Tag Archives: maintenance

Full Time RV Living- The Highs and Lows

Three days ago, we hit the road heading to our next destination, Boston/Cape Cod, MA.  It was a rainy day in Atlanta and was going to prove to be a rainy trip to our first stop in Gaffney, SC.  But we were headed out ahead of the tropical storm that would hit the gulf coast the next day.

Upon our arrival in South Carolina,  we discovered that the full wall slide will not go out. Apparently the motor has broken (for the second time in two years). This means that our roughly 400 square foot motorhome is now about half that size.  

Then I dropped an entire glass jar of pickles on the floor resulting in pickles and broken glass everywhere.  The final straw? We forgot Ralph’s insulin in Atlanta. 

We had to unhook the car (did I mention it is pouring rain?), go to Walmart for the insulin and then spend the evening trying to make my coach floor unsticky.

And to think we left this sweet thing to deal with faulty equipment, pickle juice and rainy Walmart runs.

This is our second issue with the slide mechanism on this coach.  Winnebago is aware of the problem.  Apparently the motor which operates the slide is too small for the weight of the full wall slide.  They have solution.  Which means a trip to Iowa to the Winnebago Industries facility.

So there you go.  Plans are changed instantly.  As full timers, we are getting used to the highs and lows of this lifestyle.  With that in mind, I thought I’d put together a list of those highs and lows in order to put this past experience into perspective.  I mean, at least we aren’t stranded on the side of the road, right?  (Knock on wood).

Let’s Start with the Lows

Broken Finger

living full time in a rvThis little incident that happened at our first campground of residence in Bar Harbor, ME.  Word to the wise, don’t wrap the leashes around your finger while walking the dogs.  You see, an errant squirrel can cause quite a bit of havoc.  One little 20 pound dog totally broke my finger.

Medical insurance is not what it used to be.  We are currently on Obamacare and with the latest changes and the fact that we have next to no selection for healthcare, we are limited to seeing only doctors in our home of record- Atlanta, GA.  That doesn’t help us much when we are dealing with a broken finger in Maine.

We ended up paying for this injury in full.  On the bright side, I have to say that the folks at the hospital in Ellsworth are amazingly friendly.

Bad Employment Experiences

two guns ghost town in arizona

With any job you have to expect that you are not going to get along with everyone.  There will be things you don’t particularly want to do.  There will be days that you won’t want to go to work and days where everything seems to go wrong.

More often than not, those experiences are balanced by good experiences, people that you love to work with, great employers, and beautiful places to work.

We have been lucky in the fact that in the two years that we have been on the road, we have only experienced one place that made us regret our decision to work there.  But I have to say that we learned a whole lot from that experience.

Pet Illness


Our dog Ralph has been through the ringer this past year.  In early 2016, he was diagnosed with bladder stones and diabetes.  He had surgery to remove the stones and then was put on insulin twice a day.

Learning to give him shots was pretty traumatic for both of us.  And getting his diabetes under control was a whole other issue.  It wasn’t long before he went blind.

After much thought, we opted for eye surgery to remove his cataracts.  It took months of recovery and a huge dent in our wallet, but Ralph can now see again, and his diabetes is under control.

Click here for a look at the Highs from the past two years

10 Must have gadgets for the serious RVer

This post contains affiliate links to Amazon.

Dave has always been a fan of gadgets.  He loves perusing the internet for handy-dandy tools and extras that would make our life even easier here in this big metal can we call our home.  Usually, I don’t understand the issue, but go along with it to keep him happy.

One irritating thing about the hubby is he’s always right.  LOL!  Anyway, here is our top ten list of gadgets we simply can’t do without!

Top 10 Must have gadgets for the RV

must have rv gadgets for full timers

1. Water Softener

Many campgrounds that we have been to have very hard water.  Personally, I kind of like hard water because for me, it results in awesome hair days.  Unfortunately, hard water also does things like build up limescale on your equipment which affects the life of your appliances, and causes rust stains and water spots.  Sinks, toilets, and showers with hard water damage can make it difficult to resell an RV, and hard water will greatly reduce the life of hot water heaters.

So what to do?

must have rv gadgets for full timers

Dave purchased a water softener that easily manages our water from outside the RV.   Because we seem to end up in major hard water areas, he does a regeneration about every two weeks.  This simply means he does a back flush and adds two containers of table salt.  This results in some nice soft water.

The hair?  Well, I just use a little less creme rinse.  And the plus is not only is our equipment safe, but our skin is soft too!

must have rv gadgets for full timers

2. Tire Pressure Monitor System

Shortly after we got on the road, Dave purchased a Tire Pressure Monitor system that automatically monitors tire pressure and temperature on not only the coach tires, but the tires on the tow vehicle behind us.  It will alert us when pressure or temperature exceed pre-set thresholds.

We love this extra safety feature.  Having a tire blow out can be pretty damaging, especially if you are not immediately aware of it.  The system uses sensors that you simply screw into each tire valve stem.  The radio monitors them for any inconsistencies.

Dave also said that I need to tell you that he had to purchase a repeater in order get the proper signal for the entire length of our coach and the car behind it.

must have rv gadgets for full timers

3. Outrigger Pads

We have a wonderful automatic jack system on our coach that does the job of stabilizing without a whole lot of effort.  Unfortunately, if you happen to be parked on soft ground, those jacks have a bit of difficulty in maintaining a level coach.  While in Maine, we had to re-level the coach quite often to keep doors from swinging open.

Dave finally purchased Outrigger Pads and the problem was solved!  These are made of heavy duty plastic, do not take up a ton of room in storage (which is always important) and are not incredibly heavy.  But they do the job of helping to keep the coach level on softer ground.

must have rv gadgets for full timers

4. External propane tank

While in Maine, we found that we went through a whole lot of propane.  Our coach uses propane for cooking and heat.  Maine was often cold and while we do have an alternative electric heat system, the propane heat always seemed to warm the coach better.

To fill up the propane would mean to move the entire coach to the propane station, which is something that we would rather not do.  So Dave purchased a 30 gallon external propane tank which he could easily take and have filled when needed.

Installation involved a hose kit with t-valve that you can attach to your existing system.  (If you decide to mess with the propane system of your coach, be sure to have an experienced person do the installation- propane is dangerous!)

roof vent covers for rv

5. Roof Vent Covers

Rain!  I love the sound of it on our roof!  But the sad issue is that you cannot have your roof vents open when it rains.  Otherwise you end up with a huge puddle on your floor.

Ask me how I know.

Anyway, Dave solved this little issue by purchasing Roof Vent Covers. These vents act as little tents over your roof vent allowing air to circulate freely while protecting your coach from rain.  The vent covers that Dave found attach to the current roof vent so that he did not have to drill holes into the roof of the coach.

Always a good thing.

brake controller for tow vehicle

6. Brake Controller for Tow Vehicle

This is not only a great gadget, but a required one in many states.  A brake controller is designed to activate the tow vehicle’s brakes proportionately to how the RV brakes are applied.  This allows the tow vehicle to slow down on it’s own accord when needed.

It is very easy to install and can be stored in the trunk of your tow vehicle when not in use.

Most states and Canada require a system like this for any tow vehicles over 3000 pounds and some states are even more stringent than that!  It is recommended that you research the laws of each state that you are passing through to be sure that you are compliant.

must have rv gadgets for full timers

7. Pool noodles or tennis balls

Yep.  Pool noodles and tennis balls.  Here is a gadget that costs next to nothing, but has the potential to save you lots of money.  Sitting out in the sun, UV rays create much havoc with the rubber on your windshield wipers.  As with most things on a RV, windshield wipers are expensive.  An easy way give your blades longer life is to place tennis balls under the wiper arms, removing the tension off the wiper blades themselves.  Add blade covers for UV protection.

Pool noodles are great for putting along the edges of your slides.  I don’t think there is a RV owner existing that hasn’t knocked the heck out of his head on the bottom of a slide when trying to get to the compartments below.  No more goose eggs on the head with a pool noodle cushion!

internet wifi hotspot

8. WiFi Hotspot

So…some of these gadgets are more for me I guess.  I have three websites to maintain while on the road.  Public WiFi has quite a few drawbacks including no security and lack of speed.  Venturing into the wilds can mean little or no internet connection.

My WiFi hotspot can pick up a signal when my phone cannot.  Since it is dedicated to Wifi, it is stronger than tethering to my phone, and costs about $25 a month in addition to my phone service.

rand mcnally motor carrier atlas

9. Rand McNally Motor Carriers Road Atlas

I bet you were expecting me to say RV Friendly GPS.  Well, we have one, but we have found it to be unreliable.  When we found ourselves out in the middle of nowhere on a one lane road with a rickety weight restricted bridge in front of us, we realized that maybe we should have something else to rely on.

Dave’s dad is a retired trucker, and he gave us the latest version of the Rand McNally Motor Carriers Road Atlas.  It is a heavy duty, laminated book that includes more than 40,000 truck approved routes, updated charts of low clearances and weight stations and details of restricted routes, bridge restrictions and toll roads.

Dave uses it almost exclusively to safely plan our routes.

must have rv gadgets for full timers

10. Tire Covers 

Remember that issue with UV damage for the windshield wipers?  Well, there is something even more expensive that can be damaged by UV rays.   Those fancy tires that you depend on to get you from point to point need a bit of protection too.  Tire covers are a relatively inexpensive way to save your sidewalls from cracking and dry rotting.

egret on the water

These are just 10 of the handiest gadgets that we have discovered on our first year on the road.

What handy-dandy gadget do you recommend for RV living?

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8 Things we do not love about RV living…

We get asked a lot about what it is like living full time in a RV.  I talk about how much fun our adventure has been so far, and really it has.  It is so exciting to enjoy the sights and sounds of this beautiful country.  Our new lifestyle has resulted in better health for both of us, much less stress, and excitement around every corner.

bar harbor rv

But in an effort to keep things real for those of you that might be considering this particular lifestyle, Dave and I wanted to point out a few things that are not so great about full time RV living.

Granted, we have only been full timers since April of this year, and I imagine in another year, our priorities may be different and our list of things we love and do not love might change.  But for right now, here is our top 8 things that we do not love about RV living:

interior rv traveling sitcom

The Poop Issue

When living in a RV, one has to deal with poop on a much more personal level.  Both our poop and the dogs poop.  While the bathroom in our RV is definitely several steps above a port-a-potty, I have to admit that it is still a toilet situated over a poop holding tank.

A poop holding tank that is full of…well… poop.

rv black and gray tanks

We have two holding tanks.  The gray water tank holds leftover dishwater, shower water, etc .  The black water tank has the job of holding the poop.  Every few days, Dave flushes out the black water tank with water from the gray water tank.  He then adds a bit of water and a tank treatment which helps keep odors at bay and breaks down things.

In general, the bathroom smells fine.  But dealing with poop is much more labor intensive than simply flushing a toilet.

This is coming from someone who goes on eight hour plane flights and never uses the bathroom once due to the fear of accidentally getting locked in there with all that blue water and the potential of turbulence.  Heck, I can’t even use the public restrooms without having to run some water in the background!

The hubby says, “Then just use the woods!”  But I pee on my socks every time…

Too much information?  Ha! Sorry…

life at the campground

Walking the dogs

While we are talking about poop, we cannot leave out the dogs.  I have to say that I do miss the days when we could just put the dogs out the back door and let them do their business.

Granted, walking the dogs is good for all of us.  But they do need walked several times a day, rain or shine.  Waking up in the morning with rain pelting the roof and knowing that I have to go out in the pouring rain and stand while Ralph takes ten minutes deciding what area he would like to pee in definitely puts a damper on my morning.

walking dogs bar harbor

Unlike Faith, Ralph took a while to get comfortable going to the bathroom on the leash.  And to this day, he has to circle an area for a while before he finds the perfect spot.

And whatever you do, do not watch him.  He will quit in mid-poop.  And then we will have to start all over again!

Oh, and then there is the fun bit about carrying fresh warm poop bags to the dumpster.

interior rv traveling sitcom

Washing dishes

Yeah, I knew about this going in.  Working full time at the campground, running several websites and crafting in between, leaves me not so much time to do those things I really do not like doing in the first place.  As a perpetual procrastinator, I tend to leave dishes until the last possible moment.  Resulting in emergency dish washing in order to get dinner on the table.

Problems with the RV

Currently, the steps to the front door go up on their own accord.  Which could be a potential issue when we are ready to go to the next campsite, and they choose not to go up that day.

Two televisions turn them selves on occasionally without our help- usually coinciding with the slamming of the front door.

We called out the local repair guy and both  the steps and the televisions worked seamlessly.  Of course!

traveling sitcom rv living

The awning goes in on its own.  Granted, it has a sensor that will pull it in when it gets windy.  Apparently, it’s definition of wind is different than ours and if we do not shut the motor off, it rolls itself in quite dramatically while we are trying to sit in the shade with our iced tea.

Last week, I went to take a shower and we had no hot water.  The electric hot water heater decided not to work.  We are fortunate to have a gas alternative and switched to that.  When we called the RV repair guy out, the electric heater started right up.

He thinks we are crazy.

bar harbor oceanside koa maine camping

Mosquitos and other pests

Uggghhh!  In this part of the country, mosquitos are pretty darn plentiful.  And much to my dismay, they absolutely love me.  The scent of mosquito repellant is now my new perfume.

While working at the front counter the other day, an errant mosquito flew in and bit me right on the nose.  Much to Dave’s enjoyment,  I ended up looking like Broom Hilda the rest of the evening.

Ultracamper

Unfriendly and inconsiderate campers

There I said it.  There are those that have absolutely no camping etiquette.  They are the ones that park their car in the small area that you call your front yard.  They take short cuts through your campsite, dropping trash and making tons of noise along the way, setting off both dogs into a noisy bark-fest.  And then complain that your dogs are barking.

Tyler Kealey plays “Mama’s got a Squeeze Box” by The Who as part of his video a day challenge in 2014.

They play loud music past midnight.  Sit outside playing an accordion, electric guitar, or drum set (yes, all the above has happened in the past few weeks alone!).   Who the heck brings an accordion while camping?  Well, somebody did last week.

Not sure what they were playing, but Dave and I both had The Who’s Moma’s Got a Squeeze Box stuck in our heads for a week.

Now you do too.

You’re welcome!

Lack of Space

Again, I knew this going in.  There is not much space for crafting and I spend more time looking for my supplies than actually doing the craft.  Really!  I tried to be organized.  I labeled many containers and stored them all over the camper.  But when I am looking for one particular tool or paintbrush or fabric swatch, I spend the next hour searching all compartments until I finally run across it.

rv life camping traveling sitcom

Bumpy Roads

Coming up to Maine from Atlanta, we encountered lots and lots of terribly maintained roads.  In a car, you do not notice them as much, but when driving a huge motorhome, each bump and ridge is magnified ten-fold.  Dave said that I need to mention in particular, parts of I-85 North and the entirety of I-84.

Our coach shook so much over I-84 that when we finally reached our destination, not only was our bedroom door entirely off it’s hinges, but only one of the televisions would come on.

Unless of course, we slam the front door.

cadillac mountain bar harbor maine

So that is our top 8 gripes for right now.  I have to say that for every gripe, there are ten things we love.  I mean, just check out this view.  How could you not love that?

Living in a RV full time is not for everyone, that is for sure.  But for us, I think it just might work!

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