New year = New things!

Lots have happened since our last post. Things have been hectic, to say the least!

Let me start by saying we have put over 16,000 miles on the camper in 2017!!! And I can only see things getting more go-go-go…

We left Vegas and headed back to the shop in Chandler, IN to regroup, did a small job in Springfield, IL (we stayed at Double J Campground for almost a week) then headed down to Florida.

Punta Gorda was first and we stayed at an Encore Resort called Gulf View RV Resort. It was nice, the people in the office were extremely friendly. The site was a pull-thru but pretty tight to get into. The roads were really narrow so it made it a little tough for a 43′ camper to pull in after dark, but Allen rocked it (like always). We were there for almost a week. The tower they were supposed to plumb and tension had frayed guy wires so that nixed the original plan! While we were there, Allen found a Smart car online… (I love that man!) We got a Carfax report on it and went to check it out. It’s ours!!!

It’s a 2008 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet convertible! I love it! We managed to fit the motorcycle and the car in the garage. We added some tracks to the garage floor for tie downs and got some giant ratchet straps for it. It’s 1800lbs and the bike is about 550lbs so we are under the 2500lb garage floor rating. We’ve been wanting to get a Smart car since we started looking for a new camper over 3 years ago!

When we left Punta Gorda we headed over to West Palm Beach where they were supposed to plumb and tension another tower. We stayed at John Prince Park Campground. It was a nice place although the lady in the office gave us completely wrong directions upon check-in so we wound up having to drive around the park to get into our spot from a different angle. The Walmart up the street was the WORST I’ve been to. We had a bunch of equipment from work in the bed of the truck so Allen got the privilege of staying in the truck while I shopped by myself among the craziness and last minute holiday shoppers… We would’ve taken the Smart car but we couldn’t get a temp tag from Florida so it was stuck in the garage. The wires on this tower wound up being way too large for any of the equipment they had so after the first day we headed back to the Cincinnati area for the holidays.

We stay at our best friend’s property whenever we are back in town, down in Sparta, KY. We have 50amp and water, and a septic so it’s pretty perfect.  The dogs can run around and chase chickens and they love it. Plus we get to see Brandi so that’s always a blast.  I went to my mom’s on Christmas Eve and Allen did his family thing. We had dinner at his parents’ on Christmas then cooked at my mom’s that night.

On the 26th we got Allen’s kids and headed back down to the camper with lots of leftovers! We had a constant bonfire, played some Apples to Apples, the kids rode the 4 wheeler… It was fun! Allen took the kids back home a few days later then my mom came down on the 30th. We had a massive bonfire on New Year’s Eve and already have bigger plans for next year!

We also did a lot of work during winter “vacation”… Allen and I dropped the aluminum underbelly on the camper to check everything out. It had been 2 years since we put it up. Everything still looked pretty good as far as the insulation was concerned. Allen put some foam pipe insulation on the water lines going to the kitchen, as far back as he could reach, because that part tends to freeze first. It’s because the lines touch the steel frame. It seemed to help but we did lose hot water for a couple of days when the temp was in the single digits. While we had the aluminum down we noticed a couple of the hydraulic lines didn’t look too good so we took those to a CAT dealer and had them make new ones for us. We had the steps for the patio mounted under the garage but we’ve only used them once when we first bought the camper so we left those behind. Our Edgestar washer dryer combo started throwing an E3A error code a couple of months ago and they said they’d replace it. We had to wait until we had an address for long enough so we scheduled the delivery and pick up of the old unit. The shipping companies got all messed up with the schedule so Edgestar wound up telling us to just do what we pleased with the old unit, just scratch the serial numbers off, and not worry about sending it back. Good deal!

So we are in working order on the laundry front, just hoping we get no more error codes for the rest of our lives! We have the worst luck when it comes to these units… We finally got the Smart car registered in South Dakota and have the temp tag for that. But work brought us to Shiloh, North Carolina right after the bombogenesis struck, so it’s snowed in the garage! We were staying at North River Campground. This month they have a half off daily rate special! It was a nice place with super nice owners. We were there for about a week and half. Came in after a snowstorm and left after another one!

Monday when Allen got to work, one of the guys ran the forklift into a ditch that was covered in a snowdrift. The engineer’s truck got stuck and Allen had to pull him out. Our truck got stuck in 4WD and wouldn’t come out. Then it wouldn’t move at all. The farmer that owns the land the tower is on called a tow truck and they took it to the Chevy dealer for $215. Allen got a ride to Enterprise and rented a car. The Chevy dealer called yesterday and it’s the electronic 4WD system that’s messed up. The transfer case…? They had one in stock so replaced it for approximately $900.

We are now almost to Union Springs, Alabama for a few days of work. We are planning to stay on site, hoping there’s water!

Life has been a bit of a fiasco here lately!!!

On another note, I’ve been helping Hubble Foundation with their golf tournament coming up in April. So far we have donations from Disney, Southwest Airlines, Zoo Atlanta and some other companies. Tower King II, the company Allen worked for previously, also did our first sponsorship! Hubble Foundation helps families of fallen telecommunications technicians who perish on the job. We lost BJ, Marcus and Brach in September. Allen worked with all three of them and they were good friends of ours. When we were in Springfield, IL we found out there was another accident. Once we got to the shop we found out that it was Clayton Barnhill, another guy Allen has worked with… It just touches really close to home. So I’ve been staying busy with Hubble Foundation.

Our friend Brandi started The Kentucky Chapter of The Cure Starts Now in honor of her daughter RaiLee who passed away from DIPG in November 2016. They had their first annual golf tournament in August last year and just set the date for this year’s tournament. So I’ll be working on getting donations and sponsorships for that here soon.

It feels good to be busy, I just hope our “being busy fixing things” situation chills out for a while! We still need to take the Smart car in to get checked out and get an oil change, but we did replace some lights and the windshield wipers so that’s a start!

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Thanksgiving Dinner in an RV 

Thanksgiving dinner was a success! When we went shopping, we were planning on it only being Allen and I for dinner.  Obviously we bought WAY too much food because we wound up feeding 4 adults & 4 kids… with leftovers!

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About Us

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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!

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Allen, Rachel and Charlie

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Thetford RV Toilet Valve Seal Replacement: Round 2!

Yes… We’ve done this before! Continue reading

Planning for the Future…

Planning for the tentative but probable future, I should say… When we bought our 2015 Grand Design Momentum 385TH back in March we had a few requirements in mind. One of the major must haves was a garage long enough to fit a Smart Car! IMG_5127Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 12.34.25 PM

We could’ve went with the 380TH but the garage wasn’t quite long enough, although at the time I almost liked the living room setup better. I’ve since decided we made the right choice there…  

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We are totally going to make this work!

We have the big Chevy 3500 Dually that I love. But me + a huge truck + tight spaces like San Francisco streets don’t mesh well. And Allen can only ride his motorcycle to work when the weather permits. This was not the case in North Dakota! 

So we need to fit a Suzuki Katana 600 and a Smart Car in our 12′ garage and securely tie them down for travel so I don’t wind up with a car on my kitchen island! 

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Here’s the bike… And Charlie as a baby.

We made the first move toward making that happen last week… We moved Allen’s huge but necessary tool box from the garage into the front cubby. Some people call it “the basement”, I say cubby. Just like some people say “DH” (I had to google this one… It means dear husband). I abhor this term to be completely honest! “Basement” isn’t quite as bad… 

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This is before… It’s big, and we can fit a lot of crap in there! If you look close, Charlie’s tiny head is sticking up in back.

Anyway, we got the thing in by taking off the wheels and the top wood piece, then my genius thinking kicked in 😉  

   
We screwed it to the front of the camper, through the back of the toolbox into the generator cubby. We used a few washers so the heavy thing won’t pull out and rip the wall. And DH, sike, my boo bear can still reach his things from the outside. See, boo bear is so much better right?? 

   
I’m happy with our progress. Now we just have to figure out a tie down system. I’ve seen some people install these tracks along the floor and I want to research that more… Good thing is we have about a year to think on it! 

And as I write this post, Allen is dropping the camper off at Colerain RV so they can hopefully, finally fix everything. More to come on that note!

Underbelly Overhaul!

After our not-so-excellent experience with a mobile RV tech, we decided this had to be done! When Allen and I put our heads together and work to make something happen, we usually rock it. (And if we want to kill each other along the way, at least we come out the other side still in love!) Continue reading

If it moves, it shakes….

And if it shakes it loosens… Such is life in our home on wheels…

  
Since we left North Dakota on Saturday we’ve discovered: 

  • The low-point drain is busted. Broken. Stuck open. 
  • Our bedroom slide is in need of service. It won’t close all the way. 
  • Our gray and black tanks don’t close all the way, so when Allen (not me) removes the cap to hook the sewer hose up, all kinds of nastiness spills out. Every time. 
  • The tank for the half bath in the garage won’t open to drain. It’s full. The handle pulls out. Nothing happens. 

When we got to Abe’s RV Park last night, we parked and attempted to plug the busted water valve with no luck. So then we went out with Karen and Bob for some food, drinks, relaxing and catching up. Love them! Then today we got the truck tires balanced and rotated first thing this morning. I called 3 different McClain’s RV Superstores to try and get the camper in for lots of service but none could do anything until at least January.  I called Grand Design and spoke with “Jerry” yet again. He was not even remotely helpful. 

We also want to have some other little things fixed while it’s still under our 1 year manufacturer warranty. But taking it to Grand Design is out of the question as “Jerry” told me today they aren’t scheduling any more service appointments and are backed up into February. Nice.  

 Allen was able to get the low point drain off and replace it with and elbow and more pex and a plug held together with lots of hose clamps. (All found at Lowe’s for a few bucks) So we at least have water. I did the manual override for the bedroom slide and got it in. 

Now we’re on our way to Dallas and nothing is really fixed, just patched for now. No clue what we are going to do or when we can do it. I love traveling. I love living in a camper. I love the spontaneity of Allen’s job.  But when it comes to this kind of crap, it’s frustrating to say the least! But, we have each other, and Charlie, so we will deal with whatever is thrown at us and try and make the most of it!

P.S. I love Abe’s RV Park. It’s one of my favorite places, mostly because Karen & Bob are so nice and so helpful. I was a little sad to leave… On a good note: it’s in the 60s and feels like SUMMERTIME to us! I can’t wait to open the back and have a porch again! 

 

Winnemucca = #winning!

Winnemucca, Nevada. Who woulda thunk it’d be a booming little town?? We were definitely surprised.  
We pulled into the I-80 Winnemucca KOA Friday afternoon, checked in, got hooked up and walked Charlie. It was my first time staying at a KOA and it was pretty nice. We were excited to put our awnings out for the first time in about 4 months!  I’ll add a review in the next week or so. I should mention that there are a bunch of RV parks in this town. There was a brand new one across the street and one about a block down, so the KOA definitely isn’t your only option.  

Once we got little Charles settled in we headed to Walmart for some RV toilet paper (we ran out in San Francisco-crappy! *pun intended*) Then we went to Winger’s for food and drinks. It was almost right across the street from the campground. I think it’s a chain restaurant but we’d never been to one. We had some beers and some wings then headed home and called it a night. 

Charlie is climatized and used to mild San Francisco weather so we had to bundle her up!

 

Saturday morning we went to this 24/7 cafe for breakfast that Allen was seeing signs for on the highway. It was inside a casino. Love it. On the way there we passed a huge lot with buses pulling in and a whole bunch of parked pickups. We knew there had to be something going on in this little town down in a valley in the middle of the desert. We noticed Friday night that there seemed to be a lot of younger guys and Allen said there’s a lot of good looking girls for it being out in the middle of nowhere. Turns out there’s a big gold mining company in Winnemucca and they bus everyone to the mines. Pretty interesting…  

  

  

  

Anyhow, after breakfast we stopped at O’Reilly’s Auto Parts and got a new air pump.  

 We burnt our old one up on the fourth camper tire in San Francisco. (A Cobalt) This one is a little more powerful. It’s an MV-50 and it has little jumper cable prongs on it instead of a plug. We still have to find an attachment thingy to fill the dually tires but the camper is good to go!   

 While Allen was filling up the tires I spread some of my brother’s ashes. I just wish he could actually see some of this with me.  

  
But, we are on the road again, heading for Wyoming by this evening! (Even though Allen wanted to stay another night just to have another breakfast at the casino!) Moving on!

Quake Hold!

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.

The frame on the middle shelf holds a drawing I did of the 26′ Wildwood by Forest River we had.

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!

Tour of Our Home on Wheels (part 2- the garage)

Our 2015 Grand Design Momentum 385TH has a 12’2″ garage, which is perfect for us! We didn’t want anything TOO large, because you are giving up comfy living space for garage space. (I’ve taken some images from Grand Design‘s website, I’m sure you can tell which ones!)

The garage, or the toy hauler if you prefer, gets used about as much as the rest of the house.  We needed a large enough space to be able to travel with a motorcycle and Allen’s huge tool box (for now), and a Smart car at some point down the road.

If they can do it, we can too!

If they can do it, we can too!

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The back hatch folds down to a ramp so you can move your “toys” in and out, but also has the option of turning into a patio or deck in the back.  It has railings that pin into place all around, and a set of stairs that pin to the back and lead down from the patio.  There is a manual awning that goes overtop the patio and has stabilizing legs on it (it took us a couple times putting the awning out and thinking that it was super flimsy before we, well, in all fairness, I, discovered this!)  When the patio is down, there is a 3-season garage wall.  It’s basically sliding screen doors with plastic that can velcro over the screen.  The doors also open all the way to get toys in and out. There are vents that can be opened when traveling to circulate the air and let fumes out if you have “toys” in the garage. Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 12.28.45 PM

In Louisiana, the entire RV park was a muddy mess, so the only way to get to the street was to leave the patio set up with the steps leading to the road!

In Louisiana, the entire RV park was a muddy mess, so the only way to get to the street was to leave the patio set up with the steps leading to the road!

Inside, it has a Happijac bunk system: 2 queen bunks that can raise all the way up and stay out of the way while traveling, or come down for extra sleeping room.  The bottom bunk also turns into 2 benches and there is a table that fits into place in between the bunks.  This is how we have it set up most of the time. Especially if we are somewhere that we can’t have the hatch open and the patio set up. The garage came with a roll of carpet that you could potentially lay down, but we tossed that out. We take advantage of the garage floor as a place to take off shoes and muddy boots.

There is a TV, radio and CD/DVD player in the garage.

***Full disclosure: (because I want to be super honest about everything) This radio is junk. We are on our third one from the factory so far. We’ve talked to another guy who has the same camper and he concurs with our opinion. It’s a Furrion CD player for a car that they mounted in the cabinet. It switched by itself from the speakers in the ceiling to the speakers by the TV. It constantly sounds like it is trying to spit out a disc even when it’s turned off and there’s nothing in there (that sound drives me crazy!) and it turns its volume up and down on it’s own.

Moving on.

A small cabinet passes through to the living room and a hatch opens up on the floor for more storage.  We have an electric space heater, rain boots, and ratchet straps in there right now.  We have a metal file cabinet under the pass through cabinet with the printer on top, and Allen’s tool box set up in the garage right now (sometimes he takes it to work depending on the job). A glass door leads to the main living area and a door to the left of that leads to the half-bath.  There’s a 3rd A/C in the garage.IMG_2528

DIYs & MODs

  • We drilled more holes in the Happi-Jac bunk rails to give us more options of where to have the top bunk. We wanted to be able to keep some things on top of the bunk when we were stationary for a period of time. (Crock Pot, sewing machine, rice cooker, etc.) Here’s a post about that: A Little Camper Fixing IMG_2210 
  • We hung a tension rod with black out curtains across the back wall. When we have the patio set up, you can see right into the house at night through the 3-season garage wall, so this gives us some privacy. The curtains are all black on the side that faces the rest of the world. IMG_2212

Previously: Tour of Our Home on Wheels (part 1)

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