This year has been exhausting, but in a good way! While we didn't accomplish as much as we had hoped to, we feel really good about what we did manage to get done. A lot of the site work (literal) heavy lifting is done, and next year our focus will turn to the utility building itself.
Spoiler alert: we're a little behind on blog post updates, and our YouTube channel is currently 3-4 months behind real time, but this post contains some spoilers!
Current status update
As I write this at the end of October, we have a working well for running water, power on-site and our septic install is complete and approved (except for a little landscaping on the tanks and leach field).
But, our setup is better suited to mild conditions than the harsh cold of winter in Vermont. For instance, our well isn't plumbed to a frost-proof faucet we can turn on and off at will - instead we're manually filling the fresh tank on the RV by connecting up a hose and power and turning the well pump on ourselves.
Likewise, the septic tank is about 100ft from where the RV is parked, so we're planning to use a portable RV tank to dump our RV - a decision I'll explain more in the septic installation blog post series. That setup is a little inconvenient at the best of times, but will be downright unpleasant when it's snowing and 0°F (-18°C) outside!
All this is to say that without the utility building which will give us year-round convenient access to these utilities, staying on-site in the RV this winter would not be particularly pleasant. So we're leaving!
This year we're planning something a little different - we're going to Europe!
When we first hit the road in 2018, we took the opportunity to head back to Europe and see family - mine in the England and Diana's in Latvia. While in the UK we spent 10 days traveling around Scotland, and a few days exploring the North York Moors National Park.
Then in 2019, my parents came to visit us in New Orleans, before renting an RV and joining us traveling through Texas wine country.
Back in early 2020, just days before the pandemic really took hold, we were in the midst of planning a 3-month long European tour. Well, you know what happened next. With borders closing, flights stopped and everything shut down in the face of the global pandemic, we had no choice but to abandon our plans.
We haven't seen family in person since, now 4 years since we last visited Europe! Time to change that.
Shortly after Thanksgiving, we're going to head to the UK. The plan is to spend some quality time catching up with friends and family, including Christmas in England and New Year in Latvia. There are several new family members, both 2-legged and 4-legged that we're looking forward to meeting for the first time!
January is the coldest month in Vermont, with an average low of just 11°F (-12°C), although it's not uncommon to see temperatures plummeting below 0°F (-18°C). Snowfall typically averages 10 inches (25cm) per month but can be a lot more - made worse if it all arrives with one big storm.
Put another way, we don't really want to return to Vermont and the RV in the middle of winter! Instead, we're heading for warmer climes.
After considering all our options, we've booked an Airbnb in Rome, Italy from early January to late February. A 45-day stay in an apartment within walking distance of all the things we want to see and do is costing around $1,700 - although we were able to cover most of the cost with credit card points.
Given the price of campgrounds here in the US, it doesn't seem too bad and while the Airbnb is only a 1-bedroom apartment, it's still a lot larger than our RV!
Our plan for Rome is simple - to unwind and relax, explore the sights and enjoy the cuisine. Rome is my all-time favorite city, while Diana has never been so I'm excited to return and share it with her. Diana has spent the past few months learning Italian while I'm relying on a combination of high-school Latin and the Italians' ability to speak English.
We both love Italian cuisine, so we're excited not just to enjoy local restaurants, but also to do some cooking classes. As they say: "when in Rome!".
Europe's public transit system makes getting around easy, so while we have no concrete plans, we would love to take some short trips further afield - perhaps to visit Pompei further south (which I love) or Venice in the north (which neither of us have visited before).
If you have recommendations for must-see places off the beaten path or ideas for things to do while in Rome, drop us an email or leave us a comment below!
In late February or early March, we'll return to Vermont, trying to time our arrival after the coldest part of winter is over, but before the inevitable onset of Vermont's 5th (and arguably toughest) season: mud season.
Over the next few weeks we'll be wrapping up work on-site, winterizing all our equipment, putting things in secure storage and emptying out the RV for hibernation. We'll share more about how, where and why we're storing the RV in another blog post.