Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The trip North

I like to think that I am a semi-pro mover. I have packed up and moved the house so many times that everything we own has its own dedicated plastic moving box. So, for the move from Normal to Ottawa I had the grand idea that instead of packing gradually, I would work full time up until the last week, and then spend my final week in Normal doing nothing but packing. Unfortunately, an emergency trip to Cleveland cut two days out of the packing week and wrecked the whole calm and orderly vibe that I had going on.

However, we were able to leave Normal (kind of) on schedule. I drove the Odyssey with the kids and Argos and Danny drove the Subaru. We loaded our stuff into an ABF van which supposedly would reach Ottawa in 5 days on its own. I have been severely missing the beach, so our plan was to spend a few days at the beach in Old Orchard Beach, Maine while our stuff wended its way to Ottawa.

Maine was awesome! The weather was beautiful. We laid around on the beach all day and ate a lot of lobster and salt water taffy at night. The kids had fun playing shuffleboard, minigolf and riding the rollercoasters on the boardwalk. Oddly enough, at least half of the people on the beach and in town were speaking quebecois. There were also several places in town selling poutine.

We were scheduled to cross the border on Friday to meet the moving truck in Ottawa. However, calling ABF revealed that our moving van was nowhere close to Canada, and would not be arriving until Monday. So, we stayed an extra day in Maine and crossed the border on Saturday. The drive Northwest was a convoluted path through small towns and mountains. On the way we got to drive through a rainbow and under a hot air balloon rally.

Apparently, we had done everything wrong with respect to my work visa. Although the consulate in Detroit accepted our $400 a month ago, they had failed to process our paperwork. After a lengthy detainment at the border in Quebec, the immigration officers processed us and bestowed upon me my work visa. Also, it only cost $125 (however, we will not be reimbursed the remaining $275).

We arrived late at night in Ottawa to our giant empty house. As we were leaving Normal, I had freaked out about the possibility that the moving van would be delayed/stolen, so we had packed the Subaru with sleeping bags, an air mattress, the last box out of the kitchen and the last box out of the bathroom. This turned out to be very fortunate. Monday, the truck did not arrive because ABF had loaded it with a shipment from Quizno's that got it turned back at the border. Tuesday the truck arrived in Canada, but was detained by customs. Wednesday, we spent the day at customs, but had difficulty getting the van because Danny and I could not prove that we were married, and although I had the work visa, he signed the ABF contract. Also, the immigration officers at the border had neglected to process our vehicles, which required more trips to the customs office. Finally, after 5 days of sleeping on the floor, the moving van showed up.