March 20, 2015 (by Angela)
Jim and I are having a blast living the RV lifestyle, but it is not all fun and games; it’s not all exciting things to see and do. We’ve not posted as often the last few weeks, and a number of the reasons why we have not done so are associated with those “life happens” events I’m about to share.
First, Jim has had to travel to work locations since the end of February, so he simply has not had as much time to write the posts he has in mind to write. Also, we’ve moved twice in the last month – from Azalea Acres to Styx River and from Styx River to Buccaneer State Park. The last week at Azalea Acres, the camp WiFi was very iffy, and so we fell back upon using Jim’s Verizon hotspot, which ate into our data package there – a package we’ve never exceeded in usage. WiFi at Styx River was pretty good, so we did not need the hotspot much, but once we moved to Buccaneer State Park in Mississippi, we did not have any WiFi. Not having to be too careful previously, before we knew it, most of our monthly data had been used, so we have been more or less shut down from Internet usage in the RV this month.
The day we were to break camp and move from Alabama to Mississippi, we received a call from the manager of our storage unit in Nashville, Tennessee. It seems that two different people renting units in the same building as us had reported water damage resulting from some gutter malfunctions attributed to the combinations of heavy ice, snow, and rain there. They wanted us to check out our unit, and since we were almost 600 miles away, that was not possible. The reason we have a storage unit is because those items stored are the things we valued enough to pay to keep safely stored. I even asked the manager before renting if there had ever been any water issues. According to her when we spoke on the phone that day, this was a first. We may not know if anything was damaged until we move the items out. My brother went to look for us once he was home from working in D. C., but all he could do was open the door and judge based on what was up front. Even if we could have gone there ourselves, it is packed so tightly that there could be damage in the back or to one side that is not visible from the door.
Moving from Alabama to Mississippi had its own issues. Checking tire pressure on all vehicles, we discovered that both the 5th Wheel and the truck needed air in tires, so Jim had to see to that. We were both thankful that I had ordered an air compressor. That chore out of the way, we worked to get our routine for moving done, and we were disrupted by a phone call and someone in the park. I had been so proud that I had remembered to put our antennae down, but the disruption impeded our walk around. About five miles down the Interstate, as I followed the rig, I noticed that the antennae was only partly down, not all the way, and I could see it flapping a bit in the wind. Using our walkie-talkies, I made Jim aware of the issue, but it was about another 10 miles before he could safely pull over. The issue was addressed, and we went on.
Jim had been nervous about the tunnel going into Mobile on I-10, but he made it through fine, though I know his knuckles were white. After a rest area stop complete with picnic lunch and a work conference call for Jim, we soon exited the Interstate. I took lead since my car has built-in GPS that we were using to find the park. About a mile or two from the park, we came around the corner to face a sharply raised train track crossing. I went across, but I did not know if Jim would feel comfortable towing the trailer over it. He did cross, and he told me via the walkie-talkies that she “groaned” when he crossed, but all seemed to be okay. Later, he told me that it scared him to cross it, but at the moment, he could not think of another option. Hindsight is always 20/20.
We were very pleased upon arriving at Buccaneer State Park. Heck, the park entrance is across the road from the Gulf of Mexico. Yet, we knew another challenge was before us: It would be the first time to have to back the 5th Wheel into a site. Mud and a fellow camper who meant well probably made the process a little more nerve-wrecking than it might have been, but after multiple attempts, the RV was finally parked.
It was as we were setting up that we found that what Jim had heard at the railroad crossing was most likely the tailgate of the truck kissing the overhang of the 5th Wheel, resulting in a broken light. While removing the hose and electrical cord from the underneath during set up, the latch that holds one of the underneath doors in place broke. The final insult was that our antennae was not picking up air signals, but that would have to wait until the following weekend.
When Jim returned from working in the Boston area the following weekend, I had not had TV or Internet all week long; I had spent quite a bit of time reading as it rained five days straight. The hotspot on my phone would never set up. Friday morning first thing, thinking we’d both get to use the Internet, Jim’s phone went dead and would not charge. We hopped into the car to go to town to the local Verizon store. As I got into the car, my head snapped to do a double take of the front windshield. I had driven the car the afternoon before, and all was well. That morning, I had a huge crack running up from near the wipers on the passenger’s side and slicing across to about the middle of the windshield. Dang! Another issue to have to address before it gets bad enough to block driver’s vision. How did it happen anyway? Dealing with the issue at hand, we drove on into Waveland, and it turned out that Jim had to get a new phone. Since we were there anyway, I got aid in setting up my hotspot.
When Saturday came and the sun was shining, Jim got up on the roof and tightened cables and checked the antennae. We also discovered our booster was turned off, so it was turned back on. Yay! After a scan, we had 32 air channels – the most we’ve ever had. For 24 glorious hours, we had TV in the RV. Now with my own hotspot, I could get online for short periods.. While I knew I could only use it sparingly until the new cycle would begin, I at least could check email without going to town and take care of business matters via a secure connection. All seemed once again right in our world: TV, Internet access from the RV, sunshine instead of rain.
Jim left to head to airport that Sunday afternoon, and about 2:15 p.m., I turned on the TV, which had been turned off and on several times during the 24 or so hours we’d had air signals. I was crushed! I no longer could get any channels, and I couldn’t figure out why, especially after getting great TV reception for the 24 -26 hours prior. Even today, we have no TV access. It is also another 3 + days before our new data cycle begins.
Delivery of UPS and FedEx packages are different here than any other place we’ve stayed. I’d ordered a weather radio; that is something I’ve wanted us to have anyway, but I deemed it more necessary with no TV service. I just happened to be in town trying to grab some lunch and check emails when UPS attempted delivery at our site rather than leaving the package at the office. On my door was the sticky note that I had to sign and leave there if not home during the 5 or 6 hour window the next day to receive the item. Since it was pouring down rain the next day, I could not have gotten the note to stick to my door if I had tried, and we had to leave the camper. Long story short, I ended up having to drive the 30 miles to Gulfport to get the radio this past Monday.
Jim had left his Discover card at a restaurant in Colorado, and he tried to retrieve it on his way to the airport the day he flew back, but the restaurant was not open. Discover was to have sent us a replacement to our mail forwarding box, so we asked the store manager of the restaurant to destroy the card. We did not get his replacement card when mail was forwarded last week. After many calls, twice being told we did not receive a FedEx package at our forwarding service, it was discovered that we indeed had received a package. It had been signed for by the manager. In the mean time, Discover was to FedEx a second replacement card to the park. As of today, it had not arrived. It was only after our second inquiry today that we were told FedEx had attempted to deliver something for us to the office at the beginning of this week, but the office staff could not sign for it, and the FedEx driver would not wait for them to look up our site number for delivery. FedEx, to the best of my knowledge, has made no further attempt to deliver, so that is an issue for tomorrow.
This afternoon, as I was checking expenses incurred and preparing to pay credit card bills with expense reimbursements received, I came across a charge for over $300 for a hotel stay Jim had had in Colorado. What is wrong with that, you might wonder. Surely, he expects to be charged for hotel stays. Yes, that is true, except this hotel had a special rate for those staying to work at or with the hospital that was to be directly billed to the hospital. When he had been there at the beginning of February, that is how it worked; it is how it should have worked at the beginning of March. Since Jim did not get reimbursed for that expense, he had to call the hotel to begin the process of rectifying the situation.
Obviously, I’ve focused on all of the things that have happen to us that is not fun or exciting in a good way, or as I call it, “life happens” events. Not everything is sunrises and sunsets with spectacular color; it is not always bright days and walks on the beach. If we did not have those things in our lives that are challenging, frustrating, boring, etc., we might not relish the times that seem almost perfect. Jim and I shared a day today that was pretty close to that perfect day, and when I write again, I’ll share more about the magic of life (go here). For this post, I just wanted to show that even though we are having a marvelous adventure living in our RV and traveling as fate, impulse, or work leads us, life still happens. I am glad it does; I’d hate the alternative.