Thursday, February 20, 2014

Bracing for a shitstorm in Florida

When we started RVing, we knew there were no guarantees except that we were bound to hit some bumps in the road. Whether that meant our new lifestyle would inflict chaos on our work, our relationship, or worse, our closet size (undeniably, yes), we made an honest assumption that RV life would take some adjustments. It wouldn't be easy.

But it was easy. Color me New Orleans, because our life seemed like "The Big Easy." We managed to overcome small obstacles ("Pull over! Our back door just flew open!") while managing to avoid bigger complications. Kudos to Spencer for keeping our setbacks minimal. He was the one winter-proofing our RV in subzero temperatures in Breckenridge, CO. He was the one who drove our rig over winding, mountainous roads, maneuvered through narrow pathways and parked the beast effortlessly into compact spaces. He also emptied our black water (poop) tank. I'm clueless what the key is to a happy relationship, but in the RV world, when a man empties your poop tank, that is true love.

I'm usually about 20-something steps behind in updating this blog, but I felt this post deserved a little more priority than proselytizing the eternal beauty of Minnesota or something. About six weeks ago, we hit our first big hiccup. Literally, hit. It was a low-hanging tree branch in Ft. De Soto Park outside St. Petersburg, FL, and it tore off our air conditioning unit.

Considering this was the first damage we had to our fifth-wheel in more than a year, we figured it was about time for something to go wrong. It took us some time to find and order a replacement. Thankfully, it was December. Although, it wouldn't be winter in South Florida without a few swetlering days that made you realize why a statue of John Gorrie, inventor of air conditioning, stands in the hall of the U.S. Capitol. He was kind of a big deal.

Hot or not, Spencer and I were still able to make the most of our time enjoying the holidays with family and friends in my hometown, Fort Lauderdale.

Everyone knows the expression, "When it rains, it pours." Well, in Florida, sometimes you'll be caught in a torrential downpour that lasts 20 minutes, then you'll have sunshiny skies for an hour, then it will pour again; rinse, wash, repeat. It's a funky madness. So when our replacement air conditioner broke after only a couple weeks, we didn't have any idea that another storm was already brewing.

As we bid farewell to loved ones, we headed south on a trip to the Florida Keys and Key West. What started as an uneventful day, soon turned into a memorable one. We squeezed the beast into a gorgeous waterfront site at an RV park in Marathon, FL. After a few friendly greetings by some new manatee friends, we hooked up and walked down the road with Ellie to grab a bite to eat at a puppy-friendly restaurant.

As we wrapped up our late lunch, I received a frantic voicemail from one of the employees at the RV park. Neighbors had noticed that water was gushing out our door and outside of the slides. They shut off the water and pumped out our tanks, but she warned me that we would be coming home to a wet fifth-wheel.

Once I relayed the news to Spencer, he took off running back to the park to assess the damage. When Ellie and I arrived home, we found standing water throughout the kitchen and living room, which had spread to the garage. Water was dripping from behind the television and from the ceiling.

Slowly we put together what happened. We had accidentally hooked up to our black water rinser instead of the fresh water tank, thereby flooding our RV with black (poopy) water. Lesson learned: Don't ask your 1-year-old puppy to hook up your hoses for you. (In retrospect, she was 7 in human years.)

To call the RV a mess is an understatement.  I have to call it like I see it. The only way to accurately describe our natural disaster is a shitstorm. We gave the expression "having a shitty day" a deeper, more literal meaning. Looking back, the whole thing is pretty comical. I can't help but chuckle to myself looking at these pictures.

Ellie, waiting out the storm in her crate. This is how we all felt. 
We did our best to soak up the water with towels; we even bought a dehumidifier to pull out excess water from the air. After a couple days, where we stayed in a hotel, we soon realized it was beyond our scope. The RV was trashed.

Luckily, our insurance company agreed with us. We drove our rig back to my dad's yoga studio in Ft. Lauderdale, where an adjuster assessed that due to the mold and mildew concerns, the RV was totaled. Thankfully, our insurance has been incredible to work with and all of the damage is covered, plus they're paying for the cost of a replacement RV. I feel like I could be an Obamacare spokesperson saying this, but when shit hits the fan (literally), it pays to have good insurance coverage.

It's now Day 20 of essentially being homeless, the majority of our stuff is stowed in a storage unit and we're temporarily living with my mom. I could use a drink, or four.

But life is still pretty good. We're lucky this whole adventure happened near my family, who has been wonderfully accommodating. Never for a moment did we think, "Maybe we should stop doing this?" Things are turning around. We are thisclose to buying a new RV, so we'll keep you posted once we officially find a new home.

Otherwise, if you were wondering, "Where in the hell RV?!" We're here in South Florida, riding out the shitstorm.
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