when the going gets tough

Life in our RV has been pretty sweet, for the most part. The husby and I have spent much of our time hanging with our family, learning, simplifying, and enjoying the seasons and beauty of the surrounding areas. And that’s all I’m going to say about that, ’cause this blog’s all about the more challenging aspects of our new adventure, the downs to our ups, the dips in our coaster, and the dark side of our over the moon. The going does get tough. There have been many dips. Many. I’m getting down to the nitty-gritty. I never want to be accused of being too sunshine and lollypops with my blog. Because, truly, it happens all the time in my day to day life. People often stop me on the street and say things like, “Wow, you just absolutely reek of sunshine.” Wait… you know what? Maybe that was moonsh… OK! Never mind. Let’s just move on.

photo trailer

Living in a 26 foot long rectangle, especially in the winter, definitely presents some interesting challenges. Clutter and storage, battling cabin fever, staying ahead of the propane and even planning meals can be difficult tasks that require planning and creativity. We’ve already learned the hard way that the winter compounds problems with power, heating, water, and dumping. And living 15 feet from an active train track well, that compounds problems with holding on to the tiny shards of sanity to which we so desperately strive to cling.

Since moving into the RV, clutter has the potential to absolutely wreck my mood. It can devastate my entire day. When I find myself starting to slip into a potentially dark, nay, evil place, it’s usually because I feel like I’m drowning in junk. Clutter sneaks up on me and seemingly builds in nanoseconds. One piece of junk mail left on a dresser is all it takes; it somehow clones itself into piles of rubbish. How does it happen? I supposed it will remain a mystery. But we must stay vigilant, and make the effort to contain the magical crap piles. We’ve recently made some changes to the trailer that help keep us on top of the clutter issues that build so easily.

One area of major concern was the clothes storage/closet area. When we first moved in to the RV, we were sleeping on the upper bed. This meant that the lowered position of the bed was as high as we could hang the closet bar. We have since changed the sleeping arrangements around, so we can now keep that bed stored in the upper most position. That allowed us to raise the hanging clothes bar up a few feet which gave us better access to our shoe racks. Seems like maybe that’s not a big deal, but unburying the shoe racks from under the clothes created the feeling of space and went a long way toward keeping our closet area feeling less cluttered and a bit less cramped.

photo closet

As I’ve mentioned before, one storage/clutter solution that really works for us is lining as much of the upper shelving as possible with baskets. Our baskets hold games and puzzles, crafting and knitting supplies, bulky or seasonal clothing, tools, appliances and odds and ends that have no other logical place, but are used often enough that they need to be accessed easily. The baskets not only help to keep these things out of sight, but also make it easy to pull down to floor level when we need to pack up and move. Keeping things accessible yet still hidden is really key to creating a neat space. As crazy as it sounds, even the slightest bit of unwanted clutter can really take a toll on your peace of mind and make living in a small space miserable.

photo basket

We have been extremely blessed to have been introduced to an amazing family who is sharing their property with us. Not only have they allowed us to stay on their land, but also, they are providing access to their electricity to power the RV. We could not have done this without their generosity and we are exceedingly grateful. That being said, winter has added a myriad of problems to our new life. Especially with the power. One little issue we have experienced with the electricity is that we are plugged into a GFI that is rather sensitive and trips maybe once a week. This is usually no big deal, we just have to walk over to the box and hit the reset button. However, one uncommonly cold night we were expecting overnight temperatures of -10 to -15 degrees. We decided to stay at my brother’s house and while we were away, the power tripped. No biggie. There are batteries that act as a backup when the power trips, so the heater, lights and fridge still run off the propane. Unfortunately, that same night, the propane ran out. And losing both those energy sources at once is a biggie. A big biggie. The biggest.

Needless to say everything froze, including the fresh water tank, and the waste tank. Terrible. The fact that we needed to dump before the freeze did not help matters at all. All summer and fall, we had been hauling the trailer out to a RV dumping site every 3-4 weeks (another activity that stretches the limits of my sanity). Having to basically pack up our entire life, as small as we have managed to make that life, is so so so stressful. I do not know how I still have hair, stressful. So because we needed to dump, and everything froze, we were basically without access to a toilet. Sorry if this is TMI for you. But not sorry enough to stop. Avert your eyes. This was our first real obstacle. Because we did not plan properly we had to move in with my brother’s family, haul the trailer to Randy’s work and place heaters under it to thaw the waste so it could be dumped. This took several days and was a very frustrating, but valuable lesson to learn.

During the Great Thaw, Randy found that the drain tubes for the fresh water tank had cracked. As a result, we will be carting fresh water into the trailer for cooking, drinking, cleaning, and even flushing the toilet, until he fixes it. Thankfully, the hubs is a skilled dude and it’s only a matter of time. Even so, bringing in water adds to the storage issues, which as you can imagine, makes me jump for joy. Yippy. More storage issues to solve. Hooray.

BEGIN REALITY CHECK

I have a cousin in who currently chooses to live in Africa, witnessing first hand real problems that people deal with. She’s out to change the world for one person at a time and doing a phenomenal job. You should check her out at, http://www.tracymoorephotography.com When I have to cart water to my trailer and start getting frustrated, I think of her and remember that I HAVE access to water every minute of every day, which is not true of all people. I’m lucky and blessed to have the problems I have.

END REALITY CHECK

One of the most difficult effects of our epic power fail was the realization that we could no longer keep our cat, Buddy. Buddy was in the trailer the night that we lost power. When we returned to the trailer the next morning he was not doing well, his water had frozen, and he had almost frozen himself. We realized immediately that the life we are now living is far too dangerous for him. It was a tough choice, but we found a no kill shelter near home and surrendered him that day. As hard as it was to give up our pet, we took some comfort in the fact that he would be adopted by someone ready to give him a better life. The workers at the shelter fell in love with his chill attitude and his handsome little face, at first sight and I have no doubt he’s being pampered where ever he is.

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Living in the RV has been challenging, but mostly it’s been fun. I’ve said it before, but it’s so true: I wouldn’t trade this time for anything. Every little bump in the road has taught us and tested us and ultimately grown us. We look forward to what’s next, but not so far forward that we overlook here and now. YOLO, people. May as well live it up, RV style.

-jw

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