Grid Pattern Rules!

Lubbock has it’s “main roads”, North Loop, 4th, 19th, 34th, 50th, South Loop, 82nd, I-27, Avenue Q, University, Indiana, Quaker, Slide, Frankfort, West Loop, and the newest addition, the Marsha Sharp Freeway; each separated by a miles, making this excellent 7 mile by 8 mile grid pattern for getting around. With only 52 square miles to worry about, things usually aren’t that difficult to find.

Phoenix, and by Phoenix I mean “The Valley” has it’s “main roads” Loop 101, I-17, US-51, I-10, Loop 202, Loop 143, separated by miles of surface streets, making a semi-reasonable grid pattern of 60 miles wide by 50 miles high, just 3000 square miles to worry about.

That’s kind of an exaggeration, if you were to take a look at a map of Phoenix you’ll see it’s not completely filled in rectangle, but its close. It is nice that most major street run North-South or East-West. Also if you are in “East Valley” and want to go to the closest In-N-Out burger, there is one within several miles, you don’t have to drive to “West Valley” for that. I would wager that if you made a list of all the things you purchased last year, you could find two shops for it in Phoenix, you then just go to the closer one.

My job has required I drive all over the valley, but each place is easy to get to, you start from wherever you are, you find out which surface street takes you to an interstate or US highway, you find out if you can stay on that major road, or merge or exit onto another one, then find out which surface street you want to exit onto, then where you turn after that, and you are there.

Anecdotally I was told two things today. First that there are people who live in Phoenix but never, under any circumstances, drive on the freeway; my co-worker tells me he knows a person who hasn't driven on the freeway in 15 years. Which I can understand, you don't have to use the interstates to get from a to b, you could take some of the surface street all over town, it would just take forever. Secondly I've also been told that right now during the "winter months", all the "Snow birds" are in town, just adding to the traffic congestion. "Snow birds" are affluent people, usually elderly, who live in sunnier climates during the winter months, and milder climates during the summer months. Obviously Phoenix makes a great selection for many elderly, what with their attractive golf courses and beautiful weather. I asked "why are they on the road in rush hour?" and was told that they wake up early, and drive to their doctors appointments.

Granted there is much more traffic in Phoenix on the interstates than you will ever find in Lubbock (even after a Tech game). There are occasionally times when an interstate can grind to a complete halt, for 20 minutes or more moving one car length every 1 minute, as your engine just gets hotter as you sit in idle. The worst times you will eventually pass the 2 car pileup that seems obvious to have stopped you in your tracks, other times it will be nothing, and traffic will just slowly thin out till you can again reach the speed limit.

Boilers and Electric Water Heaters

Many Lubbock apartments use gas water heaters, but there is a distinct absence of gas water heaters (perhaps there are no natural gas pipelines/systems in place) here in Phoenix.  A few places use electric water heaters, but I’ve noticed “boilers” in place in more than one apartment complex. For those who haven’t heard of them, the boiler can be a large tank that heats water, but uses the steam of that water to heat the water that goes into your home.  For an apartment they are centrally located and provide hot water to all the apartments, this does free up that extra three foot by three foot room in your apartment for something else, and usually means you pay your complex a monthly fee for “hot water” instead of variable gas bill to another company.


Moving Truck

Spent the last two weeks packing up all the stuff in Lubbock that was left in the apartment and moving it to the new Phoenix apartment; all in all it went pretty well.

After an unseasonably warm winter, it became fantastically cold in Lubbock right as we were loading the truck, but our movers still did a great job.

Since this is a blog aimed at people moving from Lubbock to Phoenix, here’s what I learned from the experience.

Budget rental trucks have a 10% coupon in the United States Postal Service change of address form.  We got a rental truck from Budget Truck.com and it worked out great, they didn’t have the car carrier (the kind that completely lifts the car off the ground) available until 5:30 PM the day we picked up the truck.  That was fine since we weren’t planning to leave until the next day, but that would be something I would double check first.  My wife’s tiny car was so low to the ground that it didn’t clear the top of the side of the trailer when she opened the door, so we had to load it on the side and then get the door half open and climb halfway out the window then close the window from the outside.

A 15’ Budget Truck with a car carrier ended up being around $900+.  It would have been $850+ but we were over our miles because of the route we took.  Instead of taking the route I blogged about earlier, we decided to bypass the Guadalupe mountains by taking US 62 out to Odessa, then I 20, then I 10 to El Paso and spent the night at El Paso.  This added probably 100 miles onto the trip.  We hadn’t anticipated the increased fuel costs, time, and being over our mileage, but I would do it again if given the opportunity.  There were some uphills that the truck had trouble getting up, but it was worth it to avoid those crazy mountains East of El Paso.

We had the company “Affordable Moving” out of Lubbock load our truck, a great company that I would recommend to anyone, they charge at least a two hour minimum and a 4% surcharge for credit cards, so the total was $144.02, we had the guys for two hours and they loaded everything we had into the truck, it just barely fit.  If we had taken the washer and dryer with us we would have had to upgrade to the bigger truck.  My tip, drop by the rental office and ask to see the inside of a truck sometime so you have an idea of what kind of space you can work with.

Taking “the Odessa route” with that big moving truck and a car being towed on the back changed our travel time from Lubbock to El Paso to about 9 hours, from El Paso to Phoenix with that truck (but the usual I 10 route) took about 8 hours.  As always, I suggest the “spend the night in El Paso” option.

If you happen to drive your own rental truck, be very aware of the road at all times, continually check your mirrors, and watch out as semi trucks pass you (or you pass them) as the wind coming off their vehicles sometimes pushes you away or pulls you toward them.  Try to turn on your turn signal, wait as you check and then double check your mirrors, then change lanes, those blind spots are trouble.

Things took a turn for the worse once we got into Phoenix, the company I had arranged to unload consisted of two guys who showed up in a little car, one of them missing all his fingers but the thumb on his right hand and spoke no English.  It was likely he was just a “day laborer” that had been picked up on the way over.  I had specified on the phone that a dolly (hand truck) and furniture movers would be needed to transport our stuff from the truck to the new apartment, with no such tools at their disposal, it took 4 hours to unload as opposed to the 2 hours to load.  A big thumbs down for Big Mountain Movers.

The wife gives the new apartment a 90 out of 100.  We have spent our first few days in Phoenix together just going through all the boxes and making some general decisions about what goes where in our new apartment.


102 days without rain

So Phoenix has been setting a record lately. 102 days without rain. A relative asked me what that’s like.

When I first moved into my new apartment in Lubbock, I used to get shocked every time I touched anything metal (a fresh shampoo of the carpets will do that, something weird with static). Over time I started to get shocked less and less, and after 2 years it doesn’t happen at all. It was only after getting to my new job in Phoenix and again getting shocked by every metal object there that I realized “Hey my old apartment doesn’t shock me anymore”.

I’m trying to draw a parallel here. When I was in Lubbock, and it rained, it was only an inconvenience to me. I’m no longer in the farming business, so I don’t need the water, I don’t have a lawn because I’m in an apartment so I don’t get to save money by having to water it less. The only thing the rain did for me was cause me to get wet, my car windows to get dirty (because the rain would turn the dust on the car to mud), the alley between me and the dumpster to be impassable for days, and having to drive slowly on the roads and avoid the big puddles. –I should note for those unfamiliar to Lubbock: Lubbock has a drainage problem in that it’s mainly the same elevation all around the county, so the rain doesn’t have much anywhere to go. This often results in a brief rain storm leaving rain in on the sides of the road for hours after it’s passed, and an extended rain storm to have foot deep puddles on the sides of the road that make the right hand lane unusable.

I had a running joke going with this guy who worked at a convenience store on my way to work that I was “the man who hates rain” after I told him that as a non-farmer rain was just an inconvenience.

What I’m trying to say here is that I regarded both the rain and the static shocks as just inconveniences, and when inconveniences that seem to just happen at random intervals occur less frequently, or stop all together, you don’t notice it until someone says “Hey it hasn’t rained in over 100 days!”

Now if it turned into “it hasn’t rained in 120 days and when you step in the shower it only comes out as a trickle because we are running out of water”, I would be very concerned that we hadn’t gotten any rainfall. Much like “Meatless Mondays” or “Wheatless Wednesdays” made every citizen realize that we were at war, the lack of them allows me to hurtle through life blissfully unaware.