The Road Trip

Is that smoke coming from our wheels?

It was a little warm so I was dozing off when Chris said ‘Is that smoke coming from our wheels? Can you look out your window and see anything?” So I peered out and saw nothing on my side….Chris quickly pulled over at an intersection and hopped out. There was smoke coming from one of our rear trailer wheels. Chris grabbed the fire extinguisher but I couldn’t see a fire, he shouted something to me about getting a fire blanket from his side of the bed. Confused I looked for a fire blanket. I didn’t think we had a fire blanket. And if so, why was it by his bedside? Meanwhile Chris couldn’t get the fire extinguisher to work. He handed it to me to see if I could figure it out whilst he went to find the ‘fire bag’, not the fire blanket, AKA – the fireproof bag with all our important documents and passports in it !

Realizing the fire extinguisher was not going to work, it was dead, I went to grab Aviana out of the cab of the truck. I’ve seen how quickly trailers go up in flames from a tiny fire and spread fast to the truck. Chris luckily had a jerrycan of water he tried to douse the ‘fire’ with. Smoke still came from the wheel and he was out of water. In this time someone had pulled up behind us wanting to turn into the road they lived on that we were blocking. Chris has to move the tiny house onto the side road out of the way. The people stopped and offered us some of the water they had in the car – after about another 6 bottles of water, the smoke start to slow down.

The bearings on the wheel had come off somehow. It was lucky Chris spotted it when he did. If he’d been driving for any much longer the tire probably would have gone up in flames along with the tiny house.

Our tire and bearing completely gone

Did I mention it was 90 something Fahrenheit ? !! It was a tad warm out and we were about 30 miles from our final destination campground at West Glacier. So close but so far!!

The road we had to stop at – a beautiful location! Shame it was ridiculously hot under such circumstances !

Chris got on the phone to our RV roadside assistance company Good Sam. They had trouble finding someone to tow us (after all it was Saturday at 2pm in the middle of nowhere) as well as trouble figuring out where to tow us to. Eventually they found someone who may be able to do it. They needed exact dimensions and pictures of the trailer to be certain they could tow us. They said they’d be there in an hour. The tow vehicle arrived at 6pm….Four hours after we stopped. Luckily we had our tiny house in one piece with us so had a toilet and food accessible whilst we waited.

The tow vehicle turned up and managed to get our tiny house onto the tow truck. Let’s just say it was nerve wracking. Only two of the four tires made it onto the bed of the tow truck. As we drove down the highway people were staring at us. Every time the tow vehicle turned a corner I held my breath!

The tiny house being towed to a garage – precariously on the bed of the tow truck it was a sight and wonder for many spectators

The tow truck driver offered to let us stay on his land as his son would be able to do the repairs in his garage that Tuesday. He even gave us electricity and water hookups and offered us access to his pool. This was going to be a better plan than being towed to our campsite then worrying about towing it to a mechanic later in the week. We would then be paying out of pocket to tow it again rather than being covered under our roadside assistance. By the time we had set up it was 8.15pm and managed to get Aviana into bed by 9pm.

So here we are about 30 miles from Glacier National Park, waiting for our tiny house to be fixed. We currently do not know how much damage was done and the extent of the repairs required, but the tiny house probably needs a whole new Axle. Yikes. $$$

By the way, before the tiny house left Virginia, Chris had the tires checked, aligned and the bearings repacked. It has been about 4000 miles since then. We suspect the garage we took it to did a shoddy job. There is also a chance the conditions we were driving in were a bit much. Considering that garage reversed into something and broke our rear stabilizer but flat out denied it (we literally drove it to the car park next door 100 m away when we noticed the damage) when Chris went back 10 mins later. We would never go back there again anyway.

In other news…we are waiting for an immigration officer to call us back regarding our case to remain in the US because our visas end in 2 weeks time. Hopefully we will have a plan for how we can legally stay in the country. So many things up in the air right now. Trying to stay positive!

The Road Trip

Panic!

Chris received an email from the people we were planning to boondock and store our trailer with for a week whilst we camp at Yellowstone National Park. They said ‘sorry something came up we have to cancel’. That was it. Aghhhhh it’s July, peak season at Yellowstone, even with COVID-19 when we were booking in April everywhere was seemingly full. We were lucky to score this free boondocking camp site through ‘boondockers welcome’. We also had the challenge of almost zero internet and just 7 days to find somewhere to stay for two nights as well as store our trailer for 5 nights.

Oh did I tell you it was peak season….at YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK!!! This place attracts up to 30 000 visitors a day at old faithful alone. Yes, think I may have mentioned this.

Oh bugger.

Chris called around some campsites and found out there was somewhere we could leave our RV on some chamber of commerce land. But every time he tried to email them the internet stopped. But then he found another boondocking location to the north of Yellowstone. It took a while for the site owner to reply and she said it was possible for us to stay!!! Woohoo!!! The small ask the owner had was on the second night we wouldn’t be able to wander the property because they had guests. We can cope with that limitation 🙂

Keep your fingers crossed this doesn’t fall through for us!

The Road Trip

Estes Park Colorado

It is true, the town of Estes Park is beautiful, nestled in amongst the Rockies, it’s picture perfect. Our campsite, Jellystone at Estes Park, was located about 5 miles out of town. The nice thing about this campsite was it was resort style, so it had a pool, giant jump pad, playgrounds, mini golf and entertainment etc. Just outside Estes Park is the entrance the Rocky Mountain National Park (link to post). It really was the perfect place for is to start our tiny house adventure at.

We headed into town to cycle around the lake, surrounded by rocky outcrops. It was only about 3.5 miles but it was scenic and peaceful. A few mild inclines got the old heart racing, especially with a 32lb girl on the back of my bike! Aviana got a chance to climb some rocks and throw stones into the lake. Chris was on form with his stone skimming.

Estes park lake we cycled around

I got a sense that the town was not filled with the normal tourist crowd. In fact there were many signs saying ‘welcome back’. After our bike ride we only made it so far into town as to find an ice cream. They had only been open a few days, I think we had lucked out.

We treated ourselves to ice cream floats. I had lemon sorbet float on kombucha, Chris had caramel crisp ice cream float on nitro coffee. Aviana kept it simple with double chocolate. Just as we sat down to enjoy our treats, the wind picked up and blew chairs across the garden and almost into the stream nearby! A storm was brewing and so we gulped down our well deserved frozen goodies and headed straight home to the tiny house. It’s a shame because I felt that the quaint town deserved to be explored.

Overall Estes Park was perfectly memorable.

The Road Trip

Goodbye and Hello

11 July 2020

Friday was a tough day. A lot of goodbyes were said. Aviana’s teachers and school, my work colleagues, my car, our medium sized house we rented for 3 months, our city-Chesapeake, VA, plus a whole lot of personal items that we ended up donating or throwing away. It was a busy day full of all sorts of emotions.

Goodbye work 😦

Meanwhile, Chris was completing his cross country five day road trip from Chesapeake, Virginia to Estes Park, Colorado. Thankfully Chris arrived safely, the tiny house all in one piece.

Chris pulled the tiny house to Denver alone for 5 days!

Aviana’s sitter, Vanessa, housed Aviana and I up for our last night in Virginia at her condo in Virginia Beach. This was not far from where we used to live when we first moved to the US 7.5 years ago. It was a bit surreal to be finishing up in the same place we started.

I shared a bed with Aviana who has been ridiculously excited for months about the tiny house adventure. Of course she woke up at 4AM!!! I also discovered she is also a crazy sleeper-flailing, kicking, sleep talking, duvet stealing (I’m sure Chris would tell you she gets it from me!!) so I was running on poor sleep anyway.

We arrived at the airport early morning and I found myself pondering how many times I had been to that airport in the past 7.5 years. I estimated around 200. It was strange to think that might be the last time I could see it, and it was even more surreal that everyone was masked up. Well, almost everyone, a large number of people were wearing their masks below their nose. *sigh*

Naturally as I had a short connection in Washington Dulles something was going to be screwed up with the first flight. It’s called the law of short connections that should never be sold to you. (We didn’t choose these flights as our direct flight to Denver was cancelled due to COVID-19).

The plane and crew were already there to go. But this time the gate door wouldn’t open. It was rather amusing to see the number of people it took to figure it out. Not so amusing as time ticked away delaying us. Just as they figured out a plan to get us on the plane without going through the gate, the gate door magically opened. So in the end we arrived 25 mins late, leaving just 15 mins for me to get from one end of one terminal to the end of a completely different terminal. I made it by the skin of my teeth carrying Aviana on my back with FOUR bags on my front. (Not planned, my checked bag was overweight!) I will not miss running across airports, that’s for sure! I think I have done my fair share for life.

The flight into Denver was mostly uneventful (apart from weirdness from COVID-19). I did fail majorly and forgot to charge up the tablet for Aviana, so I had to get creative on our 4hr flight!

Getting creative on the plane!
Just before landing in Denver

And so after all of those goodbyes, it was finally hello! Hello to Chris who was waiting for us at Denver airport, hello to big the Rocky Mountains, hello to our tiny house….and….hello to our new adventure!!!!

Hello Rocky Mountains!!!