The Best Night Ever, and THE TOILET IS FIXED

We went to the Paitak wedding at the Torpedo Factory on Saturday night and what a magical celebration it was! From the colorful ceremony backdrop to the art studios on display to having rosewater sprinkled in the air as we took our seats, the ceremony was a very beautiful combination of Hindu tradition and Scott and Tanya’s own personal twist.

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Burning incense before the ceremony.

The vows straight up melted my heart – I heard lots of sniffles in the crowd – the feels were real – while the Maid of Honor speech (yasss, Chevyyyyyy) included, among other bright spots, a series of Haikus that all ended in “the best night, ever.”

Dinner (an Indian food buffet straight from your dreams) was delicious and dancing did not disappoint. The Best Night Ever was indeed just that.

Far less exciting but extremely relieving for us is that the toilet is fixed. We were going to just swing by Camping World today on our way out of town to buy a new part we needed as they were closed yesterday.

Long story short, the piece had been threaded – it was plastic and you attach a hose with metal set of threads to it, so one turn with too much torque and the thing is toast. BUT, we realized it was also longer than it needed to be so in a moment of MacGyver-style inspiration, we cut off the threaded end with a hacksaw. We added plumber’s tape to the remaining threads and were able to attach the hose successfully.

We turned the water on and BAM, no leaks! There is nothing quite like thinking you will have running water, discovering you’re wrong, then finally having it.

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The happy faces of people who now have running water and a functioning toilet.

We spent our day walking through the woods, fixing said toilet problem, sealing up our leaky window with silicone (I hope it works), going for a run, dipping our toes in the pool, making spaghetti and steamed veggies for dinner, then building a fire before turning in for the night.

Today we’re off to White Haven, PA for a one-night stop on our way to the Berkshires. Forecast says rain for the next 3 to 4 days…!

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So. Many. Mushrooms.

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Happy 1st Anniversary & Wedding! Bonus: Broken Toilets & RV Leaks

It’s our first anniversary today! 😀

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And they said it wouldn’t last! Oh wait no…no, they didn’t say that.

We woke up in the middle of the night to super heavy rain that was loud enough to keep us from really falling back asleep – I guess we’re not quite used to that in-your-face nature soundtrack quite yet.

I think I also would have rested more easily had our RV literally not started falling apart due to earlier water damage – so a sudden downpour was a bit more nerve wracking. We woke up to discover that one of the windows is leaking. Le sigh. The real ass-chapper is there’s just nothing we can do about it until it stops raining…tomorrow morning. Until then it’s duct tape time. It’ll have to do.

We arrived at our campsite yesterday around 6:30, huzzah! We have a back-in site on a curve. And can I tell you what, my husband fucking NAILED that back-in. It was basically a 90-degree turn and he crushed it. I couldn’t be more proud – backing this bitch up is no easy feat. Apologies for my potty mouth – I swear when I get excited. Or frustrated. Okay, it’s pretty much all the time.

We were elated to finally plug into electricity and water and feel out the rest of our new home. Plugging into electricity? Success. Hooking up to water? Story time!

I went inside to watch for internal water disasters as the water flowed through the pipes. We immediately heard water plunging out onto the ground below us – turns out the low point drains were open, so we closed them. NBD.

We turned the water back on to check inside – the bathroom sink was hissing and spitting, but working – they had been left open, so I turned them off. I turned and opened the bathroom door to find water, everywhere all over the floor. “Turn it offfffff,” I hollered through the window. Water was spilling out below into the storage area from the bathroom floor above.

As it turns out, the hose connecting the water supply to the back of the toilet was just straight up broken, snapped off. You’d never know by just looking at it, though, because the thread broke away from the rest of the connector, yet the whole thing still sat there looking completely unaffected. In any case, this means having running water and a working toilet weren’t an option for the time being. Fortunately, our campsite is right next to a comfort station, so we have easy access to restrooms, sinks, and showers.

But motherFUCKER. I get that these things need maintenance but between our first-day SNAFU, the toilet being broken, and finding rain leaks it seems like the rain and water gods aren’t quite with us so far.

This morning we woke up pretty early, realized we left our Melitta pour over cones in West Virginia (damnit!) which meant no coffee for us. Son of a! We exchanged anniversary gifts and then set out to beat some errands into submission. First stop: Dunkin Donuts and Amazon Locker. Then, the bank for rolls of quarters (future laundry funds). Next: Walmart for more towels (ugh), new pour over cones (not found, UGH), water (oh the irony), and silicone sealant (we clearly have work to do…as soon as it stops raining). Then: Target – praying that these stupid plastic pour over cones are not hard to find…but alas, no dice.

Finally, a trip to Camping World for a replacement toilet piece. And lunch. And gas. And more wine (we’re clearly going to need it).

Will keep you posted on how Project Toilet Repair goes. Tonight, we’re off to celebrate the marriage of Tanya Pai and Scott Greytak and I am So. Dang. Excited. You. Guys.

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? 🙂 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. 😀

 

 

 

Day Stop: Columbus, OH

We’ve launched, but we’re actually going back in time for a minute. We’re not in Columbus, OH right now – but we were last week!

My flight back from Portland, OR for a work trip had me landing at the Columbus airport at midnight last Friday – and it’s a 2.5 hour drive back to West Virginia. Since Travis was coming to pick me up, instead of opting for a loooooong night drive from 8pm to 3am, we crashed at an AirBnB for the night, then spent the first half of Saturday nerding around Columbus.

We started in the German Village, a delightful historic neighborhood marked by low lying (ie, nothing higher than three stories) brick buildings occupied by all manner of shops and restaurants. We started at Stauf’s Coffee Roasters for some fuel before falling down the rabbit hole next door at The Book Loft.

Guys, this is probably the best bookstore I’ve EVER been in. There are 32 rooms of books spread out over two floors – the place feels like an old labyrinth – every room feels like its own nook. The entrance is located off the sidewalk – you go past some lovely flowers and gardens to outdoor tables heaped with books.

As soon as I saw the flyer for a sold out author reading on the door I knew I was in a good place – the author? Bruce Campbell. The best B-List actor ever, AND his chin, were going to be in the very same bookstore that evening.

We spent a good hour poking through every room. What a time to find this shop, I thought, knowing that walking out with a metric ton of books, while tempting, isn’t an option with our current lifestyle.

I drooled over ALL the Taschen titles, graphic novels I’d never seen (has anyone read The World of Edena by Moebius?), Smithsonian reference books on gemstones, 80s-inspired fiction, book-inspired socks and t-shirts, you name it – this place has it. I highly recommend checking it out if you’re ever in the area.

The Book Loft of German Village

Afterward, we walked to the Bicentennial Park on the Scioto River. First, we dipped our toes in the river and watched some kids hit skateboard tricks nearby.

By the way, Bicentennial Park has some extremely choice fountains for playing in water on a hot day. Check this out:

Do as I say and not as I do: wear your swimsuit! I was sadly not prepared for experiencing this magical water feature to its fullest.

Next, we had brunch at CBC Columbus – a brew pub with beer and brunch that was a 10-minute walk from the park. One Rhinegeist Peach Dodo Gose and plate of Breakfast Biscuit Sliders later, we were on our way. We considered going to the zoo, but after concluding that I’m probably too sensitive about zoo animals in pens/cages regardless of other facts (philanthropy, saving the animals, awareness – these are all great things but I JUST GET TOO SAD OKAY), we hit the road back to West Virginia.

En route, we passed a big flea market on the side of the highway in Hocking Hills, Ohio, and since we had plenty of Saturday left, we flipped a bitch and stopped to check it out. I think I get my fascination with flea markets and yard sales from my Grandma Dorothy. She loves a bargain. And I do too. LEMME AT IT!

What an amazing collection of garbage and tchotchkes! This is where Beanie Babies, old crystal ashtrays, and old fishing tackle go to die. But upcycling is alive and well here. Table after table of mismatched mugs, hobnail vases, vintage crystal goblets, motley children’s toys, pocket knives, tools and hardware, costume jewelry, furniture, and more was set up in the parking lot, which also housed a diner, mini golf course, and metal yard art shop all along rows of antique shops, supply stores, and produce stands. Fresh fruit! Creepy dolls! The biggest crescent wrench you’ve ever seen! Chainsaws! Pearls! Army navy gear! Knives (Nifes?!)! Blankets! Milk glass plates! Raccoon skins! Tie Dye! YOU CAN FIND IT ALL HERE.

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Exhibit A: All The Things

After scoring two vintage floral mugs and a peach-colored cut glass sugar jar that will someday house my Q-tips for $5 (Gram would be proud), we played about 9 out of 18 holes of mini golf (it was full sun, I had no hat or sunscreen on, plus we wanted to skip to the fun ones with tunnels and water features), then made our way to the truck to leave.

But wait, what was that sound? It was drumming coming through the wall of trees beyond the flea market. We had seen a sign for a Pow Wow coming in – but had also seen 50 other signs for Mary Sue’s Fresh Pies and Bucky Jones’s RV Sales so it sorta got lost in the mix – but decided to scope it out.

We saw all kinds of people dressed in Native American gear – animal skins and furs, moccasins, bells, feathers, face paint – doing tribal dances in a large circular area. Adults, kids, men, women – one little kid was CRUSHING it but I never have the balls or heart to film other people’s kids because it makes me feel like a creeper. The drumming and singing was live, coming from one of the tents on the side. I nosed around the knick knack tents and resisted the urge to collect another dreamcatcher or an oddly appealing wolf-print poncho (I live in an RV now…therefore, a poncho clearly makes sense).

A Native American Pow Wow in Hocking, OH

Pow Wow!

From Hocking, we drove through Athens and stopped at Little Fish Brewing Company on the way – Travis has stopped there a few times now for growler fills but it was nice to hang out at their outdoor picnic tables and sip a few things. Love their Petit Poisson and Saison du Poisson.

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All in all, a great day! What are your favorite haunts in the Columbus, OH area?

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 sleep deficiency 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!