buen viaje!

The soul’s true happiness lies in experiencing the inner joy, and it will never be fully satisfied with outer, seeming pleasures. Its connection is with God, and nothing short of perfection will ever satisfy it.

Bowl of Saki, July 19, by Hazrat Inayat Khan

The above quote represents my journey so well.  While it would appear to have been a geographical one, the reality is that my journey is much more on the inner level.  The truth is this quote may have little to do with the following post but I really liked it and wanted to share it with you!

It has been one helluva journey but like all good journeys there comes a time when the end approaches and it’s time to go home.  And so it is with this journey.

A white wing dove partaking of some saguaro fruit. The saguaro is that real tall cactus that typifies what people think of when they think of the desert.

A white wing dove partaking of some saguaro fruit. The saguaro is that real tall cactus that typifies what people think of when they think of the desert.

I started out in Tucson, hearing the call of the road.  I left and found myself in Costa Rica for two years.  So much to love about that country, particularly the people and even more so my friends Juan and Renan whom I miss dearly.  Mom came down which made things a bit rocky for a while until we were able to find her a place of her own and then, like magic, it all worked until we needed to leave Costa Rica for the States again.  Mom was no longer able to walk and getting her around was impossible.  She couldn’t be treated adequately in Costa Rica and we somehow found our way to Florida.  Once we got to Florida it turned out she was also suffering from congestive heart failure so the move was quite fortuitous.  And who could forget the craziness of my pilfered shipping container when it finally arrived from Costa Rica?  Certainly not I!  That was one hellish time, to say the least!

 

The beautiful Pacific Ocean from Jaco, Costa Rica.

The beautiful Pacific Ocean from Jaco, Costa Rica.

 

I will never forget the long night I spent in Costa Rica waiting to get this shot. It was worth it!

I will never forget the long night I spent in Costa Rica waiting to get this shot. It was worth it!

 

A beautiful Costa Rican orchid. Juan and I often went out to explore the various parks together.

A beautiful Costa Rican orchid. Juan and I often went out to explore the various parks together.

 

It still makes a little sad to see the disaster the container from Costa Rica was when it reached my apartment in Florida.

It still makes me a little sad to see the disaster the container from Costa Rica was when it reached my apartment in Florida.

The Bradenton/Sarasota area is vastly less crowded than many of the eastern Florida cities and I really liked the calm of the Gulf.  I met some wonderful people there, many of whom I still maintain contact with.  However, because of mom’s illness, which got progressively worse, it was a very stressful time with my having little energy for other people and new friends.  Still, I look back at my time there fondly and I will always love Publix (the local supermarket)!  Who every would’ve thought I’d get a motorcycle license but that’s just one of the interesting things I did while I was there!

My first view of the Gulf of Mexico in Siesta Key, FL. I was still living in Costa Rica but making arrangements to rent my apartment in Bradenton.

My first view of the Gulf of Mexico in Siesta Key, FL. I was still living in Costa Rica but making arrangements to rent my apartment in Bradenton.

 

A view from Bradenton Beach.

A view from Bradenton Beach.

I made the decision to get an RV and travel after three years in Bradenton.  I didn’t go very far at first – just up the road a piece to Ruskin so I could still visit with mom frequently and easily.  It was a journey of sorts but not a very distant one.  I learned a lot about how to live in an RV, albeit a relatively small one, during that time.  But if I’m really truthful about it, summer in an RV in Florida just wasn’t the easiest thing to do!  Between the mosquitos and no-see-ems I felt like I was too often sequestered within my RV!

My first RV during our walk-through before I took possession of it.

My first RV during our walk-through before I took possession of it.

 

The Little Manatee River as seen from Hide-A-Way RV Park in Ruskin, FL.

The Little Manatee River as seen from Hide-A-Way RV Park in Ruskin, FL.

 

The Spanish Moss hanging off of a tree at my campsite in Ruskin.

The Spanish Moss hanging off of a tree at my campsite in Ruskin.

 

I took this shot when I was living in Ruskin after starting the infamous RV journey. It always makes me smile.

I took this shot when I was living in Ruskin after starting the infamous RV journey. It always makes me smile.  Can you see the little child?  He was playing within the sign and they are talking with him.

And then came the day for my first long journey in the RV – leaving Florida to go to Indiana to visit my son and his family.  Stops were to include Jacksonville in Florida, South Carolina, the western mountains of North Carolina, Kentucky and finally Indiana.  The plan was to go back by an entirely different route but that was not to happen.

My first RV at our first stop in Jacksonville, FL for our first journey. Lots of firsts there!

My first RV at our first stop in Jacksonville, FL for our first journey. Lots of firsts there!

My car “conveniently” broke down while in Ferguson, NC and it took over three weeks to be repaired.  During that time I fell in love with the area and decided to remain here for a while.  I’ve always considered myself more of mountain girl than anything else.  I did manage to see the grandkids twice, once with a rental car in October and again in November for Thanksgiving with my car after it was repaired.  I also made three trips back down to Florida to visit mom including the last, final trip to take care of things after her passing.  There was a whole lot of driving during that time, less than four months and over 9,000 miles!

My first real fall in nearly 20 years. This was taken from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

My first real fall in nearly 20 years. This was taken from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I loved spending my first more or less real winter in nearly two decades here in NC after watching the leaves turn all sorts of beautiful colors the previous fall.  There was something about last winter that made my heart soar.  Out of all the photos I’ve taken while here, the ice storm photos remain my favorite as a series.  But that was also the time mom took her leave.  She was sure I was supposed to be there for her passing, as was I, but it was not to happen and she passed a mere five days after the last time I saw her.  I wished I could have been there but given the difficulty she experienced prior to her passing I think it was for the best that I wasn’t.  However, it still haunts me knowing she was screaming for me, begging me to come help her since I was always there for her.  The reality was there wasn’t anything I could’ve done anyway but I do wish I had been there.  Luckily she had two very wonderful surrogates who were able to hold her hand, literally and figuratively, as she passed through this difficult time.  I maintained contact with her throughout the day of her death talking with her (or to her) three different times, even when she was no longer really cognitively with it.  I also kept in touch with those who were watching over her.  It ended up being a peaceful death in the end but getting there was so difficult for her and all those around her.  I was told that was quite typical for those with COPD issues since not being able to breathe is quite terrifying.  I will never forget the story the man who came to pick up her body to bring to the crematory told me.  As he was taking her from the room, Emma, mom’s roommate, simply said to her, “Good-bye my friend!”  That really broke me up, and still does, since mom had so very few friends in her life but when she really needed one God provided!

The second RV hanging out in Ferguson in the snow.

The second RV hanging out in Ferguson in the snow.

 

My favorite winter shot from here in Ferguson.

My favorite winter shot from here in Ferguson.

 

The day mom died we had the biggest snow storm of the season here in North Carolina.  It was also the day the first cardinal arrived to partake of the bird feeder I had out there for about two months without any visitors at all.  I believe that somehow she managed to influence that first bird to come visit me that day.  Just two days after her passing, after the snow melted enough for me to drive, I made my way back to Florida to take care of all the arrangements.  When I got back home I took some down time for myself, time to just be on my own and mourn as well as rejoice in the peace mom finally found for the first time in her life, a peace I was also feeling living in the solitude of winter.  After only a week or two I started to write again in the mornings, something I couldn’t do for years because of taking care of mom, and I wrote furiously.  In the next ten weeks I wrote over 500 handwritten pages, most of it extremely good material.  Every morning I woke up thrilled to be alive and managing to get this incredible material down on paper.  I shared it with a few friends, all of whom seemed genuinely excited about it and how it could apply to their lives or to others they knew.  This, I was sure, was the reason I moved here, so I could get this epic written.  Deep solitude was the only way it would have happened.

Mom's cardinal.

Mom’s cardinal.

 

Here's my girl getting some sustenance. To me she looks like she is nursing off the plant.

Here’s my girl getting some sustenance. To me she looks like she is nursing off the plant.

 

One day I decided it was time to go to the DMV in town and finally switch over my plates and license from Florida to North Carolina.  I had been putting it off forever!  It was a mere three days before my birthday, the day my registration and license both expired, and a mere three days after I got insurance for the first time since I left Tucson six years previously.  I had put it off long enough!

It was a beautiful day so I was driving with the top down, really enjoying life.  Things were finally going well – the writing was better than I’d ever have expected, I was enjoying my life more than I had in a very long time and I was just plain old happy.  I knew I was on the right path and it felt great to be on that path.

And then a young driver in a red pickup truck changed it all.  He hit the back of my car twice and I hit the truck in front of me once.  Those three bonks have changed my life, probably forever.  I have since had what appears to be seizures.  I can no longer drive (doctor’s orders), at least for now.  The end of next month I will be going for a sleep deprived EEG (no sleep at all the previous night with testing early that morning; the idea is to stress the brain to see if it will produce seizures.  I absolutely, positively dread this test since the plain EEG was so difficult for me.).  If I have seizures, I will be diagnosed as having epilepsy.  (Which reminds me – I didn’t take my anti-seizure medicine yet…okay, done!).  If I have epilepsy, I will not be able to drive a minimum of six months.

One of the beautiful Ferguson sunsets.

One of the beautiful Ferguson sunsets.

So now I’m looking at the next part of my journey.  Not being able to drive pretty much makes living here an impossibility.  Plus the intense solitude, something I longed for, is now starting to feel oppressive in some ways since there are few things I’m still able to do right now.  Both reading and writing the way I had been are impossible.  I’ve looked at potential places to move the RV where I’d be closer to town but none of those would work for various reasons.  I’ve known I needed to consider where my journey would take me next and ended up with two possibilities – Indiana to be around my son and family or back to Tucson to be with friends.

The next stop of this journey with all sorts of crazy stopping off points will be back to Tucson, thus coming full circle.  My son, while assuring me he would love to have me near them, believes like I do that friends would probably be even more important in the moment.  He also knows I never really did want to leave Tucson, certainly not permanently, but did so for a variety of reasons that no longer exist.  It is time for me to go home again.  My six year “vacation” is over.

I fell in love with Tucson much like I fell in love with the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina – I barely entered into the area in both cases and it was truly love at first sight.  I would’ve been happy staying here in the mountains albeit without so much solitude but a young man in a red pickup truck kinda changed all that for me.  I didn’t think I’d ever be ready to leave here and, at this point, I’m still not really ready but I will be in another couple of months when the time comes to actually do this next phase of the journey.  Right now I’m shooting for starting the journey out of here around mid-September.

And so my decision has come to end this blog.  It is up for renewal by the end of this month anyway so the timing is right.  I really debated this since I’ve loved communicating with you in this format.  However, writing has gotten so much more difficult and I really don’t have that much to say right now.  If I change my mind, I will save the whole website so I can bring it back to life once again.

One of my more artistic endeavors of a flower in Ferguson.

One of my more artistic endeavors of a flower in Ferguson.

Thank you so much for your love and support.  I have loved sharing my journey with you.  Hopefully we will remain in touch one way or another after this but if not, I’m so very grateful we have met.

¡Buen viaje!  May God bless you on your journeys!

[Okay, so I realize I can’t really just say goodbye to you at this point since my journey will be continuing.  I just got off the phone with BlueHost, my web hosting peeps, and negotiated a much better price so we will be here for a while longer at this point.  I’m pretty sure it was the right thing to do!  So, journey on!]

A stunning monsoon Tucson sunset. And people wonder why monsoon is my favorite season in Tucson?

A stunning monsoon Tucson sunset. And people wonder why monsoon is my favorite season in Tucson?

© 2016 deborah kauffeld

one year

On February 26, 2015 Picasso and I did something totally crazy – we moved into an RV to live in full-time.  It’s been a whole year since!  Happy anniversary to us both!

 

Moving out of our apartment.

Moving out of our apartment.

 

Empty!

Empty!

So much has happened in the one year since I’ve been living on wheels.  Notice I didn’t say “on the road” since that wouldn’t be exactly correct!  Anyway, I thought it might be interesting to review some of the things I’ve learned this last year.

 

It is hard to appreciate the difference in size between the two RV's in this photo but there is no comparison!

It is hard to appreciate the difference in size between the two RV’s in this photo but there is no comparison!

 

There is a huge difference between a Class C RV (what I started out with) and a fifth wheel (my current abode).  Now that I’m in the fifth wheel I can hardly believe I was thinking I could live in the much smaller Class C and be happy.  Let’s put it this way – I could NEVER go back!  Of course that brings up another issue – I’m no longer mobile, at least not without someone’s help.  That’s kind of a mixed blessing I suppose.

 

My first view of the Blue Ridge Mountains as I sighed, "I'm home!"  Little did I know how right I was when I said that!

My first view of the Blue Ridge Mountains as I sighed, “I’m home!” Little did I know how right I was when I said that!

 

The first photo I took of our home in NC.

The first photo I took of our home in NC.

 

RV number 1 in NC!

RV number 1 in NC!

 

While I cannot pull a fifth wheel with my little, itty, bitty Fiat I realize that this is actually okay.  Turns out I never realized just how little stress I can handle these days and driving a behemoth is more than just a little stressful as is moving every few weeks.  Now for some of you that wouldn’t be an issue but I have learned that I’m much better not having that extra stress on me.  Am I disappointed?  Well, yes and no I suppose.  The plan certainly was to move every month or so and find a new place to explore.  I also expected to be able to travel easily across the country, seeing places I’ve never seen as well as visiting friends from places I’ve spent a whole lot of time in.  While I wish sometimes that was still the case, for the most part I’m really good with it not happening since it really did take a huge toll on me.  It wasn’t until I started to push myself that I started to more easily see my limits.  That’s a good thing since it allows me to take better care of me!

 

The first time towing my Fiat.

The first time towing my Fiat.

 

The second time towing my car.

The second time towing my car.

 

On the other hand, how the hell did I end up in North Carolina?  I have to admit to marveling at that!  I was just on my way up to visit my family for a month when my car broke down and left me with way too much time to fall in love with these Appalachian mountains and the people who inhabit those mountains.  I knew I wanted to consider living here over the summer but I honestly expected to be heading back to Florida for the winters.  Living here full-time was not something I was even considering, especially in an RV.  They aren’t exactly known for their insulation!

 

Sitting in the fog!  It didn't occur to me how often we'd end up with fog here but with the stream in back I guess I shouldn't have been surprised.

Sitting in the fog! It didn’t occur to me how often we’d end up with fog here but with the stream in back I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.

 

Winter is officially 2/3’s over and I couldn’t be happier with my decision to have wintered here.  Has it gotten cold?  Yep, but it has also been really beautiful, too.  It’s also been far more expensive to winter here than I ever would’ve expected.  Between the things I needed to winterize the RV, me and Picasso I spent a small fortune.  Remember, I had NOTHING in the way of things of warmth and had to buy just about everything!  My first month’s bill for propane alone was nearly $500!  That included the tank rental, installation and propane as well as some other charges.  Not in my budget, that’s for sure!

But living here for the winter gave me something far more unexpected.  Mom had an exacerbation of her COPD just after this past Christmas and died not even a month after that.  Living here has given me a place to cocoon as I heal and mend and just get my energy back.  On nice days we go out and walk around the RV park.  On real wintery days we just hang out inside the RV, safe and warm.  I’ve felt extremely cared for in my humble abode.  I’ve been alone in the park for the most part although there is someone here now but I’ve not even met him yet so I can remain as unsocial as I would like at this point.  Jim the owner of the park either comes down to check on me every so often or emails me.  My journey hasn’t been easy and this has given me a place to unwind it all in safety.  I’m content and perhaps that’s one of my biggest surprises – being content while doing so little!

 

This is a photo from my friend Juan in Costa Rica.  I feel as content and peaceful as this photo!

This is a photo taken by my friend Juan in Costa Rica. I feel as content and peaceful as this photo!

 

I’ve also learned that I’m not a friend of stink bugs.  Those little buggers continue to make their way into my RV on a very routine basis but I’m happy to say that so far I’ve not had a run in with their stinky side!

In the short time I’ve already been here in NC I’ve come to realize just how very much I’ve come to miss having four distinct seasons.  Tucson, Costa Rica and Florida are not known for their seasons.  It’s been nearly 20 years since the last time I experienced them.  Winter, my least favorite season while living in NJ, has come to be a good friend down here, particularly since this was not a terribly cold winter I suppose.  When I lived in Tucson I remember going to see Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West in Scottsdale.  Of all the things I saw and learned there the one that has stuck with me the most was how he believed when you entered a home it should be more compressed (lower ceiling, smaller room).  Then, as you enter the living area of the home it should suddenly open up (higher ceiling and more expansive overall).  By doing so, one’s energy is compressed then allowed to sort of explode into the main living area, sort of like going through a tunnel into an exceptionally beautiful. open area.  It is all about the contrast.  This is what winter is like to me.  It is a compressing season which then opens up into spring and the new life one experiences in that season.  I remember how much I’ve loved spring and cannot wait to experience it again!  I’m pretty sure I’ve picked a truly beautiful place to experience that explosion into life!

 

I've shared this photo of my son Kris and mom before but I wanted to do so again here.  It was taken a week prior to her death.

I’ve shared this photo of my son Kris and mom before but I wanted to do so again here. It was taken a week prior to her death.

 

The timing of this is not lost on me either!  Mom passed right in the middle of winter.  I naturally have pulled inward as both the situation and season would dictate and I feel certain that when spring approaches I’ll be ready to expand into the beauty of the season and back into life.

I’ve been thrilled that you have been with me this year.  It hasn’t been a easy one in so many ways and I don’t know how I would’ve made it through without all the support I’ve gotten.  Thank you so much and now on to year two!

© 2016 deborah kauffeld

just another day…

Life in an RV, while potentially fun, is anything but normal when compared to living in a sticks and bricks house.  Little things in a normal house can be more challenging in a rolling home, even if it’s not rolling in the moment.

Case in point – getting internet set up in a stationary RV.  Now you probably wouldn’t think it all that difficult, right?  I first made arrangements for them to come out here over a month ago.  I was told it would be 7-10 days before it would be installed.  At the ten day point I called them and was told that I would be hearing from them shortly.  A few days later Jim the park owner told me they were supposed to be coming that day but, instead, they wouldn’t be coming for another four days due to the weather.  Finally, on the Monday prior to Thanksgiving, they arrived to start digging the trench and laying the fiber optics.  I left for Indiana and Thanksgiving with my family the next day with an appointment set up for the following Tuesday for the install.

As it seems to be doing all too often, the rains came and kept them from finishing their work on time, thus pushing the install for another two days.

Marcus working on the exterior installation of the internet.  The coiled blue hose is my heated water hose, necessary for winter to keep water coming into the RV from freezing.  To the left of the hose is the water spigot which is also outfitted for freezing temps.

Marcus working on the exterior installation of the internet. The coiled blue hose is my heated water hose, necessary for winter to keep water coming into the RV from freezing. To the left of the hose is the water spigot which is also outfitted for freezing temps.

On Thursday they arrived exactly at 8:30 AM, as scheduled.  Now I should’ve known things were going to be different when a cable company actually arrived on time!  Two men in two trucks started to work outside the RV when Jim arrived.  I was quite grateful for his arrival since I had just found out that the technicians were not allowed to drill any holes in RV’s for liability reasons and I was about to wield a drill myself!  Jim had already gone through the various install options with me and so was ready to help right away.

The entertainment center where the wireless router is  now housed.

There were several holes to be drilled but the fun began when trying to determine just how they were going to do the interior install.  The wiring was going to come in from the far side, opposite where the hookups were located.  To accommodate them, Jim had to install a conduit under the RV so they could bring the wires to the other side while protecting them from weather.  After going beneath the RV, they emerged into a little cubby designed for the various hookups, all insulated.  From there a hole had to be drilled to allow the cable to then cross back to the other side again, but this time inside the RV.  They needed to reach the electric outlet in the “basement” storage area of the RV for the transformer.  Another cable was then fished up into the entertainment center, requiring hole number two to be drilled.  Now if this sounds confusing to you, well, that’s the point!  Those wires went back and forth either in or out of the RV three different times – first outside in the conduit, then inside to the electric and finally back across again to reach the entertainment center.

The utility section of the RV with its various connections.

The utility section of the RV with its various connections. Beneath the RV you can see the white conduit housing the internet cables.  This shot was taken prior to the hole being drilled so the cables are all bunched up still.  

Now while this might sound simple enough, it was anything but.  Working within an RV, particularly when dealing with electrical systems, is always going to be a bit of a challenge, minimally.  Even the best built RV’s seem to use cheap labor to build them and electrical systems tend to be more than just a strange as a result.  I remember when I had work done on my other RV how the TV antenna system was more than just a little wonky and needed to be fixed prior to my being able to get TV coverage.

Jim working at finding a way to get the internet wiring into the entertainment center.

Jim working at finding a way to get the internet wiring into the entertainment center.

 

While the last shot looked like Jim was about to come up through the hole in my floor, this one appears as if the tech is going to go the other direction!

While the last shot looked like Jim was about to come up through the hole in my floor, this one appears as if the tech is going to go the other direction!

In the process of fishing wires through here and there, I got to see some of the guts of the RV.  Plumbing runs, electrical runs and sewage lines were all quite visible.  The so-called insulation – a sheet of maybe 1/2 inch foam – surrounded all the vulnerable parts.  In many RV’s there is actually even less or no insulation around these items which is why most RV’s are not appropriate for winter camping.

This is a shot I took with my head poking through that floor opening so it is looking down.  What a mess of wiring and piping down there!

This is a shot I took with my head poking through that floor opening so it is looking down. What a mess of wiring and piping down there!

While expecting the job to take around 45 minutes, it ended up taking just over two hours.  Then the hard part came – they asked me to pick a name for the router.  Oh, I hate doing those kinds of things but somehow managed to come up with the name “Picasso’s Place” rather quickly.  Then it got worse – I had to pick a password for it!  Ugh.  Just as I was ready to give up, Marcus, one of the technicians, came up with a dog related one that works perfectly!  Soon enough they left and the fun was over….

….until the next morning when there was no internet at all and no more landline either.  Worse yet, Jim closed down the internet down here so while I was able to get online for a few minutes in the morning using his internet, it wasn’t strong enough for me to place a simple Skype call.  I ended up having to go down the mountain to get cell coverage.  I had to call Brian the RV guy and confirm that he was coming at lunch time.  He arrived not too much later to fix the water heater again.

After Brian left I ended up going back down the mountain again so I could call the communications company to tell them of my problem with the internet.  They asked me to try something so that necessitated a trip back up the mountain and then down again so I could call them to tell them it didn’t work.  Now here comes the surprise – they told me a tech would have to come up.  I asked them, “Today?” to which she told me yes so I scooted back up the mountain once again.  The tech was actually here in under an hour!  Wow for their customer service! It was Marcus again from the day before, the tech who gave me my password!

After going through it all he determined that the transformer indeed needed replacing.  Within moments we were up and running again.  I’m happy to report we are still running a little over 24 hours after the last visit!

Another story about how things are different in an RV – my hot water heater still isn’t working when on electric.  For those who don’t know, most RV’s have hot water heaters that work on either electric or propane.  If one is at an RV park and hooked up to electricity, one plugs in and uses electric to heat their water.  On the other hand, if one is out “boondocking” (not using any utilities), they can have hot water by using propane to heat it.  Propane is also a whole lot quicker to heat the water and can be used when hot water is needed quickly.  Hot water tanks on RV’s are typically significantly smaller than a household tank and usually hold either 6 or 12 gallons.  My first RV had a 6 gallon tank.  I quickly learned to take short showers, turning the water off between rinses.  Works well in the summer but a little less well when it is really cold out.  The new RV has a 12 gallon tank so in theory I can take a bit longer in the shower.

I mentioned that Brian was here yesterday to fix the water heater yet again.  On his first attempt he replaced the heating rod and figured it would be good.  Thankfully I now knew not to just hop in and hope for the best!  After determining the water was too cool to shower, I switched it to run on propane, waited a little while, took my shower and then called Brian to let him know of his failed fix.  Yesterday he replaced the two relays and, finding one to have a bit of corrosion, figured it was once again fixed.  Nope, not so!  We are back on propane once again while he comes up with the next fix.  At this rate we will be soon enough replacing all the parts in the tank!

The two most recently replaced parts for the water heater.  You can see some corrosion but that still wasn't the issue.

The two most recently replaced parts for the water heater. You can see some corrosion but that still wasn’t the issue.

The reality is that I enjoy when Brian comes over since I get to pick his brain about this or that.  He is extremely knowledgable about all things RV as well as automotive.  Brian is not only a good businessman, he is also a very fair and honest man besides just being an overall good person.  Let me give you an example – I was telling Brian how I had to go to Winston-Salem to pick up my desk but given the size of my car I really wasn’t sure I would fit it and figured I’d have to rent a car.  After picking up the desk I also had to go to another town to get the office chair.  I’d be driving probably something like four hours or so.  What does Brian tell me?  Well first he tells me that I really shouldn’t take my car since there was probably no way it would fit even with the roof open.  Instead I should take his truck.  Huh?  You want me to take your truck?  He goes on to explain to me that he buys one regularly from a dealer he is friends with and gets a fleet car with high milage but low in years.  For this he pays only $5,000 and he is very happy to loan it out when needed by someone.

Now I’m not at all used to this kind of kindness and generosity.  Yes, I do believe this is how we people should all be but, sadly, it rarely materializes like that.

I don’t think I’ve ever run into so many genuinely good-hearted people as I have here in North Carolina.  Just writing about this brings tears to my eyes, tears of gratitude.  After everything I’ve been through in the past one of my biggest fears had been that I would die while still not healing the wounds from the things I’d been through.  People have really hurt me, taken advantage of me, broken my trust and proven that humans just aren’t all that nice in many cases.  I’m a trusting person but it has been so very long since my trust has been appropriately placed.  But now it appears healing is coming and I have no words to adequately express my gratitude.

Slowly my RV is becoming my home in a way the first one never could.  It is more than a function of size although that figures into it greatly.  I think it has to do with the usability of this RV as well as finding some really good people to help support me when I need it.  As a result, the RV life feels a bit more safe to me.  RV’s are not like homes and can always find new ways to show you their differences.  Part of that is the issue of taking them out on the road and bouncing them all over the place.  Imagine if you put your house on wheels and then drove at 60 miles an hour, the equivalent of a tropical storm, for hours on end.  It is no wonder they develop issues.  The other reality is that they are built terribly, even the more expensive ones, and that causes issues over time.  Staying stationary will help to ease some of those issues but there will be others.  That is the nature of an RV.

Once I’m fully settled and am ready to put the move-in process behind me, I hope to take some time to give you a tour of my home as well as the surroundings so you can see why I’m so enamored with this place.  The peace of nature here truly nurtures my soul.  I cannot wait to share that with you!

© 2015 deborah kauffeld

moving – the good stuff (part 2)

[This is part two of my moving process.  You can read the first part here.]

Well, the last post covered the drama.  Now, to the other side of things.  While going back and forth between the two RV’s I couldn’t help but notice the size difference.  But rather than thinking how large the new RV is in comparison to the old one, which I would think would be the more normal response, I found myself blown away by just how small a space I was moving from!  How did I ever live in that little space for 8 months and find it to be okay?  I still can’t believe the difference!  I feel like I’m coming out of a cramped hotel room and into an actual home!  There is no comparison.  Two very different experiences.  But the first RV really did serve its purpose and I’m very grateful for it!  It got me to the beautiful mountains in North Carolina!

The next thing I couldn’t help but notice was how much stuff I crammed into that little RV!!!  It just kept coming and I thought for a while that I’d never get done – ever!  Yikes!  The thing is that while I was able to pack all this stuff into that RV, I didn’t use a whole lot of it because I couldn’t get to it easily enough.  Now things are much more spread out and more accessible.  It will be interesting to see how this affects me and how I use things differently.

As I write this I am almost completely done with the move.  I have only the desktop computer and my TV to be moved.  I need some help with the computer for sure since it is probably a two person operation to get it off the table with its monitor arm.  On my own I’d risk dropping it since I just don’t have enough hands!  The TV I could probably do on my own but my back really has had enough and if I can get a little help, why not!  Better still, pretty much everything is put away in the new RV.  Now that doesn’t mean the move-in process is actually done. Because I have to leave Tuesday (tonight is Sunday) I don’t really have the luxury of doing a great job of things.  Tomorrow I have to spend doing a bunch of errands, things that have to get done before I leave.  I’ve got all winter to reorganize things!

Now to my conclusion – I am so happy that I swapped RV’s!  I wanted a fifth wheel to begin with and now that I’m in this one I can really see why.  I feel like I’m in a real home now, something I never felt with the other one.  Don’t get me wrong – I loved that little RV but I quickly outgrew it!  The views from this RV are nothing short of stupendous!  Every window with a view!

The view out from my  current kitchen table which will soon be transformed into my desk.

The view out from my current kitchen table which will soon be transformed into my desk.  I didn’t get to take a shot of my favorite view yet so we will have to save that for another time!

I’ve only been here for three nights but already it feels quite a bit like home to me.  I’m pretty sure it will continue to grow on me since I’ve not done a whole lot other than unpack so far!  I cannot wait to begin to use the kitchen with its expansive counters!  When I get back I still have to get a fair amount of winterizing done.  The drafts through the windows are horrible so I’ll need to work on that.  I still need to get a skirt for the bottom of the RV to keep the wind from blowing underneath it.  But I love it here even if I’m a bit chilly and wondering if I will need a mortgage to pay for the propane to heat it!  Once I get to working on it, though, it should be fine.  Oh, and Picasso loves it!  He likes to romp and stomp throughout it and seems really happy here!

We even have a fireplace (electric, of course).  As you can see, Picasso is already loving it!

We even have a fireplace (electric, of course). As you can see, Picasso is already loving it!

I found it utterly weird to move but still be in the exact same location.  That’s a first for me!  I doubt there are too many who’ve done that!  I kept thinking I’d walk out the door and be somewhere else but, nope, I was still here but my experience of “here” was quite different now since the outside was now part of my inside experience because of the windows.

But perhaps the piece I cannot help but notice is the healing that being here has brought to me.  I’ve had such a hard time trusting people as well as my own intuition ever since I lost my business.  By nature I’m a rather trusting person so this has been tough on me.  Throughout this whole process I kept doubting either myself or that Brian could possibly be who he presented himself to be.  I thought I’d be snookered or that this RV was going to be a piece of garbage.  Having some of those odds and ends going wrong didn’t help but I stuck with it.

Tonight (Monday now) Brian came over and this RV is officially mine and the old one is gone.  The swap has been completed.  Brian was here with Scott, his employee.  The hot water heater turned out to need a new element, just as Brian predicted.  [Update on the hot water heater – although it appeared to work after the element was replaced, by morning the water was again only lukewarm.  Not willing to make the same mistake twice, I didn’t take a shower that morning!  Brian will be back again to fix it after Thanksgiving.) The door got fixed needing just a little adjustment.  The circuit breakers were checked and all was good.  The thermostat turned out to be working properly although the LED was a bit wonky so numbers appeared different than they should.  I now know how to work it while Brian looks for a fully working replacement.  Furthermore, Brian is here for the long haul and will be available to help with whatever work might be needed and at prices that will be much more realistic and reasonable.

I cannot tell you just how grateful I am for the help I’ve received since moving here.  Brian singlehandedly has helped my broken truster to start healing.  I followed my intuition, also broken, and have been well rewarded. I have to admit that my life has been just a little strange since I decided to go for this adventure and has been absolutely nothing like I would have expected it to have been.  My favorite activity so far in my new RV is to just sit in one of the lounge chairs with a cup of tea and just take in the wonderful pine tree outside my window as peace envelopes me in her loving arms.

My new kitchen!  Just look at all that counter space!  And speaking of counter space, it's all Corian!

My new kitchen! Just look at all that counter space! And speaking of counter space, it’s all Corian!

Tomorrow (Tuesday) I leave for Indianapolis to be with my family.  I am so grateful that we will be seeing each other again after such a relatively short period of time.

I cannot express fully how grateful I am to see this healing come over me.  It has been quite a long time and, to be honest, there were many times I had lost hope that my life would ever come together again.  I just had to keep holding on while moving forward, neither of which was easy at times.

I have to admit to wondering what will be next on my agenda.  I’ve been asked what I would be doing here all on my own for a whole winter.  The reality is I don’t have a clue!  I’m hoping to be writing but I don’t know yet.  Seems whenever I have an idea it turns out to be something different anyway which makes me wonder if I should make plans at all!

I’m also very grateful to each and every one of you who takes the time to read about my crazy, adventurous, healing life.  It’s a real pleasure to have you with me!  Life can be good again even after falling apart.  When I first decided to get the original RV it was because “my body” told me that the experience would bring healing.  I thought it would be about the travel but apparently that isn’t the case.   I just needed a new, healing location.  I feel like tremendous healing is and will continue to take place in my life while I’m here.  I’ve met some wonderful people and I’m grateful to each and everyone of them.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Our lovely turkey on the rotisserie while being smoked!  Yum!

Happy Thanksgiving! Our lovely turkey on the rotisserie while being smoked! Yum!  My son Kris did a great job on this bird while Elizabeth my daughter-in-law did all the rest!

May this Thanksgiving season find you with people you love enjoying each other’s company.  May there be a great many things for you to hold in your heart with gratitude and, if not, know that things can really change.  They have for me; they can for you.  Blessings and love to you all!

© 2015 deborah kauffeld

moving – the drama (part 1)

[It has taken me much longer to get this posted than I expected since my internet service was quite intermittent “on the mountain”.  That is about to change as I will be getting my very own internet service in a few days!]

As I start to write this it is the beginning of the week leading to one of my favorite holidays – Thanksgiving.  And tonight (Sunday evening) finds me nearing completion of the move into my new (to me) RV.  On Thursday Brian, the seller, brought the new RV to the same site I’ve been on for the last three months.  First the old one was moved out to make room and then it was moved back, behind the new one.  This made moving all my stuff a bit easier since both doors were on the same side.

The two RV's end to end, doors on the same side, with my car in the foreground.

The two RV’s end to end, doors on the same side, with my car in the foreground.

Brian got here earlier than expected on Thursday, well before noon.  That gave me a bit more time to get started with the move which was good since I had no choice but to sleep in the new RV that night.  The old one had no utilities so no heat, water or electricity.  It was no longer level either which could probably make sleeping a bit funky!  I didn’t think rolling off the bed in the middle of the night would be fun but it would’ve made getting to the bathroom quicker!  Prior to Brian’s arrival I admit to having been a little nervous that morning wondering if I was totally crazy or what!  But once the RV arrived that all evaporated.

Brian was here quite a while which I found surprising.  Part of the deal Brian and I had was to have new decals installed on the RV before I would get it since many of the original ones were peeling off.  The decal issue was a well known problem for this company for those model years.  While the inside of the RV was in good shape, the outside left much to be desired.   When Brian drove up with the RV I was blown away by just how great it looked with its new decals!  He commented, not complaining, about what a difficult job it was to get them done, never wanting to do it again even though it probably added at least $2,500 to the value.

The full side of the RV.

The side of the RV.

All the peeling decals had to be removed first.  Afterwards, the adhesive was removed using some kind of really nasty product designed to remove the adhesive as well as layers of skin!  Finally, the decals were applied, a process  that required perfect weather  so the decals could properly dry in place.  The decals themselves were actually composed of many different little ones and had to be put together much like a jigsaw puzzle.  I believe it was something like 50 decals in all!  Summer would’ve been the best time to get this work done with the extended daylight hours and warm temperatures.  Well that wasn’t happening and the rains kept coming, totally delaying the application of the decals.  While I can normally be fairly patient under these circumstances, my timeline was getting pretty crunchy given the fact that I had to drive (in my car) to Indianapolis for Thanksgiving and there was much work to be done prior to my departure.

This is a close-up of the decals. Each one of those mountains is a separate decal so you can imagine how challenging it was to get them up correctly!

This is a close-up of the decals. Each one of those mountains is a separate decal so you can imagine how challenging it was to get them up correctly!

When Brian finally got here we all admired the great job that was done on the decals.  It made a huge difference.  I never took a single photo of the rig with the peeling decals but it was not pretty.  The RV then was moved into its new location, leveled and the utilities hooked up.  One of the more important issues was getting the heated water hose installed so that while I was gone the water wouldn’t freeze in the hose if the temperature went below freezing.

Not long after its arrival, Jim and Kathy (owners of the RV park) excitedly came over and asked if they could go inside and check it all out.  Afterwards Jim took me aside to tell me that I did a good job with this RV.  I think he was a bit surprised.  Yesterday he told me he admired me and that he was proud of me!  You never know the impression you make on people unless they decide to share their thoughts.  To be honest, I never would’ve guessed he felt that way!  Jim also told me that he really liked Brian and later was busy picking his brain about his own rig.  What I haven’t told Jim about yet was the fact that I also got a screaming deal on this RV.  Brian bought it for a really good price since Camping World, having taken it in on a trade-in, wanted nothing to do with peeling decals.  I was the recipient of this good deal since Brian passed on the savings!  Brian and I did an even swap of the two RV’s even though the wholesale price of the new one was $5,000 or $6,000 more than the one I was trading!  It’s funny, I didn’t think about it until now but it reminded me of a house that needed a bit of rehab work done to it.  While others couldn’t see the potential, I could and, in this case, it really has paid off!

Eventually everyone left and I was alone with my new home.  Wow!  I really did it!  I was floored by the wonderful views!  Well, enough enjoying things!  Time to get to work!  The first thing I did was get my mattress into the RV (thank you, Jim) and I then had to open the box.  I got a latex mattress and I’m always amazed at how small a box they can get those suckers into!  But now that the box was upstairs in the bedroom I had to open it and get it situated on the bed.  Believe me, this was no easy task!  The mattress, by Jim’s estimation, weighed somewhere around 100 pounds!  Believe me, my back wasn’t at all happy either!  Try as I might I couldn’t get the box open!  I finally pried off the staples from both ends but there was still no getting it out at that point!  I finally took my scissors and began to carefully cut down the side of the box where it was seamed.  It took forever since I had to do a little bit at a time so I wouldn’t accidentally cut the mattress.  When I eventually got it out of the box I then had to get the box out from under the mattress!  Now the next task emerged – getting the mattress out of the plastic wrap that kept it from exploding into a queen size mattress while being shipped!  (What a visual!)  That plastic was quite thick and in several layers.  Again, care was important!  After I got nearly half way done it appeared to have its own life as it began to expand and rip the plastic that was left intact.  I briefly wondered how I was going to manage if the mattress was upside-down.  Realizing that was exactly what was going to happen, I quickly reversed it before it finished coming to life!  Fully open I never would’ve been able to flip it by myself.  Now I had to remove the plastic from beneath the mattress, a slightly easier task then the cardboard since the plastic was much more slippery than the cardboard had been.  After arranging the mattress on the frame it was time to make the bed.

Now you have to understand that this was the first real mattress I’ve had in over six years having slept on either a futon or a sleeper sofa.  There’s a whole lot more to making a real bed!  First the heated mattress pad went on followed by the waterproof pad (my insurance that Picasso won’t mess things up.  He’s been good but, who knows?)  After that, the bottom sheet then the top and then getting the duvet into the duvet cover as well as the pillows into their shams!  Let me tell you, prior to even moving anything my back was already getting quite grumpy about the situation. But, hey!  My bed looked great!  Better yet, it feels great!  I did a good job of choosing and I’m quite happy with it.  Yay!  Thankfully mattress pads don’t have to be done all the time.  Oh, and that heated mattress pad?  Just a little bit of heaven!

My trusty moving helper! couldn't have done the move without it!

My trusty moving helper! couldn’t have done the move without it!

About a week prior to the move I picked up a foldable wagon that I had originally seen in Florida at Bed Bath & Beyond when I was there last month.  It’s one of those with chunky, fat tires that enable it to go through sand and good for up to 150 pounds.  I figured it would work well for what I needed.  I cannot carry much without risking back pain so this would be my transport between the two RV’s.  The best $80 I’ve spent in a long time since it literally saved my back and allowed me to get the move done!  I wish you could see how I have to move things!  I used big plastic containers to put stuff into and then slid it to the door.  I slid it down the steps while using my knee to keep it from getting away from me and then slid it into the wagon.  I then pulled my little blue wagon over to the other RV and did the whole process the opposite direction, careful the whole time not to stress my back any more than the bed had already done.  I am happy to report that my back survived thanks to my crazy ingenuity!

But life hasn’t been without some drama, naturally!  What would my life be like without drama!  First issue – I blew a circuit breaker and it wasn’t even more than a few hours after I was in the RV!  I made some tea for myself and had the heater on the same circuit.  I didn’t realize they were on the same breaker and – boom!  Circuit breaker flipped!  Thankfully I knew where the breakers were so it was an easy fix.  But later I plugged into a different circuit only to have that breaker also flip.  Hmm…I called Brian who told me he figured the circuit had too little amperage to support the heater.  I was a little worried since the breakers were relatively warm.  He told me he would check the breakers when he came back on Monday to pick up the old RV, the day the swap is totally official.

Okay, issues over, right?  Well, I couldn’t get the main door to close easily.  It took some really nasty slamming before it would latch and I was actually getting concerned that I’d destroy something in the process.  Another call to Brian who told me it probably needed a good dose of WD-40. When I found it and sprayed it on it was like magic.  Suddenly the door closed normally although we determined it also needed some weather stripping, something they didn’t have at the time.

The first night was more or less uneventful.  Well, almost.  I went to set the thermostat because heat was an absolute necessity.  Well, another issue!  It seems I could set the temperature at any setting I wanted as long as it was in the 70’s – 90’s or in the 40’s.  The digital thermostat evidently didn’t like the 50’s or 60’s which was a bit of an issue since I wanted to set the temp for 55 that night.  I didn’t think 71 was a good sleeping temperature so 49 it was!  I forgot to put on Picasso’s sweater so the poor little guy must have been a bit chilly but no complaints from him!  When I realized I turned on our little space heater so we were all toasty once again!  Not surprisingly, there was another call to Brian that morning!  He will replace the thermostat when he is here on Monday!

I did a little work around the RV and decided it was time for a shower.  This shower is a bit larger than my last one and has a glass enclosure.  I was looking forward to my inaugural shower.  I got in and ran the water.  I was a bit surprised that the hot water was more lukewarm but given it’s distance from the hot water heater I wasn’t particularly concerned.  About halfway through my shower while I was all soaped up and had conditioner still in my hair, the lukewarm water turned icy cold!  AHHHHH!!!!  I practically cried with the idea of having to rinse off in water that was frigid but I managed, just a little worse for wear!  Brr!!!  Another call to Brian.  He explained how when they are showing the RV sometimes they run the hot water heater either with no or little water and the heating element then dies.  But that doesn’t makes total sense to me since I had hot water prior to that.  I have this weird idea that it really isn’t the rod in the heater but rather something with the circuit breaker from the day before or something else.  It’s just one of those feelings and I could clearly be wrong but I’m too often right to not pay attention to my thought.  I will make sure Brian checks out those circuit breakers well.  Better safe than sorry!

Stay tuned for part 2!

© 2015 deborah kauffeld

…to the best!

When last we met, our protagonist was barely making it to the campground in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina.  As we see our heroine it is obvious that she has had the crap beaten out of her.   Oh, my!  What will happen to her next?

So let’s go to a point just prior to the getting lost part.  I’m driving the RV down the last part of the last piece of highway.  The road was hilly – up and down, up and down.  Suddenly we reached the crest of one of those hills and the Appalachian mountains were visible in the distance all covered in their smoky haze.  I looked at them, smiled and softly pronounced  – I am home!  It was an interesting statement considering this was my first time ever in North Carolina other than driving through what was probably Route 1 as we were going to Florida when I was 11.  But, yes, I knew this was home and my heart was full!

This is the crest of the hill when I first saw the mountains in the distance. Can you see them? They are hardly visible in the photo. Sorry for the quality but I was, after all, driving an RV at the time!

The crest of the hill when I first saw the mountains in the distance. Can you see them? They are hardly visible in the photo because they blend into the clouds. Sorry for the quality but I was, after all, driving an RV at the time and the windshield was quite dirty!

Not long afterwards I missed that fateful turn (see my previous post) and my trip was suddenly extended by another hour and a half.  I didn’t feel “at home” after we got to the campsite nor while we were getting settled in.  I was beyond tired at that point and actually felt pretty much nothing at all, very much a state of “left foot; right foot”, just getting the job done.  But later that night, when I took Picasso out for the last time, I heard the nighttime symphony of the owl and various insects and then I looked up at the sky.  Oh, that is heavenly!   Stars filling every space in the universe!  Yes, I felt like I was home, certainly more like “home” than I have felt in many years.  Oh, this is heavenly!

I have always thought of myself as a “mountain” girl.  I have lived in the more suburban/urban setting of New Jersey with New York City as my backyard, then moved to the desert (an environment I still love although the summers are too harsh for me), then lived in a rain forest (Costa Rica) and finally a swamp called Florida.  Okay, to be honest that “swamp” does have some great looking beaches but, no, I’m not a beach person.  I love the feeling of power as I look out at the ocean but have no need to be there as some do.  No, I’m a mountain girl and always feel most alive when I’m in the mountains surrounded by trees and breathing in the air that is somehow so energized by all those trees.  It’s my place and yet I’ve never lived there.  For years I’ve promised myself since I’ve lived in just about every other environment that I would some how, some way live in the mountains before I died.

This is the size of my side yard. Impressive, isn't it?

 This is the size of my side yard. Impressive, isn’t it?  I’ve lived in houses with smaller side yards!

Perhaps, then, it should come as no surprise that I feel so at home here.  To say I’m in love would be an understatement.  There is an energy that I’ve not experienced in 20 years since the last time I visited Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.  Shenandoah forms the northern part of these Appalachian mountains and so there is some similarity.

In all that time I’ve not once experienced the turning of the leaves, the smell of the leaves as they decompose on the forest floor, nor the anticipation of spring after a long winter.  Spring is my favorite season and whether we are speaking of the desert, the rain forest or the swamp each offers a rather insipid version of spring.  My whole being craves these cyclic events.

My grill on the picnic table looks great along with my chair and the fire pit. I do need to make a fire at least once while I'm here.

My grill on the picnic table looks great along with my chair and the fire pit. I do need to make a fire at least once while I’m here. The stream is just behind those trees and quite audible.

At this point, I am expecting to come back here next summer for the season.  I will make up my mind as the two weeks progress.  I should mention that one four-footed little guy better known as Picasso seems to really love it here.  When we are outside he pulls me all over the area to see what new sniffs he can find.  I’ve never seen him so excited to go for a walk.

I have to admit to thinking that I might want to actually consider the very real possibility of moving here on an annual basis, even living here through the winter.  I love and miss snow.  I don’t want to be snowed in for weeks on end or break my back shoveling but I want to have fun in the snow and watch Picasso romp through it.  He’s not seen too much snow but he did seem to like it once he figured out where to do his business!  If I do decide to seriously consider this as a full-time place to live, I’d probably want to get a different type of RV, one that would afford better protection from the cold, and just park it here without moving it.

All this is a bit like putting the cart before the horse but I really do think I could live here.  The peace, calm and joy that are inherent with being in the mountains are all here.  Yes, too soon to tell at this point but while I’m here this remains always in the back of my mind – can I live here?  Jim, the owner, was telling me yesterday that if I thought I was relaxed, give it a little time and I’ll find out what true relaxation is!  He went on to tell me how there is no real crime up here and how very safe it is.  Yes, I can feel that, too.

My backyard.

                                                  My backyard.

For now I just need to slow myself down and allow nature to soothe and heal my tired being.  The stress from the journey here is still affecting me, even more than yesterday.  But in spite of the tiredness I feel alive.  There’s no TV or telephone so I’m cut off from the world and even that feels good.  Assuming I do make it back here next summer there is supposed to be a new cell tower that will provide cell coverage and I’d get a satellite dish for TV so that would all be taken care of.

Earlier today all I wanted to do was get a blanket and spread it out on the ground and lie down on it.  I’ve not laid down on the ground since leaving NJ 20 years ago.  Too many snakes, stinging bugs or other hazards.  I long to embrace Mother Earth.

That’s my story for today.  I wanted to leave you with something more upbeat than yesterday’s story of how I got here.  That was the worst but today, well, you got to read about the best!

© 2015 deborah kauffeld

from the worst…

Yesterday, by far, was my worst RVing day.  It started out well enough other than the fog when I woke up in South Carolina.  Luckily enough it lifted prior to our uneventful departure back out over the dirt road.  As I approached the T intersection I knew I needed to swing the RV to the right before making the left.  If not, I’d not be able to see oncoming traffic coming at me from the right.  I thought I had managed to do that when I realized I didn’t account for the very acute angle of the intersection.  I couldn’t see the traffic coming from the right at all and I now had no way to further correct.  Drivers in cars behind me grew impatient and I started to panic.  I had no idea what to do.  I was in over my head, by far.  Finally I decided to make the left but onto the oncoming traffic side, the side I could see (there were no cars in view at all and if any appeared they’d have plenty of time to stop).  Again, I was blind to traffic coming from my right.  Two cars were evidently approaching, beeping frantically at me.  When the beeping stopped, I managed to slide into the lane not knowing at all if another car was coming.  Somehow I managed to merge safely.  There were no other cars behind me at all.  The angels were obviously watching over me but my heart was pounding in my chest.

Moments later I stopped for gasoline.  I promised myself that if I could find a trucker I’d ask him to instruct me on how to have done a better job at that intersection.  As I was pumping gas into the RV I found my trucker.  I asked him if he had a moment; I had a question to ask him.  (As he walked past me I said, “Excuse me.  Are you a trucker?”  I’m thinking no one has probably ever approached him quite like that!) I told him about my previous predicament and asked how I should have handled it.  He told me what to do which was exactly what I had done.  Since that obviously didn’t work, he told me that when the angles are really acute there’s another way to handle it and proceeded to draw it out for me on the concrete beneath our feet.  He then asked me if I knew what a button hole was.  Of course I didn’t so he then described that particular move.  I have to admit I was happy to know that I intuitively knew how to do that maneuver and, in fact, had done so once already.  He then recommended I get myself a copy of a DMV handbook for the licensing exam for a commercial driver’s license, an idea I thought was a great one.  He had also remarked how lucky I was that there wasn’t a truck like his barreling at me since there’d be no way he every could’ve stopped in time.  I loved that guy, my angel trucker dude!  Together we actually laughed throughout our conversation which went a long way toward helping me get past what just happened.  He couldn’t have been a more perfect gentleman for me to have asked!  He didn’t even make me feel dumb and I thanked him for being there for me.

The drive after that was unremarkable other than my need to find a way to calm myself down.  I’m pretty sure it took nearly two hours of driving before I could put it more or less behind me.  I was well aware that Picasso and I could’ve been killed, we could’ve lost our little house as well as my car and I could’ve been responsible for taking another’s life.  I still shudder at the thought but I feel much more confident now that I could avoid that situation if it happened again.

The stress of the morning, however, exhausted me.  I knew I was tired so I looked to stay extremely focused on the road since I didn’t want any more issues.  Kathy, who with her husband Jim own the RV park I was headed for, had given me directions on how to get there.  As much as I heard her, I was afraid it was going in one ear and out the other.  I found and made the first two turns off the highway without issue but totally missed the third one.  I literally blew right past it.  My GPS, I might add, was useless at that time.  The road I was on was very curvy and relatively narrow so I was looking to be careful and I was focused on staying on the road without issue.  Turn?  What turn?  When I realized I had missed it, it was way too late.  Again, I panicked.  Being a mountainous area, I had no cell coverage.  Thankfully the GPS was working but told me at one point to turn left onto what was obviously a one lane dirt road to nowhere.  Thankfully I didn’t listen.  I had no idea where we were going and only hoped that I could get out of this mess without too much of an issue.  The last thing I wanted to do now was to have to unhitch the car to somehow turn around.  This was my worst nightmare coming true, and then some!

The tears threatened to come.  I told the tears we didn’t have time for that stuff and to go away.  Falling apart was not even close to being an option.  I soldiered on.  Mile after mile I drove with no idea if I was ever going to find a way back to where I had been.  The road was way too narrow to even consider turning around even if I didn’t have the car hitched on to the back of the RV.  Hitched, it was impossible.

I drove for well over an hour before I could finally get a phone call out to Kathy to let her know I had been horribly lost.  At that point I was on a numbered road and knew the next road would be the highway I had been on originally more than a quarter tank of gas ago!  I could hear in her voice concern over my very obvious exhaustion.  She told me that she and Jim would meet me at the fire station when I finally came around again.  I wasn’t even sure I remembered where the fire station was but then seemed to access some spot in my memory that had stored it and told her I thought I knew where it was.  I only hoped I was correct.

I’ve never been so happy to see two people in my life.  It was now over an hour and a half since I last passed this point and just over seven hours since I left South Carolina for what I expected to be no more than 5 hours.  I put the RV in gear and got out.  Kathy suggested that Jim could drive the RV the remaining few miles for me.  To say I jumped at the opportunity would be a gross understatement.  Kathy was still telling me how great a driver Jim was while I had already handed over the keys.  I was done and very grateful for the opportunity to hand the keys over to someone else.  How would Picasso, in the passenger seat, react to someone else sitting next to him?  I didn’t care.  At least he would get there safely.

I got in the car with Kathy and she drove to the campground.  They gave me the opportunity to choose which campsite I wanted.  I deferred to their suggestions and ended up in the perfect site for us.  Jim, God bless him, not only drove the RV into the site, he also did the entire exterior set up for me – leveling, attaching the hoses and electric and detaching my car.  I could feel the exhaustion really making itself known.

After they left, Picasso and I started the ritual of getting everything in place inside the RV, or more correctly, Picasso watched as I got everything into place!  I was on automatic pilot, like some robot.  I remembered to feed Picasso but I didn’t get around to eating until 9:30, the first I had eaten since breakfast more than 12 hours earlier.  I ate a full meal and within a half hour was hungry again!

When I finally hit the bed, that’s when everything came flying back at me.  I was so terrified that I wasn’t sure I’d ever drive the RV again.  I reminded myself that this was just tiredness talking but it was really my finally letting go of the “I can’t feel now” attitude and the feelings I had to avoid all day.  They were now flying into my head with a vengeance, attacking my poor mind.  I somehow fell asleep but woke up only two hours later with the most intense pain I’ve ever felt in my TMJ area.  Yes, I clench my teeth under stress but this was like clenching on steroids.  I actually told my jaw to relax, out loud.  I told my body that everything really was okay now; we can relax.  Amazingly I woke up in the morning pain free albeit still somewhat tired.

Today was a very different day and I’ll get to that next time.  Thankfully, I made it here in one piece along with the RV and my car.  After thanking Jim several times yesterday, I continued today.  When Kathy saw me this morning she told me I looked so much less stressed than yesterday.  I cannot imagine what I looked like when they first saw me yesterday.

I feel most blessed to have found three people who have all taken care of me in different ways – the truck driver as well as Jim and Kathy.  I’m also grateful to myself for keeping me from falling apart.  Had I fallen apart it would’ve been game over.  I feel protected….and tired!

just do it!!!

Today it’s been three days since I moved to the new site and everything is not yet as it should be – I still have to get the RV level!  All RV’ers know this is supposed to be one of the very first things you do when you move into a new site!  I feel a bit like a drunken sailor trying to navigate a ship that is being tossed about on the waves of the ocean.  Okay, perhaps not quite that dramatic but similar!  I have to walk uphill to the kitchen and downhill to the couch.  The shower is the funniest part since it is small to begin with and the floor is a bit lumpy so I find myself losing my balance.  Admittedly I find it somewhat entertaining as I walk uphill or down.

Picasso doing what he does best - relaxing and keeping the homestead safe from marauders!

Picasso doing what he does best – relaxing and keeping the homestead safe from marauders!

Now this may not sound like a big job to those who have been RVing for a while but for me getting the RV level has felt huge.  I didn’t have to level the RV at the other site but here is a different story.  On top of that I didn’t have anything with which to level the RV.  One of the employees here told me to ask one of my neighbors and he would be very happy to help me using wooden boards but I knew this was something I had to do on my own.  And so I started to put it off.

I planned on taking care of it yesterday knowing the RV works better when level.  Some say the refrigerator won’t work properly without being level but I’ve also read otherwise.  But I can tell you one thing I know doesn’t work as well – the holding tanks!  Even though I had just emptied the tanks, I checked them when I moved to the new site.  They were supposedly nearly full!  Knowing this couldn’t be true, I nevertheless decided to empty them anyway.  The black tank, the one with all the toilet waste, emptied nothing but clear water, a sign that any solids weren’t actually sitting in liquid.  Now this is a major problem.  If solids aren’t in liquid they aren’t getting enzymed (I know, not a real word) and if they aren’t getting enzymed, they are baking on to the black tank, not a good thing.  So I need to get the RV leveled NOW!!!

Next problem – remember how I seem to have water issues?  Um, not me  personally but rather the places I live!  Yeah, well, something from the shower has been leaking.  I caulked around the shower floor thinking that would do it.  Nope.  Instead, because of the listing of the RV, I ended up with a little rivulet flowing across the RV.  Great!  I go from a lake when the RV was level to a flowing stream!  Well, at least I finally have flow, right?  I am frustrated and tired of things that keep coming up.  I want a break from move-in fixes.  I was talking to a friend about it yesterday and suddenly another potential solution came up – perhaps it has something to do with the hand held shower head and its hose.  Worth replacing it to see if that would be the fix.

Between the need to get the RV leveled, not having what I needed to accomplish this and now to needing to replace the hand-held shower head, it was clearly time for a trip to Camping World.  I tried to get out earlier yesterday but that wasn’t going to happen.  When I finally did get out I was hoping to make it back prior to the rains moving in.  That didn’t happen either.  I wasn’t going to level the RV in the rain and so I still have to do it along with changing the shower head, something I’m hoping is a relatively easy task.

But I’m writing all this to come to another point – I see I can be my own worse enemy.  Yes, there is work to be done.  Yes, I’m tired from everything and I’m wanting things to go smoothly.  Of course.  But when something as simple as the need to level the RV comes up, something I’m not yet prepared for since the RV didn’t come with hydraulic levelers, I find myself feeling overwhelmed and, as a direct result, putting it off.  I know that can be easily understood given how I’ve embarked on this whole thing on my own, knowing nothing about any of it other than whatever I’ve read, but at the same time there’s something about what I do that can make this whole thing much worse on myself.  Things put off have a definite tendency to grow bigger and bigger as an issue until they appear insurmountable!

It’s the dreading, the fear, the not moving toward a solution that is quite debilitating, much more than the actual issue.  I can sit, even if just for moments or, too often, for days, in this place of dread and inactivity when I know if I only chose to move forward with it I would feel so much better instantly.  Yes, I’m tired but that isn’t the sole issue here.  It is something much deeper that interferes with my ability to move forward more quickly.  It is something that in one way or another has plagued me forever.  But it isn’t until I’ve been living here in the RV that I see the ramifications of this piece of well-entrenched behavior.  Literally my crap can get pretty backed up (again, not personally but in the black tank!) when I don’t do what I need to do!  And, it is time to make a change because it no longer serves a good function!

So this morning it is time to finish getting out of bed (yep, I’m writing this while still sitting in bed!) and get showered and get this RV leveled.  I expect to find that it was no where near as difficult as I somehow expected it to be (oh, how the mind likes to exaggerate things!) and it will be over and done with in no time.  Easy peasy.

My lesson is therefore obvious – just do it!  Left foot; right foot and get it done!  It’s that place in between, the place where no real action is taking place other than the mind’s craziness, that will get you every time!  I will let you know how it goes!

[A few hours later]…

Yep, perfectly easy leveling the RV.  Really simple.  I had to bring the slide back in so I could reach the wheel but that was the toughest work.  I took my Lego-like levelers, put them together and placed them in front of the wheels, front and back on the driver’s side.  I had already used the level to get a sense of the height I would need.  Once they were in place I got into the driver’s seat and pulled forward a whopping 12 inches so the tires were right on top of them.  Done!  Now tell me once again what all that dread and fear were about?

Leveling block before linking them together like Legos.

Leveling block before linking them together like Legos.

Three blocks interlinked like Legos just before I moved the RV onto them.

Three blocks interlinked like Legos just before I moved the RV onto them.

 

Done!

                                                                           Done!

Close enough for me!

Close enough for me!

But isn’t that just how life can be sometimes?  Something that can really change our life for the better we avoid for some inane reason and once we finally get it done we wonder why it took us so long and why we were being so silly about the whole thing.  I wonder what life would be like without all that procrastinating.  I think I’m going to do what I can to find out!  Tomorrow!  Oops!  No, not tomorrow – now!  On to the shower head!

Shower head installed!  Hopefully the leak is corrected!

Shower head installed! Hopefully the leak is corrected!

©  2015 deborah kauffeld

oh what a day it was (or how I moved across the RV park)!

It was an interesting dream this morning.  I was in the shower, getting ready to turn on the water.  Suddenly “my man” (whoever he is!) opens the curtain to join me.  I wasn’t expecting him and jumped sky high.  I jumped so intensely I actually woke myself up!  But that’s not the worst part – not only did I not find out who this lovely man was but I never got to take that shower!  After living in the RV for a month the idea of a real shower is just too sweet!  So that’s how I started my day today.  Since I couldn’t fall back to sleep I decided to cruise me some YouTube and see how to back my RV into a parking place.  Doesn’t everyone do that at 5 AM???

This is the old site after we moved out of it.  You can really see how empty it is - no shade, too much dirt!

This is the old site after we moved out of it. You can really see how empty it is – no shade, too much dirt (or sand)!

Eventually I figured I’d better get up and start my day.  Yep, it’s moving day and after only a month I’m already feeling pretty entrenched in the RV life.  However, getting everything together to move feels a bit overwhelming.  First I dumped my tanks while walking Picasso in between doing this and that.  I had to sweep off the outdoor rug and tried to fold it and put it back where it was stored before getting here.  Um, yeah, right.  Guess again!  Well, I did get it back in but not without a whole lot of pushing and shoving!  I folded up the expen and my chair which ended up in my car’s back seat and the outside stuff was done, more or less.

I went back around to the hoses and got everything put away with one small incident – the sewer hose. I replaced the old sewer hose with this new, super good one.  Unfortunately it wasn’t going to fit where the old one did.  After a lot of pushing and pulling I finally  managed to get it into its space, more or less.  I was already sweating and it was only 10 AM!  Oh, and RV sewer hoses don’t exactly smell like roses but I’m sure you already knew that!

Inside the RV were things that I had to rearrange and put into some kind of order for moving.  There was quite a bit of work that I needed to get done but I managed to get everything finished by noon, the time I was expecting the cable company to disconnect and reconnect the cable.  Noon came and went then 1 PM and 2 PM.  I finally got a phone call from someone telling me they were running late and would be there between 2:30 and 3.  By 3:30 I called the cable company and was told I had cancelled my appointment and rescheduled for the following day.  Supposedly the person who called had the last name of Manning so clearly not me.  Then I was told that I needed to get to the other location since that’s how they worked this stuff.  I couldn’t because the last tech attached things to the RV that I couldn’t detach.

After around 45 minutes of phone call craziness I was finally told that they would still come if I wanted.  At this point I’d been sitting in an extremely hot RV all afternoon and really didn’t want to have to stay there any longer so I agreed that they should come even if it was going to be quite late.  I wished I had left the air conditioning on but who knew they would be so late?

Finally at around 5 PM the techs arrived – two men rather than just one tech.  Turns out they are brothers from Chicago.  During the warmer months they did construction work in Chicago and come here for the winters to install cable systems.  We hit it off right away.  In fact, after a very frustrating, not to mention hot, afternoon for all of us we were having fun!

Our RV in our new home with precious shade!!

Our RV in our new home with precious shade!!

They disconnected what had to be undone and I moved the RV to the new site.  When I got there I remembered what I watched on the video that morning.  I lined up the RV perfectly.  I pulled forward, put it in reverse and couldn’t help but notice the faces of the people across the street, something akin to horror and fear!  All that just because their car was mere feet from the front end of my RV!  Yeah, well, not exactly a success.  Not entirely my fault since I’d been previously told this was a really tough space to get into.  Thankfully one of the techs came to my rescue and asked if I’d want him to back up the RV for me!  I jumped out of the RV so quickly so he could get in and nearly forgot to put it in gear!  Okay, not really but that’s what it felt like!  Before you could say….well, he got it backed up really quickly and easily.  Done!  One grateful woman here!  And just because I want you all to know, it really was all under control; I saw the neighbor’s car which was why I stopped but you should’ve seen their faces!

Picasso in his puppy prison!

Picasso in his puppy prison!

I couldn’t have picked two better people to help me.  I wished I could’ve kept my cable guys around a whole lot longer.  They were good for my soul!  Unfortunately they had other customers waiting for them so I had to bid them adieu.  Very quickly I put things back in order surprised at how quickly putting it together went, especially compared to the first time!

And the verdict is….I love the new site!  What a difference!  It is more like living in a real neighborhood.  I visited my new neighbors across the street, the ones who owned the car I nearly hit.  I apologized for scaring them, assured them I really did see their car and we went on to talk about other things.

Our outdoor dining space!

Our outdoor dining space!

At the other site I never really sat outside for any length of time.  It was dusty and way too sunny for my taste!  Here it is more grassy and there’s a lovely tree over the area where I set up Picasso’s puppy prison and my chair.  Not only is it a lovely tree but it is also dripping with Spanish moss for a real nice effect.  Absolutely everything feels better about this site and I can easily imagine being here for a few months.  While I’m writing this tonight (Wednesday), I won’t get to posting it until tomorrow and I’ll be able to add some photographs to it them.  Oh, and as an aside, you should’ve seen Picasso’s face when the slide on the RV came in!  His little doggy mind could not get what was happening – the walls are coming in!  So funny!  Now I’m curious if he’ll pull me back to our old place or to our new place tomorrow after our walk.  [When we got to the old site, Picasso stopped and just stood there, he sniffed and then walked off again!]

Isn't the Spanish moss over the RV beautiful?

Isn’t the Spanish moss over the RV beautiful?

©  2015 deborah kauffeld

the first journey is to…

So I’ve finally decided where my first journey will be!  It took a bit of finagling but I think I’ve got it now.

My first journey will be….to the other side of the RV park!  Yeah, I know, not very far away and certainly not exotic but it is where we will be going in another week or so.  And the part that might be a surprise – I’ll be there until the end of September!

While this doesn’t seem very exciting it is a necessity.  The overly expensive tow bar that I had to purchase for my car is sitting on my credit card, accruing interest.  I’ve not carried a balance on a personal credit card for probably over 30 years and I really hate doing it now but that’s where I am.  Staying here at this RV park for the summer is very cost effective.  As you can imagine, few people decide to come to Florida for the summer but that makes rates quite inexpensive.  Staying until the end of the summer will allow me to pretty much pay off that debt and be ready to fly when the time comes.

I made the decision three nights ago and I have to admit I was a bit concerned about how I’d feel about it the next day since I’d be giving up traveling for the time being.  The next morning I didn’t spend any time at all thinking about it but couldn’t help but notice that I felt like a weight had been lifted.  After walking Picasso I went over to the office to tell them of my decision.  After discussing the initial particulars, Brenda took time to find five different sites that would be available the whole time as well as having shade.  She then marked them off on their map.

 

The end point of our first journey!

The end point of our first journey!  Our future RV site!

I went back to the RV and fed Picasso.  Afterwards we went out to look at the sites.  I had my eye on one site in particular.  It was oriented the opposite of the site I’m on now.  What that means is that rather than getting blasted with the sun on either full side of the RV, it would only get hit on the front and back, a much smaller area especially since the back doesn’t have any windows.  We went to that site first.  Sure enough, when I saw it I immediately knew it was the one!  It is in the middle of quite a few park trailers (trailers that are permanent residents of the RV park).  The loop it is on should be very quiet since there won’t be all that much traffic on it.  The whole park is rather quiet to begin with so this should be nice.  I’m actually looking forward to it!  This place has its own kind of wildlife and I’ve not begun to explore it at all.  Today I found a turtle crossing sign and then actually found a turtle crossing there!  Yesterday I saw signs for cranes and then I saw them.  Now I have to tell you I did see signs for alligators.  I’ve not yet seen any but I will take it to heart and be on the alert!

Yep, it's a real turtle crossing at the turtle crossing!  Do you think he can read and that's how he knows where to cross?

Yep, it’s a real turtle crossing at the turtle crossing! Do you think he can read the sign and that’s how he knows where to cross?

I’ve been here 12 days now.  During that time I’ve been busy feathering my little nest.  The kitchen, as in any move I’ve ever made, was finished first along with the bathroom.  I then set up my desk area and today I reorganized my living room area.  I’ll be installing a better TV in the next couple of days, the last of my current modifications.  I still have to go through the storage bins outside and see if they need some reorganization but I can do that as I get to it since it isn’t part of my living area.  I’ll post some photos once it’s all done.

The local calico kitty.  Pretty little girl, isn't she?

The local calico kitty. Pretty little girl, isn’t she?

So just a few days short of two weeks and I can tell you that there is something about living in this small space that I’m really liking so far.  The learning curve continues, of course, but I’m happy in my small space.  There are bigger RV’s all around me but I’ve no desire to have a bigger RV right now although newer might have been nice.  The reality is that this space seems to suit me just fine.  Picasso is enjoying it also.  He quickly figured out how to get back to the RV even before I did and always looks to drag me back rather than walking any further!  I suspect he isn’t too sure about my sense of direction and so figures he has to help me find home.  He’s such a funny boy!  So far he hasn’t really met any new friends although there are those who clearly recognize him and look to say hello (canine but mostly human so far).  Actually I’ve kinda been missing him.  He loves his crate (kennel) which is his den and place of safety.  When we got here I would take it down from its storage area over the cab just before going to bed and then put it back up the following morning.  During the day I would catch him looking at it longingly, clearly asking me to bring it down for him.  I’ve decided to allow him to have it full time right now.  Only problem is how he likes to be in it nearly all the time!  So, yes, I miss him!  After he gets more acclimated I will probably put it up there again so he will spend more time with me instead!  Of course when I was eating salmon tonight he did manage an appearance!

I’ve had to play grooming catch-up with Picasso.  With me being as busy as I got with moving I found he was more than a bit neglected on that level.  Since he really hates to be groomed, I’ve decided to attempt a whole different approach and groom just parts of him every day.  I’ll continue like this until we are completely done.  His coat really isn’t all that bad but given how he hates to be groomed, this seemed like the best approach for both of us.  Pretty much all parts are done now except his two front legs, the most difficult part of his whole body.  Once he is done I will finally get to bathe him and believe me – he is one very dirty dog at this point!  I cannot wait until he is my clean boy again!

I guess that’s it for now.  In case you are wondering, it is calm that you hear in my “voice”.  My life feels more or less calm in the moment and I like it.  While seven months may be longer than I planned here, I have a feeling that there will be some very real benefits that will make themselves known as time goes on.  I’ve got a project I’m supposed to get done for a friend of mine and I’ve got plenty of my own work I can start.

Yeah, life is good and I haven’t felt like that for a very long time!

The end of a wonderful day!

The end of a wonderful day! (That’s a park model in case you were wondering!)

Please feel free to comment on any post!  Afterwards, be sure to stop back again since I will almost always comment on your thoughts!  I really do love to hear from you!

© 2015 deborah kauffeld