We arrived in Attalla, AL on Sunday with the sun shining, and the ground soggy everywhere. We pulled up to a house we assumed to be the office, and a truck drew up beside us. The woman stated that she worked there and walked us around to allow us the choice of site. This is the first time we’d gotten to view sites before making our choice. We strolled through the campground to look at three available sites. The first site being too swampy, and the second a back-in, the third site was just right. A long pull-through with full hook-ups on opposite sides and ends. With our 25ft hoses and cables, we pulled the truck far into the level site. The Dishy was not set out for the internet. Instead, we worked off of our ATT hotspot for the week.
After weeks of traveling and working without rest, any activity beyond a good night’s sleep was eventful for us. While setting up, Dom said he felt sick. Fast forward an hour and I drove him to the emergency room with abdominal pain. They got us in and out quickly, on Super Bowl Sunday, no less. As a bonus, we watched the halftime show while waiting between nurses coming and going. Not the pay-per-view we wished on anyone.
It rained most of the week with a severe storm on Thursday night. We took Friday off to walk the Ember and sign the purchase paperwork. Our alarm sounded at 6 AM, before sunrise. After coffee and breakfast, we slogged through the deep puddles, packed the boys into the truck, and hitched the trailer. We wondered if it was a new home day or if we would spend more nights in the 84 square feet we’ve called home for the last three years.
Our little house is still very special to us. We spent copious hours measuring, planning, tearing apart the dinette, and building the under-bed kennels for the puppies. Dom and I had fixed the Apex to fit our needs and maintained it for three years. Were we ready to say goodbye?
Our first task at Bankston Motorhomes was completing the walk-through, learning about the components which our Apex didn’t have, and checking for warning items. Larry took us around the outside and then we moved inside the 2023 Ember RV, Overland 221msl. We learned the different knob positions in the Nautilus wet bay; the Lippert telescoping ladder with roof bracket, and the Shower-miser. Next, we met Zack and complete our paperwork to trade in our home for this new one. We completed the easiest part. The hardest part was still to come. After four weeks of planning, driving, and stress, it was coming to fruition. The time to move into our new home was upon us.
Dom parked our rig. The lot guy used a forklift to bring the Ember door-to-door with the Apex. It was time to move our life. We tried placing items in their general vicinity of use. A lack of large cabinets meant items in bins ended up in the bunkhouse. There was proper space for kitchenware though.
Storage space in the Ember is a premium, despite the garage. The Apex was generous with storage, even after we removed half of it during our remodels. Abundant storage was a main reason we chose the Apex as our first travel trailer. The dry food storage in the Ember was another animal.
I stepped in with the first armload of food from the Apex pantry. A realization struck me like a tornado. The 2023 Ember Overlander 221msl doesn’t have a pantry. I called to Dominic in a panic, my voice shaking as the sun started setting on the horizon. At his wits’ end, Dominic grunted. What doesn’t fit gets thrown out! He gestured to the four small cabinets above the couch as a suggested pantry. I cringed, thinking of the six tall, deep, packed full shelves with risers that held our dry food. I placed my few items inside the tiny cabinet and began making a game plan.
We finally finished after two and a half hours. The sky was dark. We hitched the Ember to the Big Buddy. An “Easter Egg” presented itself when we tested the rear lights prior to driving away. Blinkers and backup lights are in their normal position, with added blinkers in the top corners. These top blinkers alert tailgaters when the bike tires obscure their view of the regular blinkers. There was one more issue. Why not after a full day?
The bike rack arm was too short to fit the bikes behind the spare tire. Dominic rapidly came up with a temporary solution to get us on the road. He zip-tied his bike rack arm to my bike’s tire. This pulled his bike away from the camper and spare tire. Once we land at our next long-term site, we will order a hitch receiver extension.
That was enough excitement for one day. While driving back to the campground, the haphazard way we loaded our new home made us nervous. The dealership closing for the day and rushing to beat darkness added to our stress. At the campsite, we pulled to the back of our spot. Many weeks of powerful storms meant that most sites contained puddles, mud, and over-saturated grass. With our off-grid rig, we are no longer worried about these issues.
We connected only to shore power for the night. We are unfamiliar with the operation of the solar system. I just love calling it a solar system. Larry had filled our fresh water tank so we could drive with it full. It was important to ensure it supported properly the tank for travel while full. The freshwater tank on the Apex was empty when the support broke, twice. We now had 55 gallons of water for flushing and washing, as well as power from the battery to run the furnace, lights, and fridge. We were ready for the night.
Our new home doesn’t require wheel chocks, as Ember includes lockable parking brakes. Winter is ending soon and we are moving towards warmer weather in our travels, so we donated our heated water hose. We also donated nineteen leveling pads, as we now have front and rear Quick Drop™ Stabilizers. Finally, we had two storage bins we no longer needed.
We called Robert, the campground owner, to say we were leaving a week early, and we wanted to donate items we thought he may want. He was sad that we had to leave early, but thrilled about the donated items. He stated he’d love to have a larger cache of frequently forgotten items to offer campers during their stay. This solved my distaste for discarding useful objects. They will go to people in need. After talking to Robert, it was time to hit the road.
We left Atalla, AL for Myrtle Beach, SC. The plan was to drive 460 miles, taking twelve hours with food and gas stops. 10:30 AM was a late start for us, but the last four weeks had us exhausted. We are planning to relax and not travel for a month or two. It’s time to settle into our new home and find where everything belongs.