It took all the time we had in Indiana to finish building the van up to livable condition. Two days of snow in late April didn’t help, putting us behind schedule yet again, but we still got the van into “good enough” condition. With that, it was time to head back to our former home of New Hampshire to take care of some unfinished business.
We spent our first night in the van at the Cracker Barrel parking lot in Erie, PA. Cracker Barrel is known to be extremely friendly to RVers and allows them to park overnight. Trisha likes their biscuits, too. From there, we continued east on I-90, then took a detour to Niagara Falls. Neither of us had ever been there, and it was pretty much right on our way. This was also the first thing we’d done by our own choice since the fire the month before. In our minds, this is where our van life truly began.
After that, we pressed on as far east as we could comfortably drive that day. We made it as far as the Albany area, where we found no Walmarts that allowed overnight parking. It was Cracker Barrel again for us that night. We certainly weren’t suffering.
The next day was a short drive to Keene, NH, where we stayed at our friend Jonah’s auto shop. He and I are old car nut friends. He’s also moving into an old tour bus that he’s parked at his shop, so he definitely understands the whole van life thing. We hung out around his redneck fire pit that night, drinking and catching up on old times.
We were in Keene so that I could get my second COVID shot, the first having miraculously happened during the mad dash to clear out the apartment. I’d been terrified of slipping through the system’s cracks as a nomad, but New Hampshire opened vaccinations to my age group just before I left, so I squeezed it in during the aftermath of the fire. We planned not a lot of van build work during this time, just in case the shot knocked me down for the count. It did, but very briefly. Trisha still managed to install a shelf for her Crock Pot, which will be good to ensure we have a hot meal after a day on the road.
After my recovery, we moved on to see our friend Allyson in nearby Jaffrey. She’d offered us free parking while we took care of business near our old home, sorted out our storage unit, and so on. We’d had some packages sent there to pick up when we arrived. Allyson also built us a nice fire, both to stay warm and to season the cast iron pots we’d be using extensively from now on. She literally wrote a book on medieval cooking, so we were in good hands.
The weather was our greatest enemy. It was rainy with temperatures in the 40s, cold even for late April in New England. (They say April showers bring May flowers, but here it’s “April snowstorms bring May mud season.”) We were chilled to the bone getting things done. But we managed to rearrange the storage unit, put things into storage that accidentally came with us to Indiana, and grab a couple of things we’d meant to take with us. We also met my friend Jesse and sold him my extra pair of KLR wheels. Jesse also has a Kawasaki KLR650, so we’re KLR brothers or something. I’d had plans to run street-ish tires on one set of wheels and serious knobbies on the other for off-road, but there’s no room to carry an extra set of motorcycle wheels in the van, so Jesse might as well put them to use.
Early in the week, before the big chill, we were pondering how long to remain in New England and get things done. The cold decided for us: as little time as possible. As soon as we could finish what we came back to do, it was time to Cannonball south toward weather we could tolerate being in without freezing. We booked a few days at a KOA in Virginia Beach, which would be sufficiently south to get out of the cold and catch our breath for a few days.