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Friday, September 7, 2012

Five Weeks as a Full-Time RVer

Today it is five weeks and two days as full time RVers for us.  

We are fully enjoying ourselves and our experiences have met or exceeded our expectations so far. Steve's change of jobs within the State of Wisconsin from the University to the DNR has gone smoothly and he is very happy with his choice.  My job can be done from anywhere, and I am getting more and more settled in what supplies I have along and what I need to go get from inventoried storage at our son's house.  Shipping out finished products has been easy, as the post office in Sherwood is only 3 miles away.

Adjusting to living in the rig has been easy, as we were both expecting and looking forward to it.  We are each other's best friend, and get along well in close quarters.

I thought I would jot down a few impressions so far....

1. Getting organized-   We had to make SO many decisions on things to keep, give away, sell, donate or toss while packing up the house, it was overwhelming at times.  I still have more things here in the rig that I am in the process of culling or selling off.  This week three things went on Ebay, one thing went to the kids, and a few more went into the trash.    Steve and I are pretty organized people, so having extra clutter around the rig  is somewhat bugging us.  Soon it will all be stashed or stored or GONE!   I like the feeling of walking in the rig and having the counter pretty much cleared off, and the items all stowed in cabinets.  I am still dubbing VHS tapes to DVD, and scanning in more documents that we want to reduce bulk.  Soon, I hope, we can restore the order that we envision for what type of space we want to live in.   Cleaning is easy.  I start at one end and work to the other, sometimes 15-20 minutes and the housework is done for the day!

2. Living with hookups-  since we have been in the state park most of the time while Steve works at his full time job, we have been very indulgent using the hookups of free electricity.  It's kinda fun, but we also crave the quiet of the boondocking type campsites we frequent in the National Forest Campgrounds.   Especially at night, the national forest campgrounds are dark, with just campfires here or there dotting the night.   In this state park with electric, we see camping patio lights, tvs, music playing and air conditioners running.    Don't get me wrong, we are using our air conditioner, have up our patio lights, while using the electric service included with our site too. At least in this park, we are spaced far enough apart with shrubbery and trees in between each site.  We are not looking at the next guy's siding, power post, or sewer hookups like at some RV parks.  Since our convection oven decided to work correctly after 6 years of erratic use, it's been fun to bake things that come out evenly browned or raised.  Last night the garlic bread was browend perfectly, and today I am baking chocolate chip cookies as I type this.

3. Finances-  since escaping the mortgage payment, property taxes, electric bill, huge heating propane bills, homeowners insurance and upkeep on the house, our budget is very healthy.  Right now the only monthly bill is the cell/internet bill!   Of course there are always groceries and household stuff, propane and campground fees.  There are always car insurance, motorhome insurance, license plates etc.  With Steve's short commute to work, the gasoline costs have diminished to almost nothing.  He used to spend $70-80 in fuel each week just to go to work. If only diesel would come back down, we could smile even more.  I think I will start putting our expenses into a spreadsheet program I have, and we can track things easier.  Especially once Steve retires and we are on his limited pension and my earnings from the sales online at Etsy.

4. Motorhome-  We are fortunate to own the motorhome outright and not be making payments on it.  Some full-timers start out with a heavy debt load of making RV payments on something that will never appreciate like a house.  Although the  motorhome depreciation hit us hard over the last few years, it's only worth about half of what we paid for it 6 years ago.  But those 6 years gave us lots of adventure, fun times, and memories.  We have had the time to outfit the rig the way we want to use it.  Solar panels, battery bank, re-doing the furniture, and the myriad of modifications we have done make it very comfortable now.  If we were starting out from scratch now with a new-to-us rig, it would be a lot of decisions and purchases to make to get it up to where we are now.  I am glad we did it the way we did, trading in our Coachmen and moving up to the Safari.  At the time it seemed like a huge expense and I didn't want to buy it.  But now I am glad.  Steve was right.  The next big ticket items on the horizon will be motorhome tires (these just turned 6 years old)  and possibly a new battery bank of 6 coach batteries (we presently have 4)  and we will move the 2 driving batteries into the engine compartment area to make room in the battery compartment for all 6 new ones.  We choose to use 6 volt golf cart type batteries as they last longer between recharges, and have more space between the plates for better amp hour capacity.

5. Dogs-  we love our dogs and they are a part of the family.  But we are facing the geriatric stage of life with both of them.  Ducky, the Collie, is now 12 which is ripe old age for a collie.  She is active and healthy, but slows down fast, and staggers sometimes when we walk too far for her.   She takes glucosamine for her joints. She sometimes struggles to get up the stairs into the motorhome.  I put my leg or my hand on her butt to reassure her that she won't fall backwards.  That helps.  Soon we will make a ramp I think.  Duke, the Sheltie,  is only 9, but he has a fatty tumor that has gotten larger and more firm.  I know I should take him in for it, but it's something that isn't bothering him, and he's happy and runs and plays just as well.  It doesn't seem to cause him pain or troubles him, so I have been playing the "avoidance game" here.   I have scoped out the nearest vet, about 3 miles away.  As much as I don't want to think about it, there is also a pet cemetery about 5 miles from here.  We find ourselves stepping over dogs who are always laying "in the way" in our rig, but the companionship and joy they bring us means we will always have a pet on board.  Maybe not two again, but at least one.  I need that.

6. Grocery shopping-  I have had to make some adjustments when I shop.  Little things---for example: finding cream of celery soup on sale at 6 cans for $5 means that is 83 cents a can, about half of what Campbells brand is.  We use it a lot in casseroles or as a base for cream of potato soup.  Well, buying 6 cans was not an issue when we had our house.  But sticking 6 more cans into my already overloaded can good area is not so easy.  Just 5 weeks ago I had to combine all the food from the house WITH what we already kept in the motorhome.  I am trying to use up the duplicates of a lot of things.  Did you know I had FOUR bottles of shampoo?  1 in the master bath in the house, 1 in the guest bath in the house, 1 in the motorhome already and 1 on the shelf... why?  Because it was "On Sale"  hahahaha   so I guess I have to re-learn my shopping habits and stop taking advantage of sales if we are limited on space.

7. Clothing- I am still culling down as my closet is quite packed.  I keep taking out things that I am not wearing as often and putting in a bag to drop at Goodwill this week.  I even bought some new bras the other day, and threw out MORE bras that I had in the drawer than what I brought in.  Many RVers use the adage of "bring one in- toss one out"   So I am trying to do that even one better by tossing TWO out?   Steve needed more room on his side for his work shirts and pants, so we moved some more of our sweatshirts and jackets into another area to make room.

8. Laundry- we have done a few laundromat runs, and got 3-4 loads done at a time.  But I don't care for laundromats at all.  We do have the washer/dryer unit on board and I like using that.  Planning ahead on water levels is necessary though, as it takes 11 gallons for a load.  This state park does not have water hookups at the site.   Now, for example, like today, I know I will be refilling the water tank as I move the rig to a new site this afternoon for 7 more days.  So I did up all the laundry yesterday and this morning with the water we still have in the tank.  It takes a bit longer to dry a load as it's only 110volt instead of 220volt dryer, but it works for all the lightweight things.  I hang the heavy stuff on hangers, but today it's raining so the dryer is running a lot more to get it all dry.  It's a damp day, so that is warming us up inside and keeping me cozy as I write this.  (along with those freshly baked cookies!)    I brought a plate down to the campground office for the staff when I registered for our new site for the next 7 days.

9. Grandtots-  If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you know our five grandtots are very important to us.  This fall I hope to alternate and take one grandtot for a sleepover one night a week, making sure the three oldest get a good foundation with camping out with Granmuddah and Granfaddah Pfun.   The two smallest ones are only 5 and 6 months old, so I don't think they will remember much of our sleepovers or walks in the woods.   But the three older ones are both 2 and one 4, so they can enjoy the adventures.   We are also set up with Skype to do some video chats with them when we are gone on vacation this winter.  I am collecting story books to have multiple copies we can read to each other while on Skype or even on the phone... to turn the same page at the same time, and talk about the pictures and read the stories.

10. Vacation- yes, Steve is still working a full time job here at the park.  He has saved up vacation time from this year, and will carry it over to next year.  His boss and he are figuring out the weeks accumulated and working on a schedule that will allow us to leave for probably most of January, February and into March.  We are thinking of heading south to Texas this time and explore that part of the USA.  Last year the winter was sooo mild we could have made it living in the rig all winter, but we can't count on that.  For Nov-Dec  we are thinking of finding some weekly rental vacation cottage to get us through until we can leave for southern warmth.

What do I miss?  Ummmm  my big whirlpool bathtub.  I think that is about it.   We do have a tub/shower in the motorhome but it's not like the whirlpool.  Steve said from time to time we could rent a hotel room with a whirlpool tub if I really wanted it.  LOL  What a guy!

Well, our site number 99 is reserved by someone else for today, 
and I see the folks have moved off site 103 now which is our site for the next 7 days. 
It's time to dump the tanks, take on fresh water and move over there. 

It's kinda nice to have your home on wheels! 



  1. Well, we have been at it for two months now and are still purging. Like you, I love doing my laundry in our motorhome. We no longer buy the king size anything. Just love going to the farmer's markets and getting truly fresh produce. Our dogs are young enough to get cabin fever and need lots of exercise or the will run "laps" the length of the motorhome.
    I truly love this life...

  2. Looks like you and Steve are adjusting very nicely to your new lifestyle. Another trick similar to the buy one, ditch one is each year I empty every bay bin and cupboard and repack. Anything that hasn't been used in a year is gone.

  3. We are so happy that you both are so happy. You and Steve make a great team.
    Do you know that of those 5 weeks you spent 1/5th of that time was here? LOL!
    You come here any time and use our Jacuzzi tub.

  4. It's just great that everything is working out so well.

  5. I think you'll find it very interesting in a couple of years to go back and read your thoughts after 5 weeks.

  6. I love boon-docking but since I have to run an oxygen machine at night I have to run the generator and that spoils the peace and quiet. It is not too bad since the generator is in the front and the bedroom in the back.

  7. Trying to get & stay organized, whether you live in a motorhome or a house, is a never-ending project.

    The shower in your motorhome & the whirlpool tub in your house are both corner unit. Does that count for anything??? -grin-

    1. Heh heh the motorhome one has a bit less water volume and more displacement when I lower myself into it! LOL

  8. Has it been five weeks already? Wow! So glad you're adjusting well and enjoying the life. Am I right in thinking even though you are working in/for the park you have to move every seven days? Hmmm . . . too bad they couldn't give you a FHU site or at least one you could keep. Oh well! As long as you're happy, that's the main thing!

    1. None of the sites are full hook ups here, so we would have to move it every 10-14 days or so anyhow. Even the host site doesn't have water or sewer, just electric. We are next up on the list for the host site, and will work for our site fees. LOL

  9. I understand the grocery part very well. We have finally got that part somewhat in control. Our problem after a year is still cooking to much at one time. The dog gone frige and freezer are sure small. We have found that the date on milk is very real whereas in our old sticks and bricks we didn't get concerned about it. I miss the room for two 1/2 gallons of ice cream. Now when I can't stand it any longer I go to Dairy Queen.

    1. Our freezer is pretty big, but we stocked up on tenderloins last week that are taking up our "ice cream space" LOL ... but there is a GREAT icecream shop right near the entrance to the park called "The Chubby Seagull" LOL LOL LOL we are becoming "regulars" there....

  10. That's quite a good writeup on the first 5 weeks, it's similar to ours. The excel sheet is a great idea, you'll know exactly where your money goes. I keep all receipts for a year in a plastic box behind my chair, it's come in handy many times. We found our groceries and eating out didn't balance out, so after 3 yrs we're doing a whole lot better. (Meaning if we eat out we don't buy extra groceries the same month).

    You prepared well, it shows. We're thinking seriously of coming back up next summer, we'll make reservations in a park that's got full hookups and come on over in the car. We love it up there.

    1. The county park down the lake about 5-6 miles has full hookups and is out on the sun... you will like it! LOL Called Calumet County Park. We will LOVE to see you guys again!

  11. I don't think there was any doubt in your readers' minds that you would be successful at the full time RV life. You took advantage of time to learn when you were making all your weekend trips and the trip west. I am so glad you are happy with it.

  12. I have trouble with the organization at home so I am not sure how good I will be in the motor home. The thing I am still most impressed with is, your ability to drive, empty the tanks and fill them! I am trying to learn to drive (can't turn right) but I don't know if I even want to know how to empty the black water tank! YUK!!!
    I use quicken for all of our bookkeeping and it keeps track of everything. Have used it for years. You might look into it.
    When you head to Texas, make a stop over in AR. we will try to meet you somewhere!

  13. It sure is a progression and learning experience. Our biggest challenge is our small freezer.

    It is so small, it can't even hold a container of ice cream, which is good for the waistline!

  14. We haven't posted before, but want to take this opportunity to tell you how much we enjoy your blog. Congratulations on your new found freedom and joys!
    We have been fulltiming in your Safari for more than 5 years and love it.
    A hint of maintenance that most don't think of until the problem arises: Your slendid washer dryer...there is a filter in the bottom right corner near the floor. Be sure and clean it once every month or two. It will leak water when you unscrew it, just a small towel will catch the water. Then the vent from the dryer outside...clean it every couple months. It will clog up with lint and cause your drying cycle to go longer and longer.
    Keep writing. We enjoy it.!

    Steve and Carolyn
    96 Sahara

  15. Hey Karen if you do head out to TX let us know. We'll be in West TX around Alpine & Big Bend again, would love to meet up with y'all!

    1. You bet we will, love to see you guys again! Big Bend is on our Bucket List and I think we will head over that way as opposed to the salty Gulf region.

  16. I can sure identify with you with buying too much when they were on sale. When we moved out of stick and brick into our fifth-wheel I found I had 28 cans of tuna in my pantry!!! It is hard to buy small cans of things that cost more but they fit in the RV better...we do that with small cans of vegetables instead of the standard 15 oz. size cans. Enjoy your blog and will add it to my Google Reader list.

    Bobbie Chapman

  17. I sure would like your recipes for the convection oven. We do not have a standard oven in our 5er, only convection. It did not come with instructions. Help!

    I use it if I buy something pre-made with "Convection Oven" cooking instructions on it.

    We, too, are in Texas, so if you head toward San Antonio, look us up. We'll be here until mid-October and then back in January.



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