First off, let me say that the decision to leave was a difficult one. Leaving our friends, family and the only state we've ever lived in for an unfamiliar, imaginary place called Philadelphia was hard. I have to thank my husband Evan for being the most supportive, incredible partner a woman could ever have. Lucky for us, his job is literally mobile, as he is knee deep in mobile app development with a startup he founded called Dazzmobile. (if anyone needs a kickass mobile iPhone / Android app for their next event/conference, let me know!)
Our trusty ride, a Scion XB aka Buster, was packed as fully as possible (see above). We needed a few weeks worth of clothes and what not to keep us going, as well as some things to drop off in Southern California. I don't know how it got so full.
Sadly we had a mishap with our Uhaul box and delayed our trip a day. Our plan was to pack our box on Tuesday evening, 1/14. They switched our location without telling us and we ended up having to leave Thursday afternoon since we had to pack our box that morning.
Here's a little summary of our drive including all the pet friendly hotels/motels we stayed at as we drove across the country. We had to find all pet friendly motels and I also wanted smoke free. And knowing we were driving in the dead of winter, we picked the logical choice. South! As far south as possible without going to Mexico.
1st stop: Oxnard, CA
Distance: 350 miles
2nd Stop: Palm Springs
Distance: 170 miles Route: Hwy 101 to 10 East. Motel: Monroe Hotel $76/night + $15/night pet fee This was such a great hotel. Very pet friendly, clean, easy to find and just a really nice place to stay. I highly recommend staying here.
3rd stop: El Paso
Distance: 697 miles Route: 10 East. Hotel: Guesthouse Suites El Paso, $72/night This was also a nice, clean hotel. Inexpensive and great if you're looking for an all suite hotel.
4th stop: Austin
Distance: 576 miles; LONGEST drive ever! So flat, just so flat. Route: 10 East Hotel: Hyatt Austin, a fabulous hotel, right downtown. We used Hotwire to book a nicer hotel (at half the price!) since we ended up staying 2 nights instead of 1 like the others. Austin was awesome. One of the few suburb like cities that I would definitely live in. The stores were cool, the food was delicious and everything about Austin is just cool. See my pic for Breakfast Taco!
5th stop: New Orleans
508 miles Route: 10 East Hotel: Clarion New Orleans, 1300 Canal Street. NOT the best spot to stay. It was cheap so I booked it since we went all out in Austin. I would stay in the French Quarter next time, instead of saving money to stay outside of it. Hotel room was fine but the area was just too iffy. Not right in the fun part of town if you know what I mean.
New Orleans was awesome. A beautiful city, delicious food and such a cool place to hang out. I just wish we had more than 2 nights to spend there. It's definitely on my list to go back and take 3-4 days to see more of the city. While you're there, be sure to stop at District Donuts for sliders and super tasty donuts.
6th stop: Charlotte
713 miles Route: 85 North Hotel: Quality Inn & Suites Spartanburg. Really nice, clean hotel. Very pet friendly and free breakfast!
Sadly this is where the weather turned on us. It went from 70 degrees to 40 :( It was also on the way to Charlotte that I my iPhone 5 decided to take a swim from my back pocket into the toilet at a brief gas stop in Alabama. As I walked out of the bathroom, I saw this bag of rice and immediately bought it, shoved the phone in and prayed. After 3 days submerged, it came back only to live the rest of its days as an iPod, since it wouldn't connect to the ATT network anymore. Luckily I brought my iPhone 3 to load up audio books and music so I begrudgingly used that until we got to Philly. (btw, if you have 14 hours to kill, you must listen to Marcus Luttrell's book Lone Survivor. The audio book is great (from iTunes), his story is amazing and something every American should read or listen to.)
We also ate a delicious southern restaurant called Martin's Restaurant. Best fried chicken I've ever had an unlike any others I've had as well. Just SO good.
Temp Housing #1 and #2
So after 8 days on the road, we rolled into Philly late on January 23rd. For some reason, we decided to pick the cheapest option by the airport, since nothing was less than $100/night. Looking back, we should've splurged which would've saved us SO much time and money. We ended up at the Extended Stay and it was the Worst experience ever. First we arrived and they made us wait 40 minutes to check in. Something about computers updating or whatever. Then after overbooking their hotel, they put us in a smoking room because it was all that was left. Unfortunately they failed to tell me that until after we got to the room. For some reason we decided to give it a try but after 2 hours we gave up, got online and tried to find another hotel nearby that would take us asap.
At 2am we moved to the Aloft down the street, an outstanding hotel AND they didn't charge us the walk in rate of $180. I told them what happened down the street and they graciously accommodated us for $90 night! The Aloft was great. Clean, comfy beds and a huge bathroom.
Lesson learned. When your room smells like tobacco and cigarettes, leave immediately, no matter how late or tired you are. There's just no point. You won't be able to sleep because it smells like shit and your sinuses are burning. That is of course, you enjoy the scent of dried, disgusting tobacco smoke in everything you're touching.
Temp Housing #3
The following Sunday we rolled into our next piece of temporary housing since we didn't have a place to live yet. Our idea was to stay somewhere for a week and find a place to move into. Here's the little studio we found for $500 for the week on Airbnb.
Settling into Philly
It's been interesting. Of course when we rolled in, it just happened to be part 2 of the arctic/polar storm so temps were between 10-20 degrees. From watching the news, it seemed like we might be heading into the storm of the century. But really, it wasn't that bad. A little chilly but not too bad.
One of the many fantastic things about Philly that I'm loving so far is the FOOD. So.much.food. I'm going to do my best to not gain 100lbs over the next year. I could easily eat my way through this city and double my width. But I just have to avoid that at all costs. Philly is a food city, not just cheese steaks either. So far, Paesanos has impressed me with their unique, creative sandwiches. They make amazing hot and cold sandwiches that aren't your usual hoagie or sub. Delicious ingredients, toasty bread, just fantastic. Probably the best sandwich I've ever had.
Finding a New House
A little ambitious I suppose, but we found it! Unfortunately the existing tenants and owners of the condo we're moving into couldn't leave until closer to March 1st. But the good news is it's totally worth waiting for.
Something that is really difficult about living in downtown Philly is that garages are extremely difficult to find, unless you have San Francisco money to spend. About $2500-$3000 for a dedicated, private attached garage to your rental. Not bad relative to SF, since large 2-3 bedroom homes with garages are renting for well over $3,000 these days.
I just couldn't stand the thought of moving into a high rise apartment or a cute brownstone without a garage! I am dying to ditch this car commute and get back on two wheels. And if we didn't find a place with a garage, I knew it would make buying bikes all that much more difficult. I didn't want my bike to live outside and I just knew there had to be something.