Friday, February 5, 2016

Chile's Got an RV!

As you know from my previous post, we spent the first half of 2015 taking care of my husband’s mother in our home. After she passed away in early July, we decided to proceed with our original plan for 2015 which included getting an RV and leaving this area.

We are currently in the process of fixing up the used RV we purchased, emptying out our house, and fixing up the property to put it on the market. The challenge has been that there are far more problems with the RV than we suspected, resulting in it taking months longer to get it road-ready than planned.

My husband has essentially been working full-time (and unpaid) on the RV since last fall. We are very grateful for his wide range of skills that enable him to do most of the work himself. Every system in the RV has needed some kind of repair: the engine, wiring, plumbing, air and ventilation, and structural. In addition to the repairs, we have had to do a very intensive deep-cleaning of the entire rig, something that appears to never have been done since its manufacture in 2003.

The idea of staying in crowded RV parks with hook-ups all the time does not really appeal to either of us so we are setting it up to allow more boondocking. That means we can be self-reliant and camp in a wider range of locations. We switched to a composting toilet which allowed us to remove the black water (sewage) tank. The plan is to install a second fresh water tank in its place to give us more water storage capacity - with new plumbing, of course! We have also installed a solar system so that we aren’t reliant on a noisy generator anytime we use power.

There are still some small upgrades he is working on for the RV, mostly to do with the solar system, but it is getting closer to completion. I still need to deep clean the kitchen area and he still needs to build in a couple of shelves for books, music, and movies. After he installs a new fresh water tank, we will then take it in for new tires and to have the windshield gasket replaced.

In the meantime, I am trying to sort through our house to determine what will fit in the RV. There are, of course, space limitations in a 38 foot RV but there are also weight limitations. All of our personal belongings, from kitchenware and clothing to tools and books, must weigh no more than 2,000 pounds. That sounds like a lot until you start paying attention to the weight of what you own. For instance, my stack of mixing bowls weighs an amazing 4 ½ pounds! Books, which we love, are also heavy.

It has been brutal making the decisions about what to keep and what to let go of, even though it really is all just “stuff.” We humans tend to attach so much importance to our belongings, in addition to the emotions and memories associated with them. I continue to pare down to what we truly need and want in our new adventure. The many books I’ve read over the years on de-cluttering and minimalism are helping me through the process. Ironically, I had just begun to work through Marie Kondo’s bestseller, “The Magic of Tidying Up,” before my mother-in-law had her health crisis and we ended up as her caregivers.

We don’t intend to keep a storage unit as we’ve read the accounts of many RV full-timers that regret doing so. Instead, we are taking a huge leap of faith that we will like this lifestyle. We recognize, however, that if we don’t, we are not stuck with it. We can find a new place to live and sell the RV if we find it does not suit us.

While we don’t have a deadline, we do hope to get out of here before summer. We need to get the house on the market and my husband will need to find paid employment somewhere. We hope he can find a contract position in his field somewhere we wouldn’t mind staying for a while. We do want to travel, but we don’t intend to be on the road changing locations frequently. We’d like to spend several months at a time in each new place to really explore and get to know an area. Getting to bird in new locations is, of course, something we’re looking forward to doing. Who knows; we might end up in your neck of the woods!

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