I wish I could say that after Part 1 and Part 2 of my move to California, that settling into our new life went smoothly. Alas, there were a few more "adventures" waiting for us.
Our First Day, or, Visa is Full of Fail
We slept most of our first morning away due to extreme exhaustion and severe jetlag. For breakfast, we snacked on some of the fruit our realtor had left us while we made a list of everything we'd need to buy. There were a few essentials that couldn't wait the two weeks before our furniture arrived and even though I had no kitchen stuff and thus no way to cook, we still wanted to get some food so we wouldn't have to eat out for *every* meal.
We didn't have any shampoo, so we couldn't shower before we left. I only mention this because it becomes important later.
First, we went out for lunch. But when we tried to pay for it with our credit card, it didn't work. We've had problems before with Visa deciding that our credit card use is really something fradulent resulting in them shutting down our card before and had tried to prevent such problems by telling them about our move before it happened. But it didn't appear to have worked. Still, we wanted to give them the benefit of a doubt and assume that it was just a problem with the restaurant's credit card reader. So after lunch, we went to Walmart and bought Chriss a new belt. The credit card worked that time. YAY. So we grabbed a cart and finished buying all the rest of the things on our list (except the food because that Walmart's "grocery section" was a joke and I wanted organic food anyway). We filled two carts (but only because we had to buy big things like pole lamps for the bedrooms and garbage cans) and headed up to the cashier.
The cashier starts ringing us out and asks, "Do you have bags?"
Chriss: Excuse me?
Cashier: Do you have bags?
Chriss: I haven't paid for my stuff yet.
Cashier: I know. Do you have bags?
Chriss, looking rather baffled: I don't follow.
Cashier, finally realizing we have no clue what she means: There's a city ordinance against plastic bags. You have to supply your own.
Chriss: Oh. *pause* Do you sell bags?
We decided we didn't want to pay twenty-five cents for each paper bag (for some reason the cashier didn't have any fabric bags) and just put our stuff in the cart Costco-style.
The cashier gave us the total and Chriss swiped his card and...
Weird. It worked when we bought the belt. What's going on?
I tried my card. It's all tied to the same account, but I have my own card number, so thought it would work.
By now, the cashier and the people behind us are getting a little impatient with us and my poor husband is getting more and more frustrated. Fortunately, we'd made sure to carry some cash on us just in case we ran into problems during the move and we were able to pay for our things.
We took everything home and put it away and then called Visa. They explained that the reason our card didn't work in the restaurant was because their servers had been down. And the reason why it didn't work the second time in Walmart was because they were suspicious of two Walmart charges in the same day (because, who does that??) and because both charges had a 2 and a 1 in them. (One was $12 and the other was $271. I know. Easy to get them confused, right?) But they assured us that our card was now unlocked and we could continue our shopping without any further problems.
So we went to a grocery store to buy some food. What do you think happened when we got to the cashier? That's right. More rejection. This time Visa (a different rep than we talked to earlier) claimed that our card had never been unlocked because they were suspicious of the fact that charges were being make in CA. When we told them that we had moved, the Visa rep said, "Oh, is that what this note on your account that says 'moving to CA in April' means?" *headdesk*
In the end, they finally unlocked our card and we were able to then go and get cat food. But as soon as we have time to find a local bank, we are dropping Visa like the plague.
On a happier note, due to everything we'd been through, I'd decided that we deserved cake so we bought a chocolate cake and invited our friends (the same ones who took us on a tour of NASA back in February) over to share it with us. So at least the day ended with chocolate.
Day Two, or You Didn't Really Want a Shower, Did You?
The next day was Monday and even though we hadn't had a chance to recover from our adventures so far, Chriss had to make an appearance at work. He got up early and went to take a shower. Only, there was no hot water. Funny, the power company swore they'd hooked up the gas so it should be working.
Chriss went out back to check the hot water tank to see if it was set to vacation mode. Instead, what he'd found was a huge puddle under the tank. Also, we discovered a very large damp circle on the dining room and living room carpet. The hot water tank had broken. It just kept filling up and leaking out and filling up and leaking out. Which meant neither of us could take a shower. We were now four days without a shower.
Chriss went to work anyway and I contacted our realtor who helped us get in touch with our landlords. We are very fortunate that, unlike the last time we rented (when I was pregnant with T), our current landlords aren't evil. In fact, they seem very friendly, reasonable, and willing to work with us. As soon as I told them what had happened, they contacted a plumber and promised that, even if it meant replacing the hot water tank, the issue would be resolved that day.
While I waited for the plumber to show up (they had a job on the coast they had to finish first), I made appointments at the DMV for Chriss and me to get our CA drivers' licenses. (Other than me having to take the written test 3 times because I kept not passing by 1 point, that went pretty smoothly). The plumber got here around 6 p.m. and by 9 p.m., we had a new hot water tank and I was finally able to get a shower. Let me tell you, showering never felt so good!
A few days later, when our landlord came by with a shopvac because the carpet was still damp, he gave us a gift card to the restaurant he and his wife own and a few days later, UPS showed up bearing a gift basket our landlords had ordered for us to welcome us to CA and to apologize for the issues we dealt with our first few days here. So at least that "adventure" had a happy ending.
Getting the Cars Registered, or, How to Blow $3,000 Without Really Trying
Because my husband has been working a ton of overtime since pretty much day one out here, getting the cars registered was solely up to me. I ended up having to make two trips to the DMV. The first time, I was able to get my car partially registered, but had to wait until I got a smog inspection to finish it. So I found the nearest Subaru dealership and over the course of two days, got both our cars inspected. After that, I was able to finish registering both cars at the same time. I was quite shocked at the price. The smog inspections were $80 each and then the fee for registering my car was $163 and the fee for Chriss' car was $245. It was way more than I expected to spend. And it was only the tip of the iceburg.
The very next day, the check engine light came on in my car. Chriss didn't want me to take it in until he could get a code reader and find out what the problem was. Just in case it was something he could fix himself. We couldn't find one locally, so he ordered one from the internet. In the meantime, he told me to "drive at my own risk." Now the roads here are very intimidating compared to the roads in Utica. And while I did suck it up and jump right into driving here, unlike in NY where it took me a year to find the courage to drive, I certainly didn't want to "drive at my own risk" on these roads. Which meant I had to magically make 1 week's worth of groceries stretch into 2 weeks because Chriss didn't get home from work early enough for me to go shopping. (Everything here shuts down by 9 and 10:00).
The code reader finally came and told us the catalytic converter needed to be replaced. Ouch. Not a cheap fix. But at least it waited to die until *after* we'd passed the smog inspection and gotten the cars registered.
So we took it in and got it fixed and the day I picked it up, the check engine light came back on. The code reader said there was a wiring fault with three of the oxygen sensors. So back to the shop it went where the mechanics went on and on about how horrible the rust on our car was and that surely was to blame for this new problem.
Um... I know rust is unusual in CA, but honestly... In NY, they said our car looked great for its age. Here, they were trying to convince us to junk the thing. It didn't exactly fill me with confidence. And it didn't help that the day they replaced the sensors, they called to tell us that the ECM which regulates the emissions system had died. To make a long story short: After 3 weeks and 3 repairs, which left me without a car for 2 1/2 of those weeks, and $3,000, it appears my car is finally good to go. Also, we will never go back to that dealership again.
That's the end of our big stories, but to sum up the rest of our crazy first few weeks here:
- Chriss has worked way too much overtime since we got here, leaving me to juggle Everything Else by myself
- One night, just after midnight, Pumpkin opened up one of our cupboards and knocked down a glass jar of BBQ sauce and a jar of olive oil. It took us 3 hours to clean up the mess.
- I've been to over 16 stores and I *still* can't find a pair of sandals in my size.
- Now I need a pair of walking shoes as well because my right shoe has a mysterious large hole in the side. Shopping for those should be fun too.
- Overall, it's been very overwhelming and a little more stressful than I'd anticipated.
Even though this move has been way more of an "adventure" than we'd bargained for, things are finally starting to settle down. And in the midst of all this craziness, there have been some really great things too which I'll share in my next post.