The reality has set in. The fifth wheel is in the driveway and we have started making modifications to make it feel like home. The kids have hung pictures in the bunkhouse and designated space for their belongings. The dogs have even started testing out their favorite places to take naps.
Not quite sure if you can tell, but this thing is damn near as big as our house. It’s a Montana Mountaineer 350QBQ by Keystone.
Just wanted to drop a note about the Folks at Truck-FX. They did the spray-in bedliner for me so I could get the fifth wheel hitch installed. Jennifer was totally helpful from the time I asked for a quote until I picked it up. Actually everyone was extremely nice and professional. Take a look at the job they did…excellent work!
Finally we were able to get the new fifth wheel home. It took a ridiculously long chain of events to make it occur (including an extra set of someone else’s camper keys and a last minute upside down install of our license plate) but we did it. It was late by the time we stopped parading neighbors through it, so the home pics and more details will come tomorrow…but we made it!
When Steve and I first started talking about taking a six month camping trip, I admit, I never really thought we would do it. It didn’t take long, though, for discussions of a six month trip to turn into plans to sell our house and camp full time. All four of us love the adventures that travel brings. It’s a great opportunity for the family and you only live once, right?
- FaceTime, email, text messaging, Skype
- Small mail with a twist – think chess by mail
- FaceTime co-op – we are going to continue our Story of the World co-op, only we will “meet” on FaceTime.
- YouTube – we plan to share science experiments with our friends by recording them on YouTube. They have agreed to do the same for us.
- The blog – Steve and I felt it was important to include the kids in blogging. Not only does it teach a few skills, it also allows their friends to keep track of our travels.
- On line classes – the kids plan to coordinate online classes they can take with friends
Well…it’s done. We’ve officially upgraded to a fifth wheel. We spent the morning doing our walk through at the Cocoa Camping World and signing the mandatory paperwork. We even have the shiny keys to prove it!
So we just emptied out our old travel trailer for the last time. Tomorrow we trade it in on the new fifth wheel. I have to admit there is a bit of sadness in letting it go.
It was a year and a half ago that we purchased that camper for way more than we should have, but ultimately I think it was worth every penny. I learned so much with it. We learned how to tow and that we probably shouldn’t tow with a Durango! We replaced the defective toilet (what a pain). I built a rack for my fishing poles. We took the kids on their first fishing trip. Aaron and I installed multi-color LED lights. Steph even had her 11th birthday slumber party in it. I could go on and on.
I’m sure there will be multiple new stories to tell in the new 5er, but here are a couple of my more memorable ones that I want to record before they slip away:
The mattress incident
After the very first night sleeping on the mattress that came with the trailer, Karen and I woke up with ridiculous back and neck pain. It was honestly one of the worst nights sleep of my life. I woke up, got dressed, grabbed that mattress and hauled it across the campground to the dumpster. We then spent the rest of the day trying to find a mattress that was the right size and of decent quality. Eventually we found an Avena at a camping world about an hour away…and that’s how we ended up with a nicer mattress on our camper than in our house. Funny how things just work out sometimes.
A stranger to the rescue
My favorite memory is of the first time I tried to back in. We drove into Tomoka State Park (which I highly recommend) and pulled around the loop. Up to this point we had only stayed at wide open pull throughs…so I was already a bit on edge knowing I had to back it in. Imagine my surprise when the loop road was so narrow two cars couldn’t pass without trading paint… Karen hopped out and did her best to guide me, but I just didn’t have a clue.
Low and behold…another camper pulled up behind me and offered to back it in. Being a nervous wreck, I hopped right out and let him have at it. He pulled forward to undo whatever mess I had put myself in, then backed it right in like he’d been doing it since birth. He hopped out, said ‘have a great stay’ and took off. That was it…no pat on the back…no “you’ll get em next time”… Just left…
Now, although I was a bit disappointed that he didn’t show me how or offer any words of encouragement, it was still a turning point for my camping career. I now understood that it could be done, and I knew that with experience I’d be able to do it too. I also learned the camping code of helping your neighbor. I think that’s one of the things we are loosing in brick and mortar society today, but it’s alive and well in the campgrounds of America….that’s for sure…
So, although tomorrow marks the end of this adventure, I’m trying to keep in mind that it’s also the beginning of a new one. There will be new learnings and new memories, but my little TBUD camper will always have a special place in my heart.
I’ve been asked a few times about what our typical homeschool day looks like. First, I would say there isn’t much that’s “typical” about our family. I don’t have a label for what we do either. When I first started this homeschooling journey I had some negative preconceived notions. The funny thing
is, I didn’t even know anyone who homeschooled. My belief then was that a rigorous academic course was necessary for my kids to stay ahead of their peers.