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  • Writer's pictureInger and Jeff Latreille

Only In the Movies

~Thursday, August 5, 2021~

Day 417

Well folks, we’re at 100% power thanks to those Battle Born lithium batteries and our (2) 190v solar panels. Today will be the true test to see if we generate enough solar power to keep things afloat. Thank goodness the weather is not too hot and steamy in these parts, though the mosquitos seem to like it.

Shopping and laundry day in Sturgeon Bay. But as we were leaving, a new neighbor was arriving in his 34-foot fifth wheel. So we just hunkered down in the car, waiting for them to successfully back into their site. Just minutes before, their neighbors had arrived in a travel trailer we later found out was being rented and delivered to their site for the weekend. This seems to be a popular method of camping these days, and frankly a great way to experience before buying. Just as we did, that guy had a difficult time backing in. There just isn’t enough wiggle room which unfortunately means having to cut down a few more trees. Even so, there’d still be plenty of shade. So let’s get back to the fifth wheel family. Fifth wheels are generally easier to maneuver, especially backing in. What we were painfully watching was the lack of communication between the husband and wife. She was behind the trailer communicating to her husband on the cell phone, where he attempted 3 times to get his 34 foot trailer in. But he was way too far over to one side where a patch of tree saplings and branches were. She was not really paying attention to both sides, and of course he couldn’t see them, nor hear that the trailer was hitting them. When you’re in such a tight back-in space, it’s so critical that the person on the outside looks at EVERYTHING AND ALL SIDES to communicate what is happening (the eyes and ears for the driver). In hindsight, one of us should have gotten out to help, but it’s one of those things where you don’t want to hover or intrude. In the RV world, etiquette says do not help a guy backing up his trailer when he already has help. Backing in is one of the most stressful parts of owning a rig. The husband got out about 3 times to see what was going on, but never went to the side that was close to the saplings. His wife was also not looking at the whole rig to communicate what was going on. Then the unthinkable happened. The right rear part of his trailer got caught on a sapling, so that when he pulled forward to correct, it ripped the back corner section apart from the side section of the trailer. It was damaged enough to expose insulation, wiring, and plumbing. You literally could see inside their trailer from the gap. Jeff ran over to offer assistance, as well as their friends that were already settled in. The saplings would have to be cut. Do you think we had the tool to get the job done? Absolutely. That’s my hubby for ‘ya. It took 3 guys to pull the sapling out of the trailer so that Jeff could cut it. I felt so badly for them. We’ve never seen anything like it other than onYouTube videos. Of course things happen all the time out there, but when it’s your neighbor and you’re actually witnessing it, it’s a whole new experience. The owner’s reply to his wife, “Well honey….I think our trip is over”. Let’s hope not. Hopefully they can just somehow push it back together, and duct tape it until it can be repaired. They’re already here so they might as well make the best of it. If you want any repairs done, you’re looking at 6-8 months lead time right now due to the RV owner surge and COVID delays in manufacturing/shipping. This is not a good time to have something break, so taking care of your rig is utterly important, especially when you’re full-timing it. They thanked us for our help. I’m sure we’ll be talking to them later, but hopefully not about “the accident”.

Since the fifth wheel was still in the road, we had to exit the other direction to get on with our day. Of course we couldn’t stop talking about what just happened, kind of putting ourselves in their shoes. Ugh! 😝So now we move on to the subject of laundry. We find ourselves getting away with this task every 2 weeks which is pretty much what we did at home. Of course when the kids were with us, it was more frequent. And if you saw our recent blog post about budgeting, we’ve been pretty spot on with the expense. Usually we spend between $15-$20. But today, we spent a little more, adding a few more things in the mix like a dog bed (gotta love those large commercial washers) and blankets. The large capacity washers are usually around $5/load. Generally, the laundromats vs. laundry facilities at campgrounds are better in terms of the number of machines and overall cleanliness. Today’s location, well the first one, took us to a laundry service in an old warehouse. I knew immediately when we drove up, that something wasn’t quite right. In his research, Jeff thought if it said “laundry”, it meant self-serve. It was kinda cute. Luckily, it wasn’t too far from the correct destination. We ended up at “Maytag Laundry”. Even though their rating and everyone else’s in Sturgeon Bay was around 3 stars (out of 5), it really wasn’t all that bad. If they just kept it a bit cleaner and had more running machines (about half the machines were out of service), it might get bumped up to a 4. Another thing to consider is location. Jeff and I always make sure that we’re in a “nice” area or we forego the task. Sturgeon Bay is actually a very nice city. We knew nothing about it other than the pleasant campground and the fact it was a good mid-way point to see Hannah in Illinois.

The city is well-known regionally for being the center of the Door Peninsula, the namesake for its county. It’s set on a peninsula where its residents live on and for the water. We’ve never seen so many boats in one place as we saw while crossing the historic Michigan Street Bridge. With beautiful Sturgeon Bay on Lake Michigan, characterized by rolling hills bordered by steep slopes and rugged cliffs, it is known as one of the best places to live in Wisconsin. Schools are also highly rated. The town is very tourist driven, so most of the jobs are seasonal unless you like factory or ship yard work.

I guess Sturgeon Bay’s population (10,000) is enough to support a Wal-Mart and it looks like it’s been recently constructed too. Wal-Mart has definitely been our go-to on this trip. There seems to be one in nearly every city, so it’s nice we can count on that while traveling. Aside from our normal stock up, Jeff headed over to the sporting good section to look at camp stoves. As you may recall in one of our posts last month, our stove decided to break. From that point on, Jeff had made a decision to go back to simple and basic. Sometimes when you get all the bells and whistles, it’s just more to break. So sure enough, Wal-Mart had the old-fashioned, no frills Coleman Stove…...the one Jeff started his camping days with eons ago. That thing lasted for YEARS!! 🧑‍🍳🍳Yeh!! Now we can resume cooking in the great outdoors.

With the forecast for rain and thunderstorms, we’re really in for some power challenges so stay tuned……..

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