4

New Trailer, Who Dis?

It’s kind of entertaining to talk about ideas that may seem a little bit crazy but would actually be really cool adventures. Everybody does it - like saying that it would be a lot of fun to backpack in Europe for a year, or that it’d be cool to quit your job and start a business with some friends. It’s one thing to talk about these crazy plans but it’s a completely different thing to actually do them. Ayli and I discussed the possibility of moving out of our apartment and living in an RV, and we were going to make that happen. The only problem was that neither of us had any clue what we were doing.

Our first step was to do some research and figure out what on earth we were getting ourselves into. Ayli went above and beyond with this and spent countless hours reading books, looking up articles, and watching Youtube videos. I also did some reading and watching, just not nearly as much. It was pretty neat to hear about all of these people who lived in an RV full time and all of their struggles, stories, and advice. RV living is actually not uncommon with travel nurses and there were plenty of them on Facebook who had little tips and tricks we could read about...

Most of our time with research was spent figuring out exactly what RV we thought would be best for us. It was actually a little difficult for us to decide between a Class C motorhome and a travel trailer, but we eventually came to the conclusion that a travel trailer was the way to go. It was by far the most affordable route and seemed more manageable in the long run. But even after we knew that we still had to find the perfect travel trailer with the right layout, length, and weight. There’s a ton of choices out there so we actually went to a dealership to tour a bunch of RVs and get some ideas.

We decided we wanted a RV close to thirty feet and something under 6,000 pounds. Initially we were hoping that we could find something that we could tow with Ayli’s Jeep Liberty, but we soon found out that was wishful thinking. Even the smaller trailers were still at least 3 thousand pounds which was pushing the limit of Lil’ Lady Liberty. We really didn't want to get rid of her, but with big dreams come big changes. We decided to search for an SUV and not a truck mostly due to our pets, and after doing some research we decided on getting a Ford Expedition. Not many people tow with SUVs, but with those who do Expeditions seemed to be the most popular option. It’s hefty, strong and bigger than any vehicle either of us have owned. We ended up finding one and traveling three hours to retrieve it from a dealership in Virginia. It felt so massive and weird to drive after I’ve been cruising around in my Civic for a while, but we were very happy with it and it was exciting to own a new vehicle. We’ve had it for a few months now and still love it, so I think we made the right choice. Just don’t ask us about the gas mileage. Now it was time to finally choose our trailer once and for all.

Ayli standing next to their new SUV

Since we knew the length and the weight we were looking for we could actually browse a ton of websites that were selling RVs. My mom was getting involved as well and she’d send us links to ones we may not have seen yet. We viewed a lot, but the one that caught our eye was found on the Facebook marketplace from a seller back home in Columbus. We were still living in North Carolina at the time so we had to wait until we were back in Ohio visiting family in mid April to look at it. Ayli and I took my parents with us to check out the RV and went spent a lot of time going over every inch of it. My dad was our saving grace when it came to inspecting the trailer. We liked it a good amount but the owner had bought it just a year ago from an estate sale, never once took it out camping and knew almost nothing about it. This was a red flag because almost everything we read about buying an RV told us to only buy from people who used and took care of the RV. However, he told us that somewhere he had notes from the original owner that he would type up for us and he’d also test everything out, such as appliances and heat, before we came back to look at it again.

Ayli and I made it back to Ohio for Easter weekend and we called the owner on Easter day and asked if he was too busy for us to come back over. He informed us that he was actually free and that we were welcome to come look at the RV again. So Ayli and I, along with a few family members, went over to his house and this time he was able to answer a lot more questions. We ended up making him an offer that day and after a little bit of paperwork the RV was ours! We purchased a 2011 Windjammer by Rockwood on Easter of 2019 and we couldn't have been happier.

Showcasing the whole camper RV

The next step (and our favorite) was renovation research! While we loved the size and the layout of the new trailer we just bought, the interior decorating and colors were atrocious. This was actually the case with every RV we looked at. Everything was shades of brown, green, and tan which made the space inside feel small, dark and dirty. There’s a ton of people on Instagram and Pinterest who post RV renovations and after looking at a bunch of these accounts we had a pretty good idea of what we were looking to do with ours.

Almost the entire month of May was spent working on our RV. For the first half of the month we were still bouncing back and forth from our apartment in North Carolina to the RV in Columbus, which was pretty annoying but once Ayli’s assignment was finished we lived in Ohio full time. My birthday was also at the beginning of May but I actually spent most of the day working on renovations. I did get to spend the evening having dinner with my family, however, and I also received some really cool gifts. One of these gifts was a new tattoo that I got done later in May and I am incredibly pleased with how it turned out.

Jacob's new tattoo of a bison

To start out with the renovations we actually removed nearly everything from inside the trailer, like the furniture and doors and hardware. Our first and biggest goal was to paint the whole interior white to give it a cleaner and brighter feel. Before we could do that though we had to tape around everything in there and put down plastic over the floor, which all took longer than I’d like to admit. It was a LOT of taping. Then we scrubbed every surface with this liquid sandpaper/deglosser twice to prep, though I’m not sure how much that helped. The paint primer came after that. We used PPG Gripper as the primer. We were planning on painting the walls, ceiling, and every cabinet so all of this took some time. Just priming took two days. Once the primer was on we did three coats of paint, which we did not expect. We were hoping that it wouldn’t be more than two coats, but the dark brown cabinets begged to differ. Nearly a week and gallons of paint we did not want to buy later, we were finally done. At least it looked good!

Jacob working on the camper Ayli working on the camper

Three walls in the RV didn't get painted because Ayli bought a few packs of peel and stick tiles for the kitchen and the bedroom. In the kitchen she did a white subway tile and in the bedroom and the side of our fridge she did light gray vinyl planks. They honestly turned out great and we were very pleased with them, which is good because Ayli spent a ton of time making them look just right.

Another one of our bigger projects was completely removing the initial dinette and replacing it with a daybed. This was a little tricky because it wasn't the size of any standard mattress, so we actually built our own mattress by cutting and gluing huge pieces of foam. Then we bought large pieces of fabric to cover the whole mattress to protect it. We also bought and cut smaller pieces of fabric to cover the end pieces of wood for the daybed. Overall we were very happy with the end result and it created a great hangout spot to watch tv or read. Dinettes are awkward and uncomfortable and we don’t really use tables anway. We eat our meals on the couch, bed, sometimes even the floor in front of the TV, but never a table. We’re weird. Also, who wants an extra table when you can have two beds anyway?

In addition to these larger projects the RV had quite a lot of smaller projects that demanded our attention and ate up plenty of our time. These included; painting hardware, building a new tv holder, changing out the chains and the hitch for towing, replacing shower nozzles, installing hooks in the kitchen, putting up new curtains, replacing door latches, changing the battery, fixing water leaks, chalking and greasing, and more. This is why we worked on our RV for almost a whole month (there was a short trip we took to Colorado, more on that next time!). In addition to all of this we had to test everything out and learn how it all worked, as well as practice hooking up and towing, We were first time RV owners and we wanted to have some idea of what we were doing before we took it on the road.

This whole experience was a crazy amount of work but Ayli and I actually loved it. This was our new home and we wanted it to be a place we were comfortable living in. My parents were insanely helpful the entire time we were working because they hosted us, fed us, and offered guidance and assistance with most of our little projects. We couldn’t have done it without them (and all of their tools!) and we are extremely grateful. Ayli’s mom was also a huge help because she took care of our cats and hamster for the entire month, which was a huge burden off of our shoulders and let us focus on our work. We had the best support and now we have a finished travel trailer that is ready for its first trip. Let’s get rolling!

Before photo of the kitchen
Before
After photo of the kitchen
After
Before photo of the daybed
Before
After photo of the daybed
After

Jacob

3

NC is the Place to Be

I've always considered North Carolina to be one of my favorite states. I've visited a few times while I was growing up to go camping, hiking, and to the beach. Ayli and I also visited the city of Wilmington when her sister Abi lived there, which is what Ayli says kick-started her desire to be a travel nurse. There's a lot of cool places in the world and you're not going to see them if you stay in Ohio. I consider North Carolina to be one of those cool places, so when Ayli got an assignment in Charlotte I was definitely a little excited.

Packing for North Carolina was much easier than packing for Connecticut because we already had everything ready to go. We were only back in Ohio for a week between assignments so we didn't even bother unpacking our things, we just kind of hung out until it was time to leave again. The drive went better as well, it was a little shorter and the cats were much more well behaved...

I liked our apartment complex a lot. It had a little gym that I used a good amount and free coffee in the lounge area. There was a dog park but we only used it once because it was a mud hole (they put it right behind a car washing station so it was always wet). We had the absolute friendliest neighbors who enjoyed chatting every time they saw us outside with Hagrid, and they had two little dog who they referred to as Hagrid's snacks. Little yappy things.

I also really liked our apartment. The appliances seemed brand new and it was clean with a decent amount of space, not something we're used to. We were on the third floor and there was a little balcony that Hagrid enjoyed laying out on to watch the world below. I used to keep the balcony door open until one of the cats, Tarzan, was found out on the roof of the apartment building. From then on he was banned from the balcony.

While we didn't live inside of Charlotte (our apartment was in Matthews, just outside the city), Ayli and I did visit quite a bit and I thought Charlotte was fantastic. It has a good amount of energy and color without being overly crowded and difficult to navigate. We rented bikes for a day and just cruised around the neighborhoods to see everything the city offered. There were a good amount of restaurants we liked, but our favorite was definitely Moo   Brew. As you can probably guess from the name they had an awesome selection of burgers and beers that kept us coming back for more.

Another thing we liked about Charlotte was the large amount of really cool bars to visit. Charlotte had something that we haven't seen in other cities yet; dog bars. These are bars where customers can bring their dogs and set them loose to play with each other while the dog owners have a beer. It's like a dog park with a bartender, which is as close as I might find to heaven on Earth. Ayli and I went to these dog bars nearly once a week and we loved it because we enjoy taking Hagrid everywhere with us and chatting with other dog owners. I wish dog bars were a lot more common.

Hagrid hanging out at the bar

As always, Ayli and myself (and Hagrid) got a ton of hiking in while we were visiting North Carolina. There were several parks around the Charlotte area with some excellent trails, including Crowders Mountain State Park. We also took a weekend to stay in Asheville and visit the Blue Ridge Mountains. We rented a tiny cabin just outside of Asheville where we'd spend the day climbing some mountains, like Mount Mitchell, and then spend the evenings looking for interesting bars and restaurants. I can't wait to get another chance to visit that city.

Hagrid sitting in front of a Mount Mitchell sign

We also took a trip to the other side of the state to visit Wilmington again for a friend's birthday. It was good to get back there because Ayli and I actually missed it a lot, and Sai (the friend who's birthday we were celebrating) and Abi used to live there so they had a chance to see some old friends. Being right next to the water as you go down the boardwalk is amazing, there's some really neat beaches close by, and the nightlife is pretty lively there. It was a nearly nonstop weekend of celebration and good times.

The squad posing out on the beach

Before we went to Wilmington we actually took Sai and Abi to the U.S. National Whitewater Center, and I was blown away. It was basically a massive outdoor adventure park with hiking trails, whitewater rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, rope courses, and zip lining. If we lived in the area for longer I definitely would have purchased a yearly membership because I did not want to leave. We spent the first part of the day rock climbing, and then we were supposed to go rafting but we decided not to because it was pretty chilly outside and we realized that none of us had any desire to get wet. So instead we spent the rest of the time in the trees completing the rope courses and zip lining around. There was even a tower you could climb that they let you jump off of (with a rope) to free fall from 100 feet. At the end of the day we got some food and drinks at a restaurant they had on site. I absolutely need to get back there someday.

Another trip we took was a weekend to Atlanta, Georgia. I had been there once before while I was in high school, but Ayli had never visited so we went to check out the World of Coca-Cola as well as the Georgia Aquarium. This was another city where we did the super touristy things but both of these locations are well worth the time and I especially loved the aquarium. This place was massive and had just about every animal that could possibly be kept in an aquarium. I was a big fan of seeing the sea otters, whale sharks, and a dolphin show that blew my mind. This is another place that I wish I lived closer to so that I could visit regularly.

Fish in an aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia

One thing I loved about our time in North Carolina is that we actually got to do a lot with family. Not only did we get to see Abi, but we also made a trip to see my brother and his wife (Matthew and Claudia) in Virginia. We even went back to Ohio for a short while because my sister, Megan, had her wedding in March and now I have a new brother, John! The wedding was beautiful and I was pleased to see a lot of family that I rarely have a chance to visit anymore. Also, it was on our way back from the wedding when Ayli and I started seriously discussing the possibility of living out of an RV.

A sign outside of the wedding venue for Megan and John Harriman

A ton happened during our three months in Charlotte and I feel like it would be impossible for me to address everything, but I feel like these were some of the highlights that stood out the most. This was the last assignment that I wanted to get caught up on before I started talking about our experience with owning and living out of our RV. Once we finished our time in North Carolina, Ayli and I had a month between assignments that was used for purchasing and renovating the RV. We also did a little more traveling of course, but I'll talk about all of this next time. Thanks for reading and I'll be back soon!

Jacob

2

We Connecti-can't Wait to Get Out of Ohio

Ayli and I had our fun on our honeymoon, but once we got back to Ohio the real work began. Ayli was set to start her first assignment as a travel nurse in mid September and this meant that we needed to move out of our current house in Columbus and put all of our crap into storage or the dumpster. Most of our big furniture I set out by the curb and watched in amazement as people would stop by and pick up literally anything, including a well used cat tower and a broken air conditioner. The rest of our belongings made it to the basement of our parent's houses (for which I am eternally grateful) where we had to decide what was worthy of coming with us on our first three month trip. Ayli and I also stayed in her mother's basement along with our dog Hagrid, our cats Simba and Tarzan, and our hamster Navi.

When it was time to head out to Connecticut we had to load up everything into our two cars, a Honda Civic and a Jeep Liberty. Thank goodness for Ayli's Jeep... I can't say I was hauling quite as much in my Civic. I did have both of the cats though, who manage to meow constantly the entire drive...

This drive didn't go perfectly due to road closings and we actually spent the night at a motel about halfway there. This was interesting because while it was pet friendly, they had a max amount of animals you were allowed in the room. So we showed them we had Hagrid and once the coast was clear we snuck two cats and a hamster into the room. We were traveling with a small, furry army.

The next day we arrived to our apartment complex in Manchester, Connecticut, which is a town in Hartford County. From our apartment it only took about twenty minutes to reach downtown Hartford. I remember thinking that our complex was so nice since Ayli and I had just moved out of the most rundown house in all of German Village, Columbus. We had our own parking spots and appliances in the house that WORKED?? Must be dreaming!

There was also a gym within walking distance, which I loved the convenience of and used almost daily. Plus a tennis court that doubled as a fenced in dog area for Hagrid. The apartment complex did have a dog park but it was the smallest dog park I've ever seen and will ever see. I still used it to play ball with Hagrid after walks, but I only saw another dog in it once.

Right across the road from where we lived was a Walmart and next door to that was a mall. In fact, nearly every store you could name was within a five minute drive. This was amazing because every now and then I could walk to the store to get groceries if I wanted, or if I were bored the mall was right there. I actually got a job working in the Barnes   Noble across the road and I could leave my apartment two minutes before my shift started and still be on time.

Ayli was working night shift five nights a week so I guess you could say she spent a lot of the daytime napping. Her and I were on opposite schedules so for most of the days we were in Connecticut it was up to me to entertain myself. I spent a lot of my free time exercising or doing activities with Hagrid. There was a really well kept dog park about fifteen minutes from my apartment that we went to several times a week. I would also explore other local parks, spend time aimlessly walking around the mall, and visit the towns library.

Sometimes Ayli had a few days in a row off of work and that's when we would do some of our cooler trips. We discovered that a bus stop close by would take us to New York City so we went a few times. The first time I went we spent most of the time being classic tourists and visiting places like Central Park, the museums, and Times Square. We also caught up with my cousin Alex and his girlfriend Megan who live there and they showed us around and even hosted us for a night. It's an entirely different lifestyle to live in New York and I don't feel like I move quickly enough to make it there. I like my peace and quiet a little too much.

The second time I was in New York City was to watch the Cleveland Cavaliers take on the Brooklyn Nets. We were insanely lucky because this was one of the very few games the Cavs won last season. These tickets were a gift from Ayli and I loved it because we sat nearly right behind the Cavaliers bench. It was bizarre to see these players so closely after watching them on TV all the time.

Halloween was a great time for Ayli and I because we are both big fans of dressing up and partaking in the festivities. We found two pet costume contests that we entered Hagrid in and he won the first one, which took place at a pet convention. Hagrid made a great doctor, or dogtor, with a tiny lab coat and tie, stethoscope, glasses, and a nametag. The convention was a blast and Hagrid got a ton of attention and we were proud to show him off. He also got to meet other animals like chickens and a tortoise, who he was absolutely terrified of.

Hagrid dressed up as a doctor

For Halloween day we thought it would be fitting to travel to Salem, Massachusetts; the site of the Salem witch trials and one of the biggest Halloween party locations around. We went as John Lennon and Yoko Ono and people loved it. I felt like a celebrity with how many photos we took with strangers and how often people would yell out at us. Salem was such a cool place to visit for Halloween because they've fully embraced their witch theme, and the streets were packed with visitors in costumes. We even watched a reenactment of one of the witch trials inside of an old town hall. Later in the evening we went on a little costume booze cruise where there was dancing and a costume contest that we didn't win but very strongly felt like we should have.

Jacob and Ayli dressed up as John Lennon and Yoko Ono

Christmas was also spent in Connecticut and it was pretty peaceful in our little apartment. This was the first Christmas for Ayli and myself as a married couple and we sent out a Christmas card from 'The Walls'. This card took a shockingly long time to make because of the fact that we had two cats and a dog in the photo and none of them wanted to look at the camera at the same time. Christmas was nice though, with our Goodwill decorations we got for a few dollars, a fire in our fireplace, and tons of gifts for our pets. They are an incredibly spoiled group of animals.

The Wall Family Christmas photo

This was a pretty quick summary of our three months in Connecticut. It's interesting that we were just outside of Hartford but only went into the city a handful of times. Overall it wasn't bad, but Ayli worked so many nights that it felt like we really didn't get a whole lot of time to spend together. From now on she wants to do three shifts a week that are twelve hours long instead. It's pretty neat to be able to say that I've lived in Connecticut and I'm excited to add more locations to that list. Up next is an assignment in Charlotte, North Carolina... so it's time to pack up again!

A quick little story if you've got the time!

Ayli's work covers the housing and the utilities for each place we live, so when we move somewhere we give them the information so they can pay the bills. Apparently the entire time we lived in Connecticut the didn't pay the electric bill...

Ayli had finished a night shift and was in bed napping. I was in the living room on the laptop when suddenly it disconnected from the internet. After trying to reconnect for a while I realized that nothing in our apartment had power. I wasn't too concerned and I thought the power simply went out and I waited for a short bit for the problem to be fixed.

After maybe thirty minutes I went outside and found a maintenance worker in the parking lot. I asked about the electricity and he said that as far as he knew all the apartments still had power. I told him that mine was out and he suggested talking to the front office. I went to the office and told them about my lack of electricity and they told me that I needed to call the power company and figure it out with them. I called and they said they needed my account information, which I did not know so I apologetically woke Ayli up to ask for it.

Ayli told me that we didn't have an account because the bill should be covered by the apartment complex with our corporate housing. I called the electric company back and informed them of this.

The electric company could not believe that someone had been living in the apartment for the past three months because they received no money the entire time we were there. I told them that we would fix it and get them the money, but we needed our power back on in the meantime. I was informed that since there was no account and the power was shut off that it would be impossible to have it back on that day.

I went back to the apartment office and told them what happened and that they needed to send in our money for electricity. They apologized several times and reassured us that they would fix it. In the meantime we were moved to a different apartment until our power came back on. So I had to grab my pets, food from the fridge, and my wife and we spent a day or two in this other apartment until I saw the electricity was back on at our place. It's funny because this was only a few days before we left Connecticut and if they had shut off the power just a few days later, nobody would have known that we didn't pay for power during our time there.

Thanks for reading! I'll be back soon!

Jacob

1

The Beginning

I'm a married man now. This means I need to settle down, purchase a house, and start a family.

Or does it mean that I'm supposed to quit my job, buy an RV, and move to a different city every few months?

I think I'll choose option B.

It's very convenient for me that I have a lovely wife who feels the same way and who probably wants to see the world even more than I do. That's why when Ayli and I got married we both left our jobs in Columbus and she started travel nursing. With travel nursing she has short term assignments in various hospitals around the country. Everybody needs nurses, which means if we want to live in a specific state or city then we can probably find work there. These assignments only last three months unless we wanted to extend our stay, and after three months we pack up our things and move to the next one...

The downside of travel nursing? Apparently it's annoying to pack up all your belongings and find housing in a new state every three months. In addition to this inconvenience it's also expensive. When you rent an apartment with a short term lease that is also pet friendly and fully furnished the prices shoot sky high. Housing IS covered by the travel nursing agency but it seems like a shame to say goodbye to all of that money when some of it could go back into our pockets.

So Ayli and I decided that we were done with apartments and we'd be purchasing an RV to live in full time. We'd drive our comfy little home with us from city to city without having to pack up our belongings and clean for the next tenants. When we choose to be finished with a location we just hook up to the back of our car and go wherever we'd rather be.

I want to write about the adventures of Ayli and I as we travel the country in our RV. I'm sure we'll realize there are a thousand things we don't know about owning an RV, we'll probably make numerous mistakes, and no doubt we'll have some rough days. But I feel like the whole experience is going to be overwhelmingly positive and an adventure we'll always remember. The RV has been purchased and we are about ready to move in, but before I start talking about that I'd love to share what Ayli and I have been up to since our wedding.

We've been traveling.

It all started with our honeymoon. We had the hardest time choosing where to go but we went with a cruise on the Mediterranean. This cruise had stops in several cities in a few countries along the sea such as Spain, France, and Italy. The ship landed once a day and we'd scramble off to go be tourists in that city until curfew then we'd head back to the ship for evenings of shows, eating, drinking, and dancing. This was exhausting but very, very enjoyable. There were many moments that I don't believe I'll forget, such as eating dinner in a fancy restaurant right at sea level late at night. It's incredible how the waves can look so beautiful and inviting during the daytime but in the dark they look menacing and powerful. I also won't forget when Ayli and I won a dance competition and received a free bottle of wine, or when the piano player gave us a honeymoon shout out and played a special song just for us, or when we watched the sun set over the mountains and a lighthouse off the coast of France.

We were spoiled for that week. Unlimited drinks and food passes are a dangerous thing.

In addition to all of that we had the opportunity to explore historic and breathtaking places like Rome, Pompeii, and Vatican City. I could write forever about each of these locations but perhaps I'll do that another time.

Jacob and Ayli traveling the world Jacob and Ayli in Rome

But wait, there's more. After the cruise was over we had a layover in Iceland, so of course we went to the Blue Lagoon to relax in the natural springs for a while. On top of that, before Ayli and I even boarded the cruise ship we actually spent a week in Barcelona because there was a gap between our wedding day and the departure of the ship. The ship left from Barcelona so we thought why not? Let's stay there until it leaves!

Ayli swimming in a lagoon in Iceland

Barcelona is absolutely one of the coolest places I've ever visited with so much to explore and constantly activities going on. We shopped, ate at tons of new restaurants, got tattoos, danced, visited historic buildings, listened to live music, went to the zoo and beach, hiked, got robbed (wait, what?), and rode bikes around the city. Ayli was absolutely fearless on her bike, weaving through crowds and traffic like she's done it a million times before. I did my very best to keep up and stay alive.

Jacob and Ayli visiting a beach in Barcelona Jacob and Ayli's new, matching tattoos

So I guess you could say I enjoyed my honeymoon and I'm very grateful to have Ayli by my side. However, this trip was just the beginning of our adventure together. Since we've been married Ayli has actually completed two different travel nursing assignments, one in Connecticut and one in North Carolina. But I think I'll save talking about those for future entries. For now, thanks for reading and I'll be back soon!

Jacob