Ever thought about ‘making the great escape’? You know, getting out of the city, leaving the rat race behind?….. Leaving L.A.? Well, then….I have a story to tell…..
It was 1998, and I had been toying with a little fantasy for nearly 2 years. It was a dream I had of open space, trees that didn’t sprout from concrete holes, quiet country roads and vast blue skies. Whenever the traffic got to be too much for me, I would look at a map of the U.S. and find a small town. When the lines were too long at the grocery store, I’d go to the library and do some research. When I got tired of the high cost of living, I’d order a newspaper from a quite little corner in the country. I watched reruns of Little House on the Prairie, just to imagine a simpler life.
So, one day, when Hunky Hubby got home from work and exhausted from his 8 mile, forty five minute commute from Redondo Beach, (yes, you read that right) I decided to share my peaceful, little fantasy with him.
By this time, I’d collected quite a bit of research, I was looking for a town with sports, preferably auto racing and plenty of work for my husband, a college town for our boys, then ages 16, 10 & 8, and a place with some history and culture for me. I had narrowed my fantasy life to 3 small towns, one in Oregon, one in Idaho and one in Wyoming. Although I had phone books, newspapers, maps and brochures, and a good case for each town, I was fully aware that this was just a fantasy…a coping technique, for days when I couldn’t find space to store one more item in the teeny, tiny house we rented for an outrageous amount of money. And, I thought maybe Hunky Hubby needed a faraway dream to help him cope.
I was surprised when he actually reviewed the material thoughtfully, asking questions and taking my research seriously. After all, he had grown up in Manhattan Beach, I was from Long Beach, and we had both decided that the 5 years we had spent living in Palmdale were much too far from the ocean. But after considering my presentation, my beach boy looked at me and said “We’re not moving, but Casper, Wyoming looks like a great place for a vacation!’
And so, after nearly two years of research, and a couple of months of planning, we packed our suitcases and left to visit one of the little towns I had researched so diligently as part of my fantasy.
It was late August, and we were shocked to need sweaters and jackets as we drove across the Wyoming State line at 7am. But the crisp mountain air was refreshing and invigorating. We arrived at our destination and spent ten days exploring, visiting historic sites, enjoying the state fair, seeing a rodeo, and going to the dragstrip in a nearby town. Then one day we stood on top of Casper Mountain, looking down at all of that amazing open space, and decided we could do this. We could leave the city… we could make The Great Escape.
It actually took another 4 years to put all of the pieces in place. But we did make it happen. We felt like pioneers loading our U-Haul truck until you couldn’t have put a matchstick between the boxes, and heading out to the wild west… only it was actually north east for us.
We landed in town the end of June knowing virtually no one, and having nowhere to live. Hunky Hubby did have a job to start the following Monday, and we had reserved a room at a little motel that had a kitchenette. We unloaded our U-Haul into a storage unit, and Paul started work on Monday……meanwhile, my job was to keep our 10 & 12 year old boys occupied, while finding a house for us to rent………but there were just plain no rentals.
So, within one week, we had made an offer to buy a house with a great location, and lots of ‘potential’, closed escrow in less than a month, and we began to set down roots.
Stay tuned for more about our Great Escape, or The California Implants as we became known.
And please share your own stories about making The Great Escape… or dreams about where you’d like to escape to!