Week 1 we are running on excitement and positive thinking. The whole experience is still so new to us. We’ve done all of the textbook reading, googling and trying to learn what we will need to know, but now we are on the road, living, eating and sleeping in an RV.
Devils Den Prehistoric Spring – Williston, FL
Devils Den Prehistoric Spring was our very FIRST stop! Only 2 hours from home, but somewhere we had never been. Given that this was our first time ever staying at a campground we really didn’t know what to expect. We were pleasantly surprised, it was Memorial Day weekend, but the crowds were minimal, the RV slips were spacious and we were given a pull through which is always nice for a newbie.
I worked in the morning, while Evelyn and Ashley explored the shady campground and that afternoon we all went to the springs to take a look. In order to reach the spring you walk through a small cave and down 60 feet of stairs which lead directly into the crystal blue water. A giant hole in the roof of the cavern allows light to pour into the cave causing the water to glow. The water is cool and the cavern was beautiful.
The first thing to know is that snorkeling gear is required, that means snorkels, goggles and fins. I already had goggles and a snorkel so the fins were $15. The 2nd thing is that if you are bringing small children or kids who don’t like cold water you might want to consider a wet suit as the water is in the low 70s with no direct sunlight. There are other things to do as well, walking paths, yard games and a swimming pool which is fun for families. Devil’s Den is worth a stop for a night or weekend especially if you’re already in the area.
Horse Creek Winery – Sparks, GA
Horse Creek Winery is a small winery just off the I-75 in Sparks, GA. This was a Harvest Host location so it made for a great overnight spot on our trek north. We aren’t exactly wine experts so we can’t say much to the quality of the wine, but everyone can agree that the wine slushies tasted great! The only downside was that you are truly right off of the interstate so the road noise is considerable. If it were just me and Ashley it wouldn’t have been mentionable, but with little Evelyn getting acclimated to her new crib it definitely gave mom and dad some anxiety.
Visiting Family in Villa Rica – Villa Rica, GA
After a 2-night test run we made it to Brad’s hometown where we made some adjustments and relaxed with family and friends. We dropped the RV at Brad’s parents farm, and setup shop at Ashley’s grandma’s house down the road.
I roped Cadon into helping out with the first ever black tank dump (that’s the sewage tank) at the local Pilot truck stop. He wasn’t too impressed when I accidentally sprayed him with the dump station water hose… while it’s technically clean water you just never know what people do with those hoses when their cleaning out their tanks.
Overall we had a good pit stop as we started our transition into life on the road.
Solace Farm – Coalmont, TN
Solace Farm, another Harvest Host, was definitely an experience. It started with our drive to the farm…up Tennessee mountains and beautiful country roads, eventually becoming
rough gravel roads, which then became narrow dirt roads. As we approached what Google Maps called our “destination” we realized that Google must be wrong (blasphemy, I know). There were no driveways. No street signs. No sign of life. There was, however, a small sign that read “Solace Farms” and WAY off in the distance- down a long, winding, gravel and dirt path-there was a small home and shed.
We drove right past that path and decided to call the host-knowing that we must have arrived at the wrong destination. They answered right away, and assured us that we have arrived… crap…now we have to turn around. After nearly jack-knifing the trailer and putting our F-250 to the test, we successfully turned around and arrived at our home for the night.
The closer we got to the farm the more we noticed…first was a pack of boys playing, a 2 year old wearing nothing but a t-shirt and shoes (and I mean nothing else) alongside 2 older boys around 6 and 8. The 2 older boys were barefoot and you could see they were at ease with the outdoors. The children were surrounded by animals free roaming the yard, 4 dogs, a few turkeys, cats and ducks. There were also plenty of penned animals, cows, alpaca, sheep and goats. Ashley was hesitant and ready to put the truck back in drive…
The parents came out to greet us and showed us around the property, they were extremely friendly. They explained that they had made a decision to not only live self-sufficiently, but also completely off grid, including solar with a small battery bank, composting toilets and well water, no a/c, clothes dried on a hanger. They were no-nonsense when it came to the farm so it was primitive to say the least. No cutting the grass, no landscaping, no repainting the barns or worry about appearances- if it wasn’t functional it wasn’t happening. We learned so much about a lifestyle that was unfamiliar to us and were able to experience this together as a family-this is a huge part of why we are doing this. The take-away for us is that stepping out of our comfort zone led us to an unforgettable family experience. It may not be exactly what we expected or intended to do but it was something that brought us closer while exploring together.
Cross Roads Campground – Elizabethtown, KY
Cross Roads Campground proved to be the most comfortable location we have stayed at during week 1 (except for when we had our 2 bedroom suite at grandma’s house). This was about 2 miles off of the interstate-far enough that there is no road noise, but a quick drive to restaurants, grocery, and the much needed Home Depot. The grounds had nice playgrounds for Evelyn and a catch and release fishing pond. Evelyn had a field day feeding the fish bread and we were actually able to catch some brim with our hands to show them to her. This was our first time doing laundry outside of our home, but it was a very clean facility, everything worked great so this made for a refreshing finish to our first week on the road.
Propane: Good for Cooking, Bad for Breathing
Night 1 of our travels went well, no issues with setting up the travel trailer, no rookie mistakes, nothing we had failed to think of or prepare for. We slept well, Evelyn was up and down a little during the night but we could live with that, when she woke up in the morning our normal routine began. Evelyn’s milk, our coffee, breakfast, and play time…
Ashley went and got Evelyn from her crib while I warmed her milk on the propane stove. After Evelyn was fed and ready for the day I remembered something interesting I wanted to tell Ashley- I noticed that the stove top has a pilot light, when I turned off the burner a small flame stays lit… I guess so you don’t have to use the starter every time-
Ashley with her motherly instinct had already been on the lookout for anything that might be askew, and instinctively knew that it wouldn’t make sense for an RV to use a pilot light. She immediately started inspecting the stove. After taking a closer look at this “pilot light” she removed part of the stove to reveal that this small flame was actually coming from a connection where the propane line from the trailer met the propane line for the stove.
We immediately turned off the propane tanks, opened all of the windows and took Evelyn outside. The ever-burning flame was a minor issue compared to the fact that a small propane leak had been entering our small home for the past 24 hours. The fix was easy, but we simply didn’t know the problem existed.
We disconnected the propane from the stove and used a gas line sealant tape from Home Depot to secure the connection, we also went ahead and replaced the propane detector just to be safe. Lastly, we checked every other propane connection on the trailer including the hot water heater, furnace and refrigerator to make sure no other unknown leaks existed. Luckily no other issues were found so we can sleep sound knowing that we aren’t inhaling propane anymore.
When it Rains it… Rains Everyday for the Entire First Week
We were already complete newbies, sleeping our first week ever in an RV, being on the road with an 18 month old and learning to live with our new confined space in a completely new area. To top that off it rained every single day for the first 7 days. We were looking forward to enjoying the outdoors, and we did, but we had to keep our shoes outside or under the RV to keep from tracking in mud, couldn’t use the camp chairs or keep the awning out… at the end of the day it’s a small price to pay and completely temporary. The sunshine will be appreciated!
Baby Evelyn is a Better Passenger Than Expected
Evelyn historically has not been a great passenger in the car, even quick rides to get groceries can become hectic. So we were pretty surprised when on our first 4 hour drive we were riding with a perfect angel, it’s like she just knows it’s going to be a while and settles in. Now the long rides are a little different and we come prepared with endless snacks, mixed fruits and vegetables, cheerios, sandwiches and whatever else might keep our little munchkin at bay. She also has her choice of iPad, DVD player, coloring books, stuffed animals and all of her favorite toys and if all else fails mom is always there to chat and play games until the commute is complete. The bottom line is the travel days are much easier than expected now that Evelyn has decided to enjoy the ride with us.
Cashew is Adjusting
When you have a toddler sometimes the pets take a back seat. In all of our planning we knew Kitty Cashew would need food, water a litter box and a comfy place to sleep, but we didn’t really take into consideration how this transition might impact him. So for the first couple of days he wouldn’t leave our side, constantly in need of attention, shedding fur, heart racing and panting with anxiety. We did our best to make him feel comfortable and now at the end of week 1 is happy and at home in the RV. It’s so nice to have him on the road with us, we’re glad the whole family is adjusting and jumping on board for the journey.