8 Weeks as Full-time RVers!

It’s been several weeks since our last post. The past few days we’ve reflected a bit on what we wanted to convey in this entry. It is our hope that what we share from our experiences will help others who are considering a full-time RV lifestyle. We are still newbies and will consider ourselves as such until we have at least a year behind us.

We’re still smiling!

Hindsight Leads to Insight

The pace that we kept from October 2017, when we decided to shift to full-time RVers, until July 29 of this year, when we launched full-time, was quite daunting. In hindsight, we should have slowed our pace and extended our launch date another few months. Downsizing was by far the largest task at hand, especially after 43 years of creating our household! Anticipating our house rent would increase in the crazy Denver housing market was part of the impetus for setting July 29 as our launch date. We also wanted to gain some experience with the trailer before autumn and winter arrived. (Ahem…we are certainly doing this!)

The reality is that our July 29-September 2 Midwestern Loop schedule didn’t permit enough “down time” for spending at our campsites. We wouldn’t trade visiting our family and friends for anything. Instead, we should have tweaked our schedule. It’s one thing to have a road trip with just a vehicle, but an entirely different situation when towing a trailer that is one’s home! In retrospect, we needed the extra time to decompress from the pre-launch frenzy.

We are now viewing the Midwestern Loop as our “shake down” trip. Literally, we had some screws loosen in the trailer and a fault develop with our truck bed topper! We also had a good dose of reality those first six weeks going from one campground to another and refining our abilities as far as unhitching/hitching and setting up/breaking camp routines. After 44 years of tent camping, this requires a different skill set! Problem solving through various trouble spots has helped us become better acquainted to the nuances of owning a trailer and big diesel pickup!

Back in Colorado

Alas, when we arrived in Colorado Springs on Labor Day, we spent several days as tourists with dear friends of ours from Pennsylvania. Our daughter and son-in-love drove down from Denver to share in part of one afternoon. It was fantastic to hike the Garden of the Gods, drive up to Pikes Peak, tour the Cave of the Winds, and witness the beauty of the Air Force Academy chapels. 

Balanced Rock, Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs with our Pennsylvania friends.
Protestant Chapel, Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs

A few days later we shifted gears to a week’s stay in the Denver Metro area at Chatfield State Park. We had previously scheduled dental, doctor, and truck oil-change appointments knowing that we’d be back in September. Having time with family was the icing on the cake! Our daughter and son-in-love joined us for camping and hiking at Golden Gate Canyon State Park!

Golden Gate Canyon State Park, hiking with our family.

Truck Issues

The irony of our return to Denver is that with each appointment for the truck, we found ourselves needing to schedule more time in Denver to address truck issues. Thus, our time was extended and reservations to camp at Rocky Mountain National Park were cancelled.

  1.  Our four-month old SnugTop topper had a component break on the rear window when we were in Kansas. The topper was removed by our dealer in Littleton and freighted back to the manufacturer in California for repairs. It’s due back in two weeks. We will return!

    Back to storage we go with items from the trailer or bed of the truck!

    No topper makes a naked looking truck! At least we did some reorganizing and donated more items to ARC!
  2. At Big O Tires, we had a new set of four tires installed and decided to replace the spare too. Oops…the spare tire “key” wasn’t left behind by the previous owner of our truck. (Admittedly, we assumed that everything for changing a spare was packed with the tire-changing kit. Used truck buyer fail on our part). It took some doing with a trip to a different Ford dealer that had a “key” and removed the old spare for us. Back to Big O we went to have the new tire installed on the rim.

    Removing Spare Tire
  3. We left Denver last Thursday to head to the mountains for what we thought would be three weeks only to be faced with a truck engine that was losing power on steep inclines. The turbo boost wouldn’t engage. Fortunately, we made it to Golden Gate Canyon State Park campground, where we stayed for three beautiful days. We were able to schedule a service appointment at our Ford dealer on Tuesday of this week (one week after it was serviced for an oil change) plus get a rental car for a couple of days. Thankfully the drive back to Denver was mostly downhill. Answered prayers were being able to reserve a spot back at Chatfield State Park and having the truck repaired!

    “The Little Engine that Could” Rental Car 🙂

Intentional Awareness

In an attempt to create “Life at the Speed of Sanity”, this is our short list of “intentional awareness” on which we hope to stay focused:
Be flexible.
Be patient.
Balance our pace.
Have a Plan B at all times.
Autumn and winter weather are around the corner.
Smile.
Laugh.

The list looks good. Now to put these into practice.

The mountains are calling!

Colorado Gold at Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Living “Life at the Speed of Sanity”!

~ Diane & Steve

 

Quest For the Best $5 Meal

We have embarked on this journey with many ideas for travel themes: Friends and Family (over 100 in the first month), National Parks and Monuments (one – Pipestone National Monument), Roadside Attractions (largest ball of twine in Cawker City, KS and largest peace pipe in Pipestone, MN),

and the best piece of pie. There is one candidate for the best piece of pie, the story is that cousin Doug bought the pie as part of a fundraiser.  We need to follow up and see if we can get to the pie source!

The exciting news is that we are adding a new quest. Where can you get the best meal for $5?

Our stop to see the largest ball of twine in Cawker City included spending some time in Mankato, KS for no specific reason other than it was close to Lovewell State Park, our camping spot. Well, we heard of a supper sandwich special, only available on Monday evenings, at a very, very local spot. The proprietress was a bit surprised when we walked in! Diane had the BLT and I had the Ham Salad sandwich. The meal included potato chips, potato salad, coleslaw, red jello with a dollop of whip cream, and white cake for dessert. All for $5. The ice tea was extra, but I still count this a great $5 meal. (I’m reluctant to publish the name of the local eatery, but if we hear from our Mankato acquaintances that they want the publicity, I’ll publish details.)

This would have been the end of the story, except that a couple weeks later we were visiting Aunt Lavonne at the Wakefield Care Center. She invited us to lunch the next day. We found out that the meal would be $5! Fried chicken, scalloped potatoes, corn, peaches, a dinner roll, and angel food cake with a scoop of tapioca pudding. This time the coffee was included!

So, it looks like there is a whole new world of under appreciated $5 meals. Currently, I am calling this a tie for best $5 meal. Each meal had its charms and each meal was a delightful experience.

Sitting in the honorable mention spot is a Runza sandwich. If you have no idea of what a Runza is, you can look it up here. One cheese Runza cost $4.75, so it is not really a meal, but at the time it hit the spot.

Let us know if you have any suggestions!

Steve

Four Weeks & Learning Curves!

Four weeks!

Yesterday was Sunday, August 26 and we observed four weeks since launching full-time! Where did those four weeks go? Admittedly, it is absolutely fantastic to not be madly downsizing and fretting over what to keep, donate, or sell. The full-time RVing lifestyle feels like a good choice for us. We are incredibly grateful to be engaged in this lifestyle. One of our tenets is that “Life isn’t about the stuff, but about the relationships in life!” Thus far, it’s given us opportunities to see many family members and friends.

Yesterday was a leisurely day spent having a phone call with our daughter and son-in-love, having lunch with Steve’s aunt, going to “Incredibles 2”, walking a nice paved trail along a river and recreation fields (rugby, soccer, and baseball), and reading. We remarked that this was the first day of some “normal” activities and not spent driving to the next campsite or having a packed schedule.

Learning Curves!

Our learning curves keep us smiling for the most part. We thought that we’d share a few that we’ve encountered thus far.

A current learning curve is trying to really grasp the size of our gray water tank. This tank captures the dirty water from our kitchen and bathroom sinks, and shower. Despite our efforts, the sensor lights on the gray tank indicate that we are filling it faster than we realize. Today to slow the use of our gray tank, Steve showered in the city park’s shower house. I washed dishes in our tubs that we’ve used for tent camping. Thus far the black water tank, which is from our toilet use, seems to handle our usage. We head to the campground toilets when it is feasible.

We are better mastering the hitching and unhitching process. The largest learning curve has been the weight distribution hitch. We’ve had a sudden “POP” sound take place when we’ve made a tight corner. The one sway bar popped out of position twice. After some research, Steve adjusted the braces onto which the sway bars rest. Fortunately, we’ve kept a nice range of tools, so adjustments could be more readily made.

Sway bar snaps off of bracket!
Keeping the toolbox handy!

Using phone apps has been helpful in many aspects. Love’s App worked great to provide a Love’s near us for refilling one of our LP gas tanks for the first time two weeks ago. We’ve also used Gas Buddy many times to locate diesel for the truck, although the prices given on the app often change for a station several times each day. The KOA (campgrounds) app works like a charm. We’re not staying at too many KOA’s, but when we need to book, it’s an easy app to use. Anticipating travel on county or state roads between Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Nebraska, we wanted to be mindful of low clearance bridges or underpasses. The RV Parky App is working well for identifying these areas. Our height with the AC unit is 11’ 6”. We also use the Good Sam Club’s website. Unfortunately, they don’t have a Good Sam App, which we find a curiosity.

Refilling L.P. at a Love’s Station
KOA Campgrounds

We gave up our Cuisinart 12-cup coffee maker when we downsized. First, space is precious in our abode on wheels. Secondly, we may not always have electric hookups that support having an electric coffee maker or grinder! We moved to making French Press coffee. It’s delicious. The learning curves related to making French Press are using a manual grinder, which is frustrating for Diane due to her thumb arthritis, and not having 10 or 12 cups of coffee to gradually drink over the course of a day (our former habit). 😊

Wake up and smell the French Press coffee

Just as we did with our former residences whether in homes that we owned or rented, there are learning curves. We shall see what other curves pop up unexpectedly as we go along!

We are still on our Midwestern Loop and over the next week we’ll make our way back to Colorado for two and a half weeks. The Midwest has provided some picturesque views and for the most part quite green!

A view from a Midwestern city park campground!

~ Happy Trails to you!
“Living Life at the Speed of Sanity”

Diane & Steve