Cleared for Landing

Thu Sep 23 2021

We're taking an impromptu vacation this weekend but before we do, we had to clear some space for the arrival of a shipping container and our RV next week.

Cleared for Landing

New Mailbox

Back when we used to live in California, we used a service called Traveling Mailbox - a virtual mailbox that we use to receive all our physical mail. When mail arrives, they scan the envelope, add it to our account and notify us via email and the mobile app. We can then choose to have them open it and scan the contents, shred it or forward it.

It worked really well for us - we find it much easier to manage our correspondence digitally than dealing with physical letters. It also meant that we could still receive mail when traveling which is a huge advantage for us.

When we hit the road full-time as RVers, we moved our mail service to Escapees in Texas. While Traveling Mailbox was great, the Escapees mail service is designed specifically for RVers and allowed us use the address not just as a mailing address but as our legal domicile too.

Establishing Texas Residency with Escapees RV Club

Despite the nomadic lifestyle of many full-time RVers, everyone in the US must have a home state. Our main reason for driving all the way from California down to Texas was to become Texas residents - to establish Texas as our domicile state.

Establishing Texas Residency with Escapees RV Club

Now, as we look to create our home base in Vermont, we've signed up with Traveling Mailbox again. We'll use it as our primary mailing address for as much as possible - basically anything except packages!

But since we do want to be able to receive packages at our address, we still need a mailbox. So last weekend we picked up the supplies to install one, having identified a location for it with our mailman.

Despite having a 40ft wide driveway, it was actually quite a challenge to find a location for the mailbox due to the drainage ditch running along the front of the property. We were able to build up an area for it just adjacent to the driveway, and then set the post on some gravel and surrounded it with Quikrete fast-setting concrete mix, per our mailman's recommendation.

New Mailbox
All that's left to do is put our numbers on the mailbox and it's all done!

Installing the mailbox didn't take long at all, and I think it looks really good. But I am concerned with how close it is to the road. Hopefully passing vehicles won't be a big problem, but I'm a little worried about snow plows. We might remove the mailbox itself this winter (we'll be away anyway so any mail will be held at the post office or forwarded) and see if the post survives. If not, we'll have to find a new location, or a snow-plow resilient mounting method!

Shipping Container Preparation

Earlier we had considered buying a used 20ft shipping container but rejected the idea due to the eye-watering prices at the moment - over $5,000 to get a used 20ft container, almost 3 times what it was a year ago!

But, now we have the driveway in, it's much easier for a truck to deliver one for us, and that means we can rent a container (we'd have had to skid it up the old logging road with an excavator before and no rental company would be happy with that!).

So next week our shipping container will be arriving. We've chosen a 40ft container to give us as much dry and relatively secure storage space as possible.

Our contractor had cleared a space for it up near the house site - we checked it for level and it has just a small slope down towards where the doors will be, so it should work great!

Shipping Container Landing Zone
This is the site where the shipping container will go (photo taken after chipping!)

But before the shipping container can be dropped off, we needed to clear the big slash pile behind it. This means one thing - chipper rental! After previously renting both the 6" chipper and 9" chipper, we decided to go with the bigger of the two this time, not knowing exactly what was in the piles of slash that the construction crew had assembled.

Wood Chipping with the Vermeer BC900XL

We rented a Vermeer BC900XL brush chipper to see how quickly we could process our slash and log piles - can it really chip 9" logs?

Wood Chipping with the Vermeer BC900XL

On Wednesday we rented the 9" chipper from Essex Equipment in Berlin, VT who gave us a discount to support our project, and set to work on the pile of slash. The pile had been created with an excavator, so everything was tangled up and it was hard work pulling branches and logs out. But we kept at it, using our new Husqvarna 550XP Mark II gas chainsaw to free up or buck down the more troublesome logs!

Chainsaw Brush Pile
Working our way through the slash pile, using our Husqvarna 550XP Mark II chainsaw to buck down some of the larger logs and free up some tangled branches.

Within an hour, the pile had been reduced to chips, more than filling two of our big yard bags with wood chips. The rest that spilled over we'll leave in place and let it compost down into the forest.

Wood Chips Yard Bags
Somewhere underneath all those wood chips are two yard bags that we'll move elsewhere before the shipping container arrives.

Landing Zone

Afterwards we moved the chipper down to the bottom of the property, to clear the two huge slash piles - mainly full of branches from the big pine trees that had been felled during the driveway construction.

Slash Piles
Not only are these piles huge, but they're a mix of everything from tiny branches to huge logs, all compacted by the excavator!

Next weekend we're taking our RV to the property and parking it in the area near these slash piles, so we wanted to clear the piles to give us some more space (and make it look prettier!).

These massive piles were much harder work to chip - the logs and branches were packed in so tight that we could barely free them by hand and ended up using the tractor with the pallet forks to pull out sections at a time.

Vermeer BC900XL
The Vermeer BC900XL 9" wood chipper is a beast, easily swallowing logs like this one.

In the end we spent about 6 hours almost non-stop, just pulling branches out and loading them into the chipper.

The chipper, as previously, is an absolute animal, swallowing almost anything and everything we could throw at it! We did manage to block it once - when the partially decomposing butt end of one log became lodged inside - but within 15 minutes we were up and running again.

Vermeer BC900XL
The Vermeer BC900XL has hydraulic feed so once it grips onto something it'll pull it into the chipper.

The result is two huge piles of woodchips. One, we'll use to spread around the landing zone so it can decompose down and help fertilize the soil before we seed it next year with a conservation mix of grass seeds and some wildflowers. The other we chipped into the middle of the old logging trail to help block off that entrance to any unwanted visitors.

It was a long, sweaty day and it won't be our last time renting the chipper (there's lots more to clear up along the driveway) but we really love seeing things start to take shape!

Landing Zone
This is where we hope to park our RV next weekend when we take it to the property for the first time!

Maine Weekend Getaway

Next Monday we have an appointment in Boston, so we decided to take the opportunity to have a weekend getaway! We have some free hotel nights that expire at the end of the year, so we're using them to visit Portland, Maine.

We had hoped to visit Maine this time last year but were unable to do so due to travel restrictions. This weekend is pure vacation - we have very few things planned and will just see what takes our fancy when we're there. Let us know if you have any recommendations!

Winter RVing Preparation

Last week we shared that we're planning on heading south, down to Virginia, this winter. While it'll still be cold down in Virginia with lows down around freezing, that's positively balmy compared to the brutal cold in Vermont!

Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall!

The driveway is in but now it's time for cleanup - plus learn about our RV electrical upgrade, new mailbox and plans for winter.

Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall!

That said, even winter in Virginia needs some preparation in an RV. If you're thinking of taking your RV somewhere with possible freezing temperatures this winter, make sure to check out our blog post with tips about preparing for winter RVing.

Preparing for Winter RV Living

If you're going to spend a cold winter living in an RV, you need to be prepared. Here's what we're doing to stay safe and comfortable in northern Vermont.

Preparing for Winter RV Living
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