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75 degrees and sunny
Greetings from sunny Florida! In our last blog post, we talked a little about the “Florida shuffle” that we’ve been doing through these winter months. We have decided to continue this shuffle through March. We hear winter is in full force up in New England! We can’t say we miss those winter driving conditions, or shoveling, etc. but the kids do miss making snow creations and sledding. Our oldest is also a bit jealous of the snow days off from school! Speaking of snow creations, we received this cute photo from New Hampshire recently: This month, we will celebrate our 6 month mark on the road. In November, we wrote about reaching our 3 month mark and highlighted many of the similarities between life on the road and stationary life. Tonight, we thought we’d cover some of the differences we’ve discovered. There are obvious differences, like the significantly smaller living space size the 5 of us share as compared to when we were stationary. We also obviously move our home around every few weeks. We’ve also discussed the difference in the community we’ve been welcomed in to while on the road, and how it is now much easier for our children to engage with new and different people. However, there are some differences that we didn’t really anticipate, or give much thought to before we started on this journey. When we left on this adventure, we had zero experience towing, and/or operating an RV. I will say that again … we had ZERO experience spending any amount of time in an RV. With that in mind, some differences we cover may seem obvious to those of you who spend time in an RV for weekend trips or vacations. For example, one night we forgot to check the weather before bed. Throughout our trip, the weather has been fairly similar – hot during the day, and cool at night. Some days we use the air conditioning, but almost every night it has been comfortable enough to sleep with some or all of our windows open. In a stationary house, sleeping with the windows all or somewhat open would not require checking the weather. However, in an RV, in addition to traditional windows, there are screened vents that open in the ceiling. Our RV has 3 of these vents. One vent happens to be above our bed. Getting back to the night we forgot to check the weather … sure enough, I awoke to an elbow to the ribs, and a “hunny, close the ceiling, my toes are getting rained on”. The remaining, more noticeable differences all have to do with our plumbing system – which is designed differently than a stationary home. Did you know, most toilets in an RV flush via a foot press? See the picture below: This means, in order to flush the toilet, you use your foot to press down on the lever. This difference is small, but noticeable. Especially when your 4 year old tells you he can’t find “the flusher” on a friend’s stationary house toilet during an over-night visit because the traditional stationary hand flush knob has been forgotten. Also, in an RV there are a few holding tanks for the water cycled through your sinks, shower, and toilet(s). All sink and shower water runs through what is called a “grey tank” and all toilet use runs through what is called a “black tank”. Our RV has two grey tanks, and one black tank. These tanks are simply that; tanks. When we flush or rinse water down a drain, the water travels down to its designated tank and hangs out in the tank until I flush it out. Some of our friends have joked that this is what they picture whenever we have described toilet troubles throughout our journey: Cousin Eddie from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation At first, the idea of managing the flushing of our own systems seemed like an ordeal we weren’t sure we would ever become used to. However, we … err, I (Michael) learned that flushing the system is fairly simple. When a tank is full, I walk around the outside of the RV to the appropriate valve, open the valve, and release the contents in to the park septic system through a hose that I connected upon arrival to the park. This inevitably means, though, that after finally getting the children through their tub/shower routines and to bed for the night, after really looking forward to a shower myself, I’ve had to weigh the hassle of going outside after dark to drain a full grey tank. I’ve also been able to use this as an excuse, however, for leaving the dishes until morning if the kitchen sink grey water tank (which is separate from the bathroom sink and tub) is getting full. Now that you are all experts on the inner workings of an RV plumbing system, let me tell you about how the lottery is different than the one we were familiar with while stationary. In the RV world, there is such a thing as a sewer lottery. Now, we’ve stayed at several parks along the east coast throughout this adventure, and have only had the pleasure of the sewer lottery experience at one park. Here’s the scene: After driving for several hours, we finally see the beloved ‘1 minute remaining’ on the GPS. We miss our turn off of the 55 mph, six lane, mini-highway in to the park and scramble to make a u-turn about a mile passed our destination. I don’t handle that minor hiccup with any grace, and the kids are beyond ready to see that “we’re there yet”. We pull in, and make our way to parking by the front office to check in. It is 1:30 pm. We’re told we missed the 1pm sewer lottery, and we can either pick a spot without sewer or wait in a holding area until the 3pm lottery. Neither of these options are awesome, but we choose to wait out the hour and a half and try our luck at 3pm. While in the holding area, we get to plug in to electric, slide our slides out (expanding our living space), and stay connected to the truck. This at least gives the kids a chance to eat lunch, and play, all while the air conditioner is running and our refrigerator is keeping cool. However, we’re not connected to water yet, and we won’t feel fully ‘arrived’ and settled until we haul the camper to our designated site. Long story a little shorter, we won the lottery! Wahoo! This means we’re assigned a spot with sewer hook-ups and we can make our way to our site as we have in every other park we’ve stayed in. When we’ve shared this story with family and friends they’ve asked “wait, so if you didn’t win the lottery, you wouldn’t be able to flush your toilet?”. Thinking back to the holding tanks you’re all now so familiar with, you know that this is not the reality for those who do not win a sewer lottery. They’d still have a site with water hook-up, so washing hands, showering, and toilet flushing all work the same as if you are connected to sewer. The only difference is when your tanks are full. Remember that valve outside? The one that I pull to release the tank contents in to the park septic system? It is the releasing the contents of the tanks that is hindered if an RV is parked at a site without sewer. So, what are the options, in that case? Well, there are typically two options. Option one means moving your RV when the tanks are full, to a dump spot, usually located within the park. You park beside a connection to the park sewer, connect your hose, and release the valves. Option two means utilizing what is called a “honey wagon”. A honey wagon is essentially a large holding tank, pulled around by a truck (or, we’ve seen a tractor for this use too). The honey wagon pulls up to your valves, a park employee connects a park hose to your camper, and opens the valves to release the contents of your tanks in to the honey wagon. The honey wagon would then make its way to the dump station, as in option one, and empty the wagon in to the park septic system in the same way. If a honey wagon is available in the event of no sewer hook ups, this is usually a free service offered by the park *if* you only require one use per week. Additional use of a honey wagon would incur an additional fee. So, while we know we would’ve had options in the event we did not win the sewer lottery, we were glad we had sewer hook-up, given our family of 5 requires daily grey tank release. Now you know- Happy Travels! View from our front door
Greetings, from Florida! 2017
Yes, we’re still traveling through Florida. So far on this journey, Florida has been the state in which our camper has been parked for the longest amount of time. We flew to New Hampshire for several weeks throughout the Thanksgiving holiday, while the camper remained in Florida. Since our return to the camper life, we have been busy! Family from New Hampshire flew down for a Florida visit and we enjoyed being tourists with them for a week. We then experienced our first Christmas Eve/Day in our camper without extended family. While we missed sharing the holiday, we relished the relaxed pace and simplistic design of our celebration. Shortly after Christmas, we had a travel day and moved our camper to another campground in Florida. We then took off for a few days to visit family near Tampa. This was the first time our toes had ever dipped in to the Gulf! While the last month or so has felt very much like a vacation, we have been busy growing our business. This blog is more designed for updates on the road-life journey, so we’ll keep the business update brief. In addition to spreading the word of our offer to businesses locally in Florida, we have launched a direct mailer campaign. Our mailer campaign is exciting! We have collaborated with a postcard company to create, design, and mail postcards to a targeted audience of small businesses who do not yet have a website in the New Hampshire area. We’re excited to see how this campaign will help to grow small business! Throughout our whirlwind of adventures, returning to the camper has felt more and more like returning home each time. We are pleased with the ease in which the children return to life as usual when we return to the camper. Though we are often reminded of the patience and flexibility required for this lifestyle, we are recognizing the normalcy of our day to day routine. Bedtime, chores, meal prep, home school, etc. are all flowing nicely for our family of 5! The baby is reaching developmental milestones that add to the need for flexibility of life on the road … but we often think back to these times with the older children and are reminded that we needed to be flexible with our ever changing environment in a house living situation too. Whether you’re in an apartment, a camper, or a 6 bedroom house, the toddler is in charge! The toddler determines furniture purchases/arrangement, what time you’re actually going to leave for an appointment, how much laundry you’ll need to complete in a day, how many hours of sleep you’ll enjoy in a night, etc. Next week we travel to yet another campground in Florida. In the community of full-time travelers, this is called “the Florida shuffle”. Avoiding cold weather while living in a camper is, for obvious reasons, a popular plan. We have met more and more new families sharing this life style in Florida and have reconnected with families we had already met in previous states. While “the Florida shuffle” is what we’re doing right now, we still plan to head onward to California … we just don’t have a set date for leaving Florida. We left New Hampshire with a very ‘New England’ mind set – a strict plan for an adventure we have now come to learn is better left somewhat unplanned. I stumbled across this meme today, and felt it described our journey perfectly. Many aspects of our journey are entirely purposeful. We want to explore the country, we want to live well with less stuff, we want our children to meet new and different people, etc. etc. (certainly a blog topic for another day!). While our destination includes growing our business, reaching the West Coast, and accomplishing our purposeful goals, our current destination is for now, dependent on the weather, and therefore, rather vague. For now, while in Florida, we continue to enjoy swimming after dinner, learning more about snakes and alligators, and spotting lizards and birds during walks. Please let us know if you have any questions about either of our two new campaigns, or about life on the road! If there is something about our journey that you’ve been wondering about, we want to hear from you! We’d love to write a blog post to answer any questions you may have about the lifestyle. Please send us your comments via email here or find us on Facebook, if you haven’t already. In addition, I can always be reached directly, on my cell 603-703-8213 Safe Travels, friends!
You all know by now that I’m on this crazy, cross-country, road adventure with my family to grow FreeWebsiteFormation.com. However, you may not know how this path became my reality. So, for today’s blog post, I’m going to take you through how I ended up doing what it is I do today. In order for you to understand this journey, I need to go back as far as high school. When I completed high school, college was the next step. I wasn’t actually ready for college right after high school – but that didn’t stop me from diving right in to a freshman year at a NH state college pretty well known for parties. I excelled at partying. I did not do so well with academic studies. Therefore, I did not return for the traditional sophomore year. Instead, I took off across the country. I worked odd jobs along the way in Colorado, California, and Hawaii. Very soon after my return to New Hampshire from Hawaii, I met the woman who would become my wife, and mother to my children. Eventually, when I realized I was heading down this serious relationship path, I knew odd jobs were not going to sustain the life I wanted to provide for my wife and our future children. It was time to grow up. I returned to college. I married my best friend. I became a dad. My first child watched me receive my undergraduate degree. I got a job – a good job, in Boston Massachusetts. I commuted from New Hampshire, and I worked hard. I did everything I had been taught was right. College, career, support my family. Then 2008 happened. Like many folks in 2008, I was laid off. The rug had been ripped out from under me. I had turned my life around, I did what I was ‘supposed’ to do – yet, I was still left scrambling for odd jobs to support my family. The “safe” path we are all taught to follow had failed me and felt far from safe to me at that time. What do I do now? My wife had followed the traditional college track, and she took a job in her field while I juggled a few different entry level positions, including a 3rd shift position for a while. We did what we needed to do to support our daughter. We rarely saw each other, and we had just enough money to make ends meet. Eventually I took a direct business to business sales position with a beverage distributor. This job paid well. It kept me busy with long hours, weekend and holiday obligations, and consistent stress that is the sales game … but it allowed my wife to return home as a stay at home mom. We were in a space of our life together where we could breathe again! However, I couldn’t shake the looming fear of ‘what if the rug is pulled out again?’. I returned to college for my Masters in Business Administration, determined to learn everything I could about how to create my own path to financially providing for my family. Starting my own business was how I knew I could ultimately better control our future stability. When I graduated with my MBA, I then had two children to watch me receive my degree. I continued to work 60 hour weeks in sales both during and after I completed my MBA. In my spare time, FreeWebsiteFormation.com was born. FreeWebsiteFormation.com was born as my way of starting my own business to provide for my family. However, FreeWebsiteFormation.com was also born out of a need I saw clearly in my business to business sales role. I grew to know many small business owners within my community and the surrounding communities throughout my sales route. These small businesses, much like all small businesses in every community, are the heart of each small town. Small businesses provide jobs, economic growth, and strengthen the sense of community within their towns. I quickly realized many small businesses do not currently have a website. Prior to the launch of FreeWebsiteFormation.com, small businesses had two options if they wanted a website. 1) Pay a web designer a significant amount of money to establish and design a website for them. 2) Navigate through creating a website on their own. Both of these options are viable for some small businesses. Hiring a web designer is a great option, if you require a complex website with online appointment functions, or shopping carts for example. And taking time to do it yourself is an option too, if you have the time. FreeWebsiteFormation.com bridges the gap and provides a 3rd option … an affordable (we think free is pretty affordable) basic website that is made for the small business owner. Ok, Ok, I’ll lay off the sales pitch … but first, I want to make a few things clear: FreeWebsiteFormation.com was started as a means to establish my own business in order to provide for my family. FreeWebsiteFormation.com is my own small business. That said, FreeWebsiteFormation.com was created to HELP SMALL BUSINESS GROW!! In 2016 and beyond, it is important to have an online presence – and we help small business grow by establishing their basic website online in a professional and affordable way. We win, and the small business owner wins as well! To the small business owner who doesn’t know me, I’m just a guy walking in to sell them something. They usually quickly understand that ‘something’ I’m selling is a great deal … but I’m not sure it is easy to see that beneath the ‘that sales guy’ label I’m often given, is a dad – a husband trying to forge on through my goal of providing for my family and my dream of owning my own small business. Ok, Ok, now I’ll lay off the sappy dad stuff and wrap up what has turned in to quite the lengthy blog post!! … Somewhere in the timeline above, I took the plunge. I left my business to business sales job to pursue FreeWebsiteFormation.com fulltime. We also welcomed our third baby in to the world. FreeWebsiteFormation.com then had much success in the New Hampshire area, so we decided to take this business on the road to continue to build small business throughout the country… bringing us back to present time in the story that is my own personal journey. Today, we have traveled the East Coast from New Hampshire to Florida. We plan to spend some time in Florida and continue onward to California. We are in love with our journey as a family, and meeting and helping small businesses along the way. HOWEVER, we cannot possibly stop at every small business within the entire country. Our service is a tremendous opportunity for small business owners everywhere. Our business is growing, we are helping small businesses grow. This is awesome. Thanks for reading about our mission! We are so pumped to continue to help small business grow!
Greetings from Florida!
I apologize for the gap in time since our last blog post. We have been busy! Colleen experienced an emergency medical situation recently. She’s back to full health now, but we had to halt our normal routine for a little while. Through her experience, we once again were reminded of the strength, grace, and compassion within our community of fellow campers, friends, and family!! As soon as Colleen was out of the woods, we quickly returned to business as usual. We moved on to North Carolina, South Carolina, and now – Florida! The children are getting a kick out of trying new and different restaurants and noticing patterns in now familiar shops that we see within these new southern towns. Biscuits are a new favorite, and “fixins” have been added to our mealtime lingo. Dunkin Donuts is no longer a reliable travel day find. Speaking of travel days, we have switched up our plans slightly to include a visit back to New Hampshire for Thanksgiving. Colleen has actually been back for a few days with our youngest two children, and I will be joining her with our oldest next week. We will then return to Florida after Thanksgiving and continue westward from there. I make it a point not to flood these blog posts with business updates, but I just can’t hide my excitement for an upcoming improvement to our marketing model! That said, I am not going to get in to specifics until we unveil our new marketing strategy in the coming days. Until then, I look forward to seeing as many familiar faces as possible during our visit to New Hampshire! Thank you to those of you who are spreading the message of the service we offer! We are so happy to help build small business in New Hampshire and throughout the country during our journey! Drop us a line if you’d like to connect during our NH visit! As always, thank you for your continued support! Be on the lookout for our new and improved marketing, coming soon! Be well, friends – and safe travels!
Life in a travel trailer
This weeks post was written by Colleen, my wife. Also she did a video tour of our camper on our facebook page As I started to make a list of things I love about living in a camper full time, and things I miss about living in a house – I realized some of the things I love or miss aren’t necessarily specific to living in a camper vs. a house. For example, I love aspects of homeschooling – like allowing O to plan her day/curriculum around her specific interests and the general flexibility we have to incorporate day trips and our changing geographical location in to her school day. At the same time, I don’t like feeling like “the bad guy” all day because I’m both mom and teacher – and sometimes she doesn’t want to work on an assignment that needs to be completed. I also miss sending her off in to the world, having time apart, and then hearing all about her day from her perspective without having seen her whole day already with my own eyes. These are all likes and dislikes that I imagine other parents who choose to homeschool can relate to in some way, regardless of the type of home they live in. I miss my friends and co-workers. I miss the group texts negotiating coffee pick-ups before showing up at the office, and the girls night’s out (or in), and meeting friends to get our kids together to play. I miss the luxury of having family and friends nearby to drop my children off with when I need a break. I even miss walking in to the grocery store and bumping in to a handful of people I know (which, the introvert in me never thought I’d miss! – ha). These are all things I think anyone who has moved far from home would relate to though, again, regardless of the type of home they moved to. I know Michael has discussed the camping community previously in the blog – so I won’t get in to that too much tonight, but we are certainly not the only family on the road living full time in an RV and growing a business. It has been nice to meet new people and families who are doing the same exact thing. I don’t love travel days. I enjoy seeing the new and unfamiliar terrain that we drive by – and I am always excited on a travel day to get to our next destination. However, spending any longer than an hour in a vehicle with our three kids all while pulling our entire home is stressful. I plan activities and snacks for the kids ahead of a travel day. I’ve learned to hide the Ipads for a few days prior to travel days, so that the same old apps the kids are used to feel new and exciting to be reunited with in the truck. Our last few travel days have been about 6 hours of drive time … and we spend the day before travel prepping for travel. When we wake up on travel day, we are in travel mode – which feels hectic. As much as I am so excited to finally arrive at our next stop, the thing I dislike the most about travel day is in fact, arriving at our next stop. I’m not crazy – hahaha, I know how backwards that sounds … but here’s the thing: think back to the last time you drove home from a far-away location. Think about how nice it is to turn that last corner, or drive up that last hill, or to see your mailbox at the end of your driveway. You park your car, if you’re old like me (ha!) you probably groan a bit as you stretch yourself out of your car. Then you unlock your front door, walk in to your home greeted by a hug of familiar “home smell”, and you plop yourself on to your couch or your bed and breathe. When we arrive at our next stop, we are home. However, our home is still attached to our truck, and it is not level, and everyone needs to use the bathroom, but the water is not yet connected. The kids have been still for far too long, and need to run around – so we usually send them off to the playground. Then I stand and bobble the baby while attempting to be somewhat helpful to Michael while he levels the camper and connects all the hook ups. This process takes about 30 minutes (and everyone still needs to use the bathroom). As I continue to ramble on about life in a camper – please don’t read the things I dislike about the lifestyle as complaints – I am not complaining about this amazing adventure we’re on. There are things I love about this trip, and things that I don’t enjoy, but I am grateful that we are on this journey and I wouldn’t trade this experience at all. I love waking up in new spaces and exploring with the kids! I love hearing how gleeful they are when they check out a new playground for the first time, or when we pass a new farm stand to shop at. I love seeing the difference in landscape through the windows and the difference in how the sun looks at dawn and dusk. I love that I easily forget what day it is. I love how time has never passed so quickly each day before in my life – this reminds me to be more aware of now and how quickly life is going by. I also love that my children are learning to walk up to other children so easily to start a conversation and learn about the adventure they may be on with their family. I could go on and on … but the baby is fussy and I have one last topic to cover! There are things I like and things I dislike about living full time in a camper. There are also things that are just different about living in a camper, and I can’t say that I like or dislike them – or sometimes, depending on the day I like them, and on another day, I could use a break from them. For example, we have a tub/shower in the camper. The water is running and it is clean and it gets hot. However, the pressure is low, my arms are always on a wall or the curtain as I maneuver through my routine, and I only get about 6 minutes of hot water before it starts to cool. I really don’t mind our shower – but when we were at the hotel for our Diggerland trip – I REALLY LOVED the hotel shower! Haha. I also have a tiny counter space in our kitchen. This makes meal prep, doing dishes, and using varied appliances tricky – but I don’t mind it. I love being in such a tight space with my family – MOST of the time. I take opportunities for myself to get out or to have some down time … which usually looks like grocery shopping or writing this blog (in chunks, when the kids are content). However, that again is something that isn’t necessarily camper life exclusive. I’ve felt like I needed space or a break or some down time when living in a large, stationary home as well. Overall, living in a camper is not all that different than living in a stationary home … which is a realization that has surprised me. We are on this crazy adventure, but coffee still runs through the coffee pot each morning and bath toys are still left behind in the tub. Laundry, dishes, sweeping, and toilet cleaning still need to take place. The kids still have chores they are responsible for and Michael and I still need to work on growing this business to financially support our family. Our home is in a new location every few weeks, and we are further and further from the geographical location we are so familiar with. We are exploring and meeting new people, and trying new foods, and seeing places our eyes have never seen before. However, we are still running out of toilet paper, making the same beds every morning, and tripping over the same legos we were tripping over when we lived stationary. -Colleen
Greetings from Pennsylvania! We arrived at our current campground on Tuesday of this week. Travel went well. The trip was lengthy, though. If we were traveling without hauling a camper and 3 kids it probably would’ve taken just over 4 hours. That is not the case though, and this particular drive was just over 6 hours. It made for a long day, but we only stopped twice. The first stop was because we came to an old, tiny, stone tunnel marked with only 9 feet of clearance- oiy! We ventured onward after trouble shooting, and our second stop was needed in order for my wife to nurse the baby, and for everyone to stretch their legs! We had planned ahead of this lengthy journey and had what we called our “bag of tricks” prepared. It was a handful of new toys, stickers, and coloring/activity books as well as several snack bags and travel treats to keep the big kids entertained. We had no trouble backing in to our site and hooking everything up. Once again, we are strategically close to a playground and the kids have enjoyed taking off together to play. We are also parked beside a pavilion with a cement floor, which the children can easily ride their bikes or scooters on. We have a lovely corn field in our ‘back yard’ and there are many farm animals on the property, within walking distance. We have enjoyed a few campfires with s’mores and with new friends. We have met a few families here who have also decided to camp full time with their children. It has been fun to meet these families and to learn more about their adventures so far, what they do for income, and any tricks or tips they may have for life on the road with children. We are just south of Gettysburg, and as you may have seen on my Facebook page, we had a front row seat to a civil war reenactment right here at our campground. We plan to visit Gettysburg next week. We have also planned a tour of the Utz potato chip factory and are taking the kids to Diggerland (construction themed park) as well – it’s a surprise, so shh! With all these day plans, homeschool, and my sell days in the community, we sure stay busy! The days are flying by. One change that struck me this week, however, came through in a text message as seen below: Colleen is my wife – and she called our camper “home”. In fact, it donned on me after I read this that the kids have called our camper home now too. When they’ve asked when we’re headed home in the last week or two, they haven’t meant New Hampshire – they’ve meant our camper. I am so grateful to my wife and kids for taking on this adventure with me. I carry a heavy weight of responsibility to make FreeWebsiteFormation.com work to provide for them as I have since I started this company over a year ago. That weight has been heavier since deciding to build this from the road. They are on this adventure with me and while I know our journey is an incredible opportunity for them, at the same time, it has been quite an adjustment. Knowing our camper has started to feel like home has lifted a chunk of that weight. We will be celebrating the completion of our first month of full time RV travel this coming week! What a month it has been! Please feel free to share our blog! Safe travels!
Greetings, once again, from New York! Yesterday, we worked through our first toilet/septic blockage issue. I’ll spare you the details – but it was throughout this hours long, unpleasant process that I realized the tremendous community we have around us for this journey. Well, we have several amazing communities supporting us … our friends and family have been amazingly supportive (could not have done this without you), and we are grateful for you, our digital following community, as well! It was through the toilet mess, though, that I came to realize the additional community I had been previously unaware of. Our fellow camping community. As soon as it became abundantly clear that we had a toilet issue, I turned first to the internet for guidance. There is a wealth of helpful tips and tricks posted by fellow full time and recreational RV folks through blogs and forums online. I found a few ideas to help us solve our issue – and we ended up using a trick that involved hot boiling water. This tip worked wonders, and allowed us to avoid any costly repairs and/or further damage to our system. While it sounds like our issue was solved quickly – it ended up being a project that took up most of our morning. Now, our kids were *mostly* great throughout this entire process – however, there are 3 of them, and us adults are outnumbered. We were so pleasantly surprised by the grace our neighbors and even some park staff showed us as we worked through trouble shooting our toilet mess. Just days before this mess, one neighbor had simply left a few toys for our children to have at our doorstep. This was so thoughtful, and came in handy while we were otherwise occupied with the toilet project. Then, our other neighbors, who are newly empty nesters- welcomed our children for a tour of their renovated greyhound bus-turned RV. The children had been in awe of this bus when it rolled in Friday night, so they were thrilled to have the opportunity to explore it Saturday morning! These neighbors also invited the children for a campfire and s’mores later on last night, which was a wonderful way for everyone to de-stress after our morning. Then there was the ability to allow our children to ride their bikes and walk to and from the playground while we worked on the toilet issue. The vehicles all adhere to the 5mph speed limit and have been mindful of watching for children throughout our stay. At one point, I glanced over to check on the kids, and I spotted a campground employee bent over by my 3 year old’s bike. At first, I was concerned about what my 3 year old had gotten in to in the 2 minutes I had my eyes off of him – and then was pleasantly surprised to see that this gentleman had stopped simply to tighten a training wheel on my son’s bike. We are so excited about this journey, but we are well aware of the fact that we are going to have some hurdles to get through before it is over. I learned this weekend, that it is important to seek the good through all circumstances (even insignificant toilet problems) – because it’s there, if you look hard enough. I am also so grateful for this new community of support and look forward to becoming part of someone else’s camping community story. I think every day is a good day to keep this in mind, but today’s day of remembrance is not lost on me – especially being in New York, so I will leave you with this for the week: be open to kindness, and to how it’s the simple acts that can make a huge difference – because we’re all in this life thing together – we’re all one big community. Safe travels, and we’ll write next from Pennsylvania
Greetings from New York!
We left Massachusetts last Thursday and have set up camp in New York. Un-hooking the camper in Massachusetts went well, albeit a bit delayed due to some heavy rainfall. Road travel went well also. The trip was about 3 hours, and we stopped twice – once for our lunch, and a second time for the baby to nurse. The children are starting to look forward to travel days for the fun food stops along the way! If you’d like to see a video from our travel day, please visit our Facebook page They did great! We love the new park we’re in! This park is much larger than the last. There are 2 playgrounds for the children and an outdoor pool. There is also a large field, and paved roads for their bike riding adventures. This holiday weekend has been particularly loud at night, which we expected – and we anticipate next week will be quite the opposite as most people will head home tomorrow. We were happy to have worked through our water issues at the last park. It makes such a difference to pull in to a new park and have the water hook-up ready to go!! Within 20 minutes of arriving, we were all set up in the camper and ready for dinner. There are many farms and small businesses in the area. We have noticed many of the businesses do not yet have websites, so we are very much looking forward to direct selling and spreading word of mouth!! We have already enjoyed some fresh bounty from local farms and plan to take the kids berry picking this week. One farm actually pulls a cart with a tractor through our campground and stops for people to purchase fresh farm goods right off the cart – it’s like a traveling farmer’s market! The approaching hurricane along the East Coast this weekend prompted some conversations between my wife and I around safety plans while we’re on the road. We feel like we’re pretty well covered when it comes to general safety practices- like safe use of our propane set up, safe driving with the camper, keeping our doors locked while we’re away from the camper, and keeping our children safe/empowered/informed in new environments. The weather, however, is an unpredictable safety concern – for everyone, but especially for us while we travel with and live in the camper. We are headed south, and are hoping to avoid cold weather throughout the winter. While we do have a heater in the camper, we want to avoid pulling the camper on icy road conditions. We are pretty confident that we will be able to avoid the icy mess this winter! That leaves tornados and hurricanes to consider. One great benefit to life in the camper means we can simply drive away from impacted areas with enough advance notice. This would most likely be our approach for any direct hit hurricane type weather, again, that is predicted in advance. We have also planned to take note of our new surroundings at each stop. We locate grocery and gas locations for use at each stop- but we also have started to locate nearby hospitals and hotels just in case we need to seek a sturdy structure to wait out a less predictable weather situation. We also keep “go” bags in the truck with basic emergency items like a hand-crank flashlight, hand-crank radio, first aid, water, snacks, diapers/wipes for the baby and a change of clothes for everyone in case we need to be away from the camper for a few days. It is a gorgeous, sunny, 78 degree day here in New York- so it seems odd to have emergency weather situations in the back of our mind. However, we feel pretty well prepared, and hope that keeping an eye on the predicted weather conditions will be enough to avoid any serious dangers. We have enjoyed much of this beautiful day outside. Today has been a family day filled with playgrounds, bike rides, hay rides, mini-golf, milking cows, feeding farm animals, bouncy houses, and a corn maze! We hope you’re all enjoying sunshine and time with family as well! Safe travels, and take care!
First week on the road notes
Greetings from Massachusetts! We have arrived at our first RV park of the journey. We spent the last 6 weeks parked at our in-law’s drive way in southern NH and have now completed our inaugural RV park set-up with the camper. We still have much to learn about setting up! We had been super spoiled with home cooked meals and residential plumbing throughout our drive-way stay. We quickly discovered just how spoiled we were during our first few days away from New Hampshire. My wife corresponded via email to our parents during our first two days of the trip as well as today (day 6) in Massachusetts. We decided those emails were so detailed and well written that sharing them here made the most sense for our blog update today! Enjoy! Day 1: We left my parents driveway around 1:45ish yesterday. Travel went well, ran in to some traffic near a motorcycle accident- a helicopter actually landed on the highway in the northbound lane on 495. We arrived at the park shortly before 4. We had 2 available spots to choose from to park our camper. It was between a flat, near the playground, super tight to neighbors spot or a more private lot above a pond with a steep drop off further from the playground. We chose the flat tight to your neighbor spot. When I say tight to your neighbor though, I mean it. There is just enough space for a camper and a picnic table and then your neighbor on both sides. There are 2 lanes of camper spots in this section, so we’re backed right up to another camper. We haven’t yet put on the bike rack on the back bumper- which is good- because the bike rack would be touching the camper we’re backed up to. Even though we’re close, it is very quiet. Mostly older neighbors with a few dogs (who drive me nuts at night when they bark for a minute or two- but then the baby cries for a minute or two also and I feel like we’re even, haha). After we arrived yesterday we took the kids to the playground and also worked on getting hooked up. We had never hooked up before, and like learning how to hitch on the camper, it is going to take a few runs to feel comfortable with what we’re doing. An old retired man from Florida was very helpful and showed Michael a few things. We still need to find a valve that will allow us to by-pass our water tank and use the town water directly. Our water smells bad right now, we assume because it sat in the tank for so long. We have drained the tank, and our first priority today (after the dunkins/grocery run) is finding that valve. We were able to operate the toilet last night and this morning and have been using gallon jugs of water for hand washing. We learned the hard way that our fridge takes about 6 hours to cool down when it is first turned on with electricity. I’m bummed that my frozen milk for the baby that we packed frozen has gone to waste. The kids enjoyed a nutritious dinner last night consisting of apples, gold fish, and cookies. Everyone was a little frazzled from the hook up process/lack of running clean water. The kids didn’t understand why we couldn’t do all the fun playground/swimming/campfire activities right away and all night. It took the big kids a while to fall asleep and J said he wanted to go home. They were all asleep by 9pm. Baby woke to eat at 11pm, J came in to our bed at 3am, and then everyone was awake by 7am. We have the option now to use our air conditioner, however, the temperature outside was comfortable enough without using the ac. We think our neighbors from Florida ran their furnace early this am!! The camper is about 60 degrees this morning- a bit chilly, but perfect for blankets and sweatshirts. Today’s plan is finalizing some organizing tasks and getting the water fully operational. Michael is out with the kids picking up some groceries. I’m sure we’ll explore the playground/park more today too. Day 2 I won’t be sending daily updates going forward – haha – but, I wanted to let you all know how day 2 went today. When Michael returned from grocery shopping he took the big kids to the playground. He talked with some park employees and learned of a different camper spot that opened up. We had the option to move our camper to this new spot, which we chose to do. The new spot has a bit more room and a clear view to the playground that allows the big kids to walk off together to the playground while we’re still at our site. This meant unhooking the camper, hitching back on to the truck, parking the camper again, and re connecting all our hook ups. Ugh! We knew the moving process would mean all the tedious things, but we also knew this would give us the extra practice we needed. In fact, in our new spot we were not level and needed to use leveling blocks that we drove the tires of one side of the camper right on to. Through both parking/leveling adventures we actually couldn’t find our level and were worried we had left it behind. We found it hours after today’s camper move, and have it stored with the towing Ox so that it will be available next time we hitch on to the camper. We have finally organized all of our truck bed totes and extra camper gear. We still have some clothes and curriculum materials remaining for the organizing projects. At our new camper site, we finished draining our smelly water tank and hooked on to city water – with a filter between the hook up and our camper. We have also figured out how to by-pass the holding tank, so filtered city water is currently running through the camper- yay! We had to run to a store later in the afternoon to pick up a new outdoor rug that we purchased (better for drying and transporting than the one we originally planned to use). We also picked up some bleach so that we can follow the camper manual instructions for sanitizing the camper fresh water holding tank … so when we don’t have the option to connect to city water, our holding tank will be clean and ready for use. Anyway, we finally now have our outdoor space set up, and the best news of the day is that we have clean running water AND our water heater works well- so I was able to enjoy a hot shower tonight!! The kids enjoyed another cold/snack dinner (cooking with the propane is a lesson for another day) and they used the pool this evening too. Day 6 We’re approaching the one week mark- our first week of this adventure living 100% in the camper and at our first campground. We finally have all of our belongings unpacked and in their place and everyone is starting to get the hang of our new daily routine. The morning, evening, and school routines have been the focus this week. As you know, our kids are early risers. They’ve been great about respecting the early morning quiet hours and have stopped asking if they can run off to the playground at 6am! Some evenings were difficult to convince them it was time for dinner and bed since the other children at the campground were still out playing. We assume once the school year begins, we will see less children during the week and we won’t be battling the vacation mode at bedtime as often. They seem pretty excited about home school, and have enjoyed calling me “teacher” throughout school time. They were happy to discover that field trips will be a big part of our curriculum as we explored Old Sturbridge Village for our very first home school field trip on Friday. J enjoyed figuring out how the simple machines worked, and O made many comparisons to what living must’ve been like then compared to now (no computers?! – ha!). We’ve had a few different neighbors, and we all still get a kick out of watching everyone pull in to their spot for the first time and then pack up and pull away from their spot as well. Navigating the camper is a team effort, and it’s been a fun people watching experience to see folks (mostly couples) work through it. We have been impressed with some of the larger units, and the ease with which some are parked. The children will see campers drive by and we’ve noticed a shift in their language. For example, when we see a Winnebago, J calls those “the drive kind” and a travel trailer is a “pull kind”. Haha. So far all of our neighbors have been nice and willing to help us learn the ropes. A couple from California have been on the road for 6 months and got a kick out of the fact that when they began their journey, they were the novice travelers – and now they were the experienced travelers lending tips and tricks to us, the next novice travelers. Today has been a pretty typical weekend day. I made a Dunkin Donuts run with the kids and we took a few new roads to explore the town a little more on our way back to the campground. Michael worked on plans for the work week and I organized clean laundry. General cleaning (sweeping, mopping, bathroom) is on my to-do list – and it has donned on me that will take a fraction of the time it use to in a residential house!! The children worked on some quiet indoor activities while the baby settled in for a nap. They are riding bikes now, and Michael is tinkering around the camper, draining tanks, checking connections, covering some vent holes with wire mesh and hooking up our bike rack. Shortly we’re all planning to go paddle boating on the tiny pond at the campground. Happy Sunday 🙂
Leaving New Hampshire
We have been so fortunate this last month to stay with family in Southern NH. We have become better acquainted with the features of our camper, have made some great networking relationships in the area, and have enjoyed beach trips, berry picking, ice cream stands, and lots of pool time with the kids. While the weather here is still hot and humid, we are anticipating the upcoming cooler fall weather and have set to leave New England the week of August 22nd. We are still working on packing and organizing the camper for life on the road with 3 children. Today, my wife and I spent the day organizing our clothes. Usually, this time of year, my wife spends hours sorting through all the summer and fall clothes. The summer clothes that won’t fit next year are packed away or donated, and the fall clothes that have been sitting packed away in totes make their way to the dresser drawers. All the winter gear (hats, mittens, scarves, boots, snow pants, and jackets) make their way to the entry-way coat racks and baskets in preparation for the 30/40 degree mornings that New England can experience in September/October. This year was different though. This year, the summer clothes that won’t fit anymore were packed away for donating – but the fall and winter clothes that won’t fit next year were also packed up for donating. Summer clothes that will still fit for a while were saved and made their way to the camper. This is the first year where the end of summer clothes organizing project meant preparing for warm weather instead of a chilly winter. Each child will have one hat and one warm jacket for our trip instead of baskets of hats and 3-4 varying types of cold weather jackets each. As you can see from the picture below, this project was still quite involved. Thank goodness for hand-me-downs when it comes to clothes for constantly growing children!! In the next 2 weeks the organizing and trip preparation will continue and we are excited to venture outside of the comfort of our family’s drive-way! My wife is a little sad to miss the beautiful New England fall scenery though. Does anyone have any pumpkin-spice must try locations along the East Coast between New York and Florida that I can surprise my wife with? If so, please send me a tip at firstname.lastname@example.org We can’t wait to continue helping small businesses grow along our journey. Please share our journey and the incredible offer we have with anyone who can benefit!! Take Care, and Safe Travels! Michael Burnham 603-703-8213
What’s the catch?
What a frustrating question. I get this quite often. In fact, every day I’m out selling, I hear this question at least once. A typical sales call starts like this; “Hi my name is Michael, I want to help you get a website online.” I can almost see ‘walls’ go up in front of the customers eyes. They are guarded and think back in their mind to the last 20 people that have offered to help them get a website online. All 20 of those offers have ended with a price tag of at least $800 – plus a recurring fee for maintenance. The reality is, I have developed this company because the average customer does not have that kind of money to put in to their website. The root of this business is to HELP small businesses grow. When I tell the customer that I make these websites for free, they understandably have their scam radar at full alert. When I am then able to explain how our offer works, they ultimately become customers because they see the honesty in the offer … but first, I usually need to answer the inevitable “what’s the catch”. I say, “Here is the thing- it will take me a couple hours to get your website the way that you want it – and then you’re all set. Why would I charge you a thousand dollars to complete a couple hours’ worth of work?” Most people nod in agreement. I then explain that there is a recurring cost associated with having a website, and that recurring cost is for hosting. I explain that hosting has to do with the fact that the files need to live on a very powerful computer (server). Hosting with us costs around $200 per year for as long as you want to keep your website up. Hosting prices vary depending on the company you use, but hosting is a necessary element to the function of a website regardless of who creates your site for you. Once hosting is explained, I talk about the websites we make for our customers. They are professional and mobile friendly and display your business in a very respectable light. They are custom made to order, but (AND THIS IS HOW THE COST STAYS SO LOW!) they all look very similar, as we use our own custom process to create all of the customers’ websites. The colors are different, the pictures are different, the Facebook feeds are different, and the turn by turn directions via google maps are different as every customer has a different business. I understand that I can sell this for many several hundreds of dollars per customer, just like everyone else in the market. However, that doesn’t help the small business. Our offer does! I am told daily that my prices are WAYYYY too low- I agree. However, more than half of the small businesses in the United States don’t yet have a website. I am convinced that the reason is because they cannot afford or cannot justify the exorbitant expense of every other web developer. We are not web developers. We sell hosting packages and we create simple, mobile friendly, social media connected websites for customers who chose to purchase hosting through us. There is no catch. Helping your small business grow helps our small business grow. Our model is an honest win-win. If you know someone who can benefit from this message, please share it with them either by emailing them a link, sharing this article with them via a social network, or (dare I say, go old school) pick up the phone and call them. Until next time!
What made you decide to do that?
Since we announced our plans to travel with the kids and grow this business on the road, many people have been asking “Why?”. Well, this is why: We were faced with an undeniable reality for this business recently – we have simply outgrown our market. In central New Hampshire (total population somewhere in the ballpark of 15,000 people in a 50 mile radius) we now have well over 100 customers. I am so incredibly proud of that! In just over six months, this business has gone from zero to well-over 100 happy customers who are all now owners of a mobile friendly website, and are expanding their presence online. Our offer is very simple; we will make the five page, mobile friendly website completely for free in exchange for the customer joining us as a hosting customer to the tune of around $200 per year. The customer can leave at any time. The customer owns their domain name. The customer knows how to customize their website because they are able to watch the videos that we provide on our YouTube channel for free. The customer gets exactly what they need without paying an exorbitant rate – a well-constructed, 5 page, mobile friendly website. 100 customers in six months in northern New Hampshire… Awesome!!! However, where do we go from here? Do we stick around northern New Hampshire and help another hundred customers over the course of the next six months to a year? Sure… that could work and could be a way to grow this business slowly in one area – but we would be relatively limited to only helping people in this one area. Frankly, this offer is an incredibly affordable way for small business’ to grow and we feel compelled to help people on a larger scale. We soon realized that in order to grow this business quickly, we would need to move to a new market. We were faced with two options; move to the southern part of the state or another densely populated piece of suburbia and set up shop there (and potentially face this same issue in another year) OR become completely mobile as a family, explore the country with our children while at the same time growing this business – and then settle down again once word of mouth has taken off around the country. We chose the road less traveled! A very slow journey around the United States. We will be staying in new towns for 2 to 3 weeks at a time, helping as many customers as we can in that town and then moving on. All while working digitally and fielding phone calls and emails from customers who have learned about us through word-of-mouth from the town we were in days, weeks, or months ago. We live in such a neat age and are so fortunate to be able to grow a business, needing only an Internet connection that is reliable, a cell phone, and a can-do attitude! We are excited to begin this new adventure and to help small businesses along the way throughout the country!
Jump With Me
“Hun, what do you think about taking an adventure?” I asked my wife several months ago. Mind you, several months ago, my wife was very pregnant with our third child. I don’t remember exactly what her response was, but her eyes had widened and I think she said something like ‘let’s have this baby first, then we can chat adventure’. My wife is my partner in all things, and has supported this business from day one. Today, we are deep in the throes of significantly down-sizing our belongings, prepping our camper for travel with 3 kids, keeping up with the usual summer plans of beach trips and amusement parks, all within the fuss-free moments of our newborn – who completely dictates our schedules currently. “They’re crazy” – it’s ok, we know you’re thinking it … to be honest, the thought has crossed our minds as well. However, we have an amazing offer that can significantly benefit small business, and we’re excited to take our service across the country. Along the way, we look forward to showing our kids the country and adapting to a much more simplified way of life. With a “if not now, when?” mindset, we are counting down the days to our departure. Next stop: southern NH … Stay tuned for updates along our journey