April 20, 2016
I guess you live in the right place if you’re glad to be back home after traveling.
The last few weeks that I was in Florida, I was starting to get very antsy. It hadn’t gotten terribly hot yet, but I knew it was coming. The weather back in Maine was looking better – it was in the 50’s at least. And I realized that once I returned, there would be a lot of work to do unloading the van and the trailer, plus cleaning them out, rearranging my acoustic foam in the studio (which has needed it all along), reassembling my studio inside, and stocking up on provisions in the house. When I’m living in the van, the kitchen and fridge are so small that I keep meals very simple. I ate more toasted bagels in the past 2 months than I’ve had in the past 2 years. And more sandwiches.
I was supposed to leave Monday (a few days ago), but the forecast for Friday and Saturday was for rain. The thought of hanging around inside the van for 2 days didn’t appeal to me one bit. Plus, I prefer to travel on non-work days.
On Thursday, I packed up my rug and other outside stuff, and cranked the awning back into its holder. I knew those things wouldn’t do well being packed up wet. I had dinner with a yoga friend on Thursday night and then first thing Friday morning I headed out.
Now it might not seem like there’s much to do to leave after 2 months, but there is. The list isn’t long, but it’s not terribly fun. The worst part is the sewer hose. For some reason, my hose doesn’t quite fit back into its holder. It’s just about 1/16 inch off. There’s a metal bracket that folds over the small hose fitting and the cover and then you just screw the cap onto the fitting. Except that I have to force the metal bracket into position, which takes a bit of time and muscle. Then, after that is finally done, the cap (for some odd reason) doesn’t really want to screw on tightly. Just when I think it’s on there well, it pops off. Very frustrating, to say the least.
Then, I disconnect the fresh water hose and try to fill my water tank (there are separate places to connect the hose depending on if you’re using “city” water or water from your on-board tank). Well, as I was filling the tank, I could hear water gushing out below the van. I know there’s a valve for that, but it didn’t seem to work. Oh well. I had a large (2 gallons or more) jug filled with fresh, purified water (the water in Florida is not good).
Then I had to disconnect the internet modem (always a sad moment for me), disconnect the electric, close all windows and vents, and secure everything inside.
The night before, a friend had helped me hook the trailer up to the van, but this entailed driving the van in front of the trailer (I had had to move to another site halfway through my stay, and this time the trailer went directly in front of the van), hooking it up, backing in sufficiently so I wasn’t in the road, and then hooking my electric, modem, and water hose back up. I didn’t bother with the sewer hose (and now you know why). In the morning all I had to do was unhook the electric, modem, and water hose and drive away. Whew!
I drove for 8 hours, but had to stop several times, so I was on the road from 7:30am until about 7pm. A client emailed an urgent request for a voice prompt, and since I’m on retainer with this client, and the rate is pretty darn good, I don’t mind jumping through hoops for them. So, I got off the highway, set up for recording, recorded what I needed to, and then….had to find internet.
Apparently Comcast has hot spots all over the place (although it appears that some of them are in private homes or businesses, so that was a little odd….). Unfortunately, I couldn’t find one that worked. I stopped at one of these businesses because they sell propane and I needed some for the van. But the guys who could do that were both out of the office at the moment. I asked if I could use their wifi, and they said yes. It took less than a minute to upload everything. After that, I looked for an app that identifies hotspots, but I didn’t have much luck with either of the apps I installed. A friend then told me that Home Depot, McDonald’s, Lowe’s, and bunches of other places all have free wifi.
Then I decided to stop at Camping World and get propane. The guy at the propane tank seemed confused by something, and after consulting several colleagues told me that there was something wrong with my tank (perhaps a broken seal) and that it might need to be replaced. But the service guys had already gone home. Oh well, I didn’t really need propane to get home. I’ll just have to go to my local RV center at some point and have that looked into.
In the late afternoon/early evening, I was getting really tired, but the two rest areas I saw in North Carolina didn’t allow overnight parking (WTF?). I figured there would be a visitor center when I entered Virginia, and there was! But it was closed (WTF?). A short while later was my turnoff (I was going to head home through the Delmarva peninsula for a change) and I noticed a Cracker Barrel sign. They allow RVs to park in their lot overnight. Aaaahhhhh. I crashed out early.
In the morning I looked online for another breakfast place (Cracker Barrel isn’t my favorite), but there weren’t any close by, so I went in and ate. Then I drove 4 hours to Assateague National Seashore on the Eastern Shore in Maryland. It was cold and windy, but I biked around for about 3 hours before heading to a private campground just a few miles away. It was a very nice campground, with a great cafe serving breakfast and lunch and dinner foods (I got a burger and fries and they were quite good), a tiki bar on the water, a pool, and all kinds of amenities. It looked like a fantastic place for kids.
I had some work to do and my site was in a quiet area, so I set everything up to record. And guess what? It turned out that the campground was next to a small airport! Not quite as busy as the Florida airport I lived near, but the planes were fairly constant. Fortunately, I was able to get all my work done.
I was torn between staying and exploring that area, or just hitting the road. Driving on a Sunday meant less traffic (theoretically, at least) and I would be home on Monday at the latest. It would take me a few hours to set up the studio in my house, so I’d be ready to work late morning on Monday, at the latest. My iPad told me that it was 8 hours to home.
I left around 8 and got home around 6pm. The traffic wasn’t too bad, except near NYC where there was an accident and traffic got all messed up as they were clearing the scene. I hadn’t really planned on going all the way home, but decided that I could always pull off and sleep for a while before continuing on.But I felt okay, and so pressed on.
Once home, I brought in the cats and their accoutrements, the fridge food, and everything I would need for the evening. I knew the next day would be busy. And it was. It’s an amazing amount of work to empty vehicles that look as though they don’t hold a heck of a lot.
But now it’s Wednesday, and I’m all settled in. Laundry is done. Food is bought. Soup and a casserole have been prepared and put up in the freezer and fridge, and all the sticks in the yard have been picked up in anticipation of the first mowing.
Will I do it again next year? I’m not sure. It’s a little early to say. It’s a tremendous amount of work to get ready to leave, to drive down there, to get everything set up to work, to work next to an airport, to pack everything back up, and then drive home again. But I REALLY hate March and most of April in Maine. One thing’s for sure – when I get back, I fall completely head over heels in love with my home studio. Compared with the mobile studio, it’s spacious, super quiet, and a joy to work in.
If I do go back, I’m thinking of getting some duplicate equipment to make the transition from home studio to trailer studio easier. I already have some duplicates, but I’d still need another shock mount for my mic, another audio interface, and another preamp. I figure about $1000. Not an insignificant sum, but if I decide I want to travel around the northeast, the duplicate studio would make it a lot easier to do so.
Next up – PHOTOS!