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RV Life

Survival

For whatever the reasons, this winter seems more like survival than living. With the fluctuating outside temps it’s not hard to understand why we’re having issues regulating inside. Now that it’s finally gotten cold, we don’t seem to be as warm as we were last winter.

An  “arctic blast” was forecasted for early last week so hubby ran out to get bubble wrap. Last weekend was winter storm/cold prep. We filled the fresh water tank and checked the generator,  cut pieces of bubble wrap for every window and put it up, pulled the day/night shades and closed the curtains tight and checked the skirting and foam board to make sure everything was in place before the cold came. And come it did. Sunday was near 50 and plummeted during the afternoon. Night was in the single digits. Monday brought a high of 15 with winds that made it feel like -20. It took the house heater and the EdenPure running constantly to keep it warm. We survived, but discovered watching TV was out. Our TV is in a living room slide and lowers in the cabinet behind the fireplace. So much cold air came in when it was raised we couldn’t keep warm.

It looks like last week was a trial run for the 4-5 days of the same forecasted for the end of this week.

We survived round 2, although it was a challenge. Teens by day and below 0 at night with 5″ of snow. The door hinges froze and squeaked. It was a chronic balancing act between the trailer heater and EdenPure to maintain a comfortable temperature inside, as well as keeping the underbelly above freezing.  Greg slept on the sofa for 3 nights to make sure the heater was ok. Dripping faucets constantly to keep the water from freezing. I have a huge case of “house-atosis” and can’t wait to see daylight again. The pup that normally loves cold and snow preferred to stay in and pull the blanket off the back of the sofa onto herself. Today is supposed to be the big thaw. Mid 30’s today and from one extreme to another, mid to upper 50’s this week. We can finally open the curtains, remove bubble wrap and see daylight. I started to feel like a bat.

I do realize people in the colder climates live with these conditions every winter, but in PA we’re just not used to it. Our houses are built for it and most people don’t know how to deal with it. After talking to other people, I think we were actually better off in our Rv than most were in houses. I heard stories of pipes freezing and heaters not being able to keep the houses at comfortable temps.

Our winter RV survival kit –

  • RV with an arctic package and heated underbelly
  • 1/2″ foam board covered by marine grade vinyl skirting held in place with stainess snaps
  • heated hose
  • foam pipe insulation on both ends of the hose
  • heat gun (just in case)
  • bubble wrap for every window, thermal curtains and day night shades (kept closed while temps are below freezing
  • roof vent inserts
  • EdenPure heater (we would have frozen without it)
  • dripped water in the bathroom constantly and in the kitchen over night
  • weather station with extra sensors – we have 1 in the bedroom and 1 in the belly to monitor temps
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RV Life

Another Winter

Here we are, spending another winter in the 5th wheel.  Setting up for winter seemed to be much easier than last year, yet it just doesn’t seem as comfortable as last year. it was so unseasonably warm for quite awhile and regulating the temperature in here got to be a nightmare. Now that it’s colder it’s much more stable.

We had another wonderful RV Christmas. It looked beautiful again. We got another potted tree and I think we got it in the ground fast enough for it to survive. I really enjoyed having Mom spend the entire day with us. At 90, who knows how many more Christmas’ I’ll get to spend with her. We had plenty of food, music and great company. I think I’ll miss Christmas most when we get a house.

I got a nice camera for Christmas. It’s been a long time since I used a real camera so I had a bit of a learning curve. With 3400 acres of lakes, woods and open fields within a 5 minute drive I’ve been taking pictures of what I love … waterfowl, wildlife, sunsets, nature and of course Daisy. I set up a site to showcase those photos. I hope you’ll enjoy seeing them as much as I enjoyed taking them.

Daisy has discovered those 3400 acres and is determined to explore every trail. We started hiking the trails on weekends for a treat for her. Regardless of weather, it’s now expected. As much as Daisy hates car rides, weekends roll around and she more than happy to jump in. The horrible trails that you can barely walk are her favorites.

Instead of exploring trails, this weekend has been spent doing winter storm prep. the forecast was 4-8″ of snow followed by freezing rain then rain. After everything stopped we were supposed to get 20-30 mph winds. Tonight it’s supposed to be 5, tomorrow 15. Wind chills will be -20 to -30. Propane and refrigerator are full. We bubble packed with windows and it makes a huge difference. Shades are down, curtains are closed. We’re not going to see the light of day until Wednesday.

 

RV Life

Murphy’s Law Applied To RVs

It doesn’t matter how prepared you are, there’s always something unexpected that can go wrong. It was a week before Thanksgiving and unusually cold for this time of the year. Highs had been in the 30’s, lows in the mid to low 20’s. Although it was a little chilly when we got up the furnace was running. It shut off at 72, which was unusual. I turned the thermostat up a bit, it clicked but the furnace didn’t kick on. I turned it off, then on. Nothing. No click, no heat.

Greg called the RV dealer and made the half hour trek for parts. I had the electric fireplace and EdenPure on to keep warm. By the time he got back it was snowing. He installed the new thermostat and we had heat. It got up to temperature and turned off.  It got colder and colder, but the heat wouldn’t come on. Greg spent a few hours trying to figure out what was going on while I quickly tried to find a mobile RV repair just in case. They were calling for it to be in the 20s that night and 4-6″ of snow. Nothing seemed to work so I made a phone call. He was willing to drive the hour, but not until the next day. He and Greg went over the thermostat wiring to make sure. It was wired correctly and he suspected the circuit board on the furnace. It’s was going to be a very long night.

With both let rid heaters going I didn’t trust them enough for both of us to go to bed. We were supposed to take 2 hour shifts. Since I had to work the following day I got to sleep first. Went to bed at 10:30 with polar fleece pjs, 3 cats & a dog. It was far too cold to leave Daisy in her crate so she got to sleep loose for the first time in her life. She hopped up in the bed and under the covers. Apparently I refused to wake up at 12:30. Next thing I knew it was 6:30 and time to get up for work. I felt so bad that he was on the sofa all night, not really getting any sleep. The RV mechanic arrived around 9:30. He did a few tests and determined it was the circuit board. We had heat! That was probably the longest 24 hours of my life. We got thru it and nobody froze, regardless of what we thought.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving week. The unusually cold weather continued. Two days of work and five days off. Wednesday was spent doing errands to pick up what I needed for our meal.  We had a very nice Thanksgiving with the traditional turkey 🦃 , stuffing, mashed potatoes, veggies, rolls and pumpkin pie 🥧. Once again Mom loved the graham cracker crust on the pie. I hadn’t used the oven since late spring so I wasn’t really happy about having the “scary” oven on for several hours for the first time. Turkey, potatoes and pie were done in the Instant Pot. Mom stayed for awhile and played with Daisy. It was warm and comfortable inside even though it was 29 out with windchills in the teens. Another successful RV Thanksgiving.

We never go anywhere on Black Friday so our only plans were to drive 5 minutes and take Daisy hiking for a few hours. I must have been very tired and slept a bit later than usual. By the time I got up our water was still frozen, the cap that holds the hose for the city water connection was broken and we had no water. Uh oh … we were so tired we must have forgotten to drip the faucets before going to bed. Apparently Greg got the heat gun too close to the connection and plastic ring melted and popped off. I did have a very mad husband. Fortunately we set up coffee and tea the night before. Unfortunately we had a trip to civilization (near several shopping centers) and the RV dealer on Black Friday. The cap wasn’t available by itself, but the dealer did stock the units. Take pictures to make sure we got the right one. I couldn’t think of anything else we needed, but I wanted to go to look around. The $45 part costs quite a bit more than that by the time I was finished “looking around”, but we got several things we needed that we didn’t think of. Off to Home Depot for pipe insulation. We spent the next few hours replacing the water connections and insulating pipes at the house and trailer ends of the heated hose. We also filled the fresh water tank just in case.

I’m starting to seriously think about a house ….

 

RV Life

Weekends Are Made For Playing

A few of the advantages of living in an RV full time are very little house/yard work and maintenance, which leaves the weekends open for playing.

Our new favorite pastime accidentally turned into hiking with the Beagle. Daisy has been bored with her daily walks and Greg has just about had to drag her. I thought taking her to the park would be something different. Our once in awhile thing is now an every weekend, Saturday and Sunday thing. As much as Daisy hates the car, she’s all set to go hiking. She thinks the mountain bikes can stay home and she can go instead.

For the past few weekends we’ve taken Daisy to different trails where she can get her walk in while she’s exploring.  She’s been learning how to handle various terrain and obstacles. I can’t keep her out of the lake or creeks. Her love for water is so strong you’d think she was a Lab and not a Beagle. She accidentally took her first swim 2 weeks ago when she went farther in the lake and there was nothing under her feet. She loved it.

Upper Montgomery County in PA has several hundred miles of trails, from beginner to “you’ve got to be kidding me” and I think we’re determined to explore every inch of them. We’ve ridden these trails for years on the horses so we’ve very familiar with where to hike and what’s better left for horseback.  It’s great for us to get out and a wonderful stress reliever from my job.

It’s nice to hit the trails again, even if it’s not with horses. Leaves are finally changing so I’ll have plenty of opportunities to add beautiful pictures to my hiking albums.

RV Life

As Fall Approaches

Another summer draws to an end as fall quickly approaches. Unlike last summer there was no stress of moving an entire house in less than a month, getting used to our “tiny house” and having the critters getting on each other’s nerves because of the confined space. It’s been relaxing and enjoyable. Greg was out of commission for about a little more than a month between being sick, surgery and recovery. Mom’s old tractor broke about the time Greg went into the hospital. Two weeks of rain and no mower sent us out tractor shopping. Temps and rainfall have been far above normal so spending time outside was next to impossible for awhile. I quickly discovered RV air conditioning isn’t like house air conditioning. We bought 3 fans and I learned how and when to do “climate control”. The thermal curtains that were so invaluable during the winter turned out to be just as useful all summer. Despite the weather we did manage to get quite a few things cleaned up around here. One of the neighbors told me the other day Mom’s place is starting to look nice.

Since we no longer have horses to take up weekends, we’ve been enjoying shooting skeet and trap.  We’re enjoying our favorite trails and discovering new trails on mountain bikes. It’s a lot more work on bikes, but we’re able to get out and enjoy the trails again.

Winter prep isn’t the late fall panic of last year when I thought we were going to freeze to death before we have the money to buy supplies. Our home made skirting from Marine Vinyl is holding up very well.  There’s a few areas we still have to replace the velcro with snaps, but there’s time. We also have to put out foam board back under the skirting and buy a plow for our new tractor. Our propane was filled the other day.  I’m looking forward to crisp fall days and chilly nights; spending more time outside with Daisy; shooting and biking, as well as relaxing at our table outside and enjoying the gorgeous view and sunsets.

 

 

 

RV Life

Happy One Year

On August 6th we celebrated our first year of full time RV living. When we started this adventure we had absolutely no idea what we were getting into. We needed a place to live and we needed it in less than 30 days. Our first post will give the full story on how we ended up in an RV.

It’s been frustrating and fun, overwhelming and slightly cramped at times. Thru trial and error (sometimes mostly error), Facebook groups, asking a million questions and the internet we survived. A poorly made brand new travel trailer, moving twice, a poop pyramid in the 5th wheel left by the previous owners, our first winter, a bathroom skylight leak, 3 cats and a pup in a 37′ home. Things broke and we fixed them. Some days I wanted to cry, but cowgirled up and kept going. Despite the tight spaces and things that happened we never got mad at each other.

Summer has been either hot or wet and fortunately not as eventful as last year. We spent 2 weeks in July with heat indexes over 100. We found out the hard way that trailer A/C is only meant to keep the inside temp 10-12 below the outside temp. We bought fans, wore shorts and tried to stay cool. Greg was sick for the first 2 weeks of July then ended up in the hospital for gall bladder surgery and then recovery. The heat finally broke only to be followed by a month of rain. Almost 2 feet of it. It’s been the wettest August on record. As we sat listening to the rain beating on the roof for many days and nights I’ve often thought how thankful I’ve been to live in a “raised rancher”.

We’re taking advantage of some decent weather and starting to prepare for winter. Our propane was filled earlier this week. We’ll be replacing more of the Velcro on the skirting with snaps and going over the outside of the trailer for any pre winter repairs.

As summer draws to a close I’m looking forward to cooler, dry days so we can spend more time outdoors and having windows open at night. We celebrated Mom’s 90th birthday a few weeks ago. I’m glad we can be here for her. I enjoy seeing her almost every day and having her over for dinner a few nights a week. She loves Daisy and Daisy loves her.

A situation that could have had disastrous results has turned out well for all. Corn fields, quiet and abundant wildlife. We’ve watched twin fawns grow up and baby birds learn to fly and come to our feeder. We got the rancher on a few acres that we often talked about. Although this really wasn’ exactly what we had in mind, our tiny house has turned into a home we’ve grown to love.

 

RV Life

A Four Season Struggle?

We survived our first winter surprisingly well.  A few frozen hoses until we realized we had to drip faucets at night when it was going to be below freezing. Living in a dark hole for several weeks didn’t make me happy, but with sub-freezing temps we had to keep the (thermal) curtains closed to help keep the heat in. The industrial Velcro didn’t hold like it was supposed to so days above freezing were spent replacing the Velcro on the skirting with snaps. Winter was colder than normal, with quite a bit of snow. By mid winter everyone had “houseitosis”, but there wasn’t much we could do about it. The bitter cold and snow made it impossible to take Daisy for her daily walks. We let her play outside as much as we could but it was far from enough. The energetic Beagle pup was getting on everyone’s nerves. The cats were swatting at her just because she was there, she was stealing us blind for something to do. We didn’t think spring would ever arrive.

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Mud and hair season (also known as Spring to people that don’t have pets) had finally arrived. Better late than never. The ice and snow were almost gone, which meant the mud made it’s appearance. Days were getting warmer and we we no longer using 100 lbs. of propane every 2 weeks. Daisy’s yard turned into a pond, then to mud when the water drained. She could go for her daily walk again, but the salt left on the road was just one more thing to try to eat. The critters we shedding … oh how they shed. There was constant mud paw prints on the floor and kitty “rats” in the corners. Our little Bissel stick took care of the hard floors and the big vacuum from the house did a great job on the carpet and furniture….. every other day. When you live in a house you just don’t realize the extend of shedding. When you live in roughly 250 sq. ft. you now exactly how much they shed and swear you have twice as many critters. The pond and mud did dry and were replaced by green grass. The shedding slowed down enough to be tolarable. Days were cool and nights were great for sleeping. Life was good.

As we were enjoying our world without daily RV life challenges, summer suddenly reared it’s ugly head.  Don’t get me wrong, I do like summer. I can live without the humidity that living on the East Coast brings, but I enjoy the warmth and all of the outdoor activities of summer. Summer storms with power outages and having to use the (not built in) generator. Storm prep let us know our fresh water tank was missing it’s cap and the entire tank was contaminated. Six straight days of above 90 temps with heat indexes up to 110 gave us the indication of just how well the air conditioner worked. I don’t know what I expected of RV air conditioning, but we did find out it keeps inside 10 – 15 degrees cooler than outside. Although we’re set up for a 2nd unit in the bedroom, it’s not possible when you’re running a 50 amp unit on 30 amps with an adapter.  Time to improvise. A/C on high and 3 small fans strategically placed are doing the trick. Looking forward to the heat breaking so we can spend time outside without melting. Daisy’s new pool is waiting for her to play in it.

Eleven months full time in a 5th wheel and we’re loving it. We enjoy some beautiful sunsets, abundant wildlife and a peaceful area to live in. I get to see my Mom every day and we help her with things she can no longer do. Life really is good.

I’m looking forward to what fall brings ….. challenges and all.

If you’d like to see some of those beautiful sunsets they’re posted at slidingstop.smugmug.com

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