No Regrets

image source unknown

image source unknown

You often hear people who have had some sort of near death experience talk about seeing things in a new light. Suddenly their priorities are much more clear, they’ve realized that ‘life’s too short’ isn’t just a great t-shirt design. They start climbing mountains, running marathons, starting businesses and becoming charitable members of society.

That’s great. Having a new lease on life is never a bad thing, especially when you’ve had a chance to renew the old one. I’m sure the simple things become magnificent. The sun on your face is probably like God smiling on you, chocolate tastes like some sort of angelic nectar, and the sound of a baby’s laugh rings like choir bells. Marvelous, really.

There’s just one inherent flaw in the whole situation.

I don’t want to have a near death experience. That sounds horrible.

image via talkingequality.blogspot.com

image via talkingequality.blogspot.com

I want to enjoy my life before I’m reminded of my own mortality. I want to at least try to be the person I knew I could be when I was a kid, not the version of us we become when we grow up and start paying bills.

Most days I’m able to be that person to at least some degree. Some days it’s harder, but I always try.

Sometimes, whilst dancing exaggeratedly in my car, I realize I don’t have tinted windows anymore. People can actually see me doing the sprinkler while driving down the road. Shortly after that I almost always realize that I don’t care. I think the world would be a better place if more people put less stock into what others think*.

In the end it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of you, except for you. Believe it or not that’s also true in the beginning and the middle.

I know the fear. The fear that you won’t be accepted, that you won’t get the job or be invited to go. Get over it.

Conforming to become someone you’re not only serves to keep you from being the happiest version of yourself, whereas being the most true version of yourself could actually open doors that didn’t even exist before. You might even inspire someone else to do what makes them happy, and we could have some sort of happiness revolution. That sounds much better than the zombie apocalypse.

So go do the things that make you happy. Dance, sing badly, draw or write or take an acting class if you want to, laugh at a totally inappropriate time, go for the dream job or move to that new place.

Just exactly what is the worst that could happen?

*Disclaimer: I don’t mean do bad things, or hurt people just for the fun of it, or steal or lie or anything else you know you shouldn’t do. Don’t be a jerk. If any of those things make you feel good you should probably seek some sort of counsel and stay away from the general public. 

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Why Did We Bring The Boat Again?

This post was meant for yesterday, in fact that’s when I wrote most of it. But the longer the day went on the worse I felt. My stomach hurt, it was hot outside, and I did five loads of laundry. The most redeeming part of the day was having an excuse to rest and read a little.

Before I go play catch-up though I’ll try to sum up our weekend ‘adventure’ for you. I’m going to leave some of it out because this post got a bit unwieldy while I was clicking away, so you can fill in any of the blanks with either sleeping, cussing, driving, or eating. It’s like Mad Libs.

If you’ve been keeping up with me as you should you know we planned to take the 4th of July weekend and go tent camping in West Tennessee, looking for some property on the river while we were over there. Special emphasis on the word ‘planned’.

We started off by hooking up the boat and loading a tent, two coolers, chairs, and a duffel bag of clothes into the truck on Thursday morning… in the pouring rain. We then drove for an hour, still in the rain, laughing at ourselves for being those people that refuse to call off the tent camping trip due to gobs of water falling from the sky. We’re pretty stubborn determined when it comes to that kind of stuff. Rain schmain.

Luckily enough, it quit raining before we got halfway there. In fact, it stayed basically dry all weekend, other than a few showers Friday night. Which was a far cry from back at the ranch, where it rained the entire time we were gone.

I started getting text messages Thursday afternoon asking if we had floated away yet, which was a tad unsettling since I honestly had no idea. I had zero phone service where we were, so checking the radar or seeing if anyone had posted a picture of the Turtle floating downriver on Facebook was impossible. (If you’re just getting here you can read all about why I’m a tad gun-shy of heavy rain now… go ahead, I’ll wait.)

I’ll save you the suspense and tell you the Turtle is still intact and in the same spot we left it this time, thankfully.

We decided to take a longer route to the state park we were staying at, so we drove up through Clifton Tennessee, which as it turns out is in the running for cutest tiny city ever. So cute in fact that some of the locals described it as Mayberry. The city literally sits on the banks of the Tennessee River, so close that if you were flying down Main Street and somehow managed to jump the little rock wall where the road ends you would land in the water.

People there (Cliftonians?) seemed to think we were a little insane when we kept talking about how nice it was to be somewhere with ‘stuff’. Probably because Clifton consists of a Main Street that is approximately 7 feet long. But unlike where we are now their Main Street is the home of a bar, a neat little restaurant, and a drug store that people actually frequent to pick up prescriptions, watch batteries, and various sundries. And I do like my sundries.

We walked around a bit and stopped for lunch at Ernie’s Smoke House, home of some of the best burgers I’ve ever had. Then we struck out towards Linden, which the hopeful little sign at the edge of town said was a short 19 miles away.

That’s when I learned my first new and unusual thing about West Tennessee: Nothing is 19 miles from anything else.

I don’t care what the sign says, or what Google Maps tells you before you lose phone service permanently. It takes an hour to get anywhere. Anywhere. If you can see it from where you are it’s probably a mirage and will disappear with a loud ‘poof’ when you get close.

But eventually, what felt like 3-4 hours later, we made it through Linden and over to Mousetail Landing State Park, where we had planned to set up camp for the weekend. There’s that word again.

The park was nice enough, but it just wasn’t the place we wanted to be. We had already decided on the way there that we wanted to look for land closer to Clifton or Savannah, instead of Linden and Lobelville like we originally thought. And staying at the park meant we couldn’t really do that with any sort of ease. You know, because it takes forever to get anywhere.

But we had a waterfront site in the primitive campground (read: zero cell service), so we set up anyway. And it was cute.

Our little campin' spot

Our little campin’ spot

For the first time setting up we did pretty good, other than having to make a run to the next town over for C batteries to blow up the air mattress. We bought the only six batteries they had at Save-a-Lot for a whopping $3 and chanted the entire time the pump was running. I just knew they wouldn’t make it through the whole thing, but they did. Pretty impressive for $.50 batteries.

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Even though the park really wasn’t our thing it wasn’t all bad. We got a little fishing in, until Marty stole my rod because his line broke. Then I just wandered about looking in holes in the ground and watching ducks. Which is what I do if left to my own devices.

We also had a great time sitting on rocks on the river bank watching the fireworks in the distance that night. As an added bonus a late night barge came through, lighting up the banks for what seemed like miles with his spotlight.

By Friday morning though we decided to pack up and cancel the rest of our reservations. We were going to take our chances and find somewhere to camp closer to the-cutest-small-town-evah.

Spoiler alert: There isn’t anywhere to tent camp in Clifton.

But we needed somewhere to park the boat while we drove all these twisty-curvy backroads, and we needed somewhere to stay that night. So after much deliberation (really it was only about 5 minutes) we decided to spring for a room at a little place a few minutes away called The Bear Inn. It caught our eye on the way in because of the dozen or so little log cabins sitting outside in a semi circle.

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The cabins were a bit out of our budget, as was the room, but we splurged because I had already realized I forgot to pack any of our medicine. I managed to bring a huge box of pop tarts, but no prescription medicine. Meaning the trip would probably be cut short anyway. So off we went to park the boat (which still hadn’t touched a body of water) and check out a hotel room.

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Definitely the best decision made all weekend. She put us in the suite at the end, which was a huge room housing a king and twin bed, a dining room table and chairs, kitchenette complete with dishes and a toaster, a big closet and bathroom, and a cedar chest. Really, this room was great. Not to sound too much like an ad, but it was clean and had just about everything we could have needed, down to a full set of silverware and a can opener.

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After a few minutes of laying on the bed staring vacantly at the ceiling we headed back out to drive some more. I think in total we spent 7 hours Friday driving around to no avail. Not only is nothing less than an hour from anything else, but apparently Google is in charge of the infrastructure, and they have failed to inform the local officials. There are an inordinate amount of roads that only exist on Google Maps. We sat at an intersection for 10 minutes at one point trying to determine if our brains were fried from the riding around, because a road on the map clearly shot out through an abandoned barn and horse gate. We gave up on that one finally.

I won’t bore you with the rest of the details, but to sum it up for you our tent camping trip consisted of one night in a tent, one night in a hotel, dragging a boat around for no reason, two properties that were already flooded (with no rain), one that didn’t exist, 15+ hours of driving, way too much eating, one really nice property that was way out of budget, and lots of frustrating moments on the side of the road holding my phone over my head and hopping about. One realtor gave us directions to three different properties, all of which turned out to be absolutely terrible… or covered in water. I should have been more specific when I said waterfront.

All in all it was a decent adventure and we still like each other. Semi-Win.

I did come out of it with this terrible stomach ache though, which is much better today but still nagging. Fortunately I’ve now determined that the culprit is eating… so if I just don’t eat anything ever again I’ll be fine. Problem solved.

I assured Marty on Sunday afternoon that I would most definitely be dead by morning, no matter how much he protested. I was certain again last night that I would cease to exist today, but I seem to slowly be getting better. I suppose it’s possible I’m a touch dramatic.

Did you do anything fun for the 4th of July? Did you eat too much and cease to be a productive member of society? I hope you at least had an exciting weekend!

I’ll be resuming a normal posting schedule this week, with some cool things coming up the rest of the month thanks to my Start Experiment starting soon!

One Lovely Blog

Tuesday wasn’t a good day.

We buried my grandmother, and there were lots of tears and stories and food. Because those are the prerequisites for a true southern funeral.

But on the way home I checked my email and found a lovely little bright spot in the the way of a comment from Ginny over at My Simplicity Quest, which is a really fun little blog following her story of working towards a simpler, more minimalist life. If you’ve never seen it you should check her out!

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Her comment was to let me know that she had nominated me for my first ever blog ‘award’! I only say award in quotes because evidently there will be nothing to sit on my mantle… Which is actually just fine, seeing as I don’t have a mantle and would prefer it bare if I did.

But I digress.

Ginny has given me the One Lovely Blog award, and I think it’s awesome that even one person finds purpose, or inspiration, or humor, or anything at all in what I have to say. It makes this feel more real in a way, so thank you very much Ginny for thinking of me!

A blog award is really more of an opportunity to recognize other blogs that have spoken to you in some way, which I think is a great idea, so I’m paying it forward. Here are the rules:

  • Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you and link back to their blog(s).
  • Post the award image in your acceptance post.
  • List seven random facts about yourself.
  • Nominate others for the award and notify them on their blog.

7 Random Lena-isms:

1. I’m abnormally afraid of water.
2. Despite #1 I love white water rafting and air boat swamp rides.
3. I have no sense of smell. Never have.
4. I know every single word to a large amount of eighties rap.
5. If you leave me alone in a car I will sing. Loudly.
6. I read The Hobbit somewhere between Kindergarten and 1st grade.
7. I’ve never seen any of the Godfather movies.

The blogs I’m nominating are ones I find to be especially interesting or inspiring in some way, they all have excellent and very different writing styles and a way of spinning a story in their own special way. Some of these may have already been the recipient of this award, or some may not find it as neat as I do because they’ve been around the blogging block already, but I’m nominating based on blogs I read and keep up with. I hope you’ll take the time to check them out!

Gallivance

T-Shirts & Twine

Boof & Monk Monk

Living Simply Free

I hope everyone has a great Independence Day and a relaxing weekend! We’re about to pack up and head out, with a 60% chance of rain all weekend I’m expecting an adventure. I hope you have one too.

On The Beauty Of Working A/C And Starting

Lest you think we melted into a puddle of goo after the air conditioner went out last week, we’re still here. In fact, we’re now the proud owners of a superbly cool tin can (fiberglass, I know I know) with two brandy dandy new air conditioners.

But I’ll get to that in a minute. There’s plenty going on in this catch up post, so I might get a bit scattered, I apologize in advance for that.

First off, I have to mention the passing of my Maw Maw this weekend. My dad’s mom. She lived a long and mostly healthy 91 years and up until the last few she was independent and strong, to a nearly comical point at times. You knew not to wander in front of the TV when the game was on for example… any game actually. That was a running joke in her house. And I’ll never forget her shaking her cane at us like a character out of a movie when we tried to decline coming to dinner after some random family event. She, like a lot of my family, was larger than life at times. She was the matriarch on my dad’s side, a position she handled gracefully.

She also marked the fourth death in my family in the last few years… preceded by my Grandmama on my mom’s side, as well my aunt and cousin from the same side. That’s a lot to lose in a short amount of time, and it was especially tough on the family due to my cousin and aunt going much too soon.

It does however have the sobering, but beneficial, effect of making you consider your own mortality. I don’t want to look back at some point and realize I wish I had done more, or played more, or loved more. I don’t want to assume that I have another 60 years and find out too late that it was really only 10. I want to enjoy now as much as I can, to avoid the regrets that come with ignoring what you’d rather be doing. So that’s what I plan to do.

Now, onto a lighter note. I’ve joined a secret society! Sort of.

I’m a big fan of Jon Acuff’s writing, he’s the author of Quitter and Start (if you haven’t read those you’re really missing out!). He’s a great writer and an even better motivator, and he keeps a blog over at jonacuff.com which I follow. Last week he posted on his blog asking people to sign up to join him on an adventure. The post was up for about 24 hours before he took it down. It was vague but intriguing, and the only commitment at the time was to email him a little information, then wait and see what happened. Considering this is already the Year of Change I figured what the heck, and shot off an email.

I had almost forgotten about the whole deal, between the air going out and my grandmother’s passing. But then yesterday I got an email from him containing the link to a private Facebook group dubbed The Start Experiment. Of course I joined immediately, to find around 700 other people already there introducing themselves. It’s already been inspiring seeing all these people who are ready to do something beyond the norm, and the experiment hasn’t even begun yet. I won’t reveal too much, but so far it looks like it will start as a personal challenge of sorts, with an accountability partner. We will be asked to push ourselves outside our comfort zones every day for 24 days in some way or another, and I can’t wait. As an added bonus, did I mention I’m part of a secret society? I think we should get a handshake or some sort of power ring.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, we didn’t melt in here last week when the air conditioner started messing up. There were a few sketchy days, but we were able to limp along by turning it on and off at the breaker when we needed it. We had to keep it off at night or it would freeze up, and I kept it off as much during the day as possible, but regardless we made it.

I did remember last week that we had an extended warranty that had been thrown in with the purchase of the Turtle, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to see what they would take care of. As it turned out, it was actually a pretty good warranty. They even offered to pay for a mobile repair guy to come out and fix it so we wouldn’t have to pack everything up and find a shop that could take us in. This time of year most repair shops are two or three weeks out, so that seemed like a terrible option all the way around.

After looking for a mobile RV repair place for hours though I was beginning to think a camping trip to the parking lot of a service department would be in order, until I found a place about an hour and a half away called Southern RV. They did warranty work, were certified, and said they worked anywhere in middle Tennessee… so of course they weren’t open that day.

I did get in touch the next day though and was able to get them started dealing with our warranty. It took several phone calls between myself, the repair shop, and the Xtra Ride warranty adjustor, but we finally came up with a plan. The warranty would pay for nearly all of the service call and all of the parts and labor to repair our existing unit, and we would cover the remainder to install a second unit in the bedroom. Great!

Marty was worried though that repairing the unit would just be a band aid and other problems would keep popping up, so after a lot of talking we decided to go ahead and spend the extra money and replace the unit we had with a new Atwood A/C with a heat pump. The Atwood’s are less expensive than the Dometic we had, and the repair shop said they were impressed with the quality of their construction, plus the heat pump will help lower the propane expense this winter hopefully. I paid for both units over the phone, then spent the next two days secretly hoping I hadn’t been duped by some kid with a fake website.

They said both units would be in by Friday and they should be able to come that same day, or Saturday at the latest. Friday afternoon came and went with no word, and I was really starting to question my own judgement. But then, at 7pm on Friday night, the Southern RV repair truck pulled up out front. The parts had come in a little after 4 o’clock and they headed out then.

It took nearly three hours to install the two units and fix a light switch that wasn’t working quite right, and I was expecting the worst when it came time to settle up. He showed me both work orders, the one they would send the warranty company for the repairs and the one I would owe for the extra labor since I had already paid for parts. It came time for the grand total and I held my breath a little…

That’ll be $85.

Huh? Oh.

That’s not at all what I was expecting. One hours labor. He even waived the remainder of the service call, saying if I wanted to give his guys a little extra to grab dinner with on the way home that would be plenty. I gladly did, and gave him a bit extra too for coming out so late on a Friday. The guys were all super friendly and professional, and they did a great job, definitely a win in my book.

Then we checked out our new units, and they are awesome. I don’t have much to compare to, just our travel trailer and this fifth wheel, but both of our previous A/C’s have been so loud you couldn’t hear each other well from one room to the next. Our TV volume would go from 20 to 50 when the air kicked on. When I walked in the den to look at the new unit I had to ask if it was on yet, it’s that quiet. And the air flow is twice as much as our Dometic Duotherm was producing.

Atwood hasn’t been in the cooling business that long, although they’ve made other RV parts for years. So we took a bit of a risk on these units, not knowing their track records yet. But as of right now I’m thoroughly pleased.

They function a bit different than any I’ve seen before though, and I had to call Atwood this morning to make sure they were working right, which I was assured they were. When the fan is set to Auto most air conditioners will run until they reach the right temperature and then cut off until they need to start cooling again. In these the fan runs all the time. When the temperature is right they switch to low fan speed and the compressor turns off, and as needed they cycle back up to medium or high and kick the compressor back on to cool things down. The result is super quiet and keeps the whole place at a nice consistently cool temp. Now that I know it’s not a wiring problem I have to admit it’s a pretty interesting process. They also have some other neat things, like the Dry mode which acts as a dehumidifier if you’re happy with the temp but want to pull some of the humidity out of the air. It also has a Sleep button,  when it’s set the temperature will rise by 2 degrees over the next hour, or lower by 2 degrees if you’re using the heat pump. All in all we’re glad we spent the money, and hopefully won’t have to do that again for a long time!

This week will be crazy as well, today is my catch up day. Tonight and tomorrow are visitation and funeral a bit more than an hour away from here. Wednesday is a morning meeting and getting ready for Thursday. And then the fun begins! We’re going to pack up the truck Thursday morning, hook up the boat, and head over to tent camp at Mousetail Landing State Park. We’ll stay there a few days fishing and hanging out. I’ve looked around and found a local concert to check out on Saturday night and a few restaurants to look at. Other than that there isn’t much in the area other than lots of rivers and creeks.

It’s an exploratory mission too, we’ll be driving around looking for an inexpensive piece of land along the Tennessee river. We’ve talked a lot about what the next step is and it would be kind of dreamy to be able to go to our own little spot on the river when we feel like it, or even live there for longer periods in the future. Ideally we would find one that someone has already set up for an RV, maybe with a concrete pad and utilities already in place. But if the price were right we could buy a 1/4 acre lot with no utilities and add them as we have the money. It would give us somewhere to go if we didn’t want the expense of paying rent at a campground, because a payment on land that small would actually be less than our rent right now. And it would serve as a bit of a home base too, without the commitment of an actual home base. We don’t want something that requires a lot of maintenance, we want to be able to leave it for as long as needed without worrying about things breaking down or tearing up.

I’ve bookmarked several great looking spots on Craigslist and some local realtor websites, and we’re excited just to go ride around a new area and look at the possibilities. Even if that doesn’t turn anything up it will still be a great weekend of fishing and camping!

Are you doing any camping this weekend? Starting anything or joining a secret society? If not you should at least go right now and do one thing that scares you… it’s great for the soul. 🙂

It’s That Time Again – Project 333 Season Finale

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This will be a two post day as I try to catch up from last week. I’ll post an update on our air conditioner situation and some other things shortly!

The end of June marks the end of my first go at the Project 333 challenge.

In case you haven’t been keeping up with my clothing inventory (And why not?) I decided to try Project 333 after we made the move to the Turtle. After going through our closet to declutter and then move I started to realize I was not the minimalist I originally thought, and it looked like a fun experiment.

So in the beginning of April I laid all my clothes out in the bedroom and painstakingly narrowed them down to what I actually loved and wore. The rest was packed away in a tote and taken to storage. For the last 3 months I’ve worn only 33 items of clothing including my shoes, purse, hats, and superhero costumes.

This first three months have been full of a lot of different temperatures, and I’ve cheated a few times, but I have to say I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve spent so much less time deciding what to wear, and my closet has never been more organized. And in a bit of an unexpected turn of events I’ve actually learned a few things about myself.

I don’t actually need 33. There were several things that were barely worn this time around. I’m not sure how many, but I’d be willing to bet I actually only wore 25 items on a regular basis. That gives me a little confidence in how little I can get by with.

Choosing wrong isn’t the end of the world. I made a few mistakes when I chose my wardrobe the first time, and the weather wasn’t quite right for certain shirts and dresses. The last few weeks it’s been warm enough, but next time around I’ll save those things for the ‘summer’ cycle. But even though I’ve cheated a few times, nothing bad happened. Courtney Carver didn’t come busting out of the closet and cuff me. It’s just a challenge meant to make you look at part of your life more objectively, to reevaluate your needs. The number almost doesn’t even matter, it’s the process and intention that counts.

The second time was much easier than the first. Part of that might be the similarity in the weather between these two cycles, most of my clothes from last time were already warm weather things. Part of it also has to be that I’m a little more confident in knowing the things I actually wear now. I’ve learned what I really need on a regular basis. The first time around there was an odd amount of fear that I would choose wrong or that I would want the clothes I was putting up. This time was pretty simple… I made sure about half of my shirts were comfortable t-shirts and the other half were nicer looking. I kept out my jeans and all my shorts, and added another dress that would work for a little nicer event.

My spring/summer wardrobe is getting there. I put a few shirts that just weren’t quite right into a donate pile and the rest of my non-33 warm weather stuff went back into the tote headed for storage, but this time it was only a few things. A pair of flip flops and a few t-shirts I might like more for fall than summer, plus a pair of overall shorts I’m not quite ready to let go of yet. I’m hopeful that by next year my 33 will be my actual wardrobe for the season. That might be a bit harder to do for fall and winter, because I have lots of sweaters and boots, but at least I’m narrowing down half the year.

Having a self imposed limit is perfect for me. I tend to hold onto things that I kind of like, or that I might like later on. It really helps to put a cap on that, it makes me re-evaluate every piece I keep out. It has to fit just right, be the right color, not be uncomfortable at all, and look pretty damn good. Otherwise in the tote it goes.

Today marks the start of the next three month cycle, and it was a no brainer for me to keep going. I was actually excited to go through and reset the closet, so I pulled the tote out on Saturday afternoon and chose my next 33 a couple of days early. I’m curious to see what I actually wear out of the bunch, so this time I also turned all my hangers around as I put things up. When I wear something and put it back I’ll turn it’s hanger around the right way and at the end of 3 months it will be obvious what’s been used and what hasn’t.

Here’s what I’m starting with:

1. Aviator sunglasses
2. Brown purse
3. Under Armour visor
4. Strappy brown sandals
5. Reef flip flops (I’ll have to replace these by next year… they’re mostly just decorative at this point)
6. Sneakers
7. Jeans
8. Cutoff denim shorts
9. Regular denim shorts
10. Capris
11. Nike running shorts
12. Hangout t-shirt
13. Jack Daniels t-shirt
14. Yellow Old Navy t-shirt
15. Nike t-shirt #1
16. Nike t-shirt #2
17. Green tank
18. White shirt with leaves
19. Shirt with cool back
20. Blue tank
21. Blue strapless dress
22. Coral sundress
23. Pink dress
24. Blue plaid peasant top
25. Red t-shirt
26. Black floweredy dress
27. Grey kitten heels
28. White shirt with blue flowers
29. Lacy t-shirt
30. Nike t-shirt #3
31. Life is Good t-shirt
32. Green v-neck t-shirt
33. Grey racerback tank

Swap items:
1. White strapless shirt
2. Green flip flops (In case the others don’t make it till next year)

If you haven’t heard of Project 333 you should check it out or create your own version… it’s a neat little challenge that might help you simplify your life a little more. Or at least your closet!

It’s Gettin’ Hot In Here

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Pop quiz… what’s the last thing you want to hear when you walk into a camper on a 93 degree afternoon?

Answer: “Uh Oh”.

Especially when it’s exclaimed by the person walking into the camper first.

It helps to have a little back story to give the expletives that followed some context.

We have one rooftop air conditioner in the Turtle, and normally it’s enough to keep the main part of the abode cool. We run a fan in the bedroom at night and it keeps it pretty cool. We knew we were going to need the second air conditioner in the bedroom eventually but were getting by without it for now.

Until about a week ago when our one and only unit starting having some problems.

The compressor wouldn’t cut off, or would only cut off for a few minutes before coming right back on. Obviously if anything runs constantly it has a risk of burning up, but the fan was still working and blowing cold air, so we tried to limp along for a little while until we could figure out the problem.

After a little Googling I decided it was either the thermostat or the control board on the unit. Since the thermostat was a cheaper and easier fix we picked one up and I installed it… no dice. So now we had to figure out whether to get the board fixed or replace the whole unit, and if we could do it ourselves or would have to take it in somewhere.

A few phone calls and a trip to Camping World later we realized mid June is not the time to go in for repairs, because apparently everybody else got there in early June. Or maybe it is the time and we’re just a bit slow… either way it wasn’t happening.

By now we are turning it off and on at the breaker. Since we don’t want to let it run all the time we play a fun game of turn-the-camper-into-a-meat-locker shortly before bedtime and then cut the unit off so hopefully it stays cool overnight. It’s worked so far, but I think I’ve come close to hypothermia once or twice… Marty disagrees. We’ve been running it quite a bit during the day too, because the June weather is really uncooperative when it comes to air conditioning problems. Needless to say I’m expecting an overly exciting electric bill this month.

We had decided to order a new unit online instead of paying the extra money at a dealership, and had been told the install was a piece of cake so we weren’t going to spend that money either. I just needed to do some more research and decide which type of unit we wanted… there are way too many options out there. Ducted, non-ducted, 13.5k, 15k, Dometic, Coleman, Low Profile, Heat Strip or not. There should just be something called “The RV Air Conditioner”, you could throw it in your cart at Wal-Mart before the canned cheese and fuzzy dice. Because that’s what people buy at Wal-Mart ya know. That and spandex. Lots of spandex.

Anyway, back to the story. On Sunday we headed south to set up at a flea market for a balmy seven hours. We had a tent and there was a breeze so it really wasn’t that bad, but I was definitely looking forward to a good shower and watching the next episode of Breaking Bad on DVD in the cool. Until I heard the “Uh Oh” and I instantly knew what had happened.

We had left the unit on that morning, so the dogs didn’t suffocate, and although it wasn’t the first time it must have been just hot enough to freeze it up completely. We didn’t get home until around 3 o’clock, so I don’t know when it quit cooling but it was much hotter inside than out by then. Luckily it hadn’t gotten hot enough to do any damage to the dogs, but were still really happy to come outside and hang out in their tiny fence.

We spent another three hours sitting outside while we waited on the great thaw to happen. Now don’t get me wrong, we love to sit outside. But when you’ve been sitting outside all day, and are noticeably sticky with a slight dusty aura, nothing sounds better than a recliner and cold air. But it was the approximate temperature of the fourth layer of hell inside, so we settled for shade and a little breeze instead.

At this point it became pretty clear we didn’t need to waste any more time researching and otherwise procrastinating. It was also at this point I remembered we had bought an extended warranty when we bought the Turtle. That’s very unusual, because I’ve been known to get pretty irritated when the guy at Best Buy pushes the extended warranty for my laptop, hard drive, or DVD box set. I don’t like salesmen or extended warranties, so that’s dangerous ground right there. But it seemed like a decent idea at the time, since we know right next to nothing when it comes to the components of this rolling apartment.

So I dug around in my files and found the cards for the Xtra Ride policy we obtained a mere 4 months ago, and was able to figure out that the air conditioner was indeed covered. I tried calling the claims department that day, but it informed me if I was making a vehicle service claim I needed to call the 24 hour automated claims line. Great! I hang up and try that number, where I find out the company has a great sense of humor, because I got the exact same message I had just gotten, telling me to hang up and call the phone number I was already calling. Fun stuff.

The unit finally thawed, and we were able to put the dogs back in and go out to eat dinner, because at this point nobody was willing to turn on anything hot just to make food. I kept all my paperwork out and started my phone marathon Monday morning.

In good news, the warranty adjustor that I spoke to was really helpful and friendly. He basically said if the board was bad in the unit, which we think it is, they would pay parts and labor to replace it. He also said if we wanted to have a new unit installed instead, which we do, they would apply the money towards that and we could pay the difference. I was afraid we would have to pack everything up and go camp in the parking lot of a service department for two or three days, but he said they would pay for someone to come out and do the work, so long as they were certified.

Thus ensued a second phone marathon, where it became painfully obvious that we need to learn more about these things and start a mobile RV repair service around here. I managed to find a grand total of one. One repair shop that will do on location repairs and is certified to do so. And they are over an hour away. And even better than that, they were closed on Mondays.

Luckily they picked right up this morning when I called, and are coming tomorrow to give us and the warranty company an estimate on the repairs. We have a couple of other small electrical problems that we’re hoping might be able to slide in under the $100 deductible, but if not we’re still going to get them fixed while we have someone here… because that’s evidently a bigger feat than you would think.

My question today is this, if you live in or just have an RV, what type of air conditioner do you have? Do you love it or hate it? We had heard that the Coleman’s were very quiet, so we were leaning that way, but the repairman has thrown a wrench in by saying that is the last unit he would ever pick. What do you think?

Meanwhile, Back At The Park…

IMG_20130616_075628_799Sometimes, when you live amongst a lot of other people, things happen during the course of the day that you didn’t plan on. Sometimes those things can be a hindrance to whatever you were doing to begin with, and sometimes those things can be a really funny series of events that leaves you feeling like Gilligan on his three hour tour.

Yesterday evening we ate dinner surprisingly early – about 6:30. That was actually our normal time BC (Before Camper), but now we apparently don’t eat until at least 8:15. We’re wild like that.

Since it was early and had clouded up and gotten nice and cool we thought a little walk was in order while dinner was cooking on the grill. Marty had already gotten a shower and we just planned to take a little stroll and check out the new folks that had moved in.

We made it down our row and halfway up another when we noticed Don, the owner, opening all the sewer caps in our row and shaking his head. We wandered back over and he asked if Marty could take our sewer connection off so he could see if it was stopped up, because he thought his pump might have quit working.

Four minutes later we were running water from a hosepipe (garden hose for you damn yankees) down our sewer hole, which was indeed backed up. Three minutes after that Marty was knelt down rewiring the sewer pump. From shower to sewer repair in less than 15 minutes. It happens.

Then, after a thorough hand washing and our early dinner, we headed back out to finish our walk. We chuckled a bit as we passed an older lady attempting to walk an extremely unwilling tabby cat, or maybe the cat was taking her for an outing, it was hard to say.

Since I’m still hunting for my missing turtle, and the field next to the campground has started to dry up, we headed over there next to investigate. A little after dinner pond scavenging. It didn’t turn up any results, but I did see a real turtle and a baby rabbit, so I’ll take that as a win.

From there we headed back out, up one row and down a second, and met an older man sitting on a picnic table outside his motor home. He turned out to be the other half of the lady the cat was walking, and he stopped us to tell us about his harrowing drive in. Evidently the cruise control stuck on him just north of Birmingham and he had to get over to the side of the interstate and cut the engine off to stop it. Scary stuff. We stayed and talked to him for a bit, and the still visibly upset tabby cat howled at us from his leashed confinement the whole time. The cat lady came back out and we all chatted for a bit about their past campers and kids and things that people chat about on cool evenings in the campground.

Then I saw the tabby cat, sans leash, wander past us. She was quickly apprehended and releashed, and we chatted a little longer. Then, because cats are insanely tricky, she broke free again and this time decided she wasn’t going without a fight. Within a few minutes we went from having a nice chat to the four of us crawling around a large shrubbery looking for a decidedly freaked out cat. We surrounded the bush, which was actually three bushes grown into one, and making clucking noises and soothing here kitty sounds we hunted for their escapee. I spotted her in the middle bush but scared her off, then she reappeared in bush number three… kind of like a prickly shell game.

It almost worked, but she eluded us and shot out of bush number one, running across the campground with a rather older lady scooting after her. The rest of us stayed back, hoping not to scare her up a tree. It worked, and with minor clawing she was apprehended again and detained inside the motor home. This pretty well ended the chatting so we headed off, laughing at the fact that hunting for a cat in a shrubbery seems like something I would get us into.

Retracing our steps we headed back up row two, and ran smack into a talker. There’s one in every campground, the guy who always has a story to tell. They’re not to be confused with walkers, who you want to avoid at all costs because of the obvious face eating tendencies.

We’re standing there, talking to the talker, when a little silver car pulls up and just sits there. I think he was on the phone, but we didn’t know that at the time and he seemed to just be lurking there like a poorly planned drive by. He finally looked over and asked if we knew of a couple who had just sold a farm over on Blue Creek. Marty, who I’m sure wasn’t expecting the question from a random stranger in a Taurus, said the man might have to ask the owner. After a few seconds of intense thought I pointed out that we ourselves had just sold our house on Blue Creek Road.

As it turns out we were indeed the couple he was looking for, because I had spoken to him a few days before on the phone after posting our Kawasaki Mule for sale on Craigslist. I thought he had changed his mind, but it turns out he just lost my number, but did remember where I said we lived. I don’t just go around telling strangers where we live all willy nilly by the way, but he was a local, only living a couple of miles from the campground, and I didn’t tell him any details other than that we were here.

As we talked we learned that he had driven a school bus with Marty’s dad for years and knew him very well. He was a really nice guy, had been working for the local school district for 23 years, and was trying to convince his wife that he needed another toy to play with. We talked him into it and he’s supposed to bring us the money for the Mule and trailer today.

If it weren’t for the sewer fixing, pond scavenging, cat hunting adventure we had been on we would have already been inside when he pulled up at 8:15 at night, and no one would have known who he was looking for. We might have missed out on selling the Mule to a really nice guy, and having a funny story to tell. Add seeing a turtle and rabbit and I call that a good night, albeit not that unusual here.

Any funny campground stories of your own? I know they’re out there, because I’ve found we end up at least a few times a week in some situation we couldn’t have planned on. It really spices things up a little!