Levi and I typically present our travel journals in the form of vlogs. With everything that’s happened since our last update, we thought a vlog wouldn’t capture the last few months as well as a written account.
Seems like we had a bumpy transition from 2016 to 2017, a lot of unwelcome detours, but we eventually made our way back on the open highway. The full time RV lifestyle is not immune to the ugly truths of life and death. On the contrary, living the nomadic lifestyle has opened our eyes to how vulnerable we are in this great big world and the importance of capturing each precious moment before it sweeps away with the wind. Looking back on these past four months, since our last vlog post, I can only breath a sigh of relief that our little family is healthy and safe, but saddened from loss.
December (2016) was the closure of our sixth work camping job as Amazon Camperforce Associates in Campbellsville, KY. We were stowers this second time around and spent up to 10 hours a day putting product in bins and drawers. Not the most exciting way to pay the bills, but it paid them and then some.
On our days off we’d get a bite to eat or explore neighboring towns. Levi’s birthday was in December and he wanted to try some more Kentucky bourbon before leaving it’s birthplace, so we took off on a little day trip to Bardstown, KY. There is an old bed and breakfast that sits in the heart of the city called Talbott Inn. Many historical figures have stayed in the upstairs rooms over the decades, including young Abraham Lincoln and his family. The restaurant below, Talbott Tavern, serves the best southern dishes, most notably for us, fried green tomatoes (our first try) and a hearty Kentucky meal Levi tried called Old Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwich. He opted for a bourbon flight and toasted with each shot he gulped. Afterwards, we drove the all but five minutes to the Barton 1792 Distillery where we toured the facility and barrel houses before sampling and purchasing a few bottles!
Just a few days after our bourbon adventures, we decided to start packing our outside items. We still had another week at Amazon, but we were expected at our next work camping job shortly after. Levi opened up one of the outside compartments situated under our bed slide out and was not happy to see water stains and mold. What was worse, the stains and mold had extended beyond the compartment and the only thing we could do to remedy the situation was to painstakingly take apart the bed , eliminate the existing mold, control the leak (i.e., find its source), and find proactive measures to prevent future occurrences. ..oh and remember where all the screws went when assembling the bed. There is a small bag of screws left still, but the bed hasn’t collapsed yet! Levi, in his infinite resourcefulness, analyzed the situation and took the necessary steps to finish the project. He details his experience in his article, How to Control Condensation in your Rig,Part 2.
Right around the time of the mold incident, we started noticing some strange behavior from our cat, Laya. She is our obese, black beauty and has had a history of vet visits…mostly intestinal in nature. Having her has taught us all kinds of things about cat poop we otherwise would have never known. She was acting odd, listless and having trouble going to the bathroom. After a visit to the vet, Laya was prescribed medication for an ear infection and stomach irritation.
Our stent at Amazon was completed a few days later and we were off to our next work camping gig in Kansas. We’d made plans to stop in St.Louis to visit my grade school friend, Keren. Laya was still not feeling well on our travel days. She had a fever and was barely getting around. We found another vet along our route and after a brief discussion of her history and recent decline, the vet ordered x-rays and concluded that Laya had irritable bowel (indicated on the x-ray as little Cheerio-s). He gave her a shot of steroids to control the inflammation and more meds.
We were back on the road again; that day was eerily wet and dreary. For most of the drive, the traffic was steady. Once we got closer to St. Louis, the roads became more congested. One bright yellow truck was feeling lucky that afternoon and decided to pick up his speed and swing around other vehicles. He swept by us and just a few yards in front lost control, hit a car and went sliding over the median towards oncoming traffic. I was in the driver’s seat and eased my foot on the break hoping we wouldn’t slide. We made it to a safe stop along the side of the road, the yellow truck magically dodged oncoming traffic, and the car that was hit, a family of four, skidded off the road and stopped just before a barbed wire fence. Everyone was safe, thankfully.
We settled in Cahokia RV Parque, just outside of St.Louis for the next couple of nights. Keren picked us up the following day (Christmas Eve) and took us on our first trip to IKEA where we indulged in there under $5 breakfasts! We toured the store and took pictures of about 20 items we wanted for the rig but never purchased. Then we played around at the City Museum (pictured to the left). The St. Louis City Museum is an all-ages fun house, an urban jungle gym, composed of recycled materials. We crawled through tunnels shaped like whales, climbed up tubes suspended at least 40 feet above ground, slid down sheets of metal angled at almost 90 degrees, and took a break to roast marshmallows around a campfire. The excursion helped us take our minds off of the past weeks’ ordeals.
Christmas Day found us in an emergency room in St. Louis with Laya. She always gives the best presents. She was running a fever once more and the vet surmised that given all of the previous hospital visits, she most likely had a virus which would pass within a week. Her ear infection, a completely separate issue, was still lingering. She advised we take her to our vet in Kansas once we were settled to make sure she was completely healed on all ends.
We eventually made it into Kansas, turned into the driveway of USI RV Park, said hello to familiar faces and settled into our site for the next several months. We work camped at USI last year and enjoyed our experience so much, we came back!
About a week into our stay, our detours led us to a giant ditch. Levi received word that his grandfather had passed. He had been battling cancer for a few months and the treatments were not enough to keep it at bay. It was a devastating blow and the only solace has been gathered from talking and venting to family and friends.
We followed through with Laya’s vet visit later that month. She was back to her old self and received a clean bill of health! We brought Brewy, as well, since she was due for her senior check-up and had developed an odd mass on her leg.
She did not receive the same health report as Laya. Instead the mass contained cancerous cells and she had to be prepped for surgery sooner than later. The tumor ended up being a low-grade form meaning that there may be a slight chance of it returning. Her post surgery recovery lasted several weeks. Her incision was not completely closed due to the location of the mass, so we had to be very diligent about keeping it clean. She has since healed and is back to her lively self! Read about her surgery and healing here.
Last year we were introduced to the concept of writing for RV related publications and decided to give it a shot. So far this year our articles have been featured in the January/February edition of Escapees and March/April edition of Workamper News! Yeah!
We also decided this year was a year of Nike, “Just Do It!” We signed up for our first 5K and trained for about 6 weeks (detailed here). On February 18, we descended 650 feet below ground to participate in Strataca’s 5K Mine Run. We have the shirts, medals and video to prove it! Running in this event has me (in particular) eager for more! Levi on the other hand, is going into Early Race Running Optional Retirement (E.R.R.O.R.) Some days he runs but since he is not training, he will remind me of his E.R.R.O.R.
As far as improvements to our home, we added some modifications including a custom-made skirt and a Solvit Pet Ramp. The skirt’s thick vinyl and sturdy fasteners have kept our RV warm during cold spells and stood taunt against the 40 mph Kansas winds. We bought a ramp for Brewy to easily enter and exit during her recovery. She’s use to it now so we just left it out. It’s very durable and lightweight!
Our plans for the summer? We’ll be making a few pit stops in May and June to visit my family in Texas and Levi’s in California. We are scheduled to return to where the full time RVing idea sprung up, Las Vegas, from June to September. Levi will return back to the local dive shop he once worked at 2 years ago and help instruct scuba classes! Me…I’ve got a few projects I’ve been meaning to finish.
Until we meet again, may the sun be on your back, the wind be in your favor, and the rainbows and butterflies keep in sight! If you would like to read or view more journal entries about our adventures, check out our Travel Journal page.
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As always….safe travels and happy trails!