Hi everyone. In our last post Rich shared how we finished our cross-country journey to Massachusetts. This was something of a feat for us as we lived in our RV for 15 months in California before ever driving it anywhere.
We had good reasons for staying there so long. I had a lucrative recruiting contract with an end date that was pushed out several times. We also had multiple RV projects that we wanted to complete before we got on the road.
It doesn’t hurt that we love California weather and that most of our friends live in the Golden State. Some of our family members were betting that we’d never leave!
In fairness to us, we needed to ease into the RV lifestyle. In 2010 we gave up our apartment to get on the road, and in 2012 we sold 95% of our belongings, bought a new motor home and modified it pretty extensively.
We felt a little bit crazy as we made these life-changing moves without ever having slept in an RV. The first year I was content to make sure that we both liked living in this 280 square-foot box we call home.
When we finally did hit the road I was secretly nervous that we might not like moving our home around the countryside due to its size. We knew we could always park it back in long-term RV Park, so that was a good thing. Many people live in one or two RV parks year-round and wouldn’t have it any other way.
After arriving in Massachusetts the last thing Rich and I wanted to worry about was if we even liked the RV lifestyle in the first place. Traveling like a turtle with a 7-ton home on your back isn’t for everyone. The good news is that we both give it a thumbs up so far.
Gosh, what a confession and a bit of a rant. For any of you who have made the RV transition, I’m sure you can relate. For any of you who are considering “full-time” RV living, I imagine you can understand my fear.
Ahhh…we made another good choice! In the future we’ll slow our traveling down some to balance our time, energy, and money.
BaseCamping in Massachusetts – August 2013
Back to our time in Massachusetts. For the first few weeks we got caught up on work, and we were both glad to have access to reliable high-speed internet. When you’re working from an RV you never take internet access for granted.
I was also glad to trade out the road noise for the sounds of chirping birds and some peace and quiet. Should you ever decide to work from an RV, I recommend limiting your working time to non-travel days – unless travel is part of your job description.
On the trip I’d quickly realized that trying to work while helping to navigate isn’t the best plan. We find that it works best to function as a team when driving through city interchanges and especially on the twists and turns of ground streets. I honed my navigating skills to a science, and that subject deserves a separate post later.
I also happen to enjoy road trips with Rich, as we both like reading signs and observing the changes in topography, and road trips aren’t nearly as fun when you’re working.
Back to Massachusetts – We started most mornings relaxing and sipping coffee outside in our lounge chairs. Rich and I are devout coffee lovers, and the outdoor coffee drinking before work is a routine we started in the RV park in Tustin, CA. It’s one of life’s little luxuries that you can take advantage of when you work from home.
Rich’s mom’s back yard is very pleasant, and made a perfect place to sit. It’s a large lawn (compared to California yards) full of flowers and a nice vegetable garden. It’s bordered by trees, so has good privacy and lots of shady spots to relax. There was also a resident woodchuck, which is no surprise, given the garden.
During evenings and weekends we hung out with family, enjoying the little things you do when you’re neighbors – like cookouts (fresh New England Corn on the Cob is amazing!), watching movies, doing puzzles, and playing cribbage.
We also enjoyed the company of some family visitors. Rich’s sister came out from Boston several times with her dog, Toby, and Rich’s nephew visited from North Carolina for a few weeks. It was great to catch up with family – and we met some new friends, too.
It was also great to catch up with with my daughter and to spend time seeing her and our ‘shared’ cat, Gracie. Gracie is the family “Princess”, who lived with us for 12 years before we started traveling in 2010. These days she is even more spoiled than when we had her, which I love.
Campgrounds in Western MA
Our original plan was to visit Rich’s mother for a couple weeks, and then head to a campground for the rest of our time in Massachusetts, as we do need to stay focused on work and it’s also helpful to have hookups when you live in an RV.
There’s nothing specifically wrong with any of these campgrounds, however they were all a little different than we were expecting. Peaceful Pines in particular had only 1 or 2 available spaces that were too small for our RV, and was predominantly full of seasonal residents living in half travel trailer half cabin-type structures. Lamb City is probably the best option in the immediate area, but again it’s mostly populated by seasonal residents and only had a few sites in an open field available for short term visitors like us.
The driveway we were staying in was looking better and better, and ultimately we decided to stay. That’s one of the nice thing about this lifestyle– you have a certain degree of flexibility with your plans.
New England Weather
Southern Californians are spoiled when it comes to weather. Most days are sunny and dry with a gentle onshore breeze. Rain is a great excuse to stay home and relax – I’ve even had Californians cancel business meetings due to rain!
When we first arrived in California 15 years ago we found this funny, but after more than a decade of living there I confess that we’ve become somewhat soft and just a bit whiny – something we’ll have to shed going forward. 🙂
Fortunately when we arrived in New England the weather was perfect. Blue skies with gentle, warm air. Just the kind of weather we had hoped for. However, it didn’t take long before we needed to adjust to New England’s often-temperamental weather swings.
One week it rained for 5 days in a row, which takes on a new dimension in an RV. We had to adjust to the sound of rain pattering loudly on our fiberglass roof (EPDM and rubber roofs are quieter), and the mud that you invariably track all over your floor.
Then it got super hot and muggy for a week. It felt like we were living in a rain forest! Nothing would dry including our bath towels and we were glad to have access to an electric dryer.
The hot and humid spell was followed by a cold snap where the nighttime temps dropped into the 30’s for a week.
About the time I gave up on the weather being nice it decided to turn absolutely perfect again. Go figure, that’s how weather works in New England. The saying in these parts is: “If you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes.”
Even with the weather swings we didn’t use our central air or heat as we were plugged into an outside 20 amp outlet (vs. 30 amp at most RV parks). We didn’t want to blow a fuse in Rich’s mom’s house by drawing too much power, and even though the AC only uses around 15 amps when you factor in the fridge, charging our computers/phones, and things like the converter that charges your house batteries, it’s easy to pull too much.
Instead we used fans during the hot spell, and our portable electric heaters during the cold spell, and were moderately comfortable. If you’re in an RV and not plugged into 30 or 50 amp power it helps to be prepared for shifts in weather.
RVs and Moisture
Another thing you need to pay attention to in an RV is humidity and moisture. Excessive moisture causes mold, mildew, odors, and rust. While this isn’t an issue in the southwest due to the dry air, this is a big problem on the east coast. To combat this we took the following measures:
- We bought a DampRid Moisture Absorber. DampRid is a non-powered system that consists of a bucket with a plastic mesh above it that you fill with crystals. The crystals pull moisture out of air that passes through them and the moisture turns to water and fills the little bucket. We place our DampRid on the bathroom floor.
- We bought a compact dehumidifier, which we turn on when it gets extra humid. In general the DampRid works as well if not better than the dehumidifier, however you do need to buy DampRid Refill Packs regularly, whereas the dehumidifier requires only electricity.
- We use our bedroom fantastic fan a lot. Ours is a vent fan which means that it draws air out of the RV. It works best when you open a window in the front of the RV as this creates a draft that pulls air through the living area and into the bedroom and then outside.
- When plugged into full hookups we periodically use our air conditioner or heat pump, depending on which is appropriate. Either central system does a good job of removing moisture from the air.
If you have any suggestions or moisture management tips that you use in your RV we’d love to hear from you in the comments. Funny stories are always welcome too!
In my next post I’ll talk about our tour of the Boston Freedom trail, which will include some tips about visiting Boston, Massachusetts. Until next then, thanks for joining us!