Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Chapter Ends and a New One Begins for the Little RV

We will drive away from our sticks and bricks house for the last time tomorrow.  Yesterday we signed the papers for our short sale to be completed.  The buyer will sign today and the sale will be recorded on Thursday.  I did fine until we were driving away from the Escrow company.  That was when Rob asked me if I was OK and the dam burst.  

I don't even know if I can explain why I was so emotional about the end of this chapter in our lives.  I think it's fear of the unknown future awaiting us.  I don't like thinking about Rob's health in these terms but I know there is a high probability that I will be without him some day and then what? In reality it's likely that I'll be a middle aged woman, alone, with a giant truck and 5th wheel and a crazy dog.  Fortunately, I can drive the truck and pull the 5th wheel.  Yes, things could be much worse but let's not even go there. 
So, let's look on the bright side.  Tomorrow we move to a campground for a week.  We have some appointments next week and then we head for Portland.  We'll spend a few days with my daughter and her family, do some painting in her new house, make some curtains (and do some shopping in Portland) and then we move a bit further south to attend our annual family reunion.  After the reunion we head for the Eugene area for MORE RV REPAIRS.  

After the repairs are complete we are free to go wherever we choose.  Maybe Crater Lake or the beach, who knows.  Maybe we'll go to Montana's beautiful Glacier National Park or to Yellowstone or the Tetons.  But we will return to Portland toward the end of September for the arrival of our 5th grandchild who is due to arrive on October 1st. 

We have learned so much in this last year about how not to RV full time.  We really had an overly ambitious schedule and 10,000 miles in 10 months is just too much!   
This time we really want to find a place we love and stay until we get the itch to move again and see new sights.  We want to boondock as much as possible so we are away from RV parks.  None of us do "packed in like sardines" very well.  

So, we have officially reached the end of our tied down, home ownership chapter and the beginning of our free to go where we choose chapter.  I wonder how the rest of the book reads.

Now I have to go pump the black and gray tanks and get ready to leave in the morning.

Monday, July 29, 2013

So Much Accomplished in the Little RV

The past few weeks I've been working on making our house on wheels feel more like us.  I've complained about the shades of beige and the baby poop brown pleather that is the foundation of DRV's decor in this model.  I'm so excited about the fact that I have nearly banished from the Little RV.  

Since my last post I Rob and I removed our table and chairs.  We simply did not use them enough to warrant the space they took.  We replaced it with this beautiful cabinet which has ample storage and feels like "real" furniture to me.  The lighter color brightens the space up a bit too. 
Once we got the cabinet in here I was faced with a dilemma.  How to secure it so it won't move around during travel.  After much discussion and browsing the aisles in Lowe's, I settled on Velcro.  Yes, I said Velcro.  Now this is not just any Velcro but "Industrial Strength" Velcro.  I was skeptical but after a placement mishap that required me to pull the cabinet out again, I am convinced it will hold.  I applied three 24" strips to the back of the cabinet in places that make contact with the wall.  I was really glad I didn't have to make holes in the wall.  In the event of "Industrial Strength Velcro" failure, you'll be the second to know.  

Of course with a new storage cabinet came the task of going through almost every cabinet, drawer and storage space in the Little RV to weed out the unwanted and to rearrange the rest.  A monumental task but, once I remember where I put everything, so worth it.  The longer we call this home, the easier it gets to organize our belongings.

My mission yesterday was to recover all of the cornices in the living area.  There are seven in all. This is a before shot.  Purdy huh?
I took them all down and started measuring, cutting, padding, and stapling and stapling and stapling. The new fabric is neutral but much more interesting.  Now I can decorate with any color I choose.  I love the results.  So much more my taste.  Rob loves them too.  

I ran out of fabric with only one cornice to recover so I have to run to the fabric store for two more yards so I can check this project off my list.  

In two weeks our new chocolate brown warranty replacement couch is due to be installed. That will complete the removal of the old infant waste brown from the Little RV.  

Our free RV parking ends on Thursday.  We'll have to move after nearly more than a month here in the driveway of our old house.  

We were supposed to be in Portland right now but there have been some developments in the closing of our house and that of my daughter's house.  Theirs didn't close when they expected it and ours is supposed to close on Thursday so we have been in limbo for a couple of weeks.  Next week we have some medical appointments but after that we're heading to Oregon.  Rob will be having some lab tests next week as well to see if anything has changed or improved.

Grant update:  Last weekend Grant discovered the neighbor's cat food is available for his dining pleasure in their garage.  They leave the garage door open most of the time so it's a buffet for the taking.  I caught him coming out of their garage chewing and licking his chops after he had not responded to my calls for a few minutes.  We have to watch him like a hawk to keep him from partaking in the kitty food buffet.

You may remember that Grant is extremely allergic to so many foods that, out of a sea of dog food varieties, we can only find one dog food he can eat.  
Needless to say, Grant has been having some rip-roaring, room clearing, flatulence over the past few days. Hope he gets over that soon!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What's Going On in the Little RV These Days?

There's a lot going on here!  I'm a list maker.  One of my favorite things is to make a list and then check things off as they are accomplished.  We have checked so many thing off of our to do list this week.  I feel such a sense of accomplishment.  There are things we have needed to do for quite some time and just haven't been able to get to them.

We had decided some time ago that our BBQ grill simply took up too much floor space in the basement so we sold it and got one with a much smaller footprint.  We got an O-grill and the stand that goes with it.  

When the grill is closed it stands on its back and the stand folds up flat so it takes up very little space. 

We returned our tire inflator because it just doesn't have enough oomph.  We got a small portable air compressor. 

The basement has been thoroughly cleaned, organized and reloaded.  We also put some rodent deterrent down there just to be on the safe side.

The outside of the Little RV has been washed.  It is as clean as we vertically challenged RV owners with no ladder can get it.

We have purchased an extended service contract at a reasonable price for a 7 year period. 

We removed our dining table and chairs that never gets used and will be replacing it with a cabinet of some kind for a bit of additional storage.  I'll write a post about that when I actually figure out what to put there.  

Here's a biggie... I unscrewed all of the heating vent covers and cleaned the ducts.  It's amazing how much junk falls into those things because they are right in the traffic areas.  They offered up dog food, grass, carpet fibers, twigs, dead bugs, you name it.  They are now clean as a whistle.  

I washed the windows inside the Little RV and cleaned the screens.  Basically I did our spring cleaning in the dead of summer. 

The sticks and bricks house seems to be getting closer to closing but who knows when it will actually happen.

Today we dumped the tanks, took all of our garbage to the landfill and ran some errands.

We have an appointment in Junction City, Oregon in August to get our new couch installed.  Hopefully the "pleather" won't peel off of the new one. 

But first, our daughter, Christina and her family moved from Spokane to Portland, OR last weekend and we are going down for a visit and to help with some painting and make some curtains and basically have a week of decorating and organizing with my girl.  My kind of week!  There will be at least one Ikea trip in there as well.  I'm excited.  Maybe I'll find my new cabinet there.  No sales tax in Oregon!

I'm still trying to figure out where we can park the Little RV that is not going to make for an ugly commute to and from her house.  

We will have to be home in early August for some additional medical appointments but we are scheduling them in groups so we can go away for a couple of weeks here and there.  

We also have a family reunion coming up in August.  It's will be in Oregon as well.  Looks like we'll be pretty busy for a few more weeks.  It's a good buys though.  Perhaps it will give me more to write about. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Health Concerns and the Unknown

In the last week and a half Rob has had six medical appointments. I generally attend his appointments with him because one of the key parts of his medical visits is relaying his history accurately and verifying his medications and their dosages.  

We have visited his general practitioner, internal medicine, optometry, cardiology, urology, and rheumatology doctors.  He's been to the lab three times and had an EKG.  

Some of his results have been just as expected and some have been a bit alarming.  

Rob has a long family history of heart disease and very high cholesterol.  Many of the last generation of men on his father's side died in their 40s from heart disease.  Rob had his heart bypass surgery when he was 44.  His cholesterol is always very high and he cannot take the medications (statins) used to lower it because he is one of the rare patients who suffers severe muscle damage from them.  His triglycerides are also very high.  His cardiologist suggested using fish or krill oil but those have not lowered the numbers.  As a last resort he suggested trying Lovaza, a prescription strength fish oil, and a mere $212 for a 30 day supply at Costco.  Ouch!   If it helps, it's worth it.

The most alarming numbers were his kidney function tests.  The numbers were so bad the "D" word was used.  D is for Dialysis.  

Rob has been in stage 3 kidney failure for years and an educated guess combined with his history gave us hope that it would be several more years before we had to think about dialysis.  We are hoping this is a fluke and the numbers will improve but we have scheduled an appointment with his kidney specialist in early August.  

So what are we going to do while we wait to see if the pricey fish oil kicks in and the kidney numbers improve?  We're getting the heck out of town.  My daughter is moving to Portland as I write this so we are going that way for a visit and to help them get settled.  After that, we have no idea where we are going but I'm sure we'll have some interesting stories to tell.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Thoughts on What to Look for when Purchasing an RV

Roy asked the following question on our facebook page.
 "...This too is our dream but in a few years...however...the quality issues you've experienced are very discouraging...especially in a DRV. The pics behind the panels showing the tangled "workmanship" is a joke. What advice can you offer for new comers before the purchase"

When I started writing out my response, I realized this would make a better blog post than a facebook response.  Hopefully Roy won't mind. 

Before we purchased our 5th wheel, we spent months learning about the types of RVs available.  We changed our minds about whether to buy a class A or a 5th wheel at least 10 times.  In the end we choose a 5th wheel because of the living space they offer.  

New or used?  We decided on new because we wanted a warranty for anything that might go wrong. 

We decided on the thing that were important to us.  Since we planned to live in ours full time we knew we needed a four season model. They have extra insulation and other enhancements like holding tank heaters that make living in an RV more comfortable in any season.  

We also knew we needed some things to make it easier for Rob to move around because of his medical issues.  We needed space to move around the bed easily, a large shower and room for his oxygen concentrator which is the size of a large suitcase and has to have good air circulation around it.  

I can repeat all of the things RVers say when asked how to find the right RV for you.  
  • Go and look at them, lots of them.  
  • Sit down everywhere, even the toilet.  Walk into the shower. Make sure you will be comfortable in all parts of the RV.
  • Have the owner or sales staff take access panels off so you can take a look at what's hidden inside.  You're going to spend tens of thousands of dollars on this so you should not be shy about looking at anything and everything. 
  • It's all about the floor plan.  Eventually you'll find the one that feels right to you.  
But, the most helpful information I can think of is to spend time on the forum for each specific make and model of RV you are considering.  We frequent the DRV Owners forum and a lot of information can be found there. It's time consuming to read but you'll begin to notice issues that are common to many owners of a specific make and/or model.  

Keep in mind they all have some problems and you will have problems with whatever you buy.  You are basically putting your home on wheels through a magnitude 3 earthquake every time you move it.  Stuff moves, jiggles loose, and rubs against other stuff.  Cabinet doors come open while moving.  Often when I open the refrigerator or freezer after we have moved, things tend to jump out and smack me right in the face. 

We are currently shopping for an extended warranty for our 5th wheel.  Our manufacturer warranty ended on 6/15/13.  With all of the problems we have had, it's a bit scary to be without it. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Progress on Rob, Organization, and Decor in the Little RV

We've been very busy the last few days.  Between doctor's appointments, cleaning, organizing and decorating it's been an action packed couple of weeks.  

Rob has seen his optometrist, ordered new glasses, had a ton of lab work done and saw his new family practice doctor for the first time.  He's had a couple of medication changes that have presented quite a challenge, notably an allergic reaction in the form of severe itching for the last two nights.  Clearly more changes are in store.  

Today we saw his internal medicine doctor and his urologist.  His lab results are troubling.  They show a fairly sharp decline in his kidney function.  We'll be seeing his nephrologist (kidney doctor) to decide how to proceed.   

On a much lighter note, I've been working on organizing the basement so we can find the things we need when we need them instead of weeks later.  I'm trying to use the vertical space instead of just the floor space.  I added some hooks to hold our cords and hoses from.  We now have a place to hang our chairs up off the floor as well.  

I also added a paper towel holder and a four shelf vertical rack just inside the bay by the utility connections.  We put things like hand sanitizer, rubber gloves, and bungee cords in it so they would be within easy reach when setting up and breaking camp.  

This is the whole set-up minus all the gear in rubber totes and the grill.
Now we just need to sort the rest of the basement contents and store them away in the appropriate tub...with labels.

Yesterday I finished recovering the cornices in the bedroom and put the new blinds up.  Here is the before picture followed by the after shot.
Much less BEIGE, don't you think?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

RV Maintenance Around the Little RV

Yesterday we started working on some things around the Little RV.  We are having some problems with our waste tank gate valves and I wanted to see if I could actually get to them and see what is causing one of the grey tanks to leak and what is causing the black tank valve to be so hard to open and close.  

We had emptied the basement last week so I crawled in and took the access panels off.  The photo below is of the compartment on the driver side.  You can see the water heater, furnace, central vac and a whole lotta' hoses, water lines and wires. The black tank cables that run from the control panel to the holding tanks is wound up in that mess.  You can see one of them just above my toe at the bottom of the photo.
This photo is of the area under the bathroom.  The white cylinder at the top is the water filter housing.  You'll notice all the wires and electrical equipment sitting directly under the water filter.   

Let me just say this is exactly how the Little RV came from the factory.  Did they really think this through?

Try as I might I was not able to see or even reach the location of the gate valves so that was a waste but I did change the water filter while I was down there.  I was able to shove a bucket into the mess and under the filter but it didn't catch all of the water so things did get wet.  I dried everything as well as I could.  It kind of makes me nervous when that happens.

We had a very cloudy morning and it was cool outside so after buttoning the basement up I decided to try giving her a bath.  She got so dirty on the last leg of our trip.  

The experience taught me a couple of things.  First, we have completely inadequate tools for washing an RV.  We need some long handled tools and perhaps a ladder of some sort.  Second, I'm really short.  I did get about 3/4 of her washed.  I scrubbed and scrubbed with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser trying to the the silicon sealant clean.  What an ugly job that is.   Perhaps we just need to hire someone to do a wash and wax?

I'm working on some interior projects too.  I have decided I am tired of beige.  EVERYTHING inside the Little RV is a shade of brown.  We have tan, beige, brown, caramel, chocolate, cream and every other brown/beige color imaginable.  I think the best way to add a pop of color is to recover the window cornices. 

This is one of the bedroom windows with the original fabric.  
I took the other bedroom window cornice down and will attempt to cover them both with new fabric today.  When I took the cornice down I discovered the manufacturer found yet another place to cut costs. The window is trimmed with coordinating molding that runs just above the bottom edge of the window cornice.  Hey, if you can't see it, why put it in, right?

I plan to cover the bedroom cornices with the fabric on the right and the rest of the RV with the fabric on the left.  Wish me luck!