I swore to myself, namely for the kids, that I would be far more diligent about keeping updates on this massive life transition. I have failed at doing so since this process started. Namely…. I think….. cause I have been on such an emotional ride that I have failed to put words to it all. As I begin to come out the other end I am feeling 100% better and realizing how much this process has impacted me profoundly and forced me to grow in even more ways I never knew existed.
So… let’s see I think last I left off we had found our next home. We had left our home of twelve years, packaged all that was important to us in a 5 x 11 storage unit and took off for Alabama 4-H to attend the Rethinking Everything gathering. At some point in time in the packing process back in August, it dawned on me that my focus was so heavily placed on where we were going and not what we were doing at the present moment. I was stressing big time about finding the right rig for us, and then it hit me… We had traveled dozens of long, extended road trips in our van before. Why would this be much different? Of course we’d be incurring a bit more cost for a few hotel stays along the way than we would have otherwise had to if we had our RV, but if it meant being in the present moment and actualizing this move, then the wee bit more cost was worth it.
So we packed up into a storage unit and a mini van to hit the road. As mentioned, heading to the RE 2016 gathering which, I might add, was also a life-changing experience. Having left our home of twelve years, converted ourselves to a nomadic family, and then ending up at RE was truly *exactly* where we needed to be at that very moment in time. To be welcomed with open arms, embraced, loved, cherished…. To be cheered on as people heard our latest endeavors. To be encouraged by the dozens whose stories we heard and also embraced. The kids all made new, beautiful friends who also included them right off the bat. It was a most memorable experience that even now, still fills each of our hearts.
As we gathered there, it was also my intent to track down and view Class C RVs along the way. I figured being out of Chicago I’d more likely find exactly what we were looking for with the money that we could afford to spend on it. In Indianapolis there was one but the water damage was extensive. In Birmingham there was another by the gentleman was very challenging with setting up an appointment to see it. Once I Chattanooga was in pretty dire straights. On our way to Louisville we were messaged that it had sold just an hour before our arrival. As we headed to Cincinnati the same happened…. It sold just before our arrival. All of this was leading me to believe we were on the right track. I was getting a wee bit discouraged, but I did know that our time was coming.
After and amazing tour of Mammoth Cave in Cave City, KY and then two nights in Cincinnati to just chill out and not drive like crazy, we headed to Fort Recovery where checked out a converted bus. The bus was pretty cool. They did a great job converting, but there was just way too much left for us to do. I knew I was becoming overwhelmed at the process and not really looking forward to putting hours and hours into still converting further to the standards in which we’d like it. Not to mention the fact that driving this seriously huge diesel engine scared the bajoobers out of me. I told the kids, “yep, it is super cool, however you all are my life and I would not put my life in that machine and drive it down the highway.”
Onward…. We had one more appointment set for a Class C in Antioch, IL. We headed to a friend’s home just outside of Chicago and crashed with them. Then made the drive out to Antioch to see it. Upon seeing it I was super pumped. It was structurally sound, it appeared. We drove it and seemed great. Received a very decent deal on it, which included a generator as well. All was great…. Till we hit the highway with it with our own plates on it to take it as our own…
Duh. Duh. Duuhhhh.
We get on the highway and the darn thing is struggling to get above 50mph! Eeek! We were headed straight to CarMax to appraise and sell the mini van. It felt like we were barely going to make it there. The engine was struggling big time. I was quite worried as you can imagine. What the heck happened between the day before and now? Its feeling like the gas is struggling to circulate when it reaches higher speeds. It does just fine at lower speeds, but over 50mph, forget it.
After the deal at CarMax is done, I feel a bit relieved to be rid of one about-to-be-headache. There were many things about to really go wrong with that van that I was quite relieved to have rid of it prior to having to deal with any of it. There was an exhaust/emissions issue, and electrical issue to name a couple. I had also had it appraised by folks prior to this sale and both appraisers were saying the transmission was about to go as well. So, that was one headache off my plate, though that car was so immensely great to us! We had some super amazing trips in that car, so we are ever so grateful to it for its perseverance.
We head to Evanston to have our mechanic look at it. He says that he can’t get it into his garage so he can’t service it, but he recommends someone else who is able to take a look at it. We take it over there, but being as it was Saturday they were closing shop early that day. Blech. I have to now drive from Rogers Park to Downers Grove via local streets cause I don’t want to danger any of us on the highway not going up to speed. After a bite to eat I’m feeling better about everything. We’ll just head back there first thing Monday morning and have it serviced and then we can begin the move in process.
That evening back at our friends’ house we start cleaning it up. It’s quite dirty from sitting around for a year to a year and half. So as we clean and clean and clean K finds that under the top bunk there is 100% complete rot. It’s not just a “little water damage” as the gentleman who sold it to us says as he lifted the mattress to show us. It’s complete rot through and through. The entire wood bed is smelly and falling to crumbles. It’s a disaster. Takes us the whole night to clean it out and get it to a point we’re ok with it. As we are digging it out I am concocting a plot to build a new bed up there. Shouldn’t be too complicated. We will leave there the next day, build a bed at Home Depot and then head out to K’s 48 Hour Film Festival premier (the whole reason we were back in Chicago to begin with)!
Sunday rolls around and we do a pretty decent job. We drive locally back to Evanston, park at Home Depot and get to work. I seal all of the open cracks I can possibly find, and run in and buy cut wood before we head downtown. Things seem to be a-okay and all is working out fine.
The 48 Hour Film Festival is AMAZING! K’s film premiers and he has hoots and hollers. People loved it and laughed and congratulated him afterwards. After the film there was a brief Q & A and K gets a standing ovation for being a 14 year old homeschooler. People truly dug his work and it was quite the highlight of the week….. until just a day or so later that week when….. he receives an email that he should return to the award ceremony! Later that week he is awarded an Audience Choice Award for his group! What a truly amazing accomplishment! It blew him out of the water! We are all super duper proud of him.
Ok, so bed gets built, we head to the mechanic the next morning and they deem that a carburetor and new plugs need to be put in. We agree to the service and pick up our home that evening. Immediately the car seems to be running better so we are thrilled we can begin the move in process. The next day, however, is the plan to have a beach day with friends for the girls birthdays. C turned two on the 12th and M turns six on the 25th, so we opted to have a little gathering with friends on our most favorite beach in Chicago. It was the perfect break to the chaos we’ve been dealing with. And, a super amazing weather day for our potentially last beach day in Chicago for quite some time. With watermelon and cupcakes in hand we head down for a truly amazing afternoon and evening. Closing out the beach after sunset.
Next day begins move in day. That was trying and exhausting. We had just had this massive move from home to storage and now we had to move once gain from storage to camper. The stuff we had we still needed to sort, purge and donate because we had far more than we ever needed. So it took several hours to go through everything in the storage unit first, then move it out to the RV next, and then figure out what was staying in the RV, what was again up for purging or donation, and finally whatever else needed to return once more to storage. It was an all day thing. I believe we arrived there by 11a or 12p and we did not return back to our boondocking spot till about 830p that night. Long day.
Now the camper is a disaster once more and we need to begin organizing and creating new spaces for storage as well. But we do this over the next day or so…. And frankly, is still in process now. We have more to attend to and it will happen in due time. That same evening we run into our first boondocking problem ever. It’s late at night, I’m sweeping out the home and there is knock at the door. A police office telling me that we can’t park there because it’s private property. I’m at a Walmart, which in the numerous times past has never been an issue. I’ve never had a Walmart have an issue with this and, in fact, many folks nationwide know that Walmart is the place RVs are allowed to boondock.
Any rate, he’s saying we need to leave. So, I pack up and we roll out down the street to the other Walmart who never really seems to have a problem ever. Next day I see that the other RV that was parked there is still sitting there, so why we were asked to move but everyone else boondocking there (including the semi’s) were still parked. But whatever. What I do know at this point, it is crazy hard to be boondocking in your own home city. Especially when that city is Chicago and they are truly just anti-RVs anyway. The week was stressful. And I was always worried about parking or moving around that I truly could not wait to leave town.
That said, it was during this last day or two that I noticed the car was driving a little fun. It felt like gas was just cutting out at low speeds. The engine would not drop if I gave it more gas, but it felt like it was cutting for a brief second before it would continue. I decided before we left that Friday that I would take it back to the mechanic to look at it, and then to the RV spot to hook up the generator for us, and check out the propane and such.
Mechanic sees that hoses were bumped when he did the last repair and so he adheres some sealant to them and reattaches everything. He feels we are ready to go. I head to the RV service center to see if they can help with some things before we leave for Ohio. As I arrive there I realize it’s quite late in the day so perhaps I’m not going to get done what I need. My big things were the generator and appliances. I wanted to be sure everything was in working order, and get the generator connected. The guy who runs the place was really kind of a jerk. Even when I prefaced everything with “I’m a brand new RV owner” …. “never done this before” … He was quite obnoxious in my opinion. What I did come to conclude on my own was that everything is a-okay. They checked the propane level and we were full, so we were good. I was hoping the generator could be attached but they are giving me this spiel that it would be $500-$1000 to connect it and a minimum of 3-4 hour process.
Well…. Not money I have at the moment, nor the time, so I leave that for another time. We take off for OH. The RV is running really pretty good. It’s a bit noisy, but overall seems okay. I’m relieved to be leaving town now and to be moving on a new location, as are the kids for sure. They are looking forward to seeing friends in OH, and enjoying a new adventure. Day one is pretty uneventful, that is till we pull into a Walmart to sleep for the night. It’s wee hours of the night after several hours of rain and I hear D say, “Oh no, Oh my gosh!” I could not bare to know what the heck was going on. I was SOOOOO exhausted from the past several weeks, I did not know if I could take one more. But alas, there it was, water, down pouring on my daughters head from the light socket above. Ugh. We grab towels and a bowl and start catching it. We move her to another bed with S to spend the rest of the night. I lay restless listening for any other leaks and down pours as the rain moves on. I’m so frustrated at this point. Not sure which was to go…. Home or onward?
Next AM we opt to get a huge tarp. It fits the whole roof. That way when we are stopped we can have rain protection, at least until we find a solution to the leaky roof. We are cruising to OH and all of sudden the choke light flashes at me and the oil pressure gauge seems to be dropping. I pull over and fill it with oil as it appears to be quite low. I drive onward….. it happens once again. I add some more and we continue on. This time, however, I’m feeling like perhaps this old cruiser just does not like super high speeds. In my mini van I cruise right around 73mph on most highways that allow for 70mph. And driving this big huge mobile is a whole new ballgame. I realize it’s quite massive, it’ takes up the highway lane, and it’s quite wobbly. It does not seem to dig cruise control, not to mention the high speeds. So tone it down to about 60-65mph and it’s seems happier. We finally arrive. Ahhhh…. Relief to be among safety.
While we are here everyone is jumping to help. I’m beside myself because I really just feel like throwing in the towel. I’m beginning to wonder what the heck I’ve gotten myself into?!?!
But friends check it out and help as they are able. We get connected to the electricity and have running water for the first time. Two gentlemen take a peek at my generator but determine they do not know enough to get that going for me. I will need to have someone else look at it, and hopefully someone who knows what they are doing and will not charge me an arm and a leg. The propane is deemed working and the fridge is cold. The only two remaining concerns at the roof top and the oil leak (if one exists).
Since it seems obvious at that point that we will not be leaving by the intended Tuesday for Arizona, I decide to order some roofing materials via Amazon and do the roof before we leave. A truly amazing neighbor takes me to another mechanic to have the oil issue checked out and not only does this guy feel that everything is a-okay and there is nothing notably wrong with the engine at this time, but he does not charge me anything for his time either. Everyone here has been over the moon supportive and helpful. It’s helped me pull my head out of my butt and realize…. I purchased a HOME. Something I never ever said I would ever do in my life!!!! I swore I’d rent till I die! And here I am owning a home. And this home, just happens to have an engine, but otherwise, it is really the same exact thing to owning a home. I purchased a fixer-upper. And if I were buying an actual physically standing home, I’d have all of these same things to contend with. I may need to fix a roof, or leak. I may need to repair a wall or a bed. I may need to redecorate or redesign. THIS is what I bought into and so I need to get over my pitty party and step up to bat here!
Yesterday, I get my butt up and clean house inside and out. I get up on that roof and clean and prep it for the new rubber roofing I’m about to put on, and I google how to store water on this damn thing, and work the pump and dump the shit. I’ve educated myself and empowered myself and so now I’m ready to take on this adventure head strong. I am now equipped and with the correct mindset. I was not there at the time of purchase, nor up to recently. I figured all roses and lilies were to follow. But when you take on something this magnitude, you put in the work to get it where you want it. And when something breaks, it’s not the end of the world. It’s just what it is and we move on.
With much better attitude I have an afternoon of roofing to do. The second coat will be put on tomorrow. And then we will enjoy the local Pumpkin Festival with everyone here before we being our westward trek to Arizona. I’m looking forward to it now. I can’t say that was always the case, but sometimes you need a swift kick to get back up and try try again. What is now home is beginning to feel more and more like home and that feels really great!