First Time Alone

Over the next five weeks, Lee has to work on Saturday nights, so we decided to try camping somewhere close, setting up on Friday and him driving round trip to Keene on Saturday while I hung out alone.  I had some reservations.  I travel alone all the time and don’t really mind being solo, but I am careful of personal safety when all by myself.  Wasn’t sure how I would feel in the camper in the dark woods, but since this whole adventure is partly about stretching our boundaries decided to give it a shot.

It helped that the campground is a very nice one.  Tree Farm Campground in Springfield, VT was one of my favorites from the weekend tour we took.  I remembered the friendliness of the people and was not disappointed.   The young man who runs the campground was an absolute doll, incredibly friendly and helpful.  The site (#19) was terrific, a large pull through, well-wooded, with great wooded views.  The fire pits are very nice, made of rings of stacked bricks and generous in size and overall exceeded my already high expectations.  Wireless is free and works just fine, plus when we asked if we could leave late Sunday he said absolutely and there was no extra charge.  They take Good Sam discounts so the site was only $30 a night.  It was super hot so we paid the extra $3 a night for AC  (well worth the price) but I turned it off on Saturday because it was so much cooler in the woods.  Springfield is close by, an old mill town with a decent small downtown area.  There is a full grocery store and a McDonald’s within a mile or two of the campground.  The only downside was a nearby camp site had a barking dog, but after some initial morning ruckus they seemed to get him settled down.  No pool, but there was a neat playground with a mini climbing wall for kids, and all the kids we saw were well-behaved and seemed to be having a good time.  It seems like a place where grandparents hang out and have their grandkids out on weekends and all the seasonals seem to know each other and are friendly with one another.  Definitely 5 out of 5 pine cones 🙂

Friday night I cooked Grilled Chicken Fettuccine pasta and biscuits. I used two new recipes that required numerous steps and Lee jumped in and helped me towards the end when things got a bit hectic.  He loved both of them and I was proud we managed to navigate the small kitchen together on a more complicated dish.  The biscuits in particular were tons of fun to make and I felt all fancy with my recipes.  I love to cook, not much of a baker, but cooking is fun for me.  Unfortunately all those years of managing family dinners on a tight budget kind of sucked the joy out.  This is an opportunity to try some more adventurous recipes and I am rediscovering the joy of preparing food.  It can get a little stressful though especially when part of the food is cooking outside on the grill/campfire and part is inside.

Lunch on Saturday was good.  I made this absolutely yummy new coleslaw recipe that I loved.  See below for recipe which I highly recommend.  I started a fire and made some hot dogs to go with it and then Lee took off and went to work.  I kept the fire going for a while, being extra careful not to inhale too much smoke.  ever since I saw that Survivor episode where that guy pitched head first into the fire from smoke inhalation I am pretty cautious about that.  And if something happened and I was alone it would obviously be much worse.

One thing I did do was say hi to our neighbors.  I had bought some organic dog biscuits on the last trip and used those to meet the people next door.  We didn’t exchange life histories or anything, but I wanted to know who they were so if something happened I would be comfortable running over.   The side benefit was they had a lot of people over later in the evening, but did a nice job keeping the noise volume down.  I have to believe that partly because I was a person to them and not just the trailer next door.

So I was alone and it was weird.  I can’t stress enough that I like being alone.  After raising three kids (who I love dearly) I have had many years of lots and lots of noise.  So the quiet for me is still a bit of a novelty.  That being said, being alone at a campground is way different from being alone in a hotel room.  For one thing it’s not quiet.  There are animal noises and neighbor noises and oddly enough, noises from the camper settling or something. I finally turned the overhead fan on for some white noise which helped some but I found that I was pretty restless and couldn’t settle into one thing.  I read awhile, I watched a Deadwood episode on HBO Go.   The only time I felt settled was when I was doing chores.   That’s when things got interesting.  I went to wash the dishes and checked the tanks and saw the grey water was full and the black water was 3/4 full.   After a previous adventure with the grey water filling up, I check it pretty frequently now.  Even though Lee does the outside chores, I have been paying attention and on occasion have gone out and tested my knowledge.  So I felt completely confident when I went to open the tanks.  Imagine my surprise when I turned on the black water and stuff starting squirting out the side.  I didn’t panic, but I had absolutely no idea what to do.  Lee was unavailable via cell phone so I turned the black water off and thought about my options.

Option 1:   The dishes could wait and I could probably squeeze by until Lee came home to fix it.  Of course that would mean he would be messing with it in the nighttime.

Option 2:  I could walk down to the nice kid at the office and ask for his help, but if it was something simple I would feel bad for bothering him

Option 3:  I could try to figure it out myself.

I decided on Option 1 and that lasted for a couple of hours.  Finally I couldn’t take it anymore and with an internal speech that I was a smart woman and could figure this out I went back out to take a look.   First problem, no rubber gloves.  Lee said he didn’t need them. Well I certainly did,  so I settled on an old rag as the best I could do.  I looked at the connector and pulled it out then had to twist it pretty hard but I couldn’t see any openings at the bottom.  As you may have already guessed, Lee had left the cap on the sewer pipe, but I didn’t understand that at the time, but after fussing with it I thought I could put the hose directly into the drain without the connector I would just have to watch it carefully.  Next problem the hose was completely full and had rolled off the plastic lifts it normally sat on.  I crawled under the slide out and (with some difficulty) got the hose back on the lift and finally decided to give it a go.  I let some grey water out slowly and it worked just fine.  Breathing a sigh of relief I went back to the black water, finished that and then the rest of the grey.  Overall I was pretty proud of myself and glad that I wouldn’t leave Lee a mess when he came back that evening.

So I went inside and did the dishes.  I looked at the clock and it was only 6pm.  I still had a lot of time to kill.

The main thing I would have to say I learned about myself from being alone is I need to find something to do.  These weekends have been wonderful and relaxing, but if I am going to spend anytime alone, I don’t really have the capacity to sit and do absolutely nothing for hours at a time.  When I am traveling and in the hotel room, doing nothing is great, because I have spent a long day working very hard.  But a full day of this is too much for me and I definitely need to find a way to fill my time.  The good news is for a change I actually have time to fill, which is a very nice problem to have.

Lessons Learned

  • Say a quick hi to your neighbors
  • Carry organic dog biscuits in the trailer, it’s a great excuse to introduce yourself
  • Take the cap off the sewer pipe
  • Pay attention when your husband connects the sewer up, you never know when you might have to do it

Crunchy Cool Cole Slaw

Ingredients

  • 1 (16oz) package of coleslaw mix
  • 1 large carrot peeled into thin strips
  • 1 crisp apple (julienned)
  • 1/2 medium-sized red onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup peanuts (shelled and split)
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1-1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp celery salt
  1. In a large bowl combine first 5 ingredients.
  2. In a small bowl whisk remaining ingredients
  3. Pour dressing over salad and toss well to coat

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