Week 6 – Back North

I can’t believe it’s already been 6 weeks since we left for this life changing adventure. Our camper now truly feels like home and Benni and Alex seem to have started to enjoy life on the road. We have established routines for travelling efficiently and have learned how to maximise the limited resources provided by our camper. Electricity, fresh water, waste water and propane need to be smartly rationed when camping entirely off grid. While it continues to be rather cold at night our propane tank will last us for approximately four days (versus 2 weeks when we don’t need to run the heater), while our 120 litre fresh water tank will last for up to 5 days if we use the campground showers and are proficient when washing the dishes. Electricity is the scarcest resource with the camper battery draining within a day. Luckily, we have a generator that can fully recharge the battery within two hours, while the main car battery can be used to jump start the generator when needed!

We also made sure to use the last week to make some additional home improvements. A new baby bed is now keeping Benni and Alex from annoying each other while going to sleep. Bringing them to bed has since returned to our usual 15 minute routine. I further spent an afternoon with Benni on the roof installing vent covers that allow us to keep the roof vents open when driving and even when it is raining. The covers should especially ensure we don’t get surprised by a rain shower in the middle of the night.

We also stopped for our first car wash. An exercise that Benni enjoyed most vigorously! Unfortunately, the wash also uncovered the first couple of repairs needed on the framework of Gonki. Some of the bottom protective panels have loosened revealing that the walls of our camper are made of simple plywood boards. To protect the plywood boards from soaking up water I retightened the protective panels and used an ample amount of duct tape to seal the framework against moisture. An activity that in due time I am sure I will need to repeat on different parts of the framework. Why Americans are so proud of products “made in America” is simply incomprehensible to me.

Our check engine light has also been acting up. I have spent the last couple of days calling different repair shops to find someone to read out the error codes on our Ford E350 chassis. I have now finally made an appointment with an RV repair service in Buffalo so that we can get our engine checked on Thursday this week. I assume the light is just malfunctioning, but you never know. I will make sure to keep you posted.

What we did this last week:

  • We stayed at Turtle Beach in Siesta Key for two nights enjoying the beach and admiring the sun vanish in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • We drove back up north to Big Meadows Campground in Shenandoah National Park covering a total distance of 1.600 kilometres in two days. Due to limited availability we had a Deluxe Patio Site for our layover at Savannah KOA. The perks: a gas grill and a fenced off area that we could let the boys play in freely. Designed for pet owners these sites are also brilliant for parents with toddlers. For once we did not have to chases after Benni and Alex the entire afternoon!

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  • We hiked the Rose River Falls trail in Shenandoah National Park together with Nini, an old school friend from JFK. Benni managed to hike the full 6 kilometres(!) within four hours giving us an average of 1,5 kilometres per hour as a baseline for future hikes. Spending the day with Nini was absolutely great. Thank you for coming out!
  • We hiked the 4,5 km to the Dark Hollow Falls and subsequently stopped at the Wayside restaurant for lunch. As a reward for yet again covering the full distance on his own Benni enjoyed a chocolate sundae, while Mieke and I wolfed down a good old cheeseburger.
  • Waking up inside a freaking rain cloud in Shenandoah National Park we decided to amend our plans and cut our stay short by a day. Splitting our next travel stint in half we added a layover at Hagerstown in Maryland discovering a lovely little campground featuring a private petting zoo and on site restaurant.

Our journey will now take us further north… We are headed for Toronto making sure to tour Niagara Falls on the way. More next week!

Some more pictures…