About Mid April, George (the 35 foot 2000 Georgie Boy Landau motorhome) joined our little family! After spending a weekend celebrating (and cleaning mouse poop and spiderwebs out) we officially parked George at our very first RV park, near where Joel is currently working. Now, Joel and I (and even the dogs) have already gotten comfortable with living "small" and a semi-minimal lifestyle. I say "semi-minimal" because we still tend to accumulate a lot of things, but for the most part we have come to realize the things that we NEED, and the things that we can live without. So, the "downsizing" that many new RV-dwellers have to go through when first beginning their new home-journey was not something that we had to deal with. Actually, we haven't even filled up all of the cabinet/drawer/storage space in our new home just yet, because most of our "home" stuff is packed away in boxes back in Ohio, just waiting for me to go through them and put them in their new places here (: We are actually fairly certain that our new place is larger than a few of the other places we have called home over the past two years! Traveling like we have for the past two years, we have gotten used to being in close quarters most of the time, and spending the majority of our time together (other than when Joel is at work) so we feel like we have plenty of room in our new home for everything we need and for day-to-day living. Sure the shower is small, and the stove is little, but honestly we have lived in MUCH smaller/weirder situations. It's honestly just really nice to know that we will NEVER again have to try to find a new place to live last minute, that we will never have to go through a "complete cleansing" of a new place we are living, and that if we park somewhere and end up hating it, all we have to do is find somewhere new to park (:
With our experience living "tiny", we had a pretty good idea of exactly how small we could live (and not want to kill each other) which was definitely an advantage while we were shopping around for RVs. A few things we knew we wanted were:
1) A separate "bedroom" area, that had some kind of door or partition.
2) A slide-out "living room" area (Dogs need somewhere to wrestle!)
3) Something in a certain price range that would allow us to still have money to do small renovations to.
4)An actual driving RV (class A motorhome or class C mini-mother home) that could tow our Escape (**This is actually something that we were really torn on at first, but decided we did not want to have to upgrade our current vehicle to one that could tow an actual trailer.)
When we found George on Craigslist, we were actually already planning to look at another RV (class C) but when that fell through, we knew we had to go see George immediately before another RV that matched all of the things we wanted got swiped from us! After checking out George and driving him around the block, we were so so sooooooo excited, but to try to be rational we decided to sleep on it before making any crazy decisions. The next day we woke up just as excited, so we knew it was the one! (*We also had the motor, brakes, etc checked out at a dealership before officially making our offer. George is not exactly a young buck!) So finally, after much more adult-ing than we normally do (including research, endless phone calls with TX and OH DMVs, loan people, insurance people, etc etc etc) we got to bring George home!
Looking back over the past month, there have definitely been some growing pains, but ultimately we are still so thrilled about our decision and are really looking forward to the many adventures awaiting us with George. We are also planning on doing some renovation type things over the next month, so keep an eye out for progress pics on social media!
With all that being said, I wanted to highlight some of the things we have learned during our first month of RV-dwelling! I hope you get a kick out of our blunders (it's okay to laugh now, we survived!) and I also hope that this helps someone out there on their own RV-adventure!
5 Things We Learned About RVs
(the hard way)
1. Leaky pipes SUCK.
Things started breaking/not working correctly our very first night staying in our RV. After sipping some special celebratory wine, I headed to bed and wouldn't you know it, I stepped in water while walking through our bathroom. Come to find out, we had a pipe (located in a very difficult position) that had a crack in it. After a WEEK of trying to "temporarily fix" the leak (to hold us over until we went to OH and family could help) Joel finally tried out a little thing called a "Shark Bite." SO FAR, this has fixed our leak, and should not need any further attention. This fitting required only a pipe-cutter tool to use (which we also purchased at ACE) We kicked ourselves a little for not trying this out first, but hey, you live and learn!
We bought our Shark Bite parts at the local ACE hardware, but they are also available at most home improvement stores and of course on Amazon HERE (and can be found in many different styles of parts!)
*We also had ANOTHER leak under our kitchen sink, but that only took some tightening of some things under the faucet. Get yourself some tools if you want an RV!
2. Read the manuals (thoroughly) and have Google/YouTube handy!
I swear, I have not Googled/Youtube -ed more in my entire 20-some years of life than I did the first month we had George. The manuals that were kept with our RV and it's appliances were definitely informative, but most of them lacked much detail and almost none of them had any kind of trouble-shooting section. Being BRAND SPANKING NEW to RV-ing and really ANYTHING that had to do with appliances, how things worked, etc, we knew NOTHING. We still have so much to learn and work on, but I am really proud of what all we have figured out "on our own" using the internet (and many MANY phone calls to family!) We tried to find an RV dealership or something nearby that could give us a crash-course of sorts on general things (like hooking up, unhooking, dumping tanks, how to turn things on, etc) but unfortunately could not find anything like that. (*NOTE: some RV dealerships DO offer something like that if you purchase from them.) So my advice is: if you CAN, purchase your RV from a dealer or near loved ones that are familiar with the workings of an RV. This would have made our lives MUCH easier, however life isn't always easy (plus, we survived!) so oh well for us (:
This is Chris with RV travel, and he is my friend! (okay, not really but I like him.) and he taught me that when you hook up your water hose to your RV, you need a pressure regulator. Because RV parks/campsites are known to have high water pressure. Which can lead to cracked pipes and leaking.... Now go read number 1 on this list......... (Click the pic to go to the video I watched, and cried over.) There are also some other videos I found helpful at the bottom of this post.
3. Our auto-leveling system has it's own breaker!
Our RV is equipped with an auto leveling system by "BIG FOOT" which is NICE! After about a week of living just a little unleveled, Joel went and purchased leveling blocks to help us out. We reconnected the RV battery, (as this needs to be disconnected when you're parked and plugged in, so it doesn't run down!) pulled the slide in, and hit the "retract all" button. Which worked, until we tried to retract them a tad bit more and nothing moved. We hit it again and all we heard was a distinct "clicking" noise. We tried retracting each jack on it's own, still nothing but clicking. At this point we are all smushed in the camper (with the slide in it's a LOT less roomy in here!) and I'm starting to get hangry. (me: Joel, WHY did you HAVE to do this right before dinner?! him: it'll only take a minute! me: eye roll) We tried the manual, we Googled, I got more and more hangry. Finally, after taking a break to eat dinner (meaning, feed me before I spit fire) I came across a specific BIG FOOT trouble shooting page on their site. (Which also advertises 24/7 tech support FYI!) AND WAHOO they mentioned the clicking noise we were hearing!!!! Turns out, the leveling system has it's own breaker which is located under the hood of our RV. We confirmed that the breaker did indeed need switched back, and IT WORKED AGAIN!!
4. RV Hot Water Heater Basics.
After not really having water for a week due to the leaks, we finally tried to figure the water heater out. After finally locating the dang thing (thanks again, google) we read the manual, called some people, turned on the propane, and finally fired it up. Ours has a pilot light switch inside our RV on the wall in the kitchen. The light indicating that the pilot was not on stayed unlit, so we thought we were golden! We waited, waited, and waited, but no hot water. According to the internet, a small water heater like ours should take approximately 20 minutes to heat completely. Worried that something wasn't right and not wanting to burn up our heater, we turned it off and hit the internet.
-I came across the photo below which led us to realize that our water heater tank was in fact, not even filled with water. When winterizing, the valves had been shut off and not been turned back on yet this year. (seriously. this is our life.) To reach ALL THREE valves that need turned on, you have to be able to reach a little behind the water heater (which I obviously made my 6 foot tall husband do, because spiders.) We gained access to ours through the "basement" storage door to the right of our heater. As soon as we turned all three valves, we could hear water entering the tank.
-Then almost as suddenly, water started coming out of the front of the water heater. Quickly turning back off the valves, and another internet search, we realized that we were missing the drain plug. At this point it's dark, and getting late. We could not locate a plug anywhere, so we spent another night hot-water-less. The next day I stopped by a local RV dealership and picked up a plug. We got two little hot water tank plugs for $5. Pop them in, turn back on the valves, and we were good to fire up the pilot light!
-After a nice, hot shower (quick shower though, our tank only holds 6 gallons!) I went outside and noticed black soot on the vent grill of our heater. A quick internet search later and it seemed like this is a common thing when an RV has sat for a while, as spider webs and other bugs might seek shelter in there, and can cause the black soot like stuff. Okay, quick clean of the little vent thingy and back on the heater went. Spider webs were clearly not the problem, because the black soot was still accumulating, not only on the vent but up the side of our RV. My mom being a worrier like me, really really wanted us to just get a converter kit that would convert our water heater to electric. Not knowing anything about electrical work, I told her that would have to wait because I did NOT want us to install something that ourselves. (remember this statement for later...)
-After a few days of keeping the water heater shut off (besides short periods during the day for showers and dishes) I came across an RV forum that suggested that the water heater flame was not burning properly and that it probably needed more air to it. Upon further inspection, we untaped this mysterious piece in search for the "vents" that the article mentioned. We had noticed this piece before, but not knowing what it was (and not wanting to lose it) we left it where it was. (DUMB) Under the piece we found the vents that were needed to get more air to the heater flame. Some more internet searching later (and some wire following) we discovered that the piece that was taped to the vent was THE PLUG that we had thought was missing. And that the plug was actually an ELECTRIC CONVERTER for the water heater. I cannot tell you how stupid we felt when finally realizing all of this. But, I'm hoping that our hard time with this can help someone else out there learning all of this on their own!!!
5. Good Ideas VS Bad Ideas
-It's a GOOD IDEA to keep your grey water tank closed for a day or two before you dump your black water tank. Then drain the black water FIRST, followed by the grey tank which will help clean out the "stinky slinky" (which is what Marc from Keep Your Daydream calls it and cracks me up) However, it's a BAD IDEA to close the grey water tank, but then forget about it for days. Because it WILL fill up, and it WILL back up into your shower. And it WILL stink.
-It's a GOOD IDEA to bug bomb your RV after it's been sitting for months unoccupied. It's a BAD IDEA to assume that two bug bombs will kill every single spider, and to feel secure and not worry about encountering any said spiders.
-It's a GOOD IDEA to park your RV somewhere that your pups will have a place to run and stretch their legs. It's a BAD IDEA to not pay close attention to your pups when they're outside and one of them enjoys rolling around in deer/rabbit/?? poop....
YOUTUBE VIDEOS I FOUND INFORMATIVE: