A year on the road can’t all be hikes through National Parks and the search to find the best cheeseburger (ok, it’s a lot of it, but not all). There are days like the last couple we’ve had which require some admin catch up and planning and preparation for the next stage of our journey. Those of you only interested in what we’ve eaten/what cool stuff we’ve seen, feel free to depart until the next post, but if you’re nosy to know what we do to keep this show on the road, scroll on.
Maintenance: This is a big one. The trailer is, as our friend Steve eloquently put it, ‘a big house on wheels with lots of moving parts’, and therefore she requires some TLC on a near daily basis. Come to think of it, we’re not dissimilar. There’s no point sugaring the pill, John does most of the duty on this. In the past few weeks he has replaced catches on the hatches of the storage spaces (poetry in motion there), changed two bolts that had sheared off underneath the slide (a task that took place in driving rain and wind after it snapped at 4am), retaped the slide awning, lubricated the slide, changed a bulb on the car, resealed the seams on the front of the trailer (after a leak), and washed the outside. I’ve obviously been very busy too, someone has to keep the blog up to date…
Cleaning: Strictly speaking my domain, but those of you who know my husband well will know that he’s not going to stand by and leave a crumb unhoovered. We have a cleaner at home so it’s easy for me to forget how fretful he gets over a whisper of ‘bacteria’ and I’m having to up my game now we’re confined to a very small space with lots of inside/outside traffic. Fortunately, it is a small area, so even my nemesis (cleaning the bathroom) can be taken care of pretty quickly, and we have a mini hoover, which can either be used on a stick or as a handheld as stowed away under the dinette (I warned you this post would be full of fascinating info).
Planning meals and grocery shopping: I am the meal planner so I decide what we’re going to eat when we’re not eating cheeseburgers, and plan the groceries we need to buy. We go shopping together – I’m not really trustworthy enough to go alone and left to my own devices as I’d buy the entire Whole Foods deli section and we’d be on the next plane home.
Laundry: We tend to share this, as many hands make light work when trying to get as many clothes/bedding/towels washed and dried in as little time possible (no one wants to waste time in the laundry). Key to this task is to have a rich supply of quarters (the machines only take these coins) and running out of quarters here is akin to the ‘who used the last of the milk?!’ discussion that occurs in kitchens all over Britain on a daily basis. Given our love of State Park campsites, we can’t always rely on having an on-site laundry, so this does require some planning.
Booking campsites: We like being as relaxed as we can and avoid planning too much in advance, but we’ve already learned the hard way that some locations/times require a greater degree of preparation than we would like, left to our own devices. Examples of this are weekends, holidays, and anything in Florida in December. So while we were bumbling around Virginia and the Carolinas, apart from weekends and holidays, we could have our pick of sites, but when we want to be somewhere specific (like near Charleston), especially on a weekend, we needed to plan in advance and get booked in. In the last couple of days, we have booked up to month in advance for our tour round Florida, as it’s so popular at this time of year. There are sometimes other reasons we need to plan our campgrounds, for example if we know we’ll need laundry facilities. This takes time and ideally wifi, as using the phone as a hotspot can be slow.
Finding wifi: A task in itself. Even when campgrounds advertise ‘free wifi’, it’s often next to useless, so we can quite often be found coffee surfing in the nearest Starbucks, or preferably local coffee house. Contrary to popular belief, there is not a Starbucks on every corner and from our current base in General Coffee State Park, Coffee County, Georgia, the nearest Starbucks, or indeed any coffee shop (with or without wifi), is 40 miles away. The need to get Florida sorted therefore brought us ashamedly to McDonalds, who serve a pretty shoddy latte, but do have excellent free wifi and sunny picnic tables outside.
Printing: Linked to this, we sometimes have to print things, particularly when we were getting the vehicles registered and also with our US bank account, which we were very lucky to be able to set up through HSBC before we left. Banking here is a lot harder for us than in the UK, primarily because the Americans have legislated to try and prevent criminal/terrorist activity, and moving your own money around or paying genuine business seems to be covered by this. Unfortunately this often means for us that something which should be straightforward to complete over the internet requires more in depth action. Libraries are good places for printing, though some campground offices will do this for you if they have the ability.
Post: We like to keep up with birthdays/anniversaries etc at home, as well as sending postcards to friends and family, and this means having international postage stamps, finding mail boxes and post offices to mail parcels or heavier than normal envelopes. This habit may be curbed after a recent package in which the contents totalled $11 and the postage was $15! We haven’t really found a good solution yet for receiving mail, so anyone reading this with good tips for collecting mail on the road, please do comment below.
Journalling and blogging: I try to blog every fews days, it’s not a daily habit as that would get boring for everyone. I do keep a daily journal, which I share with my parents every three days. My Dad keeps his own journal, and sends that in return, and this is our way of keeping up with the very day to day minutiae that we would normally share over the phone, and makes me feel closer to them. I’m pleased my Dad suggested it because it has made me more disciplined in recording my thoughts and experiences each day, which will be something to look back on in years to come, also comes in handy when I blog as I can glance back at what we’ve been doing recently. It’s been a very exciting time lately for my parents, as my Dad and his friend have just had their book published, so I think a journal of this time will be an important record of a special time in all our lives.
If anyone has any ideas/requests for future posts, please comment below. If they are to do with beer or cheeseburgers, I will respectfully pass them on…