So…the new Shabbat RV, version 2.0 is…BIG.
We’re talking, airhorns and air brakes big. The thing is probably larger than many Israeli apartments. Mr. Safek hunted down our new Shabbos abode in between the Pesach Yom Tovim and then purchased it the day after Passover, just in time for Shabbos.
In retrospect, this may not have been the best timing, not due to weather or the calendar, but due to yet another upper respiratory infection on my part. However, I was determined not to be the reason we couldn’t get another Shabbat in at the shul before our trip to Florida this week to visit family. So, we all worked hard on erev Shabbos and pulled everything or at least WE THOUGHT everything, into the Shabbat RV 2.0.
With a bigger “rig” (we’re learning the RV’ing lingo…apparently RV’s are “rigs”), there are also more complications to figure out. There are multiple tanks with different types of water you have to learn to keep track of and the differences between them. There are multiple different power sources for things with interesting names like “shoreline power.” There’s a generator, a battery bank, and a propane tank…all on our little mobile apartment. There is even a leveling system that must be engaged and then pieces that “slide out,” making some areas bigger. All of this…on a vehicle that rolled off the line late last century, the year before I graduated from college.
Mr. Safek poured over a binder bigger than I think we have for our entire house (as in house that doesn’t change locations) full of appliances, studying and trying to be prepared for every eventuality. Alas, over time, modifications are often made to the original design by owners long since past and we were about to hit a learning curve.
Life is like that. You don’t know what you don’t know and, just when you THINK you know, something comes up to teach you a little humility.
But, for now, spirits were high and we began, slowly, rolling down the road, seeing eye to eye with the drivers of Semi trucks and feeling very high up in the world indeed. We parked the “rig” in the shul parking lot in time to see the younger Rabbi rushing home and were very proud of ourselves as we leveled, slid out, and prepared for candle lighting. I even managed this time to find an out of the way place for our Shabbat candles so that we didn’t have move around them all Shabbat!
Kiddush, hamotzei, dessert, and bentching all went well and then it was time to prepare for bed, my sickly body definitely ready for rest.
Both Mr. Safek and I had been very careful to both check to make sure that both little safeks had remembered everything on their respective lists. Shul clothes, pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, games, books, all were packed. This, of course meant that both Mr. Safek and I forgot important things of our own. Namely…blankets and pillows.
Well, how bad could it be? We had heat this time, riiiiight?
Well, maybe not. Through a few critical mistakes that we made figuring out what would run off of which power source, we actually wound up running out of heat and battery power, meaning that suddenly we were caught in the night in cold temperatures hovering around the mid 30’s (just above freezing) without blankets and using bathroom towels and a couch cushion as pillows. Our CPAP machines also could no longer work.
To our credit, no one got too terribly grumpy. Maybe my sickened condition helped? I found I was full of patience, particularly when Mr. Safek and our son went to Shul and my daughter and I took both kids’ blankets and pillows and made ourselves a nest. Rather than get anyone sick, I kept myself in bed all Shabbos and let my daughter go to Shul without me.
Still spirits were high when everyone returned from Shul to find Sam the dog and I curled up in a cuddly bundle. We spent the Sabbath playing games, reading books, and walking the dog and everything was pretty nice. Finally, havdalah came late and we packed up to head home.
Everything was stowed and all was well and we all buckled up and Mr. Safek turned the key.
And nothing happened.
Due to a “aftermarket modification” we’d not only drained the battery bank that served the “coach,” but also the battery used to start the engine. Even worse, there was not enough power left to start the generator. We were stuck.
A phone call to a friend and some swallowed pride and we hitched a ride home and Mr. Safek went to work diagnosing the issues and the rest of us went to bed.
Still, overall, we found this experience better than our last. Everyone stayed dry and it looks like all these issues can easily be addressed and many were just us not knowing how things really worked. Sure, we may have frozen whitefish salad in the fridge into something more resembling smoked whitefish ice cream, but come June we may be wishing for fish ice cream again.
Over all, I’m once again impressed with the adventurous attitude of the kids, who were more focused on being happy that we were now essentially Shomer Shabbos (we still have to intentionally do some melachot for now) than they were on being cold or eating frozen food from the fridge or having to hitchhike home. To them, it’s all just an adventure, which helps us keep the same attitude.
This weekend, we’ll be spending Shabbos in sunny South Florida. Next Shabbat, though…we’ll be back at it again, perfecting this art they call “boondocking” in our shul parking lot.
We’re on this adventure together and this is all practice for our bigger journey next summer…thousands of miles to an eruv we can call home.