It's been HOW LONG?!
I just realized it's been OVER A YEAR since we last posted a blog about our RV life, and I am amazed that much time has passed in a blink of an eye. I guess the saying, "time flies when you're having fun" really is true, because MAN has it been a fun 18 months in our rolling home!
We've learned A LOT after living in our Luxe 44FB for 18 months. From watching YouTube videos to keep up to date on tips and tricks on maintenance or installation of things, to having tried and tested a TON of products that have made RV life easier, the learning hasn't stopped yet! You may remember our Solar Installation video!
Where we last left off, we were in Indiana in August of 2021, getting MORPHEUS, our new fifth wheel and full-time home! We made it back (safely!) to Cape May, NJ, where Mike is stationed with the Coast Guard, and settled in to ride out the camping season at Beachcomber RV Resorts. We did some pretty extensive research into the Cape May RV parks throughout the area, and realized very quickly that although there were a gazillion RV parks within 30 miles of Mike's work, only FIVE of them could accommodate a 46' fifth wheel... and only ONE of those parks would allow temporary RVing in the winter.
Say what? TEMPORARY winter camping? Why, yes! One of the quirky New Jersey laws regarding RV living is that all RV parks must close for the winter months (November 1st thru April 12th)! That means there is NO full-time RV living in the winter at ANY RV park in southern NJ, and in addition, the boys could not attend public school because of our full-time RV status. According to NJ state law, an RV is considered a "non-home"; "homeless" is a totally allowable status for public school attendance, but "non-home" living is not. So -- our solution for the boys' schooling was a private, online academy called Laurel Springs School. More on that in a few paragraphs!
We loved Beachcomber RV Resort during the RV season here (April 13th thru October 31st) because the park has a TON of amenities, as well as super close-by shopping and restaurants without being in the heart of the beach town of southern Cape May. This resort is family owned and operated; one of the few left in all of this area, as almost all other local campgrounds have all been snatched up by Sun Resorts! The owners and staff are friendly, helpful, considerate, and have genuinely become friends over the past year and a half we've been here. We love the weekly themes this park creates to make each and any week you stay fun and well planned for all ages. The lakes, pools, and events (and newly added Food Truck weekends) have been so much fun for the boys that we have truly felt lucky to be able to raise the boys in such a positive environment their first year RV living. We have wi-fi, which is critical, and makes the kids' schoolwork (and my work) possible. In addition, we are only a 15 minute drive (or 25 minute bike ride on the bike path across the street) away from the beach and Mike's work. Mike will ride his RAD e-bike to work during the warmer months and absolutely loves it.
But what do we do about November thru April 12th when the RV park is closed? Beachcomber has offered "temporary winter camping" at a handful of sites in a section of the park that has cold-weather-rated water spigots. Not every site has these water spigots; in fact, only two spigots rated for cold weather are available at 4 different rows of winter-established sites, and we few who brave the winters here can fill up our water tanks as needed to fill our heated tanks (and then disconnect from the water source), making the spigots available for other RVs parked in the surrounding sites. We have electricity and sewer hooked up, but water is one of those things that we fill up as we need. Other RVs will run a hose or two to reach the spigot when they need to fill up, too. Inconvenient? Meh, not really. Everyone is in the same boat for water, so we all take turns filling and disconnecting as needed. Our Luxe RV is rated for (and truly thrives in) winter temperatures, so we were toasty-warm and comfortable last winter and had no idea how many inches of snow had fallen (15"!!!) until it was time to walk the puppy!
The puppy! Everyone, meet Dobby, our House Elf. He is a Petite Goldendoodle, which means he is smaller than a full size dog and bigger than a toy. He is soft and fluffy, and has truly made our house a well rounded home. Just over a year old now, Dobby is full sized at 18" tall and about 19lbs, making him the perfect size for RV living. He is the fastest wonderpup ever and loves to go for rides in his "Dobby Adventure Cart" (our neon green golf cart), and has his own basket in Mike's e-bike for bike rides. He's the most spoiled baby in the world, and he wouldn't have it any other way!
What else have we done? Morpheus has taken trips to Connecticut to visit my parents at their RV park to celebrate my mom's birthday, we camped at the Rodeo in New Jersey, went on an adventure in southern Virginia to see the Overland Expo and get some ideas for some overlanding trips we'd like to take next year... and we even went back to Indiana for our one year warranty checkup in Elkhart (taking some time to RV in Missouri to visit Mike's family, too!). While we didn't get further than Missouri and Indiana with Morpheus this year due to my work requirements and needing to be a little more stationary and close to my workshop, we were able to do some adventuring and living, and really, for what more could one ask?
Brennan made his famous, special apple pie ENITELY FROM SCRATCH for his Nana's birthday, we HOPPED at a few breweries and wineries in from New Jersey to Missouri; even staying overnight at several "Harvest Hosts" to save money on overnight lodging and patronage the locations! If you're interested in trying Harvest Hosts (which we love and ABSOLUTELY recommend), use that blue, underlined link to sign up and save!! We've stayed in some AMAZING places for free (just the cost of the wine/beer/activity) and we've seen some pretty incredible sights! Remember our Maple Syrup tour from 2020 in Vermont? Incredible!!
One of the best parts about Cape May, New Jersey -- and living at Beachcomber -- is that you don't need to travel far to have family fun. The past 18 months we've:
Won every Escape Room, some with moments to spare!
Took the bike path across street up to the local zoo, and all the way down to the ocean, brewery hopping all along the way at our favorite, local spots! Some are right off the bike path!
Took the kids sledding behind the Jeep in the empty streets of our RV resort, just after a fresh, powdery snowfall.
Celebrated Finn's 11th birthday with a Murder Mystery Dinner!
Celebrated Brennan's 14th birthday at Six Flags and Halloween Haunt!
The boys saw their first, real rodeo.
Finn won the Halloween Costume contest one weekend at Beachcomber.
Finn and Mike spent summer mornings fishing at one of the lakes at Beachcomber.
Brennan graduated from eighth grade and started high school this year, and with straight As!
Finn graduated from fifth grade and is now in sixth grade, with straight As!
Mike and I went to a buffet dinner with a medium, and we were both contacted by deceased relatives (MIKE IS A BELIEVER NOW! What?!)!!
We've made home-made pizzas in our pizza oven, and even brought out the ravioli maker for some different toasted ravioli flavors! It's been so long since we've made ravioli, and it felt so good again to get back into it!
Uncle Bill and Auntie Steph got the boys horseback riding lessons -- and the boys LOVED it!
THEY GOT TO EACH FLY A CESSNA for the Aviation Merit Badge -- while I died on the ground waiting for each boy to land safely. Probably the most amazing day of their lives!
Finn crossed over to Boy Scouts and Brennan achieved the Life Scout rank! He's now working on his Eagle Scout rank!
Brennan and I went paddle boarding for the first time at a local lake and we laughed until we cried.
Finn got to hold a chick at one of the Beachcomber events and he may have changed his mind about working at NASA one day... in favor of being a veterinarian!
We watched fireworks on the local beach for the fourth of July.
Took a horse-drawn carriage around down town Cape May in the heart of winter to see the Christmas lights around town.
Watched movies inside all winter, and outside on the big screen all summer.
And Finn got to have about 3 piano recitals with our local piano teacher and her crew!
We may have missed out on a year of blogging, videos, and social media, but we sure have done A LOT of living. Brennan has three years left with us until he leaves for college, and we are doing everything we can to make these years count. It's hard to believe after all these adventures that there could possibly still be time for the kids to go to school, right? Let me bring you up to speed on that!
The boys have attended Laurel Springs School for almost two grades. Recommended to us by a friend in Virginia during the pandemic, Laurel Springs School (LSS) offers college prep, online schooling for all grades, with flexibility in coursework throughout the school year. The kids are assigned classes and teachers that are standard for their grade level, and there is a calendar of what classes and assignments the school recommends your child completes each day. The boys can stay on pace or complete more work per day -- even allowing them to start at any time of the day, afternoon, or evening, if they want! Last year the kids finished their grade one month ahead of schedule, granting us all a longer and more thrilling summer! The boys begin their classes between 8AM and 9AM and are usually finished by noon most days, which at first you'd think isn't enough schooling, right? But with no interruption, no distractions, no walking to class or dillydallying, and being able to work at their own pace and not the pace of the teacher or the kids in the class, full focus on schoolwork means they can get through more material in a shorter time period. They are still constantly quizzed and tested, but here's the most excellent part: LSS is determined to make learning the priority, not just quick memorization. That means that many assignments and quizzes can be taken multiple times to get better grades -- and that means the more times a student elects to re-take a lesser-than-desired grade, the more the student is learning the material. With this kind of structure, the boys can get straight As (with some more work and extra focus and attempts at some times), or they can elect NOT to get As and settle for the grades they get the first time around. This teaches the kids to work hard the first time, and if they fall short of their expectations they still have a chance to work harder on the material they don't understand, and/or seek teacher assistance in one-on-one zoom meetings for additional help. That doesn't mean the school is without challenges! Brennan's first year of high school has him AP Human Geography and Honors Geometry -- as well as the standard English, Biology, Spanish, Health, and a Freshman Education class (geared toward keeping him focused on the big picture, with college applications and high school transcripts in mind).
The kids' room is working out beautifully -- both boys can work at their own desk MOST days without disturbing one another -- but there are some days they choose to split up, with one kid in their room, and the other kid in the family room (with me at the dinette when I work from home).
When I'm not working from home I'm in my workshop about 2 miles away; still close if the boys need me, and far enough that I can get my hammering and work finished in peace! People have asked what I do to work from home and keep this RV life mobile -- and that's a great question! I find so many full-time RV families have some major flexibility with internet based work, and we are no exception. While Mike is still tethered to the military for another 4.5 years (to round out a 30 year Coast Guard career), I am the co-founder of a metal stamp company that caters to jewelers around the world. I do all of the hand-stamping, marketing, sales, and customer service for our brand of hand stamping tools and dies for metal stampers. Here's an example:
The end of the year is upon us at Font Fixation, so we are making our last big push to get the rest of 2022's design stamps and fonts completed before the new year begins! This year has been trixy with meeting customer desires, trying to keep sales up throughout the start of this recession, and having to learn TikTok to appeal to a different crowd -- but here we are, still major players in the metal stamp game!
Now that you're caught up with the Boyle family, our next blog will be to catch you up on some every day products we use in this full-time RV lifestyle we've chosen, and so many of these products can be used in a sticks-and-bricks home, too! Hopefully you'll get as much enjoyment (and peace of mind) out of our recommendations as we have over the years in both the Rainmaker, and now, Morpheus.
Safe travels, friends and family! Thank you for keeping up with us on our journey!