Friday, August 31, 2012

Some Thoughts of Full Time RV'ing

So today is the day, I for the first time dared to share the blog with anyone. So I posted it on my Facebook wall, so that our friends and family can follow the journey too. I was very hesitant to do this, cause I didn't want the people from work to think that I am about to quit on them any time soon. This process has no dead line, we have no idea if it will ever even happen, but so far we are thinking it has to at some point. The sooner the better, but a few months will definitely pass by before that.

Full time RV'ers don't clean pools!

So my dreams have started to be flooded with RV's. In my dreams I always find the most spacious rigs with all kinds of amenities for almost no money at all. And then I wake up. But even the crazy dreams will give some great ideas for the future. The only limit to our imagination is actually the budget that we work with, but with some hard work and dedication, you can get quite a bit accomplished.

My work has started to feel like a grind, which is unusual, cause I really love my job. Maybe it is just that we have been so busy lately, that I feel like I can not get everything done. Could be also that my mind is just shifting into the possibility of relaxed life with my family, where ever we want to be. Could be on any of the thousands of possible beaches, or on a mountain overlooking the valleys or by the lake typing away onto my blog. No waking up at 5am... Oh boy, I need to stop dreaming, or life will feel really hard.

Just kick back and enjoy for a change

This full time RV'ing has started to feel more and more like actually something that can be an extremely enjoyable experience. I don't even understand anymore why did I ever think that it would be miserable, not fun, and I would have to give up everything? Probably just because I thought that all the material things were what mattered, now I am little more geared towards thinking that the quality of life might actually matter a bit more.

There is no room for arguments in an RV, we will be very close to each other all the time, even when we would like to get a bit distance. We need to learn how to compromise, how to read the other person, and how to share the same space and at the same time be all by ourselves. Of course there is always the great outdoors, but even if we plan on following the nice weather, we might be in the middle of unexpected down pour, and taking your distance is not necessarily always possible.

And have your family with you

We will sincerely miss all our friends and family, but with the internet, facebook, and the blog we will still be in contact.  Since we are on wheels, we may actually see a lot of you in person more often as we travel around. We will also miss the convenience of suburban living, when you are boon docking the convenience store is not always there next to you, you have to think about all shopping needs ahead of time. And of course we will miss some things that we won't be able to take with us, like my husbands hockey team. I will be on the other hand very pleased that the sweaty hockey gear (no matter how well it was washed) is no longer stinking up the garage.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"Are You CRAZY??"

So it seems it's about time I chime in here to give my perspective.  As the story goes my job will be outsourced to India in a number of months, at which point my wife and I have decided we want to try full-time RVing for a while.  I've told many of my friends about this, and amazingly enough I haven't heard 'Are you Crazy??' once.  Most seem to reply with comments like, 'I wish I had done that', or 'I wish I could do that.'  Maybe if I blaze a trail among my crew, others will follow.  I have to give kudos to Glenn at for blazing the way for me and opening my eyes to what is out there to see and do as well as a whole new lifestyle.

Pixie trying to figure out RV travelling

As was mentioned before, we have a zoo that will be tagging along. 3 small dogs and a cat in an RV seems to be a huge challenge and way more than what our current RV can support.  The Chinook has been a great RV for the short time I've owned it, easy to drive, easy to get anywhere, and very comfortable, and oddly enough for a house on wheels it gets almost the same gas mileage as our Jeep Grand Cherokee 4x4 with a V-8 Hemi.  I don't have to worry about driving in the city streets with it as it's about the same length as our Chevy truck at 21 feet.

With that said, we will have to sell it soon enough in order to find what we hope will be our next Home.  The only thing that will work will be a Class A of some kind.  For my wife to do work on the road we would need a Toy Hauler Class A rig, it's the kind that actually has a garage in the back that we can convert to a Glass Studio.  As to what I'll be doing for a job remains a mystery, so having my wife with a work space to support us sounds like a necessary component.

So..a Class A rig..
I have never driven anything near that big.  I imagine it only takes practice and most forums say driving them is pretty easy.  My concern is when we get into a small 2 lane town and I need to make a turn without hitting stop signs, children, cars, and houses.  Again, I guess practice will make perfect and I'll just have to be careful about keeping the gas tank full at any Truck Stop I can find. Which brings up another point..
Gas vs Diesel?  The kind of rigs we are looking at seem to be mostly gas, but the Diesel ones actually can carry a lot more and seem to get slightly better gas mileage.  None of them are Diesel pushers though (guess that garage in the back gets in the way of a motor) so you don't gain all the storage a normal Class A Diesel Pusher would have.  No idea if the diesel mpg difference overcomes the extra cost per gallon or the extra maintenance they seem to require.

This is just a small glimpse of things tumbling thru my mind.  We still have to sell off tons of excess stuff, figure out what we want to store and where, fix up the house, sell it, and so many other things. Thankfully my job has given me a few months notice about this, so I think we can make a big dent in these chores and hopefully hit the road in time for Spring next year.

Monday, August 27, 2012


Well, this is finally the day we have decided what would fit best our needs. We were just about ready to go buy beautifully restored Airstream. Oh my it was so pretty, and so well restored, but we realized that it is not the right one for full time RV'ing. At least with the amount of baggage that we come with, it would be impossible to fit all that into one of those. If you could only hear us sigh from the disappointment. I still love those rigs, they are so pretty, and the feeling when you drive one must be all flower power and fun. Exactly like it was to drive my old beetle bug. Those times... You feel like hippies and like listening to the Beach Boys or Mamas and Papas.

Lee, hard at work thinking how to accomodate us all, and all the stuff

Anyway, if you read the earlier rants, you well know our dilemma about not being able to take with us all that we wanted, since my art needs an actual studio. We could haul a little trailer, or we forget my art for the time being, and haul a car, so we can actually get around a bit easier while running errands. But I think we finally figured it out. Class A toy hauler! That way we can have a car and a studio/office/storage/laundry room/what not with us. I saw some toy haulers before, but did not like their layouts, but Lee found today some that were exactly what I wanted. Yay, I am so excited now.

The most amazing thing is, that we can actually find a used one that we might be able justify vs having to buy a brand new, that would kind of turn the whole thing of affordable living and travelling upside down. We would also be able to accomodate all our critters easier, and maybe even have some extra stuff in the storage that we didn't think we had room to take along at all.

It is all starting to look clear... once all the hassle with the house is done, it is going to be smooth sailings. Oh wait, no, that was for the next blog of ours... the one we write from our house boat.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Back And Forth... Back And Forth

I have been torturing myself all morning with potential rigs that we could buy, and with the thought, that we should go cheaper first, and see if we even like full time RV'ing. And if it seems like it is our kinda thing, then go ahead with a little more expensive. It is easier said than done, I keep going back to oohing and aaahing those ones that are almost the same value as our house. Which would equal pretty much something like: unrealistic! Sucky! Champagne taste and beer budget is what I got.

The problem is that as an artist I do like pretty things, and I don't mean decorative things, I mean designs. I do not understand how RV's ever sold when some of them have so ugly upholstery and carpeting, and I am not talking about the one that are from the decades ago, like you would think looking at some sofas and curtains, no, some of those are just from few years back, and even the brand new ones have some pretty hideous fabric choices. But looking at them, it looks like the outside of the RV's are from this millenia, the inside is straight from That 70's Show. Maybe I am just too picky. Could totally be the case.

I have really fallen in love with Monaco Vesta, but unfortunately it is brand new model, and there aren't any used ones in our budget range yet. Maybe in couple years, if we are lucky some will be little cheaper, and still in nice condition. But finding the right RV can be tricky. I don't think my wish list is that unreasonable, but it is not easy to meet with the fact that one of my requirements is: no butt ugly couches!!! And once again, the rest of my requirements are maybe a bit superficial, however, they are somewhat important to me, and I wish to have as many of them as possible. No carpet in bathroom, spacious kitchen with oven, washer/dryer, and separate bathroom... at least the toilet seat should be behind the doors even when all the doors between the bedroom and living area are open. And I would love to have side by side fridge.

I would love to have an old Airstream, but finding one in our price range and with all the bells and whistles that we want, is pretty unlikely. We might have to just get one that is not in perfect shape and restore it ourselves. It will be lots of work, and it worries me that we might not be actually prepared to all the work that it will take to make sure everything will work and be the way we like it. Could be lots of money, and most likely some of the things will be learnt the hard way. I'd love to say that we are ready for it, but I am not sure we understand the size of the project it would be.

While I struggle with the decision making about the RV, I realize that I am way ahead of myself. I need to be concentrating on the house right now. We need to organize everything room by room , so all can be either sold, donated, destroyed or packed away, or saved to be taken into the RV. While I realize that the latest category is the smallest, it is really difficult to let go of certain items. I believe that the stored items group will be much bigger than we realize. It will also be sad to let go of some things that have more than just monetary value. And I am afraid that most of those things that I brought with me from Europe will end up in that category. I also suspect that the entire insides of my studio will end up either in storage or in the RV. I won't be able to work with glass (like I can now), without proper space, but I can perhaps concentrate on other aspects of my creativity.

There has been talk about mobile studio, but if we are driving a bit bigger rig, we really need to haul a car or SUV. If that wasn't necessary, we could possibly haul a tiny trailer that could be transformed into a studio. Mobile studio wouldn't come without any issues, I would still have difficulties storing my glass on the road so that it wouldn't break, but I bet there could be solutions for that. But it would take lots of special attention to several things, some maybe not worth the trouble. I have come to the terms with my glass, and I could agree taking a break from it. It would be too selfish to think that we would survive in a small space with dogs and a cat, just so that I could justify haulingl my studio around.

This weekends agenda will be to organize my studio, and find out how to move my gigantic storage units to be stored. I will not be selling anything from my studio, at least right now I feel that it will be just a break. But maybe I can compromise a little more with other stuff. At least I am still keeping the hope alive.


Monday, August 20, 2012

House Hunting

Today we decided to go to see some of the RV's, since we have an idea of what we want, but we have never been in one, nor have we shopped for one, a class A RV that is. We decided to hit one of the local RV dealers that rents and sells RV's. And don't you guess that the only time you would actually have wanted the salesman to come and try to sell (read: tell more), they are nowhere to be seen. Then on the other hand, we were glad to just criticize everything without feeling bad. We had to do some peeking around on the class C's and were very surprised how big some of them were, and thought that we would fit fine in any of those, but for a full time RV'er, it might get too tight to store all the necessities. So, back to class A's we went.

We have been trying to find out more comparisons between gas and diesel rigs, and not really been very successful. The storage areas under the rig seem much larger in diesel operated ones, but I am not sure if it will justify the higher pricing. Diesel does come with some disadvantages too, like problems in cold weather, but we are not expecting to experience any of those, since our road heads mostly to the areas with no snow or freezing temperatures.

We have been searching for different options, and we have narrowed it down to few according to our taste, likes, and budget. Few of our favorites are: Fleetwood Bounder, Monaco and Country Coach. They are all pretty differently priced, and our year model wishes depend on a make, ok, I of course meant... it depends on our budget. We are kind of confused with the slide outs, they give lots of extra room (and believe me, we need some room for the greyhounds to run), but we are quite confident that they are also the weaknesses on these rigs.

We have two different choices, and both of them have their pros and cons. The first option would be to purchase newer RV, that has all the comfortable features that we want, and would definitely keep us happy, but that would depreciate in value almost down to nothing during our adventures, that might take years. The second option would be to buy one that has already gone down in value, but hopefully would be in good enough condition for us to travel in, and that way once we are done, we would have had much more money saved, and we would have more money to purchase our next dream home. But we would almost definitely in that case run into all kinds of problems that are caused by the age and wear, plus the features are not as nice in the older rigs, we would be more dependent on laundromats and what not.

Decisions decisions...


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Mi Familia

I think that even though I still want to keep our identities under cover, I should introduce our family... well, the "kids" anyhow. They are the reason our Chinook is not going to be good enough on this journey, and we wouldn't want it any other way. These are our kids, we love them and we are willing to go the extra mile to make sure we are all happy and safe.

First of all, this is Nelli, our oldest pup. She is 13 years old Border Terrier, deaf and definitely not as spunky as she used to be, but she does have her moments of random madness, when she runs like there is a fire under her tail. She is my sweet pea!

Nelli has travelled across the globe, and she is the smartest and most gentle dog, but like disabled dogs often don't take crap from the crazy youngsters. She loves us like nobodies business, and sleeps either on my pillow, or keeps pushing against me until I almost fall of the bed. And we love her like crazy. We are quite happy to sleep on a 4 inch sliver of our king size bed.

This is our gentle giant Zubov, he is close to 18 pounds, and he would love nothing more than cuddle with us, and talk about the kitty stuff. I like to call him pumpkin. But he should be really called Mr. Tiger. He thinks he is the biggest (for a reason... cause he is) and baddest (yeah, that's what he thinks) and if there is another cat outside the fence, he will make sure there is a hell of a screaming... someone is going to have to scare them away.

The next in our family is Pixie, she is year and half old Italian Greyhound, she loves to give hugs and kisses, but if you disturb her when she is tired, you are going to get growled at... she does need her beauty sleep! She is our grumpy cupcake!

And the last, but definitely not the least is our Louie, another Italian Greyhound, who likes to eat, leap and be cute in all possible ways. He can jump high as heck, and we often prefer to him as the flying dog. Oh,and happy birthday Louie, he just turned one! My sweet lil' love muffin!

So the old lady sleeps on my pillow, or pushes me out of the bed, and the two greyhounds are called crotch warmers, since that is where they sleep, under the covers, between our legs. I know we are suckers, and we are going to keep it that way.

Is there anything bigger than a class A?


Dilemma #1

Ok, I have gone through this once. I was born and raised in Europe. I have moved across this planet with just two suitcases, this should not be as painful. But I really have to get rid of a lot of stuff in order to be able to fit us into the RV. I have couple things that will be hard, if not impossible to part with. Well, to be honest it will be more than just couple things, but I will try really hard to be good about this. At the same time I feel like I need to make sure once we will settle down somewhere, that we don't have to spend the money we might have saved trying to get back what we once let go.

There are couple areas that we both knew already were going to be an issue, some that will require storing. But then there are some things that keep popping up and creating ruckus in my head. One of these things was the collection of my cookbooks. Oh dear mother of all the chefs, I shall not part with my cookbooks! And unfortunately the reasons I will tell you, will not make any sense to why I should be holding onto them. But here we go anyhow. 1) I used to cook a lot, and I used to cook lots of experimental stuff, meals I had never tried before, and how on earth do you know how to cook those unless you use a cookbook? Just asking. (Oops, never thought my list to be so short...)

But to be honest, the life kind of changed and there was less time for cooking, and we started eating more often out, so my cookbooks have been more unused than ever. But I keep thinking if we were living in an RV, I would be cooking most of the meals. This all sounded like it made so much sense, until I started looking at them darn books. I did not even remember having some of them, but I sure was glad to see so many "new" books.

I have a feeling it will be a big struggle to pair down on all the possession. We do have some time, but I think we should start already, even if our plan would never get any air under the wings. Too much junk is just too much junk, and all it does is keep us prisoners for more junk. Pairing down for the win!

I remember almost 10 years ago when I had to pack up all I had, sell all my furniture and really think which ones of my collectibles were really something I need to keep. I hate to say that I rather gave away some of the things than sold them, selling was just too painful. I don't quite comprehend right now why I thought giving them away wasn't as permanent. My mothers house has still ton of my junk in her corners, and I really need to go to visit home and sell it all on a yard sale. Most of that stuff has been unused and totally forgotten, and if so, it is time to let it go.

This hopefully will give me some tools to deal with the future attempts to skim down to basics and to the things that are there really for a reason. I am sure some of the storage on the road will be used to store stuff that we really don't want to be holding onto, but because we are on the road, we need to have in case Mr. Murphy happens to be hitchhiking near by. I'd much rather have my beautiful dishes than a box of tools, but... I guess it is just for the greater good.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Starting Point

We are a couple from Texas, both around 40 years old. We have no children, but we have our furry family, one cat and three small dogs. We purchased our dream house to be about 4 years ago and decided that with some updates, it would be perfect. 4 years later very little of our updates have been done, and the huge yard, and Texas heat is causing more maintenance than we have energy and time for.

For now, until our plans are in real motion, we decided it is best for our identities to remain secrets, until then you will know us as Zophie and Lee. I am Zophie, dreamer and artist, and I also work in health care field, and my husband Lee is a computer guru and I guess somewhat dreamer too. We love our critters and dream of travelling and one day living close to the beach somewhere warm, but not too hot. We own a nice class B+ Chinook RV, and we hope to be able to take some trips around the state or close by with it, so far the trips have been just couple little holiday visits to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with family.

About a month ago things changed in our family, my husbands employer informed that he will be laid off in about 6 months, and to be honest the panic started setting in. We were trying to figure out how to manage to keep our house if he will not be able to get another job. In the worst case, we thought, we would have to give up the dream and sell it and maybe live in our RV. From there the panic kind of shifted to the thought of maybe taking some time off and possibly spending some time on the road, not because we didn't have a choice, but because that is what we wanted to do.

Our RV, Chinook has a unique layout, most of them have a sofa or diner booth that turns into a bed, but we have a double bed on the permanent setting. That was the reason we wanted this exact RV. I hated the thought about having to hide the bed in the morning and then make it again at night. This works perfectly for us, but we did realize that after adopting our third dog, the room for them to play has gotten too small, and we could not live permanently in that small of a RV with 3 dogs and a cat. So we have decided that we need to sell our lovely little RV and get a bigger one where we have room for all of us without anyone feeling homicidal after couple of days.

We seem to change our plans on a regular basis, the more we think about this, the more options we seem to have, and the more we go back and forth. One thing is now clear for us, we want to simplify our lives, we don't need the over sized house on the over sized lot with over sized pool, and most of all, with over the top maintenance. We want certain things, but after some serious thinking we realized that we can fit all those things into much smaller package. We can make our lives into an adventure, move to where the weather is nice, around 75 degrees, and enjoy the life while we dive into the world.

Right now our plan is to get a smaller class A with nice floor plan. We need to sell our Chinook first, but then we are on the look for an RV with separate bathroom, spacious kitchen with stove, and I also want a washer/dryer. My husbands wish list is shorter, he wants good storage so he can build a solar system and store some of the solar energy in a bunch of batteries and he also wants a king size bed.

If you will follow our journey, you will likely see our minds changing several times, our struggles with some things and the excitement of the future adventures.