Hi! We’re Rachel & Allen and we live full time in our 2015 Grand Design Momentum 385 fifth wheel toy hauler. We travel the country for Allen’s work, often only having a couple days notice of where we need to be next. And we love it!
Oh my goodness, it’s COLD here!
If it were summer time I think this place would be a lot more enjoyable. As it is, there’s not much to do in town. We are staying at the Hillsboro Campground in Hillsboro, North Dakota. Hillsboro is 1 square mile, right off I-29 and almost exactly halfway between Fargo and Grand Forks. There’s a grocery store, a hardware store, and a sports bar.
There’s also a city park where they have a pen full of mule deer. We went to see them yesterday and feed them carrots. I dressed Charlie in her reindeer outfit thinking she would blend in. But she did not care for the deer and the deer did not like her. The park is pretty. The Goose River goes through it. There’s a swimming pool also.
Joyce runs the campground. She also runs the motel. And the senior assisted living center. And the Chicken Shack (at the campground, which is closed now, I’m guessing for the winter). And she runs the Hillsboro Laundry, which is also at the campground. She is one busy lady. There is wifi but it only shows up on the computer, not on our phones.
Joyce will be shutting the water off to most of the park for the winter, leaving only about 8 spaces with water, ours being one of those. We had to go buy the noodle insulation and the heat cord (for water pipes) to make a longer heated water hose so it doesn’t freeze. We had a 20′ one but it wasn’t long enough. The water spicket and electric is pretty far away. They are either right behind the sites or off the side. The spaces are long enough but soft-ish gravel. I wouldn’t want to park a heavy class A here for sure.
Charlie is just shivering non stop, poor pup. We have compromised to keeping the heat at 64 degrees. We have to pay electric for everything over 525kwh so we turn our electric space heater and the fireplace off at night and when we leave. We are also going through some propane. Luckily there’s somewhere in town to refill our tanks. (All 5 of them). Most of the time we are keeping the garage door closed. We left the bike in there and Allen’s toolbox. So it’s definitely being used as a mudroom now!
I even went and bought some “utility” boots for this hard winter we are about to face! Although Walmart didn’t have hardly any winter stuff out and I’ve seen a lady in flip flops and a girl in a summer dress with just a little cardigan over it. Meanwhile, we are wearing thermals and hats and gloves!
We are heading into Grand Forks today to watch the Bengals play. It’s the closest place I think we will find NFL Sunday Ticket. (I definitely want to have a tailgater by next football season-it would save us a ton of money just not having to go to the bar and watch!) And since we are about 40 minutes from anything we are being very responsible and designating a sober driver. I got the unlucky straw this week so Allen will get to act like a drunk toddler by himself!
We were also responsible enough to get our flu shots the other day when we went into town to go to Walmart. #adulting ! I never thought I could miss Walmart so much! But they still didn’t have our Scott RV toilet paper so I’m stuck with Campa-Chem. At least it’s 2-ply! *sigh*
Cheers to football Sunday! Who Dey!
We “live” in South Dakota now and our brand new state is SUPER CRAZY windy and cold today!
38 degrees with a real feel of 29!
So we decided to just chill out and hibernate in the camper until tomorrow. Then we’ll hit the road again and head up to North Dakota. (Wrong time of the year to be headed north but that’s where the money is!)
We got to Camp America Campground in Salem, SD on Monday afternoon. There was one other guy with a little R-Pod camper and a puppy, and a lady camping in a tent (crazy in my opinion because it’s cold!) but they both left the next morning and we’ve had the park all to ourselves since.
Tuesday morning we drove to My Dakota Address in Madison (about 40 minutes away). Teri was really nice and helped us get all our paperwork in order. We filled out change of address forms for the post office and I did a voter registration card. She made copies of our campground receipt for each of us and gave us copies of the residency affidavit then sent us over to the DMV around the corner to get our new driver’s licenses!
The only thing we could register was the motorcycle because we didn’t have the titles for the truck and camper. Teri is getting those from the bank and then she will register them and get our plates for us.
Allen was bummed because South Dakota doesn’t let you personalize camper plates. Our Ohio plates were BIGRIGN… But we are getting those for the truck instead. At least they were available! I think he would’ve cried actual tears if they weren’t!
After all the address stuff we had lunch at the Country Cafe in town then went and got the fuel filter changed on the truck. On the way home we stopped and got some beer and Jager to celebrate our new domicile! The gas station sells beer (18pks of 16oz. cans!) and liquor, also ammo and hunting licenses, it has a casino and a fried chicken restaurant inside that seemed to be really busy. South Dakota is awesome. So when we got home we let Charlie run around off her leash and enjoy the grass and fall leaves – she needed that after being in a parking lot for 4 months then the truck for 4 days!
We called Hunter at American Adventure Insurance and switched all of our policies over.
That part took way longer than it should’ve considering I gave him all the info about 3 months ago, then even called last week to make sure everything was good to go and still valid.
We called all of our credit cards and loans and what not and updated our address with them and Allen updated his address with work.
Changing our domicile took lots of planning and research (see this blog post), but we got it done!
I still have lots of stuff to write about from our trip (we stopped at Mount Rushmore!) and I want to review all of the campgrounds we’ve stayed at along the way. So that’ll be coming soon! Cheers from a blustery South Dakota! (We turned our tank heaters on for the first time!)
And the Quake HOLD! held perfectly… That stuff is amazing!
We wiggled (kinda literally) out of spot #117 at Candlestick RV Park at 8:33AM on Friday morning. (Thanks to Marcus and Brad for their spotting help!)
It took us a half hour to get past Oakland headed east on I-80. Not too shabby… I managed to narrowly avoid a panic attack crossing the Bay Bridge. (That thing just makes me nauseous!) But Allen is a fairly good driver (just kidding, he’s a beast) so when I get too scared I just close my eyes and get all religious and know that everything will be alright!
We are past Sacramento now and haven’t hit much traffic. (Knock on wood…) Our plan right now is to stop at a KOA in Winnemucca, Nevada. We have a while before we need to be in North Dakota so we may as well take our time!
We are just about ready to go! Mentally we’ve been ready for over a month! (Being out here just wears on everyone and we start longing for wide open spaces – cue the Dixie Chicks!)
I should mention here that I had a mini melt down yesterday. I was gathering up everything we need to register the vehicles and get our drivers licenses in South Dakota and I couldn’t find my social security card! I was all worried that Allen was going to have to “move” without me! But, not five minutes after he walked in the door, he found it for me, right where it was supposed to be, somehow I missed it. Thanks babe! (By “move” I mean change our domicile.)
We are putting the bike in the garage this evening (probably until next year!) and strapping everything down (bike, toolbox, file cabinet). I have all of my sewing stuff put away and the pink flamingo is safely in the cubby! Now we only have little things left…
Our neighbor in Lantana, Florida told me about hurricane putty (or earthquake putty). She used it for little knickknack-y things in their camper when they hit the road. It’s supposed to keep things secure even in an earthquake.
So last week we stopped at Lowe’s and I finally picked some up. It was right around $4. I’ve used it on our pictures we have sitting on the shelves on the island so far. I hope it works! If so then I can leave them out and that’ll be one less thing to put away when we travel.
I’m wondering if they make a black or dark brown colored putty. That would look better… I’m also hoping it holds because when we bought the camper we had them Xzilon everything, inside and out. (Inside it’s supposed to protect against stains and what not and it’s almost like a waterproofness on everything-carpet, floor, walls, shelves… Outside it keeps it fresh so we don’t have to wax it for at least 5 years-guaranteed! I think that made it worth it right there!)
One thing I should mention… Traveling with our new fifth wheel vs. traveling in our travel trailer is SUCH a big difference! Everything got jostled around in the travel trailer so that’s what we were expecting when we got this one. I was even worried about the marble sink and stove covers getting broken, wondering if we should tape them down. The first stop we made after traveling the first time with all our stuff in it, we ever so slowly opened the medicine cabinet in the bathroom expecting everything to come flying out like it used to in the old camper. But everything stayed pretty much where we put it! It just seems so calm in comparison. Now, that said, I still wouldn’t trust picture frames with glass to stay put!
Now, moving onto camper-sized THINGS…
Living full-time in a camper takes some adjusting to but overall I love it. Before I moved in with Allen for good I went through all my clothes and got rid of half of them. Then I went through again and got rid of another half. I still probably have too much, and I TRY to live by the rule that when I get something new, I need to get rid of something, but that doesn’t always work out perfectly!
The biggest challenge for me is staying tidy. Just ask Allen! He sometimes starts twitching (slight exaggeration) coming in the door from work if I have crafty stuff on “his side” of the bench, and let’s not forget walking into the bathroom if I’ve forgotten to put my makeup and hair stuff away… (Let’s just say my tidiness is a work in progress!)
But in a camper, you need to be organized and live by this rule or things can get out of hand rather quickly!
So here’s a list of some of my favorite things that work well for me in our camper. Some I have, some I just really want!
- I have a set of nesting mixing bowls and measuring cups just like these, but I got mine from Aldi (it’s a discount grocery in Cincinnati) and I only paid around $15. This set is $30. The only thing I wish is that my green bowl had the same little pour spout-that’s kinda nifty!
- These Magma nesting pots and pans look SO nice! A dream come true! They all stack neatly inside of each other and there are two removable handles so they don’t get in the way! I am in love with them. I’m REALLY hoping my wonderful mother gets us these for Christmas! I saw them first on Shore Looks Nice.
- When we had the other camper, I would do dishes and set them on a dish towel on the stove, leaning against the wall to dry. But with our new camper, the sink is on the island, which means there is no wall to lean plates and things against to dry. So one of the first things I bought was this drying rack. It folds up and fits under the sink when I’m not using it.
- I’m also in DESPARATE need of a spice rack! I cook dinner almost everyday. 6 days a week, if not 7 sometimes. And I use a LOT of spices. Right now I have them all stacked/falling off of a lazy susan on a shelf in the pantry. I bought this spice rack from Kohl’s when we were in Waynesville, but when I got it home I realized how cheaply it was made so I returned it.Now I’m thinking maybe this will work out better. I can stack things on top of it, and even though it’s not as fancy looking as the one above, I can use my existing spices!
- I absolutely love our washer/dryer combo, but sometimes I don’t have the patience to wait for things to dry all the way, OR they just don’t. This mostly happens with jeans and heavy sweatshirts. So I picked up this drying rack and it gets a lot of use!
- And, even though it’s not storage related, I think it’s fair to mention that I’ve found some really decent dishes at Big Lots. I usually look in the picnic section for plastic plates and bowls. And I try to find thicker, better quality ones that will last a while. We had some black ceramic dinner plates and bowls that Allen loved, but it was just too much of a hassle to have to stack paper plates in between them every time we would travel so they wouldn’t break that I finally gave them away. He’s still a little sad about it! But it wasn’t practical (sorry babe!)
- I don’t have this shoe holder but I want to make one. My friend recently sent me some fabric and I think some of it might work out really well for a shoe holder! I’m sure it wouldn’t be TOO hard to DIY!
- I know they probably sell the “pop-a-bag” things that hold your plastic grocery bags, but you can just as easily make one yourself. I made mine out of an empty Clorox Wipes container. I just stuffed the bags inside and tore off the little plastic prong-y things. Super easy! I used to have them in a tissue box and that worked too! Here’s the pop-a-plate and pop-a-tissue. (I don’t have or want either one of these, I think they are kind of a waste of money, and now I don’t have anywhere to put them.)These are both at Camping World.
- Some kitchen appliances that I can’t really function without:
If you have any ideas that I missed or some favorite camper-sized things of your own, please share!
Our leveling jacks are not working. The system has lost its little bitty mind!
We have the Lippert Components Level Up 6 Point Automatic Hydraulic Leveling System on our 2015 Grand Design Momentum 385TH. Basically you are supposed to be able to push a button and the camper will level itself. This used to work just fine.
Recently we’ve been hearing a popping sound and it feels like the front jacks are slipping. We opened the manual and started to diagnose the problem. We checked the hydraulic fluid level. We checked that all the knobs and Allen screws were closed where they were supposed to be closed. Some were open so we closed those. Then we tried to hit the automatic level button.
The jacks lifted the passenger side of the camper all the way off the ground! I could literally spin all three tires! So we canceled that. Then Allen went through the process of overriding the system to manually level the camper. You have to push a button ten times and then it lets you move the jacks separately however you want. Or, it’s supposed to.
When we try to retract the rear jacks, the front ones come up. When we try to extend the front, all of them extend. If we try to retract or extend the left side, all of them react. The whole thing is wonky and it’s not making any sense!
Has anyone ever had any issues like this?? It’s so frustrating and now we are living in a camper where doors shut by themselves because we can’t get the thing level!
The closest Grand Design dealer is 2hrs away in Sacramento. And with Allen working, that makes it a little tough to get over there.
UPDATE: We got the problem fixed on our own, with phone help from Lippert! Here’s what happened.