Last week, someone asked what I’m struggling with… (3700 words later)
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Last week, someone asked what I’m struggling with… (3700 words later)

posted in: RVing | 27

Last week, I asked our Facebook community what topics they wanted to hear about on the podcast. One person said she wanted to hear about everything we were currently struggling with. Well Camille, I don’t think you know what you were asking.

I’m writing this post in hopes that it will bring our streak of misfortune to a halt. (Is that a thing? I hope so.)

These past two weeks of #RVlife have been brutally overwhelming.

This is a 3500 word brain dump from me, so I conveniently added in big bold section titles. Feel free to skip to the next chapter if one gets boring, just don’t miss the final End of Life chapter.

This post will make you laugh, cry, and hopefully (or not hopefully) make you think, ‘Oh yeah I’ve been there.’

Let’s start from the beginning…

Saturday, getting stood up and no good day ends at the Apple store

I love Saturday mornings at campgrounds. At most campgrounds, you’re surrounded by people on vacation who are all smiles and s’mores and campfires. This morning was no different, except that Heath and I were cleaning the RV feverishly.

We were staying in the Adirondacks to film a campground video. Heath would be flying out and spend half the week at Winnebago HQ, while I filmed the park video. That Saturday morning before he flew out, we set a meeting with the campground hosts to hear their vision for the video, hence why we were cleaning the RV. We planned to meet with them at 10:30 AM, four hours before I needed to leave to take Heath to the airport.

Then Heath’s computer crashed.

This has nothing to do with the meeting, but it was terrible timing considering he was about to fly to Iowa for a series of big meetings, all of which required a computer. We called Apple, who conveniently had a location near the airport, and set up a time to drop off Heath’s laptop. I told Heath that he could take my laptop to Iowa, no problem!

Major crisis averted, we thought.

Then we realized it was well past 10:30 AM and the campground owners still hadn’t come by for our meeting. Hours passed and they were no where to be seen. We hadn’t seem them around the campground and they hadn’t called or emailed us. Finally we couldn’t wait anymore and we hopped in the car to take Heath to Albany–an hour and a half away–for his flight.

At this point we were pretty frustrated as we’d already been at the park for two full days already and the campground owners still hadn’t met with us. They were paying us to film their park, so it was pretty annoying that we’d intentionally come to their park and they hadn’t given us the time of day.

But whatever, we told ourselves. We can make the video without their input if we have to, and if they don’t like it, it’s their fault for not trying to communicate with us.

So we make the drive to the Apple store and drop off Heath’s computer which will take 3-5 business days to repair. It’s inconvenient, but at least Apple Care will cover the cost.

Then I realize I forgot my wallet back in the RV. I’ll be driving home alone for an hour and a half without my driver’s license. Driving in states where you’re not a resident is stressful enough and now here I was with my license, or credit cards, or anything. Plus Heath would be on the plane worried about me, cause he’s kind of big worry wart when it comes to leaving me along in the rig.

I feel pretty bad, mostly because without my ID or money, I can’t make the pitstop at Walmart that I was planning. After a month in small towns across upstate New York, we desperately needed a run to a big box store to stock up on supplies (read: we were out of wine and there isn’t a liquor store with 30 miles of the campground).

At this point, we’re just having a bad day. Nothing a slice of pizza can’t fix (which we promptly ordered from Domino’s).

Then I open my laptop to make sure it’s charged for Heath…

AND IT WON’T WORK.

It’s giving me a grey screen with a blinking question mark that’s telling me it can’t find the internal hard drive. The internal hard drive with all my files and photos and everything that I’m usually good at backing up, but haven’t backed up since Christmas.

Lesson #1: Regularly back up your [computer, phone, files, hard drives].

Lesson #2: There’s obviously something in the air at Apple that infects and kills your electronics (right?).

We can’t make it to the Apple store before he leaves, not that they would be able to fix it that quickly anyway, and now neither of us have laptops. Fortunately I still have my iMac in the RV to edit film projects.

But Heath is stressed TO THE MAX that he now doesn’t have a computer to take to his meetings at Winnebago. I have all his stress recorded on my phone, because I thought our rough day would make for a comical podcast episode one day. He won’t let me release it. 😂

Monday, let it pour

They know how to do thunderstorms in the Adirondacks. It poured rain from sun up to sun down, although I saw neither. This was especially frustrating because it meant one less day I could film the park. No one sees shots of mud puddles and fog and thinks that’s where I want to spend my summer vacation.

With our laptops out of commission, Heath lost his podcast files and had no way to record an episode to go live on Tuesday. With sponsor contracts to uphold and a personal goal to never miss a Tuesday episode in 2017, Heath was not about to let a week go by without a new episode…he just had no way to record one.

As you may already know if you listen to the RVE podcast, I stepped up and our podcast editor interviewed me for an episode. It was stressful and fun and you can hear the pouring rain through the whole episode. We had to pause recording a couple times for thunder. But we finished and eliminated another huge stress point from Heath. Woo hoo! Things are looking up.

The campground owners came and knocked on my door while I was eating dinner and asked to talk about the video. In addition to the poor timing, I personally think it’s more professional to send an email or call instead of knocking on the door of someone’s house to discuss business…especially when you’re over 24 hours late for our scheduled meeting.

He was very annoyed to be talking to me instead of Heath and even more annoyed to find he was out of town (even though I run our production company and they knew ahead of time that he would be out of town BUT WHATEVER). We agreed to talk tomorrow in the AM during normal business hours.

Tuesday, Heath come home

It’s worth noting, that due to our terrible ideas about eating less sugar and trying to be more healthy, there was no chocolate in the RV. All my emotions throughout the week were 10x, AT LEAST.

Being alone in the RV wasn’t a big deal until Tuesday, day 3 without Heath.

My sister called that morning to tell me that my uncle’s health was taking a nosedive and he was going on hospice. I knew he was battling a rare blood disease, but this was sudden. She suggested I start looking at flights to come down to Texas to see him. I texted Heath to give him the update.

Two hours later, my mom called. He was gone.

As a full-time traveler, missing your family (friends, community) is the hardest thing you’ll experience on the road.

It’s hard knowing you’re missing out on the big moments. Holidays, pregnancies, and now a funeral. In our three+ years of travel, I’ve had an aunt and my grandmother pass away, but for both of those, we were in Texas and could easily spend time to be with family. This was different. For a lot of RVers, this is their worst fear, losing someone you love when you’re too far away to get home.

So there I was thousands of miles away from anyone I knew, alone in the RV. To make things worse, Heath was in meetings all day, so I knew it would hours before I could give him the news, let alone talk to him.

Wednesday, delayed

I finally heard from Heath late Tuesday night and then he was up at 4:00 AM to head to the airport for an early morning flight back to New York.

He called around 6 AM to casually tell me he was sequestered with a few hundred other passengers as there was a possible bomb in the airport. (He seems more annoyed than worried, like most busy travelers I guess.)

Turns out someone left a pressure cooker in the airport…who does that? This meant Heath’s flight was delayed so he would miss his connecting flight and he would need a whole new set of flights to Albany. So instead of a morning arrival, he won’t be in town until 6 PM.

This is really just a minor inconvenience, and something that when we’re traveling together, isn’t a big deal. But this meant one more long day alone. I also felt the added stress of buying plane tickets back home to Texas, needing to find a place to store the rig and last minute changing of plans.

Plus, this meant one more day filming alone. That morning I very pointedly told the campground owners that I run our production business, because I didn’t like their “So when will your husband be back?” attitude. They looked completely baffled by this news. I hardly look old enough to buy rated R movie tickets, let alone run a business. I get it, if my youth is the reason for their disbelief.

Finally, Heath and I reunite at sunset. I mean sunset is way more romantic than noon anyway, right?

Reunited and it feels so good

What day is it again? 

Over the next few days, Heath and I finish all our filming for the campground, try to catch up on work, re-schedule an upcoming film shoot, and buy plane tickets back to Texas. There’s a lot of sticker shock involved with buying a cross country flight five days in advance, let me tell ya.

After a lot of phone calls, we finally find a place to store the RV for a week: Campers Inn in Merrimack, NH. It’s 15 minutes from the airport and a good halfway point on the way to our next film shoot in Maine. We needed an oil change anyway.

We pack our bags, drop off the keys, and fly home to Texas.

Funerals really take it out of you. 

Our week back home in Texas was good and difficult and emotional and stressful.

You know that tightness you feel in your chest when you’re stressed? The way you can’t fall asleep? The way you can’t think straight because your thoughts are being pulled in a million directions? The way you can’t really eat because your stomach is constantly nauseated?

Overwhelmed is really the only word that fully describes it. Emphasis on the over.

My laptop still wasn’t working. We couldn’t drop it off in Albany since we wouldn’t be staying in New York long enough to get it fixed and they would have to ship it to another Apple store…of which there were none on our foreseeable route.

Without a laptop, I couldn’t get much work done, not that I was in much of a state to accomplish much anyway. I tried to push work from my mind and focus on spending time with family. But with launch tickets for our RVE Summit next week, I felt the stress of needing to work BIG TIME. It definitely made the high tension in the house worse with Heath and I bickering about business decisions.

Although I will say my mood was probably 10% from circumstances and 90% from the 100+ degree weather. This is (I’m not kidding here) why we started RVing. Follow the weather, people. Everyone’s frazzled when it’s hotter than Jennifer Aniston outside.

Sorry kids, we can’t afford to send you to college anymore. 

I picked up my phone to text my cousin and instantly dropped it.

Of course here we were, my last day in Texas and I break my phone. A fitting end to our long two weeks (really wish the story ended with “and then my phone broke and I had to spend 10 hours in airplanes and airports with no phone or compute” but that’s too forgettable of an ending, I’d say).

On the morning of our flight back to New Hampshire and RV life, Heath finally got a hold of Campers Inn. He called and left messages earlier in the week, but they hadn’t replied. Our flight wouldn’t arrive until after they closed and we wanted to make sure they left our keys in the hot water heater. (Wait, should I publicly post that this is where everyone hides their spare keys?)

They said that was no problem if we settled our bill now over the phone. It would just be $450.

Um, I’m sorry I think I had an aneurism.

Pretty sure you quoted me $150-$200 initially and even that gave me pause. Oil changes in RVs are pricey, but that is highway robbery.

The service shop told us matter of factly that replacing our windshield wipers alone was $150. What! We asked them to replace one windshield wiper and I may be young and naive about a lot of things, but I’m 100% positive changing one windshield wiper shouldn’t cost $150.

But what can you do? They had already done the work, and they can’t undo it.

Heath got them to knock $40 off our bill, but $400 was still a shock to the system.

If only that was the only thing Campers Inn screwed up.

End of life? 

I am going to teach you something right now that may well save your life:

Never let your batteries in your RV die. Period.

This shortens their lifespan and can cause significant issues with your electrical system.

For this reason, when you take your RV to the shop, mechanics always turn off your batteries. Leaving any RV (rigs with solar panels excluded) unattended for too long will drain the house battery, especially if your fridge is on.

Turning off your batteries is easy. For us, this is a simple switch near our door. Easy to spot, easy to push.

Well, Campers Inn in Merrimack did not turn off our batteries. So for the week we were in Texas, our three heavy duty marine batteries DIED.

Inside the rig, not a lot happens when your batteries die. Even our LED lights don’t work.

Which made arriving back at our RV at 10:30 PM on a Saturday night after a day of travel REALLY annoying. Not the worst experience of my life (that’ll happen in 20 minutes), but frustrating.

I assume using power from our engine battery, our control panel was lit with the standard !!DEAD BATTERY!! FAULT!!, so if the lack of power didn’t give us a clue, the exclamation points let us know we needed to plug into electricity ASAP.

We plug our rig into the electrical post conveniently three feet away and start to charge up our batteries. Exhausted, we toss our suitcases on the couch, look around the rig to make sure nothing was stolen, and flop into bed ready for a peaceful night’s sleep finally back in our home.

Cue the most shrill, piercing, deafening alarm of all time.

I’ve heard our carbon monoxide alarm.

I’ve heard our smoke detector.

This is something different. Something LOUDER.

Something we can’t see, find, or even locate the origin of the sound because it’s echoing off the walls and Heath and I are screaming at each other just to communicate over the commotion. (If you like loud annoying sounds, JUST WAIT until we release this vlog.)

Something similar to this happened in our old rig, Franklin. We stored him while we were in Alaska and the carbon monoxide detector would go off when the battery died. This is standard in all RVs, from my understanding. It’s a good failsafe to let you know “hey BTW I’m a super important life saving device and you should charge your batteries if you want me to work!” If you always keep your batteries charged and taken care of, you can avoid living through this loud hell.

So here we are standing in our RV, which has both slides in because we were too tired to even pop them out when we got into the RV 20 minutes ago. Heath has headphones over his ears to dampen the sound. We’ve bumped into each other 52 times as we lap the RV searching for the source of the sound to no avail. I’m waiting for someone to appear and yell at us for interrupting their sleep, but thankfully we are the only overnighters at the service shop.

What do you do in this situation?

We can’t find where the noise is coming from, the 50 AMP hook up is in the middle of charging our batteries back up slowly, and there’s only solution I can find to end the alarm: flip the switch and turn off the battery.

No power, no loud noise, right?

I flip the switch and we plunge into silent darkness.

Even plugged into 50 AMP, without the batteries on, nothing in the RV works. No lights, no A/C, no fridge. Oddly enough the microwave is still lit 00:00.

And since we don’t know the cause of the alarm, we aren’t sure if we’re actually unconsciously breathing in toxic gases. We don’t smell propane and we’re pretty certain that it isn’t the carbon monoxide detector, which is in our bedroom. This is coming from the center of our RV, and the smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector are on opposite ends. I look beneath our oven for a propane detector–this is where ours was in our first rig–and don’t see one. But of course, we’re using Heath’s cell phone light to scour the rig at this point.

I open the windows in case of a gas leak and Heath tries to diagnose the cause using the manual to no avail. We decide our only option is to turn the battery back on and pray that the alarm doesn’t go off again. If it does, we’ll keep searching for the cause. Or go deaf.

We do this three times, letting the alarm slay our ear drums for a minute or two before we plunge back into darkness.

Finally we find the bugger, a light brown panel beneath the fridge because the way-too-good-at-their-jobs designers at Winnebago made sure the RV propane alarm wouldn’t conflict with the aesthetics of the RV. So in a year and a half, we never noticed the little guy. We press the mute button and finally enjoy silence…for thirty seconds before we hear a warning beep, just like the beep we heard when we walked into the RV half an hour earlier.

We get down on our hands and knees to read the writing on the panel. It l tells us that the blinking red red with the alarm means one thing: END OF LIFE.

Dear everyone in manufacturing,

Never label anything as end of life, unless you would like panic to ensue. 

Sincerely,

Panicked woman who now thinks that despite the lack of a smell, she’s about to die from inhaling too much propane

I’m guessing after reading the entire section of the manual (by the light of Heath’s iPhone) that by end of life, they mean that the system isn’t getting enough power and is therefore revolting violently against us with unrivaled passion. Their end goal is simple: make us want to end our lives to avoid ever hearing the world’s most earsplitting sound ever again.

There’s only one solution: charge up the batteries. And since the batteries weren’t charging fast enough on 50 AMP while they were still on, we have no choice but to turn them off. Back to the darkness, the no A/C or fans, the eery silence of an RV dealership parking lot.

I’m really cursing Campers Inn at this point. They not only overcharged us, they killed my batteries–which they should be smart enough to know isn’t good for them–and now it’s nearly midnight. I’m wide awake, hungry, and paranoid that there could be a propane leak.

It took three episodes of Parks and Rec and a number of Oreos until we relaxed and fell into restless sleep.


Now I really hope that our saga of bad experiences is over.

Knock on wood, throw salt over your shoulder, and whatever other weird thing people do to avoid jinxing themselves.

I’m not sure I can emotionally handle much more stress.

On their own, all these things are inconveniences or realities of life. Cram them into two weeks and I’m struggling. I’m cranky, tired, quick to anger, and Sunday morning we woke up in the RV to a just-home-from-out-of-town empty fridge which meant no creamer for coffee.

I wanted to pull the comforter over my head and tell Heath to leave me there all day.

So that, Camille, is what we are struggling with in the Padgett RV this week…in excruciating detail. Now excuse me, I still need to get over the Verizon store to replace my phone.

What’s the biggest struggle you’re tackling this week? 

Feeling stressed? Read Heath’s article: 101 Ways to Get Rid of Stress and Quit Being So Lame (Note: #69 likely won’t apply to everyone)


Related: Two books I’m reading right now that I highly recommend if you’re struggling with stress:

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story By Dan Harris

There’s No Good Card for This: What to do when life is scary, awful, and unfair to people you love By Kelsey Crowe & Emily McDowell

Follow Alyssa Padgett:

Travel blogger

Second half of Team Padgett and full-time traveler in our Winnebago Brave. I blog about our travels, how I run our production company from the road, and the ridiculous things Heath does on a daily basis. My husband thinks I'm funny.

  • Lindsay McKenzie

    Oh my gosh guys!!! This trumps the day we ran over the computer x 10!! I knew you guys lost a family member, but I’m so so so sorry to hear it was that sudden and during everything else that was going on. Sending hugs!!! Someday we will be sitting in our rocking chairs looking back on this craziness we call life and laughing, right?

  • Well shoot, a bit of a can of worms question I asked. Let me first say that I’m sorry about your uncle. Being away from family and friends, especially in a time like that is so hard. My step-mom got diagnosed with cancer three months after we left and I feel guilty everyday.

    The other stuff sounds really, truly frustrating. And scary too. Not having creamer for coffee has to be the worst though. I genuinely relate to that. I’m not sure I would have kept my composure with the campground owners though.

    The thing about all of this is that by the looks of things, much seems to be well, so I very much appreciate you guys pulling back the covers to show some of the challenges too. Yes I definitely relate to all of it and likely others will too. By the way the fact that you worked through all of this and didn’t stay under the covers is really impressive.

    Lastly, I can’t believe you dropped a Jennifer Aniston reference. That is just so 90s–and I love it!

    • Haha I think it was a good prompt! Good writing therapy at the very least.

      I must agree though, the creamer was the worst part. When you start your day like that, you just have no hope.

      And Jennifer Aniston is flawless! We were watching friends yesterday and I swear she looks exactly the same!

  • Eric Heltzel

    Ha! Awesome post! How many Campers Inn employees were injured the next day? This is a great post that proves full timing is not always just campfires, bottles of wine, and mountain views.

    I’m sorry to hear about your uncle. We’ve lived far away from family for 10+ years and coping with death/illness over long distances can be torturous. I was able to visit my mother many times before she lost her fight with cancer, but I was on an early flight to see her when she died. She had assured me many times that she was proud of me and the life I’d chosen. I’m sure your uncle was also happy that you’re out living the life you want.

    • Man, if it wasn’t a Sunday and they opened before we left that morning, a few people would’ve gotten an ear full. They will have to settle for some bad online reviews.

      Yes, the long distances can be torturous, but I like what your mom told you. Gives me really good perspective!

  • Andrea Elkins

    Ouch. I had no idea you had such a rough time lately; you are both good actors and resilient people. Sorry for your various losses.
    Also, love your writing style (if I haven’t already told you). See you in February!

  • aribadler

    You had a really bad string of luck, but, hey, you got an awesome blog post out of it that we’re all enjoying — not because of your problems but because of your writing style. So, there’s your silver lining. 🙂 You both have a huge network of supporters out here who are always pulling for you. If you ever have issues piling up again like this, consider reaching out. You never know when one of us might know something or someone, or have some ability to help. By the way, not everyone knows this, but when you are booking a last-minute flight due to a family emergency or a funeral, airlines will sometimes give you a discount on your ticket. I’m not sure all of them do that any more, but it’s worth asking. Of course, it would be even better if no one ever had a reason to ask for that discount, but as you well know, things happen.

    • Thanks Ari! I actually thought about calling the airline, but went for the ease of booking online. Will have to look into that next time…which hopefully doesn’t happen!

  • Things here have been blissfully quiet for two weeks, as wife is back in Portland welcoming the new great-grandbaby. (I have decreed that I am to be addressed as “GreatGrandDude”. Temps are finally back in the low 80’s, the dogs are sleeping quietly, and some woman on the east coast is getting all problems that were to have been routed my direction.

  • ERMAGHERD!! Just want to hug you both right now.

  • Courtney Hess

    Laughed, cried, and totally been there… what is up with people being so weird and sometimes outright rude and unkind about a lady in her mid twenties running a successful business? I get so weary of telling people I run a vacation rental management company and then they smile and go so who do you work for? Me. I work for me. I’m the boss! I built this company from nothing! I go get clients, and then I make them happy and provide a great vacation for you. Yes, I actually own this company, yes, it’s legit, yes, my name is on the business license, and yes, it’s alllllll me. And no I’m not 18. Sighhhhs. Sorry that happened. But happy to know I’m not the only one fighting for some validation. Cheers, young lady!

    • Glad to know I’m not alone…even if it’s a sucky thing to be together on 🙂

  • Emily

    Wow. Wow. Wow. Oh Man! Holy Cow! What a week. I’m sorry to hear about your loss and I hope from here on out your weeks get better and better. Maybe a trip back down to the Keys would help. 🙂

    • Thanks Emily! I think a trip back to the Keys is the only solution, really.

  • Bill Widmer

    Oh no!!! That’s a terrible two weeks. 🙁 Hope it’s getting better for you! (Totally LOL’d at the part about the end of life alarm)

  • Phyllis

    Totally enjoyed your tales of your troubles!!! So sorry, but I am laughing aloud. Eventually it will be funny for you too! Thanks for sharing such intimacies (even where you hide your key..lol).

    As for me. Today I am struggling with an RV related topic.. nothing nearly as dramatic as yours, but I feel annoyed because this life is supposed to mean freedom, but we had planned to be in Boise for November, but turns out it will be too cold! I’m being somewhat of a baby, but this freedom seems to come with a lot of restrictions!

    • Hahaha, well it’s up in the mountains of course it’s too cold! We typically snowbird in California or in the south where we can enjoy temperate winters. Look at it this way, you have the freedom to go anywhere with great weather 🙂

  • I’m very sorry for your loss. I’m sure that was tough.

    And what a stretch of tests. When it rains, it pours! Ihope things have leveled off a bit now.

  • Doug C

    WTF! No podcast this week? I had to go back and listen to some old one. JK!

    Life has a way of coming at you hard sometimes. Sounds like it was a stressful and emotionally draining week. I am very sorry for your loss. And go punch that pompous resort owner in the $!@#. No one deserves to be treated the way you all were treated, female or not Common courtesy says they should have at least notified you that they were not going to make the meeting.

    Any more stories like this one and you may change my mind about going full-time. I want to get away from stress, not add it.

    I hope your week has gotten back on track and you’ve found a supply of chocolate and wine.

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  • Oh I know it’s a cliche but it is for a reason, when it rains it pours! One at a time, most of us can tackle these things, but when they pile up…well frankly I’m surprised it only took 3 Parks and Rec episodes 🙂 I hope this week is WAY smoother!

  • Bridgette

    Guuuuuuurl, I want to give you a giant size glass of wine and huge hugs. What a mess. I know that stress you speak of. It is as if your head is going to pop off like on a cartoon from the pressure cooker feeling in your chest. I would be LIVID that they charged double the price. Seems mechanics like to bend you over no matter the type of vehicle eh? 😒

    Kudos on you for injecting humor into it in this post so soon after it all happened.

    Oh the attitude of “little lady where is your keeper” burns my chops. Get used to it in a large part of Europe. Doesn’t take away from it but just helps see little man syndrome is really a global issue. I enjoyed being the loud American that shut them up quickly.

    Again, sorry to hear about your families loss. We lost loved ones while in Europe….it is heart breaking in its own way to not be there. To feel almost guilty for doing what is best for you and missing them. Giant hugs. At this point may want to sacrifice a goat.. knocking on wood is for the easy level. 😝

    • Haha, thanks Bridgette! Yes a global issue, and really annoying one at that. I’ll keep my eyes open for a goat to sacrifice… 😜