First Day: Wamp Wah, Stopped for Repairs

It’s true. Day one of our life on the road yesterday had us stopped hours later for repairs.

I was looking in the rear view mirror on the passenger side and noticed that the rounded edge seams on the front side of our trailer were sorta…coming apart. And any time you see the actual seams of your home coming apart, it’s probably a big deal.

My first assumption was that there was some kind of water damage – either old or new. We did have the entire roof of our RV re-sealed before leaving New York, so we weren’t too worried about some major leak but as we bounced down the highway, I couldn’t shake the feeling that 1) this needed urgent attention and 2) it would get worse if we did nothing about it. Our RV has been parked for the last month, and it’s super humid and damp where we’ve been.

So we chose to make a stop at a place called Trailer City in White Hall, WV – it was 30 minutes away from where we were once I noticed, right off the highway, and when I called they said to stop by and they would take a look. In getting there, Google Maps, in its questionable-at-times wisdom, got us to Trailer City by having us pass it, then turn around (note: this was completely unnecessary). Normally not a big deal but the turn was 1) about 30 degrees – we’re talking tight AF, and 2) at a crazy slope – ie, hardcore downhill. Upon seeing it I told Travis NOT to make the turn if he didn’t think we would fit, but he did, with one small backup.

However, when we got to Trailer City and stopped we discovered that the driver’s side front corner of the trailer was ALSO fucked up – and we had done it on the turn we had just taken. The corner of the RV caught the tailgate of our truck and scraped the shit out of it. This was because our pin box was too low, we now know, which means we didn’t have quite as much clearance as we should have between the truck and the trailer. That side now looked worse than the one we were going to have them look at. FACE PALM.

In any case, it was evident that there is definitely some kind of water damage. We could see wood crumbling. Ugh. They said without tearing off all the laminate and doing a deep dive, though, there’s just no way to know for certain. And one thing is true: that kind of exploration or restoration would be expen$$$$ive, and not everyone does that kind of rebuilding. When they got inside, they found your garden variety wood rot that had been happening for years, so not related to our roof reseal – check it out:

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Note the disintegration of the wood near the bottom!

Fortunately, though, despite it being a busy holiday weekend (perhaps the worst possible time to have to worry about last minute repairs!), the techs were straightforward about how long it would take, what they would do, and how much it would cost to fix it. Had we not screwed up the other side doing that stupid turn, we would have been stopped for a few hours but now we were in for an overnight stay. D’oh.

Have I mentioned that we’re on our way to a wedding? And that we already paid for our stay at Pohick Bay Regional Park in Virginia? Welp, thems the breaks I guess. We were just grateful to be able to get it fixed in a pretty short time frame, given that it would indeed get so much worse if it were to rain or even be damp overnight. The cost? Almost $800. D’oh. Another chunk of change we weren’t planning on dropping, but hey – it could be worse, right? This will become my new mantra. It must. The techs also ended up adding more wood to the interior paneling for reinforcement (thank god), then sealing the whole thing up properly.

Everyone at Trailer City was extremely friendly, compassionate, answered all our questions, set us off with some extra Eterna Bond tape, and told us we could call them any time with questions. We wish they could have been the ones to service our RV originally – thank you guys for all your help. Our RV probably would have disintegrated in the first month without you. Have I mentioned that it’s now pouring rain? ­čÖé PSA: Greg’s RV of Fairless Hills, PA re-sealed our roof and used some weird, thin, non-Eterna Bond tape on the front edges that peeled up in the short weeks we weren’t even driving or living in our RV.

In any case, it’s day two, and we’re BACK ON THE ROAD. #PaitakParty, here we come!

First lessons of RV life? 1. Trust your gut. 2. Get used to a change of plans. 3. Don’t make tight turns on weird, steep inclines.

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Assorted, rotten detritus that fell out of our walls. ­čśÇ

 

 

 

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T-Minus 2 Days to Launch

Wow, it’s already been a month since we escaped the city! We officially hit the road as full time RV’ers this Thursday, August 31.

I’m excited, antsy, nervous, twitchy, impatient, and dare I say, a touch anxious. The weight of our life choices is finally starting to hit – having been so preoccupied with leaving New York, I haven’t fully had the time to process what this next phase means or will look like in any kind of focused detail.

Now my synapses are firing with all kinds of thoughts – what will I miss about being in a stationary home? What will be stressful or frustrating? What if we blow a tire, uggggh? What will be the best part? The worst? What will it be like to be in a new place every one to four weeks? What if the Fill in the Blank doesn’t work? What will it be like to constantly be figuring out how well wi-fi or cell phone signals work or how many quarters we need for laundry or where everything is located? There’s a certain restfulness that comes with not constantly asking yourself these questions – and I’m a big fan of it, to say the least.

My rational mind knows we’ll figure these things out as they come. My emotional, Type-A planner mind is feeling a little frazzled but I’m putting her away for now – she worked overtime last month anyway. I know we can’t know it all, though there is some trepidation that comes with knowing nearly nothing about how RVs work (can’t wait for that first dump of the blackwater tank).

Thanks to genetics (dad: master wizard at taking things apart and putting them back together again, be it automobile, small electronics, or hell, the human body – dude was an emergency room doc for nearly 20 years), family members with experience (Uncle John, a mechanic and RV owner; great Uncle John Henry and his wife Sally, also seasoned RV owners), and super helpful YouTubers like LoLo Honeymoon and Keep Your Daydream, we have more than enough resources to help us prepare and help along the way.

Things I already know I’ll miss are long, hot showers, making jewelry/wax carving in my spare time, having a reliable internet connection that 1) allows me to not get stressed AF during work (my job requires/relies on internet connectivity) and 2) allows for streaming All The Things…I loooove movies and Game of Thrones, you guys. I’ll miss the peace and quiet of our West Virginia hilltop sanctuary.

I’m nervous about maintenance – basically paranoid that something will break down, all the time, and we haven’t even left yet. I’m nervous about getting stuck somewhere (probably that driveway incident has something to do with it), inclement weather, driving the damn thing (still haven’t), losing the cat (got this GPS tracker), not having enough time to go everywhere, having a living space that is even smaller than our Brooklyn apartment was. These are all first world woes – I know.

I’m most looking forward to visiting friends and family, spending more time outside, seeing more stars, meeting new people, reading more books, having the freedom to make random stops, and seeing more of the country and its national parks (got the annual pass, YASSS). I’m excited to constantly be learning new things, even if it’s exhausting and hope to cross more than a few things off of my bucket list.

Wish us luck and keep following the journey – thanks for coming with us. Next stop, Pohick Bay Regional Park in Lorton, VA!

 

NYC Recovery

Things have slowed waaaaaay down since the little tractor that could hauled us up the hill. And I couldn’t be happier about it.

While my work life is still relatively bananas (shouldn’t everyone in the country be on vacation right now?!), everything else in my life feels like the volume dialed down from max down to about a four. I’m not sure why four is the number, but it just feels right.

I have to say that thing I’m most grateful right now is that I’ve been sleeping like a motherfucking feline (yeah, NOT a baby because…have you ever SEEN new parents? Babies clearly suck at sleep. Cats sleep two-thirds of their lives away, so they’re clearly the better metaphor) for the last 10 days and I couldn’t be happier about it.

In my list of what I won’t miss about NYC, I whined about how noisy it is. Most mornings for the last five years I’ve been woken up by myriad vehicular cacophanies before 7 am, among other sleep disturbances. I don’t think I truly realized how much more of a mutant this made me. I mean, I LOVE sleeping. And now that I’ve officially left I was able to recognize how sad and interrupted my log sawing has been for the last five years – I figured I’d just assimilate at some point and get used to it, but I never did.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, “Ongoing┬ásleep┬ádeficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.” Sleep also helps your brain form new pathways, improves learning, and lets your body heal. It keeps your immune system up and running and your hormones in check. I mean, come on, it’s amazing! In fact the more I read up on it the more I’m convinced I should just go back to sleep RIGHT NOW.

Life in general feels better when I’m well-rested. Combined with a desk set up right in front of a window with a view of colorful Cosmos, Swallowtail and Monarch butterflies, hummingbirds, goldfinches, Mourning doves, bumblebees, green grass, and forested hillsides, I am 1000% content with our life decisions at the moment.

That Time a Tractor Had to Pull Us Up the Driveway

Because what’s RVing without a few SNAFUs?!

Our two-day drive to West Virginia was all blue skies and smooth sailing. We crashed at an Econo Lodge overnight, since there was too much stuff in the RV to make sleeping in it comfortable or restful in any way (not to mention space for the cat to stretch out, use the litter box, etc).

The first room they put us in reeked of stale cigarette smoke and four 20-something dudes next door were blasting metal (I had specifically requested a quiet location). After a room switcheroo to one that smelled lovely by comparison with no neighbors, we were off to a night of deep sleep.

Yesterday afternoon we hopped off Highway 50 and onto 14 – a small, windy road that passes intermittent grassy fields between trees, trees, and more trees. Dilapidated barns, farm equipment, and Swallowtail butterflies went by our windows.

The final piece – one that Travis over the last week or two had said he “just wasn’t worried about” yet also kept saying would be “the most stressful part” – was the gravel and grass driveway leading up to the house. From the road, you make a left turn that almost immediately veers left around a corner and up a (relatively) steepish hill – think 12%-ish for you road warriors. After that, there’s one more smaller hill then a slow grade up to the house and field across from it.

We asked Tracy, Travis’s mom, to meet in her car prior to getting to this point – we figured it made sense to have a lead car around some of the sharper turns and a lookout for the final turn onto the driveway, since it’s on a blind curve. Just before we turned she hopped out of the car to say, “This is probably your last chance to change your mind – do y’all want to get out and look at it first or just go for it?”

“Let’s just do it,” said Travis.

After checking oncoming traffic and giving us the thumbs up, we went for it.

We went slowly, since it was our first time hauling our 32-foot beast full of all our boxes up a small dirt road. We got stuck after only about 50 feet up. D’OH!

It was a combination of things – one, when you’re only going 10mph it’s hard to get the proper momentum you need to haul something up a hill – but there was just no way we were going to gun it around a curved, steeper hill. Additionally, the majority of the weight of our moving boxes was at very back of our fifth wheel – not over the tires, so the tires were spinning out on the truck and trailer.

At this point we were only 1/10 of the way up the driveway. We couldn’t move forward and at this point, due to the geometry of backing up, it wasn’t entirely clear that we would be able to reverse back down even if we wanted to. I had a mild inner meltdown – for some reason this particular scenario is one of my worst nightmares. Getting stuck in the middle of nowhere with All The Things on a hot, humid day. TERROR.

Travis’s stepdad Bruce came down to assess the situation – we tried a couple little backups and re-starts but kept spinning out and at this point a couple of the trailer’s wheels were in the ditch. We talked about unloading the boxes to remove some of the weight, or moving some of the weight into the flatbed of the truck.

At this point I decided to get the cat out of the truck with all her stuffs and up into the house, so I hauled her heavy ass up the hill and threw her in the bathroom while Tracy went to get the tractor. That’s right.

By the time I got back down the hill, Bruce was on the tractor, which was roped up in front of the truck, ready to help haul our heavy RV ass up the hill. Now when I think “tractor,” I think of those beefy John Deere tractors from my childhood days in the corn fields of Idaho. I about laughed out loud when I saw this setup, wondering just how on earth would this work, but hoping hard AF that it would.

And it did. And my terror subsided and I am so eternally grateful for Tracy and Bruce for saving our bacon. The good news is we only have to do this once, and it’s done. And, for your viewing pleasure – here’s a video of The Tractor That Saved the Day. BEAST MODE!