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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Tour of Our Home on Wheels (part 1)

It’s recently occurred to me, as I’ve been checking out other RV blogs, that I’ve never actually given a tour of our camper… In the blogosphere at least! I love our home, and I’m proud of it, so here it goes!

We live on the road full-time in a 2015 Grand Design Momentum 385TH.  We bought it in March from Palm Beach RV in Florida.  We looked for months (at least 6) and went to numerous RV shows in multiple states, visited dealers, looked online and read reviews.  We knew we wanted a 5th wheel. We knew we wanted a toy hauler (that’s what the TH stands for in the name).  And we knew we need at least a 12ft garage to eventually fit a Smart car.

The rest we kind of decided along the way:

  • an island in the kitchen
  • a full size fridge
  • a king size bed
  • a washer/dryer
  • actual closet space
  • a pantry
  • a couch AND a table to eat dinner at
  • a patio
  • nice entry steps that don’t rust
  • automatic leveling jacks
  • a generator

***Notice the order those are listed in: my top priorities first  😉 -I’m writing this post so that’s allowed!

The Momentum 385TH met our wants and needs, and even more. So, we went for it!

She’s good looking’ huh??!

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The morning after we picked her up, at Palm Beach Traveler RV Park, we were ready to take off for the muddy swamp that some call Louisiana!

I’ll start with the basic exterior features, then work my way through the inside.  I’m going to list DIYs and MODs we’ve done as well.  I always find it interesting and helpful to see what other RVers have done, so I’ll share our little tweaks (and issues we’ve had along the way also).

The camper (some people say fifth wheel, some say rig, RV, etc., I just refer to her as a camper) is 43′ long. Here’s the basic layout and numbers:Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 12.34.25 PM

Some of these photos I took from Grand Design’s website, others are my own. You can probably tell the difference!

It came equipped with a Onan 5500 generator in the front that can run everything. We have run it all night long on less than 5 gallons. There are 2 – 30gallon fuel tanks. One that feeds into the generator. And one that has a pump that you can connect to pump fuel into your toys, motorcycle, car, etc. or pump into the generator tank.Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 12.33.18 PM

There are 3 slides, 2 electric awnings (the main awning has LED lights across it), 2 entry doors (with aluminum steps that won’t rust), a patio that folds down in the back with a manual awning over it, frameless tinted windows, 3 air conditioners, heated tanks with an insulated and heated underbelly (which will help like crazy this winter if we get stuck somewhere cold like last year! – Oklahoma City… Frozen water lines… Frozen toilet… New toilet… Not fun…). There are LED lights under the steps and flood lights in the back.  We opted to add a Xzilon coating to the outside, as well as the inside (which guarantees we won’t have to wax it for 5 years).Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 12.28.45 PM

There is a large pass through cubby in the front-ish.  The generator is actually in the very front.  But it’s to the right of the front door.  All the cubby doors slam-latch closed, and most of them have magnetic something or others that hold them open.  The pass through cubby is heated so things, as well as water lines won’t freeze in the winter.

 The camper came with a swing arm for a TV, and we just mounted the TV from our old camper on it.  I like being able to sit outside and watch the race or a game (or occasionally Dr. Phil-Allen’s favorite! Haha! Just kidding…). We used to have to set up the white folding table and run the cord out through the door if we wanted to watch TV outside.  Which wasn’t so bad either, just more work.

Twin Rivers RV Park, Hobe Sound, Florida, May 2013

Twin Rivers RV Park, Hobe Sound, Florida, May 2013

Red Coconut RV Park, Fort Myers Beach, Florida, January 2014

Red Coconut RV Park, Fort Myers Beach, Florida, January 2014

Abe’s RV Park, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, September 2014

Lake Pines RV Park, Columbus, Georgia, February 2014


DIYs & MODs

  • Allen found some metal hooks and screws at an Ace Hardware (where employees still actually take the time to help you) that we hung up on the ceiling of the cubby for our fishing poles. He mounted them to the metal beams that went across. So far they are working well! It keeps them from getting all tangled and broken when we drive. ***Disclosure: we are NOT avid or even somewhat avid fishermen. We took his kids fishing this summer a couple of times, but we had to buy poles for that, and so we needed somewhere to keep them.Charlie sleeping in the cubby
  • We discovered a puddle in the cubby and found a leak in the water line so we had to fix that a couple of weeks ago. Here’s that scenario: Leaks are the Worst!IMG_1930
  • Currently the leveling system is all wonky and has lost its mind. Here’s that situation: Broken Leveling Jacks. I’ll update when we finally fix it.
  • Allen had a little run-in with a yellow pole in a gas station parking lot. Here’s where we fixed the ladder: A Little Camper FixingIMG_2209

I’m going to give you the tour in parts… If I did it all in one post, it would be ridiculously long! But I will link them all together as I get them written!

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