2018: Summer Solutions
By March 2018, we had made arrangements to purchase a Freedom Express travel trailer from a dealership in Montpelier. They were able to hold it on their lot until the snow had melted enough for us to have the property ready. That was a task in itself… as it was a phenomenally wet year, and the area where we needed to park it was surrounded by sodden, glumpy, wet clay. Because the rig was 27’ long, we’d have to pull it through what used to be our vegetable garden in order to turn it around and orient it properly.
We spent several weekends on the tractor, in the freezing spring rains, improving the drainage out back. We even had to move some flower beds full of daffodils, and piles of stone reserved for future drainage and landscaping projects, in order to make room for the truck and trailer to make the turns. It felt insane to be doing so much work, just to be able to “so-called live” on what was once a dream property – turned nightmare.
The maiden voyage of our new RV was the trip from Montpelier to Ferrisburgh. Thankfully, it was an uneventful ride — although, while pulling it through the mountains, we had a few concerns that it might warrant a bigger truck at some point. The day we had purchased the trailer, back in March, we both walked out of the dealership feeling empty and stunned, instead of excited. It felt like just one more thing we’d been forced into, and life was being chosen for us, almost against our will. Here we were, about to live in an RV for the next several months, without going anywhere – but what felt like backwards.
On the trip up our driveway, in a tight spot near the house and the propane tank, the trailer snagged on the well head. It scratched up the side a bit, and knocked off one set of leveling buttons, but we were relieved that at least the trailer made it through and didn’t get stuck. Perspective, right? We’d already been through so much that damaging the brand-new trailer felt inconsequential in comparison.
Getting it further out back behind the house was really our only option for location. We needed to be as far away from the house as possible, but still close enough to run 200 feet of hoses out there for water. David ran electric for the trailer off the workshop, and we rented a Port-o-let to use for a bathroom because the house’s septic system was inaccessible in our front yard. There was no way we were going to spend the summer having to haul our rig on and off the property every time we needed to dump our black tank. Especially with that tight spot near the house!
All our hard work on the drainage paid off, and the truck was able to pull the trailer through the garden and back around to its new resting spot. It barely fit, and we breathed a sigh of relief to open the next chapter on our story. We were all set up to live outdoors for another summer.
The next step was to clear out the apartment and figure out what to do with our belongings that wouldn’t fit in the trailer. Most of which wound up wrapped in plastic and covered in tarps inside our garage. The move back to the property was chaotic and challenging (done at the 11th hour the night our lease ended). As one could imagine, trying to stuff 600 sq feet down into 160 sq ft of living space was quite the spectacle. It was a whole new world of tiny living… made easier in some ways because of how much we’d already lost.
This new way of life was interesting to say the least. All those things we take for granted on a daily basis… things we never think about: Indoor toilets, unlimited supplies of water and heat – all came with a physical cost now. We had no sewer hookups so using the bathroom was now an outdoor event. It meant going out to the portolet every time, rain or shine, daylight or darkness. Coyotes howling. Skunks wandering. Creatures rustling. Tush freezing. Sweat dripping. Only seeming “civilized” compared to the alternative of having no facilities at all.
The water tank had to be refilled daily, and sometimes twice a day. Not a huge deal, but it became another chore and way of life – checking tank levels, traipsing around hooking up hoses, and turning spigots. The propane would always run out in the middle of the night of course, and David would champion the switching of the tanks so we could have heat. Every time we had to mow, we’d have to disconnect the trailer’s power cord, as well as move hoses out of the way so that we wouldn’t accidently run over them.
To clean the cats’ litterboxes now meant going outside to access the storage bay they were in. It was a great setup, with a hole cut under the closet so the cats could pass through into the front storage bay. It was nice to not have to bend over to do the task, but it also meant doing it in the rain or blazing sun. Not at all pleasant during high summer!
The kitchen, ahhh yes – the kitchen. It was SO small, as was the fridge – that we had to limit our culinary endeavors. It meant going to the grocery three or four times as often, and also having to give up some creativity. The stove was miniscule, and truly a pain as it had to be lighted manually – which meant getting on your knees and basically sticking your head in the oven to reach the pilot light. The three burners on the cooktop were laid out so that you could never use all of them at once — all the pans would overlap. Worst of all, whenever there was a pan on the stove, and you forgot to turn on the fan, the smoke alarm would go off, piercing at full blast – sending the cats skittering for hiding places, and putting me on the ceiling with heart palpitations.
The countertop space was virtually non-existent. There were only a few inches between the stove and the sink, at awkward angles. I can’t count the number of times I stood there wanting to scream because there wasn’t any room to put things down. All kinds of issues you wouldn’t really notice when scoping out a first-time RV purchase at the dealership!
Suffice it to say that this unexpected every-day maintenance and said challenges, kind of snuck up on us. So much time was spent handling all the extra little things, normally taken for granted, that it seemed hard to stay on top of the stuff we’d initially planned to do — such as dealing with the remainder of our belongings. Besides – we still felt sick every time we had to go into the workshop, garage, the storage containers, or near the house. It was hard to make much forward progress.
Unfortunately, not long after moving back to the property, I was bitten by another tick and got a co-infection – it was Anaplasmosis this time around. (I’d gotten Lyme on top of having ME/CFS already in 2014…) It totally threw me back down the stairs I’d clawed up in the last couple years. UGH!
The POTS (basically tachycardia) was back, and although I was feeling better after my continued weeks on antibiotics, this new infection had dysregulated my autonomic thermostat and heart rate control again. Between having to stay out of the sun because of the Doxy, and needing to rest and not move around much, it was a much larger crap-fest than anticipated.
For most of the summer, not much progress was made regarding our house and belongings, because I wasn’t able to help David with anything. He was too busy working a full-time job and taking care of everything else while I was knocked flat. It felt like quicksand sucking us down, once again.
Besides being ill, trailer life went fairly well overall. There were only a few times that I wanted to run away from it all. I’d say that’s pretty good when I’d been cooped up in it for weeks on end while being sick(er) again. Partially too tired to care, and partially too wiped out to do anything about it! Ha!
Deep down, I just wanted to live in a normal house again. I kept having this niggling worry that this potential outcome of “adventure on the road” might be too much for us at this point. But— we did not have much alternative either. We were still operating in survival mode… One day at a time!