Wednesday, May 31, 2017

On the Road to Newfoundland!

Whenever we tell people that we spend 3 months a year road tripping in our RV, we often hear comments such as “Oh, I could never do that with my family in a camper. We’d drive each other crazy!”

We always laugh and say something like “it’s not that bad once you get used to it.”

But to get “used to” living in a rolling tiny house means that we must first survive the dreaded transition, or “first stop” of our journey. 

Even though we prep for weeks for these trips, we also have these jobs that we have to keep in order to pay for said RV trip. So, despite how hard we try to be prepared, there is always an enormous amount of work to be done the night before we leave… this last Thursday night being no exception. 

We (Mark) stayed up until 3:30am … slept for 90 minutes… and then put our sleepy selves and babies in to the car at 5am and drove (also Mark) to our 9am Tampa RV service center appointment in Lakeland, Florida. 

Service appointment? Why would we need a service appointment at the beginning of the trip? Well, during Mark's 356 point inspection he noticed a few minor glitches. The awning, for one, appeared to be falling off the coach. Also, we had no kitchen sink, since the faucet had come off in Mark's hand the last time he used it. We don't recommend the entry level faucets from Delta.

Since our trusty 5th wheel had these few things that were in need of a repair… we took the opportunity to spend the day in Lakeland with Mark’s family, and to ride out our “first stop” in Tampa. 

This is our 7th summer road trip… so at this point we just know that the first stop is going to be a hot mess. We will remember that we forgot things, we will break things and find new things that are broken, we will have to re-learn to turn the water heater on an hour before we want hot water, and to bring the awning in at the first sign of wind to keep it from ripping off… again… Despite weeks of packing and organizing, everything will have shifted during the first big drive and we won’t be able to find anything. No one will sleep because it’s “different” and schedules are off and the kids are sleepy but “NOT TIRED!” Something will happen with the sewage and the water and there will be a point where someone (Mark) has sewage on them but no access to water and all hell will break loose and everyone will start screaming for 20 minutes. 

And then it will be over. Then we will be “used to” it. 

So, that is what we were expecting. That, folks, is the best-case scenario. 

Having arrived in Lakeland on time, we dropped off our RV for its 9am repairs and headed over to hang with the Royan clan.  The boys got to the business of bonding with their cousin at one of Lakeland’s many parks, and Mark and April tried desperately to keep their eyes open.  90 minutes of sleep feels really decent in your 20s… not so in your late 30s. 

Around lunch time, Mark received a phone call from our pals at Tampa RV… the part they needed to fix our kitchen sink was not in stock. So, if we wanted a sink, we would need to provide a new faucet ourselves. Mark sprang from the delicious meal and mobilized the family in record time, and we made what would be our first Memorial Day Weekend trip to Lowe’s.

We won’t bore all of you with the details… but apparently off-the-shelf faucets do not come with all of the appropriate adapters for easy RV installation. As the service center closed for the long weekend, we got our camper back with 2 of our 3 problems solved, half a sink, dirty kids, tired parents, and Mark reading Delta faucet directions at 10:39pm. God bless him, as he worked under the tiny RV kitchen sink with at a stream of questions being thrown at him like "How much longer until we can turn the water back on?"  "Can I help?" and "Do you know what the best weapon is to fight a bad guy in Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild?"  Only one of those questions came from April, and it was certainly not the one about helping.

Once the shiny new sink was up and running and the water was back on, a quick midnight turn of the shower nozzle resulted in a lot of cold, cold water.  Seems the water heater wasn’t working. Why? Because it was on fire. On. Fire.

You would think it would at least heat the water while it burned. No. Such. Luck.

Apparently, in the process of the gas water heater burning itself up, portions of the electric water heater burned as well.  Around this time is when the screaming began.  

Ahhhhhhhhhh…. Vacation :)

Morning brought a well-rested fresh perspective, and we were happy once again. Our water was cold AF but we were “used to” it. Life on the open road! Let’s do this, Memorial Day Weekend 2017!

We donned our party pants and drove to Redington Beach, Florida for a visit to the Acker Beach House… an adorbs abode steps from the water and straight out of Coastal Living.  Here you’ll find ice-cold Kim Crawford SauvBlanc, a fancy-pants backyard pool, real grass (a rarity in Florida), and Netflix for the children. Absolutely lovely. 

Next, a visit to the Otto family, long-time Royan buddies and owners of the coolest house and most creative dinners ever.  They made us a BLT bar, you guys…. They supplied different types of flavored lettuce… and mimosas. They gave our kids crowns and fed them donuts. Then they let us fly their drone.

April broke a champagne glass. Then Mark flew their drone straight into a palm tree. They no longer have a drone that can fly. Whoopsies. 

Believe it or not, they let us stay after that… and they made a Low Country Boil for dinner. While Mark ordered replacement drone parts online, the Ottos whipped out a turkey-fryer-turned-giant-hot-pot and fed us once again. We do not deserve them.

A vacation cannot revolve around Acker and Otto visits alone, so we finished our weekend in Tampa with a Memorial Day trip to DailyEats and the The Dali Museum.  

Now.... Salvador Dali is one interesting dude... don't get us wrong... but we're not sure that his museum warrants a $68 entrance fee. Interesting, yes.  Time consuming, no.  We cruised the one-room show in 20 minutes flat, walked the outdoor garden until we started to melt, and tied our overpriced entrance wristbands to the cool wishing tree.  

I wish I hadn't spend $68 on this museum. 

It is possible that Dali, being so ahead of his time, had this experience in mind when he painted that melting clock. 

Tuesday morning brought rain and a trip back to Tampa RV for the much needed water heater repair (Tampa RV has the best service department anywhere... ever.... it really is THE place to buy an RV).   Thanks to their amazing service team, we were out of there before Andrew could finish his second Egg McMuffin! We headed toward Georgia with plans to meet April's Dad along the way! As he headed toward Naples and we headed very much away from Naples, we met up at the Gainesville Cracker Barrel for lunch and a game of checkers! The boys were thrilled to see Grandpa! 

We crossed in to Georgia just in time for some Legos by the LED fire and a few episodes of Peaky Blinders

Look out, Georgia family! Here we come! 

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