• sparkfireswan

A&A Return From A Summer Hiatus With Key Updates

End of Week #114 - #123

Moochdocking, Stone Lake WI > Lake Elmo Park Preserve, Lake Elmo MN > Birch Coulee Battlefield, Morton MN

Miles traveled since my last post = 236 miles

Total miles traveled to date = 16,002 with trailer

I'm finally back! Did you miss me!?

It's crazy to think I really did take about 3 months off from posting this summer, as I never planned or anticipated to do so, but I think it was just what I needed at the time. Admittedly, it's been hard to get back into the swing of things now, and I've had this very post pending in my drafts page for over a month now, ahh! But the procrastination is done and over with, and I'm officially making my debut back into the travel blogging world.

So let's kick things off with some of the key updates you've missed the past few months...

Trailer Renovations, Bengal Cat Teeth, & Work, Oh My!

We spent just over 3 months in Stone Lake, Wisconsin this summer, moochdocking at my mom's cabin. All in all it was a really great, and really fast summer, with a lot of time spent working and enjoying the best things northern Wisconsin has to offer. For the most part, we did not have a lot of crazy huge life events happen, or at least not anything that we were not already totally equipped to handle and deal with. With that being said, we do still have some updates in terms of the trailer, the Bengal cats, and our jobs, so I wanted to take the chance to dive into them now!

Trailer Renovations

Ironically, the day after I posted my last blog update on the challenges of RV living (the one and only post I made in July), we discovered a major issue with the trailer that we had never dealt with to this scale before. We had a significant water leak! And when I say significant, I mean our carpet on our slide was absolutely SOAKED, and had huge puddles of water on top of it... Now as you can imagine, this came as a huge surprise to us and was a quite frustrating thing to discover. We assumed it to be leaking from the window on the side of the slide, as there were small bubbles under the wall paper, but to be sure of the damage we had to start ripping things apart...

First, we ripped up a small chunk of carpet in the corner, to assess just how "soaked" it really was, and to see if it potentially soaked through to the wood on the floor. (I did this by myself while Adam was at work!) Upon discovering that the wood on the floor was also completely soaked, the real "holy shit" moment started to sink in. At this point we had to commit to ripping ALL of the carpet out, and even parts of the wall as well, to be sure we now did not have structural damage on our hands too!

Within just a few days we were able to completely rip up all of the carpet on this half of the slide, and Adam also cut the wall out from the window down. To our continued dismay, we discovered that there was liquid BEHIND the insulation that was behind the piece of wall, meaning that had to come out too! Before we knew it we had our first full blown RV renovation on our hands... and it wasn't one we were looking forward to do!

We allowed the floor and the wall to dry out for a few days, or maybe even a week's time, before deciding that we believe that to be the extent of the water damage. The only other option would have been to take the trailer to the Twin Cities in MN, to an RV dealership, and have them completely replace the wall and floor on the slide - which could have ultimately taken WEEKS to complete. It was already August at this point, and time was not on our side because we would have to begin traveling again. Not to mention that most dealerships were backed up for months in order to get any kind of work done, or parts ordered.

In the meantime, while things continued to dry - with box fans lined up, and the entire trailer a complete and utter mess - I researched some new options we could use to replace the wallpaper and the carpet. We both agreed that we did NOT want to put carpet back in, which was a good choice anyways because the carpet we had was not reusable and smelled horrible from all the water damage. Thankfully we both agreed that vinyl tiles was going to be a way better option for the floor, and a new twist of wallpaper would be great too.

I am super grateful that most of this project was something Adam was able to complete himself, in between his work schedule at the Chit Chat Bar in Birchwood, WI. As we were able to get things ordered off Amazon (which took FOREVER), he was able to slowly chip away at our renovation. We even made sure to order enough wallpaper to do another accent wall in the main living space, and eventually we will add another accent wall in the bedroom too. I have to say that the entire project actually did turn out better than I expected it to, and I'm quite pleased with our results.

I think this "project" also inspired me to low key want to do more renovations in the RV in the near future... such as a tile backsplash in the kitchen, and maybe even some painting!

Van & Trailer Maintenance

As always after sitting still for periods of time, there is some maintenance and upkeep to be done on both the van and trailer to get them ready to go for travel again. Thankfully, there wasn't anything too extreme to be done this time around, and we were able to order any supplies needed off of amazon and have Adam complete the maintenance tasks himself. (Again, such a handy man!)

In terms of the van, the first thing Adam did was replace our brakes. I hate to admit it, but they were in pretty bad shape and it was something we had started to notice when we were out on the east coast. Anytime we would brake, the entire van would shake, and it was quite scary at times! The second task didn't happen until we were in Lake Elmo last month, and that included 2 new front tires (ours were getting bald), an alignment, and an oil change!

With the trailer, we didn't really have anything else major to address (aside from our whole water leak fiasco) and mainly did maintenance tasks such as re-greasing all of our wheel bearings, and re-sealing our roof. We were able to get some new special roof tape that Adam put on our slides as well, and he was also able to take all four tires off right in the driveway at my mom's cabin in Stone Lake.

Bengal Cat Appointments

It was on my to-do list for our summer in Stone Lake to get both of the Bengal babes into the vet in Hayward for some check-ups. This was the same vet that we went to when we first moved into the RV in the summer of 2019, and that performed Roscoe's first tooth extraction surgery. Nothing major was going on with the fur babies, I had just wanted them to get a check up, and to refill their gabapentin prescriptions for travel. I also kind of assumed that Rahja may need a teeth cleaning as she was having some bad breath issues and would occasionally paw at her mouth when she chewed.

Turns out, after a thorough check up from our favorite vets, both Bengals ended up needing dental surgery! Roscoe's last two molars were taken over with the same autoimmune disease that caused him to lose all of his other teeth, and they were quite red and in rough shape. Rahja definitely did have some plaque build up, which was so bad in one spot that the entire tooth had to come out. I was relieved to have these dental surgeries scheduled while we were in Wisconsin, as this was a vet I trusted, they had already performed a similar surgery on Roscoe in the past, and I knew their prices were fair and affordable.

I am happy to report that both Bengals recovered very well, and quite fast. They both were super "drunk" when Adam brought them home from the vet the day of their surgery, as they were completely loaded with pain meds. I had to spend that evening babysitting them to make sure they did not try to jump up on high places, as they had absolutely no coordination, and to make sure they did not try to break their kibble container open.

Within a week or so they were back to their normal selves as if nothing had even happened. Roscoe now officially has ZERO teeth in his mouth, at his prime age of 9 years old. (His birthday was September 16th!) And miss Rahja no longer paws at her mouth or smells like rotten fish. We were also fortunate to be prescribed a large amount of their gabapentin pills for travel, to ensure we will not need to figure out more vet visits or more prescriptions for quite some time. I am very thankful for the entire team at Leading Edge Vet in Hayward, WI, and I know that we will be back again for another checkup our next trip to the Midwest.

Amanda's Remote Job

A few days after we arrived in Stone Lake this past May, I started working part-time, temporarily online with Affinity Plus FCU - which just so happens to be the last place I worked prior to RV life. I worked remotely from Stone Lake for over 3 months all summer and everything went really great! For the most part I didn't really know when the position would end, and had just been hoping it would last long enough to cross over this fall while Adam was working the Sugar Beet Harvest. I knew there was a lot of restrictions and limitations in place to allow me to work in other states, remotely long term, etc., so I had just been doing my best to go with the flow and remain hopeful about things.

By July, someone in my same department, Human Resources, departed and a full-time permanent position opened up. I hmm'd and ha'd for awhile, on if I wanted to take the chance to apply for it or not, and ultimately decided to just go for it and see what could happen. I really, truly assumed that there was no way I was going to be offered the position and ultimately figured I would then have to search for another opportunity online.

To my surprise, in early August while we just so happened to be on a road trip to the Apostle Islands, I missed a call from my coworker in charge of recruitment and the message she left me sounded pretty optimistic. When we returned and I was able to connect with her she let me know that the team decided to take a chance, and the company was going to take a step forward and work with me on being a completely remote employee working from multiple states. I honestly was surprised, and extremely grateful, for this offer and felt a lot of immediate relief for our future and all of our RV goals and plans ahead.

I have now been working fulltime, in basically my same role, since August 16th. As things continue to transition this fall I will be learning new tasks in the Human Resources department, and eventually I will be taking on our company's entire payroll system, and benefits administration. Things have been going really well and I am starting to have a system and a routine down in the RV. It really does feel great to be back at Affinity Plus, as it is one of the best companies I have ever worked for, and they put a lot of time and effort into caring about their employees. This role is also quite a gamechanger for Adam and I in general, as it will ease a lot of stress we have on the road and ultimately eliminate the need for us to work another summer campground job.