September: A Month of Adversity, Blessings, and the Broken Refrigerator

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Good morning from Lake Ontario! Don’t worry, we’re on the American side. I haven’t written any travel updates lately, so here’s a little glimpse into our past month on the road:

new york adversity

Yesterday, Heath and I began driving east with little direction. We clicked avoid toll roads on the GPS, which kicked us off of I-90, and started navigating us through picturesque New York countryside. We listed Vermont as our destination, with plans to stop somewhere, anywhere along the way. We passed half a dozen front yards selling pumpkins and fresh vegetables. Dazzling yellow leaves fell off the trees as we drove by like flower girls christening the pathway for the bride.

We’ve talked a lot lately about our schedule. In September, we took a week off in Texas to give Franklin some TLC, which pushed us back an extra week when we were already behind. We worked jobs in Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. (Although we’ve driven through or visited Tennessee, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and now New York, we won’t work jobs in these states until later).

Niagara Falls in autumn
a little pit stop at Niagara Falls

Now we’re driving in New York, staring out of the window at the smooth Lake Ontario, listening to seagulls flying overhead.

We’re about three weeks behind our original schedule.

But it’s hard to be too worried. This has been one of our best months of travel. We finally made it out of the midwest thunderstorms, we’ve been free from anything above 80 degrees since leaving Oklahoma, and we’re watching the leaves change into vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges.

autumn colors leaves

September has been a landmark month. It marked our halfway point in travel time. Yesterday we celebrated four full months on the road. I’ve mentioned our “blessings journal” before. Since the beginning of August, I’ve recorded every kindness we’ve received from free cupcakes, to a place to stay, to t-shirts. This month, our blessings have doubled and we’ve been continuously humbled by the kindness extended to us.

During the month of September, we’ve stayed 18 out of 30 nights with friends or family or even complete strangers, saving us approximately $400 on lodging for the month. All of our free lodging has also come with lovely people taking us out for meals or cooking for us, which knocked out about $300 off our grocery bill this month. Plus, we’ve been blessed with free glasses of wine, free craft beer, plenty of t-shirts from our jobs, and even had someone come out and plug our gas line when Heath accidentally cut it (for free!).

Perhaps to balance out our good fortune, we’ve also spent a lot of time in mechanic shops this month. From trouble with our battery earlier this month, our refrigerator has completely stopped working and our brake pads needed replacing. As the mechanic said with slight horror, one of our brake pads simply came off. They found pieces of it jammed in various places, explaining the very sudden horrendous sound coming from under the hood. Howard, in the small town of Geneva, Ohio, replaced our brake pads in less than two hours while we worked at the McDonald’s next door. The bill came out to half of his original estimate.

the hole where our refrigerator used to be

Our refrigerator is a beast of its own. It can’t be fixed, only replaced. We tried “burping” it, where you take out your fridge and lay it on its side to redistribute the chemicals that make it run. (This is how Heath accidentally cut our gas line). Until we can afford buying a new refrigerator, we’re using our freezer as an ice box. Fortunately, this keeps us from making unwise decisions. No more frozen pizzas, frozen chicken, frozen vegetables, ice cream. We can only eat fresh food. This means more trips to the grocery store, but it also means we’re eating better, healthier foods.

While we’re behind schedule, fridge-less, and busy praying that nothing else on the RV breaks, we’re in love with our grand adventure.

There’s something about adversity, or perhaps constant adversity would be a better term to describe RV travel, that sharpens your ability to feel gratitude. The more hardship we face, the more thankful we are for the good. Like finding this hidden gem of an RV park where we’re parked less than 50 feet from one of the greatest lakes in north America. (Lake Ontario is the smallest of the great lakes, and it still feels like staring out over the ocean).

We’ll always be facing opposition of some kind. Whether it be melting ice creating a pool in the bottom of my freezer, or the challenge of working twice as many jobs in the month of October. We’ve been faced with great challenges on the road, but each one has led us to something good, something better than where we would be if nothing bad had come along to correct us.

rv on lake ontario