Not Your Average Home

When we talk to people who are thinking of taking on the full-time RV lifestyle, we tell them the one thing we weren’t expecting: that Bob wasn’t really retiring but was going from one job to another.

“If you ain’t fixin, you ain’t RVin,” wasn’t a motto we’d heard before we were in full-timing up to our broken Fantastic Fan and furnace, leaky shower and sink…. and those were the days *before* the quality of RVs generally took a tailspin.

“Well, if you had a sticks-and-bricks house, you’d still have to fix the furnace, patch leaks, make repairs,” we were told.

And of course that’s true.

But anyone who thinks getting something repaired in an RV is the same thing as getting something repaired in a sticks-and-bricks (SAB) house hasn’t been RVing for very long. I’ve posted about this before (see especially “Shhh… Things About Full-Time RVing Nobody Talks About”), but just after that post went live we were handed a perfect example of how an RV is not like a SAB.

We have two RVs — the original fifth wheel we started with, and our travel rig, a Class C. The fifth wheel is at an RV park in a town with limited shopping, which is normally where we want to be. Except when something goes wrong.

When we bought this RV more than ten years ago, we had a washer and dryer installed. They’re Whirlpool products (most of the Whirlpool washers are made in my Ohio hometown, as a matter of fact, so I was happy to be giving them some business) and have given us thousands of great laundry experiences.

We stop at the Mothership (fifth wheel) once or twice a year. It’s a great place to perform maintenance on the Class C and clean it from top to bottom. And we launder all the blankets, the towels we use to blacken the windows… things like that.

We were doing just that when the washer quit. The water pump suddenly refused to drain, and we knew, after all these years, the appliance was done.

If This Had Happened in a SAB…

…it would have been pretty simple to get a new washer and arrange to have it installed. Most residential washers are about the same size, use the same power, and you can find one on the showroom floor.

The stores selling them generally offer delivery, installation and removal of the old unit for an additional small fee ($20-$50 was what we were told).


But Because This Happened in an RV…

…Bob spent hours reviewing the manual for our Whirlpool washer: dimensions, amperage, wattage, cubic feet capacity. We need it to not only fit into the small converted closet space, but it also can’t pull more juice than the rig is wired to deliver. He printed pages of options from the web sites of the two stores in town that sell appliances.

Neither store could help us. One store could order one but the backlog meant we wouldn’t get one until mid-April (we’d be long gone by then). The other store didn’t have anything the size we needed — residential appliances only.

We came close when we found a new but banged-up Bosch washer that had been incorrectly installed at a fraction of its original cost, but because it’s European, the electrical specs were out of whack for us, and we had to pass on that.

The sole RV store in town found exactly what we needed, and we ordered it. We dropped the thousand dollars in cash on the counter for it, and set an appointment with the service department to have it installed about a week after the washer is expected to arrive.

Whew, right? Not so fast.

Nothing Easy-Peasy About This

Early the next morning it occurred to us: did the RV store expect us to take the Mothership over there for the installation?!? They’d given us a 9 a.m. appointment, which is usually how things go if you’re expected to drop off a rig and wait a half day or more for it the job to be done there.

So Bob called the store and found out they do all their work on their property. Aargh!

I alluded awhile back to our having had a terrible ordeal moving the RV, and without getting into that here, I will say that once we got the Mothership anchored at this park we weren’t about to move it again. Especially not to unhook it, hire someone to tow it across town, then tow it back, get it all lined up again on the site (the park has very specific rules about how the RV needs to be situated), hook everything back up, then what if there’s trouble with the washer after all that?

(Are you starting to see how getting a washing machine installed in an RV is different than getting a new one in a SAB?)

The helpful woman who’d sold us the washer had the name of a man who can best be described as an RV handyman. Bob called him and he agreed to pick up the machine at the store when it comes in, bring it to our rig, install it for us, and take away the old washer.

I have no idea what this will cost us, and how it all turns out is yet to be revealed.

For now, we *think* we’ve ordered the right replacement, and we *believe* we’ve hired the right person to do the labor (stay tuned!).

Having Said That…

If we were still traveling in the Mothership we could drive it to the RV store for the installation when the time comes, so a single-rig full-timer would have a very different experience (at least for the installation) than we’re having…

…which is still a much more complicated path from broken washing machine to new one when it happens in an RV versus a sticks-and-bricks house.

Part of the adventure, right?

Posted in Interesting Stories, RV, RV Parks & Lifestyle | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Announcing… the 2018 BEST EATS Awards!

Best Breakfast Burrito
California Burrito at Penfold’s in Temecula, CA

Best Mexican Food Breakfast
Asada Omelet at Main Stop Restaurant in Kittitas, WA

Best Breakfast That Should Be a Dessert
Banana Split Waffle at Penfold’s in Temecula, CA (image just shows 1/2!)

Best Unique Breakfast
Johnny Cakes at Red Rooster in Enterprise, OR

Best Soups
Chicken Pot Pie Soup at Flying J Restaurant in LaGrande, OR

Posole Soup at Mom’s Diner in Pahrump, NV

White Bean & Chicken Chili at Joe Beans in LaGrande, OR

Best Chili

1. Paradise Cafe in Paradise Valley, CA

2.Range Rider in Enterprise, OR

Best Side Salad
Brownie’s in Yuma, AZ

Best Appetizer
House-Made Jalapeno Poppers at The Embers in Joseph, OR

Best Sandwich
Filet Mignon Sandwich at the Chalkboard Cafe in Wallace, ID

Best Reuben
Chalkboard Cafe in Wallace, ID
Crowbar in Shoshone, CA

Best Burger

Jose Burger at Paradise Cafe in Paradise Valley, CA

Most Loaded Burger
Molly B’Damn burger (hamburger with bacon, ham slices, pineapple, Swiss cheese, and the usual fixins) at the Sprag Pole in Murray, ID

Best Fish and Chips
Sea Baron in Garibaldi, OR

Best Unique Dinner
Drunken Shrimp with rice noodles at Mamcita’s in LaGrande, OR

Best Ravioli

Crab Ravioli with Pesto at Bit of Italy in Nampa, ID


Best Meatloaf

Meatloaf and Eggs Special at Mom’s Diner in Pahrump, NV

Best Turkey Dinner

Brownie’s in Yuma, AZ

Best Pie
1. Cherry Crumble at Mom’s Diner in Pahrump, NV

2. Marionberry Pie at Alice’s Country Kitchen outside Tillamook, OR

Best Scones
Triple Berry Scones at Sugar Time Bakery in Enterprise, OR

Best All-Around Place to Eat
Home! Something as simple as a tuna salad sandwich takes on amazing flavor when Bob makes it.

And his salmon? Melt-in-your-mouth amazing!

Not much of a salad person? You’ve never had one like this:

We’re very spoiled by his food, which is organic when we can get it. He was in the slow-food movement before people thought it was a special thing — making sauces from scratch.

When we eat out, we’re picky about where we eat and how it’s served, so making this list of the Best Eats from our travels is something special.

Congrats to all restaurants that made this annual list!

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Shhh… Things About Full-Time RVing Nobody Talks About

There’s a down side to full-time RVing most full-timers and those who support the lifestyle don’t want to talk about. It’s human nature to focus on the positive reasons you made a particular decision rather than to admit you might have made a mistake, that you probably could have done a little more research or changed course earlier. We’ll never know how many people who head into full-time RVing throw the engine into reverse, park the rig, and put a For Sale sign on it. When we started out, we were told most full-timers last about three years, but who knows? If there’s real data on it, it’s kept under lock and key somewhere.


Continue reading

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Should You… Or Shouldn’t You

Become a full-time RVer, that is.

We meet people all the time — at least once a week — who, when they hear about our lifestyle as full-time RVers, say, “Oh! We plan to do that” or “I’d love to do that” or some variation of those. The desire is there. The dream is alive.

I got to thinking about all of this recently while reading a discussion list thread on an RVers forum. A man and his wife are planning now for their transition into full-time RVing, which they are projecting will happen ten years or so from now. He’s gotten a lot of advice and it’s clear he’s given a lot of thought and put plenty of effort into his plan, but there’s only so much a person can plan for, in any situation, much less full-time RVing.

Continue reading

Posted in On the Road, RV Parks & Lifestyle | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Ten Years and Counting!

By my number (which could be off….!) this is my 384th post on this blog. The first entry was posted before Bob and I even hit the road, shedding our sticks-and-bricks house for our home on wheels back in May of 2009.

Counting on my fingers, that means this is our tenth summer as full-time RVers.

We’ve experienced a lot, including watching the world of RVing change right before our eyes. Continue reading

Posted in Animals, Attractions, Cool Experience, Flowers, Food, RV Parks & Lifestyle | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Exploring Story Molecules

Maybe you’ve noticed the posts here have been fewer and farther between. But that’s not because we haven’t been out there on the road, having adventures. It just means I’ve been doing more work on other things than attending to this blog.

Since last fall, we’ve gone through some heart-stopping, scary, and frustrating experiences (including one near-death experience and having an RV moved, which turned out to be almost the same thing…).

I’ll even write about some of those… if I get over the trauma enough. The good news is we’re both fine, no real harm done, but that doesn’t mean it was any fun to get through.

So if I can’t get things posted here, why not write a guest blog? I have Deb Sanders to thank for her invitation to share some thoughts on her blog! It gave me a chance to reveal how story molecules bombard us, sometimes forming into full stories.

You can read my post here.

Deb herself is great at this. A fellow RVing author, she pens mysteries and romances. So if you haven’t discovered her books yet, a visit to her site is worth the time.

If you’re interested in reading fiction by other RVing authors, you’ll want to check out my series of interviews, all posted on my companion ellenbooks site.

(See? I have been busy. Just not here.)

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What You See Is What You Get

Clearly this blog is lagging pretty far behind where we are today, leaving a lot of time and miles in-between. To bridge that, I thought I’d share some glimpses into travel on the road. It’s easy to get wrapped up in destinations — where we stayed, what we saw, the restaurants we visited — while ignoring the one of the main reasons we travel via RV: to see the country (the number one reason is to avoid snow and freezing weather).

But it’s amazing what you see when you just look out the window, even on a rainy day:

Back in mid-September of 2017 we drove from Medora, ND, south to just outside Rapid City, SD. It’s not a long drive, but I managed to snap a hundred photos out the windows of the Winnebago in those few hours we were on the road…

…like this sign, which suggests what we’ve discovered are the priorities for too many fellow RVers:

It’s always fun to see things on poles, right? Continue reading

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On the Ridgeline

The summer of 2017 went down as another year when we seemed to be dodging Western wildfires. In September we drove east from Joseph, Oregon, through Idaho and across Montana, boondocking a few times along the way, to get to Medora, North Dakota, at the edge of the South Unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. We’d lost the wildfire smoke about fifty miles west of Medora, but by our fourth day there, the smoke was already closing in.

We took a day off hiking to drive to Dickinson to pick up groceries and poke around, but by the time we headed back, the sun was shrouded in smoke.

We don’t like smoke. Smoke screws up an otherwise nice photo. Most of all we hate what smoke does to our lungs, throat, eyes… But we were also determined to do all the hiking we could.

Continue reading

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