A Heat Wave...
July 12 - After a week at the grade school, we were anxious to get a one night break to catch up on business, dump our tanks, give everyone long showers, and just reset before another week in a school parking lot. We found a camp site right off the interstate that was affiliated with TA (Truckstops of America). It was an interesting concept to have an RV park at a truck stop, but it worked. The internet service was a bust, but there were actually more amenities that I expected. They had a playground and there was a microbrewery and a drive-in theater nearby. We did not have time to take advantage of those things, but we did get a good nights' sleep.
We arrived in Forestville, Maryland just on time Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, the school facilities coordinator did not work on Saturdays. Our camp director was experimenting with her keys and setting off alarms. We had no idea where to park or plug in. We managed to find an outlet, but quickly started blowing breakers.
Every time we plan to stay in a parking lot or at a friend's I always check out the closest RV park and know where it is and what their availability and rates are just in case we need to get better power or just dump our tanks in the middle of the week. This school was right outside of Washington, D.C. There are no campsites near. There was a state park within 15 miles. The drive would be over 30 min with traffic and they did not offer ANY hookups or power. They did have a shower house and a dump station on site. There was another RV resort within a 40 min drive. It was a nice place, but was about $70 a night. The YNIA camp that Michael was working at is run with just 3 adult coordinators, so Michael would be limited to mostly 20 min breaks throughout the week. Basically, if we went off-site we would not see him for the entire week.
We decided to tough things out. We turned on our fans and opened the windows. We parked where we could get a good wi-fi signal and had the kids watch some movies. It was HOT. The temperature was over 95 degrees each day that week. We were in an aluminum trailer on an asphalt parking lot. I was glad that Michael's sister lived nearby and we were planning on visiting her most afternoons!
At bedtime I gave up found one more outlet that we could reach, plugged in, and turned on the A/C. It worked. We relaxed and rested peacefully, but in the middle of the night we blew a breaker again. On Monday morning the school staff would be around to help us out! They were happy to accommodate and showed us where to park that was in the shade, out of the flow of traffic, and had access to water and electricity. It was great. We plugged in, turned on the A/C and went to visit Michael's sister. We came home for dinner, only to have the breaker blow again. By then the school staff was gone, so we found another outlet and tried to tough it out with no A/C.
This series of events continued throughout the week. Each time Michael had a short break, he would step out to check on us or to troubleshoot a problem. We worried that we were hassling the school. We worried that there was something wrong with the Airstream. We threw away an extension cord that we thought might be faulty. This was the same set-up with the same cords and appliances that we had used at my mom's house, in Baltimore, and in Kentucky with no problems.
Eventually we decided 3 things: 1-we needed to run as short of cord as possible. 2-since it was unusually hot in the city, everyone was running their A/C and the school as a whole was experiencing brown outs. 3-even though our other appliances were just 1.5 amps if we ran ANY of them in combination with the A/C we risked blowing the breaker. We suspect they had 15 amp breakers instead of 20 amp breakers.
We learned to recognize the sound the A/C makes when it is losing power. We could jump up and shut it down before we blew the breaker. We took turns using the A/C and plugging in our refrigerator or charging our devices. It took us until about Wednesday to get into the groove and make it work.
Amid the stress of blowing breakers and having no A/C, we did manage to have some fun! We visited a really dynamic church on Sunday with our camp coordinator. We got 2 days to visit with Michael's sister, Natalie and her kids for 2 days. We visited the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial. I took the kids to IKEA and they loved the play area so much that Charity requested to go back on her birthday that Friday. We scored some goods for the Airstream, some great fish and chips & salmon lasagna, and the kids got to play in their giant ball pit!