The check-out process with the property manager went smoother than expected. I had everything in the exact cabinet that was specified, grouped together, so that when she went through her checklist, it would be quick and efficient. I had broken a bowl and 2 cups, but she didn't act like that was a big deal and finished in 1 hour (she had planned 2).
We were packed completely by noon so at 1:00, Andrew and I went to our favorite sushi place, one last time, to get some takeout for lunch. The wait was long, but they brought us yummy Miso soup while we waited. It was perfect for the crisp, cold day. He and I were able to have a really good heart-to-heart about the exciting things that lay in store for him over the next few years. I enjoyed it.
We took the dog on a few laps around the cul-de-sac to get his little legs tired before his long journey in a doggie carrier under our seats.
Our rides arrived and we filled 2 trucks with our 18 checked bags and 8 carryon. When we got to the airport, it took 3 baggage handlers to help us get checked in. Luckily, Greg and I are Priority members and we could skip the long lines. It took us about 30 minutes (and several thousands of dollars) to check in and we walked right up to the counter.
10 large camping duffle bags
1 snowboarding bag
1 ski bag
1 desktop computer
1 DJ mix board
Our carryon consisted of:
1. Alex's guitar
2. A large "purse" that held my huge ceramic bowl, laptop, iPad and carryon needs
3. A small suitcase full of XBox and PS3 plus their accessories
4. Greg's briefcase, including his laptop
5. An additional small suitcase with all my ceramic dishes (salsa bowl, red handmade bowls, etc)
6. A duffle bag for the kids' handheld electronics
7. A camera backpack
8. The dog in his bag
We were loaded down like pack horses.
Our biggest fear was the transition through customs when we first arrive into the US. You have to unload all your bags from the luggage carousel and then haul them to the next baggage drop off. We would also need to get the dog approved by customs while hauling all this crap. All in a span of 2 hours.
We had one airport baggage handler and his gigantic cart filled to the top with our duffle bags and suitcases. We had 2 carts loaded down with suitcases, boxes and carryon bags. We trucked through the airport in one oversized train. When we got to the area where they checked the dog, all they wanted to see was our paperwork and then just needed to "check to see that he's alive". Really? Who brings a dead dog? Whatever. Around more corners and through additional narrow halls (trying not to lose any bags off our carts), and we finally were able to unload everything at the baggage drop area.
Things went so smoothly and we had plenty of time to change into summer clothes, brush our teeth and get some Cheetos before boarding our next flight. Greg took Scooter to the dog park at the airport and they were flagged by security on their way back in so it took them longer than intended, but we were still well within our 2 hour layover. Whew!
We arrived to Phoenix and all, but one, of our bags came out of the baggage carousel first. We counted and recounted - pulled out our luggage tags and counted again. Sure enough, we were short one suitcase. We waited and waited, and it finally came sliding down the conveyer belt. Yes! We made it all 25 bags, 1 dog, and 2 kids. We were home.
We had 3 minivans arrive to take us home. It was nice to see friendly faces after that long trip. So good to see old friends.
Our excitement was building as we drove the 15 minutes to our "new" old house. We had so much remodeling done following the water damage, that we were anxious to see all the changes. I was a little stressed (ok a lot stressed) about the mess we would be walking into with all of our crap. My mom nailed it when she said, "It's like you're moving into a new house where the previous family left all their stuff." EXACTLY! It had been stressing me out for weeks.
Much to my mental and emotional relief, I walked into MY house. It was clean and orderly. Things were in their place save a few boxes neatly lining the walls. It was CLEAN! You have no idea what that felt like. It was such a huge relief. It made it feel like we were home.
We walked through the house and were in awe with all the changes. Thank goodness for an amazing contractor. Remodeling a house from oversees is a little stressful. We had to take an attitude of 'it is what it is' and hope for the best. This turned out so much better than I even imagined. It is perfect!
Within minutes of us enjoying the peace and beauty in our "new" old home, all the luggage was hauled out of cars. Furniture was moved so that the bags could be sprawled out in the living room. Now it was crazy - but so very much LESS crazy than I envisioned.
We enjoyed a take out lunch of In-and-Out Burger with friends at our house before heading out in search of new appliances.