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Return of the RV

Nothing good lasts forever…but 3 hours? That’s like waiting in line for a Disney ride only to get to the front of the line and have it break. Not that we’ve had that happen or anything. Ok, we did.

So, when we left off we had purchased a lemon RV that broke down three hours into our first adventure.

BUT we also purchased an extended warranty. For $3200. Everyone says those warranty things are dumb and for suckers. But after breaking down 3 hours into our first RV trip with a 2014 RV – I was feeling like that was a GREAT buy.

We are $432 in the hole from the mobile repair service, which basically consisted of the guy running diagnostics and saying you’re screwed. Down about $32 in diesel fuel, cancel fees at a few KOAs, an overnight in a truck stop, bad coffee in a.m. (very upsetting) and a long nerve-wracking trip home.

Not a great start.

But we made it back home safely. Unloaded the whole RV thing (we packed WAY too much) and called the used RV dealer. To their credit, dealer sent a driver out. Driver picked up RV and dropped it at the Sprinter repair shop.

Meanwhile…we let everyone in Wisconsin, Kansas and Illinois know we won’t be seeing them until maybe August AND we get back to research.

BTW, we are socially distancing, not hanging in large unmasked groups, and wearing masks in public. We’re adventurous. We are trying not to to fly in the face of science. The only time we don’t don’t wear masks is when outside walking walking elderly dog. But that’s it.

But back to the little problem (versus huge, awful, pandemic problem) how the flying fig are we going to make this RV work for a kid?

The first call was to Leisure. They confirmed – not safe for kid. That’s why they say so in manual. Derek at Leisure was awesome even if his message was crushing my skull.

Now, I love the Serenity. LOVE it. The woodwork for the drawers is exquisite. The finishing perfect. The toilet not plastic. And it’s sized for 3. We want this RV.

So repair shop fixes idiot lights and drives it to dealer to work on power in house problem.

Remember the no power/air conditioning in house problem? Yeah, that was our stupid. Apparently, we had knocked the battery dial in all of our how can we fix this thing shenanigans. The dealer twisted the dial and it all came back up. See that little dial down there by the fire extinguisher? Yeah, we think that was it.

Mad/frustrated at truck stop with three idiot lights on the dashboard, kid, and dog. Didn’t check that dial. Anyways.

So dealer drives it back to us, and apparently they didn’t know about the no kid thing. Or so they say. And I kind of believed them. They deal in all makes/models. They can’t know the minutiae for every one, even though we are their demographic (we are old parents – what can we say?).

But, see the thing is – we want THIS RV. So, we set out to see if we can get a kid-legal Captain’s chair in second row. Or something (anything) to make this kid legal. It might not be as pretty – but can we in the immortal words of Tim Gunn “make it work.”

So we start calling up VAN aftermarket build people. They all say, we need to look at it, and we are backed up 6 weeks. 6 weeks? Yeah, because everyone and their brother wants an RV.

Ok, the trip timing is already blown. Can we fix this RV though?

Husband pulls into aftermarket RV Sprinter/Van shop 30 minutes away. I follow with kid in our SUV. We are hoping to leave it parked there instead of having it block our driveway and continue to piss off our neighbors.

An old guy name Lych comes out of RV aftermarket shop. He opens the door to RV. Kid plays annoyingly close and Lych tells us he has grandkids and it’s OK. He then humphs at interior (and us). Smiles at kid though.

Tells us next time to talk to Gramps first. Apparently, the diesel heater is under the passenger seat. He would have to reroute ducting/heating and a ton of stuff underneath the bench pictured below and likely couldn’t get forward facing chair in there anyways.

Bottom line- we are screwed. We have an expensive RV. That we can’t use.

Now, what do we do?

We ask used dealer. What do you have that is legal for kid that we can trade this beautiful RV for. Remember our requirements:

1. Used

2. 24 ft

3. Diesel

We’ll now add car seat friendly to that list.

So a new hunt begins. We go back and forth. We call more dealers than you can name. Wrong size, wrong gas, too much $, just a crappy RV, you name it. We can’t find a used one that they can get for us. And this is a HOT market.

So – it didn’t work.

Last Thursday, the dealer picked up the Serenity. Friday we had a wire with our money back. Today they reversed the charge on my Amex for the Warranty.

So we now have money, time, and no RV.

Stay tuned for “Paradise by the Dashboard Light?”

Featured

Because nothing ever goes as planned….

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

So this pandemic, Covid-19, Coronavirus thing…drove us to purchase an RV… that totally didn’t work out.

June 2020. We have a kindergartner/six year old. No school. No camps. And a long summer stretching out before us.

The future….It doesn’t look pretty.

So we start researching about buying a used RV. We figure, what the heck? We are nomadic souls. We love adventure and travel. Our kid travels well.

Our elderly retriever – not so well.

My job will let me work remote – why not adventure forth and show the kid some cool stuff while he can’t play with other kids?

We got a Netgear Nighthawk hotspot and a Netgear antenna thingy on the advice of real RV people and not us goofballs.

So with about a week’s worth of discussion…we decided to go forth and find an RV. And we did!

We located a reputable used RV place. Really they are. More on that in next post. We we didn’t want to buy new (depreciation). And we want to be on the road by July. And its early June. My mom’s birthday is in mid-July and we want to visit all the Wisconsin relatives at the height of mosquito season. Not really, but there is only construction, mosquitoes, and sub-Arctic weather in Wisconsin – so there you go.

We did research. TONS of research. We had rented from Cruise America last year. We knew what we liked and what we didn’t. And we found a gorgeous RV. Gorgeous. In a week. With all the right dimensions….

Length we wanted – 24ish feet.

Fuel-Diesel (better power/lasts longer/quieter).

Sprinter chassis.

The RV…that was not meant to be.

A Serenity from Leisure Vans. Mfg. Year 2014.

We loved it. Oh, how we loved it…for a brief three hour moment in time.

We bought it. Packed a week’s worth of food, the kid, and the dog. Got on the road. And then three hours down the road …we had three idiot lights go on.

Three.

Three idiots. Maybe the lights…maybe us?

Thankfully, there was a truck stop about 1/4 mile ahead so I risked driving it into the truck stop. Now, we are planners. And as an attorney, I always hate it when people don’t take my advice. So I try not to get caught with my shorts down. I read and take advice. We had bought fuses. And repair tools. We had everything under the sun. We bought stuff we have no idea how to use – well I don’t. My husband might. Anyways.

And we had Good Sam. (Also an extended warranty- more on that later). We just didn’t expect to need to use all of them the day after we’d bought the damn RV.

‘Cause nothing ever goes as planned.

Good Sam sent a “classic” crusty mechanic out to the truck stop where we were (it took 3 hrs for him to get there. Highly reasonable). He then ran his million dollar diagnostic machine and told us it was safe to drive it back home – but that we really needed to drive the damn thing back to the city. And by now it was getting late. And we had a six year old and an elderly golden retriever. And after he left the battery in the RV house side died. And now we have no power and no air conditioning. And it’s late June.

Yeah.

So we spent our first night as RV owners in a truck stop. Without air conditioning or power. And so the queen bed wouldn’t fold out.

Notice the beautiful floor my husband slept on for our first night in RV. Because no way was he fitting on that dinky couch.

It could have been worse…and it could have been much, much, much better. And so the next morning, we bought the worst truck stop coffee in existence and headed back.

And then things took another turn for the worse. How you ask? I’m glad you did. Because on the way I read the owner’s manual. Who does that. Well, me. ‘Cause I already feel like an idiot having bought a potential lemon. Wherein, having read the manual re child safety it clearly states “Placing a child or child restraint system in a rear-facing or side- facing seat is not safe under any circumstances.

Full stop.

There are only side-facing seats in the RV house/cabin thing. My six-year old is in one of them. And he is neither safe nor legal – and the dealership sold it to me knowing my kid was going to be in the back. He was present for our three visits to dealer. We talked about where he would sleep, etc.

No seats legal for kids under 12 in US or Canada here. BTW – I called and confirmed that with mfg.
Small spawn in RV that is not meant to be.

So. We have a broken RV. It’s not legal for the kid to ride in it (we are on the road) – and we aren’t making it to Wisconsin by mid-July for my mom’s birthday.

Stay tuned for what happens to your crusty adventurers in our next episode: Return of the RV.

RV – Random things we have made, bought, or modified.

The Grand[parent] Tour – Part 3.

We have now been living out of RV for about/over two weeks. Some stuff is still broken. But some things GParents were able to help us make, fix/modify.

We needed interior step cover so elderly dog didn’t fall to her doom while we are driving.

Stairwell on RV house side.

We had been using beanbag chair – that was too big. GParents suggested we make a step. This was a three day build because of stain, polyurethane, glue drying issues. The whole family worked on this one. Looks easy – but….

We had adhesive weatherstripping on sides to prevent minor rattling… that came off. Then the glue didn’t hold. Hope the staples work out….
The Grandad (aka Boppa) with step cover.

It worked PERFECTLY. Looks good. And does not rattle – a nice snug fit.

Step cover next to stairs.
Step cover in place.

Also, we had Callie’s stitches removed while we were here.

Eye stitches out.

Head stitches are out.

Things that haven’t worked out:

First sewer hose.

Length was too short to be easy to use.

First water hose – same problem. Too short.

Needed longer hose.

Banging curtain on sides of house needed weatherstripping:

Added adhesive weatherstripping – hope it stays stuck….

Bought chocks. Not sure if necessary, but….

Boppa made wood pads for jacks:

Jacks have a 9” diameter – pads are 16” sq. And 3/4” plywood.

Mirror magnet didn’t work – new magnet.

Needed additional magnet for when those heavy paper cups tip over? Not even kidding.

The dangerous paper cups push this sucker open when we drive. Hope extra magnets help.

Needed temp curtain (thank you Grandma Kathy) until we can figure out how to purchase permanent one. Why this wasn’t included with a new RV purchase?

Curtain (modified fitted sheet)

And the damn Dinette/bed. It does not lay flat. Cannot be pushed down or cusions changed to go flat. We have tried.

Notice random gap and bump in center.

Sleeping on it was impossible for the kid. Pushing it down wrecked edges of table (this is some cheap POS).

Pushed table down as far as it would go and it wrecked the edges.

So GParents gave us cushion mattress to go over top of table. And we are sticking beanbag in space to fill gap.

No idea who thought this design up. Design and construction for this just sucks.

One helluva Grand Cupcake- Triple Chocolate Nutella.

So we are supposed to be dieting. We are also visiting the grandparents in new RV-Thor Delano FB. So. Yeah. That dieting thing is working out just about as well as you’d expect.

And then Grandma Marianne dropped this bombshell of a cupcake on us during our visit. Triple Chocolate Nutella Cupcakes. Incredible. They should be illegal.

Triple Chocolate Nutella Cupcakes

Here is the recipe for these chocolate monsters:

Licking the beaters with Grandma Marianne.

Of course Grandma Irene had just purchased a new kitchen towel for us for our RV….

Apropos

Berkeley 3” Shad on jig is Best Fishing Bait … EVER.

Our whole family loves to fish. It’s kind of our thing.

So while we were staying up in Tomahawk, Wisconsin visiting the Grandparents as part of the RV Grand Tour” we were introduced to Berkeley 3” Shad bait by Grandpa Ken.

Smelt – 3 to 3.5 inch

The boys caught 3 different types of fish on a jig on two different days at different times on different lakes:

1. Walleye

2. Two Species of Bass; and

3. Northern

This is some Awesome Bait.

Highly Recommend.

We Made it to Wisconsin! No Snark here.

Ah, the great northern land of Mosquitoes as big as a baby’s fist. Once the sun sets (and after s’mores by the fire) you better get inside quick like!

Kid practicing his fire-making skills (closely supervised of course).

My husband and I were born and raised in Wisconsin. We don’t go back much – ‘cause it’s freeze your ass off cold in winter and humid, hot, and construction exasperating in summer.

That being said, occasionally… there are summer days that are just glorious here. Where the temperature is cool (70s and not humid). Day 1 in Wisconsin is that day.

Tomahawk, Wisconsin

So I am working from RV, husband is doing chores, grandparents are entertaining kid, and dog is mostly snoring. All in all, not a bad day.

Working from RV is going great!

I’ll talk about RV Electronics and working remote in my next bit….

Here we go again. New Delano RV – breakdowns, idiot lights, and other inconveniences….

We are on the road… again! I know the burning question on your mind is, “but did they have idiot warning lights, sleep in a truck stop their first night, and have breakdowns this time?”

Let me answer all of your questions with:

Yes!

Fun fact: There is a slot on Mercedes Sprinter where you have to (occasionally? Randomly?) click key fob (not the key) into in order for it to work. It’s really fun trying to figure out where it is in the dark at a rest stop after driving for like 8hrs….

1. Did they have to sleep in a truck stop overnight on their first night again?

Yes!

We left two hours late on our first day – in part because the refrigerator in our garage broke and we had to empty it into the house fridge so everything wasn’t rotten when we returned! That would have been nasty….So we couldn’t make it to our KOA reservation and slept overnight in a truck stop…again.

And we discovered halfway through first day of trip that fridge in RV wasn’t working (need green light to be on) because we had not turned propane (LP switch) “on” – switch located outside on tank. Oops. Our stupid.

2. Do they have any major broken parts/issues on the new RV?

Yes!

Water leak (stream of water) pictured below. Water is just pouring out of this thing in a steady stream. Figure with a 30 gallon holding tank…we’ll be empty – soon. No – so huge leak stopped eventually and we still have water in tank so we think (and service guy over phone did as well) that it is likely a tank overflow issue?

Did they have any minor problems? Yes! The bathroom mirror has the weakest magnet on the planet. It flies open even at gentle stops from the weight of the – 2oz paper cups? We are trying to figure out a fix. Also, have had to McGyver loosescreen corners and flapping window shade with 3M Velcro strip things? If you are buying a new (or any) RV – pack adhesive Velcro strips….

3. But have they had to call Good Sam repair service again?

Yes! (Shout our to Russell the service guy!). Called re stream of water gushing out of new RV.

Also, in the minor problem category – the LP gas detector started screeching – we are running LP because fridge. It reset when we hit the button so hopefully no real problem there….

4. Are they headed to dealer service center for repairs?

Maybe? As I mentioned- the water did stop streaming out after some time on the road. The water gauge says full. And water to house/toilet and pump is still working? 5.5 hrs to nearest service center and they (Good Sam and Dealer Service Center) said ok to drive….

Is it only day 3 of them owning yet another RV?

Yes!

Also: in case you were wondering our elderly golden retriever dog (Callie) is doing rather well following surgery, etc. The first day there was a ton of whining and upsetness. Not second or now morning of third day.

We put a bean bag in stairwell so she wouldn’t fall down the stairs and we have her bed on bath mats, which are on gorilla grippers so she won’t slip.

We also started giving her Thunder Wunders.

Stay tuned! We may ultimately be headed to a service center…5.5 hrs away.

Here goes….

Buying an RV Snark: To Make Snide and Sharply Critical Comments.

Buying RV from Large Camping RV Company.

First gratitude. The child safety seat and latch are working fabulously. They (dealer) switched the model they had in stock with a related dealer in one day for the one we needed. They double checked child safety part – and got part for us quick even though this is a seller’s market. Getting a safe RV was the MOST important thing.

Now…the snark.

1. We spent just under $120k on a new 2020 Thor Delano FB. It was not so classy of a buying experience.

Not so Classy of a Buying Experience.

A. You HAVE or really should have the following in order to use RV. And the dealer didn’t provide:

i. sewer hose;

ii. electric plug for house;

iii. Hose for water;

Iv. water regulator attachment;

V. Bio pouches for black tank.

If you go to Amazon, you can buy a starter RV kit for $62.00. The dealer would sell this type of kit to you with your brand new $120k RV – for $399. Gimme a break. We just dropped a small fortune on this RV thing and you can’t cough up for the sewer hose?

2. You need fuel. Obviously. They didn’t give us a full tank of gas (gave it to us with less than 1/2 a tank) and a partial tank of DEF (diesel additive). Would have run them about $58.00 – See close to $120k purchase.

Things dealer also didn’t include – front window screen/curtain. I’m going to have to purchase that separately. No idea re cost.

I’m not kidding. No sewer hose, no water hose, no gas. About $120 on their part would have gone a long way toward making us happier about the $120k on our part. It truly is the little things that grind your gears the most. And getting nickel and dimed over sewer hose? Really?

And FYI, when we bought the used Serenity for 90k from other dealer-We received all of those things.

Serenity

Last, but not least – when we did the Thor Delano walk through – “how to use your RV” – they (dealer) could not explain the Sprinter electronics (think Siri and Alexa have a baby). Also, they couldn’t explain Winegard WiFi system. Told us to read the manuals. Read the manual? How about a one page quick start guide? Still working on that manual thing….

Next Episode: Here we go again….

Dog surgery went well and we have child safe RV!

It’s been a long day.

First, our dog’s surgery went well. Growths were removed (as was an unknown broken tooth).

Callie isn’t happy – but she is OK.
Her eye still looks yucky.

We also picked up the Thor Delano RV. The dealer was able to install latch system child seat part!

Forward facing car seat.

I’ll write more about dealer experience tomorrow. It has been a LONG day.

Test driving a Portable Washer for RVing.

I’d hate to jinx us…again. But we needed to test some stuff before we (hopefully) pick up the 2020 Thor Delano FB tomorrow.

2020 Thor Delano FB

So we “plan” on getting on the road this Saturday. One of the things we purchased in the wake of the Serenity misadventure (and after reading numerous reviews) was a portable washing machine. We didn’t get what we wanted because it’s out of stock…Covid-19? China trade war? Who knows? Does this sound familiar?

Anyways, what we got was a portable washer/spin dryer from Costway. It is 26” long so we plan on storing it in Delano’s shower as we travel down the road. Hopefully it fits.

Costway Washer/Dryer
Load Running

So it has “challenging/amusing” instructions like “unplug the electrical cord from the outlet to avoid thunderbolt.” Also, “Turn off spin tub and dewatering cover.”

We had purchased:

Hose attachments recommended on review forum.

some hose attachments – none of which worked with machine and outside hose at home. So we filled the sucker with water direct from hose (very cold), Tide Powder, and a few pieces of clothes, set it in the backyard and let ‘er rip.

Important note- The hose drains while it is running. Be warned.

On our first run we had used the 1 load guide on the Tide powder. There was a BUNCH of soap left when it finished so we drained it and put more water in and rinse. Again. And again. We did this three times – way too much soap. It wants you to spin then rinse. But too much soap on our test run.

This sucker definitely takes enough water that I will only be using it at RV parks where we are on shore/power & water. Unless we get better at using it.

Spin cycle …doesn’t fit whole load.

So we tried to fit the whole load in the spin side. The loose plastic top you are supposed to insert went flying over the edge and we almost broke it. So apparently it takes two separate spin cycles before it is ready for rinse with a big load?

The timing mechanism is totally off – their 5 minutes is about a minute.

Anyways, we think this will workout. We’ll report back.

Tomorrow: RV Pickup!

The Wild Weight Ride: What the Heck are we going to do for food and exercise in RV on the road?

Spring and Summer 2020 are now known in our house as the time of the Covid – 19 lbs of weight. (I jest about Coronavirus because there is nothing amusing about it. If we don’t laugh we’d cry). Thank you (not) quarantine home cafe. My husband is a good cook.

Anyways, my husband and I were, let’s say not at our ideal weight when Covid cut loose. I may have in fact had a co-worker ask if I was expecting (I was not) just before Covid happened. She’s really nice and wasn’t being a bitch. I just gain in the soggy middle. So, yeah, my weight gain already wasn’t exactly pretty pre-Covid.

In picture below we are at correct weights (ballroom dancing competition weight). We are the couple on the right. We’ll call this “Before”.

My BMI at this weight is 21. I’m 5’9” (I like to lie and say 5’10”). In above picture, I’m about 143lbs.

Notice – Normal Weight (21 BMI) is/at at 142 and Overweight at 180 (26 BMI). Sigh.

I’m not going to debate healthy weight. I’m just going to say I feel good at around 143lbs.

And then our weight got even worse. I’m not showing you the now (after). I’m trying to maintain some dignity.

So, in the space of five short months – we put on an extra 20lbs a piece (we were 20 over already up – so now 40 extra lbs). And I can’t fit into my pants or suits. It’s like putting 20lbs of sausage in a 10lb sack. And that is the big (pun intended) problem.

My choices were diet (a vicious four letter word) or buy new suits and up another size of pants. Yeah, no. I’m not buying new suits and I’m not going up another size. I’m not buying new clothes!

All of which has resulted in us dieting. 1200 calories per day dieting and …?uh, exercise. I’m using My Fitness Pal and Health Mate.

Also, diet from hell pictured below (not appearing is coffee creamer – because I’m not a sociopath).

I’m running a mile every other day – my husband runs four miles. Husband says he likes to run. Whatever (Weirdo).

I just hate running. I like to go dancing. I think people who enjoy running don’t know the true pleasure of a perfectly made margarita (Dos Caminos makes the best), chips and guacamole, and a good book in a chair under an umbrella in the DR. Also, you can go dancing salsa and eat chips and salsa – see how this all works?

Dis Caminos – Frozen Perfection

Not to mention the perfect joy of Marion berry pie. But I digress….

In summary, I’m 40lbs heavier than when I started my job. My nice coworkers think I look pregnant. And I can’t fit in my suits.

So I started dieting beginning of June and running. Thank you Road Runner Sports for the insoles. My tired butt (and feet) need all the foot support they can get.

I probably walk faster than I run right now and I can’t run a mile without taking at least 2 breaks. This is after over a month of running mind you….

Look – Drastic times (pandemic weight) call for drastic measures (dieting and running). Ok, really just having to buy new suits is panic/cause enough. I’m even drinking gin and diet tonic water with ginger powder in it to cut the crappy diet taste. Oh, how I long for a ginger gin and tonic at Gramercy Tavern.

I tried light margaritas, but damn. They taste awful. I’ve got to cut it with water to choke it down – and then what’s the point?

We (hopefully) are picking up Thor Delano FB next week. Fingers crossed that child seat part comes in and it works.

Thor Delano FB

So now with us hitting the road we need to figure out what food to pack. We packed too much last time.

We need Real food for kid – rabbit food for us.

And we need to figure out how to exercise on the road. That will likely be the topic of many other posts (but probably none of them happy…).

Yeah. This diet food/exercise thing while traveling in RV with 6 year old is going to suck.

Tune in for episode: Wasting away in Margaritalessville to see what food we packed.

Yeah, So Surgery Needed for Elderly Dog.

So, we got a new RV (Thor Delano FB) coming. We think? It has a car seat attachment part we can have installed for kid!! We are ecstatic that this might work out after all!

And…our elderly dog (Callie) needs eye surgery.

‘Cause nothing ever goes as planned.

So Callie has a growth that has been growing daily on her eyebrow/eyelid? Eye area? The damn thing keeps getting bigger…fast.

Eye Growth Thing.

Our vet can’t get her in for surgery until Thursday, July 23. They have to put her under (dangerous for elderly dogs) so we are having her teeth and another growth removed at the same time.

And of course it would be excessively stupid (and we try to be only a bit stupid) to leave the next day. So… we are leaving on Saturday, July 25.

We are fortunate that husband’s sister is a veterinarian so if ALL GOES TO HECK on the road…we can call her and get fre…I mean good advice.

Tune in for episode: “On the Road Again…And we Mean it this Time!!!”