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Author: TracyKoz

Transition to new 2016 5th wheel

Transition to new 2016 5th wheel

Luckily, we made it home to Indiana without any more problems. On our journey back, we learned what we needed to do each night that we stopped and slept at a campground. We learned to extend and retract the slides (by the simple push of a button). We had 3 slides, 2 in the kitchen and living room that were opposite each other which really made the living space nice. The other slide was in the bedroom. We learned the different hose connections. There is a black tank for sewage, a gray tank for kitchen and showers. Pop showed us how to empty and flush out each hose which is a necessity after each trip. We needed a 50 AMP power connection (some are 30 AMP, but the bigger you go, the more electricity you need. There is also a standard 110 volt plug that comes with the hook up).

fullsizeoutput_42c4fullsizeoutput_42c6We were so happy with our first 5th wheel! There was an electric fireplace that could be used for heat or just for ambiance. The island gave me a lot of counter space with storage built in. There was a pull-out couch and a table with chairs. It came with the original leather Euro chairs which we later switched out with 2 rocker recliners that we bought at a surplus store. Which in itself is a story.

My parents live in northern Indiana where a lot of RVs are made. There was a surplus store near them. I had seen an advertisement for some leather rocker recliners for $150 each. RV furniture is expensive, so that was a good deal. They were exactly what we were looking for. I went with my parents and was pleased with what I saw. I bought a pair. They were loaded into the back of my Jeep in boxes. I was able to see one since one end of the box was already opened. They would not let me open the other box because it was on a fork lift and they were using the fork lift to put it into the Jeep. I noticed that a corner was slightly crushed which worried me a bit. I wouldn’t be able to open the boxes until I was back in southern Indiana where I lived (it was such a tight fit in the back and my husband wasn’t there to help so there was no way to unload to check it and then load it back). Theresmaller was a money-back guarantee but I lived 4 hours away. So of course when I opened it up, there was a small tear in the leather at the bottom. It just seems to happen that way with me. I called the company and was given the run around. I sent pictures and was told I could bring them back. I explained how that was not possible and asked for a discount. Then the “leather” started to bubble the first time they were used. They refused and ended up blocking my from their website. So the lesson here is: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Mom and Pop stayed on the pull-out couch while Dave and I slept in the king bed. A king bed was crucial to us since someone, no names mentioned here, flops around like a fish during the night and I am a very light sleeper. My RSD also affects my sleep since I am in constant pain and some nights sleep evades me.

fullsizeoutput_42c5img_4961The used 5th wheel also had a toilet room and a shower and sink that were open to the master bedroom. There was a plastic partition that could separate it, but we never used it. The toilet room was very small, especially for Dave who is 6’3″. We ended up closing the wood sliding door that separated the living area from the bedroom area and not closing the toilet room door so it wasn’t so claustrophobic. You learn to adapt to your surroundings.

img_4964We loved the layout of this one, but it was too small and there was no room for an office where Dave could work peacefully. There was also some upkeep that our old one needed. One thing was a new awning. We were almost home from one of our trips when Dave accidentally took a turn that was too tight and ended up broadsiding a telephone pole with our awning. Luckily, it was only the awning that was hit and not the 5th wheel itself. You can bet that he won’t make that mistake again! We are living and learning, that is for sure. Other upkeep included resealing around the sinks, fixing the filter under the kitchen sink, sealing the roof, balancing the washer, fixing a hole in a wall panel, etc.

A hole in the wall, you say? Yes, I would love to gloss over the hole but I won’t. That is another live and learn moment. The hole was due to a computer bag that had shifted during travel. We were celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary in Gulf Shores, Alabama. We had just arrived and I was extending the living room slide when I heard a horrible noise. The noise was made by the computer bag getting squished in between the wall and the slide, thus making a hole. I was horrified, but you can bet that I will never make that mistake again. I now check all slides before extending or retracting them.fullsizeoutput_3d32

So back to the story. We thought that by buying new, we wouldn’t encounter all these problems being that it is a new unit. Buying new turned out to be huge problem, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

We found our new 5th wheel at Camping World, London, OH. The day we went to see it, we had no intentions of buying it. We just wanted to see if the floor plan worked for us and our needs. In buying a new home or automobile it seems that compromise is in order if both people want different things. I ended up having to compromise since I didn’t want to buy a 5th wheel that was longer than 40 feet and this one was 42 feet long. State Parks normally don’t allow any RV that is longer than 40 feet and one of my dreams was to visit State Parks all over the United States. I also had to compromise on the amount of counter space in the kitchen. There were other makes and models that offered more counter space. I really want to start cooking like I did before being diagnosed with RSD (Reflexive Sympathetic Dystrophy also known as CRPS). Standing for periods of time creates more pain on top of the constant pain that I already suffer from. My thought was that since I wouldn’t have tons of housework like I did when we owned a house, then I would have more energy and pain tolerance to start cooking again. The jury is still out on that one, so I will have to update you later.

As I write this, I am thinking to myself, “Am I the only one who compromised?”. Hmm, never thought about that. Dave got his office, automatic leveling system, and a residential refrigerator. I might need to have a conversation with him later about this. Well, our conversation revealed that he compromised on a 6 point automatic leveling system and only got a 4 point. We had manual leveling on our previous one. If Dave  says that he compromised, so be it. Since I am the one writing this, then I must say I compromised a lot more than he did. Just sayin’.

Now back to us buying a new 5th wheel. We loved the floor plan of the Highland Ridge Open Range 3X427BHS. The bunk house could be Dave’s office/dog room which also has a half bath and second entry/exit door. Three dogs equal lots of stuff and we needed room to store it. It had a standing dinette set (4 chairs and a table with 2 extensions instead of a booth), king bed with room to walk around the bed, an enclosed bathroom (some have a separate room for toilet with a sink and shower in a different room like our previous one), washer/dryer hook up (there was room for separate units instead of a combined machine which takes much longer to do a load) and 5 slides which gave us a total of 427 sq. ft. to live in.

One thing that Dave and I both agree on is that we love the bathroom. He would also say that he loves the 50 in. tv that came with the unit, me, not so much. Our bathroom has 2 entries. One from the hallway going up to the bedroom and the other is in the bedroom. It has a beautiful glass vessel sink, medicine cabinet, 4 drawers and 2 cabinets that give us lots of storage, RV toilet and glass enclosed shower. We absolutely love our shower. It is just shy of 4 ft by 2 ft. A very nice size for an RV. It has an integrated seat and a shower head that rivals home shower heads. It has a sky light in the shower, so you can feel like you are bathing in nature (the same feeling like I experienced for over a year in Matagalpa, Nicaragua as a missionary. I bathed in a small enclosed outdoor space that had no roof and you were bathed in sunshine as you showered.) The bathroom has been the only room where we haven’t had major issues, just a cracked door where the handle was installed and scratches on the inside of the sky light. It has been our refuge where all troubles melt away for a bit with the sun on our face and the spray from the water. If only we could live in an unending shower so our bliss was not taken away so soon…


The Problems Had Just Started With a Flashback

The Problems Had Just Started With a Flashback

We were beyond excited to buy our brand new 5th wheel. We had been going to RV shows for around 5 years, always looking to see what features we wanted and didn’t want. We had been through hundreds and hundreds of RVs by this time. It was always fun to go and dream about where we might be in the future and what make and model that we would like.

Since my husband was a computer contractor, we first wanted to be mobile if we had to go to where the jobs were. He recently had a contract end suddenly and we thought that it may become a reality. I had already had my horse accident and had been recently diagnosed with RSD. At that point, I didn’t have my Spinal Cord Stimulator, SCS, implanted and was still in horrific pain daily. Life as we knew it was changing and we wanted to be ready for anything. Case in point being that my dad had suffered a massive heart attack and we were faced with how delicate life can be. Moments like those change you. Thankfully my dad has recovered from his quadruple bypass open heart surgery. We thank God and the surgeon who performed it. So if I say that God works in mysterious ways can you guess who we bought our first used 5th wheel from? You are correct if you guessed his heart surgeon. I can’t make this stuff up people!

A fun fact about my dad is that he has never met a stranger. He is a talker. When pop was in the surgeon’s office, he noticed a Texan Longhorn baseball cap. Pop lived and graduated high school in Pharr, Texas and loves Texas and Texans. He was talking with the surgeon and found out that he had a second home in Texas. They had just built their new home and were looking to sell their 5th wheel that they had lived in during construction. Pop got the information for Dave and I because we were finally in the position to buy one. We bought the 2006 Carriage by Cameo LX in 2012. It had all the extras and was top of the line when the surgeon bought it. We felt blessed that we were able to buy such a nice one. But buying our first one is a funny story in itself.

img_1033Once we had negotiated a price of around $26,000, we started looking for an older diesel dually to pull it with. Pop has worked on cars all his life, so he told us what type of diesel engine to look for. It was that same week that we saw one that was exactly like we needed in the little town where we lived, Aurora, Indiana. We test drove it and even had the Ford dealership look at it to make sure it was running well. We took the $5,300 out of our “emergency fund.” Those who do the Dave Ramsey Financial Freedom Program know exactly what I am talking about. We paid cash for it and made arrangements to make a road trip down to Uvalde, Texas, with my parents (they had a 5th wheel already and were going to teach us how to pull it and hook it up at campgrounds).

img_1117We arrived in Texas as scheduled. We had bought it sight unseen, but relied on the many pictures they provided. We met the surgeon and hooked it up. We started driving back to the highway on the “road” that had led to the 100 acre or more farm that the surgeon owned. The “road” was winding, but we eventually made it back to the highway. We hadn’t even driven 5 minutes on the highway before my husband noticed a drag with our truck’s engine and just thought it was due to pulling the 5th wheel. There was the slightest of grades going uphill, but when my husband tried to accelerate more, it didn’t do anything. We pulled off to the side of the 2 lane highway, mostly on the highway and only partway into the dirt, as noted in the picture. We get out and there is transmission fluid pouring out. We were stunned. Shocked actually. Dave and I had done everything the right way. We test drove the truck, we paid to have Ford check out the truck before we bought it, specifically asking about the transmission because of an after market kit that the previous owner had installed for the transmission.  We were told that everything checked out fine. The lesson we learned here was that you can do everything the right way and still get screwed.

Imagine us, my parents included who are in their mid seventies, standing alongside a road with no car in sight, black liquid pouring out like hot lava with the hot Texas sun beating down on us. There was no shade to be found and no wind to speak of. We end up calling 911 and they said that someone would be out soon. Soon happened to be 30 minutes later. The policeman was so polite and turned out to be our knight in shining armor. It took awhile to see what he could do to help us with our truck and our new-to-us 5th wheel. He finally found a family member that could hook onto our truck and pull both the truck and 5th wheel. We didn’t even know that was possible, but things are done differently in Texas.

Relieved to have somewhat of a plan, the police officer offered to take us to a hotel that was near the Ford Dealership where our truck was being towed. I was relieved to have my parent’s in an air conditioned car. Pop was in the front seat and my mother and I got into the back. Dave went with the tow truck driver. I won’t ask how many people have been in the back of a patrol car, but to my surprise, it was really tight and the seat was hard! As we pulled up to the hotel entrance funny thoughts entered my mind. What are they going to think as my mother and I get out from the patrol car? Were we criminals? Would they even let us stay there? (As I stated, these thoughts were “funny.” It is amazing what can go through my mind in different situations.)

We had no problem getting rooms and the staff was so friendly. This began a week of searching for another used diesel dually or debating if we should even spend the money to fix our truck since we knew we would have to rebuild the engine sooner or later. If my memory serves me, it had over 200,000 miles on it.

It was a tough week with some bright spots thrown in. There was a Walmart about a mile from our hotel and we decided to walk to it since we had no vehicle. As we chatted with the girl at the front desk, she said, “Why don’t you just take my car?” Ummm…what?! Did she really ask us, total strangers, to use her car? That never happens. In my lifetime so far, I have never had a stranger suggest to me to use their car since I didn’t have one. We politely refused, but she insisted. So we actually used a hotel staffer’s car to go to Walmart. Believe me when they say that Texans are the friendliest people you will ever meet. They are. They are brought up that way.

To make a long story short, we made the best of our situation of being stranded in Texas. Luckily our dog-sitter was able to stay the extra week to take care of our 4 kids. I was never blessed with kids, so our dogs are my kids. We had a set of basset/beagle “twins”, Frida and Diego, named after the famous Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. I was a Spanish major, what else do you expect? They were the only 2 that survived from their litter. We also had Miñha, a tiny beagle I rescued when she was 5 years old, and Lola, a beagle we rescued at 9 years old.


Since we couldn’t find a used diesel dually to buy around the area we were stuck in, we decided not to put more money into our truck and ended up buying a new Ford F350 diesel dually double cab and long bed. It was only $64,000 (please read with sarcasm). We didn’t want any more nightmare situations on our way back to Indiana with my parents. Once was enough, thank you very much.

Just so you know, I am not gratuitously giving out money figures. I just want to inform you about the different costs of things. Good or bad, that was what we spent. Please save your judgement, we had just watched $7,000 ($5,300 for the truck and $1300 for tires) slip through our hands. Maybe it was more like watching $7,000 spill on the ground as the transmission blew. That was a very expensive oops.

Back to the story. We had a live and learn moment after we had already used our old truck as a trade in. After buying the old truck, we had it serviced and put 6 new tires on it before going to Texas. In all of the chaos of broken truck, parents, and being stranded, we never thought about one thing. Had we donated the truck to Goodwill, we would have gotten more from a tax credit than the $500 that we got as a trade in. It still hurts as I write this. We also could have taken the new tires that cost us around $1,300 that we had put on the truck since they happened to be the same size as the ones on our 5th wheel. We did none of these things. Live and learn. Very painful.

Alrighty then. We were now owners of a very nice and ever so slightly used truck that was perfect to pull our brand new 2016 5th wheel. The problems are behind us…or so we thought.


Welcome to RV Living!

Welcome to RV Living!

IMG_1778First, I would like to introduce myself and my family to you. My
husband, Dave, is 55 years old and he is a computer contractor and writes iOS apps for the iPhone and iPad. My name is Tracy and I am 48 years old and we have been married for 13 years. We have 3 precious fur babies: Diego , a beagle/basset mix is 14; Las Vegas, our chocolate lab/bloodhound mix is 11; and Don Quijote a French bulldog/chihuahua mix is 3. I used to be a Young Life volunteer leader and committee member. I was a private Spanish teacher for over 10 years. I was diagnosed with RSD/CRPS about 4 and a half years ago after being kicked by a horse. This is a horrible neurological disorder that leaves me in indescribable pain 24/7. A warmer climate helps those with RSD, hence our dream of moving to a warmer climate. Our dream just happened to include selling everything, including our house, and traveling in a 5th wheel.

IMG_1696I am excited to write about our new experiences, the good, the bad and the ugly, as we became full timers. Full timers are people who live in their RV full time (not a hard stretch of the imagination for the definition). We have learned so much of “what not to do” and “this is a must” in a short amount of time.  Dave and I sold our house in Aurora, Indiana on January 1st, 2016. On February 1st, we and our 3 dogs began our journey as we moved from our 3000 sq. ft house into our 325 sq. ft 2006 Carriage by Cameo 5th wheel.

IMG_1174We had a reservation for Indian Springs Campground in North Bend, Ohio for a month as we continued to fine tune our plans and downsize what we thought was already downsized. We ended up downsizing a total of 4 times as we found places for the essentials in the limited amount of space. The realization of what is essential and what is not is a hard process. It is a painful, yet oddly freeing, experience. Believe me, we experienced growing pains, or better said, shrinking pains.

IMG_0761During that time, our plans changed. Instead of accepting my husband’s two-week notice, his employer wanted him to work remote from Florida. That meant that instead of going down in our used 5th wheel, we needed to start looking for a 5th wheel that had room for an office. That IMG_0429began our frantic search. After looking at many, making offers on two, we finally decided on our 42 ft. Open Range 3×427 BH model. It had a bunk room that could be an office/dog room. Problem solved!

Well actually, the problems had just started…