Forgive me all, it has been two months since my last confession! Much has transpired which is the reason of my hiatus. Time goes by fast and even faster when you have much to do by a deadline. My energies have been scattered between organizing my belongings, moving into my home on wheels, and being hit with the first Nor’easter of the season!
I’m happy to announce that I am now a full time RVer! I intended to write a climactic entry the night before my big move (the last day of October), but a hurricane Sandy came along and knocked out my Internet connection. I will not complain too harshly since compared to many others in my region, I got off easy. It’s somewhat strange for me to think about how I had an idea to change my life only a few months ago and now I’m writing this entry from the inside of my new home. I guess life really is that simple. It’s only the stops we take along the way in our journey that makes change seem so complicated.
The morning after I gave my landlord notice, I woke up in sheer panic. I originally planned to move out in the spring when the weather was warm. That way, I would only have to focus on learning the basics of RV living. However, I quickly grew impatient. I didn’t want to put off tomorrow what could be done by the end of the rent month! This would entail diving head-first into the world of RVing in the harsh New England winter… a winter that is forecasted to be one of the nastiest!
“What was I thinking?”, “I’m in over my head”, “Oh, My God. I’m going to DIE!” were just a few of the loops on repeat rattling about in my mind. I was ready to tell my landlord that I had changed my mind, but a friend, thankfully, deterred me. He said, “Second thoughts seed regret. Roughing the winter will only make you enjoy the warm seasons that much more.” Deep down, I knew he was right. If I backed down from this, I wouldn’t have the same amount of respect for myself. I decided to accept this challenge and moved forward with my plans.
I sorted through my belongings. I used the time-tested method of dividing my things in three piles: stuff to keep, stuff to sell or give away, and stuff to trash. And boy, was I ruthless! I even gave away my beautiful crimson prom dress from Lord and Taylors that I held on to for so many years. Goodwill was my place of choice because they employ the disabled. I managed to whittle down my possessions to only what I needed and used. I’m still not done. As time goes on, I’m sure I’ll shed a couple more items out of my camper van. Mind you, I still have a small storage unit with some stuff from my previous apartment that has to be out in two weeks. That’s right, I gave the storage people notice, too!
A few weeks before I moved, I researched winter RVing on the Internet and scanned message boards. The most important thing I gathered was that winter RVing was possible. I picked up some very useful information, such as getting a propane efficient catalytic heater instead of relying on my RV’s furnace and the joys of windows insulation. I still felt a little shaky and I decided to get up from behind my laptop to find a real person to speak to about this matter. I did a Google search for RV places in my area and I found Long View RV in Windsor Locks and decided to pay them a visit. I’m glad I did!
When I walked in, I felt a good vibe about the place. If I didn’t, I would’ve walked right out. The shop was clean and inviting with rows of RVing equipment and bottles and bottles of different RV stuff displayed on the selves. I was greeted by Marie who was sitting behind the check out counter. She was warm, friendly and easy to talk to. Marie enthusiastically showed me around the store even though she was new and wasn’t able to answer any of my weird winter camping questions.
She noticed that I pulled up in a Coachmen and told me of a salesman with the company by the name of Jake who has sold Coachmens throughout his career since the 1960’s. She sent for him and he came from his office to meet me. Jake is an overall attractive gentleman, charming, and with a glint in his eye. Call it a Cloud Atlas moment, but I immediately sensed something special about this man. Marie told Jake of my intention of becoming a full time RVer this winter… in Connecticut. “No, you’re not!” he said in a dry, humorous fashion. I couldn’t help but laugh because we both knew that what I’m trying to do is a little bit crazy. He saw that I was all in, and proceeded to coach me. I was advised on the harshness of our weather and the challenges it would pose to comfortable mobile living.
J.C. and Jake
There were a few options I could take, but Jake’s top recommendation was winterizing and dry camping (living in your rig without using running water or plumbing). I first recoiled at the idea, but it seem much more favorable than insulating and constantly monitoring my tanks and pipes to make sure they don’t burst on me. I felt relieved that I finally had a course of action to follow. On my way out, Marie handed me an accessory catalog and recommend I attend their upcoming free RV winterizing class. Jake followed me out to the parking lot to tell me something. He smiled and said that I had more “cojones” than he did. I was charmed, but since he knows his stuff and I don’t, I didn’t know weather to be flattered or a be little scared for myself!
I attended Longview’s winterizing class that was held in a large room above the store. Free donuts were provided, so already, I was excited to be there! Not surprisingly, most of the attendees were in their 50’s and up. Joe, the shop’s Service Manager led the class. He started off by emphasizing that there is more to winterizing an RV than just loading up your tanks and pipes full of antifreeze. He then proceeded to cover how to use all the cogs and sprockets needed to get the job done right. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was waaay over my head. I decided to cut out of class early and headed down stairs to schedule an appointment with JC, the service adviser.
The night before my big move, I organized my belongings (more or less), and moved them in the RV under the cloak of night. Change was in the air. I was nearly overcome by a strange combination of stress and excitement… sort of the same feeling I got when I was about to get married, but unlike then, I knew that I was making the right decision.
In the morning, I took pictures of my empty place (a habit before leaving any rental to protect myself), dropped off my keys and headed off to work. My day was like any other before then, but somewhat surreal. I felt lighter but with a feeling of uncertainty since I wasn’t sure where I would sleep for the night. I have options and since my camper van could fit into regular parking spaces that bigger RVs can’t, I could easily boondock. However, I didn’t want to deal with the nuances of stealth parking right out the gate.
During my lunch break, I did some research and it turns out there are other retailers besides Walmart that allows RV parking overnight. I found a store that is very RV friendly, safe (well lit with cameras everywhere) and super convenient in location. I called up the store’s manager and asked if campers could stay for a few days. “Stay as long as you need!” he said. I was happy and relieved; it was one less thing to worry about. For the winter, I was planning on renting a space in the parking lot of a multifamily house converted into an office building, but why spend the money? I decided no more rent… period.
The work day came to a close and my first night was coming upon me.
To be continued…