“Home”


What does home mean? Is it where you sleep? Eat? Keep your clothes? Store your stuff? All of these have applied to my various homes. I grew up in a brand new, small, three bedroom, two bath home with an attached garage.  My first home away from home was a two bedroom, single-wide mobile home. There’s something familiar about that! Since this first sign of independence, paying my own bills and playing grown up, I have lived in apartments, condos and have owned a few homes.

Life has taken on many different forms including the places I have previously called home. Ideas of where I would finally settle have also changed.  Most of my adult life was spent within a ten mile radius of where I grew up. Leaving the area was something I had not considered until I was 38 years old. My husband and I made a huge choice and life changing decision to move 100 miles away and buy a house in a strange town. This moment was when I learned big change, although scary, could be a good thing. We were happy, successful and financially stable…for about 20 years.

Sometime in the midst of adulthood, getting our daughter raised, changing career fields a couple of times and life happening, we were making other plans.  We dreamed of retirement…someday. The thought of being old enough to enjoy the thought of not working always seemed so far in the future and untouchable. It seemed easy to dream about something that was so far away. Surely money would be less of an issue by then. We could sell our house, liquidate, buy an RV to travel and live in for the rest of our lives, and live off…wait. Live off what? Our 401K’s? Will Social Security still be available? What will healthcare be like in the future?

Then more of “life” happened.  The market tanked. Our house decreased in value. My husband lost his job and got sick temporarily. We lost our house and moved into a small apartment, closer to both of our jobs, saving around $800 in gas money.  The meaning of home had changed yet again.  Phase I of downsizing began!  Less furniture, less collectibles, less clothes…less everything.  I never expected to feel so free letting go of stuff. We were still happy…as happy as The Bickersons could be.  We are still working on that!

We have learned STUFF does not make a home. In fact, getting rid of STUFF makes a happier home – for us anyway. Enter Phase II of the downsizing. The hard part is letting go of things I’ve had all of my life. The purging is so much easier once the claw marks have made their way down them. Letting go is really not that bad, although truthfully, our daughter is now the owner of our most treasured things; i.e. an oak entertainment center made especially for us by my father-in-law.

I love our new home.  It represents everything we have worked hard for, our new life together, a dream of travel, but most of all, freedom from anything tying us down.  Our new address will be whatever we make it – geographically, physically and emotionally.

The bottom line:  We can always go back to sticks and bricks if it’s not for us after all. For now…we’ve made our bed and we’ll be lying in it until it no longer serves us!

Our 2017 Grand Design Reflection

We have a new family member!

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floor-plan

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After researching for months – wait – probably more like years, we have finally made a choice.  It’s funny how our wants and needs have changed over the years.  It was all about size for me at first.  I was looking at huge units with kitchen islands, king-size beds with huge wardrobes, front living rooms with enormous entertainment systems and the list goes on and on.

We have decided we want to be able to go ANYWHERE.  We want to boondock as well as fit in any campground.  Going big meant staying home. This rig has everything we need and gives us the freedom we need to see everything we have dreamed about.

Here are some interior shots:

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A few details:

8150 lbs, Hitch Weight* 1516 lbs,GVWR 10995 lbs, Length** 30′ 11″, Height 12’0″, Fresh Water Capacity 60 Gal, Grey Water Capacity 75 Gal,
Waste Water Capacity 43 Gal, Water Heater 6 (17.8 GPH Recovery)
LP Capacity 60 lbs, Furnace 35000 BTU, Fireplace 5000 BTU
R-Value (Main Floor) R-30, R-Value (Walls) R-9, R-Value (Roof) R-40
Construction Aluminum Cage, Awning Length 13′,
Std. Bed Dimensions 60″ X 80″ Queen.

Now….what shall we name her????

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We have a new look!

Check out our new digs at lostinamericarving.com

We are getting back on the horse with a new website and definitely new plans. And by the way, we got a new horse! Pictures to follow as well as some new tips we are going to share.

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The Box that John Built

The one thing our fifth wheel lacks is storage. We knew that when we chose it, but we also knew this was not the one we were going to live in. We only have some storage under the bed, the two benches in the dining area and a small storage area under the jackknife sofa in the living room. There was no storage on the outside other than the small space under the jackknife sofa that that is accessible from outside.

We needed a place to put the generator, barbecue, satellite dish and other large items. So my husband slapped together a few pieces of ACM and made a storage box. Just kidding! It was far more involved than that, of course. Technically, John used aluminum composite material (ACM) which is actually aluminum sheets pressed into plastic.  He measured 10 times and cut once – can you tell I didn’t watch him build it?

STORAGE
STORAGE BOX

 

He extended the bumper on the rig to set the box on:

STORAGE
BUMPER EXTENSION

 

Most importantly, he put a bottle opener on the side just for me. Heh! Heh!

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Can you imagine the honey do lists I could have given him over the years had I known he was so talented?!  I think the finished product turned out beautiful, don’t you?

STORAGE
STORAGE BOX FINISHED (except for touch up paint)

Renovations to our 5th Wheel

It all started with broken leaf springs and spilled coffee.  First of all, who really needs beige carpet in a camper? My husband was having a bad day when he couldn’t understand why our trailer would not level. After many hours of work during our weekend camping trip, we ended up leaving our 5th wheel a day or two longer while waiting for replacement parts.  A large coffee stain ended up on the carpet sometime during the repair. I would never accuse my husband, or judge, or even point fingers, but…

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With the leaf springs successfully installed everything was wonderful again…except for the carpet driving the wife crazier by the moment.  We decided to buy inexpensive peel and stick flooring from Amazon.com.  We chose 3 foot by 6 inch Tivoli II Vinyl Floor Planks in medium oak.  Seven 10-packs were sufficient enough to do the bathroom as well.  If they don’t hold up, who cares at $20.00 per box. The hardest part of the job was ripping out the old carpet.  My husband did the entire project by himself. I think he did a great job. I know I’m grateful he spilled coffee in the first place!

Once on the roll…he has taken care of other little things.  Here are some pics:

FLOORING - BEFORE
FLOORING – BEFORE
FLOORING - DURING
FLOORING – DURING
FLOORING - DURING
FLOORING – DURING
FLOORING - AFTER
FLOORING – AFTER
FLOORING - AFTER
FLOORING – AFTER
OVEN - BEFORE
OVEN – BEFORE
OVEN - AFTER
OVEN – AFTER

Stay tuned for the storage box that John built…

#2 Our Current RV

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How did we choose one from all the options?

Our decisions were a plenty! Do we get a Class A, Class C, travel trailer or 5th wheel? We talked to many RV’ers, went to a lot of RV shows, looked at floor plans and models online and, most importantly, talked to each other. We got the same answer – buying an RV is a personal choice depending on your needs.  Here is the list we used to decide on a 5th wheel:

  1. Cost – we already own a truck for towing – not a double expense for us.
  2. Must feel like home – not a cylindrical living space. 5th wheels just look and feel more like a small sticks and bricks home. Motor homes remind me of a bus.  Not that there’s anything wrong with living on a bus. It’s just not homey to me.
  3. Engine must not be in the home! I know plenty of things can go wrong in a travel trailer or 5th wheel, but I don’t want my house to be in the shop for an oil change.
  4. Towing another vehicle? We are getting older and it is tough enough to drive, maneuver and park without having an extra added vehicle in tow. We would rather tow a 5th wheel and detach the truck to use independently. One disadvantage is losing the truck bed for storage, but we will talk about that later.
  5. Accessibility – we wanted to be able to go anywhere including boon docking off the grid. 30’ is the maximum length for us – now and in the future.

The wisest decision to date was buying a used RV.  Let the research begin!  Although we still went to RV shows, we actually looked to buy at RV dealerships, Craigslist, classified ads, and websites like RV Trader.  We talked to dealers about our truck’s towing capabilities since it has a tow package.  Dealers told us our Toyota Tundra could easily tow up to 10,000 pounds.  They just didn’t tell us how much a hitch would cost with installation as well as air bags.  We found air bags are mandatory and worth the added expense just for the feel and peace of mind.

The worst decision was putting the cart before the horse – literally! We were told we already had part of our package in the bag.  So we shopped…and shopped…and shopped.  Nothing felt like US. We knew what we wanted, how big we were willing to go and the weight we could pull. We went on a road trip one Saturday.  Drove three hours out of our way and hit several dealerships.  We came home exhausted, but I grabbed the iPad and hit Craigslist anyway. “Hey, Honey…did you see this 5th wheel?”  I handed it to him.  He said, “NO – how did you find this?  I never saw this!  It looks great – give them a call right now”.  The private sellers answered and were open to a visit immediately, although they were 30 minutes away. We walked into the 5th wheel and knew this was IT.  Then the hitch had to be bought (used) and installed.  Then we towed our new, used rig for the first time and knew we needed air bags.  Expensive lesson, but we are happy.

So this is the RV we will make all of our mistakes in before buying our retirement/travel America rig.  This is the RV that will decide whether the Kendalls can drop out of society together without killing each other in a confined space forever!  We have a better idea of what our needs and wants will be for our next RV, but that’s a different blog entry.  Let the planning begin!

 

Our First Home On Wheels

chalet

This is our first home on wheels ~ a 2002 Chalet Alpine pop-up trailer.  My husband’s first dream purchased to get us out of a tent and off the ground.

  • Weight (base): 1505 lbs / GVWR 3,000 lbs / Tongue 163 lbs
  • Length: 15′ 6″
  • Dual Dinette for seating and converts to sleep 3 Adults (front bed 40″ x 76” and rear bed 52” x 76”)

The floor plan below illustrates the minimalist’s dream:

alpine floorplan

Not featured above is:

  • Furnace (16k BTU) – came stock in our unit
  • Fan-Tastic fan – saved ourselves many times by sucking hot air out and blowing cool in
  • Shower – There wasn’t one!
  • Toilet – There wasn’t one!  I used a 5 gallon bucket with seat and lid.  It was cautioned-themed  bright yellow with “hazardous” in big letters

 

Interior Shots:

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Full size bed as a dining area (before modification)

 

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Our little kitchen
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The twin bed – converts into dining as in first photo
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The full size bed with John’s modification for extra storage