Last Day

Last Day

Colorado Springs, Colorado – March 25, 2009

This was my last day in Colorado Springs for a while, as well as my last night spent in our home on Squaw Valley Drive.  I went to sleep with some trepidation because a big blizzard was due the next morning.  The weather forecast was calling for as much as one foot of snow.  As much as I like to be ahead of things, this prospect made me very nervous.  Regardless, heading to  Washington, D.C. to begin training for my new job with the Department of State is very exciting.  I wonder where this “Great Adventure” will take my family and me?

A spring snowstorm, a sign of things to come.

The evening prior to my departure, March 24, we had a farewell dinner with Father Larry at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Pueblo Viejo.

My family and I have been waiting for this moment since October 17, 2007, when I first applied to the Department of State.  I made the application on-line at after receiving a tip from a friend in Boy Scouts that there were tons of jobs on that site.  He specifically mentioned real estate jobs.  When I did my search I found a posting for a job at a U.S. embassy.  After I hit the submit button, I did not hear anything for months.  Since my application had gone in on a website, I had no one with whom I could follow up to check the status of my application.

It was not until late May or early June of 2008 that I finally received a letter from the Department of State.  It was an invitation to go to Washington, D.C. for an interview on July 18 for a facility manager position.  At that time we were as poor as two church mice.  We had no idea where or how we would come up with the money necessary for the trip.  However, we ultimately decided we had no choice.  We had to find the money.  Somehow we were able to do that.

I arrived in Baltimore, Maryland on July 17, 2008.  From the airport, I took a bus and ultimately the Metro to get close to my hotel.  Then I walked the final few blocks to the hotel.  The next morning I went to a building near my hotel for my interview and assessment.  After my interview, I was given a job offer immediately; however, it was conditional upon my passing a complete physical examination and obtaining a security clearance.  I received my full medical clearance on August 17, 2008.  On November 18, 2008, I received a letter granting my security clearance.  On January 9, 2009, I received a letter informing me I had passed the final review.  I was then placed on a register from which they hire candidates.

Finally, on January 13, 2009, one day prior to our 25th wedding anniversary, I received an e-mail from the Department of State officially offering me the job.  The e-mail indicated I had 10 business days to respond.  Needless to say, I took only about 10 seconds to respond…YES!  I was ordered to go to Washington, DC to begin my training on March 30, 2009.

Now that Great Adventure is truly beginning!

After a long day of driving on the 25th, my friend Rick and I stopped at Columbia, Missouri.  We had left Colorado Springs at about 06:10 that morning.  The snow was starting to fall, but it was not really strong.  After we arrived at Columbia, I called home to find out about six inches of snow had fallen through the day.  I am very glad we beat the weather.  This new job is hugely important to my family and me.

When Rick and I arrived in Columbia, it was cloudy and about 62 degrees.  We found a small Italian restaurant near the hotel.  We had a good dinner there and then went back to the hotel.

Before we went to dinner, my friend Rick gave me a book.  It had been given to him by our friend Don.  The book is The Seven Last Words of Jesus by Romanus Cessario.  The book provided some valuable meditation during the remainder of Lent.

This new adventure does not quite seem real.  Maybe it will on this coming Monday, the first day of my new job.

On the 26th, I dropped off my good friend Rick at his parent’s home near Cincinnati.  To aid our travels, Rick had brought along his GPS.  That was my first experience with a GPS.  Boy, what a difference that made in our travel!  Now that I have dropped him off, boy do I miss his GPS!

I drove about 550 miles that next day to the town of Pickerington, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus.  That left me with about 400 miles to cover tomorrow to make it to my new home in Falls Church, Virginia.  I had dinner at a Cracker Barrel type restaurant near the hotel.  I returned to the hotel for the evening.

Finally, on March 28, I made it to the Oakwood apartment complex, my new home.  The drive here was a little dicey.  I drove in a thick fog for a long way.  I don’t think I was out of the fog until I made it to West Virginia.  After that, it was just cloudy with some intermittent rain.  The fog was so thick at times that all I could think about were those reports that surface periodically of the massive wrecks that happen in fog.  Thankfully I made it through with no problems.

I did that last day of driving without a GPS, something I had become very used to in two short days.  However, prior to the start of that final drive, I had printed driving directions.  Regardless, once I got within about seven miles of Oakwood, I got lost.  I drove around a little bit but finally stopped.  I pulled out my laptop and located where I was and where I needed to go.  Finally, at about 13:00, I pulled into the Oakwood parking lot.

It took me until about 16:30 to check-in, get everything unloaded, and get everything put away.  As soon as that was done, I checked the web to find a church and a grocery store.  By the time I went to that grocery store, got home, and ate dinner, it was about 19:30.

A view of my new apartment, the front door as seen from the living room.
A view of my new apartment, the living room as seen from the front door.

In total, from Colorado Springs to Falls Church, I drove just under 1,700 miles.  I am certainly glad I was able to spread that over three days!

Back to the beginning of this story, as I noted, we were very poor.  The only way I was able to afford this three-day journey and hold out for my first paycheck was by selling virtually all of our possessions in Colorado Springs.  Actually, it was rather liberating to do that.  We were able to live off of that money until I was able to get a travel advance from the Department of State into our checking account.

Leslie and the kids remained in Colorado Springs.  That was to allow Hillary and Tyler to finish school  They and Leslie will join me after they complete their school year.  That will likely be late May.

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