Our first 1000 miles of RV life have been exactly what they were meant to be. Full of adventure, laughter, challenges, and things we’ll truly never forget; a cyclone warning, torrential rain and wind, a blown tire, our first couple of nights in a Walmart parking lot, and so much more.
The wheels started turning on Monday morning as we headed south towards the USA border at Niagara Falls. We didn’t rush out early, as the whole point of this trip is to relax and take our time. We had no time constraints, and there was no-where we ‘had’ to be.
I’ve not had a smooth border crossing in to the US for some time, and the trend continued. Despite having a current ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation), which is the new and ‘easier’ way to travel through the USA under the Visa Waiver Program, for land border crossings it doesn’t help at all. We pulled up to the window and straight away we were told we had to go inside.
The officer inside asked us the address of where we were staying, but Marlea had left the address in the RV. The officer says to us “I can check the white pages”. So we gave him the home owners name and town. He then says to us, “Is the home owner aged between 60-64?” Last I checked the white pages didn’t provide this information, but of course this was not a time to question the privacy of US citizens.
So officially we entered the USA, and we headed east through New York State. We stopped at Denny’s near Batavia, and it was at this point that the weather channel told us that there was a cyclone warning for North and South Carolina, which is where we were heading. The US news tends to over exaggerate things so I wasn’t sure whether this was a ‘blow your hat off’ or a ‘tie down your Motorhome’ type warning? Therefore, it was no surprise that as we started heading south in to Pennsylvania, we encountered some very heavy rain and winds. The Motorhome handled the conditions extremely well, and gave us a lot of confidence that the wind wouldn’t blow us over anytime soon.
It was after midnight by the time we pulled into a Walmart parking lot in Lewistown, for a well earned sleep.
Tuesday was a slow start. After going into to Walmart and both kids having a minor meltdown, we took some time in the Motorhome to ensure everyone was well fed and relaxed before starting off again. We had also experienced some issues with our RV 12V battery, which powers the radio and interior lights, and starts things like the generator. After buying a new one at Walmart and installing it, everything worked like new.
A few hours later we arrived in Gettysburg, and we were very excited! We drove through the downtown, and as we turned to head up towards the visitor centre, I had to take a tighter turn than I’d hoped as there was a car at the stoplights (and the streets were tiny). The back wheel clipped the gutter/curb and there was a sudden rush of air. We made it to the visitor centre before assessing the damage, as the RV still drove normally.
I won’t lie, I was furious. Firstly because I’d hit the gutter/curb, but more so because I knew the afternoon would involve sitting in the visitor centre car park rather than doing a driving tour of the battlefields. It was an unfortunate incident on the second day of RV life, but if I’m ever going to blow a tire, this is the way to do it. We weren’t travelling at high speeds, and the family was not put in any danger!
A local tire dealer popped out to put the spare tire on, and this was followed with a drive to a nearby gas station to pump up spare tire. It was at this point that I was ‘almost laughing’. The air valve was on the inside of the outer tire, making it almost impossible to attach the air pump! While the owner of the gas station tried to help me, Marlea had to be on look out for people entering the gas station… seriously!
It took me a while to find the calmness that I’d had up until this point, and nothing like peak hour traffic via Washington to get my attention back on the road. In all honesty, we had a beautiful run through peak hour and found a little mexican/indian taco joint for dinner, not too far passed the city.
We had a great night, and did books and bed time routine with the kids in the parking lot. Everyone was settled after another big day. We strapped the kids into their car seats and we were on the move again. Before we new it, the kids were asleep and the night was ours to chat and get some miles under our belt. We drove late in to the night, finally settling at 1am in another Walmart parking lot. This time we joined a number of fellow RV’ers, and we felt right at home.
Our 3rd and final day on the road to our first stop was the best so far. Our only obstacle was the sudden closure of a small country road. All the driveways on the street were narrow and to each side was a large dip for the water drainage. To add to the drama of performing a 10 point turn in a narrow driveway, the property owners dog had joined us and ran around and under the front of the RV. The owner stood and watched from the house, and eventually came down to drag the dog away.
We stopped for lunch at Greenville, North Carolina. Today we suggested the kids should go in to the food store and pick their own lunch. Dora was great, selecting a yogurt, the makings for a BBQ chicken sandwich, and a juice for herself. We opened up the RV and took an hour to just sit and watch the world go by. What’s fascinating to me is how relaxing a parking lot can be! We had parked in a shady spot near a patch of grass and it felt like our own little peace of paradise.
By mid afternoon we’d arrived at our first stop. We’d driven through Ontario, New York State, Pennsylvania, Virginia to arrive in New Bern, North Carolina. What an absolute gorgeous part of the world this is, y’all. We’ll show you around in our upcoming blogs.
Until then, happy living 🙂