Moving Cross Country: How To Keep A Cool Head When Everything Goes Wrong

In life, you sometimes have to be grateful and roll with the punches to see an adventure where it’s so easy to see disaster. Our cross country move to Texas was exactly this kind of situation.


First, we struggled to fit our life into two car loads.

Ian and I spent the last few months deciding what in our life was worth keeping. We knew we wanted to live a more simple, clutter-free life. To do that, we spent a few months going through our possessions together, working with each other on what we couldn’t live without, what we thought we could donate to Goodwill, and what was pretty much just garbage. It was really hard!

I’ve been traveling for the last few years and renting a bedroom in friends’ houses, so I had my life down to what could fit into one tiny Ford Focus. With our bookbinding and woodworking supplies now taking up a majority of important space, we needed to pare down even more. I won’t lie, most of this happened at the last minute – the night before we were set to leave. As we were packing up the back of our Taurus station wagon, we quickly realized that some things were going to have to be left behind. (A secret between us: Now that we’re here, I’m totally okay with this.)

We used this super awesome rooftop storage bag and I highly recommend it.

To entertain ourselves, we built a playlist on iTunes and got ourselves a VicTsing Bluetooth FM Transmitter. If you have an older car with no USB port, this thing is awesome.

Then came the car trouble…

With half of our life packed into the station wagon, the bumper was practically lying on the asphalt, but we had absolutely no choice- we had to press on! For the first 17 hours of driving, Aries (our Taurus wagon) was trucking along WAY better than we had expected. We maxed out at around 65 MPH and said a silent prayer every time we hit any kind of bump, but she was solid! The next morning began to feel a little rough and I said something to Ian. Aries was sluggish to accelerate and running a little rougher. Ian waved it off, saying it has been cold that night. This was a shorter 10 hour driving day so we pushed her on, hoping like heck that we would make it.

And then disaster struck.

We made a quick pit stop somewhere in Mississippi. After pulling out onto the road, I noticed Aries was feeling super sluggish. We inched faster, with me muttering under my breath (I think I can, I think I can) 35 MPH, 45 MPH. All of a sudden, there was a gentle lurch and I realized that the gas pedal was not responding. Panic ensued, my chest getting that cold fluttery feeling it does when anxiety kicks in. “Call your dad, something’s wrong!” I shouted to Ian.

Something was wrong, all right. Once on the side of the road, we realized our transmission fluid was pretty much empty- a problem we had just sunk $1100 into before leaving. My Father-in-law drove ahead to fetch some fluid and upon filling it, we left a nice puddle under the car. -facepalm-


We drove along at 45 MPH, Aries refusing to shift into a higher gear, until we reached the next exit and took up temporary residence in a gas station parking lot to consider our options. We were only about five hours from home. At first, we considered staying overnight at a campground while MIL and FIL continued on and came back for us the next day with a tow truck. It was a Saturday afternoon on a holiday weekend and, the more we called around, the sooner we realized our options at the time were severely limited. We were also in the middle of NOWHERE. Everything was at least 13 miles away.


In the end, we decided to just get a hotel for the night and rent an emergency Uhaul in the morning to tow our car home. Our insurance got us a tow truck to get us to the hotel, and as we sat in the parking lot for a little over an hour waiting, I realized (much to my surprise) that I wasn’t stressed out at all. The weather was absolutely perfect, sunny with a cool breeze, and the dogs were quietly napping in the front seat. The gas station had really fun souvenirs that we played around with. FIL bought me an awesome cowgirl hat for my new Texan life.

Find something to be grateful for.


We all made a decision to just have fun with it. We weren’t really in a rush. After getting back to the hotel, we went out to dinner and ordered four different margarita pitchers (because you have to try them all!). Our hotel had an outdoor gas fire pit, so we took up residence around it with a bottle of wine. While sitting there, an outgoing couple  approached and joined us. Have you ever met someone and quickly realized that you were definitely supposed to meet at some point in your life? We talked and laughed for hours and when we parted, we hugged tightly and wished each other well- truly feeling grateful to have met each other. If we hadn’t broken down, we would never have gotten that experience. That’s the kind of open mind that I desire to keep throughout my life. Every thing truly happens for a reason- to teach us something, for life to give us a gift, or to make us stronger.


The next morning, our cousin drove the five hours from home to pick us up with his trailer. Getting the car onto it was a struggle, but once it was hooked up, we hit the road for our new home.

Things were going well until one of the wheels on the trailer began to smoke. We were only an hour from home at this point! With Aries weighing heavily, a spring had snapped, making the metal trailer dig into the tire as we drove, grinding away the rubber. Our cousin rigged it up with some wire and we crossed our fingers that it would hold until we got home.

It held. We finally pulled into the driveway around 5 PM on the third day of our adventure. Aries was pretty much dead, refusing to move much on her own. The rest of us were horribly road weary, but we unpacked the cars and settled in to a homemade meal that a family member brought over.

I don’t know how to express the gratitude that I feel for our family’s hard work and major help. They were so amazing and supportive during the whole ordeal. THANK YOU SO MUCH, YOU AMAZING PEOPLE!

The quiet peacefulness of Texas quickly set in to healing us and, after a good night’s sleep, we were ready to face this new adventure head on.

     When everything seems to fall apart, keep an open mind and look for the lesson hidden between the cracks.

Until next time,

Be kind and live purposely.

Bowtie and the Bandit


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