…the scenery never changes.

That’s from the license plate on my granddaddy’s truck (it has all of the backsides of a sled-dog team implying that the view of any dog but the leader is of a bunch of behinds).

The backside of a u-haul is what I got to look at for about 13 hours last Thursday while following David to Savannah, GA. Not just any U-Haul, mind you, but a 26-footer. That’s right. The only U-Haul available in the greater Pittsburgh area for a one-way trip was 26 feet long…meant for a 4-5 bedroom house, and we lived in a two-bedroom apartment–a sparsely furnished/decorated one at that!

The Tuesday before we moved, Nathan, Ryan and Sarah came over to help us load up. A few hours and tons of feet of rope later, the majority of our possessions were on board and secured. We didn’t even fill half of that truck. It felt kind of good in a way–whoa, so glad to see that we don’t own 26 feet of stuff. We made plenty of trips to Goodwill in the week before the move and handed off all of our perishable food to friends in order to minimize what we threw away. Yay for pseudo-green living (side note: we love to recycle, and Pittsburgh made it easy to do so. Savannah? It’s a pain! Another post for another day…)

We left Pittsburgh at 5:15am on Thursday (yes, we slept on the floor for a couple of nights…having the U-Haul completely packed was worth the sacrifice, believe me) after getting up at 3:30am to finish our last-minute packing and cleaning. I literally walked backwards as I vacuumed–right out the front door–turned off the vacuum, locked the door and headed out to the car.

As we drove down I-279 south bound, the heavy reality of our move finally started to sink in. After passing through the Fort Pitt tunnel (sorry, Kacie, I forgot to get David to blow the horn)–the last tunnel/bridge in downtown before leaving–I actually got a bit misty eyed.

Over the 16 months that we lived in Pittsburgh, we both worked hard to make it our home. Believe me, after living nearly 23 years in South Carolina, moving 600+ miles away to a new culture and climate and away from family, friends and the familiar was tough stuff. David had already moved from his Ohio home to SC for school, then out to TX for his first rotation before heading to Pittsburgh, but still, getting settled in the Burgh was an adjustment and a half–for those of you who were transplanted there, you know what I mean.

Anyhow, we made continual efforts to look at the Burgh as our home. We got familiar with the area, met people, joined a church, found doctors, settled on a bank, had our favorite grocery stores and restaurants, knew just where to go for a Starbucks jolt regardless of where we were at the time, spent plenty of time exploring the area, used North Park to our advantage, loved our apartment–even knew the maintenance guys by their first names, decorated all the walls, had friends over for game nights and movie nights…it was home.

So for a while after clearing the Fort Pitt tunnel, I got this intensely tough feeling of “leaving home.” It was pretty similar to the feeling I had when leaving Greenville, SC right after our honeymoon.

Moving along, though (pun intended), we were on our way to our new home in, Savannah, GA–720miles south of Pittsburgh. We tracked out our route on MapQuest, and it quoted the trip at about 11.5 hours. We figured that it would be manageable for a day’s trip–a tough day’s trip, but still manageable. We planned to stop twice for gas along the way and then stop in Columbia, SC to see my grandparents. I packed sandwiches and snacks for both of us so that we wouldn’t have to stop for food.

Once we got out of Pennsylvania and a good ways into West Virginia, we stopped to fill up our tanks. The CR-V? 15 gallons. The U-Haul? 60 gallons. Ouch. Thankfully David’s company is reimbursing us for our fuel expenses, but even so, it’s hard to swipe a personal card for $180 in gas (each U-Haul fill up)!

While filling up, I swung by McDonald’s (yikes, I know…we never, ever eat fast food, but we didn’t eat breakfast because we didn’t have any breakfast food left…sacrifices had to be made) to pick up a biscuit for both of us. We headed back out shortly after.

I’d say the first few hours were some of the longest because neither of us could call friends or family to chat. We had each other to talk to, of course, but we didn’t have 11.5+ hours worth of stuff to talk about–at least not that day.

The first half of the trip was especially hilly through West Virginia and Virginia, and David quickly realized (and subsequently, I did as well) that the U-Haul wasn’t a fan of going uphill. Even with the pedal floored, the U-Haul wouldn’t go more than 55 on an uphill (now remember, we’re talking about WV and VA hills, not the rolling hills of SC or NC). Once we crested a hill, though, David had to practically ride the brakes to keep the truck from getting away from him!

If my memory serves me right, we got through WV and into VA before filling up again. Another $180 into the U-Haul, another rest stop, and then my phone calls began. I called everyone whose number I had–so long as the reception held out. If I didn’t call you, I don’t have your number or for some reason the call didn’t go through. I’m sorry!

It was so nice, though, to catch up with friends that I hadn’t talked to in a while, and of course it was great to talk to the friends we’d just left behind in PA. We miss you already! Shoot, we missed you all on the way down…you’re welcome in Savannah anytime!

(part II coming up later tonight)