The Long Trip to Arcata

The move from Stockton turned out to be an adventure.

My first plan was to rent a van. This is how I moved out of Yosemite and it worked well. I did have a little more stuff. But it should be okay. Then I recalled my friend LJ had a van. A nice van with lots of room. I thought he would like the trip. And he would want to help me. When I asked him, he accepted.

But then it came time to move. He had traded his big van in for a smaller VW van. I was doubtful. But he believed it would work. And with a small amount of effort we crammed it all inside. And we hit the road. I didn’t know the way very well. The route I took, and never took again, was north through most of the valley. My logic was it would be faster to drive in the valley. And we had no problems. After Redding we started over the mountains. As we climbed the hills in the overloaded van. We started to have problems. At first the engine was getting hot. We would stop and let it cool. Then we started going again. But then it died all together. The last spot was in a parking lot in Weaverville.

This was still about two hours from Arcata. But I felt like it was close. So I started asking people for a ride. Eventually I ran into a guy who said he ran the local cab company. His first plan was to get as much stuff in his SUV and leave the rest until later. Then he came up with a better plan. He had a free-tow on his AAA card. I paid him, and he allowed me to use the tow to have the van (and my stuff) towed to Arcata. It was a life saver. And LJ just hitch-hiked back to Stockton.

Of course it wasn’t so easy. We waited and waited for hours. It got to the point he was going to invite me to spend the night at his house. Then the truck arrived. It was late and it was dark. But I was on my way to my new life again. I rode in the cab of the truck and we headed west.

Then more problems. While driving the tow truck was having problems with its lights. The driver pulled over and called his dispatch. He couldn’t get his lights on. This was a problem because it was dark. But also driving along a rural two-lane road you need lights for others to see you. Stuck again. The driver and his dispatch couldn’t solve the problem. They sent out a second tow truck. My friend’s van, and my stuff, was moved from the first to the ground. Then re-loaded on the second. After a short pause I was on my way again.

Finally in the wee hours of the morning we pulled into Arcata. After locating my new apartment the driver dropped off the van. It was late, all I could think was to sleep. The door was open so I went and slept on the couch.

The next day I moved into the new room. This was my first time actually meeting Amy. She is a pretty woman with a friendly smile.

The van stayed in the lot for a couple weeks. I talked to LJ about his plans for the van. It wouldn’t run until repaired. Eventually the property management company said it had to be moved. I called LJ and he said he’d contacted a garage in town. I’m not sure who called the tow truck, or who paid. But I know it wasn’t me. Later the garage called me about the van. I gave them my friend’s information. And I called him again.

In the end I don’t know what happened to the van. I would see it on the street by the garage for months. Then it got moved inside their gate. But it still sat there until it disappeared all together. Well, I never saw it again. And I felt bad because if LJ hadn’t helped me move he wouldn’t have lost his van. And it is probable he did lose the van. Like myself and many others he was living on a tight budget. With an unknown amount of repair work needed, and a astronomical tow bill to have to moved to Stockton. In the end the costs probably were too much.

A word in my defense though. If he’d had the small van from the start I never would have asked for his help. And I had my doubts and expressed them before the trip. He took the risk with an awareness of the danger. And besides I didn’t have time to feel too bad. I was starting off with a brand new friend of a roommate. I was in a new town, in an amazing part of the state. Soon I would be starting at a new school.There were lots of new things in my life. What I didn’t have yet and needed was a new job.

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