Almost 2 Months, and I Still Don’t Have a Clue…

Well, this isn’t quite what I expected.

Who knew that you could still swim in Maine in October? And we’re not talking hypothermia swimming – we’re talking Moach swimming, neck deep and hopping out to run around in the sand. Granted, Beth and I were both wearing jackets and quizzical looks ~ “How in the world can she do that?”

But, she’s part fish apparently. If there’s water, she WILL swim – even when she says she won’t. Loo became fond of swimming, fully clothed.

The weather has been phenomenal – much, much better and much milder than we’d expected. One thing we’ve found – we STILL don’t know what to expect. Over almost any subject – we’re still figuring it all out.

Work Is Hard Work…

Now, to be fully honest, work hasn’t gone as well as I’d hoped. I keep having this feeling like we’re on vacation – and we’re firmly NOT. I still have to work, and money hasn’t rolled in quite like I was hoping. But – we’ve made it through. We’ve eaten hot dogs and beans and rice and all the cheap food you can imagine. The kids have always had apples and cheese and all the stuff they’re used to – and they’ve really not felt the pinch.

But, I’ve had a breakthrough with work. I’ve started to hit my stride – and still have time to do the fun stuff. It’s not that I don’t love being stuck behind the laptop while the kids are out playing…

I’ve actually found that my productivity-per-hour-worked has increased. When I find decent wi-fi, I hit a lick for as long as I can. I left an ass-shaped imprint in a booth in the Biddeford Panera, drank waaaaaay more coffee than I should, and gotten off the dime and started to hammer out the work.

US Cellular Can Suck It…

One of the bigger disappointments has been our cell coverage. We’ve been with US Cellular for a while now, and it’s always been reasonably capable, but in the opening months of this trip, we’ve found them to be – well – garbage.

No coverage most of the time – and when we DO have coverage, it’s roaming. Apparently, US Cellular doesn’t have a tower anywhere near Albany, NY. You read that right. I understood it when we were standing in the middle of East BFE, Maine – but ALBANY? Come on, US Cellular – get it together.

We’re looking to switch very soon (our contract is pretty much up, thank God,) and I’m nigh on certain that running twine and tin cans around the country would serve our needs a heck of a lot better than US Cellular. They should change their name to Rare Parts of the US Cellular.

Plan Ahead or You’re Boned…

Another surprise was how difficult it is to find someone to do minor service/repair to an RV without 2 weeks notice.

When we had a blowout (read all about THAT,) there was a little more damage than I’d initially thought. The air lines to our leveling bags got torn out, and our 12 volt system also lost a wire or two. Nothing major – and if I had a little more mechanical acumen, I could have taken care of it myself. But – nobody (and I mean NOBODY) within a hundred miles of Biddeford would look at our rig for a couple of weeks. We were leaving – and I really needed to have this stuff fixed. Being level – kind of important. 12v – kind of important (if you like being able to flush the toilet without being attached to a water source.)

After calling around, I finally had the nicest guy call me back and squeeze me in, even though his shop was booked through the next few weeks. He said “I just hate seeing folks stranded…” Jason’s Auto Service in Hollis, Maine. They got us fixed up and on the road – and for a LOT less than I expected.

Different is Good and Kind of Hard to Find…

Maine is gorgeous. New Hampshire is gorgeous. Vermont is gorgeous. New York is – how to put this nicely – kind of meh. But, really – we’ve found that of the states we’ve stopped and stayed in, Maine is thus far our favorite.

There’s something a little too familiar in (especially) Vermont. We left Asheville – and where we stayed in Vermont was very Western North Carolina. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but one of the big reasons we wanted to do this crazy thing is to see new things – and northwestern Vermont looks pretty much like WNC. Maine had some similarities – but we were on the beach. It was like you took West Asheville and plopped it down right next to the most beautiful white sanded, rock-strewn beach you can imagine. Plain amazing.

I also discovered that the locals look at you like you’re a moron for squealing like a schoolgirl when you see a wild seal. IT’S A WILD SEAL, PEOPLE! ON THE BEACH! NEXT TO OUR HOUSE! You don’t see that kind of thing in Asheville. Yes. I’m a rube.

The Kids Like to Fight, Until They Don’t…

The kids fight a lot. And I mean A LOT.

Loo hates Link, Moach swings on The Wheeze – and then they switch it all up. Their nerves, apparently, fray a lot easier than I thought they did. Beth reminds me that I wasn’t around as much when we were in Asheville – and that I’m just now party to the day-to-day goings on in the family. She’s right – I was absent a lot, and I missed a lot of the fights. In some ways, that was good – but I now see that while I missed the fights (most of them, anyway,) I really missed out on a lot of life. My kids’ lives.

And, it’s been good. I still lose my temper. I still roll my eyes at the dumb fights (“Really, Wheeze? Moach has cuter toys than you – and THAT’S worth screaming and fighting over?”) I’m far, far, far from perfect – and I have a long, long, long way to go – but I do find that I can allow more stuff to just roll off me. Because, frankly, if I got bent over every squabble or cross word from the kids, we’d constantly be screaming and fighting.

Yes, we still scream and fight – but being in tight quarters, being together all the time makes it more and more important to get along and let some things not make me nuts. Those little veins in my forehead still bulge. I’m still puzzled (and amused) by the absurd fights, but I’m starting to learn to pick MY battles. My fuse is still too short but it’s getting longer by the day.

In between the fights, though – I’ve watched the kids have moments of getting it.

Campgrounds Are Unpredictable…

While in Vermont, we stayed at a campground which shall remain nameless. We reserved a few weeks in advance, the price was right and the reviews were good. Wi-fi, they said. Clean bathhouse, they said.

Well – yeah, they had wi-fi. But you would have to sit in the office (also the owner’s house) to use it.

The bathhouses were decent enough (we’ve seen some bathhouses, man…) But, the water apparently would give you the Tijuana Trots or worse – there was notice that you had to boil the water before you used it to even wash the dishes. That, my friends, is a sucker’s bet. So, we were dirty and a little annoyed – couldn’t flush our toilet except with bottled water. Yippee. Thanks (NAME REDACTED) Campground. Not sure we’ll be back.

So, off to another Panera (in Barre, VT) for me for a day of work while Beth and the kids went to the Ben & Jerry’s factory. We ate out to avoid dishes, and we brushed our teeth with bottled water. We visited the Cabot factory (we’ve eaten Cabot exclusively for years,) where we ate ALL the samples. We’re pretty sure our photo is on the wall now, with a note “Do not let the Gaffneys take the tour – they ate all our profits.”

Reviews only carry so much weight. Listening to other people online isn’t reliable. The only way to know for sure is to go and check it out for yourself.

It‘s an Experience That You Can’t Explain…

No matter what I type, no matter how many (trivial) details I give you, there’s positively no way I can explain what this expedition is like.

It’s terrifying.

It’s thrilling.

It’s brilliant.

It’s awful.

Things break – all the time.

Things work – when they’re meant to work.

It’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever done.

It’s the best thing I could do.