We Made It!

We were starting to think that perhaps we should take up residency in Wyoming. After we finally made it out of Gillette, we did not make it very far at all before we had to stop again, this time for blowing snow and ice. We decided that a night in Wheatland was in order, and hoped that by morning, the wind would stop and the interstate would be a little less treacherous. No such luck. As a matter of fact, the interstate became so bad that they closed it from Wheatland, down to Cheyenne.

Once the interstate was reopened, we decided to stay put until about 11am, giving the sun as much time as possible to help clear the roads. Still, the road to Cheyenne was very slow going. Eventually, though, we made it, and from there, the roads were clear through Colorado. I cannot tell you how happy we were about that! We made it down to Pueblo, CO before we stopped for the night.

We had planned on taking the highway once we hit New Mexico, but decided to stick to the interstate instead. We had had our fill of ice covered roads, and were hoping to avoid running into any more. We hit more snow just before Trinidad, CO, but it did not last for too long, and then it was smooth sailing on dry roads.

It took us a little longer than planned to make the trip down, but we made it in one piece, and that is what really counts. We arrived in New Mexico on February 5th, which also happened to be Remington P. Cat’s 18th birthday. Since then, we have enjoyed nothing but beautiful sunshine and blue skies.

I am amazed every time I look out the window because it is so incredibly beautiful. It feels so good to be here. So good to be… home.

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Happy New Year!

I recently received an email from WordPress with my Year in Review report. Quite honestly, 2015 was pretty pitiful as far as blog posts went. One of my goals this year is to stay a little more up to date. Of course, it has taken me almost a week to publish my first post of the year, so I may not be off to the best start…

From where I sit right now, this year is looking to be an exciting one for our family. The twins are soon to be 11, Liam will become a teenager (eek!!), and Rob and I will celebrate our 15th anniversary.  Soon we will be making the big move down to New Mexico, changing schools, moving into a small house, learning a new area. This fall, my mom, sister, and I will be taking a trip to Hawaii, compliments of my dad. There are so many things to be excited about, so many things to look forward to.

I have started cleaning up the house for the move. As if the kids’ room wasn’t already small enough, they are now sharing it with totes and boxes. Nathan helped me clean their room and we ended up with three donation bags and just as much garbage. It always feels good to minimize and organize. Looks so much better, too. Since Waldo is making the drive with us, there is not too much more inside that I need to do.

Waldo got his new front tires yesterday. He has a fresh oil change, too, so I think he is all ready to roll. He just has to survive one more ‘slightly chilly’ North Dakota January first. 🙂

Life has pretty much returned to normal now that the holidays are over. School is back in session, Rob is back on his normal work schedule. It is cold outside, snow on the ground, about what you would expect this time of year. I think this may be the calm before the storm for us, so best enjoy it while it lasts!

Happy New Year to you and yours! Wishing you your best year yet!

There they grow!

There they grow!

 

 

 

Next Stop…

After what has felt like months of pacing and wondering, the wait is finally over! Rob has been selected for a permanent position in the mountains of northern New Mexico!

We have done extensive research on the area and there are countless outdoor activities that everyone will enjoy. With everything from hunting and fishing to hiking and horseback riding, there is definitely something for everyone. Not to mention all the National Parks in the area and the opportunity to explore more states.

Since Rob will be the on-call guy for emergency response and snow removal, occupancy is required, meaning we will be moving out of Waldo and into a house. Everyone is really excited about this. When we moved into Waldo over four years ago, the kids were all pretty small, so we had a lot of room. Now, we are slowly running out of space, and everyone is looking forward to having a little more elbow room.

Perhaps what we are most excited about are the schools. They are all top rated, with every sport and activity the kids could imagine. The teacher to student ratio is impressively low and they seem to put a lot of effort into their special education program. All of these things will only benefit the kids as they continue their education.

With the kids getting older, we all agree that we need to stay in one place for the rest of their school years. So we are moving not with a traveler’s mentality, but with that of a resident. New Mexico will be our new home. We will set up shop, we will become part of the community.

Rob is scheduled to start in early February, so we will be leaving North Dakota at the end of January. I have a little over a month to get things cleaned out and organized. Almost everything in Waldo needs to join our storage unit in Great Falls for easier moving. Even though we will no longer be living in Waldo, he will still make the trip with us. We will find a nice place to park him and we plan to take him along on road trips around New Mexico and the surrounding area.

This is a really big move for us. When we began the full-time RV lifestyle over four years ago, we had no idea how long it would last. Our plan was to travel until someone decided they no longer wanted to do so. Now here we are, thousands of miles and almost two dozen states later, and our RV life is coming to an end. One never knows what the future might bring, but we are all really excited about this move. I cannot help but think that everything happens for a reason, and we are on our way to where we are meant to be.

The Return from Turkey Day Vacay…

While the cat’s away…

So the checklist that runs through your head when preparing to leave your house on the frozen tundra for an entire week is quite extensive. Of course my main worry was our kitties, but since we had decided to take them, that was one less thing to worry about. In preparing to leave, I went through all the usual motions: cleaned the house, watered the plants, packed the bags, cleaned out the fridge. Everything was ready to go.

We had decided to turn off the hot water heater and leave both hot and cold water trickling to prevent frozen lines. We left the electric heater on in the living room, and tuned on the furnace to 45, just in case the electric heater needed a little help. It was, after all, supposed to be ridiculously cold while we were away. Sounded good, looked good, felt good, so off we went.

While we were away, Rob received a message from his boss (who also happens to be our neighbor) and he let him know that our furnace was running, but blowing cold air. Rob asked him to just turn the heater off, and we prepared ourselves to return to an ice box. Thank goodness we had all of the fur-babes with us!

Apparently the power had gone out while we were gone, and what we had not thought about was that the heater we left running does not turn itself back on after a power outage. So basically we had no heater running at all, and when the house got down to 45, the furnace kicked on. With no other heating help, the furnace must have ran full-time, running itself completely out of propane. Well, when it runs out of propane, it continues to blow air, trying to get to its set temp. Once the furnace ran out of propane, it was basically blowing ice air from outside into the house. I can only imagine how cold it must have been in here. Brrrrr! Unfortunately, all of our plants (except one) froze to death. (I had hoped they might come back to life, but the once soft leaves are now crunchy, so I guess it is time to let them go…) Our neighbor had put another space heater in the house for us, so it was nice and warm in here when we got home.

It took us a bit to realize that our water was not running. Thinking we had frozen pipes, we switched propane tanks and turned the furnace on to help warm the basement. The cold started up pretty quick, but the hot refused to run. This is when Rob went outside to check the pipes and to see water spraying from a broken connection. Easy enough fix, he just needed a new connection. Once things thawed a little more, it became apparent that we had a bigger issue. Our hot water heater was frozen. Not only did it freeze, but the whole back completely split in half. Awesome.

After some research, Rob found the model we needed and ordered one online. It would take a week to arrive, so we spent the week eating junk food to avoid needing hot water for dishes, and we showered next door in the seasonal house.

Now out in the driveway sat our dear old car, who had just taken us on an almost 2,000 mile adventure. (Thank you, Peej!) She was either a little jealous of all the attention Waldo was getting, or she was really needing love after our vacation, but the very first time I started her up after we got home, she made a terrible squealing/squeaking sound. Thinking she was just cold, I did not think too much of it, until she did it again. Then again.

Rob checked her out, thinking she must need a new drive belt, only to discover that her idler pulley was bent (the bearings were shot) and the belt was half off, fraying itself on one side as it rubbed the engine. Double awesome! 50 miles round trip to town is bad enough on a good day, but when you have to drive it in a car that may or may not make it, it is just downright nerve racking! But make it we did, and I arrived home with the belt and replacement pulley. Later that afternoon, the new hot water heater arrived as well, so the weekend was shaping up to be full of fix-its!

Saturday morning, Rob was out there bright and early, tackling the projects. He started with Peej, but when she breaks something, she breaks it good, and he quickly learned that the existing bolt would not work. It was worn down to practically nothing, and must be replaced. So he borrowed the neighbors truck to run to town for a bolt. Luckily the parts store was able to match it exactly, and once he got home, he and Liam were able to finish fixing the car.

Up next, hot water! The water heater went in pretty fast, and it was so exciting to have hot water again. We can now shower at home again!

That is three repairs for us in about a month, and these things are supposed to happen in threes, right? I would like to kindly send out a request for no more repairs for at least… oh, I don’t know… forever… 🙂

*Sigh*

*Sigh*

We Made It!

All right, enough slacking on my part. We left Hopewell Furnace a month ago today and so much has happened since then that it is about time I begin filling you in. So where do I start? Well, I guess it is best to just start from the beginning…

We had a great drive from Pennsylvania to North Dakota. We had originally planned on just driving straight through, but later decided that we would take our time, stopping and enjoying places along the way. One of our favorite places was Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. As a matter of fact, we liked it there so much that we stayed for five days. The kids spent their days building sand castles and swimming in Lake Michigan, and we relaxed in the evenings with a roaring campfire, spooky stories and enough marshmallows to sink a small ship.

Another highlight was being able to visit with my cousin, whom I had not seen since 1992. The kids had a blast playing with her daughter and it was great to just be able to catch up after so many years. We enjoyed a wonderful meal and great conversation. My only hope is that it does not take another 20+ years to do it again.

As an added bonus, we were able to add several new states to our map. We cheered as we entered Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and last but not least, North Dakota. (Sorry Wisconsin! We will fill you in as soon as we can!) Almost two weeks and 2,000 miles after leaving Pennsylvania, we arrived safely in North Dakota.

We pulled onto our RV pad and settled ourselves in. We arrived two weeks before Rob was scheduled to start work, so we had some time to explore and get familiar with the area. That brings me to the next part of our story, but that will have to wait until next time…

The End of a Season

Our time here at Hopewell Furnace has just flown by, but today was Rob’s last day at work and tomorrow we are hitting the road. We have a 1,700+ mile journey ahead of us as we make our way to North Dakota. We have some stops planned along the way as well as a visit with some family. This time of year makes for some beautiful scenery and we are looking forward to everything that lies ahead.

Rob took the camera out a few mornings ago and got some beautiful pictures of the park. I though it only fitting to share some of them with you on this, our last night here. Hopewell Furnace has been incredible and it is a place that will always hold a special place for us.