We had been excited to go back and see the Kodiak RV and good ol’ boy Gene on Saturday, however he called us on Friday and told us he would be out of town until Tuesday. Nothing lost, it meant we could have a more thorough think about what we wanted. After a quick visit to see my friends Stef and Justin we were back in Norfolk still scouring the websites looking for our new home. When a 19 footer for $16,000 in the next town over popped up we were excited. We phoned right away and set a time to see it.
After the viewing we were on opposite wavelengths, I thought it was rubbish and Jonathan was sure it was amazing. In the end we decided we were both happy with Gene’s so we’d go that way if we were still happy after our next viewing.
Now is a good time to mention how disorientating I’m finding it being back home. I’m American, but I feel very out of place here. I don’t know where things are in grocery stores, I can’t come up with the American terms for some things and as Jonathan very astutely pointed out, I know nothing about how the country works. It seems exiling myself to Asia and Europe straight out of college has rendered me useless at basic American adult knowledge.
Gene is a good ol’boy, he calls me ma’am and is afraid of things like paypal, in fact someone called him and offered to transfer more money than he was asking for for the RV without even seeing it and he was put off. So we spent the next few days acquiring 19000 in cash from various banks in the Virginia Beach area, neither an easy or comfortable task. We arrived at Gene’s money in hand (well hidden in pockets) and poked around asking questions again. We made our offer and without even haggling he accepted. It turns out what we offered was what he wanted, no haggling required. We had acquired our new home and dubbed him Milton. He’s a 2001 Kodiak 22 footer with awful fabric choices and an air of old people. But we are hyped.
We drove him home. When we Jonathan mentioned he seemed to be pulling a bit to the right. As we planned to drive 8 hours to Ohio on Saturday we thought it better safe than sorry and took him to get checked out. We booked an appointment, woke up to drive him in and he wouldn’t start. Now we at HairVentures have broken down a lot. We’ve broken down on 5 different countries in fact. But breaking down in a 1,500 dollar Citoroen Saxo is one thing, breaking down in a 15,000 RV is another thing entirely. I was sick to my stomach. We called Gene and he said that happens sometimes (wtf?!), we eventually got him to start with some mega jumper leaders and took him. The garage said they would phone us later in the day after having a look at him. We set off do to some Revolutionary War stuff and waited in hope of a clean bill of health.
The call came but a clean bill of health it was not. To you my friend, I will recommend a 300 dollar before you buy inspection. We were lazy you don’t have to be. These things were not Gene’s fault, and I’m going to believe in the good of a good ol’ boy and say he did not know. The tires, all 6 of them had dry rot, we could gamble and drive on but they should all be replaced. On top of that the discs of the brakes needed replaced oh and our battery was rubbish. It was an expensive fix, but they were kind enough to push us through and get it done in 24 hours. Not an ideal start but a very Hairy start indeed.
It always amazes me how slowly a first week goes when a new adventure begins. It seems like a month since I landed at JFK, yet it really has only been seven days.
So, what has happened to give this sense of time going slowly? America. Basically, everything American.
One forgets living in Europe, the difference between the US & the rest of the world in terms of scale (although Australia is to me a 3/4 sized America). Before Meg & I left for the States, we looked at a number of campervans/holiday homes/etc in the UK. We even paid our £6 and joined all the OAPs at the Caravaning show in Birmingham (the pace of life definitely slowed down that day), but this research, in hindsight, didn't prepare us for the 'size' of everything here in the great United States.
As soon as we landed, we had a couple of RV dealerships to look at on our way from NYC to Virginia. Even though it was a Sunday & MLK jr day, we still managed to walk around some RV companies, and get a sense of what was available, costs, and so forth. But, that's when *gulp* sunk it. These vehicles were nothing like what there was in the UK. Even though the equivalent camper vans (think classic white Mercedes Sprinter van) might have been just as tall, the width, length and general 'American'ness' just put the fear of God into me. I was too scared to even ask for a test drive - for fear of ripping down the entrance awning, inflatable flappy man things (see Family Guy), or the 18ft American flag pole. These things were built for giants, on giant roads, in giant campsites, or in giant Walmart car parks. Fine for North America, but as soon as we hit the cobbled streets of Central America, there will be no mistaking that the US tourists are coming through (insert Dukes of Hazzard car horn noise - even the orange of the General Lee wouldn't be too far off how much we're gonna stick out like a sore thumb).
But, that being said, we managed to find a few 'normal' sized vans. How cramped they were made us realise that ok, 'when in Rome' - we need space to live in, and, as long as we stick to something between 19' to 23' in length, then that should do us fine. So, we hit craigslist, and every available RV seller within a 100 mile radius.
I don't want to tempt fate in any way, but I sense we might be close to finding our 'Milton' (at least I hope so). We have a good idea of what we can, a) afford, b) isn't stupidly massive and c) has a rear parking camera installed.
For all reading this, please keep your finger's crossed, please....
(all finger crossing support gratefully received via our twitter, instagram, facebook, etc @hairventures)