A Quick Recap:
Toward the end of 2020, Kyle took a job with a Robotics company in California. We decided to put our house in Barboursville, Virginia up on the market. We sold the house, packed up our stuff, and took off across the country on January 15th, 2021.
You can read more details about the few months leading up to the big move below!
The Road Trip
I’ve always wanted to drive the whole way across the country and I finally got my chance! We got on the road January 15th after scrambling to get the last of our things out of our house! 3,259 miles and $990.52 worth of gas later, we arrived in Livermore, CA on January 25th. The Rover was a champ, as we expected. We had zero issues with it and are very thankful for that. The only change we made was upgrading to a new 7×14 trailer and returning the U-Haul trailer after our first leg from Barboursville, VA to Greenville, SC.
When we departed South Carolina, we let go of any idea of a comfort zone we had left for the foreseeable future. It felt weird not having anywhere to live. I liked it. We will probably do that again someday. Sorry Mom!
Our next leg was from Greenville, SC to Birmingham, AL. One of my favorite things about this road trip was that we didn’t pick where we were going to stay until the evening before we left for it. It wasn’t what I anticipated doing but it worked.
After leaving Birmingham, we decided to make the long trip straight to Texas so that we could spend some extra time with my sister and her fam. We had planned to visit them in April of 2020 but our flights were promptly cancelled following the early stages of the pandemic stuff.
We had lots of fun with family and were able to rest in Texas but it was far too short!!
Next stop: Tucumcari, New Mexico!
We wanted to stay here on our way out to the Balloon Fiesta in 2017. You can read about that here. We decided to stay down in Palo Duro Canyon below Amarillo on that trip so we figured we could stop through Tucumcari this time. It was a neat little town but we didn’t actually get to see much of it. We got there late, slept, and left early! I was really excited to get to our next destination.
Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock
This next stop was one of the only places that I planned to visit ahead of time. I was super freaked out about having to park the rover/trailer combo so I looked for a hotel in Sedona that had a big parking lot. It was absolutely gorgeous! I would definitely like to go back there for a longer stay to make use of more of their amenities and explore more of Sedona. The room we stayed in was specifically pet-friendly, so we had a private outdoor entrance and exit to our room. They also gave Ozzie a gift bag with toys and treats which was really nice.
* I am a Hilton Affiliate. If you click through any Hilton links on thehableway.com and book a stay, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you!
We finally reached California on January 24th.
After some serious otherworldly (amazing) landscapes past Palm Springs and around Joshua Tree, we landed in Mojave. What. A. Ride.
We only planned on spending the night and be on our way for the FINAL leg of our trip in the morning. We rolled into Mojave with *crazy* winds and that big trailer! This is when we learned that tumble weeds can be the size of shopping carts. After settling into the hotel, we turned on the local news. “CRAZY WIND, BLIZZARD COMING, YOU ARE ALL GOING TO DIE!” is basically what it sounded like.
Thank GOD we don’t take the news too seriously, ever. Otherwise, we would have been stuck in that Mojave hotel for days. They told us that the roads were going to be closed for 3 days, until the 27th, well after our target date. Being the Hables, well, we left anyway and hoped for the best, ha. There were a few sketchy passes with escorts and stuff but it was alright.
This was my first real experience in California. WTH did I sign up for?! That still wasn’t clear for days after arriving. We got into Livermore after dark on the 25th and then in the land of “no rain”, it rained for about 4 days straight!
Living That Hotel Life... For Way Longer Than Expected
Our hopeful little hearts thought we would only be in a hotel for a few weeks. HA! In all fairness, the housing market only started to go completely bananas while we were on our way out here. There was no way we could have seen what was coming but it was an experience of a lifetime and we will probably be talking about it for just as long.
On to the details. We stayed at a Homewood Suites. It was nice and fairly new, so quite clean. We had a ground floor close to the exit door. It had a pool, laundry, and a really nice group of employees. They did not discriminate against our dog, Ozzie, and that is just one reason why we are pretty loyal to Hilton.
Another perk was that it was just a few miles from Kyle’s new job, and there were plenty of other amenities nearby as well.
We spent a lot of weekends doing anything we could possibly do to get out of the hotel for a bit. We hiked a lot, we took a lot of road trips, and if we actually had a California bucket list, a lot of things would have been checked off in the first few months!
FINALLY! We Got A House!!
That was nuts.
We tossed ourselves into a wild housing market in a ridiculously expensive market in the country to begin with. I truly don’t know what we were thinking or expecting. Maybe nothing? We really weren’t sure if we would get out here, try for a bit, realize it was crazy, then turn around and head back to the East Coast. I don’t recall feeling too worried about it. The freedom of not owing a single business money (except for the hotel) was a powerful experience that gave us a sense of calm and patience.
Here are a few stats from our house search:
We had a dedicated realtor for quite a few weeks, but it just wasn’t working out, so we had to move on. Now, we know just about every realtor in Brentwood and eventually happened to find the best one ever. (Shout out to Belinda Delgado, Dudum Real Estate Group!!)
There were micro-markets inside of the overall housing market which caused a lot of turmoil from week to week. Some weekends there would be quite a few houses for sale, the next weekend, hardly any. Those weekends with hardly any, we basically had to give up. On plenty of occasions other parties offered 100K+ over the list price to get the contract, with a few going $300,000 over. (Seriously, who are these people?!)
We looked at about 33 houses (which is around the same number we looked at in Virginia back in 2017!)
We put offers in on 8 of them, the 8th one was the one for us!
So, what do we really think of California?
We have gotten a few interesting questions and comments about moving here. All I have to say is that California is absolutely beautiful. It has given us so many wonderful experiences in less than one year. The weather is great, the town we chose to live in is great, and the access to SO many outdoor adventures is incredible.
Will we stick around?!
Your guess is as good as mine! We tend not to look too far into the future so that we can focus on what is right in front of us. So we will do just that.
2021 has been the wildest, most ridiculously awesome, unpredictable adventure of our lifetime so far. One that we are incredibly grateful for. We gave up a lot of really good stuff to see what else was out there for us, and it feels like we are in the right place for now. Would I change anything about the past year? Nope, not even the 127 days in a hotel.
Here are just a few of my favorite things that we have done since arriving in CA:
1. Muir Woods
At first, I didn’t have an intense interest in going to Muir Woods. I figured it was the most touristy version of redwoods around and that would take away from the experience.
Well, in some ways it was but still absolutely worth visiting! We picked a great day to go and are always sure to arrive to popular places as early as possible to avoid peak hours. We also pick the paths less traveled! Once you step away from the main boardwalk area, there is still much to see from a different perspective.
Once you find yourself standing among the trees, in awe of their beauty, everything and everyone around you melts away.
2. Whale Watching in Monterey Bay
This was one of those trips that made me nervous enough that I almost canceled it! I can’t quite pin what was worrying me. Maybe it was the monster creatures we were searching for out in the middle of nowhere in the ocean? Obviously, we ended up going anyway and I’m SO glad we did.
I’ve wanted to see whales in their natural habitat for as long as I could remember. I suppose I waited so long because we never ventured up far enough into the Northeast where finding them would be worth the effort, time and money. Monterey is about 2 hours away so it was a quick, easy trip to make! We chose the 110′ Princess Monterey for our tour. It was nice and clean, had a professional crew and a snack & drink bar! 5 stars for Princess Monterey Whale Watching.
3. Yosemite National Park
When we were in Virginia, we were spoiled with Shenandoah National Park at our doorstep. Yosemite is about 3 hours away so it will always be at least a long weekend trip! I’m sure we will visit there often. It is unlike anything we’ve ever seen and I just can’t imagine it getting old.
The first time we visited, we stayed at Yosemite View Lodge right outside of the Arch Rock gate. It was ok, very conveniently located. I feel that maybe we were put in a dumpy room because we had Ozzie with us. We were tucked away in a corner and didn’t really think the place was clean or updated (at all) enough to warrant the price. The second time we visited, we ventured South to the town of Fish Camp where Tenaya Lodge resides. This place, on the other hand, was excellent!
We have a lot more of this park to discover but so far my favorite spot is probably Glacier Point!
Fascinating family day trips around the Bay Area are easy to come by if you know where to begin! 2021 was the first year that The Hable Way has lived in California! Inside of that first year, we checked off a lot of exciting boxes on our bucket list of adventures. We decided to put together a quick, easy Bay Area roadmap for you to use if you are ever in the