Snake adds new twist to saga of military moves


By Kristi Langenbacher

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Every military move has a story – something unique that everyone remembers.

We've had the gypsy moth move, the bee sting move, the dropped furniture move, the delivery of other people’s furniture move, and many more.

We've had friends who have had moves with the packed trash, the crashed moving truck, the lost boxes, the nearly packed pets, and the list goes on and on. For us, this move might be best remembered as “the move with the snake.”

Our household goods have been packed in boxes since Monday evening, and the inside of the house and garage look like a box maze. While waiting for the moving truck to arrive, we worked on tasks such as packing the vehicles and cleaning the large appliances.

When my husband went out to the garage to unplug and clean the garage refrigerator, he found a very large black snake coiled up behind it. Upon discovery, the six-foot-long snake slithered between the towers of moving boxes, and out of sight. My husband managed to snap a quick picture of it, and many friends suggested it is a rat snake.

They told us things like, “It’s harmless,” and “They eat mice.” Others said things like, “They are good to have around,” and “Just leave it alone.”

I understand all of the comments, but have just one problem – it’s a six foot snake, and it’s in my garage. As long as it is in my garage, I will not be in my garage. And, there are things in there that I need to do.

I made plans to never again enter the garage until it was verified that the snake had gone away. We moved a few boxes in order to clear a path for it to leave, and peeked through the door periodically to see if it was still there. After about a day, it must have decided it was time to go. When we peeked into the garage, it was gone.

So, it turned out to be a pretty uneventful snake story, but, for a girl from Washington State, that snake looked like something from prehistoric times.

And, one of our most eventful move stories happened when we were transferring from Washington State several years ago.

We remember that one as “the gypsy moth move.” The moving company’s driver said one of the packers found a gypsy moth inside their truck, on our items from the shed. He said we would be responsible if the movers transported a gypsy moth into the state of California with our household goods, and we could be fined $50,000.

The moth was spotted on a plastic tote, so they unloaded all 19 of the shed totes from the moving truck. They said I needed to clean all them before they could continue loading the truck. I had one hour to do that, or they would be leaving without the rest of our things.

I called all of my friends in the area, and they showed up with kids, cleaning supplies and good attitudes. We started an assembly line of moms and kids, and emptied, cleaned and repacked each of the totes in less than an hour. The move progressed as planned.

Upon further research, I learned that the gypsy moth is indeed a serious threat. The Washington State Dept. of Agriculture’s web site refers to it as the most damaging forest insect pest ever introduced into North America. However, the site also showed that for numerous years there had been no evidence that reproducing gypsy moth populations exist in Washington.

A woman from the department told me it was highly unlikely that it was a gypsy moth. It was probably a common moth, but she would be interested in seeing photos or the actual moth which was captured. Unfortunately, that was not possible. The mover saw the moth briefly, and it flew away before he could capture it.

So while the move of 2010 will be remembered as “the move with the gypsy moth,” the move of 2017 might be remembered as “the move with the snake.”

Kristi Langenbacher is a Coast Guard spouse and writes about military family life.