Saturday, June 26, 2010

The adventures of moving

Moving, selecting a moving company ... I am pretty sure anyone who has used a mover would have a story to tell.

After two weeks of packing, moving and selling stuff, we are finally moved out of the house. Yeah! Family in Boston bought the bulk of our furniture, and we helped them find a moving company. If you have researched for a moving company, you'll know what excruciating pain you have to go through. All the horror stories you read on the internet are enough to scare you. And they are true. 'Cos it happened to us. We diligently did our homework, selected what we thought was a reputable moving company that got good reviews, only to find it did not honor its words. Not about money, but about pick up.

We should have known. A week before our scheduled pick up, some people called a couple of times to verify our number. It was very odd because they hung up before we had time to inquire about the calls. It was the mover's area code. The next day, some guy called and said they will be coming to pick up our furniture. It was a week early. We were not ready to be moved! All the guy was concerned about was if we could pay cash. After many arguments and calls to the office, it finally dawned on them that they had the wrong address. That did not give me a good feeling, but we stuck it out because we had done our research, and had already gave them a deposit.

Imagine you have to move out in a few days. The company (Victory Van Lines out of Maryland) you had carefully selected weeks before never even called. When we called them the morning of our scheduled move, they said they CANNOT come to pick up because their truck is FULL. And they cannot send another truck until 6 days later. What? Don't they understand that people have to move out by a certain time? Even if we can wait, how can we trust them now? How could a moving company be so poor with their planning and estimate? To add to our pain and frustration, they were rude. You bet we were furious. We scrambled to look for another mover.

Luckily, we had kept notes of the various moving companies from our research. Arpin Van Lines stepped up to the plate. They so happened to have a delivery to Connecticut the coming weekend, and we would be the second stop. It was several hundred dollars more, but we were relieved that we were dealing with a bigger and more professional company. Two guys came the next day (Wed) to pick up. They were very professional, and we were pleased.

Here's the bad part. The weekend came. No calls, no delivery. We tried calling them, to no avail. When we finally got a hold of someone on Monday, we discovered that they didn't even know where our stuff is! There was no communication between the office and their truck drivers. We suspect the company contracts out the job to smaller movers. Anyway, a few days later, we got a call to tell us that the delivery will be the following Monday, but will cost $300 more. The excuse is that the 18-wheeler cannot go on the side street, and they have to unload the furniture onto a smaller truck. Just yesterday, we got another call to ask if we could pay cash. This seems to be rampant in this industry. An industry that needs to be regulated, I might add. Well, Monday is just around the corner. We shall see whether our furniture makes it to Boston.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Florida Gulf Coast Beaches

Sorry for the long absence. Have been busy packing and moving. Moving back to the boat full time, for the second time in ten years. This time we are really downsizing, that is, selling everything, giving stuff away and throwing things out. No more storage. We've learned our lesson.

Knowing that we are leaving Florida, and that perhaps the BP Oil Spill might (but hopefully NOT) spoil the lovely beaches on the Florida Gulf Coast, we made time to visit our favorites beaches - Clearwater, Ft DeSoto, Anna Maria, Longboat Key and Siesta Key. Caladesi is accessible by boat only, and since Mai Thai is in Tennessee, we didn't go there. People who come visit us always request to go to Clearwater, a beach we try to avoid. There are so many choices, so why should we hang out with the tourists, get stuck in traffic and have to pay for parking? This is laid back Florida after all. We gave in and went late one day. The water was so warm it felt like water in a hot tub! A few days earlier, we had gone to Siesta Key. The sun had hid behind the clouds, so instead of a sunset we got to see a wedding taking place on the beach. We lucked out at Clearwater. The sunset was absolutely spectacular, one that is comparable to Key West's, only without the fanfare.
sunset at Clearwater Beach
a wedding at Siesta Key
At Longboat Key, boats were out in full swing over Memorial Day weekend. We've never seen this quaint locale so busy with many anchored boats, as well as water police and Sea Tow. We had gotten a ticket ($75) here once, when we were exploring on our dinghy and had one less life jacket than we should. Still, we miss boating in Florida, the sparkling ocean blue water...Check out our Memorial Day Weekend boating fun at Fort McRae, near Pensacola Inlet.
While checking out our old stomping ground, we ran into peacocks that roam freely around the neighborhood. One even strutted and showed off his plumage.

Memorial Day Weekend at Longboat Key

Ft DeSoto, a Pinellas County State Park in St Pete - my favorite beach of all times. We had not been here for over a year. It is even more beautiful than we remember it. We got to the North Beach yesterday just before 10 am. A bunch of young, good-looking lifeguards were getting ready to man their stations. It was like a scene out of Baywatch. How cool is that?

Let's hope and pray the oil will not hit this part of Florida. The state has been the first to suffer from the economic downturn due to the housing bust. The last thing Florida needs is another blow, to its tourism business. Not to mention the impact on the wildlife and its ecosystem.
Ft DeSoto North Beach

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