Victoria Bylin: Modern Day Conestoga — The End!

Vicki LogoMy husband and I arrived in Lexington, Kentucky late Sunday afternoon.  It’s a 540-mile journey from our house in northern Virginia, and we typically do it in 9-10 hours including stops for gas, food, dog walks, etc..  Not this time! Instead of zipping along in my little Camry or in a rental car (we’ve done that at Christmas with the kids because we needed space for gifts, etc.), we were in my husband’s beloved and well used 1994 Toyota Tacoma pick-up truck, a long-bed with a bit of extra cab space. 

This baby was loaded to the max.  I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Myi-64 husband used the twin bed mattresses and box springs to make a box of sorts, and we filled it with a coffee table, three chairs, bags of bedding, a large toolbox and an assortment of household flotsam and jetsam. Talk about 10 lbs of flour in a 5 lb. sack!  This was absurd! 

And then it started to rain . . . Not a lot, but enough to require plastic sheeting. Add yellow rope, a dozen bungee cords in a rainbow of colors, and brown packing tape and you’ve got the picture.  I wanted to take a photograph, but I couldn’t find the camera because it somehow got packed in a mystery box. My theory is that my husband knows exactly where the camera is , but he doesn’t want this packing job on the internet.  I don’t blame him!  It was hilarious.

welcome-to-kySo how does all this relate to the pioneers traveling in their covered wagons?

We were in West Virginia on I-64 when I first thought of those stalwart men and women–and their oxen–lumbering up long, steep hills. Our little truck had to be near the maximum of its weight capacity.  We had to downshift on some of the grades between Covington, Virginia and Beckley, West Virginia, but we did just fine. Slow but sure.  If we’d had oxen, though, we’d have been dumping stuff like the pioneers did as they traveled west.

What would be the first thing to go?

Not the tool chest, even though it was extremely heavy.  A man has to be able to fix things.

Not the clothing.  It takes up space, but it’s light.

Books?  Ouch!  I have a lot more books than the pioneers, but I’m sure they traveled with a few precious family heirlooms. Maybe a Bible with the family lineage, or a much prized book of poetry. That’s not something anyone would want to part with.  

Pieces of furniture?  That’s what went first. Whatever is heavy, most dispensable and most easily replaced would end up on the side of the road.  This got me thinking about things we need vs. things we love.  A fifty lb. sack of flour would be a lot more precious than 50 lbs. of china to someone in need of bread, but the china would hold memories for generations.

lexingtonhorsefarmMy husband I didn’t have to throw anything out of the truck, but we had to deal with the strain of travel.  We were a few miles from home when we had to stop for the first time to retape the sheeting. Fifty miles later, we  bought three more bungee cords at a truck stop on I-81, the main thoroughfare through the Shenandoah Valley.

At sunset, we were in the Wal-Mart in Lexington, Virginia  buying more plastic sheeting because the wind had whipped holes in the first layer.

We made it, though. We’re safely in Lexington, Kentucky and its beautiful! I’m in Bluegrass Country! The truck is safely parked (make that hidden!) in my in-laws garage, waiting to be unloaded.  We might just leave it there until we find our new homestead.  The looking starts tomorrow and I can’t wait.

The modern day Conestoga has arrived at last! 

Victoria Bylin
Victoria Bylin is under contract with Bethany House Publishers for two inspirational contemporary romances.Prior to jumping to the present day, she wrote westerns for Harlequin Historical and Love Inspired Historical. Her books have finaled in the ACFW Carol Awards, the Rita Awards and RT Magazine’s Reviewers’ Choice Awards. She and her husband live in Lexington, Kentucky and have two grown sons. You can learn more about Vicki at www.victoriabylin.com
Updated: October 17, 2009 — 8:47 am

22 Comments

  1. Loved reading about your trip, Vickie, and am so glad you arrived safely. That you found time to blog for us is so impressive at such a busy time.

    Good luck on the househunting! Fun but stressful, eh?

  2. Sounds like quite an adventure! Reminds me of the trips we would take when the kids were toddlers. We thought we needed everything they had at home on the trip. High chairs, cribs, exercise saucers, swings, you name it. Not to mention the entire medicine cabinet in case soemone got sick. Packed that minivan to the roof, all for a weekend excursion. Crazy.

  3. Vicki.

    What an adventure. Love the photo of the ranch and horses. It can be rough when you move.

    I am so glad you made it there safely. It always seems to rain when we move to

    Hang in there before you know it you will be settled into a new home

    Walk in peace and harmony,
    Melinda

  4. Glad you trip went safely. Good luck house hunting.That would be so stressful, plus packing and unpacking. Blessings.

    tarenn98[at]yahoo[dot]com

  5. You’re a modern day pioneer, Vicki! So glad you were able to sell your other home and make the move safely. Here’s hoping you won’t take too long to find the perfect house! Lexington sounds like a beautiful place.

  6. What an adventure! But Vicki, what about your phone? Whenever I’m caught without my camera I grab my phone–or someone elses, because I can’t bear to miss a photo opportunity.

    I can relate to your trip. We took one much like it once when we moved my m-i-l’s belongings in the rain, but we didn’t have near as far to go. We did have a driver behind us to make sure nothing happened though.

    Glad you’d landed safe and sound and I can’t wait to hear about the new home you choose.

  7. Welcome to Kentucky Vickie! It is usually not this wet in KY but this year the rain hasn’t stopped. My back yard is one big mud hole. I live about 50 miles from Lexington and yes KY is a beautiful state. I hope you enjoy your stay!

  8. Vicki, you had me chuckling. I can just see you now. That probably really resembled the vehicles on The Grapes of Wrath. All you really needed was tying a mattress on the roof of the pickup. LOL Glad you arrived in Kentucky safe and sound though. Wishing you lots of luck on the house hunt. 🙂

  9. Hope you find a house soon. I haven’t moved in about 3 1/2 years but my kids hate it when they have to move my books.

  10. Hi Vicki – your tale reminded me of the old TV show, the Beverly Hillbillies, with your truck all packed up. What an adventure! I hope you LOVE your new area, it looks amazing and I hope you find the home of your dreams!!

  11. I love the way you described your trip. I too would have hated having to leave anything behind. I’ve only traveled through Kentucky but I’ve always said it was one of the prettiest states. Good luck to you!

  12. Vicki, God bless you in your new terrain and house hunt. The pictures are gorgeous. We haven’t moved since 1985, and even then it was about a half-mile away, so I am positive it would/will be a horror story if/when we do. (Real estate is a mess in California right now so I don’t see us making such a decision any time soon.)

    I loved your parallels to how it might have been for the pioneers. oxoxoxox

  13. Hello everyone! I’m late checking in . . . The internet is out at my inlaws, so I’m at a wonderful Starbuck’s in Lexington. We spent the morning looking at houses. Lots to see! It’s a big decision . . .

    Pam, “Fun but stressful” says it perfectly. Today we found a house we loved, BUT the kitchen was tiny. Have to keep looking!

    Hello Karen, I hear you on needing stuff. We ended up buying toothbrushes because we couldn’t find the case with toiletries. Aaaargh!

  14. Hello everyone! I’m late checking in . . . The internet is out at my inlaws, so I’m at a wonderful Starbuck’s in Lexington. We spent the morning looking at houses. Lots to see! It’s a big decision . . .

    Pam, “Fun but stressful” says it perfectly. Today we found a house we loved, BUT the kitchen was tiny. Have to keep looking!

    Hello Karen, I hear you on needing stuff. We ended up buying toothbrushes because we couldn’t find the case with toiletries. Aaaargh!

  15. Howdy Melinda, Kentucky is beautiful. A few years ago we drove all over looking at the horse ranches for fun. Love ’em! Had to laugh about the rain . . . it poured yesterday! Today is better.

    Hi April, This is definitely stressful, but I’ve had an amazing level of peace. We know this move is right, so we’re enthused.

    Hello Elizabeth, We’re *this close* to making an offer on a house. We’re going to sleep on it and decide tomorrow. We love it, except for one thing. It’s a big decision!

  16. Hi Cheryl, I know there’s a way to get the pics out of the phone, but I don’t know what it is. Once we’re settled, I hope to get back up to speed. It’s been a real adventure!

    Hello Quilt Lady, I thought of you as we passed through Ashland! My inlaws mentioned the rain, too. It’s inconvenient, but it’s given us a chance to check drainage as we look at houses.

    Howdy Linda, Yep. “The Grapes of Wrath” definitely came to mind. So did “The Beverly Hillbillies” with Granny’s rocker!

  17. Hi Linda, Moving is definitely a chore. We’re more than halfway there, though. I think it’s easy to unload than pack! Can’t wait to get settled!

    Hello Charlene, I actually had a very old rocker that looked like Granny’s from the Beverly Hillbillies. I wish we’d kept it just for the effect : )

    Hi Jeanne, I love the green landscape, but the best part of KY so far is the people. Wow! Are they nice! It’s been great!

    Hello Tanya, The housing market is insane. We were very fortunate to sell as quickly as we did. I’m excited about buying, because I really believe some person is going to be as thrilled to sell as we were.

    Take care, everyone! I’ll try to check back, but the internet is tricky right now . . . I can’t wait to get my own modem back!

  18. Congratulations on your successful move, Vickie. We went on a week long fishing trip to a Minnesota lake and I SWEAR we took more stuff that Pa Ingalls did when he set off across five states to live.

    It’s crazy how much we think we ‘need.’ 🙂

  19. Loved your trip story. I’ll confess to having had the same nostalgic thoughts about how on earth pioneers managed while travelling on that very same stretch of highway. — Hope the transition, house hunting and settling in, comes off well (and quickly). — It’s nowhere near as exciting, or romantic, to experience these things first hand then it is to read about them happening to someone else. —– You’ve picked a dream area to settle.

  20. Hi Mary! I hear you on Pa Ingalls! I love those books. Our realtor told us one of the things people most want is storage space. Not just big closest, but attic storage, garage shelves, etc..

    Hi Erin, So true about romantic dreams vs. reality! It’s much easier to imagine the perfect house than toa ctually find it! This *really* is a nice area. So far, we love it!

  21. Avatar

    Been there, done that. We were military and moved enough times to get really good at it. I usually pack the boxes and my husband packs the truck. He really does a good job. Had we passed you, he would have been commenting on how to fix the load. I got pretty good at packing my van. Moved my aunt’s complete household from upstate N.Y. to NE TN. Took 6 trips and I packed and loaded it all. One thing my husband failed to tell me about was to watch the weight. I certainly overloaded that poor van. We needed new shocks when I finished.
    Unfortunately, I never learned to lighten the load. We always just made an extra trip or rented a bigger truck (in addition to the moving van). Instead of pitching things by the side of the trail, I would probably have purchased another wagon and team of oxen. I’m hopeless. Those books are heavy but so important.
    Good luck with the house hunting. Have passed through that part of the country and it is lovely. We moved from Northern Virginia to NE TN several years ago and yes, the Shenandoah Valley is lovely. However, we travel it to visit our families and I think it gets longer every time.

  22. I am happy to hear you made a safe trip, it would have been great had you gotten a picture of it. Cheryl is right where was your phone? I guess we are used to have something to take pictures with all time. Maybe someone got a picture and we will see it on some blog page one day.
    You made me laugh so that made my day.
    Hope you find a place soon I liked the picture on the blog who’s house is that?

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