Our First 3 Weeks

Arriving at Margot’s sister’s house in Brampton that Friday evening, we finally relaxed, sharing Indian takeout dinner with Mel. We cracked open a bottle of champagne, a gift from James’ sister to celebrate a successful move. After dinner, we unloaded Mel’s car, said our goodbyes and started unloading our van stuffed to the ceiling.

Conveniently, Margot’s sister’s family was away on vacation: we had the house to ourselves and we needed it. As we spread out the piles of stuff on the dining room floor, we realized that we still had way too much…

Some items should have gone to storage already but somehow had been overlooked. Even more items would need to be donated to thrift shops. The things we were keeping needed further sorting and organizing. The enormity of the task was overwhelming and we had a deadline: the family would be back on Wednesday in 5 days. We had the weekend together but James was back to work on Monday.

What a mess! We didn't have time to organize the contents of our trailer before our move out
What a mess! We didn’t have time to organize the contents of our trailer before our move out

Nellie our trailer was also full of things that would ultimately go in Eddie the van: towing equipment, hoses and electrical cords, bicycles, etc. Eddie was full of things that needed to be moved to Nellie: clothes, food, kitchen stuff, toiletries, linens, electronics. We consider Nellie the “house” and Eddie the “garage” though given Nellie’s small size, not all house items will fit inside: Eddie provides overflow for occasional use items such as the air cleaner, Sadie’s grooming equipment, extra clothes, pet supplies, etc. We decided to sort things into 4 piles: thrift items were collected in my sister’s car, storage items in the van, and two piles in the house for Nellie and Eddie. It took the whole weekend to sort through everything and get the 2 vehicles loaded up.  We were so busy we didn’t even stop to take any pictures – they just would have been various piles of mess so you aren’t missing anything.

Monday James went back to work: it was up to me to finish organizing and stowing everything. Monday was thrift store drop-off day; Tuesday I drove the van up to our rental to drop off more items into storage. Wednesday I would pick up the family at the airport midday. It’s great we have my motorcycle so James can still get to work. Gradually I moved various items into the trailer and continued organizing: toiletries in the cupboard beside the bathroom, clothes in the crates on the overhead bunk, one 1 foot closet bar each for James and I for hanging clothes, our socks and unmentionables under the bed. I had to find space for our dishes, food, coffee stuff, plus my mini food processor and Magic Bullet blender.

We moved our van items onto the covered front porch to get everything out of the dining room on time for the family’s return. The house had been painted while they were away and some of the furniture had been piled up in the kid’s playroom. We managed to get the big stuff all put back to their proper place. Happily we had the house mostly restored on time for their return.

My sister Adrienne had graciously accepted many items into her home that were shared family heirlooms. While these things were wanted, there was still the issue of having somewhere to put them. Adrienne wanted to do a big purge of her own and I was happy to help. So we shifted our focus to helping empty her basement full of kid’s toys and various household items. A couple more loads to the thrift shop and recycling centre over the ensuing days helped make space for the new things.

With a freshly painted house, Adrienne also had plans for some new mirrors and lamps. Trips to various home décor stores resulted in two large mirrors we helped to hang, while a pleasant Sunday morning at the Aberfoyle Antique market yielded a couple of lovely, antique lamps. We also helped move the patio furniture from the garage to the back patio, which freed up space for us to get our van things off the front porch during our stay. We needed to keep the van empty because we had family coming to visit from California in another week.

Relaxing in the shade at the Aberfoyle Antique Market.
Relaxing in the shade at the Aberfoyle Antique Market.

RV Mods: Shelves, Hooks & Solar
Of course we still had more projects of our own to complete. The trailer cupboards were full before I had found a home for my spices, stored in 20+ matching bread machine yeast jars I had collected over the years. I enjoy cooking and like having lots of spices to choose from: giving them up wasn’t an option. In the back of my mind, I had a plan: a custom shelf that could run the length of the dinette that would hold all my spice jars with room to spare. A couple trips to the hardware store for parts and we managed to design and build it out. While we were at it, we put in a custom key and hat rack over the door. We also mounted some plastic containers from IKEA near the charging station where we could store tablets and phones while charging.

My awesome new high-capacity spice rack!

Another project was to mount our spare 80 watt solar panel on the roof. We already had a 95 watt panel on the roof but there was space for another. We had been using the 80 watt panel on the ground with a controller, but it was a cumbersome size to move around. This spring we bought a 120 watt folding panel which is much easier to set-up and store. Having panels both on the roof and on the ground gives us the best of both worlds: roof panels never need to be set up while remote panels allow us to get solar electricity even while parked in the shade.

Margot installing brackets - it just started raining but that is better than the blazing sun and heat.
Margot installing brackets – it just started raining but that is better than the blazing sun and heat.

A quick call to Nathan at Taylor Coach answered all my questions: how to find the studs under the aluminum on the roof and how to connect the new panel electrically so we could read the incoming amps on the display. We had to custom bend some L brackets into Z brackets to mount to the roof. We also drilled out other L brackets to fit our bolts that would make it possible to tilt the panels later. James took on the task of removing the solar controller from the panel and connecting up the wires. Our first test run was great! We got 10 amps of power from the 2 panels combined around midday. Woohoo!

Adding a second solar panel to the roof
Adding a second solar panel to the roof

Family Time
We enjoyed a lovely visit with our cousin Beth, her son Peter and our Aunt Diane from California. I was able to pick up and drop off at the airport which is an easy 25 minute drive away. Saturday, we went to the Brampton farmer’s market and enjoyed some beauty spa time. Sunday we shared lunch at Spirit Tree Estate Cidery in Caledon followed by swimming at Heart Lake Conservation area. Monday we took the train to downtown Toronto, riding the subway up to visit the Royal Ontario Museum and enjoying lunch at the nearby Museum Tavern.

ROMfamily crop - Copy
With my cousin Beth, her son Peter, plus my sister Adrienne, nephew Ben and niece Bronwyn at the famous Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto Ontario.

We finished up our stay at my sister’s place by forgetting to put a kickstand puck under the motorcycle stand. In the blazing summer heat, the stand sunk through the driveway, the motorcycle fell over and gasoline soaked my sister’s driveway. Ugh. John and I managed to upright the motorcycle and I scrubbed it with detergent but it was too late: a large patch of driveway was crumbling as the tar had dissolved away. Not exactly how we envisioned rewarding our hosts for giving us refuge for 3 weeks while James finished working. Some online research revealed an Asphalt repair company with good reviews. I sent some photos, got a quote for repair and complete driveway sealing and left behind an envelope of cash. An expensive lesson learned for us – thankfully my sister and her husband were both very understanding.

The Tortoise and the Hare leave Brampton
The Tortoise and the Hare leave Brampton

With a party at a friend’s country property in nearby Hillsburgh, we headed out Saturday morning despite the rain…

2 thoughts on “Our First 3 Weeks

  1. We went through pretty much the same thing emptying the house and sorting things for the trailer and truck. (Lizzy and Bob). Don’t envy you at all, but now you’re done with that. We’re now minimized to 2 or 3 suit cases each and hope to reduce that.

  2. You two are an inspiration! I look forward to reading more of your blogs. I’m reading the 4 hour work week and wondering if your plans are your own brainchild or inspired by the book? I’m in the midst of transition too and living quite simply having soils my condo in California . Somehow it’s less stress.

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