Sometimes even I’m speechless…
We set off on time, October 22nd, headed to Clemson University via a stop over outside of Richmond. This was the real test. Although we had taken the camper out many times before, this is when the rubber hit the road, pun intended. Where we get to see how the camper really lives and not just weekends.
Our first stop was a friend’s house hours away in Virginia. Our first obvious mistake was not realizing we don’t make “Garmin GPS time”. Our 8 hour trip took ELEVEN! We were exhausted.
Did I mention navigation has turned into a nightmare? We purchased a new Garmin Nuvi 2555 lmt so we don’t have to rely on our phones and use our Wifi hotspot as much (or our data plan). Plus it’s much more useful in places when we don’t get a cell signal. However it arrived the day before we pulled out and I hadn’t had time to learn anything about it.
But the stop at my college girlfriend’s house, Margarita Girl and her hubby, was a great respite. It’s was a well-needed stop for us all – Indy gets to stretch his legs in the backyard with Lulu the bulldog and Sweetie the lab-who-was-rescued-from-living-a-life-on-a-chain. Sweetie was very excited to chase Indy around Lulu could barely keep up. Indy just wanted to check out the yard.
But in true Margarita Girl fashion, even a late, simple Mexican dinner somehow turns into a fiesta! We arrived to the restaurant to a Mariachi band!!! And when I figure out how to insert the video I took of that Mariachi band I may just even share it with you! But close your eyes and envision a Mariachi band playing and dancing the Macarena behind my friend (who is pregnant with twins!!) in the picture below. And we got a table-side rendition of Margaritaville too!
The next morning we set out to Mike’s brother’s house in West BY GOD Virginia. We needed to drop off items for him to store for us. Unfortunately I chose the wrong the route on the new Garmin because I CAN’T FIGURE OUT HOW TO USE THE STINKIN’ THING YET! What was supposed to be a 4 hour drive took us over 8…. through hairpin turns, up and down mountains on two lane roads.
We had to stop in a small Virginia town to let the truck and camper brakes cool down for a bit. It seemed like a great opportunity to buy that grease gun and get to greasin’ those brakes! Except we went through three guns (in the auto parts parking lot) before we could find a gun that worked properly. Note – just break down buy the full-sized version, not the mini. Because apparently no one gave any extra engineering time to design the mini. So it has design flaws and just doesn’t work.
Oh, and when you stop later in the trip to check that your brakes are ok, DO NOT use your fingers to test how hot the brake discs are… (that was Mike’s mistake, not mine. For the record.)
But like all the RVing adverts show, you can slow down a little and enjoy life, even if you’re trying to hurry up and get somewhere. We decided to lunch at Penny’s diner, a little chromed-out retro joint on the side of the interstate that serves your grandma’s iceberg lettuce salads and “pickle fries”.
We made our drop off in WV and drove as far towards SC as we could make it that evening, pulling into a Wal-Mart parking lot to sleep. This is where we realized the fridge wasn’t working quite right. And the batteries weren’t holding a charge. (both of the “new” ones.) So we got ready for bed using flashlights. Let’s say it was a challenge and leave it at that.
Trying to navigate seems impossible. I have a Garmin, an iPhone, an iPad, and an android phone all mapping AT THE SAME TIME and still can’t always get us where we want to go. (Yes, I have paper maps but we’re trying to learn the ins and out , i.e. weaknesses and strengths, of our technology.) All with a cat on my lap who has decided he LOVES the road life and refuses to get out of the front seat.
Have I mentioned this whole time our 80+ pound dog refuses to sleep on his dog bed and demands to sleep in the camper bed with us?? On top of all these issues we aren’t getting much sleep due to a third “person” trying to snuggle in bed with us. It would be accurate to say we have short fuses at this point.
But we DO make it to Clemson! And we DO get to see my dad and his girlfriend! And we DO get to see Clemson beat Syracuse! (although that was the ugliest game I’s seen in a long time…)
So dry camping is an issue at the moment. We had to constantly run the truck to keep any charge in the batteries because it appears our solar panel isn’t working either. So here is the recap of issues we have/ need to get resolved over the past 5 days:
– fridge not consistently working
– batteries not holding a charge
– need to figure out navigation technology
– find a better bike rack solution (and make sure the current rack doesn’t loosen and come off!)
– get the dog off the bed at night! (found a temp solution to that last night!! yippee!)
The biggest lesson? SLOW DOWN! Unfortunately these next few weeks we MUST be certain places at certain times and the urgency in our schedule is adding extra stress to our schedule.
I won’t lie. This trip hasn’t exactly gotten off on the right foot. But before leaving Clemson we stopped at the SC Botanical Gardens (located on Clemson’s campus) and I got a much needed recharge. If you’re in the area I highly recommend it!
We are currently in Asheville, NC for a few days. As always, it’s beautiful! So long as we don’t kill each other today we’ll will have made it past our first milestone – 6 days without calling it quits on the trip (or each other)! haha! Yes, we may have had some friends betting on that. And the way the trip has started so far those people might not have been too far off. But we’re hanging in there!
Hopefully we’ll get some normalcy soon with more consistent electricity and WiFi and a more normal schedule. I plan on making more consistent blog posts too and not overwhelm you with these doozies!