A&A Challenges Of Mobile Living (540 Days)
End of Week #77
Faver-Dykes State Park, St. Augustine FL > Jonathan Dickinson State Park, Hobe Sound FL > Hart-T-Trees Christmas Tree Lot, Margate FL
Miles traveled since last week's post = 277 miles
Total miles traveled to date = 11,823 with trailer
Well we have officially made it to south Florida, to the place we will be staying for the next 5-ish weeks while we complete our next workamping position as Christmas Tree Lot Managers for Hart-T-Trees! It's been a long trek through Florida already these past 2 weeks, and it feels like almost anything that could happen lately, has happened... And sure, I'm probably being a little bit dramatic, because let's face it - that's who I am, but I can promise you we do not always have this many challenges going on at one time! (Although it is still 2020, and basically this whole year has been a challenge...)
As you know by now, every 2 months I go over what challenges we face and how we are choosing to work through them. So where do I even begin with this one? About a week or so back I had made a list for this post, and now most of those things I wrote don't even matter half as much as everything else that has been going on... ha! Please bear with me, as I break down all that us nomads have been dealing with out here.
If you missed my previous post about the challenges of mobile living at 480 days, you can check it out here.
CHALLENGES OF MOBILE LIVING - 540 DAYS
I used to preface a lot before making these challenges posts, that by no means is this an opportunity for me to speak negatively about the life choices we have made to go nomadic. I am absolutely not implying that we are unhappy in our situations or that we wish for things to be any other way. I like to continue to write these posts every 2 months to keep it real with you - to shed light on the ups and the downs of full-time travel, living in a smaller space, and navigating life on the road. (Especially over the past 9+ months of this pandemic.) When it comes down to it, I do not have any complaints at all. I simply have before me, new opportunities to learn and grow in new places, while continuing to fine tune the lifestyle of my dreams.
With that being said, let's dive into the 540 day marker!
I'm not playing around when I say, the hurricane season in the south better be over with! This has been the most intense hurricane season ever recorded, with something like 30 or more tropical storms, and at least 13 that have hit land in the United States? (I could have my facts wrong, but I know it's a LOT.) The first one that got close to us, Zeta, went through New Orleans just days before we were to arrive to a state park just south of the city. We waited and waited before making any adjustments to our travel plans, and then received the dreaded call from the park that it was closed and our reservation was cancelled. Lucky for us, a really highly reviewed Louisiana state park just north of New Orleans, on Lake Pontchartrain, WAS open and they had a reservation for the 4-nights we needed. It ended up being a blessing in disguise and a wonderful place to stay. Thankfully, we also only saw damage near the western portion of Louisiana, in the city of Lake Charles. New Orleans, and the city of Mandeville where we camped, were completely fine and beautiful as ever!
Our next run in with a hurricane was in Florida, with Eta. She started as a tropical storm and made her way bouncing around the whole Caribbean, before taunting south Florida and turning back into a Category 1 as she rounded her way to Tampa on the gulf side. All of the projections continuously said she was going to head to the panhandle next, and that would not have been an issue for us, as we had already made our way to the east coast of FL. However within hours things changed, and after just arriving to a state park south of St. Augustine, the very next morning we received a knock on the door from the park ranger. He advised us we either vacate now, or we wait until the afternoon when he is forced to vacate us. The storm had changed paths and was coming straight for us, and as incredible as that park was, it was not a good location to be in during a tropical storm. The vegetation was extremely thick and the road was made of sand - it would have been disastrous with wind gusts up to 90 or more mph, trees everywhere and roads washed out. We pondered on this for maybe 30 minutes, freaking out a bit about the whole idea of it all, and then quickly deciding it was the right choice to evacuate.
I was extremely worried about finding a replacement place to stay for the 3 nights we had left before we could arrive to our workamping job, but I got lucky and found a great state park near Jupiter, Florida for the entire duration. It was very close to beautiful turquoise beaches and had miles and miles of nature trails. We loved it so much we already want to go back! And the best part was it was only 60 miles away from our final destination in Margate, FL.
You know I got a lot of feedback on social media from local Floridians who sort of in a very kind way told me to calm down, that there is no worry unless it's a Category 3 or higher. But I think what a lot of people forget is that hurricanes are one thing if you have a sticks and bricks home, and a completely different thing if you are in a super fragile, wobbly box trailer! We would have been destroyed with debri and winds of that magnitude.
*The state park we were at in St. Augustine DID end up closing down completely, so we ended up vacating at just the right time.*
Literally just as we arrived to Jupiter, Florida, after fleeing from the hurricane, we noticed there was a burning smell coming from the trailer and one of the tires/wheels (ironically the one next to the one that previously shredded on the highway) was extremely hot to the touch. In fact it was FAR hotter than it ever, ever should be, and Adam burned his hand touching it. The diagnosis ended up being an exploded wheel bearing - basically a SUPER rare occurrence and something that frustrated us because Adam had just checked all of our wheel bearings before we left California.
The worst part was that Adam could have fixed everything for us himself, we even had extra wheel bearings on hand. However because of how hot everything got, part of the wheel bearing piece literally melted itself to the tire drum. Adam tried everything to get it off and we did not have any luck. So for the very first time ever, we had to call an RV mobile repair guy and pay him a smooth $215 just to cut if off. It literally took him like 15 minutes. So frustrating! BUT just like everything else, at least we got it taken care of and at least it was not any worse!
Roscoe the Bengal Cat
My poor boy has been dealing with his autoimmune issue the past few years, where his teeth are literally absorbed or dissolved by his body. It's quite painful and can cause infections for him and was quite the ordeal for us as a family right when we moved into the RV. Last July, 2019 Roscoe had a whole handful of his teeth surgically removed in Hayward, WI, while we were living in Stone Lake, WI to wait for our house to finalize selling. At that time they had advised us he had already lost a handful of his teeth too and that this problem would likely continue until all his teeth were gone.
Well fast forward to a few weeks ago when I saw Roscoe yawn or meow and saw his one and only big fang left was extremely red at the base... meaning the tooth resorption problem was back! I've been having a lot of anxiety about where to take him on the road, especially when we have been traveling down to Florida and only making stops every few days. Then we were on the road again because of the hurricane evacuation, and dealing with the wheel bearings too - so I had to wait until we actually got to our lot to start looking into vets.
Roscoe now has a vet appointment this Friday morning at an animal hospital in Fort Lauderdale. They will examine his mouth and decide from there, and hopefully they will be able to remove his tooth right away, as we will be extremely tied up in Christmas trees for the next 4-5 weeks. I also have to wait in the van while they come and get him and bring him in without me and I'm really not looking forward to that. Roscoe has extreme anxiety and fear of other people and it pains me to think what might go through his head during all of this!
More updates on Roscoe coming next week.
Water, Water, Everywhere...
But not a drop to drink! Literally water has been such a problem for us for the past 5 days, I barely even want to talk about it... but that is the point of this post - to talk about the challenges! We had been traveling to our tree lot with the full understanding that there would be a water supply hook-up readily available to us. However when we did arrive last Saturday, that was not the case at all. The plan was then for us to hook-up to a building two doors down from us, and only use the water when we needed to and then roll the hoses back up. But that one didn't go according to plan either because when Adam went to hook up he was verbally attacked by the company and told he is not allowed to use that source of water EVER. This debacle went on for days, leaving us completely high and dry, with literally no water in our tank at all. We had to buy water to drink, even though I am completely against plastic water and how acidic and full of harmful chemicals it is, as it was our only option. But that left us without showers, without a way to wash the dishes, wash our hands, or even put water in the toilet to... do our business!
As you can imagine this was a complete headache for us, and not a good way to start things off for a new job or a new city! Eventually a deal was worked out with the motel on the other side of our city lot, and we were able to string a hose about a football field length away to hook-up to the RV. We have so far opted to not remain fully connected, and have only filled our tank, as the water pressure will be horrendous over that length and right this very moment this seems easiest. But this will likely add a new thing to worry about when it comes to showers, hand washing and dishes, as we will have to plan out when will be our tank filling days and how long the water in the tank will last. (PLUS we just got a portable washer to do laundry and that eats a lot of water/space in the tanks too.)
We also do not trust drinking this source of water, as it is a bit sketchy coming out of the motel. The hoses used to transport it the entire football field are also quite suspect and could be harmful to the quality of the water. With an outside RV filter and an indoor filter and water ionizer, I still don't think I trust it! I hate to say this but I might be drinking store bought water for a month... and that makes me want to throw up just thinking about it. I can already feel the difference in how dehydrated, bloated, and inflamed I feel without my 9.5 PH Kangen water source. I am counting down the days already!
Other NEW challenges:
Spending vs. saving... We definitely got used to that paycheck in Gualala for all those months! Now completing 2 months on the road we are ready to make some money. It's been so hard while we have been traveling from California to set up a consistent work flow online and it will be nice after we are done with this tree workamping position, to sit somewhere for a few months and focus more on it. The end goal here is to be completely sustained in all of our expenses just from online work, and to then do workamping jobs for free places to stay or extra cash for our future goals!
Starting a demanding new job... Back to that square one again, as the new people, in a new place, trying to comprehend the boatloads of information being thrown at us. Thankfully, we have had an absolutely amazing training week with all of the lot managers and upper management. They have put together so much supplies and training materials for us and really are here to be sure we are successful and have everything we need. It's just still hard to get adjusted to everything, and prepare for the mass amounts of work we have coming. We don't fully know what to expect, but we know it will be a LOT. And the street we are parked on sure is noisy, paired with my anxiety and it's a bit tough to sleep these days. I look forward to the fact that this is a short term gig, as I know we will blink our eyes and it will all be over.
My vision... As you probably all know, I wear prescription glasses (& sunglasses) and have for a handful of years now. The trouble is, I can tell my vision is changing - and it's worsening. Lately it's been a lot harder for me to see distances, especially while we are traveling and sometimes it gives me headaches trying to strain my eyes. As soon as we are done workamping I really have to find a place to get an eye exam update and a new prescription!
Return of heat & humidity... (And the need for hookups!) We have had our bouts of extreme heat on and off since we left California - especially while traveling through Nevada, southern New Mexico and western Texas. But then we had some really cold spells too. Around the time we entered Florida, it has pretty much now been warm and humid every single day, and we have been working our dehumidifiers and our AC overtime! I don't think either of them have ever worked this hard. Now... don't mistake any of this for complaining, because I am not - I absolutely love this weather, however it's a new challenge to make sure everyone is cool, hydrated, and happy! (Especially the bengals!)
Mail... Gosh is it nice anytime we have a dedicated address we can use for supplies we need to order or for mail from friends and family. With the holiday season coming up, it's a bit frustrating we don't have anywhere we can use for mail, and especially after just traveling for two months as there are a lot of supplies we now need to stock up on. I used a UPS customer center in Texas for a few things, which worked out great. However I attempted to use the same thing in Florida to buy a portable washing machine and UPS turned away the delivery and returned it to sender. UGH!
Things we ongoingly continue to work through:
RECYCLING, missing friends and family HARDCORE, being away for celebrations-birthdays-deaths-milestones-dinners-holidays, being away from people we know and people in general, being away, etc….
Solutions to some previous 360 day challenges
Getting ourselves ready to travel again... Of course this one starts to come into a good groove of things right when it's time to hunker down for awhile again, but that's just how life works. Now more than ever we know what we are doing, we feel pretty confident about it, and we have a super quick routine. I think I timed us once and after the inside and outside were ready to go, we were able to close all the slides, get the cats in the van, hook up the trailer to the van, unplug the power cord, put all the stabilizers up, check brakes, and anything else in about 8 minutes flat! That same process used to take us over a half hour and I'm not even kidding. It honestly felt really good to be back on the road and I'm glad we know we still got what it takes to do it all.
Previous 360 day challenges, that are STILL a challenge
Redwood sap on the RV... Parts of the old Imagine still look a bit like a leftover murder seen, with fainted red sap drips all over the place. But while we were in the jungle at the state park in northeastern Florida we did some scrubbing to see if we could get some of it off. I've also discovered that my finger nails will work too! So now we just have to keep chipping away at it until it's all gone!
Trying to plan everything... It's like as soon as I get done successfully planning all of our stops down here to southern Florida, I now have the new task of where the heck are we going to stay for the rest of winter after this workamping job is done... Florida is the hardest state to RV in, especially during the winter months, and boy is it frustrating! I have spent a lot of hours calling and emailing a lot of places, and I still don't have a good solution for us yet. :) My fun will continue towards the end of the Christmas tree season when I am then trying to book it last minute, yay!
Things that are still NOT a challenge another 60 days into it
So the next 3-4 weeks are going to be a little different around here, as it's going to be a LOT harder for me to produce worthwhile content for my blog. Adam and I are going to be working 12-14 hour days, EVERY day, with potential work related or odd things happening all through the night. We aren't going to have a lot of time to even eat, let alone me sit at my computer for a few hours each week. So while we are here at our workamping job, I will just be providing brief updates each week on how we are doing, how the job is doing, how the cats are doing, and more in depth, organized content will resume towards the end of December!
*Currently under construction and paused at this time.*
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