March 19th, 2011 was our last full weekly. Today is July 23rd, 2011. A few days over four months since I stopped publishing our InFocus Weekly column and began my move from Bangkok Thailand to a university town in Central Illinois. Four months of experiences and adventures. I don’t know where to start, and there are some areas which deserve their own articles. So this week, let’s summarize because I know a lot of you are curious as judged by your emails and well wishes.

We stopped publishing after March 19th not because I was leaving Thailand right then, but because I became extremely busy in preparation for the move. My life became very busy, very fast, we left Thailand on the last day of April.

 

March 19th, 2011 was our last full weekly. Today is July 23rd, 2011. A few days over four months since I stopped publishing our InFocus Weekly column and began my move from Bangkok Thailand to a university town in Central Illinois. Four months of experiences and adventures. I don’t know where to start, and there are some areas which deserve their own articles. So this week, let’s summarize because I know a lot of you are curious as judged by your emails and well wishes.

 

During that last month the most time consuming task was arranging for our parrots to accompany us to America. Dogs and cats are easy, a few days of paperwork and a visit to the Thai Livestock veterinarian and you’re cleared to go. Parrots have a much different process.

 

During that last month the most time consuming task was arranging for our parrots to accompany us to America. Dogs and cats are easy, a few days of paperwork and a visit to the Thai Livestock veterinarian and you’re cleared to go. Parrots have a much different process.

 

I’ll be writing an article just on the experience of bringing the parrots out of Thailand in the future. This is a difficult enough task when everything goes right, but with each bird, in different ways, things went seriously wrong. Because of the complexity of this process and because my Thai isn’t absolutely fluent, I came to a point where I realized I wasn’t going to get this done without help.

In desperation I called someone who has worked as my assistant and been referred to as the Chulalongkorn Professor. More than a few of you have met her. Without her generous contribution of time and significant frustrations I would have been forced to give up and find them both homes in Thailand. As it stands now, we have one of the parrots with us in the states and the other soon due to travel to France for a stay there. I’ll explain further in a future submission dedicated to this topic.

 

In desperation I called someone who has worked as my assistant and been referred to as the Chulalongkorn Professor. More than a few of you have met her. Without her generous contribution of time and significant frustrations I would have been forced to give up and find them both homes in Thailand. As it stands now, we have one of the parrots with us in the states and the other soon due to travel to France for a stay there. I’ll explain further in a future submission dedicated to this topic.

 

My wife and I left on the same flight and arrived in Los Angeles the first day of May. I visited with family a few days and the wife stayed on with family while I flew to Oregon to take care of business there. I knew my business would take me until the end of May when I was scheduled to fly into Hawaii for my youngest sons high school graduation.

In late March I’d arranged for Crater Lake Ford in Medford to pull my highly modified Cobra Mustang from storage and prep it for my arrival. My plan was to visit the dealership immediately after arriving into the airport, and drive away in a perfectly working car. Jim Stafford the service manager was great! He worked with me over email and not only performed a ‘start-up service’ to bring it out of storage, but he also fitted new street legal track tires, HID head and fog lights, and much more.

 

In late March I’d arranged for Crater Lake Ford in Medford to pull my highly modified Cobra Mustang from storage and prep it for my arrival. My plan was to visit the dealership immediately after arriving into the airport, and drive away in a perfectly working car. Jim Stafford the service manager was great! He worked with me over email and not only performed a ‘start-up service’ to bring it out of storage, but he also fitted new street legal track tires, HID head and fog lights, and much more.

 

They also performed a very thorough detailing which included repairing paint chips, color sanding, and a high gloss waxing. When I arrived at the dealership my Cobra looked better than when I took delivery. In every way, Crater Lake Ford and their service manager Jim Stafford exceeded my expectations. I couldn’t have been more pleased. I left the dealership very happy, and after paying a very hefty bill. Not because the prices were high, in fact they were very reasonable. But because I kept asking him to add this, change that, do this, because of his easy to work with nature and his “can do” attitude I ended up having twice the planned work accomplished.

 

They also performed a very thorough detailing which included repairing paint chips, color sanding, and a high gloss waxing. When I arrived at the dealership my Cobra looked better than when I took delivery. In every way, Crater Lake Ford and their service manager Jim Stafford exceeded my expectations. I couldn’t have been more pleased. I left the dealership very happy, and after paying a very hefty bill. Not because the prices were high, in fact they were very reasonable. But because I kept asking him to add this, change that, do this, because of his easy to work with nature and his “can do” attitude I ended up having twice the planned work accomplished.

 

Woohoo, the car went so perfectly I found myself a week ahead of schedule so I called up a friend in Roseburg and made plans to visit and catch up. 20 miles outside or Roseburg I stopped to fill up with a tank of $5 a gallon Chevron Premium. The car had run brilliantly up to this point and I couldn’t have been more pleased. I was chuffed.

By the time I made Roseburg the car had filled with the smell or raw nasty gas, white smoke was pouring out of both tailpipes, and the car was barely running. This episode is going to require its own article as well, but I’ll leave you knowing it cost me over $3000 and two weeks time. Yes, it was bad gas.

 

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During my down time in Roseburg I rented a small variety of rental cars/trucks, visited some scenic locations, visited friends, and enjoyed a lot of food not available in Thailand.

 

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Once the Cobra was sorted it was time to head back down to Medford and start organizing my storage. During my time in Thailand I’d rented a 30x25 foot storage in a secure lot for the Cobra and all my garage and gun stuff. I needed to inspect, repack and organize to get things ready to be packed into a rental moving truck, and access other needs. The plan was for my son and I to load it all up into a rental truck and drive across the states to our new home.

On May 29th I pulled into the really nice Holiday Inn in Portland Oregon and they let me park my Cobra right in front of the lobby doors. They were worried it would get stolen. This Holiday Inn has a “stay and park” arrangement where you can stay the night, leave your car, they’ll shuttle you to the airport and pick you up on your return, and they’ll keep your car safe and sound while you’re gone. This is far preferable to leaving the car in long term parking where thefts are rampant.

 

On May 29th I pulled into the really nice Holiday Inn in Portland Oregon and they let me park my Cobra right in front of the lobby doors. They were worried it would get stolen. This Holiday Inn has a “stay and park” arrangement where you can stay the night, leave your car, they’ll shuttle you to the airport and pick you up on your return, and they’ll keep your car safe and sound while you’re gone. This is far preferable to leaving the car in long term parking where thefts are rampant.

 

Both the room and restaurant were very nice, and at 0430 the next morning they shuttled me to Alaskan Airlines for my six hour flight to Honolulu. The flight was uneventful and after a two hour layover I was on my 50 minute hop over to Hilo courtesy of Hawaiian Airlines. My son who I hadn’t seen in nearly a year was standing there with a huge smile looking taller than the last time I saw him.

He’d booked me into Uncle Billy’s Hawaiian Hotel which turned out to be quite the experience. This is an old 1930-1940’s style hotel with huge rooms, huge hallways, and a family feeling you’re not soon to forget. Nothing is new or even in good repair, but you still feel comfortable and there were plenty of restaurants and clubs without walking distance so I elected to not rent a car.

 

He’d booked me into Uncle Billy’s Hawaiian Hotel which turned out to be quite the experience. This is an old 1930-1940’s style hotel with huge rooms, huge hallways, and a family feeling you’re not soon to forget. Nothing is new or even in good repair, but you still feel comfortable and there were plenty of restaurants and clubs without walking distance so I elected to not rent a car.

 

The next day I had the absolute pleasure of attending his graduation ceremony which I wrote about here.

We’d arranged to fly back to the mainland together three days later, giving him time to pack and say goodbye to his friends. I had a very relaxing three days, reading, watching movies, and talking walks along the beautiful beach. I also ate more than my share of Uncle Billy’s Chili Cheese Dogs.. J

On June 5th we boarded an Hawaiian Airlines flight to Maui and then onto Portland Oregon, arriving right before midnight. As promised, the Holiday Inn shuttle van was there to pick us up.

My wife was supposed to make the drive from Los Angeles to the animal quarantine center in San Ysidro to spring our parrot from the lock up, but circumstances prevented this so I’d arranged via phone to have the quarantine guys air ship him to me in Portland, arriving on a flight two hours before my own. The shuttle van driver ran us by the cargo pickup building and we were reunited with Caesar my oldest African Grey Parrot. Can you imagine a dog jumping all over you, all happy to see you after a month’s absence? Okay, now transfer that to a parrot and you’ll have an accurate picture.. J

The next day the three of us tried to fit all of my sons bags into the Cobra. It was immediately apparent we’d never do that, so we loaded up a taxi instead and headed to the Greyhound Station so they could ship his biggest bags to Medford where we’d pick them up the next day. Airlines will no longer ship your “luggage” if you’re not on the flight. You need to take it to a carrier like Fedex or UPS and pay a fortune. If you can wait a day, Greyhound is an economical alternative.

Later that day the three of us arrived into Medford and my hotel receptionist was delighted to make Caesar’s acquaintance. To their credit, they didn’t charge a parrot in a cage the pet fee like they would for a dog or cat.

They next morning we checked out our Budget Rental Truck, retrieved my sons bags from Greyhound, and started loading our storage into the truck. The next day we finished. Looking at the truck which was now resting on its suspension travel stops we became acutely aware of how overloaded it was. You see, these trucks are designed for regular furniture which weighs quite a bit less than heavy garage equipment. After a thorough inspection to make sure we weren’t in immediate danger, we connected the car trailer to the truck and ran the Cobra up on the trailer. We slowly drove back to the hotel hoping to get some sleep before our early AM departure.

 

They next morning we checked out our Budget Rental Truck, retrieved my sons bags from Greyhound, and started loading our storage into the truck. The next day we finished. Looking at the truck which was now resting on its suspension travel stops we became acutely aware of how overloaded it was. You see, these trucks are designed for regular furniture which weighs quite a bit less than heavy garage equipment. After a thorough inspection to make sure we weren’t in immediate danger, we connected the car trailer to the truck and ran the Cobra up on the trailer. We slowly drove back to the hotel hoping to get some sleep before our early AM departure.

 

Early the next morning we headed out on the Oregon back roads across the Cascades (mountains). This route was off the major interstates, but it helped us avoid a 600 mile detour required to stay on the interstate. However, because the truck was overloaded it was very fatiguing to keep it centered on the rough roads so it was very slow going until we connected back up to the main interstates the next day.

We continued on to Central Illinois in this manner, 350-400 very fatiguing miles each day. Unfortunately the rental agencies have a minimum age for drivers of 25, so my son couldn’t share the driving, and considering the overloaded truck I wouldn’t have wanted him to anyway. Several times a day we’d stop to inspect our load, re-tighten anything that needed re-tightening, and rest a bit. In this manner we arrived at our new hometown nine days later.

 

We continued on to Central Illinois in this manner, 350-400 very fatiguing miles each day. Unfortunately the rental agencies have a minimum age for drivers of 25, so my son couldn’t share the driving, and considering the overloaded truck I wouldn’t have wanted him to anyway. Several times a day we’d stop to inspect our load, re-tighten anything that needed re-tightening, and rest a bit. In this manner we arrived at our new hometown nine days later.

 

My next oldest son met us there and helped us take possession of our new home. The next two days were spent unloading the truck and we returned it the following morning.

Our furniture was scheduled to arrive the next day, but we received a call from the moving company letting us know our shipment would be delayed several weeks due to US Customs pulling our shipment for a close inspection. I’ll go into this later with pictures, a copy of their invoice, and more.. but for now I’ll tell you they charged me close to $5000 for the inspection and of course didn’t find a single item that wasn’t supposed to be there.

My son and I slept on the floor of the empty house for the next 12 days with not much to do except play with our parrot who had plenty of pent up energy after 30 days in isolation, and visit every restaurant in town. On the 13th day my wife flew in from Los Angeles and on the 14th day they delivered our household goods shipment.

We were shocked to find US Customs trashed our container while opening roughly 60-65% of every box. You can tell what boxes they opened, because they’re resealed in green US Customs tape. And you could also tell because of the destruction they left behind. My 50 inch plasma was trashed, my Sleep Number bed trashed, four pieces of our bedroom set were trashed, and much more. We were shocked. In over 35 years of such moves, this was the first time US Customs had ever inspected my shipment, and it was the first time I ever had damage for any reason. And they charged us $5000 for their hard work destroying my belongings!

 

We were shocked to find US Customs trashed our container while opening roughly 60-65% of every box. You can tell what boxes they opened, because they’re resealed in green US Customs tape. And you could also tell because of the destruction they left behind. My 50 inch plasma was trashed, my Sleep Number bed trashed, four pieces of our bedroom set were trashed, and much more. We were shocked. In over 35 years of such moves, this was the first time US Customs had ever inspected my shipment, and it was the first time I ever had damage for any reason. And they charged us $5000 for their hard work destroying my belongings!

 

We were shocked to find US Customs trashed our container while opening roughly 60-65% of every box. You can tell what boxes they opened, because they’re resealed in green US Customs tape. And you could also tell because of the destruction they left behind. My 50 inch plasma was trashed, my Sleep Number bed trashed, four pieces of our bedroom set were trashed, and much more. We were shocked. In over 35 years of such moves, this was the first time US Customs had ever inspected my shipment, and it was the first time I ever had damage for any reason. And they charged us $5000 for their hard work destroying my belongings!

 

The next 4-5 weeks to date were spent unpacking and setting up house. Much needed to be done from setting up our home network, to repairing broken items from our shipment, getting new drivers licenses, finding doctors for the family, buying a new family car, and so much more.

As I write this the interior of our home is 95% complete. We have a few more things to hang, and I think two more boxes to unpack. We’re clean, organized, and very comfortable. We still need to organize our garage which will probably take the next few weeks. I’ve helped my son check into the university, and had a great time catching up with my older son.

In the next few columns I’ll write some individual pieces as mentioned above, mostly to provide information to others who might someday ship a parrot or make use of Thailand’s moving companies. And a few other pieces just for fun. It was a long hard move every step of the way. Much went wrong, but most went right. We continue to live and learn.

Until next time..