Websites Don’t Update Themselves!

Websites Don’t Update Themselves!

March 1, 2017 and this website is still an incomplete mess.  What started as a “cool idea” to share our adventures with others has been pushed to the back burner due to us getting ready to make it happen.  Another hangup is that our life has been pretty boring for the past few months as we wait and save money in preparation for our “on the road” adventures this spring (April).

Post after post about what it’s like to grind it out at work and hoard money is not all that exciting.

The other option was to share a bunch of touchy-feely opinion stuff.  Although I’m full of opinions, this website might not be the place to toss them out there.  I’ve already dove into some “motivational” and “the way I see things” posts and they feel pretty awkward to share with others.  It may just be an insecurity that my opinions and outlook on life are not all that relevant.  Regardless, I haven’t put up any new info in the past few months.

This is where the website stands as of now:

Day to Day living.  I have been journaling since this whole transition began and have pages and pages of Google Docs to turn into blog posts and update.  My original intention was to put all of these notes into an online “Journal” but it’s easier to just shotgun the journal out there as blog posts.  I like easier!  So now its time to lump my journaling by month and get them published to the site.  

Resources page.  This seemed like a good idea, a way to share some of the good stuff I found while scouring the interwebs for information.  Not to imply that living in an RV is hard but it does have its challenges and a lot of good info is posted across the internet from suggestions to tips to how-to.  I have bookmarks all over the place and need to get them organized into the resources page to share.  If it helps others in the future and it will be worth the effort.  Assuming anyone reads them.

Social Media.  I’m not a fan.  To help people find the website the gurus say you must let people know about it on social media platforms…Facepage, twitter, Instagram….  The side effect to this is that you need to spend time in these places.  I want to be social media friendly but it doesn’t add much value to my day.  Way too much bitching and petty complaining for my liking.  Maybe I’m just intolerant and grumpy but there are other things prefer to do with my time.  Hopefully, the boss will let folks know about the website through various outlets.

Photos / Videos.  It would be cool to use the website as a place to share photos and videos but we don’t have many to share just yet.  No one wants to see the same photos of our campground over and over. (we have been here for 6 months now).  Once we hit the road the scenery should change regularly enough to make sharing pictures worth it.  Hopefully, we can get decent at taking photos and videos.  We will try to keep selfies to a minimum.

Resources.  I’m just going to leave the site simple and functional.  Website design is fascinating to me and I enjoy tinkering but every change I make seems to break something else.  I’m quite sure its user error but it is my current reality.  I hope to improve my design skills or run into the right person to guide me but for now the website stays pretty generic.

TThat’swhere we are right now.  Nothing amazing or really worth mentioning but the idea is to keep the website updated.  Lots of cool stuff is right around the corner!
Update complete.

Fancy quote worth reading goes here

Reach out to us and say hello!

The internet is a big place, thank you for stopping by our little corner!  Please let us know what you think, share your comments, concerns and questions with us.  Its nice to know that people care!

Learning From Other RVers’

Learning From Other RVers’

The original title I cam up with for this post was “Ask questions, Shut up and listen”.  Its was a pretty crude title, intended more as a reminder to myself than a message to others.  On the other hand, if you are anything like me and feel inclined to add your 2 cents to a story, then that title might be ok for you as well.

Being full time in an RV, one of the greatest benefits I have recognized is the access to new people who are living incredible lives.  Being around so many experienced full-timers benefits me in that that they have “been there and done that”.  This is a huge advantage to us as newbies in that we can learn from their mistakes and successes, if we take the time to listen and learn!

I consider anyone who is retired and traveling the country in a safe and comfortable RV a winner at the game of life.  These people figured out the receipt to achieve a beautiful, simple and fulfilling existence.  And guess what, they will tell you how they did it if you ask!   Whether in their 20’s or 70’s, if they have been at it for a while they know things you don’t and are willing to share their knowledge.

The Campground that we have been at for the past several months is a 55 and over community.  We were granted a waiver to be campers here and I believe are the only couple below 55.  The folks here are retired.  We have met several people who have side hustles for extra pocket money but for the most part everyone wakes up and entertains themselves all day.  The boss and I are still working and will be for a few more months so we have a bit less time to settle into our new fulltime day to day.

The access to information on successful fulltime work and travel is all around us if we take the time and effort to tap into it.

ASK your neighbors and those you meet questions.

These folks have experience that I have yet to acquire.  They are willing to share their adventures, trials and tribulations, They will brag on their successes and reminisce on their failures. I have yet to meet a person in our campground who doesn’t jump at the chance to tell the story of selling it all and hitting the road full time. As a relatively young couple on the road, I find that my elders are quick to offer solicited advice on any topic I ask about.  They seem to do this in a mentoring way, never preachy or all-knowing.  It’s usually in the format of “this is what we did and this is how it turned out”.  What wonderful wells of knowledge are all around you in an RV park or campground!

 

Image from http://www.incidentalcomics.com/

LISTENING:

Effective listening is a skill. Listening is not the same as hearing!

My biggest obstacle in soaking in all of this information is shutting up.  After all, the boss and I now have a story to tell (and it’s getting more interesting by the day).  The problem is: we can’t hear if we are talking.  We don’t process information well if we are trying to figure out what we are going to say next.  A huge secret to learning new things from others is to not be in a hurry to share your opinion or experience.  You already know what you know and think, take in what others have to offer.  You don’t have to accept it as fact or even as being correct.  Take in the stories of others, you just might hear something that saves you much pain in your future travels.

Another realization I have had is that some folks just don’t care to hear your story.  You asked them a question, now simply listen to what they have to tell you.  Not to imply that everyone is inconsiderate or uncaring but if you have asked someone a question or solicit their advice, they are put in a teacher’s’ role, when they begin to teach you must become a student.  In order to do that you need to be seen and not heard.  Less talk more about listening.

 

The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen.  Just listen.  Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention.

 –Rachel Naomi Remen-

 

Look at issues from their perspective.  Let go of preconceived ideas.  By having an open mind we can more fully empathize with the speaker.  If the speaker says something that you disagree with then wait and construct an argument to counter what is said but keep an open mind to the views and opinions of others.

The stories that I have been told…..  Camphosting mishaps, guiding four-wheelers in Alaska, a tour guide on a train, driving tour buses, receiving guests from cruise ships, ranch hands, arts and crafts sellers, antiquers, roadside breakdowns, getting stuck on forest roads, nearly freezing to death in an RV, animal encounters….. On and on.

Look at issues from their perspective.  Let go of preconceived ideas.  By having an open mind we can more fully empathise with the speaker.  If the speaker says something that you disagree with then wait and construct an argument to counter what is said but keep an open mind to the views and opinions of others.

The stories that I have been told…..  Camphosting mishaps, guiding fourwheelers in Alaska, a tour guide on a train, driving tour buses, receiving guests from cruise ships, ranch hands, arts and crafts sellers, antiquers, roadside breakdowns, getting stuck on forest roads, nearly freezing to death in an RV, animal encounters….. On and on.

Our goal in setting out on our RV adventure to was to live life well and experience more of what the world has to offer.  The folks around us here at the campground set out on this same path.  Many of them have traveled that path for years and are full of tales of adventure and excitement.  I feel very grateful that they are willing to share some of these with me.  

Ask questions, Stop Talking, Listen.

Safe Travels!!

Reach out to us and say hello!

The internet is a big place, thank you for stopping by our little corner!  Please let us know what you think, share your comments, concerns and questions with us.  Its nice to know that people care!

RV Interior Wall Repair

RV Interior Wall Repair

Water leaking into your RV is sneaky, silent and has brutal consequences.

 

I purchased a used RV with an existing water leak and previous water damage without knowing about either.  To my surprise the RV dealership didn’t tell me about any of these issues, SURPRISE!  Salesmen are such saints.  (another topic entirely)

I am sharing my experience fixing this mess with hope to:

1) inspire you to go check your roof for leaks and take preventative measures to ensure they don’t occur.

2) let you know that if you do have a leak and damage to your RV all is not lost.  I am not the handiest guy around and I found this project to be very doable.

Our adventure:

After about a month of full-time RV life we were hit by the edge of HURRICANE HERMINE in Central Florida.  The wind and storms were tolerable but we got lots of rain!  After the storm I identified a section of wet carpet inside one of our cabinets:

Hurricane Hermine

Excerpt from our Journal 9/5/2016

wet corner“Opening a cabinet door at the rear of the RV and noticed a slight odor of mildew/mold.  This is the cabinet where we store our printer and paper.  After pulling things out I found that the carpet was damp and there was moisture / mildew on the paper stored there.  Closer examination revealed the carpet was wet.  

I cleared out the cabinet to find the rear wall of the RV was spongy on the interior at the floor.  Following the wall up to the next cabinet I found more soft wall.  Continuing up above the counter….more soft wall.  The bad wall extends about 5’ up from the floor.  Not good.”

The day to day tear-down and repairs are chronicled here in our JOURNAL starting on 9/11/2016

The short version of the wall repair is this:

  1. We identified that there was a leak and immediately went after stopping any further damage
  2. Once the exterior was sealed with EternaBond tape we assessed the interior damage and came up with a plan
  3. The initial intent was to “spot fix” the damage but we learned that water does what it wants and the water damage had spread to to infect several areas. Water is like cancer to an RV.
  4. I started tearing into the wall with the intent of ripping things apart until I found where the rot stopped and the good wood began.
  5. I tore out the entire rear wall of the RV.
  6. With all of the damage exposed we aired out the damp wood and floor and hit it with fans to allow it dry fully.  We also added canisters of damprid to the area to help collect moisture.

 

This is the point where I discovered that RV’s are pretty simple contraptions.  Our fifth wheel is less sturdy than some tree houses that I played in as a kid.  2x2 construction made up the rear wall of our rig with a thin skin protecting us from the elements. On the interior of the 2x2 framing was thin wallboard.  There is not much there!

I ripped out 80% of the framing than has been affected by the moisture and reconstructed the it with 2x2 pine.  We also replaced the heavier boards that provide mounting areas for the ladder hardware outside the RV with 2x10 pine.

Once the framing was done I attempted to repair the delamination of the exterior.  I went at it from the inside and cut large sections of plywood to provide solid backing to the exterior sheeting.  I adhered the wall to the plywood with “hard as nails” providing pressure from the exterior and interior to sandwich them together.  It worked well.

Time to insulate.  Initially the plan was to seal the wall to provide maximum R-value.  As I progressed I realised that going overboard was not necessary.  The rest of the RV has minimal insulation and there was no great benefit to getting carried away on one wall.  I used ¾” insulated foam board where it could be cut to fit.

The wall is secure, dry and insulated.   Time to finish the interior.

I chose wallboard from Lowes for this part.  I can’t give a good reason why other than it was priced well and I knew i could cut and mount it with the tools I had available.  

After lots of measuring and cursing i got the interior covered with 2 pieces.  It came out great.  I removed the interior window frame to allow mounting over the new skin and the fit was perfect.  TIP:  I kept the section of old wall board with the corner radius so I could transfer the shape to my new cuts.  It made for nice clean corners.

The skin is on, the wiring is sticking out where it should be and everything is secure.  

A few additional hours of cursing later the cabinets are back in place and I have a clean, dry, secure rear wall on our home with wheels!  The labor wasn’t that bad, material costs were minimal and I’m very happy with the finished product.  

To finish the project completely I needed to make it look good.  The boss chose rough cut cedar plank as the wall finish.  I like her choice!  The boards were cut to fit, glued in place with hard as nails and make for a much nicer finished product than what we started with.

 

 

The only tools I had for this job were:

Skill saw

Sawzall

Corded hand drill

Screwdrivers

Utility knife

Caulk gun

Wood chisels

Small pry bar

Measuring tape.

I added this list to let you know that RV repair is pretty straightforward and uncomplicated.  It’s amazing that RV dealers get away with $100 an hour and more for interior repairs.

The boss is happy with the finished project and confidant that we have a safe and dry home once again.  I am grateful to know much more about the construction of RV and have an increased confidence in my ability to renovate and keep our home in a state of good working order and repair.

I’m calling it a win!  Now go out and check your RV seals and avoid this mess all-together!

Happy travels!

Social Media and #RVLifestyle

Social Media and #RVLifestyle

What role does social media play in the full-time RV lifestyle? Platforms for distraction and procrastination or tools to enrich our lives?   Choosing between the two I am inclined to go with time waster but I believe that Social Media has its pluses as well.

Traveling and camping to “experience the world”  vs social media putting you right in the virtual thick of things.  It has been my experience that there is more JUNK on social media than worthwhile content.  Marketing, gimmicks, clickbait garbage and straight advertising to your electronic device.  Even once I learned to filter a bit, there remains a steady stream of garbage slipping through.

On the other hand I have met great people, learned many things and been exposed to material I may have never run into as a result of skimming through the updates on my accounts.

Perfect demonstration/marketing/advertisement (Oh… the Irony!) of Social Media in use outdoors!

I use Facebook, Instagram, YouTube (a bit) and Twitter.  This is more than enough for me.  Actually it’s a bit too much but if managed well I seem to benefit a bit from each account.  My social media presence is pretty new.  I got “plugged in” to find out more about transitioning to a RV lifestyle.  Now I am looking for other people with shared interests and am also sharing our experiences with others.

My experiences and thoughts on the social media platforms we use:

facebook-logo-Facebook @homewithwheels:  It’s a great place to post an idea or question and receive outside opinion from a chosen community of people.  We all know folks love sharing their opinions!  Facebook seems good for learning new things and being made aware of new ideas, people, and places. https://www.facebook.com/homewithwheels/       

twitter-iconTwitter @home_withwheels :  I am relatively new to twitter but an finding it useful and interesting.  Where else can you “text / tweet” directly to a person would otherwise have no access to?  Even better you may actually receive a reply.  We are all fans of someone out there. Rockstars, celebrities, authors, educators, innovators, bloggers.  Busy people are often accessible on twitter. https://twitter.com/home_withwheels

instagram-iconInstagram:  Pictures are beautiful and this platform makes sharing them with friends and family very simple.  Following others on here is also a joy because the spammy junk is minimized.  Photos and comments.  It’s a simple and beautiful thing.   https://www.instagram.com/homewithwheels/

youtube-logoYouTube:  Where else can you watch a 90 year old skydive and then learn to replace the wheel bearings on a 74 Oldsmobile?  YouTube has got it all, from video blogs to “how to anything”. I have yet to understand YouTube as a community and consider it more of a library than anything else.  I am a big fan though. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0WVuojfejmDT9EyxLr0jig

Is the use of social media enriching or hindering our RV lifestyle?  Pros and cons:

 happyfacePRO:   Puts us in touch with others in a mobile community.  Its nice to have a dialogue or keep track of people living a similar life experience.  Our paths are all unique but we must share similar aspirations.  Pulling the plug on the house and 9-5 to live in a camper definitely falls outside the norm.  Other than rallies, campgrounds and fueling stations where else would we have access to one another in such numbers.

happyfacePRO:   Access to advice and information.  I have benefited greatly from the practical and emotional advice given on social media as we transitioned into our mobile lifestyle.  Insurance, selling our stuff, legalities, RV repair, how-to, storage, organization, cooking……  the list goes on.  People sharing success and failures and offering advice has prevented us from having to re-invent the wheel each step of the way.  We found the people or information through social media.

black-sad-face-iconCON:   Social media can be toxic.  Internet tough guys and hate mongers abound.  No need to elaborate. We have all run into these bitter keyboard malcontents.  

black-sad-face-iconCON:   Its often like watching TV and being stuck on commercials.  “Get rich today”, “pill to cure everything”, “hottest fashion”, “cheapest insurance”, “best buys on Amazon”, “new in theaters”………  i just want to see the latest updates on my friends road trip.  Social Media is free to use and advertising keeps the lights on.  I understand that.  Necessary evil i suppose but the ratio of content to advertising can sometimes be a bit overwhelming.

black-sad-face-iconCON:   Speaking for myself, social media can turn into a time vacuum.  I sit down to check the weather forecast, a video appears in the sidebar:  “3 tricks to ensure your RV roof never leaks” or “simple stretches to relieve shoulder pain”.  I don’t want my RV to leak!  My shoulder has been a bit tight lately!  It would be irresponsible of me not to take a minute out of my day to learn something new!  45 minutes later I am watching people catch tuna with baby rattles in the arctic ocean.  Yup … for me my social media accounts can be a terrible distraction if I let my guard down or get lazy.

I created a blog to document my thoughts and experiences before, during and after a huge lifestyle change. HomeWithWheels.com is my platform to chronicle my opinions and adventures. My website is also an attempt to create a tiny community of people who might see the world through similar colored glasses and communicate with them on a regular basis. Social media gives me the outlet to put my material in front of potentially interested people.  It is my hope that I can “get myself out there” in a a classy but effective way that does not further clutter news-feeds with more junk-mail.

In summary I think social media has its place in my #RVlifesytle. Used with restraint and tact I hope to meet new people and build relationships.   It makes the world a smaller place.  As important as it is for me to unplug and be mindful of the beautiful world around me it is important to have community.  When traveling and living mobile its nice to be able to access that community simply by finding a WiFi connection.

happyfaceI think I’ll be sticking with social media for a while.  Please, come find us there and say hello.

Safe travels all!

Considering Buying a Used RV?

Considering Buying a Used RV?

Considering buying a used RV?  If so please take a moment and learn from our mistakes.

 

We purchasing a used 2011 fifth wheel in July 2016, moved into it and became  full-timers.  It was and continues to be an interesting experience.

We spent a good deal of money on our fifth wheel with full assurances by the salesman that we were getting a great deal.  BUYER BEWARE!  (I know that “Buyer Beware” is common knowledge buy for us there was a good bit of emotion involved in this purchase.  This was a huge lifestyle change for us and we were very much caught up in the momentum of making things happen.)

Before I get into the sale story and lessons learned I will say that I accept full responsibility for the decisions made.  This is not intended to be a “salesmen are scum” or a “woe is me” article (although a bit of each might pop up).

The Purchase:

The boss and I were shopping around various dealers trying to figure out what we looking for in an RV.  We were not shopping to make a purchase, we were trying to learn what it was we wanted and needed.rv_dealership

We stopped at one of the larger dealers in our area “JUST TO LOOK AROUND”.  The salesman who greeted us came across as a pretty decent guy.  No pressure, very helpful and quick to answer questions.  After discussing our wants, needs and budget he suggested we look at a specific fifth wheel on his lot. Fast forward a few days and we bought it!  

WHY such a fast purchase?  We thought this unit was a home run; it was in like new condition, met all of our needs and was priced $6000 less that we could find the same unit or comparable units anywhere else online.  It seemed like exactly what we needed for a price we had budgeted for.  We were definitely caught up in the idea of making things happen.

Several times I asked the salesman why such a low price and his reply was something to the effect of “we got a good deal at trade-in and we are passing the deal on to you”.  What a great guy (sarcasm).  He was quick to point out several times that he was a member of the business owners family and that the business put customers first.! He said it without sounding like a salesman. My logic was that I was in the right place at the right time and “ran into a great deal”.  Was it meant to be?


Before going any further I must point out that we had zero camper experience and were pretty caught up in the moment with our recent decision to become full-time RVers. The salesman took full advantage of our ignorance and enthusiasm.  He got us hook, line and sinker.hooklinesinker

Fast Forward a few weeks….. We moved into the RV and became full-timers shortly after the purchase.

We discovered that the RV leaks and that the back wall of the RV was rotten from water damage (Details Here).  This never came up at any point in any sales conversation.  It never came up during the purchase when the service guy from the shop gave us our walk through and orientation.  It never came up when we pointed out a few minor issues that we identified in need of fixing before delivery (light bulbs, black tank level sensor, missing cover on an outlet).

I believe the dealership intentionally withheld the information to make the sale.  After reviewing a video I took of the RV on the day we purchased it I can now recognize significant delamination of the rear wall.  At the time I didn’t know what I was seeing and didn’t know to do a “tap test” to check.

The RV was purchased as-is with a 30-day warranty on appliances only.  Because of this fact, the leaky RV is now my problem and I don’t expect the dealership to help at all. I never wasted the time to contact the dealership to make them aware of the issue. I made the bad decision, time to take ownership of it. I’ll just focus on solving the problem.  

Am I mad….no.  Just a bit disappointed in my ignorance.  Live and learn!

oh-well

What’s the point?  I suppose the point is that you have a responsibility as a buyer to educate yourself and shop with caution.  Bring a friend with some RV experience to shop with you and inspect any used units. Take some time to learn about potential RV issues before going out to look at RV’s.  As a first time RV buyer, all of this may be challenging. You don’t know what you don’t know.

Here are a few suggestions of things to consider when shopping for a used RV.

RV SHOPPING CHECKLIST:

  • Check all exterior walls of the RV and perform a tap test looking for hollow spots or spongy exterior.
  • Look around the entire base of the RV for signs of water leaking from the frame (mildew, staining, rust, fungus)
  • Touch and inspect every seam inside the RV.  (ceiling to walls, walls to walls, floor to walls.)  Inside cabinets and closets.
  • Inspect bathroom.  Checking for moisture stains or any walls or floors that feel spongy to the tap or touch.
  • Have the seller turn on every light, tail lights, radio, TV, shower, sinks, toilets.  This will require them hooking to water supply and pressurizing the rig.
  • Turn on every appliance and ensure it is working.  Including the oven stove and oven.  Also, request that each appliance is demonstrated on propane and electric if so equipped.  Don’t take their word for it that they switched power sources.  Ask them to show you how they did it and know that it works in each configuration.
  • Exercise all of the windows and window dressings.  Blinds, blinds, emergency exits, windows, doors, hatches, locks, steps, antenna, AC, heater.
  • Inspect the roof for obvious damage, repairs, tears or holes.  It will be your responsibility after the purchase to ensure the seals are maintained (I recommend EternaBond RoofSeal Sealant) You just want to ensure that any existing problem has not been sealed over or hidden.
  • Plug in an electrical appliance to every plug in the RV.  Ensure that there are no issues with outlets or power supply.
  • Request that the RV be plugged into shore power and turn on all of the interior appliances at the same time and use hot water until you are sure that the water heater is on as well.  AC + Microwave + lights+TV + water heater element will trip your breaker every time.  This is just the way it is with our RV but It took us a while to figure out.  Better to know ahead of time.
  • Check plumbing under and around sinks, toilet and shower for signs of water leaks or damage.  Check exposed plumbing inside of any storage compartments for the same.
  • Inspect the tires and inspect for cracking and damage.  This might be an opportunity to sweeten the deal at a dealership.  Request new tires as a term of your purchase.
  • HERE is a very detailed checklist from another RV blogger that I found online (wish I had it at the time).  It has suggestions beyond what I mentioned above.

All in all, we are still pleased with our RV despite its hidden problems.  Replacing the water damage became an opportunity to learn a great deal about how my camper is built, sealed, insulated, held together, wired and finished.  I am much wiser for the experience.  

Repairing an RV is not terribly complicated because of the simplicity in how they are built.  Just think of a tree-house on a flatbed trailer frame.  That’s about it.  I’m grateful that I had the time and means to make the necessary repairs. The repairs were not terribly expensive but took a good bit of labor and hours to complete.

Good luck to you on your RV shopping adventures. Watch out for the distracting enthusiasm and excitement that comes with buying your first Home With Wheels. Take your time, seek wise counsel, and use caution when listening to those lovely salesmen!

We wish you the best!  Enjoy the adventure.

“Learn from the mistakes of others.  You can never live long enough to make them all yourself.”  – Groucho Marx

Reach out to us and say hello!

The internet is a big place, thank you for stopping by our little corner!  Please let us know what you think, share your comments, concerns and questions with us.  Its nice to know that people care!

Mediocre Life?

Mediocre Life?

How we decided to pull the trigger and move into an RV

This post is not a declaration that everyone need run away in a camper to live an extraordinary life.  This is simply an account of us waking up and realizing that the world is full of options.  

To not explore options and chase dreams seems a bit sad to me.

We are going to start exploring and chasing, Win or Lose.

First, the “back story”:

Life was/is good!  The boss (wife) and I are healthy and secure.  We had decent jobs, a comfortable home, a month of vacation each year and our finances were looking good.  Our 2 children were out to the house and doing well for themselves.  We were empty-nesters having conversations about vacations, hobbies and what to do next weekend.

I was a firefighter and the wife worked management for a large corporate business. We had captured our version of the “American Dream”.  Another 10 – 15 years of years of work and then retire comfortably.  Maybe travel a bit more and spoil grand-kids.  Our jobs were no longer fun but the pay was what we were trading our time for and the money took care of our needs and then some.

It was boring but it was working.  

Then came our visit to our daughter in Idaho:  (May 2015)

Our daughter had taken a job managing a horse stable at a fly-in ranch in the remote mountains of Idaho.  She is a young adventurous soul with a passion for horses getting paid to live in an amazing place.  When the opportunity presented itself to visit her we were all over it!

We flew out to Salt Lake city from Orlando, drove through amazing country to arrive in Salmon Idaho  (Didn’t see a single potato).  Idaho is a beautiful place!  From the town of Salmon we hopped on a single prop charter plane and flew into the mountains to visit our daughter.  There are no roads to get to this ranch. 

20150519_091753

After snow covered mountains, breathtaking scenery and flying through cloud banks, we landed on a grass strip on the edge of a river in a valley surrounded by mountains.  We spent 5 days there with our daughter and every moment was wonderful.

Having made friends with the managers at the ranch while we visited and telling them how impressed we were with the place they offered us JOBS!  I’m not talking Fortune 500 employment or pay, it was a modest but fair offer for seasonal employment in an amazing location.

20150521_142444

20150520_114120

The wife and I considered it.  We wanted to say yes but our life was such that we had too many obligations and stuff to manage.  Besides, our retirement savings were not set up for us to take pay cuts and run away at this point in our lives.  After a day of deliberation, we had to decline the offer.

I was crushed to pass on such an amazing life experience and opportunity.  

We vowed that we would structure our lives in such a way to never have to pass on living a dream again.  But how?

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We analyzed our priorities and found that experiences, not “things” were what made us happy.  Both of us are in our 40’s and in good health but we are aware that doesn’t last forever.  If we are planning to live life chasing experiences It will probably be more fun to do it in strong healthy bodies rather than in our bodies 15 years from now.

We also recognized that we don’t want to HAVE to work until we die.  How can we build a nest egg or parachute to ensure we could live our later years with comfort and dignity?  The stock market scared us.  Small business is an option but not much of a sure thing. Our solution was to invest all of our cash savings and disposable income into rental real estate.

I had a friend who was very successful in business and invested in residential rental properties.  He introduced me to the key concepts and how it worked.  I read books, listened to podcasts and scoured the web for practical information.  Over the course of the next 12-months we purchased and renovated 3 properties and put renters into them.  It damn near killed us but we made it happen.  We wanted it that bad!

Our nest egg now consisted of 4 properties (3 rentals plus our home), a partial pension from my job (starting at age 55) and a 401K from 17 years at my wife’s job.   We had no consumer debt and our incomes far exceeded our monthly expenses.  Our options increased dramatically.

Exploring our options we asked…..how much is enough?  We were working jobs we no longer found fulfilling just to make more money. To what end?  Our parachute was in place.  Now it was time to do what we wanted!  

Then the crazy idea came.  What if we convert the house we live in to a rental and move into an RV?  WE could live locally for a while, get our bearings and then hit the road. We could stop and work seasonally to cover expenses and then move on to another adventure.  The boss said she wants to sell ice cream, I want to be a whitewater river guide.  Let’s do it!

And here we are.  We sold 98% of our possessions, rented out the house we built 18 years ago and raised our kids in, bought an RV and a truck to tow it.  Currently we are living in a campground and saving every penny we can to build a cash emergency fund for the road.

Our life now is simpler and significantly more interesting.  Our current big challenges are, figuring out the nuances of living in an RV and figuring out where we are going when we hook up our home on wheels and hit the road.

We intend to hit our savings goal in Early 2017.  

When that number is reached we will hook up and pull out of Florida.  The plan is to point the truck West.  I’m not yet sure of the destination but i’m looking forward to the journey.  We aren’t sure what will happen but we are certain that it will not be ordinary.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay tuned for updates!  

Please let us know you thoughts in the comment section below!

This is Why

This is Why

Who would sell all of their belongings and move into an RV on purpose?   WHY?

I found this Theodore Roosevelt quote on a sign at the docks at “Bud and Mary’s”  in Islamorada (Florida Keys).  After a bit of research I found that it came from a speech he given in Chicago on April 10 1899. (the full excerpt from the speech is at the bottom of the post)

Bud and Mary’s is a marina that houses a large charter fishing fleet.  Bordered by turquoise waters, and palm trees it is located on a cut between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic ocean.

This sign seems appropriate in a place where men and women are living very full lives and pursuing their passions.  The hard working / hard playing folks at the docks who cater to the tourists are living the vacation that other people save up all year to experience.

 

It may not bring financial riches but having met many of these folks, it is quite obvious that the majority of them live fulfilled lives of adventure and share their passion with those they come in contact with.

Is this statement overly romantic?  

Maybe.

Is it possible that these folks are grinding out a living and just getting by?  Maybe.

How many of these people are there because they chased a dream?  I will venture to say a good many of them.

These folks smile and laugh more than most people I know.  Their language is colorful and they walk and talk with enthusiasm.

These men and women live passionate lives.  

I want to do the same.

My wife and I have spent the last 20 years raising our 2 kids.  They were our priority.  Providing for them was our goal in life.  A safe home, stability, food on the table, enjoyable experiences and teachable moments.  We took the road most traveled, we got jobs, built a house and worked day to day looking forward to the weekends and vacations.  The wife and I have no complaints, it was a fun 20 years and our children grew into healthy and happy adults who will add value to this world.

Now what?

We have decided that it’s time to get outside of our comfort zone and go take chances on living a life that will create great stories and memories worth sharing.  It’s time to dare mighty things.

 

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.”

Overly dramatic again?……maybe.  But we are going for it nonetheless.

Is moving into an RV in our mid 40’s and traveling the US working seasonal employment daring?  Maybe not by Mr Roosevelt’s definition but I think we are entering “the arena”.

What will we discover?

Who will we meet?

What will we get good at through necessity?

What lessons will we learn as a result of trying?

What doors will open as a result of us just showing up?

How will he handle the adversities?

These are all unknown but we welcome the process of finding out.

Win or lose, intelligent or folly we are going for it.  We have done the planning, put the pieces in place and welcome the challenges ahead.

That is why.

Please let us know you thoughts in the comment section below!

We bought an RV

We bought an RV

Video tour of the “New House” on purchase day

And the adventure begins

This was a pretty crazy day for the boss and I.  

We were committed to moving into an RV but had no idea it would happen this quick. The story of how we decided to make this purchase is posted below the video.   Events before and after the purchase can be found in our Jounal.

 

This is the account of us buying our RV as recorded in our journal…

6/22/2016  The Plot Thickens

Yesterday the Boss and I sat down to figure out some of financial goals.  We figured out out emergency funds goals for our invest properties and What we wanted on hand for emergency cash.  We also figured out our expected monthly travel budget!   The numbers are estimates based on our current cost of living but I believe we are pretty accurate knowing our spending habits.  

The big unknown is HEALTH INSURANCE…..this will be the next hurdle.

Today we spend the day driving central Florida looking at RV’s.  WE started last night on craigslist and a few RV sales sites and there are sooo many options we set out to educate ourselves a bit.

We managed to decide on what we want and don’t want, approximate size to meet our needs and have an idea what we will need to spend.  Too are lots of options, brands, and configurations.  Decisions need to be made.

6/25/2016

Sitting at home in the early afternoon today, engaged in the same conversation as usual (working out details of our escape)  the boss stated that if living in an RV for the last months here in Florida would shorten our time until freedom she was in.

We worked out the math and found that if we put a renter into our primary residence and moved into our camper we could increase our savings rate by $570 a month.  In 9 months that +5130 extra = over 2  months on the road worth of emergency fund!  It will require we find a place to park with utilities for $650 a month.

I was surprised as hell by her ambition and at the same time a bit frightened that the reality of it happening was in front of me.

Looking around at RV’s (specifically 5th wheels) the other day we ran into a very impressive deal.  A 31’ fifth wheel in like new condition for 5k under retail price.  It met all of our needs and the boss found it very comfortable. Long story short we agreed to return and take a look at it, arrived, made a lowball offer and THE DEALER ACCEPTED THE OFFER!

We now own a 5th wheel camper.  We don’t have a truck to pull it yet but we own a camper!

The dealer agreed to deliver it when we were ready so now we need a place to put it.

This week will be “find a place to put our new home” week.  More to come soon!

Add-on (written 7/17/2016)

While reading back through my journal I realized that this short paragraph stating we found an RV and then bought it sounds a bit rash (it was a bit rash, but none the less) The longer version of the story is as follows:

The boss and I had no idea of what we were looking for in a camper/new home with wheels.  Our search started with local used RV lots.  We looked at:

  1. Pop-ups and small tow-behinds (way to small and no bathrooms)  –I have to admit I liked the prices and the idea of towing behind a smaller vehicle!
  2. Small motor coaches (Class C).  Although they had bathrooms (sort of) the boss and I decided that the space was a bit too intimate.
  3. WE RULED OUT Class B and C coaches.  WE didn’t like the idea that if our vehicle broke down our house would be in the shop as well.  The prices of these units were a bit intimidating as well.
  4. Larger tow-behind campers were nice but the small roofs and low ground clearance were turnoffs.  (I am 6’4”)
  5. WE DISCOVERED 5th-Wheels!

What drew us to fifth wheels was:  1)  Bang for the buck! (ignoring the price of the truck to pull it)  2)  The ceiling height!  What a spacious living space (if you can consider 300ft spacious) 3) The bathrooms and bedrooms would fit the needs of a large adult and his mate.

Once we discovered that we were shopping for a fifth wheel we focused our search.  The boss wanted comfort, storage and utility.  My focus was a bed that would fit me, a size that would be manageable to tow and park and a price tag that would allow us to purchase without debt!

We found it a bit too quickly as mentioned above.  Great price, met all of our needs and the deal was closed.

The purchase was as follows.  I called the salesman a day after showing us the rig asking him to explain why the price was $6000 under any price I could find online by any other seller.  His reply appeared honest (I am distrustful of salesmen) when he said they got a good deal on it through trade-in and they just wanted to move it off the lot.  He suggested that if I was interested I come in and make an offer.

Our intention was to remain debt-free through this process so we were hesitant to go back and make the offer on something we did not have the cash for.  We debated dipping into our cash reserve and making a low-ball offer and then financing the balance with the intent of paying it off in full before hitting the road.  That was our plan.

We arrived at the dealership and made an offer.  We told the salesman we would pay the sticker price “Out the Door”  after tax, title, license.  Our salesman took the offer into his manager’s office (the typical sales maneuver), then returned and congratulated us on the purchase of our new 5th wheel.  We in-house financed the balance for a ridiculously long  term with an insignificant monthly payment.  

We intend to pay the balance in full within the next few months.

Its pretty frightening how simple it is to purchase a RV!

That’s it! We own a 2006, 31′ Chaparral by Coachman.  NOW WHAT?

Did I mention we dont have a truck to pull it yet?

Stay tuned for updates!

Please let us know you thoughts in the comment section below!

August 23 – 29, 2016

August 23 – 29, 2016

Tuesday, August 23

Researched how to use our thermostat for the AC unit.  Have not had a breaker pop since.  Also turned off the AC when we used the microwave today.  No sense in taking the chance and not a bad idea to start good habits.  The solution to the problem of the AC being on all of the time is to move out of Florida.

Switching over to LED bulbs in the RV.  (great writeup and info from 3 different sources)  http://www.doityourselfrv.com/replace-incandescent-halogen-bulbs-leds-rv/

I’ve got my order into M4products.com for a 5 “aluminum plate” led replacement “bulbs”.  

Swimming laps in the pool.  I believe that this is the 5th day of getting in 10 laps in the community pool.  It’s so nice to swim in a pool that I don’t have to maintain!  I only hope that lap swimming will be an option once the campground fills up.

First dinner out with RV park friends (the camp hosts to boot!)  We were very excited to have our first sit down with full-time RV campers and decided to recommend a local restaurant.  It would have been nice to stay home for a cookout but it’s still uncomfortable hot here in Florida.

We got to learn about how they transitioned to full-time life, got their Work Camping positions and what their plans were once this work obligation were over.  They are fun people with big smiles and seem beyond happy to be living the life that they are.  They quieted some of our concerns and bade us quite excited about the opportunities out there.

Poor drainage on the slide out covers.  Need a PVC rack to solve.  Added a project to the to-do list.  While on the roof working on the AC unit I discovered water pooling on the slide out covers.  It has turned into quite the moldy puddle of debris.  On other units in the campground I saw that people had made PVC shelves to slide under the canvas to help with drainage.  The PVC parts and pipe have been purchased, just need to get them built and in place.  

Looking at solutions to the RV wobbling while we are inside.  Looked at chock blocks for the tires and other contraptions. Tripods for the fifth wheel tongue were not highly recommended as the solution on the internet.   Will need to research more and try various options.  Maybe it’s just the nature of living in a home with wheels.  I compare it to being on a boat but the boss is less impressed with a house that wobbles and we walk around.

Thursday, August 25

Planning for the day we hook the RV up to the truck and pull out.

We have been so busy this past year.  Not busy in a bad way but by choice.  These past few days I have come to recognize we have time and space to breath a bit.  Life has become a bit simpler.

Ther RV is settled, and we have become acquainted with some of the nuances of life inside an RV.  Our rental properties seem to have the kinks worked out, rent is on time and the phone is not ringing from our tenants with concerns or complaints. Our jobs are chugging along, providing paychecks that are moving us quickly toward our savings numbers.  Things are good and we are both recognizing it and taking the opportunity to relax a bit.

I am trying to catch up on the website, writing, exercise and reading.  The boss is enjoying the opportunity to slow down and put her feet up a bit more.  Regardless of the tasks at hand, we are both trying to appreciate the situation we are in and be grateful for the opportunities in front of us.

So what is the next step to pull the plug and head down the road?  

The boss has been scouring the Work Camper websites and is excited at all the diverse opportunities and positions available.  (Add list of websites that Christy gave to Kay to look at).  It seems like we can go pretty much anywhere to live for “free” and make a small supplemental income. We were warned at dinner the other night by our friends (the campground hosts) that not all RV parks and campgrounds are created equal and that we are currently staying at one of the better ones they have experienced.

This warning has me a bit hesitant to make a commitment to hosting at a place we have never seen.  We would be basing the decision on camper reviews and would know very little about the owners or managers of the property.  I am positive about very few things but I do know for sure that PEOPLE ARE CRAZY, all in our special little ways.  Good crazy or bad it is a consideration. Hopefully, with time we will run into recommendations and come into contact with more people with more experience that us (any experience).  Hope to learn from their successes and failures.

I want to become a river guide in Idaho (or anywhere beautiful).  Having been to Idaho and seeing the Middle Fork of the Salmon river this is my goal.  It happens to be among the top rated rivers to raft down in the US.  I am assuming there is pretty steep competition to guide on this magnificent river through untouched country.

Here are my hangups with obtaining a guide job:

  1. I have never even been whitewater rafting (small detail?) But how can it not be amazing?
  2. Much like the campground hosting, we will need to pack up and drive ⅔ of the way across the US for an unknown opportunity.
  3. The season for guiding is short and there will be no guarantee of income once we get there.
  4. Guiding in Idaho requires state licensing.  This will require I obtain significant training once we get there (some of the training I might even have to pay for).  That equals an unknown income for an unknown time and additional expenses before the first paycheck.

Despite the hangups, I believe that I am still going to make it happen.  So far I have created a list of all of the outfitters I could find on the internet in the areas that I am interested in working. I have filled out one online application and have yet to hear anything back.  The plan is to just keep plugging away at it until I figure it out.

The boss is supporting me on this crazy idea with the idea being that we will find a location where we can set up camp, she will find a tourism-related job that she enjoys and we will have a crazy first summer on the road.  

The dates for this would be March through August. Then we will ???? The insanity of all of this makes for fun conversations but we are both up to the challenge I think.  Sink or swim (pun intended) It will make for a great life story before it’s all over!

Friday, August 26

??When to hit the road ??

We now live in an RV and continue to work our full-time jobs.

So far the boss and I have stayed busy with “making things happen”.  Making decisions, downsizing, moving into the RV,  settling in, learning about our new “home”.  Now we find ourselves in a position of infinite possibilities but are suffering from a bit of indecision.

The current plan is to hit our financial benchmarks then hit the road.  We are calling the magic benchmark number $30,000 liquid with all debts paid.  Our actual numbers from our estimates are $12,000 cash reserve for road-life rainy day funds (6-months expenses) and then $16,000 cash reserve to protect our rental properties.  We have been back and forth on the numbers quite a bit but always end up back at these approximate figures each time.

Why not save more?  This would be the safest and easiest path.

We have steady employment with decent income and benefits.  Health insurance is covered.  I don’t anticipate seasonal positions on the road paying anywhere near what we are making.  I don’t see a situation where our expenses will be this low again.  If we just kept saving at this rate we could amass quite a pile of cash.  

Why not do this for another year?  

Another 2 years?  

Wouldn’t it be great to hit the road with 3x our anticipated “fall back cash”?  4x?  10x?

I don’t have an answer.  Yes?…. At what cost?

Are we fools to give up the “sure thing” in exchange for a nomad lifestyle?  The math says so.  But i’m not sure living well is all about the math.

I recently read that a “fall back plan” can become an obstacle in achieving goals.  Knowing that a plan B exists provides options and an alternative to success in any endeavor.  I’m not sure I agree but I do understand the logic.  If failure is an option …..well….. Its an option.

Why not hedge all bets against failure?

Conversation with self:

Why not stick with the “sure thing” and amass as much $$ as possible until you are too old to work anymore and then ensure that you have the maximum number of options at all times?

Well….. not taking advantage of any of these options defeats the purpose. 

Are you living to collect options without ever choosing one?

Are you afraid that choosing one option could cause you to miss out on the possibilities of another?.  

Its psycho babble but….it’s a bit real.

Paralysis by analysis.  

The freedom to be able to choose our own path is causing a bit of angst.  We could avoid the discomfort by following societies norms and just continuing with the status quo, collecting money and aging.  Or….  we could continue to follow the path that we have already chosen, stay the course and commit to a new and uncertain life.  A life full of unknown opportunities, challenges and experiences.

Not knowing what is around the next corner is a bit spooky.  It’s also exhilarating and energizing.

I say we stay the course and look forward to the opportunities, challenges and experiences that the path ahead may bring.

I think i just talked myself into hitting the road in March.  I’ll need to run it by the boss.

Rant complete.

Saturday, August 27

RV Toilets are Awsome!

Before I begin I want to throw out a few disclaimers:  

I have only been full time for six weeks and during that time have spent one out of every 3 days away from the RV (at work).  

Also in the past month I was out of town for 1 week.

That said, in the days that I have been at the RV I remain in awe of the steadfast resolve of this porcelain combatant.

THE RV TOILET!

I’m a big guy (6’ 4”,  250lbs) and eat a pretty high protein / high vegetable fiber diet.  As a result I tend to engage in combat with porcelain warriors from time to time.  They often put up a good fight but with the aid of a plunger, some profanity and steadfast determination I ultimately become the victor.

This is not the case with my RV porcelain opponent.  Regardless of what punishment I subject it to the result is always the same.  A quick gulp and flush with a smug reply…..is that all you’ve got.

Of course it is is design perfection.  No trap or J-pipe to slow its movements.  No ornate trinkets or ineffective gadgets to hold it back.  Like a cheetah it is perfectly designed for its role in the wild.

I throw my punches and sprinkle my work with TP confetti.  The challenge has been made.  It’s the Toilets turn.

Its reply is always the same.  A vacant thousand yard stare.  A look of indifference.  It knows that it will be the victor and finds my challenge borring.

The side lever is pushed.

In moments the battle is over and once again the toilet is the victor.  It remains stoic.  No rowdy “in your face” or taunts at my failure to best him.

The RV toilet is a thing to be admired.  We can learn from this inanimate servant of our.  Demonstrated attributes to admire:

  • Humility, service is rendered without comment or expectation of thanks
  • Conditioning:  the toilet knows its place in this world and maintains a constant state of readiness to do its doody/Duty
  • Bravery:  mental or moral strength to venture, persevere and withstand danger, fear or difficulty (thank you merriam-webster.com)

RV toilets are awesome!

 

Monday, August 29

Living day to day

A tropical depression is hitting Florida today. Hurricane Hermine.  As with all big weather events the predictions of where are all over the place.  Not a hurricane any more though though, winds are expected to 25 mph with lots of rain.

The storm scare got the attention of our RV park manager and I came home to find our RV tied down with hurricane anchors.   This consists of steel cables anchored to the concrete on the rear 2 support beams under the fifth wheel.  There is another strap on the tongue of the fifth wheel as well.  In not sure if they would overcome significant winds but it’s a nice thought.  (TAKE SOME PICS)  Ahhh…..the joys of summertime in florida.

Currently investigating an RV park side hustle.  I recently overheard a conversation at the park office that an RV exterior wash costs $60.  Now, I am yet to wash an RV but I can’t imagine it taking longer than an hour.  $60 an hour minus the costs of detergent seems like a nice chunk of supplemental travel cash.  I’ll start with mine and leave na update.

The LED conversion went well.  I received my shipment of “plate lamps” with wedge bases.  They installed easily and look great.  http://www.m4products.com/alplate-24-5630-nw-natural-white-double-aluminum-plate/

Note:  Added April 1, 2017 Since changing out the few LED’s from this first round we have gone on to replace all of the bulbs with intentions of dry camping in the future.  Because of the costs associated with replacing so many bulbs, I tried ordering E-bay LED’s.  The cost was 1/10th of the “high-end bulbs”.  We have not had a single problem with the cheaper LED replacements and intend to continue to use the cheap ones in the future.  Money saved is money earned!!

Im struggling with the intent of all of the overhead lights in our RV.  It appears they installed lighting for an operating room in here.  There are double lamps everywhere.  I suppose they just didn’t want anyone complaining about not having enough light.  We plan to replace the bulbs that we use and leave the other bulbs in the less used or not used light fixtures.

We are getting better at managing our electrical use.  We got a bit greedy yesterday and had the AC going, warmed food in the microwave and had the TV on.  All was well until the boss took a shower.  About 2 minutes in the breaker popped.  We are assuming that the addition of the water heater pushed the load over the edge.  At least we recognize the reason and can plan to be more careful in the future.  Still learning.

Another event was the replacement of our bedroom mattress.  This was an unanticipated and unwelcome expense but the boss was insistent.  It seems she does not enjoy the dent I create in the mattress and the pull on her body that that dent creates.  She referred to it as a black hole in the bed where i sleep.  Picky, Picky.

We have had this discussion years ago and the end result was us mattress shopping for our old king sized bed.  It was money well spent and resulted in wonderful sleep for years.  We would have brought that mattress with us if it would have fit. The lesson learned was that the cost of a mattress hurts less over time.  Better we replace our mattress immediately and get it out of the way.

We hit the local mattress stores and tried to avoid laughing at the sales people when they quoted us prices.  THEY HAVE GONE UP IN RECENT YEARS!!  WE did find a mattress that reminded us of our old one but of course it was out of our “mattress budget”.  Out of habit I asked if they had any “scratch and dent” mattresses (not knowing if there even was such a thing).   The salesperson stated that there was a clearance outlet in our area so we gave it a visit.  BINGO!  They had the mattress we liked for half the price.  It had a scuff on the side from where the packaging had torn.  Half price was nice but it was still at the upper end of our budget.  I asked what there best price was to make the sale happen right now.  They came off the price another $175 dollars without any haggling.  SOLD!  And we stayed under under budget.

I still have to purchase fifth wheel hitch for the truck but after that I believe all of our large expenses are out of the way.  We upgraded the chairs and are happy with the bedding.  We have yet to identify anything that is not suiting our needs.  There has been a bit of research on solar panels and an upgrade to the 12-volt system in the RV but that is nothing that we currently NEED.  I would love to not do this upgrade but staying in the RV outside of campgrounds is something we would like to explore.

Currently searching for a new theme for the website so that it looks organized. I can only do some much with the free theme that I am using.  Im quite sure it’s limited by my abilities but something a bit more intuitive and organized to suit my needs would be nice.  Less tech stuff and more content is my goal.

WE continue to work and save. I intend to go back to teaching EMT at a local community college and have been waiting for scheduling of my fingerprinting and drug screen.  Once that is done I will be back in the classroom.  I am looking forward to it for both the income and the experience.  I always enjoyed teaching.

Working out has been going well and the boss is on board as well.  No injuries and we are both feeling great.  

“Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please”

-Mark Twain

Reach out to us and say hello!

The internet is a big place, thank you for stopping by our little corner!  Please let us know what you think, share your comments, concerns and questions with us.  Its nice to know that people care!

August 15 – 21, 2016

August 15 – 21, 2016

Tuesday, August 15

Cooked my first meal in the in the RV!  The gas is enjoyable to cook with, the stovetop is adequate.  The counter space presents challenges but I think we can adapt.  A full thanksgiving meal might be a challenge but Taco night is no big deal!

The chairs were as advertised.  They look great in the RV (hope the boss agrees) and are extremely comfortable.  —-The boss just walked in and approved!—–  great timing.

The gray and black tanks on the RV needed emptying again.  With the boss home alone for 7 days we made it 10 days until ¾ lights showed up on our tank gauges.  It looks like weekly pump out will work well and keep us safe from whatever it is that happens when you don’t empty the yuck tanks. 

The pool at the RV park has come in handy for 2 days in a row.  As it is the down season we have it all to ourselves.  Doing laps has been a pleasure in a big pool that I don’t have to take care of myself!

Time to go sit in those chairs with my feet up.  Past time actually (it’s 9pm)

Friday, August 19

Electricity is like magic to me.  I’m a fairly smart guy and have had some formal electrical training but unfortunately never applied myself to master the material.  Electricity has always been there to do what I want when I want, without conditions.  Not anymore, with a 30 amp service and RV breaker panel—

Here is what I learned late last night and today (thanks to the educational value of a crock pot). The situation started last night with our house master breaker popping.  We were home at the time and noticed the lights and AC turn off (easy to identify), found the breaker and reset.  Turned off a few lights and the fan that runs in the bedroom.  Reset the breaker and things were fine until an hour later.  This time the RV breaker inside was fine and I checked the service outside and found it to be tripped. Reset again and hoped for the best.  Long story short……we were using our crockpot for the first time and the main circuit breaker to our rig would pop when the AC compressor kicked in. We are using too much electricity, This was my diagnosis.

Fast forward to this afternoon.  AC and power all morning and our crockpot food was done so it got unplugged.  After taking care of some afternoon projects and enjoying dinner, and we settled down in the house.  THE OUTSIDE BREAKER THREW AGAIN!  This time with nothing on but the AC, the small living room fan and 2 lights.  

I did some studying online and found this to not be too unusual a situation.  An AC is an AMP hog and RV service is notorious for being fickle. My concerns / questions now are; is the AC in need of cleaning/servicing?  (this will have to wait until Saturday) or is the AC problematic and in need of replacement (It’s 6-years old but hardly used).  Could it be that keeping an RV cool in the summer heat of Florida is just taxing on the unit causing it to run more inefficient?  These are issues I need to figure out and AC is a top priority to me when its 98 degrees with 80% humidity.  I can’t wait to get out of Florida in the summer! Until then I will need to learn my RV electrical and Amp draws intimately.

Installed the first of our Max-air vents on the RV roof.  The bathroom vent fan needs to stay on to keep the room from getting damp from wet towels, moisture in the shower, swimming pool clothing that needs to dry.  Because the fan needs to remain on the vent cover needs to stay up.  The problem we identified with that is we live in Florida and the likelihood of daily rain is high.  It is counterproductive to have it rain into the bathroom when we struggle with moisture already.  Enter the Max-air.  It installed easily and not the vent can remain open.  Great design, and straightforward installation.

On a personal note:

The boss pointed out that I have become a bit unreasonable with not spending money.  She is correct.  I hesitate to spend the first penny unless the purchase is identified as “a complete necessity” and one that will satisfy a need for an extended period of time.

There is a result of an epiphany that took place while selling all of our belongings. This realization is still a bit haunting to me still.  As we were selling off our “treasures and belongings” I recognized how many things we had purchased over time and the massive amount of money that we converted into stuff.  Granted, some of this stuff added value and comfort to our life but soooo much of it was just stuff.  Impulse buys, things we just “had to have” trinkets and gadgets.  As I dug through these items and then sold them for pennies on the dollar I recognized the waste.

We have been a pretty frugal family in the past several years.  Living on a budget and working to become debt free kept us motivated.  And yet we still seemed to accumulate junk along the way.  Now that we live in a space where everything needs to have a place and be kept there I feel the need to “keep it simple” and minimize the “stuff” we purchase.  

I find no enjoyment in buying things but I am also not financially motivated.  Money to me is simply peace of mind and options, a tool that will allow us to move forward and live an adventure as opposed to the rat race.  I recognize the utility of money to buy things that provide comfort, value and service but finding the balance between that and “instant gratification purchases” is what I struggle with.  It will be a work in progress I suppose.

Sunday, August 21

Spent the morning emptying out the last of our stored items in the expedition, transferring to our storage location and then going through and consolidating some of store “Stuff”.

Its tough to stay focused while going through old children’s books, photos, and personal items.  The boss and I stayed strong.  Out went our old yearbooks, teenage memorabilia, odds and ends that we might need to look through again but serve no purpose.  I tossed my old Army certificates, awards, and collectibles.  The boss started unloading her scrapbooking supplies.  It was a successful trip.  We kept it short to prevent it from turning into “work”  we have plenty of time before we become fully mobile and have yet to determine our final storage solution while we are on the road.

Yesterday evening was spent with the roof AC unit.  I watched a few youtube videos on RV AC service and got to it.  I cleaned the internal coils and filter (they were not dirty).  Next, I headed to the roof to get into the outside parts.  After removing the cover i was happy to see that the Unit was clean and appeared to be in good shape.  The coils were spotless.

I found that all of the manufacturer info is on the inside of the shroud and helped tremendously with identifying what I was working with.  After putting the shroud back on I hit the internet to research our unit and got all of the specs.  The unit is an electric hog and with a 30 amp service to the RV we pretty much have to be selective with what electricity we use and when.  

I’m happy to find that nothing is broke but the I now know that you can’t take electricity for granted when living in an RV.  It’s time to study more and learn how to operate more efficiently.  LED light bulbs anyone?  I also found out that the 12-volt system runs off of a converter.   I thought the 12-volt was straight from the battery.  So much to learn but I am enjoying the process.

The boss and I were invited to dinner by some neighbors in the park.  The campground hosts!!  Finally get to hear the inside scoop from experienced full-timers.  I’m excited to hear everything that they have to share.  

Other accomplishments +learning experiences:

Converted our garden hose water supply line to a “white hose”.  The tap water in the RV tasted like garden-hose!  Surprise, that’s where its coming from dummy!  The boss found that this product existed and it’s a great improvement to our water flavor.  Hopefully we can quit buying bottled water now.  Curious to know how others keep water when traveling.

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn. “

-Benjamin Franklin