The RV Life – First Days – Part Two

(See Part One for background)

Eric came home around 4 pm that day, and quickly confirmed that I was correct (yay!!):  we had no hose available which would fit into the Winterization outlet.  In addition, over the course of the day, I had noticed that the refrigerator began displaying the code “lo dc”, which was different than its previous display.  I looked it up in the manual and saw that it had to do with the electrical system – it seemed that the battery was low.  So I asked Eric about that as well.

Now, I have known Eric for a long time, and have always considered him to be an electrical expert, at least compared to most people.  After pondering and testing, he concluded that the converter was not working.  He said we needed to start the truck engine and let it run for a while to charge the batteries, and we needed to do this a few times every day until the problem was fixed.  Then he explained to me that this issue was absolutely urgent, that he could not solve it, and that we needed to call an RV mechanic, or take the rig to the local Camping World.  We got the name of a local mobile RV mechanic from the campground office, and immediately tried to contact him, but didn’t hear back.  Completely understandable, as it was a Sunday evening, but we hoped to hear from him first thing on Monday morning.

For the water issue, we would have to go to Camping World to see if we could find an appropriate hose.   Since Camping World was closing for the day, and I had to work the next day, Eric went to Camping World on Monday and bought a short hose with a fitting which matched the Winterization outlet.

Eric also asked Camping World if they could take my rig the next day to look at the converter problem, but they couldn’t.  Since we hadn’t heard from the first RV mechanic, Eric found the name of a second one, and called him.  He called the previous owner of my rig to see if he knew anything about the converter, and he also called the mechanic who had installed a second battery in my rig the previous week.  Despite all of these efforts, no progress was made on the electrical issue at all.  We still had to run the truck engine to charge the battery.

I had a dinner commitment that night, and we were feeling time pressure because Eric was leaving on a sailing trip on Wednesday.  So when I returned from dinner at 9:45 pm, we began working on getting the bleach solution into the water system.  It was a tedious process because the water pump wasn’t strong enough to really suck the bleach solution from the bucket.  We had to use a pitcher and pour the bleach solution into the hose.  In addition, we had to empty the hot water heater, which had a LOT of that smelly water in it.  Once we got the ten gallons of bleach solution in the system, we ran all faucets inside until we smelled bleach.  We then let it sit overnight to allow the bleach to kill whatever bacteria were in the “pipes”.    We finished around midnight.

The next day, we heard from the mechanic, and he met Eric at the rig that day (I was at work).  He found that two fuses in the converter were blown, and replaced them.  I still need to understand what might have caused that, how to recognize the problem if it happens again, and how to change the fuses.

Our plan that night, Tuesday, was to complete the water sanitization process.  Instead, I ended up on the phone with Verizon for almost two hours (see separate post on Connectivity) while Eric finished up the job.  Unfortunately, I didn’t observe the rest of the process and frankly I’m certain I wouldn’t be able to duplicate it if I needed to while off on my own somewhere.  I need a lesson.

Are we having fun yet??

The RV Life – First Days – Part One

I have no idea how this thing (my Freelander) works, and I know I have to become intimately familiar with every detail of its operation.  It’s quite a daunting task, especially since I am not the least bit mechanically inclined, and I am so grateful that Eric is here with me to help me learn.

The first few nights in the RV were kind of a blur.  We were still cleaning out the house so got to the campsite late each night and just crashed.  I used the campground bath house because I didn’t know how anything worked, plus something was wrong with the water (see below).  On the day of closing, which was a Friday, I worked all day, then Eric and I consumed an outstanding bottle of champagne (thanks to Val and Ernie!), and we both went to sleep early.  So we hadn’t had a chance to focus or even notice much about any issues with the RV.

At one point during those first few days we realized that the water in my rig smelled bad.  We had the “city water” hooked up, which is a hose to the rig from the outside faucet provided by the campground, so the water wasn’t coming from my water tank – that was empty.  We initially thought the smell was just the hot water, and that if we ran the water for a while, the smell would go away.  But it didn’t, and we could smell it coming out of both the hot and cold water faucets.  (Not that the water coming out of the hot side of the faucet was actually hot in temperature – we hadn’t yet gotten to learning how to turn on the hot water heater).  The smell was repulsive – like rotten eggs, but really strong, and it only got stronger the longer we ran the water, and filled the RV with the horrible smell.

SO, my first task on Saturday, the day after closing and the first day I had a chance to breathe, was to figure out what was wrong with the water.  Eric was not there, so I was on my own with this.  First, I read the RV manual.  It said nothing about what to do when there’s a bad smell.  The only troubleshooting it addressed was how to sanitize the water system, which it said should be done if the rig had not been used for a while.  And mine hadn’t been used for almost a year, so this was certainly a possible solution.

After reading the manual, I wanted to google the problem with the smell, but the campground wifi was useless (see separate post called “Connectivity”).  So, I had to go the local Minit Stop, and within seconds, I found that the bad smell was definitely because the water system was contaminated (ewww – gross!!) and needed to be flushed with a bleach solution.  I knew that the manual had described how to do this, so problem solved – I just needed to follow the steps.  I was headed out for an overnight visit with a friend in Washington Crossing, so I planned to complete the sanitization process the next day (Sunday).

On Sunday, I began following the steps in the manual.  The first step was to empty the water tank.  My inside monitors indicated that the tank was already empty, so I wasn’t worried about this. The next step was to prepare ten gallons of a bleach and water solution.  I had bleach and a five gallon bucket, so I went with that to start.  Next, I turned the knobs on the water tank control panel (on the exterior of the rig) to the “tank fill” position.  The next step, according to the manual, was to take the “short hose”, put one end in the Winterization outlet, and the other end in the bleach solution.  Then, by turning on the water pump, the bleach solution would go into the tank.

I found a short hose which came with the rig, and took the cap off of the Winterization outlet.  Water poured out of it.  I hoped that it wouldn’t be much as I was afraid of flooding the campsite.  After perhaps 15 minutes of draining, it finally stopped.  I learned that the monitor which said the water tank was empty, was not completely accurate.  Next, I tried to put the short hose into the Winterization outlet, but it clearly wasn’t the correct hose.  There was no other short hose to be found – so I was stuck.  I had to wait for Eric.


Mom's kitchen in the cottage
Mom’s kitchen in the cottage after I cleaned it out.

Once the house was under contract, I needed to focus on packing up. I did a great deal of packing, donating, and tossing in 2015 before putting the house on the market. I packed up all the contents of my mother’s house, cleaned up the basement in my house, and put all personal articles away so the house could be staged. I put the items I wanted to save in a 16 x 8 foot POD.  It took two months of intense work, with the help of a contractor who made many trips to the dump for me, and to Salvation Army with the many, many large items I chose not to keep.

So I felt like I had already done most of the work, and that this final packing would be a piece of cake.  WRONG!!!  The attic is full, the shed is full, the garage is full, our daughter’s closet, and the basement crawl space is all packed with stuff.

When I was packing up in 2015, I thought I was going to remain in Bucks County, and perhaps continue to work, so I was packing for a local move.  This time, I knew I was going to be living in an RV for a long time, and that the items would eventually be shipped somewhere far away.  So I had to carefully evaluate each item:  Did I love it?  Could it be easily replaced at a reasonable cost?  Was I emotionally attached to it?  Was it worth the storage and shipping costs to keep it?

If I wasn’t going to put it in storage, then there were other decisions to make. Does it need to be accessible in storage, or could it be put way in the back?  Did it have value to anyone else? Could it be sold by us at a yard sale or other means, or could it be donated to Goodwill?  Was it simply trash?  Should we ship it to one of the kids? Did we have a friend who could use it? Would we need it in the RV?

This process seemed endless.  There were countless trips to Goodwill, all made by Eric.  Numerous trips to electronic recycling.  Several trips to the dump.  Multiple piles all over the house – my storage, Eric’s storage, RV, Goodwill, yard sale, trash, accessible storage, going to the kids, etc. etc. etc.  By the time we were finished, we both felt like we couldn’t possibly make one more decision about one more item.

We had to be out by the closing date of August 19th, so we had two and a half months and we took every minute.  In fact, when closing was extended an additional week, we were very grateful to have the extra time.  And we worked until midnight the night before closing.  But we did it!

In addition to the POD I filled last year, I ended up with a small, climate controlled 5×10 storage unit (which we measured and it’s actually 4×9), and a 10×15 non-climate controlled unit which is mostly my stuff but partly Eric’s.  I got a great deal on the local storage, with a couple of free months in exchange for paying 12 months in advance.  Altogether, I’m paying about $375/month for storage.

House is Sold

The view of my house from the porch swing at the cottage, where Mom frequently sat.

August 26, 2016:  Wow, the house is finally closed – how anticlimactic and bittersweet.  I’m not sure how I feel – stunned is probably the best description!  I loved the house, and it feels very odd to know it belongs to someone else now.   I just need to remind myself that I was a slave to that house, I was a like a prisoner there, and very unhappy.  It took a great deal of my free time and a huge portion of my salary to maintain it.   And then there was the feeling that the only reason I continued working at a job I no longer wanted, was to support a house I no longer wanted.  I had no choice – I had to sell it.

For some reason, though, I’m not jumping up and down with glee like I thought I would.  I really thought I would simply sob with relief when it finally sold.  I know intellectually that I should be incredibly excited and happy about the future, but I’m not feeling it.  Instead, I feel anxious, scared, and numb.

I filed for retirement, and my last day of work is Wednesday, 31 August 2016.  Even though I know I should be able to live somewhat comfortably on my small pension plus early Social Security, I’m still worried about money.  But, my very wise son reminded me that even though I’ll be poor,  I’ll be better off than I was while working and maintaining that house.  That’s because it’s better to be poor and free, than poor and working full time and spending it all on a house that’s a money pit!  And he’s absolutely right.

So I have to accept that I’ll be poor (still), and that I’ll have no house for a while.  I’ll adjust.