2016 In Review
We’ve been neglectful of the blog of late and specifically our 2016 Year in Review so after much reminding (aka nagging) from Greg I thought I’d knock it out today.
Our rig was purchased in December and there are some posts regarding selecting the rig, weights, and the PDI (Pre-Delivery Inspection) but the first half of the year was really downsizing, remodeling, preparing for the move to full time RVing and the second half was figuring out what the Hell we were doing…
Spent the first few nights out in the desert with my parents. Everything was new… learning how the tanks & water pump work, blowing fuses — repeatedly — as we figured out what 30 amps really means (microwave AND the AC? Fuggedaboudit!). OMG the mattress sucks. And the “Eeeeeeeep! We’re really doing this!” excitement.
The start of spending all the monies. I think we underestimated how much starting this adventure was going to cost. I originally estimated 3-5K, but all told ended up about double. Majority of the expenses were more ‘death by a thousand cuts’. The first 2 big purchases started in Feb. with a 1K for a Honda Generator & $600 for a new mattress.
We decided to take a 1 week vacation (The “Shake Down Trip”) to really get a feel for the RV and ended up combining it with a work event for me which gave us 3 weeks in the RV with 2 wks of costs covered by my employer. In hindsight, this time was invaluable as we got a great vacation + extra time to really ‘live’ in the rig and understand what would and wouldn’t work for us. We came back with a couple of new experiences (water pump, tires under our belt and a list of remodel ideas.
Unfortunately… or perhaps fortunately, we received notice that Greg was being laid off as of June.
April – May:
Sell/Donate All The Things (and Remodel)!
Even though we tend to be rather minimalist (ok, Greg is) there was still a lot of stuff to sort through to go from a 3b/2ba 1700sq ft home to 400sq ft box. We also started the remodel of the trailer:
- New Laminate flooring
- New Couch
- Replaced dinette with a desk for Greg
- New outlets & hardwired to our inverter
- Rubber shelf liners in above storage & pantry
- Re-covered ugly valances with new fabric
- Installed a programmable thermostat
- LED lighting
- Hardwired rear camera (to a wall light!)
- Set up our media center (movies, tv shows, photos)
- Stained a new spice rack and kitchen island
- Replaced OEM camper toilet with a Dometic ceramic toilet (complete with round seat and “evidence removal hose”)
- Replaced broken bathroom fan with a Fantastic Fan
- Replace shallow sink with a residential basin sink and residential faucet with a sprayer
- Ripped down kitchen mirror and hung a magnetic knife bar
- Pizza Stone for the oven
During this time we also set up organizers, as well as stocked items needed such as rubber gloves, levelers, Kirkland TP, General RV Supplies. Remaining furniture went into storage along with bins of personal items.
This is also when we discovered we had a major problem. While my step-dad was fixing our front levelers so they would slide correctly, I went to wipe down the dirty white rubber on the slides. And it disintegrated into the cloth. WTF?! Turns out the last owner used White Lithium Grease on the rubber — a big no-no. Completely ruined. $4,000 later The Wagon has new rubber on the slides, new electric awning (the old had a broken arm) and new fabric over 2 of the 3 slides.
Greg also got new contacts! Once he could see with his custom contacts we headed over to the DMV and he got a new license and could drive for the first time in 3 years! Having 2 drivers to share the responsibility in case something happened to Greg or myself is critical to our success with life on the road.
We are homeless as of the 1st! Okay, not really. But we are now living in the rig after moving everything out of the house, cleaning it from top to bottom. Not to mention the air conditioner broke in the middle of AZ summer, so we moved into The Wagon early and stayed at a local RV park. With Greg getting laid off this month, plans had to change. Instead of moving to new locations every 4-6 weeks, we switched gears to “workamping” for longer stretches. Our first assignment was in Montana and started July 4th.
July – Sept:
A mad FOUR day drive up from Chandler, AZ to Wayfarers Park in Bigfork, MT (1296 Miles!). Annnnnd then we collapsed. Seriously. The first half of the year was so frantic, The Wagon was still foreign and didn’t feel like home yet, and Greg was trying to figure out exactly what this whole workamping commitment entailed, all while I was still getting used to working fulltime from the RV with someone less than 10 feet from me. All. The. Damn. Time.
Both sets of my parents (Southern Division and Southwest Division, as Greg refers to them) came to visit us on their own vacations and we got to do a little exploring of Western Montana. It was nowhere near to the extent we wanted to explore, as we were trying to find a new rhythm to our lives while being absolutely run into the ground due to non-stop action 6 months previously.
In July Greg also celebrated turning 46!
We were late to searching for our next workamping gig in the summer. We should have started looking before we even set out to Montana, so options were a bit limited by the time we started looking in August. We don’t have a “4 Season” rig, so we had to be far South as possible. We decided to give New Mexico a shot and Greg landed a gig at a KOA in Las Cruces, NM.
Before arriving, we did a quick stop over in Arizona that ended up requiring a great deal of repairs due to our ATV off-roading adventure.
Greg had to figure out a new schedule & responsibility. I had to figure out how to work completely on our Verizon Unlimited Plan. Bye bye, Netflix!
Courtney celebrates turning 35!
Nov – Dec:
Wind. So. Much. Wind. Las Cruces is already known for wind, to make it worse, the KOA is on a hill overlooking the city. Living in The Wagon while the wind rages at 50-65mph gusts completely freaks me out. I’ve had to resort to wearing headphones some evenings to keep from having a panic attack and so I can sleep.
We had the rig washed and detailed for the first time. We discovered that gel-coated RV’s require regular upkeep to prevent the oxidation from getting too bad. Luckily, the wash and detailing removed many of the scratches we suffered during the aforementioned ATV Adventure.
My folks came over from Arizona to spend Thanksgiving with us and they even brought a turkey dinner! Plus they re-stocked our freezer for at least the 6th time this year. Greg’s parents sent a care package from Oregon for my birthday with an amazing cheese roll and other Christmas presents. For Christmas we had a low key dinner with just the two of us.
George “the Old Man” celebrates his 18th Birthday!
After 6 months of full time RVing, 4,621 Miles, and 2 workamping jobs, we can officially say The Wagon feels like “home”. There are of course things we still would like to tweak and a few repairs pending, but we’re finally on the road to saving real money and I feel so fortunate we’ve gotten this opportunity.
Greg getting laid off turned out to be a great turn of events and we really like our pace of moving only 3-4 times a year. With me working 40-50 hours per week, the weekends are really our only time to explore and not feel like we’re constantly moving. It also means when I’m not working we have 100% of that time to relax or explore, as the mundane chores and maintenance are handled by Greg during the work week. We decided to give this 1 year and if we hated it we would go back to sticks and bricks. But we already know we’re going to continue on and have committed again up to Wayfarers in Montana thru Oct 2017 and this time we’ll really have time to explore! For next winter we’re already trying to plan out a possible Florida workcamping gig.
ON TO THE NEXT ADVENTURE!