Realities of the road

Here’s another update on the practical side of things. It’s not all
nature, history, cuisine, and music.

Wifi. Most campgrounds offer it. It almost always sucks. Right now
we’re camped Right next to the wifi tower and can’t use it.We even paid for a month of wifi in Arizona, but it was so bad we got our money back. Obviously they can’t have everyone downloading movies, but it’s either throttled to such a trickle it’s useless or the signal strength is just lousy. [Case in point: I drafted this text-only post in Word and pasted it into WordPress, but I didn’t have enough wifi to save it, so I pasted it into the basic HTML version of gmail and mailed it to myself. Now I’m finishing it on my phone.].  We usually have pretty good cell signals, so we can do lots of thing on our phones, but for computer use we have to use a wifi hotspot that causes Ted’s data usage to exceed limits a couple of weeks into the month if we’re not careful.

Maintenance. About a month ago we started getting a bad odor. Sulfur, but worse. We assumed it was sewage, so we check all the likely sources. It kept getting worse. Then we remembered that when we did the walk through when we bought the rig it had a sewage smell and the guy said that’s the smell batteries make when they go bad. He replaced the battery and we bought an additional one when we got the solar panel. Six months later we didn’t expect battery problems, but when we checked they were boiling and the water was near dry. We got replacement batteries under warranty, but the battery place just provided them – we had to hook them up. When we removed all the wires we assumed someone knowledgeable would be hooking them back up. But between the jumpers from one battery to the other, the solar wires, the inverter wires, the TireMinder wires… it was a bit confusing. So we found an RV service place nearby. The nice man at Gauthier’s in Lafayette checked our inverter to make sure that hadn’t caused the problem and then hooked us up. So far so good.

Now we have a new issue, a leak under the sink. When we return to Lafayette tomorrow, we’re going to have the good folks at Gauthier’s
take a look. We have a short list of other issues (a bad switch, a broken hinge, and the TV stand needs replacing). Always something. At least our somethings have been pretty small.

Although our big something (replacing the roof after a run-in with a limb on one of our check-out trips last summer) has caused our insurance to jump to $2300.

Mail. We thought the arrangements we made with Traveling Mailbox would provide us with a physical address, but somehow some agencies see it as a postal box. This has caused problems with the DMV and may make it difficult for us to vote. We’ve also had some trouble with USPS mail forwarding from our old address to our new address. And just the act of “moving” 25 miles from Redwood City to San Francisco cost us an additional $320 on auto insurance. The actual electronic access to mail and forwarding has been pretty easy – the hardest part is timing forwarding for while we’re in one place for a week or more.

Apparently while we were in Lafayette, someone started making charges to my credit card in Florida. My credit union caught it and fixed it, but they closed off my access to the account, so I couldn’t figure out what things were linked to that account. I’m still sorting that out. When your mail is a few weeks behind you it’s harder to stay on top of stuff like missed payments.

Health. We’re doing fine, but navigating health insurance has been a hassle, both medicare and Obamacare. And I’m coming up on the six-month mark where I’m supposed to have some tests done. Now I need to figure out how doctors in California can order tests in Florida or wherever and get the results. That will be an adventure.

Traveling with a dog. It’s fun to have Abbey with us. She loves all
the together time and great hikes and occasional opportunities to romp off leash. Many other RVers have dogs. But there are a lot of places that don’t allow dogs. In some states, like Arizona, it is illegal to leave a dog in a car, no matter what the conditions. Many National Parks restrict dogs. Many campgrounds say you can’t leave the dog in your RV. So which rule are you going to break? I reported earlier on this conundrum when we had to board Abbey for a few hours so that we could go to Tent Rocks National Monument in New Mexico. Because her Bordatello vaccine had expired, we had to take her to a vet to get the vaccine and board her for the afternoon. Recently, we wanted to be able to spend long days and nights at the French Quarter Festival, so we made arrangements to board Abbey for three days. When we arrived we were informed that there is a swamp virus vaccine that was required, so we had to make a last-minute vet appointment which caused us to miss Kermit Ruffins!

Budget. We’re spending more than we thought we would. Some of that can be attributed to start-up costs and health insurance costing more than anticipated. But most of it is directly related to having fun and living well.

OK enough of the mundane. I’ll go back to picking blackberries,
watching cardinals, and waiting for the fireflies to come out.  And get ready for a great meal and maybe some music.


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