Top Five Things I’m Going to Love

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I’ve been fantasizing about RVing for almost 2 years and finally my dream has come true! Is it anything like I hoped and dreamed? Well, let’s find out. Here are the top five things I think I’m going to love about the full time RV lifestyle. I plan on checking back in a few months to see if it’s really what I thought it would be.

I think I’m gonna love:

#5 Meeting new people. I’ve heard that the RVing community is very friendly. I look forward to making friends with my RV neighbors, preferably around a fire pit. I love hearing about other people’s lives, so I’m hoping to get some good stories and soak up some older-folk wisdom. Let’s face it, most full timers are retired!

#4 More adventures. This lifestyle should free us up for more adventures. Not only will we find ourselves in some cool locations, but with less stuff to maintain and fewer bills to pay, we should have more time and money for experiences.

#3 Less to clean. Less space + less stuff = more time and energy! I love that I will only have 240 square feet to keep clean. I can hardly keep from smiling as I’m thinking about it!

#2 Outdoor time. I’m hoping that our small space will force us to spend more time outdoors. I want the kids to have plenty of outside time each day, which is tough when you have a spacious, comfy home and lots of chores to do. I think it will be easier to step outside when I’m living in a glorified tin can.

#1 Family closeness. (Aw, how precious… ) But seriously, I do treasure the time I spend with my husband and children. I am hopeful that all the things I listed above will culminate in more memories made and time spent together.

Top Five Things I’m Going to Miss

 happy camper 
So, we are on day four of our RV living adventure and I keep wanting to make a list of things I’m going to miss from the sticks-and-bricks life. The main reason I want to write it down is to see what I “think” I will miss and look back at it a few months in and see if I actually do really miss them. It’s more of an exercise really, but I figured I would invite you along.

Here are the top five things I’m going to miss while living in the RV:

#5 The dishwasher. I’ve always had one. The thought of hand washing each and every dish is a little frightening to me. Especially since I found it hard to do the dishes when I had a dishwasher to do them for me. 

#4 Space. Specifically, space for everything to have a place. I don’t think I’ll mind the square footage , but more the feeling of clutter or not knowing where things are. 

#3 The washing machine. I’m blessed to be staying at a park right now that has a nice laundry facility. But it’s still a pain to lug my clothes and my kids over there. Plus, at $3.25 per load for wash and dry, it ain’t cheap!

#2 Routine. For the next four months or so we will be moving our home around a lot. I’m worried that it will be hard to keep up my beloved routines when the scenery keeps changing.

#1 Baths. This was almost the deal breaker for moving into an RV in the first place. I LOVE taking baths. The tub in our rig is about the size of a large Rubbermaid container. Fine for bathing the kids, but not so much for me. 

I’ll let you know in a month or so how this all pans out. Maybe I’ll find some new things to miss! Anyway, because I’m a dogged optimist, my next post will be on the top five things I’m gonna love about RV’ing. I can’t help it. I’m a happy camper 🙂

Thoughts After Two Days of RV Life

ParkedRigWe had been talking about living in an RV on and off for about two years, but it wasn’t until about March of this year we finally decided to pull the trigger and pursue the adventure of mobile living. The time to put in our 30 days notice at our apartment complex was fast approaching, so we had a very small time window, to find an RV, a hauling truck, and an RV park to live in.

The entire process has been very exciting, and an emotional roller coaster at the same time. But all of that is behind us now. Nearly all the repairs we have needed to make to the RV have been complete, and most of the remaining repairs might be able to be done on-site at the RV park.

With all the woes of RV repair behind us, we have been able to start focusing on just living life in our new home. We have now spent two nights in the RV, we have eaten dinner outside with the entire family, and Kristy and I have wound down our evenings sitting outside and watching the moon come out. The kids and Kristy have even gotten some additional outside time walking around the RV park, here in the Hill Country.

As far as living in a tiny space… it hasn’t bothered me one bit so far. I feel like I have everything I need, and within a few steps or arms reach in some cases. Our bedroom is separated from where the kids sleep, and we have a door as well, so we both feel like we are in our own little cave, and can wind down our evenings just the same as we always have.

Kids

The kids have been enjoying the RV life too. Joshua has been completely un-phased by the entire transition, and thought Abby has been a bit emotional, it’s clear she enjoys the RV. While running errands yesterday she began begging us to return to the RV. She has even learned our loving name for the RV, “Thistle.”

So far, about the only thing I have missed is having ice! I’m a huge fan of cold brewed iced coffee as my morning beverage of choice. Until I find a solution for that, I will just have to settle for, “cold brew.” Aside from that, I haven’t found anything that I really miss from living in an apartment mansion. I thought that the shower might be less than enjoyable, but have found after a couple showers now that the tiny hot water heater in the rig provides ample hot water for an enjoyable shower.

I’m sure there will be a lot of other things we have to get used to, like cooking on a smaller stove, and not having a garbage disposal. But, giving up all that so my family and I can live with more freedom is well worth it. Rent in these RV parks is about half of what we paid in our previous apartment, and the Internet is included here, so overall expenses have dropped significantly.

We currently have our home parked in a secluded RV park on Hamilton Pool road, just outside of Bee Caves. We don’t know where we will be next, but we are hoping to check out an RV park on the East Side of Austin, and based on which one we like best, that will determine where we make our, “permanent” home.

We are still planning on spending our summer in Colorado as well, and eventually ending up in Utah so I can run the Wasatch 100. During that time we will spend some time vacationing, but I will also be working hard promoting Bearded Brothers in the Colorado Whole Foods stores, as well as Utah.

This exciting journey has just begun, but we are loving it so far, and look forward to sharing more about our adventures with you.

– Caleb

Thistle

Today is the day we’ve been waiting weeks for… We finally moved into the RV! I know, I know you are dying to see pictures of the inside. Well, you are going to have to wait a few more days. I want to make another IKEA run and find a place for everything before I show you. I want your first glimpse of her to look like a magazine. Then, of course, I will show you what it looks like in real life, with kids and dirt and clutter. But let’s not do reality just yet!

  

First, I want to introduce you to someone. Her name is Thistle and I’ve been lovingly working on making her beautiful for the past six weeks or so. Her name came naturally to us. For one, thistles were in bloom all over the ranch while we were doing our remodeling. Watching these beautiful weeds bloom gave me hope that the ugly work we were doing was going to turn into something pretty. 

  

Also, the inspiration piece of artwork for our home is a yarn art rendition of a thistle plant in bloom. I got it at Goodwill several years ago for a dollar. It struck me then that someone took hours making this artwork, and there is sat in a dusty pile of framed posters from the 90’s. I just had to rescue it! That’s how I feel about Thistle. She needed a lot of work, but I think she is happy to be useful again. 

  
Lastly of course, our Thistle has been a PAIN to remodel. We have definitely felt the “thorns” of this project. We have each spilt blood, sweat and tears making her beautiful again. It has been a labor of love and I hope it shows in the warmth of our home. 

We could not be more proud of our Thistle and thankful to our family who helped us realize the dream of becoming RV owners. Thanks Mom, Skip, Mom and Dad Simpson for all the time you put into making our dream come true. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Worst Birthday Ever

I typically try to look on the bright side, but there is no real way to sugar coat it:  This has been the worst birthday I’ve ever had. Im sick, tired and in the middle of packing up/throwing out everything I own. Oh, and we are having another major issue with the RV that kept us from actually moving in today. Sigh. 

  
On the bright side (I can’t resist), God worked a miracle for me today. Caleb’s wonderful parents and my sweet neighbor, Pennie, helped us all day long. I could not have packed up this apartment without them. Not with two sick kids and being sick as a dog myself. Oh, what gift they were!

Caleb’s dad was the one who found the problem with our sewer cap. The notches that hold the sewer line and cap onto the waste water tank have been broken off. We didn’t find out until we got it parked yesterday that it is basically unusable. Meaning:  We cannot use the water or toilet in our RV until we get it fixed. Caleb’s dad rigged it so we can move in tomorrow, but we will have to find a long term repair solution soon. 

Who doesn’t love talking about sewage all day on your birthday?

Well, on another bright note (there I go again), I spent some time with my neighbors this evening and it was so bittersweet. We have lived here for 3 years and have made many friendships with our neighbors, most of whom are Hispanic. I have so enjoyed practicing Spanish with them, mostly laughing through my broken attempts. In many ways they treat me like family and I am really going to miss that. 

I guess that is another reason why this birthday has been so hard. I have spent so much time and energy focused on getting the RV ready that I haven’t really paused to reflect on the fact that I’m moving. Moving… Away from the community I love and into the unknown. Yes, there will be adventure. Yes, there will be fun and new friends. But there is something to mourn here, this place and the people I love. 

There will be no candles or parties tonight, but maybe that’s okay. Maybe silence is just what I need to feel the weight of the moment, and then step fresh into the adventure that awaits tomorrow. 

Packing… Blah!

We are planning to pick up our RV tomorrow from the ranch, where we’ve been working on it for the past six weeks. Caleb’s parents are driving down from Azle to help us learn the ropes. Dad Simpson and Caleb are going to pick the RV up while Mom Simpson stays and helps me with the kids as I furiously pack up the remainder of our belongings. 

Oh, and did I mention that we are all sick? Caleb and I have a terrible cough and the kids both have pink eye. I’m pretty sure we are all just run-down from stress. This last month has probably been one of the most trying times in our marriage. We’ve been apart more than we’ve been together, since I’ve been out at the ranch most of the time while Caleb stays here and works. The RV remodel has been an emotional rollercoaster. Finances have been stretched to the max trying to make all this happen while remaining free of debt.  There is just one word for us right now: weary. 

But tomorrow is a new day. The first day, really, in our new journey. We will park our new home and start the downhill slide into the new normal of full time RV living. Between here and there is PACKING. 

I hate packing. 

  
I love unpacking. I can unpack and organize like it’s an Olymic sport. And usually I can muddle through my hatred of packing knowing that the joy of UNpacking awaits. But not today. Today I laid around in bed with my feverish children because it’s the only place to sit in our house. Everything is a mess. I’m overwhelmed and oh-so-tired. 

If we are going to move at all, I need a miracle. For now, I’m taking some NyQuil and hitting the sack. Tomorrow is a new day. 

Light at the End of the Tunnel

This is our final week working on the RV. We are scheduled to move into it next Friday, God willing. Things are finally starting to look up as our major repairs are drawing to a close. Hallelujah!

 Here is our progress in the master bedroom:

        

Ta-dah! Our master bedroom has been transformed! The damask print is a plush headboard. The cabinets above will now have wicker baskets to increase storage. 

Here is our progress in the living area:

   
 

We replaced the subfloor with new plywood and will be laying new vinyl today! You can also see that I replaced the border and recovered the valences. It’s looking great!

Here is our progress in the kids room:

   

We removed a bunk to make a play area for the kids. The curtains are up as well as a special own door knob on their closet.

With only 5 days until move-in, we still have much to accomplish. But, as you can see, we are getting there!
 

I Love the Smell of Sawdust

I’ve been dying to update everyone on all the progress we’ve made renovating the RV, but I’ve been working so hard I haven’t had any time to write. The work has been hard and long, but I have really enjoyed spending time with my mom and learning every square-inch of our new home. 

  

Since my last update, we discovered that the leak in our bedroom was more extensive than we thought. We ended up needing to remove almost the entire back wall all the way to the studs and metal. Apparently, the roof was leaking all across the top, not just in the corner as we had first thought. 

  

We cut out all the old, wet wall board and scooped out the soggy insulation. Then we removed the studs that we water logged and replaced them. My mom had a genius idea to add new support beams across the front to support the sagging roof. It worked beautifully!

Next, I repaired the leak in the roof by using a six-inch-wide adhesive tape that was made for RV roof repair. I went over the whole front seam 3 times. We plan on going back over the entire roof with a product called Liquid Roof to make sure the roof is fully sealed. But we have to wait for some dry weather. It’s been monsoon season here in the hillcountry!

  
Today mom and I plan on working on the slide out. We discovered that water was wicking up from the underside of our slide and soaking the subfloor. We have attempted to repair this area 3 times on our own, each time tweaking the process slightly, but every night the rains came and soaked the floor again! We finally ended up with a solution on the 4th try. I won’t bore you with the details, but I will say that installing a 4 inch rubber drip edge did the trick. 

  

We’ve been waiting for the plywood in the slide out to dry so we can treat it with some epoxy to harden it up. Then we plan on reinforcing it with 2×4’s, which shouldn’t show since they will be behind the dinette and couch. Once that’s complete, we can add linoleum in the slide and replace the furniture. It all sounds so easy! But I have learned that each project takes twice as long as you think. Unforeseen problems always crop up, but mom and I like to think of them as opportunities to be creative. 

  
This process has made me extremely thankful for my mom and her construction expertise. I have learned so much from her. She has taught me to remain positive and keep looking for a solution, especially when it looks hopeless. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to learn from her and lay my hands on all the guts of our home. Even though it’s been tough work, I wouldn’t trade one day of it. Plus, I love the smell of sawdust!

We Bought a Truck!

  
We have been cruising Craigslist for about a month, getting to know what kinds of trucks are out there and how much they are going for. We knew we needed at least a 3/4 ton to successfully pull our 30ft RV (the dry weight is around 8,000 lbs). We pretty quickly narrowed our search to Ford F250 and F350 crewcabs with 7.3 liter PowerStroke Diesel engines. 

Our maximum budget was $9,000, so we were pretty much looking at 2000 year models and older with around 200,000-300,000 miles on them. Most of the ones we were finding on Craigslist were less than ideal. Lots of them either had mechanical problems or rough looking interiors. But we didn’t want to compromise, knowing that we would need something reliable for our time on the road. We knew God would provide just the right truck for us. 

While we were in Bandera working on the RV, Caleb was cruising Craigslist again and found our perfect truck. It is a 2001 Ford F250.  Just what we wanted! It was located in north Austin so he drove there right away to look at it since the good ones go fast. He came back 6 hours later with our new set of wheels!

It feels weird to drive such a huge, loud truck. But I have to admit, I kinda like it. It’s very roomy and will do an excellent job towing our rig. I can hardly wait for our maiden voyage!

Timeline

Many friends have asked about when we are moving into our RV and when we are hitting the road. Here is he condensed version of our plan… And a picture of Caleb making his “how-in-the-world are we going to afford a truck” face. 

  

May- selling everything, finishing renovations in the RV and buying a truck to tow our home. 

June 1- turning in the keys to our apartment, living full time in the RV here in Austin.

July 6- hitting the road! Heading to the Denver area to do some serious Bearded Brothers promotion.

August- taking a break from “work” in Estes Park and Caleb runs Leadville as a pacer for our friend, John Ryan. 

September- heading to Utah for more work and Caleb runs Wasatch 100!

September 19- heading back home to Austin, just in time for Abby’s 3rd birthday. 

We are still trying to decide where we will park full-time when we return in September. We have a couple of options, but will know more as it gets closer. Right now, our best options look like Mid-Town RV Park in East Austin and Sunset RV park near Dripping Springs. 

We plan on staying a few months at a time in Austin so Caleb can work. I’m not-so-secretly hoping we can spend December in California. We’ll see!

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