When Tara and I plotted our escape from the Pacific Northwest in 2018, we had a lot of time to prepare. About eight months from the moment we made that decision over mozzarella-wrapped fried pickles in a Rapid City pub one warm fall evening. So much time, we embarked upon a “PNW Farewell Tour,” revisiting a lot of our favorite haunts before hitting the road for good.
This time is not like that.
Instead of a blog countdown starting at 132 days, we’ve had barely two weeks to pull this all together. And damn if we haven’t done exactly that! More than one person has said, after seeing how quickly all the pieces have fallen into place, that we’ve inspired them to consider quitting their jobs and moving, too. Names withheld to protect the innocent.
That eight-month wait was excruciating. We were so eager to start our new lives, it felt like we might go mad at times. I much prefer this faster rip-the-band-aid-off approach, though the downside is, we haven’t been able to do a “South Dakota Farewell Tour.” Not that there are as many must-see-one-more-time attractions here. We did order Chinese food from Great Wall on Saturday. I stopped by my favorite coffee shop on the way to work this morning. And this evening, we took one final drive through some of our most treasured spots in the Black Hills.
Final does not mean forever, I should point out. We’ll be back out here again, but as visitors instead of residents. What a strange thought.
We decided to pick up sandwiches and enjoy a picnic at Sylvan Lake. It’s been hot, so I figured we’d find a spot near the water, maybe dip our toes in. Catch a nice sunset. But Mother Nature had other plans. We’d been keeping an eye on dark clouds moving in from the west, and by the time we reached the lake, thunder was rumbling in the distance. Soon, torrential rain was falling, accompanied by wicked lightning. We drove down the Needles Highway, pulled into a scenic overlook, and ate our sandwiches in the car while watching the storm.
Turned out to be way better than a boring old sunset would’ve been.
Rapid City Pros and Cons
In case there’s any question about it, I will miss this place. We took a gamble coming out here and have never once regretted that decision. We’re giving up a lot, but hopefully, gaining more.
Rapid City isn’t perfect. There’s an underlying current of racism that has led many Indigenous people to label it “Racist City.” Grand Gateway Hotel, anyone? Even worse, some locals are calling Rapid the “murder capital of the Midwest” after a surge in homicides (three last weekend alone!). That’s in addition to 11 shootings since Aug. 10, including two outside the county fair. Rapid City is one of the 50 most dangerous metro areas in the U.S., a fact that shocks me. But the numbers don’t lie. There have been three times as many murders in Rapid City than Madison so far in 2022, and we have 200,000 fewer people. Ugh.
But, there are a lot of positives to living here. Our historic downtown is compact and walkable, so it’s easy to get around. There are several quality brewpubs in the area. And the natural scenery is quite striking: Rapid Creek runs through the center of town, there are hills with hiking trails in the heart of the city, and of course, the Black Hills are a stone’s throw away. And the people are very nice.
When they aren’t calling you racist slurs or trying to shoot you.
Ha, I kid! I really do like it here. There’s a reason Rapid City is the fastest-growing metro area in the Midwest. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I could happily live the rest of my life here.
But I’m not gonna.
Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow
Today was my last day of work at CenturyCo. Which means, as of this moment, I am officially between jobs. I start my new one on Sept. 6, and while I’d like to think of the intervening 10 days as a vacation, who am I kidding?! Leisure time will be hard to come by.
Though, we are planning to check out the Taste of Madison next weekend. It looks very much like The Bite of Oregon, a beloved annual food festival that went belly up the year we left. 70+ food and beverage vendors and live music on Capital Square? That is so up our alley! It’ll be a great welcome to Wisconsin and a much-needed break after all the work and stress of the move.
Anyway, my last day. It doesn’t even feel real. None of this does! Six months ago, I thought I’d be retiring from CenturyCo. I certainly didn’t expect to be starting a new job (much less one in a different state), but you know what they say about best-laid plans and all that jazz. I wouldn’t call the mood somber, but I didn’t exactly skip around the office.
As much as I love skipping.
I’d met with my supervisor the day I gave notice and we came up with a game plan: a list of tasks to complete before I left. Thanks to a bit of nose-to-the-grindstone determination, even in the midst of all these distractions, I was able to cross every item off that list. Even two “bonus” articles. If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s meeting deadlines. And never burning bridges. I have an open invitation to return any time. I’ve left many jobs over the years; turning in my security badge, bidding farewell to the marketing team, and walking out the CenturyCo doors for the last time this afternoon was one of the toughest.
But, I got ‘er done.
Is ‘What’ Still Available?!
So, tomorrow is the garage sale from hell. By the way, one more thing that bugs me: dozens of people have messaged me through Facebook Marketplace asking, Is this still available?
Holy mother of Toledo, that drives me crazy each and every time! Is what still available?! This is a garage sale. One that implicitly states no pre-sales or holds. Everything is still available. That has been my exact response, too. No doubt there’s a quick-reply button people are pressing with an auto-generated response, but my god, I wish they were a little less lazy and actually thought about what they were doing before replying. People. Sigh.
I will be so glad when it’s over. After we wrap it up tomorrow afternoon, we’re heading down to Paddy O’ Neill’s for what are sure to be some much-needed cocktails.
- Sunday, we pack up the rest of the house minus the bare essentials.
- Monday, we load the U-Haul, with help from our neighbor across the street and a few of his cronies (Christmas Light Kelly’s idea, and an excellent one at that.)
- Tuesday morning, we leave South Dakota with all our worldly possessions in tow. Destination: Austin, Minnesota. Home of the Spam Museum.
- Wednesday, we arrive in Wisconsin.
- Thursday, we move into our apartment in Fort Atkinson.
The only way to tackle that schedule is one day at a time. Whatever happened to Schneider, anyway?
Insane, But Admirable
The Travel Architect commented, I can’t believe you’re continuing to blog during this move. Insane, but admirable.
“Insane, but Admirable” should be our motto for this whole adventure.
And clearly, she forgets that I’m the guy who blogged for hours every night during our road trip last year. Admittedly, that’s more insane than admirable.
She’s not wrong.
So, I’m sure I’ll blog at some point between Here and There. Possibly maybe. Or perhaps you won’t hear from me again until I’m an official Sconnie.
Peace out until then!