2018: Game Over

Sick-bed View: Back of the Workshop, Pond & House 

By the beginning of August, I was finally off the Doxy, but still on the herbal tick bite formula and bio-busters for another month or so.  Although I had just passed the supposed “safe” timeline to go back in the sun after taking Doxy, it had been so hot out that I couldn’t bring myself to get outside – despite wishing for a change of scenery.  This had been the worst summer ever — brutal heat and humidity.  Really insane for this far north.  The AC in the RV was barely keeping up, as it chugged non-stop, struggling to keep the indoor temperature at 85 degrees.  We quickly learned we’d have been better off with a 4 Season RV – simply for having better insulation!

Our Pond: Even the Chairs Turned Moldy!

Other than that — I was feeling a little better finally, in comparison to having full blown Anaplasmosis. But it was an uphill battle being on our property.  It was truly toxic; trying to live on-site was still affecting us negatively despite our efforts to stay clear.  Even our lovely pond was deteriorating.  All the fish – a healthy population of bass, pickerel, perch, sunfish, minnows, and even a huge catfish – died over the winter, because we hadn’t been there to run the aerator. None of the carefully planted pond vegetation was thriving either.  The water level was almost 2 feet down from normal.  There were no turtles, or crawfish; hardly any frogs, and all that seemed to be left were some baby salamanders.

By late summer, the exterior of the house now had tiny black specks of mold growth.  Since it was gutted a year ago, the lower half essentially would breathe every time the wind blew through the plywood and Tyvek, which were intended to be only temporary.  We couldn’t be anywhere near it without feeling the effects. Thus, between this and the outbuildings, we were still feeling poisoned while living in the camper 200 feet behind the house.  No real surprise there, in hindsight.

View from the Side Porch

At long last, we were able to work with another environmental expert to have new tests done that would give us a better idea of exactly how bad the house was.  David must have gone through 4 or 5 companies trying to find someone who would work with us.  Most blew us off right out of the gate- not wanting to touch a case that might involve someone else’s mistakes and potential litigation. 

However, this new guy was fabulous and he was able to help us draw a line in the sand as to whether the house was even salvageable.  It really was a borderline “tear down” at this point, depending on how deep one’s pockets might be.  It had been sitting empty for over a year now, percolating mold in the attic and the remainder of the walls, as well as under the sill plates where things had been overlooked by the professionals.  Hard to believe that we’d been living in crisis mode and dealing with all this for that long.  UGGHHH.

Sooooo – we crafted an exit plan and decided to hit the road in the fall, barring any more (knock on wood) unfortunate circumstances.  We’d already had our share and then some.  I, for one, was quite ready to be done with that. My next worry was how on earth would we travel with the cats?! Surely people do it, but how? I spent hours watching RV videos, and researching how to keep our little buddies happy.

His name is DOUG… “Because when you start it up it goes dug,dug,dug,dug, dug” – David Fontaine

In the grand scheme of things — first things first – we took the plunge, and traded David’s truck for a used, 2012 GMC Sierra, 2500 diesel – big enough to pull our next rig.  The Freedom Express might have been great for casual camping, but it was insane for full time living. It had a ridiculous kitchen, hardly any counter-tops, an annoying bathroom, uncomfortable “furniture” etc.  All things you learn the hard way, after actually living in one for months on end! 

Then we set about the research to find a 5th wheel, instead of a travel trailer, that would better meet our needs.   We wanted something more stable to tow, with better insulation, and with more living space all around.  Especially since David would be working “from home” full time from the road. It’s amazing how a few extra square feet here and there make such a world of difference!

GD Reflection Floorplan

In mid-August, we found the perfect floorplan: a 35’ Reflection 5th wheel, by Grand Design, in Amsterdam, NY.  Large, but not excessive – it would still fit in a majority of State and National Park campgrounds. It was last year’s model and had theoretically already off-gassed any VOC’s for the most part. “Delivery” of the new rig was dependent on us pulling up stakes and trading in the one we were living in.  The dealer was fairly flexible on that transaction, so it bought us some much-needed time. 

There was still so much to figure out with the property itself and what remained of our belongings. It was insanely unsettling and exciting all at the same time.  We were full of hope and faith that leaving here and going West for a better climate would improve our health situation, so we pressed on.

Exit Strategy