Moving During the Pandemic

me tim frick

No one wants to move during the pandemic, but we had no choice.

To be honest, moving during Coronavirus is a daunting task. Moving across the country is scary but moving during Covid-19 makes you question everything you do. You want to see friends and family members before you go but also want to be safe. You also have a moving company packing and unpacking all of your stuff. The thought of other people touching every single object right now I owned was scary!

If you follow me on social media, you know a few snafus happened during our move pack up:

  • The Car Shipping company lost our keys (and every car key on the truck). We had to overnight our dinky key and need to get new keys remade.
  • The movers and the van driver got into a large fight which ended up in our movers walking out mid pack. (And yes the military hired a “full service professional moving company”. Had we known all of this would happen we would have moved ourselves. My husband and I had to help pack the van (the moving services repacked it elsewhere).
  • My cat disappeared and was ultimately found in the ceiling of our basement. When you think your cat is missing on moving day, you go as far as to use the “NextDoor App” and offer a 1000 reward to anyone who finds him.

After all of the craziness, we were finally able to begin our cross country move during the pandemic.

When contemplating the options to move across the country (drive or fly), we settled on driving. Why? It seemed like more fun, but also I’m not entirely sure my comfort level on a commercial airplane during the Covid-19 outbreak. I knew in the car we could control who we saw and who we came into contact with.

Tim and I’s travel style is very low key. We didn’t have checkpoints or places we needed to be by a certain date and planned it as we went. I would call hotels while we were driving and see what was available for the day. Based on the 10-11 day travel span, we knew we needed to get between 300-400 miles (5-6 hours of driving). We wanted to spend a day out west somewhere; we didn’t know where either.

When we first found out we were moving in February, we planned to drive out, and one of us would come back and fly the cats. It seemed a lot less stressful for the cats. When the pandemic hit, we decided to bring the cats with us in the car. We’ve never driven long with the cats and had no idea how they would handle it. The vet did give us a sedative, but they ended up not needing it and sleeping most of the car ride. Occasionally Frick would poke his head up. Frack is a keep to himself cat and liked to sleep in the corner of the carrier under blankets.

Day 1: Cherry Hill NJ to Chambersburg, PA.

Why Chambersburg? My husband grew up in the area and his family lives there. We wanted to spend a day relaxing with them and seeing them before we left. Even though we were fortunate enough to see them in June, it was nice to see them again before we are 3000 miles away.

Day 2: Chambersburg, PA

We spent the day in Chambersburg with Tim’s family. It was great to catch up, hang out and relax before long days.  I ended up getting in their pool, which was the first (and only) time I’ve been in a pool since March.

Day 3: Chambersburg, Pa to Toledo, Oh

I loathe driving through both Pa and Ohio. I think both states feel as though they are the “longest ever.”  The drive through Pa actually went by fairly quickly this time. I can remember a few times going to the Air Force Half Marathon that I thought we might never get out of Pa.

We stopped in Breezewood for our first “rest stop” stop. In general, stopping at rest stops seemed to be ok. I got very good at not touching any door handles and avoiding as many people as possible. Plus, I refused to stop at any gas station that weren’t major chains or truck stops.

Day 4: Toledo, Oh to Chicago, Il

We woke up and ran near the University of Toledo Campus. There is a nice rails to trails at the University of Toledo. On the way out, we took a small detour to hit the Bedford in Mi (and get a Michigan diner). The drive from Toledo to Chicago was reasonably uneventful.

Ohio rest stops are nice. I felt safer because they are automatic and I didn’t have to touch door handles and they weren’t crowded. I wasn’t near anyone much.

Once we got to Chicago, we deiced to order deep dish pizza. I like deep dish pizza a lot, so I was looking forward to it all day. We decided upon Giordano’s. It was everything I hoped for and more.

Day 5: Chicago, Il to Saint Paul, Mn

In the morning, I ran at the Lake Front River Trail. I have wanted to run at the Lake Front River trail, so it was a nice treat. My run went well. Usually Wednesdays, I do a workout, but it was too much with the move, so I’ve kept my runs easy for the last few weeks.

On the drive for day 5 seemed to hit every snag possible. The cats decided 3 am was when they wanted to wake up and meow loud (they had been relatively quiet).  Leaving Chicago, we hit some traffic (of course). The entire trip small things went wrong. When we got into Saint Paul, the restaurant we ordered from “forgot to check online orders.” So we waited for them to make the meal. I arrived to Mn grumpy and tired, wondering how we weren’t even halfway there.

Day 6: Saint Paul, Mn to Bismarck, ND

Without putting “Capital Ridge” and St. Paul together, I booked a hotel at Capitol Ridge and the Minnesota State Captial. I didn’t realize what “capital ridge” meant, and we got a nice scenic view of the Mn state Captial. I was hoping we could run somewhere and take in the capital sights, but I couldn’t find somewhere that didn’t involve a lot of stop and go. So we opted to run on the Greenway Trail. The Greenway trail was peaceful and we enjoyed that too.

We stopped at the Hi-Lo Diner on the way out and headed north. We decided the North through Wisconsin and North Dakota would be better for us. We wanted to see that area of the country and thought it would be more fun for us versus South Dakota, Iowa, or Nebraska.

Once you get into North Dakota, it’s one straight, long line. We did stop at the “World’s Largest Buffalo” to stretch our legs. Tim thought I turned into an old lady for wanting to see the “world’s largest buffalo,” but I have no regrets. It’s right off the highway and maybe a 15-minute detour.

Day 7: Bismarck, Nd to Big Sky, Mt

We started with an impressive run in Bismark.  We got to run along the Missouri River and it was one of my favorite runs of the trip. I didn’t think I would enjoy running in Bismarck as much as I did.

Afterward, we took off for our longest drive of the trip (600 miles). Our original plan was to get to Billings, but looking at the back half of the trip, we decided to get a little further. We agreed upon Bozeman, but most of the hotels in Bozeman were either too expensive, sold out, or not cat friendly. So we found a gorgeous spot in Big Sky, Mt. After doing some research, we saw how beautiful Big Sky was, so we decided to spend an entire day there. Plus, after driving 600 miles, we needed a breather.

Day 8: Big Sky, Mt

This was my favorite day of the trip. Big Sky is beautiful. If you like hiking, running, skiing in the winter, or nature, Big Sky is one of my favorite spots. We got up for a beautiful run that was over 1000 feet of elevation climb.

After relaxing and doing laundry, we also went for a hike at Cinnamon Mountain. It was one of my favorite hikes ever.

Day 9: Big Sky, MT to Twin Falls, Id

We woke up in Big Sky and went for a run. We opted for a slightly less hilly route (which was still challenging). The drive from Big Sky to Twin Falls was supposed to be one of our shorter drives, but there was a lot of traffic getting into Yellowstone, plus an accident in Idaho. So it ended up being a frustrating, longer than expected drive.

When we got into Idaho, I was amazed at how people don’t wear masks. It’s not mandated, but during the first three stops we made (rest stop, gas station, restaurant), I was the only person I saw wearing a mask. Honestly, it gave me some anxiety. It was apparent I stuck out like a sore thumb. During our cross country move in the pandemic, I was most uncomfortable in Idaho due to the lack of masks. It’s a beautiful state, but I never got comfortable. I think Idaho would have been my favorite state had we not moved during the Covid.

After grabbing dinner, we made a trip to Shoshone Falls. If you’re ever in the area, I highly suggest Shoshone Falls, and it’s known as the “Niagara of the West.”

Day 10: Twin Falls, Id to Reno, Nv

In the morning, we ran at one of the most beautiful spots I’ve ever run at called Snake River Canyon. The Snake River Canyon Trail runs along Snake River Canyon. You get a view of the entire canyon for most of the run. Imagine running along the ridge of the Grand Canyon, that’s kind of what it felt like.

After grabbing lunch at a diner, we were off. Our original goal was to make it into California, but unfortunately, there were no hotels between Reno and Sacramento that were pet friendly and under $300. I wanted to go to Lake Tahoe, but that will wait for another day.

After stopping near the Reno Airport, I was pleasantly surprised by how serious Nevada is taking the Coronavirus. Everyone was wearing masks and social distancing.

Day 11: Reno, Va to Travis AFB

The other part of Reno I wasn’t thrilled about was running. In my head, I imagined running in Reno to be like running in Atlantic City. We found a trail northwest of Reno called: and ran there. When we got there, my husband was like: oh, there are lots of rattlesnakes here. Luckily we didn’t see any. The run at Reno was one of my favorites, and I had no idea Reno was that scenic.

Then we headed to Travis AFB. Reno to Travis is only about a 3-hour drive. It was uneventful, and the cats slept the entire trip.

A Few Notes:

I was “so nervous” for our cats, but they did great. They hate going to the vet and all other experiences have left to them meowing. We purchased a massive cat carrier that took up the entire backseat. It gave them room to relax and we could fit their bed and blankets in. I think that was a huge reason they did well.

We washed our hands at every stop, and used hand sanitizer frequently. We also limited exposure as much as possible. Most hotels felt safe and we chose to stay at Hiltons or Best Westerns. I did like that Hiltons have a seal on the door stated they’ve been cleaned and sanitized as suggested Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (Plus you can see how close other people are staying). When not in the car, I actually felt the safest in the hotel room during our move during Covid.

If we weren’t traveling during the pandemic, we probably would have eaten at restaurants. Plus, Tim would have had a few more days to get out there. We would have spent a few more days seeing sights and stopping, but other than that, not much would have changed. We quickly realized how much time we saved, not eating in restaurants.

So Now What? We are here!

We are currently living in a hotel as we house hunt. We haven’t found a house we like in an area we like. We’ve seen a few potential homes in both Napa and Sacramento but haven’t committed to anything yet.

Just like NJ, we have no idea how long we will be here. It’s an odd feeling and not one that I’ve had since I was 23 and moved to New Jersey. I should probably change my tagline from laughing in the garden state to laughing in the golden state.

Questions for you:

When was your last move? Has anyone else moved during Covid? 

What has been your most significant move? 

NJ to CA has been my biggest adulthood move.