We finished our first week of full-time traveling! It was quite an experience! I’ll start at the beginning:
We planned on leaving Friday night right after Craig was done with work – but by the time we got everything situated it was 8pm and Craig was working on hooking up our car to tow for the first time. So we were finally ready to leave. At this point it was sleeting, raining, hailing. So not the best weather! Plus our windshield wiper on the RV is broken – and we have had a hard time finding the part to fix it. Needless to say it wasn’t a great start. We made it a couple of hours and then stopped at a Walmart for the night. The next morning was clear so we were happy about that! We took off and were hoping to get to Gatlinburg around 6pm or so . . .
We drove through a town outside of Gatlinburg and were excited because we thought we were almost there! NOPE. We followed our map quest directions and took a left. By this time it was dark outside and again had started to rain/sleet. Gatlinburg had just had a freak winter storm that had dropped about 8 inches of snow in the area we were going. We noticed quickly that the road we were on was NOT made for RV’s! We were basically driving in the mountains on a 2 lane road with no railing and DEEP drops down the side of the mountain! Now these aren’t just straight roads they are curvy!! And I mean like full on half circle curvy! So here we are driving in an unfamiliar place, in the dark, with rain/sleet coming down! I was on map quest telling Craig what the road looked like – here comes a tight turn to the left ok now you are going to curve to the right, and so on. I kept closing my eyes and inching away from the window – it felt like we were going to go over! Then we get to a bridge that says 10 ton weight limit. Oh crap! Craig was like I think we weigh more then that! I said just go FAST. So over we went and we just kept going. There is no where to turn around so we had no option but to keep going. The road went on like this for a good 35 minutes and I was biting my nails the whole time! These are the times when I question what we are doing and wish I was back sitting in a warm house with a glass of wine! But we made it and got back on a main road. We then pull up to our campground and it is a tight turn straight down a hill! I told Craig keep going! We can’t make that! So we kept going found a gas station and pulled over to unhook the car so I could go drive and check it out. I had met someone through the Full-time Family website who had stayed at the same campground and he recommended a side entrance. I called and he gave me directions. I drove the car there and then went back to get Craig so he could follow me with the RV. We finally got the RV down there and another person from the campsite was there and he comes out and tells us the power is out! Are you serious?!! The storm they had really messed with everything! They had no power, no cell service, and their was about 6 inches of snow on the ground at our campsite – so we couldn’t really tell what was what. But we were here and we weren’t going anywhere! Craig is awesome at backing in the RV so we got everything all situated and the kids jumped out and had a snow ball fight! They LOVED that there was snow! After we got everything and everyone situated and the kids played in the snow for a little while we got everyone in and to bed. At this point my nerves are pretty frayed and I am not feeling to comfortable about the whole situation. . . But we got through it and Craig kept telling me it is fine I had control of the RV the whole time and it handled well. That is my control freak side! I am just sitting in the passenger seat so I feel totally OUT OF CONTROL. But I know he is good at driving and normally I am relaxed sitting in the passenger seat – just not in that situation! So anyways lessons learned: Double check the route to make sure it is for RV’s and ALWAYS try to get to your campground when it is light outside!
On Sunday we went into Gatlinburg to go to the Aquarium and to do some exploring! You can check out my review of Gatlinburg in another post that I will be writing next.
When we woke up on Monday Craig had an early video conference with his boss and since this was the first meeting and first week of him working remote 75% of the time we wanted it to go well! So I got the kids in the car and we went looking for donuts! Now it was my turn to drive through the mountains with the car. It definitely took some getting use to – especially since I didn’t know where I was going! But we made it and found a Krispy Kreme donuts. Then we went to stop at the Gatlinburg visitor center and I realized Carson didn’t have any shoes!
Sunday had been fun but with the drive in and not being prepared on Monday things were not going how I wanted them too. I was still frazzled from the drive in and just from being in the mountains and not feeling comfortable with our surroundings. So I needed to pull myself back in tell myself to relax and that I had this and to just get refocused! With the time difference Craig had to work until 5:30 and by that time it was dark so if we were going to do any daytime sightseeing I was going to be doing it on my own with the kids. When we had stopped at the visitor center they had said Sugarland was a good place to take the kids. There was a short hike to a waterfall. I got our stuff ready to go on Monday night and Tuesday morning I got up and said we are going to do this I’ve got this! Not to mention I was worried about seeing a bear if I was on my own hiking with the kids! But we went!
We got everyone loaded up and we headed out. I am so happy that I did it. The kids loved the hike and I had fun too! This is where things started to turn around. I was feeling much more comfortable and confident about driving the mountains, we were out exploring, and everyone was enjoying it! The only bad part was that Craig was not there. But he told me he was glad that we were doing cool stuff and having fun – he is such a great Husband and Dad!
As the week continued things kept on getting better. Before we left I was concerned because Melia seemed to be left out a lot. Carson and Cannon get along great but Melia wasn’t really fitting in with them. During this past week that has totally changed. Now Melia and Carson are asking for each other and are playing together so well! It is so awesome to see all of them playing together, getting along, and having fun! We miss our friends and family a LOT! But there is also something really cool and special about it just being us! And as much as I wish Craig was with us on our adventures it is also a cool time for me to bond with the kids. And Craig has been able to do some things with us when he is done working – which has been awesome!
During this week I have had to stretch a lot! (That is the term Megan (my sister) and I use when we talk about the changes we have had to made when moving into a RV full-time). I have had to face some fears – and not let those fears stop us from doing things (I ended up driving the kids up to the top of the Smokey Mountains!). I have grown as a person, a wife, and a mother. And I have seen glimpses of the happy place I want to be! With having 4 kids the day can be really busy and stressful and I felt that back home I let that stress control my emotions and it made me not be the Mom I want to be. With being in the RV and doing these fun adventures, and exploring new places and things together – I am getting back into being the Mom I want to be – where I am truly excited to be with my kids and to be spending time with them. And when stressful situations do come up I am more easily able to let them roll off my shoulders and we can move on – without their being a big blowout. I am not saying things are perfect and I don’t expect them ever to be. But I am definitely seeing the benefits from what we are doing and am reassured that we are doing the right thing at this time in our lives.
I think the fact that I am excited about the places that we are going and like the idea of exploring new things and seeing new things helps put me in a happier place. Then with the kids having so much fun and enjoying our new adventures – puts them in a happier place. And then Craig seeing all us be happy puts him in a happy place – so in the end we all end up in a happy place! I know we just started and that there will continue to be challenges but I am also excited about facing those challenges as a family and for finding all of the happy moments too!
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