Our months in Florida were lean ones. I had brought toys with me, but not all the ones that I could make. Plus those were early days in the business. Some months I made only $300. Living in a van kept my expenses quite low, but it was stressful.
One time we were at McDonald’s (internet, you know), and I was offering to buy Caleb something, but he wanted something else that was a little bit more expensive, and I just had no more money. So he started crying. We went over to a table, and some guy walked up to us, and gave me a hundred dollar bill.
We got stuck in Homestead, FL. Which had no beach, not much more than a park, for about a week waiting for money to move on. Finally though, I sold some toys, and we were able to move on to a beach town. Eventually though, I really needed another source of income.
Through a friend’s friend, I got in contact with a farmer in central Florida. I drove to town, and he gave me a job on his organic farm. So I picked kale and collards and pulled weeds, and was able to park at the old farm site. Best of all I had electricity, so I was able to plug in that scroll saw I’d be hauling around and do some work.
I worked at the farm for more than a month, but then it was time to move on. I needed the rest of my tools, and I wanted to see my family. It was summer now, so I drove back up the coast to NJ. I split my time for a couple months between Ocean City in the van, and staying at my parents’ house.
But I was tired of living in the van, and Christmas was coming. I needed a place to work. I looked into everything to find a place to live or stay for a while. But I kept coming up empty. In my searches, it seemed that the northern West Virginia/Eastern Ohio area was one of the cheapest places in the country for real estate, so I drove the van out there for the month of August to look for a house to buy or rent.
And I found it…