To start this story with a dramatic twist: On a Friday in April, 2013 our lives changed abruptly. I got told that due to “changes in the organization” I was one of a group of people that was being laid off. Flatiron and Rik were history. Long story short: the severance package I received was fair and a little under two months later i was back to work with a Heavy Civil Construction company based out of Houston Texas. (See my LinkedIn profile for further details if you’re interested). In those initial two months, I discovered that the heavy civil marketplace in Colorado was slim at best and that the action was to be found on the East, West or Gulf coasts. People who know me will know that the political and economic climates on the US East and West coast are the kinds of climates I have been trying to distance myself from my whole life, so that was a no-go. And then there was a little State on the Gulf Coast:
The opportunities in Texas were (and remain) great. According to the US Census Bureau an average of about 650 people move to Texas every day!
Laura and I decided that this move would be good for our family and pulled the trigger to put the house up for sale in Colorado and to start the new adventure. I started work in Houston while flying back to CO on weekends for the first two months. In the mean time we had rented an apartment in Conroe, just north of Houston, to live in pending the sale of our house in Colorado. I lived in this apartment “bachelor pad” style for a month with a mattress on the floor, a TV, and a recliner as my only furniture.
The CO house would remain staged with all our furniture and we would load up a U Haul trailer with ‘essentials’ to camp out in the apartment as a family, a little less ‘bachelor pad style.
This would be the ‘little move’. The Little Move was planned for the first weekend of August and after some emotional good-bye’s with the great friends we have made over the years in Colorado, we set out in the early morning of August 2nd. The drive went well. For this trip we decided to go through Kansas and Oklahoma, which, in combination with eastern Colorado is a good 12 hours of absolute flat boredom..We van den Berg’s are experienced travelers; if we were pioneers we’d be traveling in a caravan, with a few chuck wagons, mules, clinging pans, and very bored, yet well behaved, children.. But we travel in the 21st century and the 21st century condensed travel, both from space and time point of view. We now scoop two adults, four children, two dogs and a cat in one 2011 Ford Expedition EL Limited. With cruise control set at 80-85 Mph we stop every 450-ish miles when we are in need of gas.
Those stops are the times when people are allowed out of the vehicle to do their business.When traveling across country I will not, and do not stop unless the truck tells me it is running <50 Miles till empty. All in all we have long road travel down to a science and everyone is comfortable, no one complains. Our two miniature dachshunds, packed in a kennel together, go into hibernation. We don’t hear them, they just sleep and are happy they’re with us. The kids have their iPhones, iPads,headrest dvd players, and whatnot.. A lot more than what we used to have to entertain us!
The Cat however was a different story. Fred did not like the idea of being locked up and decided to meow without pause until the drugs kicked in. We gave him some ‘chill pills’ before we left but those decided to kick in about four hours into the journey.
While driving, with a whole family sleeping and a cat meowing I started to wonder how many ‘meows’ this cat was going to punch out this trip. I decided to count them over a number of 10 second periods and came to an average of 8 meows per 10 seconds. Throughout the 16 hour trip I estimate the cat meowed a good 8/9 hours, resulting in approximately 25,000 meows! After that i began to wonder if cats get sore throats.. After spending the night in Oklahoma city and having Fred roam around the hotel room for a night, the whole thing started over for day two. He was one unhappy cat…
Upon arrival in Conroe, Texas, we unloaded the trailer and truck, got installed and started our new life in Texas.. Well kind of. As of today (mid October) our house in Colorado hasn’t sold and we are still in the apartment. Living in a 1400 sqft apartment with a family of 6, 2 dogs and a cat who are all used to being outside a lot and whenever they want, is challenging at times. It is a very nice and safe place with a pool and lots of green space but we are in 23% of the living space we are used to with no yard and that, however you want to twist it, really is challenging at times. The girls have their rooms but the boys sleep in the living room. They’re boys so they don’t complain but nevertheless Laura and I are very very proud of the level of adaptation our family has shown. The kids are all in new schools, and that is tough on them but they are making friends and engage in activities. We had a great life in Colorado and left that behind and as long as we aren’t in a house we can make our Home, it will be hard to start a real life here. So we get up every morning counting our blessings, knowing that the life as it is right now is temporary and that we can look ahead to moving into a great place with a great pool in the yard and restart the Van den Berg family life we are accustomed to (BIG GREEN EGG). And of course this includes hosting many great guests at our new place! (open invitation, subject to pre screening 😉 )
We pride ourselves on the fact that we are a good, happy, stable, open family. We are the best family I could ever wish for and we have fun together here in Texas!
And we have washing machine PAHTIEEEEEES!!