Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Country Jamz, Crock Pots and the DPS

The adventure continues and we have now hit 35 1/2 days left.  Who said I'd be bored during these 7 1/2 weeks in a seedy motel while we await the completion of our house construction.  Oh, that would be me...and I was so wrong.  So, so wrong!  Lots to do, and who wants to sit around a motel anyway....

We have slowly become more comfortable in our little motel by the freeway.  The "comforts of home" often include listening to the daily playlists of our downstairs neighbor, aka "Country Jamz".  It is not unusual to awaken on a Saturday morning to the musical swooning of George Strait coming from a boombox in Country Jamz's room...while he leaves his door wide open, sits in the bed of his pick up truck having a smoke and pettin' his dog.  He also finds the middle of the weekday, while I am on a conference call, a fine time to do said activity.  It really doesn't bother me, except for the fact that Country Jamz looks suspiciously like the wanted "armed and dangerous" serial robber that has been loose in the greater San Antonio area.  Needless to say, I do not complain.

Cooking in our temporary, humble (and I do mean humble) abode is challenging but not impossible.  Besides, I love a challenge.  Our simple kitchen comes complete with a dorm size microwave, and a dual burner stovetop.

Stovetop with Orgreenic non-stick pan.  It works just like they say it does on TV.

The kitchen also comes with a limited selection of pots and pans, flatware, plates, cups, etc.  Upon review of these tools, I have ventured out to Bed, Bath, and Beyond to buy a few necessary supplies.  I will admit that I am borderline OCD and feel just a bit better about having my own things that no one else has goobered up in any ill-conceived fashion.  We do not have an oven, so Aunt Martha to the rescue has loaned us a crockpot that I have put to very good use.  Tonight it is Chicken Tortilla Soup, crockpot style.  Taking into consideration a few days out of town for work and a few nights out with friends/family, I should only need to come up with 25 more crockpot dinners.....Should be an easy challenge.

During the last 2 1/2 weeks we have managed to get a lot done in preparation for the final move.  We officially have our new address set up and active and our mail is starting to be forwarded.  We have changed  things like insurance (we have saved a crap load moving everything over to USAA - they rock!), checks, and licenses.....oh dear...the license nightmare.  The Department of Public Service, also known as DPS is like a horrible black hole that sucks you up then it will spit you out all shredded and broken.  We spent the better part of 2 days getting new car tags and our driver's license.  You would think it would be as simple as going to the office, surrendering your out of state license, paying a fee, and taking a vision test...but they are out for blood.  In Texas, they want your first and last born before they will issue you a license....if you only have one (or none like us) you're simply screwed.  You must get your tags on your car before you can get a driver's license.  If you don't own a car, you have to take with you the person who owns the car you will drive and they have to show proof of ownership, proof of residency, proof of citizenship, proof of sanity, and  give an oath to support and defend the Alamo as long as you have one foot in Texas.  You think I am kidding?  Oh, I do not jest....We first started this mini-adventure by getting our cars inspected.  We had to show proof of insurance with a minimum amount of coverage as stated by Texas law.  The Cowboy had USAA for his insurance...San Antonio is the home to USAA headquarters.  His proof of insurance was accepted by a glance.  I have American Family out of Colorado....I had to give a blood oath and copies in triplicate of my minimum coverage amount, finally deemed acceptable after a review by the board of directors at Express Lube.  That trip alone - 45 mins.  We were handed a form that we were expressly and wholeheartedly told to never NEVER fold...because the Tax Accessors did NOT like the form damaged in any fashion.  I was told not to even look at the form for fear that it might spontaneously combust.  I am absolutely NOT joking about this.  They put the fear of God in us over that form.  Off to the County Tax Accessor's office where we spent about 1- 1 1/2 hours.  This trip included another thorough review of insurance, a review of my new Betty Boop bank checks which was the only thing we had on us with the new address, to prove we were indeed converting to the Texan lifestyle and the form we were given at Express Lube to show we were inspected and approved and unrumpled in any form or fashion.  

We now move into the final and most dreadful phase of the licensing process.  We were told by everyone to fear the DPS.  I now see why.  I know that in any state, going to get your license can be a daunting task and most offices have a bit of a wait, depending on the time of day, week, month that you go.  In Texas, everything is bigger, slower, and a longer wait...and you have to take every bit of information about your self or you will have to return, over and over.  We had spent most of the morning/day messing with our car plates, but had hoped to get our licenses before the end of day.  We started at one office....the "better office" in town.  After a 1 hour wait in line, we got to the "Welcome Desk".  It is at this point that you declare what you bothered to come in there for, are handed a ream of forms to fill out, told you don't have all the proper paper work and asked to return when you have your crap together.  We didn't have our crap together, despite having followed everything we read online, told by friends/family about the process.  Off we went to get more proof that we are humans, worthy of living in the fair Republic of Texas.  We also had to pee....you don't dare step out of line to pee, in fear that you will lose your place and have to start over.  We left, we peed, we gathered data, we proceeded to another office.  We felt too much shame to go back to the first office where we were unable to prove that we were indeed alive and able to drive.  While standing in the 100 degree weather (at least it is dry here this season - so it was a dry heat) outside under a tent, we realized that the "short line" was just a short line into the building, and did not include the multi-hour wait inside.  We were told that in Boerne, TX, just 25 short minutes away, it would be a quick, slam dunk process.  That ended up being somewhat good advice, yet it was very much not we expected.  By the time we got to that office, it was 3:30pm.  Although the office doesn't close until 5pm, ticket numbers are not given out after 3pm, due to the sheer volume of people that come in.  We later learned that the last person to get in to see the personnel at DPS had arrived at 11am that morning.  We woke up bright and early on the next business day to arrive at the office at 8:15 - just 15 mins after they opened.  We were number 45 in line.  That is not a joke!!!  45!!!  We waited for 3 hours...3 friggen' hours before we were allowed in the super secret room where we would get to see the Wonderful Wizard of DPS.  Our concern was that we did not have 2 ample forms of proof of residency at our new address.  I thought I did, but we did not think that Cowboy did...he had not started changing his address on bank statements and paychecks (I did, but I am a woman...we do that kind of thing immediately).  After yet another hour of reviewing documents, emailing contracts, insurance forms and a picture of our semi-constructed home from the iPad (thank God for that iPad), swearing oaths (yes, I swear that we swore), taking an eye test that I technically failed, but the poor lady kept saying (on the very last line I had to read...) "is that an eight?"  Me:  "Or it could be a six"  Her:  "Yes, a six, continue..." and finally the infamous horrid driver's license picture, we were finally declared a legal citizen of the Republic of Texas and 4 hours - *4 FRIGGEN HOURS LATER* we left and now we have a license to drive like every other insane driver on the freeways of San Antonio....and they are all insane....and I do believe, we are too.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Just 7 1/2 More Weeks....

"Just 7 1/2 more weeks" is what I kept saying as I walked into our current home away from home, interspersed with "after all, this is an adventure, right?"  Last Monday, my BFF and I drove 14 hours from Colorado Springs to San Antonio with the fluffy little one and rolled in to our extended stay motel where my husband had checked us in the previous day.  We (the Cowboy and I) have been "displaced" (i.e. homeless) since July 27th, while we await the completion of our new home in TX.  The first week, we crashed at my BFF's house then we were off to Washington, DC where we attended my husband's birth grandmother's inurnment at Arlington National Cemetery.  He was reunited with his birth mother and her family about 5 or 6 years ago and we have been blessed to have a wonderful relationship with them.  They invited us to be a part of the weekend/week and were able to meet a lot of his distant cousins he had heard about but never met.  They have embraced us with open arms and have made us feel like family.  We cherish the time we have with them making up for the years we have missed together.  

The trip went well.  I always get nervous when everything goes off without a hitch, assuming something really bad will happen, but it was an awesome trip.  It was hot and we walked our legs off.  We were able to get some quality time in with friends we have not seen in a long time, and spent an evening with the Secret Service.  Technically, that would be our friend who works for the SS, on "O"'s detail.  We were able to walk by the White House (several times, and not on purpose, but you have to walk everywhere there to get anywhere).  We also went to Mount Vernon to see George Washington's plantation.  It was so much smaller than I expected, but way cool to me none-the-less.  Mid-week Quin flew back Colorado to pack his car and head to San Antonio while I went off to Minneapolis to the Creative Memories Showcase (convention). It was their 25th anniversary and I was hoping it would be a spectacular trip.  It was indeed fun, as my BFF and another great friend in my sales group joined me there.  It was not the all out bash I had hoped it would be for their 25th anniversary, but as with so many companies, the economy has hit them and they have scaled back in many areas to help keep it the wonderful company that it is.  At week's end I headed back to Colorado for one last night at my friend's house.  Early last morning we packed the car and headed on our way.

Get me OUT OF HERE...it is not funny anymore!  I do NOT like the car and you are NOT my real mother!

The drive was not bad.  It did not seem like a 14 hour drive.  We took some short cuts and it shaved off a good hour or more of the drive.  At last...we arrived to our final destination.  I was so looking forward to being in one place for more than a week.  A place that looked in the pictures like it would be a decent, clean place and as Tom Boddett has mentioned on numerous occasions, they'll leave the light on for us.  What could be bad about a place that sounds so friendly.  I soon found out.....It is not the Ritz.  It is not even Holiday Inn.....it is one step above a crack motel.  It is clean, in that I have found no bugs.  It is smokey smelling not because the rooms are smoking rooms, but because the clientele hang outside on the door steps to smoke and it all comes in through the vents.  No amount of candle burning or cooking inside takes that smell away.  It is livable.  It is decent and it is in a pretty decent area of town.  It could be MUCH worse.  All I could say was "It's only for 7 1/2 weeks, right?"  We are now approaching the 6 week mark.  Specifically we have 43 days 10 hours 28 minutes and 34 seconds...not that I am counting.  It is a fine trade off for what awaits us at the end of those 43+ days....I spend my days staring at a picture of that jacuzzi tub I will enjoy 43 days from now....The least traumatized, oddly, is Harleigh. 

After all...we're really not spending a lot of time here anyway....there is so much to do, so much exploring in this city.  6+ weeks and counting.....