Going home… slowly

Finally after all of the problems that kept cropping up, we are on our way. A trip that was supposed to be only a few weeks, ended up to be almost six months. 

In retrospect, the accident we had at the beginning of the summer wasn’t the worse thing that could have happened. We essentially lost two loans that we weren’t sure if we could pay off. The Church gifted us the balance of the cost of the motorhome so we owe nothing to a bank.

It’s not to say that our problems have ended. At the moment, we are having elecrical problem with the alternator. We finally figured out that the connection is bad.

Maybe, after we get the batteries charge at this TA truck stop, we can make it to a service station that will fix this problem. We did make it 300 miles on the last charge.

Our Next Goal to get Ahead

37 Carver St, Brandon, VT

37 Carver St, Brandon, VT House for sale

We need to sell our house.

The problem is, the people who have looked at it are in VT and are not exactly committed to buying a house. They look. They hem and haw, then they decide that maybe next year.

The people who are really looking to move to Vermont are those ready to retire or to find a home that they feel inspired to paint.

There are a lot of art galleries here.

The other group of people who will be willing to buy our house are “snow birds” or people looking for a summer home. Actually, our house is ideal for a summer home. It’s literally right down the road from town.

So my target “market,” are people who live in California, Florida, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Lower New York (like NYC, Manhattan, etc). In a few days, I’ll have a single page “ad” for the house.

In the meantime, for those of you who are friends with me on Facebook in these state, if you could share this link: http://on.trulia.com/2c42Bq4, that would help a lot!

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Don’t do this at Home – Especially if it’s Mobile.

It took a while for us to get it here. For some reason, the Auto park wouldn’t release the brakes. For those who were as clueless as we were when we first saw the light on the dash after realizing we weren’t going anywhere, I’ll save you the hours of researching. It’s like a fail-safe for the parking brake. On normal cars, you have the regular brake and the parking brake. The auto park turns on the parking brake as soon as you shut the engine off.

This supposedly is for those people who refuse to use the parking brake. You shouldn’t rely to heavily on the engine as the brake, as it allows to vehicle to rock. What’s more, the engine brake isn’t as good when it comes to heavier vehicles and sometimes it will not work.

We found this out just before we headed out to Massachusetts when Mike put it in park and when to the side door to see if he could check if he was too close to the garage. The motor home started to roll back and both Michala and I yelled for him and he got back to the driver’s seat to stop it with the parking brake.

We have to re-enable it soon. It would be interesting to see if the problem we’ve had with the batteries is what caused the auto park not to release. So first thing we will be fixing is the electrical system. Then try reconnecting the auto park, because it wouldn’t be too pleasant if we lost our home again, this time to a mishap due to an easily preventable human error.

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Stranded in the most annoying way possible.

It was a dark and lonely night…

We had quite a day Sunday. In spite of the few hiccups a bunch of newbies would have, the trip started out just fine. The kids didn’t fight and enjoyed the fact that they were able to sit at a table on the entire trip and played their version of Pictionary with the whiteboard that we bought.

Mike and I discussed on what we could change while I wrote a “wishlist” of improvements to make.

My kids are burying Benjamin

Courtesy of Kelly Hamilton

The kids enjoyed their day. I missed it, but I was told Nathan had rescued a few runaway tubes from the center of the lake.

Benjamin spent most of his time in the sand – literately and the girls had fun using the Kayak.

In the end, everyone was exhausted and ready to go home. Instinctively, I thought that we shouldn’t be driving in the dark. The running lights were broken and we weren’t sure if all the lights worked.

However, we were convinced to stay for cake and I rounded up the kids. I suspect herding cats would be much easier if you had catnip, but even with promises of cake, it took a few tries to get everyone in one place.

We left about an hour later than we had planned.

For most of the trip, it was uneventful. Mike was used to driving by now and it seemed that we would be home in no time.

About 3/4 of the way, I noticed that when we would go up hills, the motor would downshift, but it seemed to have a different tone.

We both dismissed it as we were unfamiliar with the motorhome driving, and I was still a bit hyper sensitive from our accident. Everything sometimes seems to sound like a disaster waiting to happen.

A little while longer, Mike noticed that the engine light turned on. Then the Autopark light made itself known. Fortunately, the autopark was disabled, so the motorhome didn’t skid to a stop suddenly. Something that seemed to be a problem with older ones like ours.

While I was waiting for my phone to load a search page on why the engine light is on, Mike noticed that the speedometer was off. The transmission was started to shift randomly. This whole time, we were speculating what it could be.

Finally the Motorhome backfired and we decided to stop at a gas station in Whitehall, NY. Mike left it running, since we knew that batteries weren’t charging anymore. He was afraid that it wouldn’t start.

Thinking that the transmission might have been overheating, he cooled it off with some water from one of the gallons I had filled earlier.

We pulled out of the station, and it was already too dark to go without lights, so he turned it on.

We had already pulled out of the gas station when the engine started to die. About a mile down the road, we stopped at an antique place and that was it. everything quit.

We were 7 miles away from home. That’s right. If we were to walk very fast, we could make it home in less than two hours. I used to bike that distance to work every day. We were so close!

I was about to text Jonathan so that we can give them a heads up that they might have to come out and help, but Mike insisted that we troubleshoot first.

It took about 5 minutes for us to realize that he didn’t have his tools. At this point, Nathan had already texted Jonathan anyway. Mike relayed that he needed his meter and some basic tools that were in the garage.

After tinkering a little and determining that the belt to the alternator wasn’t broken. All we could do is sit and wait for my brother and father to arrive.

It wasn’t long.

Jonathan couldn’t jump the motorhome with his plug-in hybrid. It was just the way it was designed.

So we hooked up dad’s car, and it ran for a while.

My phone battery was getting low. I did have the battery bank, but I already used it twice to charge the camera, so I wasn’t sure how much power I had left. If we were to stay there overnight, I would need my phone for an emergencies.

I did take some video, using a flashlight that I should have had fresh batteries for and it wasn’t enough. So I have a lot of footage of blackness and some darkness… and maybe a little of nothingness.

Here’s what I salvaged:

In the end, Mike ended up going to Walmart and buying 1 starter battery and two deep cycle batteries. Deep cycle batteries are usually used on motorhomes, homes with alternative energy and a lot of small vehicles that run on batteries like electric golf carts and forklifts. The batteries can withstand being drained all the way, but the starter battery is meant to stay charged. If it drains too much, you can lose some of it’s functionality.

We are not sure what happened. It’s an old motorhome and I figured there would be problems. It’s a good thing we saw this happening now instead of somewhere between here and Texas.

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The last leg (When Vacations Go Wrong finale)

To see the beginning of this story, check here.

I wasn’t looking forward to driving. Not that I was complaining. After all, I was driving something that I wouldn’t normally buy: a Chrysler Town and Country Van. I can at least pretend to be rich.

U-Haul, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Chrysler Town and Country van.

The rental and the U-Haul. Ethan was playing with his “kitty”.

Mike was going to drive the U-Haul, and I get to drive the rental. We told Nathan and Michala that if there were few stops, we may be able to make it to Vermont before midnight.

I was hopeful that since we weren’t pulling a camper anymore, that we would be there sooner.

The good news, the drive was without incident. Ethan still handled himself pretty well and slept most of the way. Unfortunately, there were a lot more stops than planned, so it was very late when we stopped in New York for the night. What’s more, Americade beat us to it, so there were no more rooms available.

So stopped at a gas station and I picked up a strong large coffee (supposedly with more caffeine than normal coffee). I wanted to make sure I was going to stay awake for the next few hours.

We finally made it to my mother’s house around 1:00am on Sunday. We didn’t want to wake them (in hindsight I’m sure the dogs certainly did), so we stayed in the car and finished our night there. I slept in the passenger side, Nathan slept in the back, and Michala and Mike slept in the U-Haul.

It was the longest four days I experienced in recent memory. However, it is just the beginning of rebuilding, pretty much from scratch.


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



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.


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…