Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Driving the Oregon Trail

We are driving all the way to Oregon so there's definitely planning that has to go into such a trip. We have to make sure we buy enough ammunition, spare wagon parts and clothing at the general store which can be hard on a carpenter's salary. We have to stop and talk to people to get their opinion on what we're doing and how we're doing it and most of all, we have to ready the oxen.

Oh wait, sorry, we're taking the trail for real by car, not on pix-elated computer screens by wagon. My mistake.


I'll probably never stop making Oregon Trail jokes so you should just go ahead and accept that. The original OT traveled from Independence, MO (where I almost booked our Day 1 hotel just for kicks) to Oregon City, OR. Our fair city of Tualatin lies just 11 miles west of Oregon City so we're going a bit further than the true OT but we're also in a car and not a wagon so I think we'll make it like the true explorers we are.

And there's your geography lesson for the day.

Recall this little image:

A photo posted by Rennay Cooke Marshall (@rnay225) on

We have a lot of ground to cover so like the planner that I am, I signed up to handle logistics. I had a few things to keep in mind like how many hours can I and the pets comfortably travel (The Colonel loves to drive so he doesn't count), how many miles will that equate to per day, where are there actual cities to stay the night in within those limitations (Nebraska is not known as a bustling metropolis), are the hotels pet friendly, oh yeah, how much does it cost?

That may sound like a lot but I love a good plan and got right to work. I decided we'd like to travel for around 8 hours per day so I didn't go crazy and my cats didn't pee themselves. It turns out only 1 day will be a bit longer than that which I'm counting in the win column. In looking at hotels, I found that the most affordable, well rated by TripAdvisor and pet friendly ones all fell under the Wyndham Group of hotels. I contacted the company to see about discounts and although they weren't jumping at the opportunity to give me free stays, they signed me up for the rewards program and pointed me to rates where I can stay in budget and earn extra points towards future free stays. An added bonus of the hotels I chose is free breakfast. That's a must for people like us and will allow us to save money on the first meal of the day, eat well so we aren't starved after only a couple hours on the road and stock up on "free" fruit and other snack food for the ride. #clutch.

Now for the big unveiling. Here's the travel plan I've come up with:

Day 1: 7 hours 27 minutes and 513 miles from Louisville, KY to Kansas City, MO
Day 2: 9 hours 29 minutes and 648 miles from Kansas City, MO to Cheyenne, WY (remember what I said about Nebraska? We won't be stopping there unless we see something super awesome like the World's Largest Rubberband Ball)
Day 3: 6 hours 30 minutes and 443 miles from Cheyenne, WY to Salt Lake City, UT.
I thought we'd need a shorter day after nearly 10 hours the day before and I've always wanted to see SLC.

Book of Mormon anyone?

Day 4: 6 hours 40 minutes and 468 miles from Salt Lake City, UT to Baker City, OR.
Funny story about deciding on Baker City. Boise is only 4-5 hours from SLC and we wanted a longer leg than that. Eastern Oregon isn't crawling with cities so it was between Baker City, La Grande or Pendleton. Of the 3, Baker City is the only one that had a single hotel that allowed cats. And seriously, it's just 1 hotel. The other pet friendlies in the area are weirdly dog only to the point they even write ABSOLUTELY no cats. Um, alright...

Day 5: 4 hours 57 minutes and 313 miles to our new home in Tualatin! This is also our move in day so we'll be able to get there and get our keys right away so no more hotel stays! Also, no more beds...because we won't have one. But that's another story.

So what do you think? Did I miss anything?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

What About Your Stuff?

Let's take the emotions down a notch from my last post and get back to that moving across the country thing.

As of last night we're officially not homeless! Hooray! We got the approval for an apartment in a fun little town called Tualatin which is a few miles southwest of Portland, aka the 'burbs. The apartment is within walking distance of lots of stores (including a grocery store and farmer's market, top priority obvs) and is centrally located to a lap swimming pool, 3 (count em, THREE) parks and 2 hot yoga studios. I'm pretty pumped to say the least.

But back to the moving thing.

The easiest way to move your stuff across the country is to not have a lot of stuff to move across the country. Seriously. Read any moving blog or website or whatever and they will tell you to sell your shit. Or donate it, or whatever you have to do to get rid of it because hauling it all is expensive and the farther you go the more expensive it is. I can't remember which of the many moving tips posts it was, but I really liked their idea of the 2 year test. Look at what you're considering taking with you and if it's something you will probably replace in 2 years or less (whether or not you were planning to move) toss it. The Colonel and I have crappy furniture. It's not terrible but it's still early 20s stuff that was all bought from some kind of discount/clearance store which we were hoping to upgrade anyway once we became adults. We clearly aren't adults yet but what better way to give yourself the push to grow up than by trying to do a hugely expensive thing on a budget?

Whatever won't fit in our cars or in a box to ship is getting a new home. And speaking of cars, we have 2 of them that both need to get to a new home. Driving 2 cars means filling up 2 cars and since we aren't in a Prius and a Tesla that will cost money. We calculated the costs and decided to ship one car and drive the other. Aside from me being a snot and not wanting the miles on my car, we decided to ship mine because it's an SUV and can fit a lot more stuff than The Colonel's sedan. Why does this matter? Because another fun money saving tip is to load the shipped car to the brim with your stuff and kill 2 birds with 1 stone. *tip: make sure the company shipping your car will allow that. Some companies require additional insurance or have guidelines regarding what type and how much of your personal belongings can tag along for free.

We also got a few big moving boxes to send things like blankets, winter coats, sweaters, movies, books and wedding dresses (ok, there's just one) the old fashioned way. Those things tend to take up a lot of space since they're so bulky but aside from books they're pretty light which makes shipping them pretty inexpensive. It also helps we're moving in May so we don't immediately need winter wear and blankets.

If at all possible, sell your stuff. I'm a big fan of donation (hello nonprofit employee) but there is that small matter of arriving in your new home with no furniture and potentially no money to buy new stuff. Also, if you're moving to an apartment, see what amenities they already have. Most apartments have some version of overhead lighting so lamps may not be necessary and check out the appliance situation. Is a microwave built in? Washer and dryer hook ups alone or will you have the actual units? Knowing this information will keep you from dragging along extra items for no real reason.

Renting remotely is hard by the way so don't get discouraged like me and stay positive. Explore all of your options and make a plan B in case you get out there and are in fact homeless. Find someone you trust and who likes you a lot to hold onto those boxes you plan to ship until you have an address. Pester the crap out of your potential landlord. Yes, it is probably annoying for them but if they can keep their cool and help you during an incredibly stressful time, they'll probably do the same if you have a major disaster (i.e. your basement floods 2 feet and ruins your dryer and furnace and leaves the floor covered in smelly mud...not that anything like that has ever happened to me). That is the kind of landlord you want. Ask for pictures and video if you can. Clarify EVERYTHING and make a list of all of your questions. Some people place a lot of emphasis on reviews and I read them but don't necessarily take them to heart. In my experience, people one write reviews when they're really angry or really happy. Otherwise, they don't waste their time.  

So there's where we are now. I have 8 work days left, will be on the road in 13 and *hopefully* in the PDX in a mere 18! Time sure is flying!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Why I Hate the Ironman

I figure it's about time to put this out there and I'm pretty sure if you know me really well, you won't be surprised by any of what I have to say.

I've been having a lot of issues lately. I've been working hard with my counselor to determine who I really am and what brings me true joy in life and it's been surprising, frustrating, difficult, fun, exhausting, enlightening, exciting and sum it up in a few words.

I spent some time in Puerto Rico back in March and finally got back into doing some writing while I was out there. It wasn't anything long and certainly not anything particularly newsworthy but it made me feel good. I enjoy writing. When I was young I used to write short fiction stories on my mom's computer whenever I had free time and though a lot of them remained unfinished, they were always fun for me and surprisingly effortless to compose. Blogging has never quite been the same as my true writing and I've been working hard to figure out why. I read a lot of my old posts from the past couple of years and once I stopped trying to fight my brain to figure out what I didn't like I figured it out.

It was glaringly obvious.

The last day in Puerto Rico, I wrote a lot. Probably the most profound thing I put on paper was this, "Sometimes I feel like I'm living in a hell of my own making." I listen to a daily "motivational" podcast called The Daily Boost (check it out if you can use 9 minutes of "motivation" during the week) and he says a lot of things that stick with me. Lately I've been stuck on an episode where he said "What if what you think you want isn't what you really want."

Holy Shit. Mind Blown.

(I promise this is all about to come together)

In my last post I whined about how nobody was asking me anything about my big move across the country. And I wasn't being entirely honest about that. People are asking me questions, or rather one question. What about the Ironman?

The first time I got this question I rolled my eyes and ignored the text. The second time I logged off of Facebook (which has become more and more common for me these days) and quit answering messages for a while. The more I thought about it, the angrier I got. These people are all wonderful people and I don't mean to come off as a total asshole but what was incredibly frustrating and actually hurtful for me was that nobody was asking about me. When I sat down to think more about it I had a lightbulb moment and realized they were asking about my next big race because I'd trained them to. I have turned myself into nothing but races and fitness goals and athletic achievements. My entire self worth, all self esteem and emotional being is tied to what event I have coming up.

Training took over my life. And not in a good way.

As embarrassing as it is, I will confess that it has been at least a year since I've truly sat down and just read a book. I have more unfinished writing pieces than I care to count, and they're really good pieces that deserve to be finished. I can't tell you the last hot yoga class I took (yes, I know this is technically still fitness but it's quite mental for me too). I hardly bake anymore and only cook what's fast and healthy regardless of how good it tastes. I don't just lay on the floor and play with my dog. The Colonel and I don't sit and play cards while listening to music like we used to because I never have time.

Bottom line: I don't do any of the things I enjoy. 

You probably know that I'm obsessed with the Canadian tv show Boundless. One of the stars of the show, Turbo, brilliantly says during a particularly awful and grueling event "If it's not fun, why do it?" I've really been trying to focus on that and I'm realizing that most of my life is full of things I force myself to do for no real reason at all.

Case in point, Ironman Louisville. When training for endurance events (or I guess anything) gets hard and generally unpleasant you have to talk yourself through it and as I and a bunch of other people like to say "remember your why". Why the hell are you doing this? When I was running along in my solo 20 miler before my last marathon I didn't have to ask myself why I was out there until probably somewhere after mile 18 (a good sign!). I had that ever so popular thought of Jesus Christ what the hell am I doing to myself out here? I marathon because it's fun for me. I don't know why and I don't especially care but I genuinely enjoy it. Even during the race when after mile 15 I couldn't keep down a single solid and after mile 26 watched as my goal time slipped out of my hands I was having fun. I wasn't worrying about anything in particular, I wasn't even thinking about anything. I was just being grateful. For my surroundings, for my body, for my life.

When I hop onto my detested bike (I like Dottie, I just don't care to spend hours on end with her...) I immediately have to remember my why. But through some soul searching and deep convos with my counselor I learned that my Iron-why wasn't actually a legitimate why. I signed up for Ironman to be proud of myself. I wanted an accomplishment that was so big I could never doubt myself again or feel down about myself. If I finished an Ironman, I wouldn't be myself anymore. I'd be someone better.

But here's the thing. I should already be proud of myself. I have accomplishments, some that are quite big. Why do I need to finish something "even bigger"? If I'm not proud of any of my marathons, of my first triathlon, of learning to ride a bike, of losing 60 pounds, of graduating college in 4 years with honors, of not marrying an asshole, of becoming a certified trainer or of anything else I've ever done, why oh why do I think Ironman will be any different? The issue is with me, with my own self and my own brain and no amount of physical punishment (yes, to some degree endurance sports can be defined as punishment) is going to change that. In my current mind, I'll never be fast enough or go far enough. I was training for Ironman and already looking forward to finishing ultramarathons. I always say I prefer to run far because I'm not fast. Nobody asks about your time for an ultra but they always seem to ask for a 5K (which I think are way harder than marathons btw).

Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.

I don't remember who said that quote but it's fucking brilliant. I have consented to let myself feel like I must complete longer and longer races to actually be somebody. But in doing that I've lost the pretty great somebody I actually am. I want to be well rounded. I like to read and write and exercise. I like to run but I hate to bike. I'll swim for an hour or so, I'll ride for an hour at best and I'll run slowly for days. So why don't I just do that? Why can't I or anyone just do what we want to do, what we like to do, what we live to do?

I have surrounded myself with some pretty great people, but I've also inadvertently surrounded myself with people who are my particular version of krytonite. People who are overly competitive, people who reek of false modesty (i.e. Omg I ran such a sloooow 7 minute mile today...), people who, like me, force themselves to do things they don't enjoy doing. And when you're around people with the same issues as you, it's hard to see when there's something wrong. I don't determine what's wrong with other people but I do know there's something wrong in my life.

I downloaded a new book on my kindle. I'm writing again. I've already googled yoga studios near our potential new apartment. I'm ready to be who I am and to do things I like. So in case it wasn't obvious, I won't be doing Ironman this year.

And for that matter, I may not do it any year.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Logistics of a 2300 Mile Move

As self centered as I can sometimes be, I have to say I'm a little disappointed. After spending almost 8 years in Louisville (holy crap has it really been that long!) I was really expecting to have made very close connections. I was expecting to have friends who upon hearing the news would start asking me questions.

When are you leaving?
Where will you live?
Do you have a job lined up?
How will you get your stuff there?
Do you need help?

If I'd heard my friend was moving quite literally across the country, I'd like to think I would be asking those questions. Aside from my sister and 1 or 2 people I honestly haven't known for very long, nobody really seems to be asking anything. That makes me sad because in my sensitivity and dramatics, it comes off as not caring. I mean, surely they don't have anything going on in their lives that could need more attention than my move right? *I'm being dramatic here, I know people have important things going on and probably don't want to stress me or themselves out worse than we already are. Work with me.


I'm really into logistics which makes me assume I'd ask way too many questions about someone's impending move which would likely stress them to the max. Nonetheless, I love to make things happen, especially if they're things that shouldn't happen or at least shouldn't happen easily. So for those of you who can appreciate logistics and tiny details, here's an outline of the way we are hoping going to make this 2,300 mile (or 2,317...but who's counting) move happen.

What Needs to Move?

Ah, the purging process. Every time we move, and I'm using a collective we in hopes you do this too, the first thing we think of is getting rid of all of our unnecessary clutter. Luckily for us, I attempt to declutter regularly and before our last move 2 ish years ago we trashed a TON of stuff.

In a short distance move like our last one (6.8 miles...but again, who's counting?) you can pretty much load all your stuff in a car/truck/van and drive back and forth until you've moved it all. If you have a few extra boxes, no big deal. I've never facilitated a long haul before other than that time I moved to Texas but luckily my mom has moved us to 3 states throughout my life and had some words of wisdom. Here are some things to keep in mind as you prepare for a big move:

  • You have to pay to move things. If the cost of the item is less than the cost to move it, it may not be worth it.
  • Sentimental items also have value and the cost ratio changes significantly when it comes to these things.
  • In a year or two, will you probably be buying this item again? Leave it. If you know you want to buy a new couch or kitchen table in the near future, sell what you've got and buy a new one when you get to your destination. You'll save the cost of shipping big furniture and you get new stuff. Win.
  • How flexible are you? If you're moving on a budget, you'll need to get yogi with it and become as flexible as possible. Can you leave your bed and use an air mattress for a couple of weeks? How comfortable are you towing a trailer behind your car to save money on movers? Stretch it out.
In our case, we don't have a lot of things that need to move. I don't love our furniture, aside from my mattress and as luck would have it, a local organization called Cedar Lake sent a post card saying they'll have a truck in our neighborhood that will pick up donations. Hello, perfect timing! We've bagged up about 6 bags of clothes and are now boxing up things like printers (why do we have so many?), dishes (ditto) and linens (extra towels, blankets etc.). We will need to make a call on some of our furniture but I'm seeing the coffee and end tables, dining room set and extra desk heading to a nice new home. This is how things are divided as of now:

To Take

  • Ourselves (duh)
  • Our pets...all 3 of them (triple duh)
  • Both cars
  • Spring/Summer Clothes
  • A set of dishware and silverware
  • A set of linens
  • Sentimental stuff (photos, journals, books)
  • Some small kitchen appliances
  • Bikes (what kind of Portlanders would we be without bikes?)
To Leave aka Donate
  • Above mentioned furniture
  • Fall/Winter Clothes
  • Some books
  • Treadmill (possibly sell since it's brand new)
  • Dressers/Nightstand
  • Washer/Dryer
  • Couch/Chair
  • Bed
  • Microwave (depends on whether or not our new place has one)
  • Probably some other things I'm forgetting
It helps to move when you are still young enough to only have discount furniture you purchased from American Freight, Big Lots or stuff you found because it's much easier to say so long to it. Plus cheap stuff is lighter.

I'll be back soon to chat about HOW you actually get the things you decide to take to the new location but you'll need to give me a chance to actually figure that out first ;)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Oregon Trail

A lot of things have changed.

Like, a lot of them.

The biggest thing that has (or at least is about to) changed is my location. In a few short weeks The Colonel and I will be embarking on a real live Oregon Trail and moving to Portland!

A photo posted by Rennay Cooke Marshall (@rnay225) on

To make a long story short, we've been talking about moving for ages but wanted to do it the right way (i.e. save up money, purge excess crap, visit a few cities, pick one, get jobs etc.). You know what they say about best laid plans right? Turns out The Colonel accepted a transfer to Portland at the end of last week and now we have roughly a month to be moved the 2300 miles to Oregon.

Holy moly.

Interestingly, a few weeks ago I started watching My City's Just Not That Into Me on FYI and thought just for kicks to take their My City Personality Test. My results?

I mean, is anyone surprised? I love mountains. I like to be outside. I hate humidity and hot hot summers. Why wouldn't I be in one of these cities? The Colonel took the quiz too and matched 2 out of 3. We're apparently meant to be.

Anyway, logistics are currently being figured out in a panic in an orderly and adult fashion but I have figured out that my last day at work will be May 8th and we will be taking trip 1 of 2 out west starting May 12th...or 13th...ok so that part isn't figured out yet.

I haven't felt entirely like blogging lately but I thought a 2300 mile cross country move seemed particularly blog-worthy. Do you agree?

Keep up with me on instagram and see the photos of the adventure well before I get the time to sit and write about it. And tell me, have you ever been out west?