Oh, the Joys of Drydocking!

or

The Funk of a Thousand Years!

Okay, drydocking has its charms and benefits. There’s the whole challenge of seeing how long your fresh water will last and your black and gray water will fill up. Can we last the week? or will we have to break camp and take Gypsy to the dump station early?

For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ll break it down:

  • Drydocking is when you set up camp, either tent, RV, or car, in a place designed for camping, i.e. flat ground or pad for parking, cleared of vegetation, or listed as a place where overnighting is allowed. However, you are camping without any hookups. No water. No sewer. No electricity. No Wi-Fi. Now cable. Nothing but dirt and sky.
  • Fresh water, as you can guess, is the drinkable water that is in a holding tank.
  • Gray water is what goes down the sinks. It’s mostly clean, but will have soap and food particles in it.
  • Black water is the tank that holds what goes down the toilet. As Cousin Eddie calls it, “The Shitter.”
Unlike Cousin Eddie, we don’t just open the valve and dump the black water wherever

One benefit to drydocking is it’s CHEAP. The only money we spend is for the gas in the generator, which averages about $15 for a week. We do not run it all day and night, usually a couple hours in the morning and again in the evening, long enough to charge the phones, battery, watch the news and make coffee.

Another benefit is it’s usually quiet. The place we’re at now is an active hunt camp, and we’re in open gun season. Also, they hunt with dogs and their pickups rather than tree stands and on foot. There’s a lot of hound sounds in the woods and in the kennels, and truck noises, but I actually enjoy the noise. The hounds’ bays can really sound unnerving, like what one might expect a banshee to sound like. The hunters also run their generators all night, which I find soothing, to be honest. I’ve read reviews from others who despise generators on principle, and we had personal experience with a grumpy German two campgrounds ago regarding our generator (We observed quiet hours, and turned it off by 8pm, he just always passively-aggressively bitched about it), but it makes a nice white noise to sleep to.

Third, if you’re wanting to GET AWAAAY FROM IT ALL as Goofy told Max, Drydocking can do it quite well. Some spots you can spend the whole time without seeing another soul. You are also “off the grid” if you turn off your location on your phone. Some places have absolutely no signal, rendering your $800 phone an expensive paperweight and solitaire machine.

Drydocking ain’t all roses, though. Literally, NO ROSES. After a couple weeks without a shower only birdbaths (remember, we try going a week on the fresh water) The camper has begun to smell like ass and feet. Thank God we’re in Florida and the weather’s warm enough to open the windows and canvases! and run the fans… and sit outside… Thank God Glade is only $1 at the Dollar Tree. Thank God for wet wipes and deodorant. And it still smells like ASS and FEET.

Also, conserving water affects how often I do dishes. To save on that, we use a lot of paper plates, plasticware and paper towels. We eat a lot of sandwiches, too. But I do cook. When I do, I make things whose leftovers can become other things. Or, that can be eaten for a few days. Chili, for example, is good to eat for a coupe days, or I can put the leftovers in a gallon ziploc and throw it in the freezer. Spaghetti becomes baked spaghetti. Grilled chicken is chicken salad or chicken spaghetti or chicken chili. But there are still those pesky dishes that must be washed. tomorrow. or the day after… gotta save that water and space in the gray tank.

Another negative with drydocking is it’s annoyingly quiet and lonely and gets boooooring without Wi-Fi or TV or an activity center or another human I don’t smell everyday to speak to (remember Ass and Feet?) It’s so quiet that every single noise makes me anxious if something just broke in the camper. It’s hard to fall asleep when you can hear the cricket farts a mile away. And I’m out of the look with what’s going on in the world. Also, we had some significant storms roll through the other day, and we might not have known we were in danger. The EMA sends out alerts on the phone, but sometimes there’s no service.

Another thing that’s a pain with drydocking is you’re usually thirty minutes from anywhere. This may not always be obvious when looking at a map. When we stayed at Butcher Pen Landing on the East River, we were a little over 5 miles from Eastpoint or Apalachicola… on the map, as the crow flies. However, Wolverine does not fly. He requires ROADS. And all roads to anywhere… gas station, grocery store, church, HOSPITAL… took a half an hour or more to get to any destination. Heck, the nearest Walmart was over an hour away!

So… we have another couple weeks of drydocking to go. We’re waiting for our upgrade to kick in and we can stay at Coast to Coasts for free. If it don’t kick in by the first, I’ll fork over the cash to stay in one… lol… $10 per night is worth a shower, I suppose. It’s cheaper than Pilot/Flying J… they charge $12 for a shower.

If anyone wants to fund our shower and put an end to our SWASS, I have a Venmo! @thekooolaidmom 😀

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And Away We Go!

When designing cars, aerodynamics are given a great deal of thought. How the air travels up, over and past the vehicle will affect the gas mileage. Our 2003 Honda Pilot, we named him “Hidalgo,” averaged about 18-21 mpg on the highway. That’s a good rate for an SUV, and the extra capacity allowed for all the gear we had to carry as traveling tent campers.

However, when speeding down an interstate at 70 miles an hour, Hidalgo encountered a bit more wind resistance, particularly against the tarped-over gear on top. A little bit of loose material on the front can allow for a lot of lift. As we rolled on down I-65 somewhere between Indianapolis and Louisville, I glanced in my side-view mirror (the rear-view was unusable due to all the stuff in the back) and saw trash bags flying through the air and onto the ground, rolling away like a lost dog trying to find its way back home.

There is no “quick stop” at 80 mph, but we pulled to the side as fast as possible. We jumped out and ran in the direction of our escaped bedding. Like a scene from a National Lampoon vacation movie, we watched in horror as a semi barreled down on a direct course to hit one bag. As the force of the tires impacted the bag, the plastic had no chance and tore away like tissue paper. Our pillows flew up and out in different directions. The wind from the trailer violently blew through my hair and flipped up my jacket as it passed on to points unknown.

We chased the pillows and unharmed bags across multiple lanes of traffic, gathered them up and returned to Hidalgo, our adrenaline still pumping and relieved we wouldn’t have to sleep on hard ground. As I packed the pillows in a new bag, I noticed the black, oily tire treads on the wine-colored fabric. Jon stood on our cooler on the grassy slope opposite the road and secured the shredded material that was a brand new tarp 80 or so miles before.

Once secure, we continued our way toward our destination for the night, but at a slower rate of speed. We also rerouted the trip to NON-interstate roads. After setting up camp, I inspected the recaptured bedding and had to laugh at what we must have looked like to other drivers. I also had to give thanks to God for our safe arrival.

We could have been killed on the highway, and for what? Dollar Store pillows and hand-me-down blankets? Like my mom always said, “God looks out for babies and fools,” and we’ve often been fools! Like a time when we were drunk and fought over some stupid stuff and I climbed onto the car hood while Jon accidentally backed into a river drop-off. God’s angels were there that night, for sure. The only thing that kept it from falling over the cliff and into the Wabash River was a small maple sapling, ten-years-old at the most.

But that’s a story for another time….

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Why We Started Ramblin’

In the Beginning….

Once upon a time we lived in a 4 bedroom house with a bath and a half, dining room, basement and utility room. I had a garden and landscaped yard. In the warm-weather mornings we sat on the front porch, drinking our coffee and watching the world go by. We had TVs, laundry machines, workout machines, gaming systems and laptops. We had various appliances on plenty of counter space in our eat-in kitchen. We had the matching living room set, pictures and clocks on the walls, and lots of clothing in several dressers. I had books, books, and more books! Thousands of books in eight or nine bookcases. I had so many books I had to stack them flat, two deep, on the shelves. I often bought a book, thinking, “I’ve always wanted to read that!” only to find I already had a copy in my library. We had a car, a business, lawn mower, air compressor and mopeds. We lived the socially-acceptable lifestyle of the pursuit of stuff and a permanent address.

We also drank… a lot. Jon was addicted to pills and meth. We fought often, had regular visits from the police and one of us… or both… went to jail at least once a year. In 2016 I bookended my year with a January and December stay in jail. One night in April, 2017, we were drinking, Jon was also high,, and we fought. I threw my ring and said I was going to file for divorce. It wasn’t the first time I had said this, but drunk and on meth, Jon hit me and began choking me. Gwen called 911, Jon went to jail, and we hit a turning point. Things had to change: either he got clean, or I was gone.

Jon chose rehab.

We knew we had to make major, drastic changes. My youngest daughter was graduating that year and leaving for boot camp, so we decided to move away from the people, places, and things. We had always done well and had peace whenever we camped, so we downsized to a 12X12 storage unit and a three-room tent. Gwen chose to join us and had her own tent, as well, and we became permanent travelers. We brought Lola and painfully rehomed all but one of our beloved kitty-babies. Titsu, alone, had the temperament to make the change and took to the harness and leash easily, even though she was already three-years-old.

We left Logansport and moved two counties over, staying at Lukens Lake Resort near the little town of Roann, Indiana. It was a peaceful, spiritually calming place. We made several new friends, one of whom was a recovering alcoholic, who facilitated a Celebrate Recovery group at the church he and his wife pastored. We discovered camp church, enjoyed the company of fellow campers and ate well at the various carry-ins.

As summer ended and the nighttime temperatures began to drop, we decided to pack up and travel south. We traded our Toyota Corolla for a Honda Pilot, stuffed as much inside as could fit, piled the rest on the roof and threw a couple tarps over it. Think: Beverly Hillbillies minus Granny on the Rocker! Along the way we’ve had many experiences and adventures, were sidetracked and had set backs, and have had victories and joys… but those are stories for another time.

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Meet the Ramblers!

Hi y’all! Thanks for stoppin’ by and spending a little of your time with us. Life on the road has sure been an adventure, and we’ve got lots of stories to tell! But first, y’all probably wanna know who we are…

The Handyman and Mechanic

Jon Boy

This here’s Jon Boy. He keeps everything in working order. His favorite tools are duct tape, Gorilla Glue and zip ties. If those can’t fix it, then it’s broke. Give this man a saw and drill, and he’ll build you a house and the furniture to put in it… literally, he build steps, tables and placards over the summer where we stayed.

Jon Boy owned his own moped and small engine repair shop for a few years before we began traveling. If he didn’t know how to fix it right away, he researched to find a solution. His business cards are still out there floating around, and he’s still getting calls to fix stuff. Sometimes he can walk a person through it over the phone or video call, but if he can’t he knows where to send them to get’er done!

Trip Planner, Writer and Driver

This is me, Alisha. I do the driving, the planning and research, and writing this blog. I love learning about new places to go, finding resources and sites for travel and meeting new people along the way. I use various sites and apps to plan our stops, especially when drydocking. I don’t want the knock on the door at 3 am telling us we’re trespassing and have to pack up and go, so it’s very important to know where we can camp, how long and if we have to call or reserve to do it. It’s also important to know if it’s tent only, or if our rig can go there. Raggedy roads are not nice on RV suspensions or keeping its contents from falling, so reviews and pictures are very important!

Beside planning the trips and stays, I cook, find the TV stations, local stores and activities in the area. Most of the time, the best things are FREE, or very little cost. We do have the occasional “budget buster,” but most of what we do is on the cheap. We do our best to always attend church every Sunday, no matter where we are, as well.

The Cheermeister

Gwen is our cheermeister. One of her nicknames is Sunshine, because she brings a ray of happiness wherever she goes. She has inspired people along the way, and she is always ready to help.

Gwen loves to play Sims 4, drink coffee, and hang out at the activity center whenever we are at a campground. She loves arts and crafts, enjoys making new friends and loves animals, especially dolphins and horses.

The two furbabies with her in this picture is Raven, on her shoulder, and Titsu, sitting beside her, wanting attention.

The Furbabies

Lola is our Rottweiller-Beagle mix.
Lola, the Reagle

This beautiful girl is Lola, as in, “whatever Lola wants, Lola gets!” She is a 7 year-old Rottweiller-Beagle mix. She hunts like Beagle and pulls like Rott, and has the loyalty of the Rottie with the friendliness of the Beagle. Her favorite things in the world are Cookies, Mommy-Daddy and her chewy. She loves the beach and eating the cats’ “Truffles.”

Mon Petite, AKA “Titsu”

Titsu, The Cat Who Lived

The beautiful and sweet, Miss T. Yes, she’s harness trained and walks on a leash! She goes by many names- Mon Petite, Simone, Sue – but we just call her Titsu (that’s what’s on her tag).

Miss Sweet T has a story… She was born premature, the only one in her litter to survive. Her mom wouldn’t have anything to do with her, but luckily we had another nursing mama. When she was 8 weeks old, she couldn’t walk and she fit in the palm of my hand, which is why we named her “Simone Birch” and called her Mon Petite (my little one). Boy, did she grow, though. She loves to travel, and has a very mellow disposition – she goes with the flow wherever we go!

Raven, the Carolina Panther

Raven, AKA “Little Boy” was adopted from the North Myrtle Beach Humane Society. He is neutered, microchipped and about a year and a half. He enjoys exploring, but hates car rides! So Raven rides in a carrier, otherwise he would wedge himself beneath the seat or in some tiny hole in the back under everything.

Though he be little, he is FIERCE! This boy can HUNT! His favorite prey include anoles, frogs and crickets. He learned stinkbugs, however, are not good eating.

Gypsy, Our Home On Wheels

Jackson Island, TN
This was our first time drydocking in the RV

Gypsy is our 2019 Rockwood Roo. She is a 19′ hybrid camper with two pop-out beds. We are self-contained, with a full fridge, stove-top, oven and double sink. I could want for more storage, but I have a feeling it’s like the fishbowl… you collect as much junk as you can fit in it.