We leave tomorrow and have had a great final week visiting family. We spent the last week at Nathan's aunt/uncle's house near Philadelphia, which included a visit with another aunt/uncle up from Alabama, errand running for all our last minute chores, an afternoon kayak trip, and yes, we did do the Segway tour in downtown Philadelphia. I did not fall off, crash, run into a tree, or any other such catastrophe. It was actually a lot of fun. I still can't believe that I made it through the entire tour with no disaster. Nathan is even more surprised. We took some good photos, but I don't have the camera hooked up to the computer right now - I promise to make a better attempt at including photos once we're in Italy! We're spending our last night in Baltimore at my sister's house and enjoying time with her kids (although Nathan is currently out at a sports bar watching the VA Tech football game - it's apparently an important game tonight). We had a little birthday dinner for Nathan since he'll spend his birthday tomorrow traveling to Norfolk and waiting around an airport lounge. I got to read my niece her nightly bedtime books, and my sister picked out "On the Night You Were Born," for me to read. Nathan & I gave our niece this book on the very night she was born, so naturally, I started crying while reading it, and then tried to make excuses for my niece to keep her from crying. Pretty much a mess all around.
Unfortunately and very true to form, we've had two last minute problems. I just have to say again how ready I am for this move to be over. I don't really expect everything to always go just right, but I do really need for things to go according to plan more often than having every single element end in chaos. Problem number one is in selling our car. Some of you may recall our plan of just stopping off at CarMax and selling the car to them. We'd heard this generally works quite well. I got all the blue book values for our car (taking mileage into consideration!) and had the numbers for the lowest value (private party, fair condition) to the highest (retail, excellent condition). As our car is in good condition, we hoped for an offer just over the lowest possible blue book value. The plan was then to get the appraisal (good for 7 days), spend our week in Philly, then drop off the car at CarMax on our way down to Norfolk to complete the sale. Great plan, except CarMax's offer was so low as to be laughable. Way, way, way too low. So we decided to try to sell the car ourselves on Philly's craigslist. I lasted approximately 4.5 minutes past the posting going live before reaching the panic zone, thus beginning to think of all sorts of contingency plans. It may have been less than 4.5 minutes. Let's go with 25 seconds.
The one we settled on is shipping the car to Italy. This is actually cost effective as we were buying a 2nd car over there anyway, and shipping our current car is cheaper. But this decision did not come without hours of discussion, obsessive checks of email for responses to craigslist post, getting the oil changed & brakes checked, taking the car to the Volvo dealership to see if they'd offer a better price (they didn't), emails to our sponsor in Italy, calls to the shipping agent, more obsessive email checks to see if the shipping agent had emailed back, obsessive phone calls to the shipping agent's office b/c there is only one agent in the office who could help us and she was not in that morning (turns out her child just started kindergarten, and the child did not handle it well, just in case you were wondering), and all sorts of other things that took time away from our relaxation time with family. But it's set, and hopefully all goes well tomorrow morning when we drop the car off at the Baltimore port. Who am I kidding? There's a slim chance this is going to work out as planned.
Problem number 2: We land in Naples at 7pm on Wed. night and will have to clear customs as well as pick up our mountain of luggage. Nathan made a reservation at the Lodge on base for a pet-friendly room. Few of the Lodge rooms are designated pet-friendly, so he was told to call the Lodge two days prior to our check-in to confirm a room is available. You can guess what's coming. No room. No room at the inn. And of course, the front desk chose not to answer their phone all morning, so we didn't reach someone until late late afternoon. We leave in the morning to head down to Norfolk and get our flight tomorrow night, which leaves us no time to make other arrangements. As it stands, we'll be landing after kennels have closed, have no reservation anywhere for the dog anyway, even if the kennel were still open, have no car to sleep in "just in case," and have more luggage than either of us have ever seen added to an extra large dog crate (and dog), guaranteeing that no taxi is going to be willing to take us to some hotel out in town. Not a clue what we're going to do. We have an email in to our sponsor over there for some recommendations, and I'm just praying there is some great solution that will miraculously occur. Sadly, I don't believe the military police will allow us to just spread out on a sidewalk somewhere. We're landing at the Naples airport though...I wonder how the Napoli police would take to us spreading out in an airport lounge for the night?