The RV Effect.

A lot of the time inspiration is fleeting, at least for me. Let’s not even talk about motivation. My interests have always been all or nothing. When something grabs my attention I am all about it. THIS IS MY LIFE! and when it’s gone… meh. So when I find the mood hits me I have to get it started or the moment is gone. Part of me wondered if that was going to be the case with this new lifestyle were living. I asked myself over and over “Do I really want to sell everything and do this?” But you really don’t know if you don’t try so here I am. So Let’s talk about it for a minute. Furthermore in the spirit of keeping my interest in writing going here’s what’s been going on.

We’ve been on the road now for 2 and half months. I’ve learned a lot about RVing, RV’s and RVers. I’ve also learned a lot about myself and what I like to do where this lifestyle is concerned. We had many questions about how we would travel and whether or not we would enjoy it. The last 2 months we tried moving once about every 2 weeks for the first part of the trip. We stayed a couple weeks longer in Florida because of a freak winter snow and I’m glad we did because well….  to hell with snow! I’m glad we did though because weather wise it has been a good trip. We did get caught on the road in the rain one travel day and we waited out a storm in Florida at my father’s house another time. It was fine because we were happy to be there and I think he was happy to have us. It did however put us a few more days behind schedule. The last 3 weeks or so we have been moving at least once every 5 days. I find that we really prefer being stationary for at least 2 weeks. if the place is relatively nice 2 weeks is kind of the sweet spot. If the location is especially exciting or the weather is in the happy zone 3 weeks would be great. While a couple of the spots we had we were ready to leave days before our reservation was up and even shortened a stay. For the most part that 14 day window is great for us. Reservations be damned. When traveling a looser schedule is nice. It’s nice to be flexible when you can. We’re about to make the final leg to Maine and stay there for the entire summer. I have a feeling we’re really going to enjoy being in a great spot for the season. The only way to find out for sure is to try it. These tests are definitely providing some great data. I have always said that I learn best by doing. There are some skills that only experience can provide you as well. so here we are.

What have I learned? Traveling is stressful. There is a specific sequence of events that has to happen for us to pack up our entire existence into this rig and move it several hundred miles. To travel down the highway with everything that means the world to you at 60 MPH can test your mettle. There are an infinite number of variables that can throw the whole damn thing out of whack. Life is what it is and the reward outweighs the risk in my opinion. We have experienced things on this trip that can only be had by being there. We’ve tried the barbecue in nearly every state we’ve stopped in. It’s amazing how different areas do it differently. It’s all so good. Let’s face it if this wasn’t worth it we would have already been done. Despite the terrible drivers and horrendous roads we’ve had to endure the stress is worth managing.

A good number of those variables have to do with the function and operation of the RV. I have had a good number of repairs and situations that I was unprepared to address when they decided to bring themselves to my attention. Anything that can go wrong… Please understand I had no illusions that we’d ever be repair free. Hell I made sure the tool box had a place in the rig. I’m lucky in the regard that I can do many repairs and maintenance myself. And in an emergency perhaps roadside as well. Honestly a lot of the confidence comes from knowing (or believing) you can handle a situation as it arrives. Even if dealing with it isn’t the best of times. The key is best equipping yourself for unforeseen situations. A little preparation can mediate some of the risk and set your mind at ease about certain things happening.

Since leaving our rental and embarking on our trip I have had to replace the water heater door. We lost it the first day not even a mile from the house we left behind. A friend of mine found it in the 95 N on ramp a mile from our house. I have the picture some where. Following that the water heater was giving me fits. I later discovered the control board needed to be replaced.  The Volkswagen’s points decided to give up around Orlando. I had the foresight to leave with an extra set in the toolbox. I did get lucky and was able to get it replaced without having to do it in a parking lot so I won’t bitch about that too much. When I first got the rig we used some silicone to patch a hole where the rooftop satellite dish had been removed. This was before I was aware of the existence of Dicore and the silicone failed before I decided to change it. You could say it’s my own fault but it’s a learning experience as much as it is an adventure. The slide awning leaked terribly one night during a heavy rain and some water got in. It allowed water to pool on the roof of the slide. I probably should have just closed the slide for the storm but I did discover the awning was in need of replacement as a result so at least that got done. In the future we may just close her up in heavy rains. It would make for a quicker exit if needed too. After some rain the night before travel day I was closing the slide to leave and the water began running down the side into the open window. Right into Melinda’s PC. Fortunately it was off at the time and later dried out and works fine now. So luckily I’m fortunate enough to be able to repair these things and mistakes myself.

We’ve also been to some amazing locations. The trip from North Carolina to Pennsylvania was a 2 day drive for us. We we’re looking for a place to overnight on our route and found Devil’s Backbone Brewery to be on the way. Melinda gave them a call asked if they would be so kind as to let us park in their ample lot at the rear of the brewery. They were happy to oblige and even gave us a private tour! (We were the only two that signed up!) We were able to sample their wares and not worry about driving which is definitely a win in itself. The following morning after some strong black coffee and a hearty breakfast it was jacks up bright and early. Only the jacks down alarm never shut off. I got out and checked to see that the jacks were definitely fully retracted. The alarm on the inside was telling another story. Melinda did some quick googling and discovered it may be due to low fluid. I gave it a check and added fluid and the alarm quit. I had no idea at that point but one of the jacks is seeping a bit of oil which may have caused the jacks down alarm to stay on. So now when I do a fluids check I’ll be sure that the jacks and slide room hydraulic fluid is checked as well. Others perhaps would be spending money not only on parts but repair labor as well. Having tools is a must for me.

Internet is essential. And more than one provider is necessary if you rely on a connection as we do. In just our short trip we’ve had one or more of our providers rendered useless by location. Melinda has to have internet for work but so much of our lives is tied to the web it’s become necessary for us. Your experience may be different but be aware Free Wifi out here sucks. Even the Wifi for sale sucks a lot of the time. If there’s usable free Wifi you know I’m going to use it rather than my own but don’t count on it to be available when you need it unless you have your own sources. I can count on one hand the number of parks that had usable free wifi and still have room for more.

Most RVers are pretty nice and it has an effect on your world view. Prior to this trip walking around talking to strangers was not something I did. Our first stays in campgrounds was kind of a culture shock. People walking by would wave, say hello and talk to you. I was sitting in my chair on the front porch. My neighbor who I had never met came out of her trailer and grabbed a chair and sat down and began conversing about whatever was going on that day. It was a pleasant conversation exchanging experiences and information about ourselves. You may say that’s no big deal but I lived in the rental for 8 years and none of my neighbors ever came and did that. I barely knew most of their names. Now this is not to say anything negative about them but more to highlight the different world it is out here. It’s had an effect on me I think. I find that as I pass people in the store or in the street now and that I say hello and wave even when out of the park. Don’t get me wrong I’m still PITA but I see people in general a little differently now. I came to the realization a while back that perhaps tearing down people’s ideas because they were contrary to mine really doesn’t serve much purpose. Even if I can legitimately prove you wrong what good does it do? How does it benefit me? why am I committing my energy to it? I couldn’t find an answer. So I’m trying to give that up. We’ll see how I do. Again you may say well duh! But it takes some of us longer to get there than others. Is it the experiences I’m having that are bringing about these changes or am I just getting older? Maybe I’m just happy and some negativity has been lifted that was preventing me from making the connection on my own. Who knows but whatever the reason I think it’s a positive. I’m going to roll with it.

Work is more than a means to makes money. At least for me. I’ve been “unemployed” since the first of the year. When it was time to give my notice I was ready for some down time. Even in my first month or two I was sure I wouldn’t miss it. But I find that I’m looking forward to going back to work. The routine of it all, while we all get tired of it it gives me more than money. It gets me out of bed and moving. When I have nothing requiring my attention I can be very unproductive. I don’t particularly like that. My mind isn’t engaged in something meaningful and I get lost in the internet and find it brings me down. When I was working even a shitty day at work provided mental challenges that engaged me. And there’s the social aspect of work. I liked interacting with my co workers and customers despite the occasional unruly client that makes you want to burn it all down. There is definitely a balance and the challenge for me will be finding that homeostasis of work life relationship.

So life out here has it challenges. If you follow us on facebook you may have the impression it’s one big party! While we are having fun our life is as mundane and uninteresting as it’s always been. Contrary to the impression we’re not on vacation. We may be sending more pics of our food and selfies to the digital fan club but that’s just because it’s all new to us too. The barbecue you can eat is amazing. The Beer is always fresh and something you’ve never tried and when it’s gone there may never be another one. It’s precious, special. Despite the challenges. Against the stress. In the face of frustration and near death. We’re having a good time and I’m not ready to call it quits just yet. Whatever the trip brings it’s all going to be a great story in the end right? Damn right it is.

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6 thoughts on “The RV Effect.

  1. Fantastic post! You hit on all the things I’ve been wondering about. I’ve seen the updates on FB, but here, you give your full thoughts on various parts of the experience. I do have one question: is there anything you miss about FL yet? Like, cravings, or anything like that?
    Love the posts…keep it up!!!

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    1. I had intended to add another paragraph about the availability of services. I don’t know if you saw my apology for the bad grammar but I accidentally hit publish before I was finished.

      It’s harder to find things like a good barber. Get an appointment for a massage or a pedicure and have it meet your expectations. Relying on yelp and user reviews doesn’t always jive with your own tastes and preferences. But I screwed up. I wasn’t ready!

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  2. “We have experienced things on this trip that can only be had by being there.”… this statement couldn’t be more true and of course for me ‘The RV Effect’ is in ‘full effect’ therefore I can relate to most everything you’ve shared here!
    We are sooo happy that all the starts aligned that placed you guys in our path even for a few short weeks that we shared travel days, happy hours, cookouts, swamp adventures, wine time, stories around the campfire and sooo much more!!! Blessed to call you friends and continuing to stalk you and your AMMMAZZZING adventures!!! ~DKJ

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