Archive for category Buying A RV

My Favorite Things

Mesa 2017

Arizona is in full spring bloom!

Jeff and I have been bouncing around the Phoenix area for the last month working multiple RV Shows. We love the mountains and desert here and never lack great trail running or magnificent sunsets. Since the weather is still a bit unpredictable further north, it’s not a bad place to be!

So far in our travels, Arizona and Utah have been our top two favorite states. Both have wide-open space with plenty of BLM to free camp. And both have mountains and rock formations that will knock your socks off.

The beauty is like nothing I’ve seen growing up in the mid-west and there is so much still to see. I’m thankful to have the opportunity to linger here, just to take it all in.

Speaking of favorites, I thought I would write a post on my favorite things that make our RV life easier and more enjoyable on our journeys to some of our favorite places. Living in an RV is an amazing lifestyle, but as always we are challenged on space. So the things we have with us are either multifunctional or compact.

Here are some favorites by category.

Technology

I must confess. I don’t know anything about technology. When Jeff says he wants to go to the Apple Store or Best Buy I want to stick a pencil in my eyeball. (I suspect he feels the same when I want to watch another re-run of Property Brothers).

Wifi boosters, an unlimited data plan, tire monitoring and RV specific GPS. They all make staying safe and connected much more reliable. But for my area of influence, there are three things that help in my day-to-day life as the bookkeeper and CFO in the family.

Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300 Portable Scanner

I’ve had this little gem since 2011 and it has worked consistently for 6 years now. I use it to scan receipts for expense reports, legal docs that need to be emailed and just general paperwork that needs to be saved. Its super compact and fits in my office tote and keeps us paperless on the road.

Favorite Things

Fujitsu ScanSnap…isn’t it cute?

Favorite Things

Paper goes in the top and spits it out on the bottom

Canon Pixma iP110 Portable Printer

I just picked up this printer last fall out of frustration. Any time we needed to print something we would make a trip to a local Office Max or Staples, and pay a fee to do it. So I bit the bullet and bought this printer. This guy is compact, wireless and will print in black & white and color. I wish I had bought this sooner to make life a bit easier.

Favorite Things

Portable Canon Printer

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Organization

Office Tote

When we lived in our sticks & bricks home, I had a whole room dedicated to my office. File cabinets, paper shredder, fax, printer, pencil drawer with various paperclips, post-its and rubber bands. I had everything I needed…in abundance. Now I have our lives condensed down to a 15” X 11” X 6” tote. I keep a few files folders, a tray for pens, postage, paperclips and checks. And my scanner tucks neatly into this box. I stuff the box into an overhead cabinet, stack my little printer on it’s lid and pull it out on accounting day.

Mesa 2017

My 15″ X 11″ x 6″ Office

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Office Caddy

Last fall I started a little side hustle doing direct sales for Monat. Thankfully, this line of hair care products (which are amazing by-the-way) does not require me to carry any inventory. But I do keep samples to mail out to potential customers. It doesn’t take up a ton of space, but can be a challenge to keep organized and contained.

I bought this cute metal stand at Home Goods for $29.99. I use the top tray for remotes, pens, fingernail files and such. Then I use the two bottom levels to hold my samples, brochures and mailing supplies. I absolutely love it and it’s adorable too!

DebSpencer.mymonat.com or check out @Monathairtestimonies on Facebook. I love sending out samples.

Mesa 2017

Pretty Office Caddy

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Shoe Rack

Like most RVers, we struggle with what to do with our daily shoes. Specifically our managery of running shoes. After seeing this idea on Pinterest we mounted 2 metal coat hooks from Lowes to the wall just inside our door. With the two racks we can hang 5 pairs of shoes. It worked so well we added another higher up the wall for jackets, hats and running hydration belts.

Mesa 2017

Three pairs of shoes for Jeff; One pair for me…HMMMM!

Shower Caddy

In an RV, anytime you pull up stakes every item in our home has to be put somewhere to prevent it from moving. Including shower supplies. And with my Monat business, I have a lot of products taking up space in my shower. I have two very small shallow shelves that are only capable of holding one bottle of shampoo. We have to remember to put it on the floor when we move.

Another Pinterest idea has worked perfectly. I wedged a shower rod between my shower wall and the vanity medicine cabinet and hung a metal basket via two shower curtain hooks.

Its super sturdy and holds ALL of our shower products. I don’t even have to take it down when we travel.

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Mesa 2017

Happy shower bottles

Catch-all Box

This little box sits on our kitchen counter just inside the door. We throw our sunglasses; spare change, Chap Stick and dog poo bags (empty of course) in it. It keeps our countertop clear and we know just where our things are as we head out the door.

Favorite things

The stuff box

Home

Infinity Woven Vinyl Flooring

During our RV renovation in 2015 we pulled out all the carpeting and replaced it with thick vinyl tile flooring. But on our slide we used Infinity Woven Vinyl Flooring. This product got its start in marine as wall and floor covering and has worked its way into the RV community. It comes in one big sheet and is installed like carpeting. I can mop it and spills come right up. Love the product and its style fit our modern décor.

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Nothing stains this stuff

Fabric Curtains & MCD Shades

RV’s do not have much in the way of modern interior detail. So when we bought our new to us Carriage Domani, we remove the old smelly accordion blinds and replaced them with custom fabric curtains (thanks Mom!) and MCD Shades. Our MCD’s are a dual roller type that has a black solar shade as one roller and a cream-colored blackout shade as the other. MCD’s are EXPENSIVE running about $300/window. I would have never spent $3,000 on ten windows.

Fortunately, I found 9 out of 10 window dimensions at an RV surplus store in White Pigeon, MI…for $25 each. I have one window that I still do not have a MCD shade for, so I just keep the curtains closed on that window. I continue to look for a shade on eBay, but haven’t found one yet.

The reason I love these is that you can block the sun with the solar shade while still seeing out your window. And when we are parked in an urban location with lots of RV Parking lot lights, the black out shades block the light COMPLETELY.

Favorite things

Custom curtains & valances to give a homey look

Favorite things

Solar Shades to block the sun while still offering a view

Favorite things

Black out shades for ultimate privacy

Berkey Water Filter

Jeff and I are not fond of drinking water straight from our holding tanks on the RV. We had a Reverse Osmosis System at home to filter our water. But RO systems are not very conducive to dispersed camping, because they discharge A LOT of water in the process of filtering.

We used to run to Walmart or another drinking water dispensary every other day to fill our two 3 gallon water bottles.

Last year we bought a Berkey gravity fed water filter tank. It’s stainless steel and looks so much more attractive than blue water bottles. We still fill our blue water jugs, but from any tap or from our holding tank. Just pore the water in the top section of the Berkey and let gravity filter the water into the bottom section. It has its own spigot so everything is compact and ready to use.

Filters last for up to two years and the unit requires a good cleaning a couple times a year. We just have to be sure to time our pore so that we don’t overfill the night before we travel so that water doesn’t slosh around and spill.

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Baby Berkey

Dometic CFX-35 portable refrigerator freezer

Full disclosure! Jeff and I work with Dometic. But this CFX portable refrigerator/freezer is awesome. You can set the temperature anywhere from 50F to -7F and it runs off 12V or 110.

We keep ours in the slide trey in the bay of our 5th-wheel. Most of the time it holds sports drinks, water bottles or extra almond milk to free up more space within our RV refrigerator.

It’s also portable, so we can plug it into the back of our truck and store smoothies to drink after a long hike or use it to transport cold groceries on a hot day.

Favorite things

Dometic CFX-35 for extra frig or freezer space

There are lots of other items that we find very useful to our RV lifestyle, but these are just some of my favorites. Everything in an RV has to have a purpose and a place. If something is not useful or used, then we don’t keep them around.

Do you have a favorite item that you can’t live without? Enquiring minds would like to hear about it in the comments below!

Until next time!

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If we move the sofa over a bit I think it will fit!

 

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What’s the Hold Up-PART II

 

Rise N Roll

Thinking positive about getting out of here!

I know that the gripping tale of RV modifications in Part I had you sleepless for nights on end until I provided the rest of the story! So before you lose any more sleep, here is the final shop talk of our RV modifications!

Quadra Big Foot leveling jacks

Quadra didn’t have an appointment available for a couple of weeks, so we camped at MorRyde a bit longer, then move to the driveway of some VERY gracious friends.

T-s place

Driveway surfing with very gracious friends

We met our friend Tom a year ago at the Hersey RV Show. Jeff had is bike in our hotel room and just across the hall Tom had his bike in his room. They both noticed each others bikes. Jeff and Tom got to talking and found out that they were both Ironman Triathletes, and an instant bond was formed.

We’ve kept touch in with Tom (who also works in the RV industry) and have made a point to go to dinner whenever we were in Elkhart.

Since we have been in Elkhart for so long Jeff started riding with Tom and his cycling group each morning at 4:50AM. We got to spend a lot of time with Tom, his wife Tera and their 3 girls. It was so fun being a part of their family while driveway surfing. I’m not going to lie…I’m going to miss those girls. I just might have shed a little tear when we left.

We vacated our delightful accommodations in Elkhart and headed over to Quadra in White Pigeon, MI and camped in their parking lot while they installed our leveling system over two days. We thought that Big Foot was just an exaggerated name for their system, but after seeing the plate sized pads of the levels, BIG Foot is no joke.

Big Foot Leveling

It’s a giant saucer perfect for Boondocking in the desert

Bontrager Rv Surplus

White Pigeon is a two stop light town that is home to an amazing RV surplus store called Bontragers. They have axles, thousands of RV windows, RV electric and plumbing parts, lights, windshield wiper blades, appliances, furniture and even the tiniest screw, plug and spring. They even had stuff you didn’t know you needed until you saw it! It’s a very organized flea market feel with great prices.

We found a replacement porch light (the only one it’s kind) for the Domani for $35. We were having a hard time finding it online…and there it was!

My biggest find was the coveted MCD dual roller shades  that every RV’er dreams of owning. We had a quote from MasterTech for $1,800 for ten windows, so pricy that we opted not to get them. I was able to find 9 MCD’s shades out of my 10 windows for $270…TOTAL. The kick is good, SCORE!

Fox RV

Of course, while Quadra was installing our leveling system they informed us that we needed a new underbelly cover. Most RV’s have a covering on the underbelly to prevent water and

Fox RV

Fox RV Mission Statement…they keep their promises

road debre from damage. When Quadra opened up the covering water was dripping out…which meant that it has been compromised.

Quadra recommended driving to Middlebury, IN to have a new covering installed by Fox RV. Of course Fox RV couldn’t get us in until the following week. AND, since we are going to be there we will have them replace our 3 step fold up entry stairs with a 4 step.

Why a 4 step? When we raised the RV with new axles it caused our 3 steps to be raised too high. Plus, the last step was unstable from previous use. The 4 step entry was another bargain find at another RV salvage yard for $65 (reg $299).

Rise N Roll Bakery

Ok. So this was not an RV upgrade, but it was one of the most memorable stops of our trip. This is an Amish bakery with the most amazing pastries we have EVER tasted. After having their famous cinnamon donuts we were speechless. Literally speechless! Pure melt-in-your-mouth gooey dough with just the right amount of sweetness. No wonder the locals call it “Amish Crack”! Instant addiction and I want it bad!

If you ever come to this area you have to make every effort possible to stop a Rise N Roll. Really. YOU. HAVE. TO.

One thing has led to another on our RV project and we have this last appointment to make this week before heading back to St. Louis, then on to Arkansas. By then we will have missed the annual World Championship Squirrel Cook Off ), The Weiner Dog Races and Mule Jumping Competition.

We were supposed to be back in Arkansas for about 4-6 weeks before heading West, but now we are down to less than 2 weeks.

What do we have planned for 2 weeks? ONE MORE PROJECT…I SWEAR!

Solar panels!

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Nearing the End…Only the Beginning

Carriage Domani

Dreams Do Come True!

For 21 years Jeff and I have been dreaming and planning on buying a 5th Wheel RV. Our thoughts of camping were seeds that were planted by our Grandparents. All those trips we took as kids made a major impression on our souls.

My family started camping when I was just a baby (so the story goes) after my Grandpa converted an old, very small, school bus to a camper. He worked as a mechanic at Ford for 40 years and had some serious skills! He built it with his grandkids in mind with bunk beds for my two brothers and a crib for me. The earliest memory I have in my life was in that old school bus!

Grandpa

Grandpa’s Converted School Bus (1965)

I’m not sure how long it was until my Grandpa got rid of the school bus and bought a Jayco popup camper with all the “modern” convenience. Mom and Dad slept on one end and my brothers were on the other end. Grandma and I slept on one of the tables that converted into a bed and my Grandpa slept on the other.

It was certainly cozy quarters, especially when my Grandpa’s snoring could scrape the bark off a tree. But I didn’t care. WE WERE CAMPIMG!

My Grandpa loved to fish, so most of our camping was done around lakes. One of the first things I would do when we got to a campground was to walk the shoreline looking for a straight stick and old fishing line that some poor fisherman had gotten tangled up in some brush. I would proudly run back to Grandpa who would tie on a brand new shiny hook.

I caught so many fish with that primitive setup. It didn’t matter how small the fish was, Grandpa would clean it and fry it up as if it were the catch of the day.

I could go on for days about camping stories like melting styrofoam cups in the campfire, skunks hanging out under our camp chairs…while we were sitting in them, tornados and grandpa stepping in the pee bucket (were we the only ones who had a bucket to pee in during the night?).

Grandpa

Moving on to the “modern” Jayco pop up

I saw my first mountain in that camper when we took an epic trip out west. We started in St. Louis and headed north to see Mount Rushmore. Then traveling west we stopped at Yellowstone and watched Old Faithful shoot her water high in the air.

Somewhere on that trip a ranger gave me a piece of petrified wood, we ran into a band of gypsies at a campground. Grandpa thought our tires would be stolen by morning so we quickly left. And, I saw Casper the Friendly Ghost.

After seeing the West, my wanderlust was born!

Though Jeff and I started out with tent camping after we were first married, we didn’t buy our first RV until 3 years ago. We bought a 2010 Heartland Edge 21’ travel trailer. It wasn’t the 5th wheel we had been dreaming of, but it was something to dip our toe into the lifestyle. In the last three years we have been all over the mid-west, New Orleans and on our own epic trip out west.

Truck Camping

Camping in the back of our truck…those were the days!

RV show

Hanging with Yogi the Bear at one of many RV shows

For us, the last three years has been about gaining confidence and affirming that we were committed to the RV lifestyle with plans to live full time on the road.

That brings us to our Carriage Domani 5th Wheel. Now that we have made it to the other side of some major heartburn of renovations, we are just so thrilled with our new-to-us Domani.

But what is even more exciting is that this 5th wheel is the fulfillment of a 21-year dream of ours. It has been our single vision all these years that we have based our major decisions on. With that single vision, we have asked ourselves through the years whether or not a major purchase, a job change, even a lifestyle would take us closer to our vision or take us away from it.

Pinch me…we are finally here!

Now that our RV renovations and upgrades are nearing the end, we are excited about our new beginning. The beginning of our life on the road in the “home” of our dreams.

We couldn’t be more thrilled!

Sam-A-Lama-Ding-Dong

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The View From our Window is Finally Changing

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The Domani’s view for 3 1/2 months. Nothing to see here folks!

I love watching HGTV. Having been a General Contractor and dabbling in interior decorating, I have to say that I’m addicted to real estate and rehab shows. House Hunters, Fixer Upper, Addicted To Rehab, Property Brothers are all of my favorites.

I guess that is why Jeff and I felt ok about purchasing an RV project. There is a certain thrill and satisfaction that comes from making something out of nothing. But I have to say, this project has been one of those labors of love that is often seen in rehabbing an old Victorian home along some of our countries most historical main streets.

The old dilapidated, leaning home that people thought was a total tare down is resurrected into a magnificent showpiece, lovingly restored back to its former glory. Usually at a cost that exceeds what new construction would have run all in the name of love.

I think that is where we are at with our Domani.

Carriage Domani

Damage only a mother could love!

We should have probably taken a bulldozer to her the day the roof was pulled off. But she had bones, class and character that couldn’t be overlooked nor found in new construction. And now that we are nearing the end and we have had a chance to spend some quality time with our girl, she has made an impression on our hearts. She has become our labor of love!

After 3 1/2  months of pulling our hair out restoration, it’s all finally coming together. And we couldn’t be more pleased with our home on wheels.

Things I love about the Domani:

Counter space: Every RV’er knows that countertops are a premium in campers. Though still small by housing standards, I have twice as much counter space than before. And, they are solid surface rather than plastic.

Lobster Pot Sink: These sinks are popular in Airstreams. Frankly, I have not heard of too many people liking them. But me? I’m a fan! It’s deep, it’s wide and there is plenty of room to wash a pan without mopping the floor at the same time.

Bedroom Door: It’s the simple things that contribute to happiness. Having a door that closes off the bedroom from your spouse watching howling piano playing puppies on facebook at 4:30AM is one of them.

Open shower & sink, enclosed toilet: We have an open shower/sink area to the bedroom with an enclosed toilet closet. Jeff and I are both vertically endowed, so having a sink area that allows brushing our teeth without hitting our elbows feels palatial.

Carriage Domani

Open bath, elbow room and a bedroom door. What more could a 6′ tall girl ask for!

Closet & Cabinet Space: The Domani is only 32’ long so there was some bedroom closet space sacrificed along the front of the coach that typical 5th wheels have. But I do have a tilt out laundry bin and 24 upper cabinets in the living room/kitchen that more than make up for it.

Full Length Mirror Closet Door: I didn’t know that I wanted a full-length mirror until I had one. It’s very helpful when you are putting on a t-shirt, shorts and flip flops to make sure that the fit is just right…. she says sarcastically!

Carriage Domani

Bedroom with Closets, Cabinets, tilt out laundry and full length mirror

Storage Bay: Holy mother of storage! Jeff and I both could fit in there with enough room to roll around in. I’m thinking of turning it into my office.

Larger Frig: Who doesn’t like more refrigerator space. Our frig now has an extra shelf over our previous frig, which is like going from an apartment sized refrigerator to a side-by-side.

Carriage Domani

Big Sofa. Big Windows!

Big Windows: In the Domani we have lots of big open windows and skylights that let the light flood in. We removed the old smelly accordion blinds and are replacing them with MCD roller shades (more on that in the next post). The views are going to be great once we get this baby out on the road!

Sofa and Two Chairs: Before, we had a jack-knife sofa which was adjacent to the kitchen. So when we wanted to put our feet up they ended up on the kitchen counters. (The multipurpose kitchen sink/ottoman). Now we actually have a sofa long enough to stretch out on and two very comfortable chairs. The space between the sofa and chairs is cavernous so no more footsies with Jeff while making dinner.

What now?

We are disappointed that we did not make it to Iowa for RAGBRAI this year. The repairs just kept us stationary a while longer.

We have now moved on to the MORryde parking lot for a new hitch, basement slide out tray and new axles and will hopefully finish up here end of next week.

Carriage Domani

MORryde’s cozy camping lot

We have our sites set on getting our girl back to Arkansas for a wedding in September before heading out west for the fall and winter.

It’s been a long time coming and we are itching to get on the road. I’ve booked our campsites for the Xscapers Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta and the Grand Canyon, both in October, which gives us some sense of hope that we will be rolling out of Elkhart very soon. We’ve kissed the frog and she has turning into princess charming. Now lets ride this thing off into the sunset!

Can’t wait!

Carriage Domani

Finally out of that dang shop & riding off into the sunset MORryde’s parking lot.

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Major RV Repairs Commence

Sam

We’ve got a hot mess on our hands!

While in Elkhart last week we got our first look at the full spectrum of our repairs at MasterTech RV for our new-to-us RV.

MasterTech RV

MasterTech RV mega workshop

This will be a costly process, so I thought I would include costs on our project for those of you who may be considering an RV renovation yourself.

We purchased our 2009 Carriage Domani ($25,000 + $688 AR sales tax) from an individual in North Carolina and had an inspected by a local dealer. The inspection (shipping, inspection and some repairs $1,688) revealed a substantial roof leak and water damage to the interior. We were able to renegotiate the price on the Domani in order to help offset the cost of the repairs. Then we shipped the RV to MasterTech in Elkhart, IN ($1,220)

We were given the heads up that the full extent of the damage wouldn’t be known until they started to pull the roof off. That’s where we started last week and the news was not good.

The entire rear seam at the end cap had been leaking for quite a long time. The roof decking was rotted so badly that the wood was reduced to toothpicks. And because of deferred maintenance on the rest of the roof it was leaking along the sides as well.

Carriage Domani

End cap removed

Removing the roof was just the beginning that led to removing the end cap, which led to pulling out the interior cabinets, which led to the removal of insulation in the roof and rear wall, which led to removing the interior walls in the rear, which led to removal of furniture and carpet. Do you see where this is going?

Nothing like seeing the entire rear end of your coach exposed to send a wave of regret over your senses.

The walls and insulation were soaking wet, which also led to the spread of mold. Once the roof was opened up the smell was overwhelming. Jeff and I both woke at 3AM one morning thinking out loud, “Oh crap. What have we gotten ourselves into!”.

This led to a panicked conversation with MasterTech about whether or not we needed to stop the project, cap our losses and move on. But cooler heads prevailed and the guys assured us that we have a quality rig on our hands and that everything is fixable.

I have to say, that as most of the fabric, flooring and wallboards came out the smell started to improve rebuilding our confidence to keep moving forward despite some reservation.

So (deep breath) here is where we are going with this project.

Phase I: Remove roof, replace roof decking, insulation, replace the rear end cap. Run new pre-wire for solar & audio/video & technology. Cost: $10,000

Phase II: Replace all appliances, toilet, roof vents, AC’s, and awning with Dometic & Atwood products.

These are items that would not have necessarily needed to be changed as they were still in good condition. However, since we represent Dometic/Atwood and their aftermarket products we felt it was important for our rig to be a showpiece for their awesome line. I am not including cost here since this was purely optional.

Phase III: Replace halogen lights with LED’s, flooring, blinds, mattress and possibly furnishings.

There was carpeting in the living room and bedroom. We new that we would like to replace the flooring with linoleum throughout the coach, but thought we could wait for a little while. But with the smell, water and mold it was impossible to wait. Cost: TBD

Additionally, we were going to make-due with the lightly used furniture that came with the coach since it was high quality and super comfortable. But once again, the smell may be too much to overcome. MasterTech is planning on running an Ozone treatment on the entire coach, but since we are talking about fabric, the smell may not come out. Cost: TBD

We removed all the pleated shades and would like to get MCD shades. This is a pricy consideration, so I will be waiting for one of their big sales to order. And after seeing Wheeling It install some MCD shades themselves, and knowing that my husband has skills, we will install ourselves. Cost: TBD

Carriage Domani

Our girl with her rear exposed

Phase IV: Installing optional items…solar system & batteries, MorRyde stabilizer jacks, hitch, garage trey, outside & inside speakers and other misc items.

This will all depend on what transpires with Phases I-III, the costs involved and where we are on the budget.

Our goal is to have our projected completed by July 6 so that we can take it to RAGBAI (Bike ride across Iowa).

I have to say that it’s been a roller coaster of emotions so far with this project and I have not bonded yet with our Domani. When I can hug my RV (yes, actually hug it) I know I’ve fallen in love.

But since she is currently flashing us the moon with her exposed rear end I will wait until she pulls up her pants before going in for some love!

Till next time…

Inspiration

Loving “someday”!

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Nashville Inspiration And The Big 4

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Jeff and I are on a two-week road trip for business at the moment. We are making stops in Nashville, Louisville, Indianapolis, Elkhart, back to Indy, St. Louis and home to Arkansas.

Since we sold our Edge and are having work done on the Domani we are resorting to hotel stays for this trip. After traveling in an RV for the better part of 8 months and now traveling via hotels, I have to say I prefer our RV much better (of course I would).

Franklin, TN

While in Nashville, we had the privilege of having dinner with one of our favorite authors, Dan Miller , and his lovely family. He has authored books that have been very influential in our lives. 48 Days to the Work You Love, No More Dreaded Mondays, Wisdom Meets Passion, are just a few.

Jeff and I attended one of his Coaching With Excellence weekend workshop 3 years ago which was instrumental in getting us to where we are today…working in the RV industry and traveling this beautiful country both at the same time. OUR DREAM!

Dan challenged us to not think of options in terms of “either/or” but “this AND that”. “AND” is a powerful word when thinking of options in life. I’ve always thought in terms of…you have to do either this OR that. But Dan challenged us to think in terms of…why not do this AND that. Why can’t you pursue your dreams of traveling in an RV AND work at the same time? It was an interesting question and one we found the answer to by working in the RV industry.

We are so thankful to Dan and thankful to have the opportunity to share our appreciation in person!

One last thing about Franklin, TN…

We discovered a new-to-us restaurant called First Watch. They serve breakfast, brunch and lunch. First Watch has a limited menu with rotating items and everything is super fresh and super yummy. Our favorite was the Kale Tonic (Kale, cucumber, lime, apple) and Day Glow (Carrots, orange, lemon, ginger). Oh so good!

Nashville, TN

OMG…Kale Tonic at First Watch cafe

Louisville, KY

Our next stop was in Louisville, KY. We’ve been to Louisville several times, but never long enough to explore. So we headed to the riverfront area of Louisville early on a Sunday morning to go for a run.

Part of Louisville’s riverfront is a pedestrian and bike bridge called, The Big Four Bridge. It connects Kentucky with Indiana in less than a mile over the Ohio River.

The Big Four Bridge was originally constructed by the Louisville and Jefferson Bridge Company who started construction in 1888. The construction of the bridge was not without it’s challenges. After several accidents and deaths during construction, the bridge was completed in 1895. Unfortunately by then the Louisville and Jefferson Bridge Company was broke. It was sold that same year to the Indianapolis based Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway, also known as the Big Four Railroad.

The Big Four Bridge fell into disused by 1968 and portions of the bridge were being dismantled by 1969.

In 1990 a proposal was made to convert the dilapidated bridge to a bike and pedestrian bridge as part of the Louisville Waterfront Park project. After millions of dollars the Big Four Bridge was re-opened in 2013 to people and bikes. We really enjoyed our run here!

Elkhart, IN

We headed further north to Elkhart Indiana making a brief stop over in Indianapolis to say hi to my college girlfriend Sherry. Sherry hiked the Rim2Rim with us last year.

In Elkhart we got our first look at our new-to-us RV, the Domani. I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed. After our discussions with the seller and having our inspection, our expectations were a bit higher than the RV we walked into. Our “hardly camped in” RV had a lot of furniture ware and lingering cigarette smoke that let us know that it had been lived in more than had been disclosed.

It is going to be a bit more of a project than we had anticipated. But we love the floor plan, size and quality…the rest can be dealt with pretty easily. Thank goodness we bought this thing right!

Next week MasterTech RV will start on the biggest project, which is to take off the roof, repair the damage, run electrical and conduit and put on a new roof membrane. Our second priority will be to replace all the flooring in order to help with the smell.

We have a $20,000 budget for our entire project so we will see how much our roof and flooring costs us before we make plans for the rest.

Indianapolis, IN

One of Jeff’s bucket list items is to run a marathon in each state. So while we were passing through Indiana Jeff noticed that Carmel, Indiana was having a marathon. This was his 7th marathon state.

Carmel Marathon

Jeff finishing the Carmel IN Marathon…his 7th state!

While Jeff was at the marathon I went with my friend Sherry to a retirement party that one of her running friends was throwing for herself.

This was the wackiest and most fun retirement party I have ever been to.

It started at 6am for a 11 mile run or 7am for a 5 mile run (you choose) followed by slippers and coffee mixed in with a 10 minute core workout, 10 minute weight workout, 20 minute message, then hot tub soak, sauna and brunch. All before 10AM.

It was so fun that it was decided by the group that she needed to throw a quarterly retirement party for herself going forward!

We have one more leg on our journey home. We are looking forward to getting home and staying in one spot for more than 2 nights in a row.

Keep in touch!

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Big News And Buying Tips

Beaver Lake, AR. Not a bad spot to spend a few months.

Beaver Lake, AR. Not a bad spot to spend a few months.

Jeff and I have been home now for a few weeks and we have been busy with some pressing work stuff. But the really BIG NEWS (besides me turning 50-how did that happen?) is that…

 We sold our camper…the Ironman Can!

It was a hard decision especially since our 21’ Heartland Edge served us so well. Except for some insulation, we lacked for nothing on our epic trip out west. Yes, things were cozy at times especially when I wanted to stretch out my 6’ frame doing yoga on a cold morning inside the camper. But the time came for something a bit more…sturdy.

Our Edge was a “lightweight” not designed for heavy use or 4-season camping. And as we fell in love more and more with the RV lifestyle we new that our little camper would have to go. We couldn’t have had a better first camper and she served us well. Starting with a camper under $15k to test the waters was the right thing to do before investing in a more expenses “home” that we weren’t sure would just sit out in the back yard.

So what’s next? Well, we are the official new owners of a 2009 Carriage Domani 32’ Fifth Wheel. What is a Domani? It is a RV that we stumbled across on our search for a good quality, four seasons rig under 33 feet.

If you ever try to find a HIGH QUALITY RV ANYTHING under or around 30 feet, you will discover this is no easy task.

We seriously considered an Airstream after spending some time with the hip Airstreamer’s in the desert of Borrego Springs. We went so far as to use our RV business connections to try and get some vendor pricing for a 2015 Serenity. But with the hefty price tag, minuscule storage and low headroom shower compartment for our 6’ and over bodies, we just couldn’t pull the trigger.

Airstream

Tempting. Very, very tempting!

At the same time we had found a Carriage Domani that we were able to look at on our drive back to Arkansas. After seeing her sleek modern lines, 20” rims and accompanied clearance (can you say off grid goodness?), that glorious storage compartment and big holding tanks, the Airstream lost its sparkle in a hurry. Of course the $75,000 price difference helped with the decision, making the Domani the clear choice for us.

Carriage Domani

Rockin some 20’s!

We are still in the process of getting our new-to-us RV, as you will read in a coming post. But through this process of buying/selling /buying we have learned a few lessons about buying an RV.

Keys to buying an RV

After you decide on a budget and the RV you want, don’t be in a hurry. Do your homework and educate yourself on what a good deal looks like. NADA priced the Domani at around $65k. The Domani we looked at in Texas was originally $41k and they would have taken $38K. We didn’t pop because it was a consignment and the cheesy salesman really turned us off with his old school sale tactics. We kept looking and found another for $31K from a private seller on RVTrader.com and they accepted our offer of $30k.

Buy used…especially if it is your first RV. I’ve read to not spend more than $20k (I might even say $10k) on your first RV, because inevitably you will find what does and doesn’t work with the first RV…which then turns into a second, third and fourth one. We were so surprised by how many RV’ers trade up or down. Frequently. (Even Jeff and I are trading after 2 years) Let someone else take the hit on the depreciation, find out how much you will use it, and find out what you like before spending a lot of dinero.

Pay for an independent inspection. This will run you about $500. Since our Domani was in North Carolina and we were in Arizona at the time, we actually paid $150 to have the Domani hauled to a reputable dealer and have it inspected for $500. Even though the very nice sellers assured us that the RV had never been camped in and it was in impeccable shape our $650 discovered about $5,000-$7,500 worth of water damage and another $800 of non-working items. The inspection also confirmed that the RV was never used. Everything else was pristine…like a time capsule that had been shrink wrapped for 6 years.

Don’t shy away from a project. At first we were going to cut our losses and walk away. But after speaking with two different repair centers, we were reassured that the roof repair could all be fixed back to perfection for years of leak free use. Yes. It is an expensive process. So back to the sellers we went with a new offer of $25k, which they gladly accepted.

Use a negative to your benefit. Not only did we negotiate for a cheaper price, but we are also using the roof issue as an opportunity to run our upgraded wiring for technology and solar. This is a challenge to do when you are sealed on top and bottom of an RV. So this is a great time to run cables to make this a Smart RV for the future.

Are we happy with our purchase? That is a question for our next post….she says with a dramatic laugh! Wooohahahaha….

Happy Birthday to me! Not looking a day over 50

Happy Birthday to me! Sam has a bead on my cone

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