I joined US 40 and drove through Dinosaur and crossed the state line into Utah. I found myself in the Uintah Basin, nestled below the Uintah mountains to the north (where I climbed Kings Peak in 2011). I continued driving west, into the setting sun, through the rolling hills speckled with farming and drilling and mining.

Willow did well on the drive; she was a little distressed to be cooped up in her travel crate but soon settled down for the drive. I could, if the road cooperated, reach back and scratch her head through the front of the cage, which she seemed to appreciate.

At length I arrived in Park City, around 17:00 in the evening, after driving since just after 07:00 that morning. I checked Willow into the kennel and went to find my own food and hotel for the night (and a micro-USB cable to charge my phone, because I forgot to bring one with me).