we drove

Yes, Sunday after Joey returned from his unsuccessful trip to the airport we decided to make a run for it.  I packed up my stuff and Dad drove us to the airport for the third time that day to pick up a rental car.  We got on the road about 2 pm and pulled into DC 15 and 1/2 hours later (16 with the time change).  You would think that with a blizzard so bad flights were cancelled for two days there'd be snow on the ground...but we arrived to a beautiful, albeit windy, sunny morning in DC.  Seriously the roads in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Maryland were totally dry.  There was a little snow in Ohio and Pennsylvania which slowed us down slightly, but neither of us saw anything that could warrant such delays and cancellations.  I guess the airlines won again.

Some highlights from the drive include the gas station attendant who upon ringing me up for two coffees and three Five Hour Energies suggested "sleep is cheaper," and cheap therapy in the form of Chumbawumba singing "I Get Knocked Down," followed by Hansen's "Mmm Bop" and then Toto's "Africa" song.  In true Melissa fashion I somehow managed to drop all of Joey's cards from his wallet outside the rest stop in Pennsylvania which blew every which way while he was off getting gas.  When he found me inside I asked him to check and make sure all his cards were there, which resulted in us in a panicked search for his American Express (we found it).  We're still reeling from the $15 toll in Ohio though and another $13.90 in Pennsylvania. 

So we got home at 6:30 am, and once we got situated with the dog sitter (and the dogs), we had about two hours to spare before the movers arrived.  Joey and I both passed out for an hour and then started preparing for the move.  Thank God the movers were professional and competent because we were so unorganized and out of it.  I wish that I had been able to pack my suitcases more deliberately because what's in them is all I'm going to see for at least six weeks but probably more like two to three months until our UAB (unaccompanied air baggage) arrives and probably five to six months before we see our HHE (household effects).  But I only had to have the movers go through three packed boxes for things I forgot to put in my suitcase - malaria pills and sunscreen - you think those might come in handy?  I'm also pretty sure we're going to get charged a boatload of cash for overweight baggage because both Joey and I packed our suitcases way beyond 50 lbs but whatever, I know I don't need fifteen sundresses to get me through six weeks but I want fifteen sundresses and if that's what makes me feel sane in our move to what feels like the final frontier so be it. 

The movers left right about five o'clock which gave Joey and me just enough time to pile the dogs in the car (who had been in their kennels all day and were beyond wired) and take them to the vet for their 48 hour pre-travel health certification.  For some reason the act of taking their temperatures, listening to their hearts and filling out the paperwork took almost two hours and cost $500 but whatever, we're finally freaking done.  Well no, there's actually about a million last minute errands to run today that we would have run Sunday but at least the dogs should be good to go. 

So after arranging for the transfer of our first-born to the vet, we were finally done for the day.  Our friends Lee and James came over for a few hours with pizza and prosecco and wine and beer and wished us a really heartfelt farewell.  It was the first time in the last few days we'd really actually reflected on leaving, rather than on the scramble to be able to leave, and I have to say I'm glad for the bottle of prosecco they brought me as well as the great company.  We passed out around ten but for some reason I am up now - nerves, probably.  Truly the last 60 hours or so have been so frenetic that its just registering now that we will be at the airport in less than twelve hours.  I'm sad that my goodbye to my parents and sisters was overshadowed by the daunting drive, but almost grateful for it as well.  I really had hoped to spend our last night in Des Moines playing games and drinking wine but at least it didn't turn into the hard, tearful farewell that I worried about.

I suppose I should at least go try to lie in bed for a while, seeing as when the alarm goes off at 7 we have to sell the car, finish packing our carry-ons (I have no idea how I'm going to fit my jewelry case.  Seriously no idea.), clean the apartment, arrange transportation to the airport, check out with our landlord and go to FSI to make photocopies of the vet documents and get a Typhoid shot.  And be at the airport no later than 3.  Nothing like the last minute.  But we still can't believe that we pulled off the packout in the first place, so tomorrow's nothing compared to today.

Anyway, thanks to everybody for the well wishes, both on the holidays and in the last few days.  We'll miss you all so much and your support really means the world as we embark on the craziest journey of our lives.  I really can't believe we're actually moving to Africa.  Today.  Here goes nothing!