Adventure part 2

So, I put on my cellphone headset (I don’t talk and drive, but this time I made an exception) and called AAA. I asked them the location of the nearest AAA service station that was close to the highway. They gave me an address about 30 miles away. I just hoped that I’d be able to get there with the gas I had. And it was raining again. I coasted off the highway at the exit and downshifted so as to avoid using my brakes as much as possible. The station was 3 miles away so I put on my flashers and drove slowly to the location. I settled in for the night, but slept fitfully.

When the manager came in the morning, I jumped out of the van and he ushered me into the office to fill out the paperwork. One of the guys helped me unhitch the trailer, and after about 15 minutes, they brought the van in.

After a while, the manager informed me that I needed most of the brake parts replaced, and one of those parts would have to be delivered from another city. It would be at least several hours. So I walked up the street and had a big breakfast. At 12:30, I got an update that the part had arrived and it would take several hours to install everything. Sigh. I have a headache, I’m tired, and feel like crap. I have at least 5 hours of driving to get to St. Augustine, and at this rate, I won’t arrive until 9pm. I’ll have to backup the trailer and unhitch it because the site isn’t long enough for me to just back the trailer and van into the site. And it’ll be dark. Fortunately I have a friend in the park who can help.

And once morning comes along with more rain, I have to hook up water, sewer, and electric (also figuring it how to get water into the water heater, which is a little tricky), and flush out my tanks that are currently filled with non toxic antifreeze. THEN, I have to install the acoustic foam in the sound booth (after I find somewhere to put all my stuff in the trailer because it’s supposed to STILL be raining), hook up all my equipment, and get the internet going (which always takes a long phone call to Comcast). Tired yet? It’s supposed to rain all week, which is just as well since I won’t have any time for anything besides work anyway.

Am I still living your dream?


If Adventure Was Easy, Everyone Would Be Doing It

A lot of people tell me that “I’m living their dream”, “They’ve always wanted to be able to work and travel”, “Someday when they retire…”

Well, yesterday was the type of day that keeps most people from attempting adventure.

After driving for 4.5 days in a snowstorm on interstate 95 through Connecticut, NY, and northern NJ (is that roadway ALWAYS sucky?), I was looking forward to less slippery roadways and warmer temps. After visiting with my friends in Marylands for 2 hours, the sun was out and I was looking forward to getting a lot of driving in. I was hoping to keep going until 9 or 10pm so that I’d only have 4 or 5 hours left on Monday.

It was warmer all right. Snow was melting, making for a wet roadway and lots of glare. But I was making good time. I don’t like chain restaurants or fast food much, but one of my few exceptions is Subway. I get seeing the signs for Subway restaurants on the highway. Finally, I decided it was time and got off the highway for a sandwich. Except that that particular subway was having plumbing problems and couldn’t serve any food. I must have passes signs for 50 different Subways yesterday, but the one I picked couldn’t serve me!

So, I made an almond butter and jam sandwich and pressed on.

Then, I smelled something. Was it my vehicle or someone else’s?

The GPS routed me onto a road that was fairly stop and go and eventually I stopped at a light and saw smoke coming from the right front of the van. I opened the hood but didn’t see any smoke. It appeared to be coming from behind the wheel. I also noticed fluid leaking on the ground. The van had been pulling to the right when I braked, so I determined that there was a problem with the front passenger brake, but I appeared to have a left brake. So I decided to drive the 2 miles to get back on the interstate and drive as long as I had gas and try to find a service station. Of course, it was Sunday, so I’d have to wait until the morning to actually talk to someone.

A Setback, or Four…

SnowstormFour snowstorms, that is. Here in the northeast, we’ve gotten 4 (or is it five…?) snowstorms in the past month. Adding up to about 6 feet. Yikes. I actually don’t mind shoveling snow all that much (I kinda like the exercise), BUT, there’s so much snow that you have to lift your shovel up 7 feet to get it over the snow that’s already piled up. My neighbor bought an electric, cordless, rechargeable 32 pound snowblower that you can use on walkways and decks. Oh to have had that a month ago! I’ve bookmarked the page and will be getting one of those for next winter.

Oh, the mound you see behind the van? That’s my friend’s car. She’s in Arizona and wanted to leave it in my driveway. She’s due back at the end of March. I haven’t actually seen that car in about 3 weeks. Hopefully all of the snow will be gone by her return. Or at least enough so that she can get into her car. If not, she can use my car until I return in early April.

I parked the van so that it would be easy to maneuver out of the driveway once I leave. I’m not sure what I would have done with the mobile studio with all this snow. I may have to park it at a storage facility next winter.

So, I talked to Pete today and he thinks the mobile studio will be ready by Thursday, two days later than when I’m supposed to leave (which is tomorrow). Oh well. I thought I was going to have to drive to Connecticut, pick up the trailer, drive back (a six hour round trip), pack everything up and then head south. Then someone suggested getting a U-Haul. Not a bad idea and not expensive in the least. But a bit of a pain nonetheless.

So I started packing, and packing, and packing and I’ve managed to cram everything into the van. There’s no room to move around, but it’s only a 3 hour drive to get the mobile studio trailer, and once there, I can load a bunch of stuff into it, thus freeing up lots of room in the van.

Another challenge is getting away from the cold.

I’m supposed to visit with friends in Maryland on my way south. Now, Maryland is a 9 hour drive from here, so it might be more like 11 when you count in gas stops, pit stops, and driving a little slower when hauling 3,000 pounds with a 6-cylinder engine. The last time I checked, the temperature on Thursday night is Maryland is supposed to be around zero. Apparently they’re having a cold snap. Great. I suppose I can sleep in the house, but my poor cats are going to be stuck in the cold, cold van. Along with my solar batteries, which are not supposed to freeze. I’ll have them wrapped up in the van, but my friends are going to have to help me take them out and put them in their house, and those things weigh around 70 pounds each. I could bypass my friends this time around, but that still wouldn’t solve the problem of the cold night and the batteries. One solution might be to plug in the van and turn on the heat. If it works.

See, I never got to do a “dry run” with the van and the mobile studio. I did that in the RV, and it was great to know that everything worked fine. But this is the wrong time of year for trying a dry run in a camper van. Plus, the mobile studio hasn’t been ready…

I’ve ordered Comcast internet at the RV park where I’ll be staying (why does it take nearly an hour on the phone to order internet service? Why???) And I’ve also reactivated my Mifi hotspot device, just as a backup. (That only took 1/2 hour…)

And today I stocked up on cat food and canned soup. I’ll stop at the grocery store just down the street from the RV park once I arrive in St. Augustine and stock up again. I’ll only have 2 bicycles this time around (no room for the Vespa in the van!), so I’ll be shopping for groceries using one of those and a backpack. And cat food and canned soup are HEAVY, so I figured I’d get a head start by buying those today.

How the Mobile Studio is Powered

Solar stuff

Solar stuff

It’s not terribly elegant, but the important thing is that it works! I have a solar panel on the roof that charges up these 2 batteries. I have an outlet for plugging in electrical equipment. Total power is 1,000 watts (I think – I get a little confused with electrical stuff). The guy, Pete, who’s doing the actual building of the sound booth inside the trailer is going to mount the batteries so it’s slightly more elegant than what you see here. So, although this setup is going to be fine for my studio, I will not be able to run an air conditioner, microwave oven, or possibly even a hairdryer. Not a problem. I just want to be able to work no matter what. My long term plan is to be able to travel more without having to rely on plugging into electrical power for the studio and the van. RoadTrek has a model that has 9600 watts of solar power, allowing for complete independence from electrical. Unfortunately, that model new sells for $140,000. Yikes. It’s been out for a few years, so maybe in a few more, I can buy one used for a LOT less money.

Coming up, I’m supposed to be leaving in about 10 days, but haven’t yet heard when the mobile studio will be done. OY! Plus, Pete’s pickup truck is a 4 cylinder and he doesn’t think he’ll be able to tow it back up from Connecticut, where he’s been working on it. Which means I’ll have to drive 6 hours round trip to get it. UNLESS, he’s really running late and I have to pack everything into the van and drive to Connecticut and then continue south. That would be challenging. I’m not sure everything I need to bring will fit in the van. This week I’ll start making piles in the house of everything that’s coming. I have lists of lists (studio, kitchen, clothes, miscellaneous, cat stuff,  etc). I also have to take care of mail, the newspaper, my house caretaker, and lots of other little things. The reason most people never do these kinds of things is that they can be overwhelming. Even to me. And I seem to take things like this on a lot. Why is that?