When Vacations go Wrong VI

We spent another day, sorting. My In-laws had left and we were on our own again.

We filled the U-Haul that we got the previous day. Sorting had been much easier since we didn’t have to be as picky. I almost had to give up some kitchen tools that I happen to like. These were things I used every day but were not that expensive to replace. Of course, as little as each item cost, it does add up.

Cornstarch and water make great entertainment.

Michala playing with cornstarch to entertain Ethan

We found the corn starch and Michala used it to entertain Ethan. It was a mess, but it was a change from the grey dust I washed off of him at the hotel the last two nights.

It was another long day, but it was much more productive. I gave away the huge beef brisket that we were supposed to cook in Vermont with the family. There was no way we would be able to keep it frozen in the U-Haul for another day.

We went back a little earlier that night. I suggested that I stay at the hotel the next day with Ethan as he started to become restless. There wasn’t much I could do anyway. Going into the camper would trigger my allergies. Apparently, we had a mold problem.

It was almost over. We’d be on our way to Vermont soon.

When Vacations Go Wrong V

You can check the beginning here: http://nancieswebonline.com/blog/?p=1288

Nathan

Nathan

Another day of sorting ahead of us. The adrenaline has worn off and we were all feeling depressed and overwhelmed. I really didn’t want to sort anything today. The hotel was nice and the internet worked better during the day when people were out and about doing their thing. There’s nothing like YouTube videos and Facebook drama to forget about your problems.

However, they won’t go away unless they are addressed and solved. So I went with everyone else to sort through our stuff.

My MIL watched Ethan for the most part, and it helped out a lot as it was one less thing on my mind.

The original plan was to use both my in-laws van and the rental. Fill it with as much of our stuff as possible and both of us head towards Vermont.

Unfortunately, my FIL was starting to have health problems. It turns out that he was dehydrated, from not drinking enough water so that he wouldn’t have to stop as much. They were going to stay one more day so that he could recover then drive the 6-8 hours back.

We were then looking at two other options: 1. get a Rental Unit, pack our stuff there for now until we head back or 2. get a U-Haul and take what isn’t broken with us.

We figured that it is possible that we may be staying in VT for longer than anticipated. So getting a rental unit would cost us more than getting a U-Haul.

Sorting stuff

Sorting stuff. There’s more where that came from.

Around 5:00P.M – We had a lot sorted, but there was so much more to go. It was surprising on how much stuff survived. We decided on a U-haul. It was mostly because we weren’t sure how long we would be in Vermont. This will also allow us to take some electronics with us that we can’t test on the spot, due to no electricity nearby.

We were supposed to be “right behind” my in-laws after they left, but ended up staying a full two hours later. I took Ethan to the hotel room right away. Nathan and Michala went swimming and I helped Ethan wash up in the sink. For some reason, he was deathly afraid of the tub.

He fell asleep rather quickly and I was able to go online for a little while. I don’t think anyone stayed up that late that night.

What’s we need

Motor Home

Motor home similar to the one we are looking at.

All of the insurance money came in. A total of $7000. This can buy a it van that might last us a couple of years, or get us a motor home off of Craigslist.

But not both. We need both.

On the one hand, getting a motor home will allow us have a place to sleep once we make it to Texas. We have a loft in the shed that we were going to make into a bedroom for Nathan.

On the other hand, we also need a vehicle that will fit all eight of us. It would be difficult to take hour home to church every week. And forget our monthly family trips to Tyler for bulk shopping. The scion can only seat 5, including the driver.

We could make two trips to church in the small car, but going out to games, school functions, and church functions would be very difficult, if not impossible.

So one plan is to get a Motor home. Take that with us to Texas, then see what we can do for a car. Actually we will be looking for a house there, too.

The one we are looking at at the moment is close to $10000. It’s nice, but I don’t think we will be able to talk them down enough to purchase it outright. We will see tonight.

We need to sell our House

House For Sale in Brandon, VT

The house we are trying to sell

We’ve been in financial limbo for the most part because we haven’t been able to sell our house.

A lot has been going on, and we are working to build up from that. Unfortunately, we cannot keep the house, unless we can find some other sort of income.

I have worked on a few ideas, including an app game. Unfortunately, everything is in the beginning stages. My brother tried my game and gave me a few ideas to improve it. So it’s there if you like jump-scares, for 99 cents.

I have a Cafe Press store that I’ve had for a while, but nothing has come of it, yet. Base prices were fairly high. A recent check has shown me that they brought down their prices. I may still pursue that route.

There are other ideas, but since we are in the beginning, but the mortgage is a dead weight to our plans. What’s more, this winter, we will have to heat it and pay utilities to keep it heated.

sigh

The first step in solving a problem is to identify it.

I’ve already posted the Zillow link on Facebook with hopes that it might get some exposure. The question now is, how do I get even MORE people to share on Facebook…

When Vacations Go Wrong IV

See the first part here: http://nancieswebonline.com/blog/?p=1288

It was like a palace compared to the last motel. We stayed at the Comfort Inn that night. The room was huge. As a matter of fact, it was larger than our Camper. It had two queen-sized beds, and a pull out couch. It also had an extra sink, a small kitchen table, a microwave and fridge.

The WiFi was free. Certainly better than nothing, and it was slightly better than most places that have a large amount of people using it. I decided to check in FB and Emails. There are a lot of people offering to help, asking if we needed anything.

Need? I started to go through the items we lost. We did lose a lot, but we didn’t NEED anything. We had a place to sleep. We had food. We found enough clothing for a couple of days, and we had temporary transportation. What’s more, we had WiFi! I responded to everyone saying that I will get back to everyone when we are settled in VT.

It was pretty late by the time we got there. Nathan brought his Xbox to test and it turns out that it worked fine. I set my laptop on the WiFi, but I was too tired to blog. So I spent some time on Facebook for a while.

Then I took a nice long shower.

The next day, we went to Walmart and grabbed more tubs. Mike had already bought a few, but after going through some of the stuff the previous night, we decided that we definitely didn’t have enough.

Mike’s parents had called us the previous day to let us know that they were coming to help us out. The plan was to use both their van and the rental to transport as much stuff as possible. Possibly even getting a storage unit and pick up the rest on the way back.

When they got here, it was already evening. My MIL took Ethan  to the swing set for a bit which allowed me to do more sorting.

Ethan had been handling everything pretty well. He mostly played in the dirt mostly and I had giving him plastic containers to play with. We did find some of his sand toys which got him really busy. While this help a little, it was nice that I didn’t have to worry about him for a while and focus on sorting.

It wasn’t long before it was time to leave. The sun was setting and it wouldn’t be long before we couldn’t see anything. The owners of the tow yard assured us that they do keep the place pretty locked up, so it isn’t likely that someone would come in trying to steal anything.

We put what we could into the tubs and then pushed the tubs under the camper.

Nathan's Birthday cookie

Nathan’s 16th birthday cookie.

The older kids went into the pool with my in-laws. My MIL had bought Nathan a giant cookie for his birthday, so we sung happy birthday in the pool area.

I then went to the room and changed Ethan into his swimming clothes. Then I took him to the pool. This was a big mistake. Ethan would not get out of the pool and started to have a meltdown when I finally got him out.

Nathan played on the XBox again, but only for a little while. I let him play until 2 in the morning last time. Mostly because I was too exhausted to say anything, and I knew that everyone needed an outlet. This time I told him we all need sleep.

Skip right to “When Vacations Go Wrong V” or go to the next post.

When Vacations Go Wrong III

See the first part here: http://nancieswebonline.com/blog/?p=1288

Inside the door of Camper

Everything that filled the cabinets and shelves are now on the floor. That black stuff on the cabinet was potting soil.

I woke up early Wednesday morning. Mike talked to the insurance agent already and the plan was to empty the car first.

As soon as the insurance company got wind from the tow yard that the car rolled over, they totaled it. Since the insurance company didn’t have a contract with this particular tow yard, they were coming to take it to move it to another tow yard.

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The bag of M&Ms opened during the rollover. They were EVERYWHERE!

So Mike and Nathan started to make trips back and forth, with grocery bags. It took a while. They had to sift through the glass and M&M’s and other random pieces of items that were shoveled into the car in a hurry.

Ethan’s cars, pencils, and blankets; USB charging cables, charging adapters, a thumb drive (phew!), pillows, unopened and unused damaged food packages, headphones and earbuds, my Leatherman knife, sunglasses (which were now scratched up), Michala’s drawing supplies and notebooks.

We all spent most of our time on our phones, answering questions, sorting things out with the insurance agency. We found out that our hotels and meals were covered, but not the rental. We needed to get around somehow, so Mike contacted the rentals anyway.

We were not able to get a car that would suit our needs until 5:00 pm. Until then, we could only throw out broken items. We had no way of sorting anything.

Between phone calls from family, friends, and the insurance agent, Mike took pics of broken, valuable items. Michala and Nathan talked to their friends on their phones. And I kept an eye on Ethan while recording videos and taking photos.

Mike removed the wired shelf and found my coffee grinder, unbroken. It was a $20 item, but for some reason I got excited. In hindsight I guess, I just wanted some good news, no matter how seemingly insignificant.

At one point, I stepped into the front door of the camper. I couldn’t go far, but I could see the master bedroom. There was a gaping hole on one side. This prompted me to check my phone.

40% chance of rain.

I told Mike about the weather. We decided to make moving all items that were not destroyed but not water proof to the other side of the room. This means clearing a path to the bedroom and then sorting the good stuff from the bad.

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That bright light just beyond Mike is from the outside.

It sounded easy, but considering that the soil no longer filled the planters I brought, we would be looking for some form of shovel.

I shifted my “Garden Box”, a little bit sad that I finally had tomatoes producing and they now decorated the walls and wire shelves. There was a strong scent of basil as I had a plant growing with the tomatoes as well.

We did manage to clear most of the floor when I saw my credit card (it fell out of my wallet just before we left for Vermont). It wasn’t even dirty. I told Mike about it. If we could not find it, we would have had to get a new card with a new number. That would have been problematic as this would mean changing all of our online accounts that use that card.

We had to take stuff out in order to get in to sort some of the items

We had to take stuff out in order to get in to sort some of the items

The cleaning was slow going. We couldn’t really bring anything out as we had no containers to put them in. Mike had planned on getting a few tubs to sort our items into, but without a vehicle, we couldn’t go to the store to buy them.

Sometime during the late afternoon, we finally stopped for a meal. Ethan had been snacking all day, and we had bought some milk from the local truck stop. I had used up a lot of wipes trying to keep his hands clean every time he wanted to eat because he was happily playing in the gravel with the sand toys we found in the camper.

Mike went with Michala and Nathan to a fast food place and I stayed behind with Ethan. We were a little concerned that Ethan may not be easy to handle as it started to get late in the day. He didn’t sleep well, and he hadn’t had a nap. By letting him play in the dirt or the swing set, he was keeping busy.

Mike managed to find a salad for me that had no wheat in a fast food place that wasn’t known to be gluten-free. So we all had lunch and continued to work. I had the two older kids keep an eye on Ethan while we worked on moving items away from potential leaks.

One of the employees let us use the tow yard’s dumpster so we were able to get rid of a lot of broken items. This allowed us to clear some space to do more sorting.

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Our new ride, opened to keep it cool.

The last two hours went a little quicker and soon our van arrived, but not just any van, a Chrysler Town and Country. For the next few days we will be driving around as if we didn’t just have what’s left of our lives sitting in a tow yard.

The rental car employee pointed out what we needed: Walmart (for totes), hotel, and restaurants on the way to the car rental location. Mike had some forms to fill out.

Then we finally went to Walmart and got some totes. Mike signed us into the hotel for the night and then we went back to the tow lot. We used two of the tubs to fill with clothing and food from the fridge, which surprisingly, was still intact. We didn’t open it until the last minute because we knew that if they were good, the fridge would keep it cold. Indeed it did. We found we had another gallon of milk, homemade salsa, eggs, cheeses, etc, and the hotel had it’s fridge.

The day seemed to have gone on forever, but I was sure that the next day was going to be busier. We had our work cut out for us.

 

When Vacations Go Wrong II

When Vacations go wrong II

See the first part here: http://nancieswebonline.com/blog/?p=1288

“No!” Mike grunts as he turns the car to the right, then to the left in a vain attempt to regain control of the car. The next thing I remember is being upside down and the windshield shattering. I could feel the roof against my head and put my  hand up to keep my head off of it. My seat belt was a little loose, apparently.

I kept replaying the scene in my head while in the motel that night. Being the passenger, there wasn’t much I could do about it, but the brain does funny things sometimes. Especially when you are finally settling down for bed. At least this time it wasn’t something that I had forgotten to do. I can actually stay in bed this time.

After the accident, Michala, Ethan, and I hopped into one of the tow trucks to get a ride to the towing company’s yard. Nathan and Mike stayed behind to see what they can  do to help with the cleanup.

While we waited, we played on the little swing set that they had. Ethan seemed to be completely normal. It was as if this was just a new adventure to him. This was a relief, considering all of the other things we have to do.

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The camper and car shows up, Mike hops out to see me.

After about an hour, with Michala and I trading off on watching Ethan. Both the car and camper shows up – upright, of course.

It was already after 7.

Mike told me about the clean up, and the fact that he had a 165 ticket since he was the only one in the accident, making him automatically “at fault” in the state of Ohio.

We sorted through some of the stuff, trying to find some items that we need for the motel. It took much longer than it should have and it was already dark by the time we found some shampoo, soap, clothing that wasn’t full of fiberglass and gravel, and a trash bag to put it in. We grabbed what we could and walked across the street to a motel.

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Bear’s Towing Company (5 stars, in case you are wondering). Burbank, Ohio

The people at the yard were very helpful and offered to drive us to a “better” hotel. But we would have no means of transportation back. I also felt bad enough for harassing them for the bathroom – a lot. You know, stress.

The motel we stayed at was very run down. Nathan said that the motel looks like it could be in a movie… not in a good way.

I didn’t think it was that terrible. It was clean. The towels had no stains and the sheets were clean. However, they had a serious lime/rust problem in the bathroom and the sink wouldn’t drain.

The made us take two rooms. Michala and Nathan in one, Mike, Ethan, and I in the other. We had a single queen and they had a double queen. I had no blanket on my bed and I ended up using my jacket to keep my shoulders warm.

I finally got Ethan to sleep by playing some videos that were already on my phone since there was no internet. After everything was quiet, my mind kicked into high gear. It was one of the few nights I didn’t dream much.

 

Next: When Vacations go Wrong III

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When Vacations goes wrong

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What’s left of the Aspen.

It’s been a long week, and it’s not over yet.

We were driving down I-71. All three kids were asleep in the back. I was looking at the next stop. I didn’t want to stop in Medina because I couldn’t find any truck stops on the way there I was tired and I missed them. We have been having a lot of problems with crosswinds and I didn’t want to have Mike to pull into a random gas station that may or may not be a serious problem. To solve this, I decided to try to only stop at truck stops. You know that if big Mac Trucks can get in and get out, than a camper and SUV can go in and out.

I pointed out that the next truck stop is in Burbank, Ohio, exit 204. We could go one more, but I felt that this would be a good place. We’ve been there before and traffic seemed light at the moment.

Two trucks pass and clear us on either side. Mike, yet again, manages to keep from being blown off the road.

After a few minutes, Mike says, “You know, it has been better lately,” He was referring to the 20mph winds that were hitting the side of the camper. I check my phone. Sure enough, the winds dropped to 15mph.

I put my phone onto the side. What seemed like seconds afterwards, the trailer was pushed again, but instead of pushing us into another lane, it yanked the Aspen. Mike tried to correct, but instead over corrected.

I remember him saying “No!” in a grunt as it finally rolled onto his side than upside down. I remember my head on the ceiling, but I didn’t hit hard. I put my hand to keep my head off of it as we slid to a stop.

I waited a second to see if I felt any pain. I didn’t. So I unbuckled my seatbelt and called to the other kids. They were all okay, and I told them to unbuckle Ethan, who only fussed a little.

I climbed out to assess what was going on. I don’t recall seeing Mike climbed out but it seemed as if he materialized beside me and yanking on the back door. I called to the kids again, and Michala said that she got Ethan who quickly climbed out of my window. I was relieved to see that we were by the guardrail.

Two truckers stopped in the second lane, forcing traffic to go into the far left lane. There was a couple more who stopped ahead and there were a lot of people who came out to help. One was an off-duty firefighter (as I was told later), who asked questions like “do you feel dizzy, or pain?”

At one point I joked that even my back felt better. A few days prior, I had coughed until I popped something in my back. No matter which way I stretched, I couldn’t get it to hurt.

Mike and the cop mentioned something about the adrenaline rush. At that moment, as the EMTs were getting us to sign forms saying that we don’t want to be transported to the hospital. I thought, they couldn’t wait until the adrenaline rush to ask if we were in pain?

Someone was kind enough to bring out my purse and my laptop but at that moment when the officer asked for my ID, I realized my phone was in the car. It had my license in it. When I mention it, another kind person went into the wreck and grabbed it for me.

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Snapshot taken from the vine.

When I saw that everyone was okay, I took my phone and made a vine. This is posted to my twitter, than to my Facebook where my family could see it.

Minutes after the posting my brother calls.

I don’t recall the entire conversation,  but I do remember him asking me how I was holding out.

“You know me, I get what needs to be done now, freak out later.” He agreed. He’s the same way.

I hung up the phone and sighed. This was our home and our only means to travel. Ethan, Michala, and I hopped into one of the tow trucks. I couldn’t think past the next few minutes. I didn’t know what would happen next.

 

Pre-update

image

Just a quick update: The car was totaled over the phone. The insurance assessor will be here to check on the camper  but he won’t be here until tomorrow.

At the moment, we are looking into a rental for the next couple of days. We will be spending another night in Ohio and it looks like that we may have to stay tomorrow night as well.

We are looking for a better hotel. The one we stayed in last night… well as Nathan put it, it was the kind of motel you would see in the movies.

It was clean, at least.

I’ll be posting a better update once we settle in our hotel for the night. Right now we are sorting what’s left of our material life, trying to salvage what’s not destroyed.