Serendipitous Journeys

Family of 6, downsized our lives & became Fulltime RVers traveling the country.

Downsizing Our Lives – Our Adventures Began, Part 2

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What came next in our new adventure?  Well, once we had Alice, our plan was to spend a month or two parked at an RV park in our hometown area, while we got acquainted with our new home.  We still had a lot of learning to do on RV living.  Plus we wanted to catch up with family and friends before taking off on our adventures.  We were going to have the movers deliver all of our STUFF to a nearby storage facility so that we could leisurely go through everything and purge all the unneeded STUFF from our lives.  If you aren’t already in the know, RV’s have weight limits when traveling, and they obviously can’t hold as much as stick and brick homes….so you have to eliminate a lot of THINGS from your life if you plan on living in one.  Downsizing our lives and becoming minimalists was our goal.  We were also looking forward to painting and decorating the inside of the RV more to our liking, and making it more homey before setting off for our adventures.  It was very dark brown and gold inside, so it definitely needed to be lightened up!  As you can see here….

So, we chose to stay at Duck Creek, a park with good reviews, low monthly rent, free cable, free wifi, free water, metered electric, laundry facilities, and a pool.  We got Alice parked (with the help of a friendly neighbor) and started setting up “house”.  Figuring out how to level and stabilize her was definitely a new experience, we weren’t sure we were doing everything right, and did a lot of researching.  We got to work on figuring out how to optimize all the storage spaces and what kind of organizing methods we could employ, while learning her weaknesses and kinks.  We started making lists of all the things we would need to acquire to make her better, and things we would need to make life easier.  RV hacks, tips, and tricks research was our new best friend.  We were pretty happy with our choice of park, although there weren’t any shade trees in the area we were in.  We made the decision that we would try another RV park close to my Aunt and cousin, the next month, because it was filled with trees and nice scenery and we’d also be closer to visit them.

In preparation for the storage purge, we contacted the nearest Mattress Firm store about returning a brand new mattress that we had foolishly bought before our move back to Kentucky, because our old bed was slowly killing us.  At the time we had thought we’d be able to get more accomplished in the pre-moving clean and purge, if we could just wake up not in pain!  We had purchased the bed before the a/c broke at the house, and only got to sleep on it a couple of nights since we ended up in hotels instead.  And we hadn’t anticipated living in an RV at that point in our lives.  But, now that we were living in an RV, we were facing the fact that this massive thing would never fit through the RV door, let alone into our tiny bedroom.  While making the purchase we had been advised that we could return it to any of their stores, even in Kentucky, during the first 180 days.  However, when we called about returning it now that we couldn’t use it, we were informed that the store we bought it from was not part of corporate and we could only return it to that specific store….. SERIOUSLY?!?!  WHAT THE FLIPPING HAY?!?!

We shouldn’t have been surprised at this point, it seems to be the norm for salespeople in Savannah to be full of bull, rude, argumentative, and lazy.  Most prevalent in the fast food industry, clerks will argue with you about what you ordered when it’s wrong, instead of just correcting the order (which has happened enough times to leave us baffled).  Even the Army base has a distinct lack of not following typical military protocols you would expect.  The city is beautiful, but they take the whole “slowvannah” catch phrase they use, to a whole new level.  The Historic District tourist section of town is the only area you’ll be less likely to encounter this, although there they like to joke about slowvannah, to excuse the laziness I suppose.  And I must admit now that we’ve been traveling for a while it’s becoming more common to encounter such a glaring lack of work ethic in so many areas of industry in many places.

Anyways…sorry…..rant over.  As I was saying, the salesperson apparently lied to us just to make the sale and get their commission when we mentioned that we would be moving out of state and wanted to know what our options were if we weren’t happy with the mattress.  Now that we were living in an RV, we HAD to return this mattress, it cost entirely too much money to just give away or toss!  So guess what?  We had to take our happy bums back to Savannah…..talk about frustrating!!

This meant we had to contact the Army transportation department and have them notify the movers we would need everything delivered to a storage facility in Savannah instead of Kentucky.  So, we had to wait for them to collaborate and get us scheduled, which we were told could be a few weeks.  Next thing we know we’ve been scheduled for later that same week, which meant we had to hitch up our home and start driving back across four states to make it in time without losing our minds with rushing and anxiety.  We were super nervous because this was our first trip on the road with Alice!  We had only pulled her a few miles down the road to our new home from the RV dealer!  We didn’t know anything about traveling with her yet!  We hadn’t even gotten acquainted with her all that well so far!  We even had to have someone else back her into our spot because we hadn’t gotten to practice that ability yet either!  Our maiden voyage was being forced upon us, and we were a wee bit scared to say the least!

We had to give ourselves a crash course in all things RV traveling.  We packed everything up for travel, hitched up and went to a large parking lot and practiced all kinds of backing up maneuvers to be ready for any scenario during our trip.  We then took a little jaunt up and down the highway to see exactly how she handled and to feel a little more prepared in traveling with her.  We downloaded apps recommended to help RV travelers and mapped our trip checking for height clearances, gas stations large enough to get in and out of, and found RV parks to stay at overnight in each day of the trip.  We crunched the numbers and budgeted for our first journey, and crossed our fingers that we didn’t forget or miss anything critical we should know.  After our crash course we took the plunge and headed out onto the open road.

 

As I’ve mentioned before, traveling through the mountains from Tennessee into Georgia caused our baby girl to scream the whole way, so we have since intentionally mapped our way around the mountains there to avoid that stress.  The first leg of our trip we trekked through Kentucky into Tennessee and over into Arkansas to swing around into Memphis on highways better suited to our newbie status, and then on down into Mississippi where we stopped for the night at a park called EZ-Daze in Southhaven.  It was fairly nice from what we could tell with just an overnight stay.  All the spaces were pull-throughs on concrete pads.  We were given the very first slot you come to, which was awesome for us newbs!  No crazy turns and no backing in! YES, Thank You!!  I wish I had thought to take pictures of our site, but alas, I did not.  I did take a few pictures of the beautiful skies we were driving under that day.

The next day we headed east on into Alabama and eventually stopped in the Birmingham area at a city owned RV park in Hoover.  It was quite an interesting set up and a surprisingly nice quiet stay.  It’s essentially a giant paved parking lot next door to the city ball field, surrounded by trees.  You drive around and choose the spot you want and then fill out the money envelope, tear off your stub to put in your window and drop the money envelope in the box at the entrance.

The third leg of our journey was going to have us staying somewhere in Georgia just past the Alabama/Georgia line, but we decided we would keep on driving so we could reach Savannah and get settled so that we could have a day to rest before meeting the movers at the storage facility.  We arrived late, back at the Army base we thought we would never see again.  We went through the gate and wandered through the small RV park looking for a spot to park — in the dark.  The MWR at this base is almost impossible to reach and there is no camp host, no lights overhead (only dim lights on the hookup podium at each spot), and lots of giant Live Oak trees that the dirt/gravel road winds in and out of, with muddy areas to get stuck in.  There are only 16 spots in this park, and many are taken already, but we found a spot and began setting up, only to realize it was so unlevel and slanted downhill that our hitch was jacked up as far as it could go and our bedroom was precariously wobbling far too much for my frazzled nerves to withstand.  It felt as if our wheel chocks would fail and we would roll downhill if the hitch stand broke from all the wobbling!  SCARY!  Hubster being the amazing guy that he is, undid all his hard work, hitched us up again, and got us set up in another spot that ended up being perfect for us.  That was a really hard night on him, it was so late when we were finally done, and he was drenched in sweat since it was summer in Savannah.  We really did need the next day to rest and recuperate from that alone.

The next morning we went outside to get a good look at our new yard for the foreseeable future, and as always, Savannah never ceases to impress you with its beauty.  This little park is nestled into the giant Live Oaks and Pines all dripping with Spanish Moss on the Lott’s Island side of the base.  It’s right at the very edge of the city on the south side, so you get a mix of city noises on one side, with forest and lots of critters all on the other side.  We enjoyed our stay there very much, despite the multitude of ants — which is a given in Savannah.

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Our view outside our patio

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Another view from our patio

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The Live Oaks and Pines dripping Spanish Moss

We also got to see a few deer wander around on a few occasions, a fox or two, and learned what nursery spiders are — lived in the city for almost five years and never even knew they were there dangling above our heads!  MadMac took the trash out one night with his headlamp on and came back in regaling us with the story of how he almost walked right into these big creepy spiders hanging from the trees!  LOL!  Thankfully the dastardly creepy palmetto bugs and flying giant roaches never found their way into our tiny home like they always did in the sticks and bricks!  YAY RV life!!  HA!HA!

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Deer across the way near another RV

After meeting with the movers at the storage facility, and witnessing a truly horrible unloading and stacking job by the movers (no surprise there), we discovered a number of furniture items broken or damaged severely while in their care.  They also ended up helping us with our process of purging things because a disturbingly large number of items were actually broken inside the boxes as well, from being packed improperly.  Sadly, they weren’t exactly the things we had wanted to eliminate.  Needless to say we would never recommend this moving company to anyone else, and the Army needs to seriously reevaluate the movers they use.  The moving company wouldn’t replace any of the damaged items, they only offered to repair the damages (a process that would take up more time than we wanted to spend there), so they didn’t have to rectify anything.  We have a feeling they get away with this a lot just from their attitude about it.

Our first order of business was to check the beat up boxes containing the brand new mattress and make sure it wasn’t ruined too!  Thankfully it was still in good condition (despite the damaged exterior of the boxes), so we contacted the mattress store to make the arrangements to have it picked up and the return processed.  We were told that the sales clerk that sold us the mattress had to handle the return and they tried to give us the run around in reaching the clerk.  They first told us she wasn’t in that day but would inform her of the issue and she would contact us.  The next day we called again and they told us that she had been notified and had started the paperwork.  After not hearing from her the next day again we called and were told she was at a different store that day, so we called that specific store and asked for her by name and got to finally speak to her directly, only to find out that this was the first she had heard about us returning the mattress, as we were speaking!  Again, we shouldn’t have been surprised by these shenanigans!  So, after the run around with that, the process was started and they scheduled a day to come and pick up the mattress from our storage.  The day finally arrived, their guys picked up the mattress, we signed the paperwork and they said we would be seeing our money credited back to our bank soon.  Soon turned into a whole month!!

We waited and waited, called our bank and asked how long that kind of refund could take to show up, they said as soon as the retailer issued the refund it would immediately show up to our bank, and so we repeatedly called the retailer asking if they could check on their end and they kept saying it was in corporate’s system.  We eventually called corporate and were once again told this store was not part of corporate and therefore their refunds would not go through their system.  We then demanded to talk to the owner of this non-corporate store and he told us that he would look into it and be in touch with us the next day, we never heard from him again!  After too many weeks went by, we had to demand proof of the refund from their end, and someone finally contacted us telling us that they had misunderstood the owner had wanted them to look into it and were checking on it that day, and low and behold the refund showed up that day in our account…..shady shady people!  During our wait we researched this mattress store chain as well as mattress stores in general and this type of situation seems to be typical for how these types of stores run.  In fact a number of discussions online on this topic brings up the fact that these stores hold onto the refund for as long as they possibly can before you get angry and demand it back!  The state of our world and corporate greed is becoming very troubling.  And this is a shining example of how things work in Savannah.  So, if you ever plan to buy a brand new fancy expensive mattress, I would recommend doing very thorough research on the store you intend to buy from….just in case.

While we were waiting on our refund for the mattress, we worked on eliminating our belongings.  We brought truck loads upon truck loads of boxes back to the RV to go through.  TV’s and furniture that were worth bothering with, we listed online and sold, and the rest went to Goodwill or the trash.  The kids went through all of their things as well, and eliminated what they wanted to let go of.  Whatever they wanted to keep we found ways for them to organize into their spaces in the bunkhouse.  It was exhausting but freeing!  It got easier and easier to let go of everything!  Obviously, we were doing the process backwards….most people purge while living in their sticks and bricks BEFORE moving into the RV.  But, hey, we’re living counterculture lives, so why not do it backwards, right?  O_o  Right!  Plus we were getting to do it amongst the quiet beauty of nature in this campground!

After emptying two storage sheds, hustling through four bedrooms worth of stuff as quickly as possible, and wearing ourselves down to passing out at night, we FINALLY finished!  We then worked on finding places in the RV for everything we wanted to keep and ways to organize for easy travel.  We even made one of our first modifications to the RV, and ripped out the U-shaped dinette.  It was a great large area for sitting and obviously eating, however, the design was very bad.  The holes for the table legs had the table sitting just a bit too far away from anyone sitting in the middle of the bench seats, and the seat benches had lots of sharp edges and corners that the baby kept hurting herself on.  It also stuck out and hung over the slide into the walkway taking up space we could otherwise be using.  So, out it went!  In it’s place we installed a long white shelf to be used as a table, and three white stackable chairs for the kids.  This left us just enough room for the baby’s highchair to sit between the table and the couch.  I also got to work on covering the dark brown walls with a lovely green color to help lighten up the space.

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Now the big question was how much did we weigh now?  Were we within our RV’s weight limits?  We thought so, but needed to be sure, so we hitched Alice up and towed her over to the nearest truck scale and checked our weight, and to our great distress we were 1,000 pounds overweight!  Oh boy!  If you haven’t had to do this yet, to check your weight, you have to weigh your truck and RV together; then you drop your RV in the parking lot and weigh your truck alone.  You get a printout for both weighs, the first cost us $10 and the second was just $1 or $2.  The next step is to subtract your truck weight (second weigh) from the total weight of the first weigh, and you will have your RV’s weight.  You can also see how the weight distribution affects the truck on both weight printouts because it breaks the weight down into sections on the weighing pad, like front axle and rear axle.

So, now that we knew we were overweight, we went back to our spot and set Alice back up, wondering what to get rid of next.  The purging process started all over again.  We scoured all our belongings, in search of things we had kept that we wanted but didn’t really NEED, and began weighing each pile of STUFF on our home scale and keeping a running list of the numbers until we finally eliminated a little more than 1,000 pounds.  After a while we kind of just started tossing everything, it was actually freeing to be ridding ourselves of so much STUFF!  Eliminating that last thousand pounds was like a huge weight lifting off of us!  We took Alice to be weighed again and cheered when we were under our limit and were FINALLY FINISHED!!  OH FRABJOUS DAY!!!  Callooh! Callay!

~We’Re aLL mAd HeRe~

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