Monday, October 1, 2012

Purging the House

Today our plan is to start purging the house of things we no longer need, never needed or are just plain tired of. The plan is to keep the house stocked with the bare minimum for living and take our personal items (pictures, clothing, etc.) with us or put them in storage. That way, if the house needs to be used by the church or friends passing through, it is available and not cluttered with our things. 

My first step is to start in one room and make a pile of things - many organizational sites suggest a three box method; one for storage, one for give away, and one to toss. I might end up doing this but for now, I have a plan to take pictures of my items and place them on various Facebook sites that I belong to. 

Side note: I love these sites. Many of them are to sell your items but there are two that are basically set up to help people out. You place your items on there for free, but the person who accepts your items must post items to replace what they took (Pay-it-forward kindof deal). I love the concept and will support it as much as I can. So, for now, all my little bits will be posted on these two sites and the bigger items we want to sell, will be posted on the others.
The problem is, this may be too time consuming as we have 15+ years of 'stuff' or as some would call it, JUNK. Just the thought overwhelms me but I have support. One of my favorite sites for getting one's self in gear.

At any rate, I should get off this blog and get busy. Unless, there are fairies I can purchase that will do this all for me. Any ideas? I do need a coach... I love my things. 
Your faithful 'let's get 'er done' blogette

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Pets on the road

I have noticed that taking your pets with you on the road is so rewarding, sometimes not so easy and in many places, welcomed. 
We have 4.5 dogs and a cat. While we don't take them all at once, we do take 2 with us.You know, the cheesy His and Hers thing.  Usually this is Dottie and Annie, who are the "inside" dogs. Winston and Wally are the "outside" dogs and rarely come into the house or even want to come in, for that matter. The times I did let them in, they both whined at the backdoor to be let out. So I figured if that's what they prefer, then I am fine with that. The .5 I mentioned is a newbie to our world, Maggie. She is so stinkin' small that I can hardly count her as one dog. (lol)
On the trips we have taken, our dogs only became a problem one time. Or rather, our poor planning, became the problem. Here are the tips we have learned along the way. 


1. If you can't take your pets with you, we found "sitters" for them. While we are able to handle 6 pets at a time, not everyone is thrilled to take that many on for an extended period. We are not inclined to leave them at a kennel and can't really afford or justify a posh doggy hotel when our friends, family, and neighbors are willing to take one or three at a time and love on them every hour of every day while we are gone. The perk to this, is if your "sitter" is tech savvy, you get picture and text updates of how your canine friend is doing! 


2. When the pets get to go - What fun! We have found that the only thing keeping your pet(s) from being welcome is a nasty disposition but mostly, the lack of a leash. If your pet is leashed and their waste properly disposed of, you are good to go in most places. Some parks even boast a fenced in Pet exercise area where your pet can run free. 

3. On a particular trip, we had taken Annie and Dottie with us. We planned to stay in our coach the whole trip but unforeseen issues arose and we had to "camp out" with my parents in their 5th wheel. My mom likes dogs, just not IN her space. So, we had to make alternate arrangements for our dogs. Thankfully, my parents have room-mates who also had a dog and were willing to keep our dogs too. There were big things to do, like install dog proof runs and jerry-rig the doggie door and crate so our dogs were able to come in but not have the run of the house. Oh boy! Apparently, they did really well.


4. That brings me to the crate while traveling or letting the pet run free subject. Annie is a  Dachshund/Chihuahua mix. She is a nervous dog by nature but when that coach/car/truck etc. starts up, she is excited to go but tends to freak out when it starts moving. She pants, she whines, she shakes and she runs back and forth from the couch to the front and back to the couch again. At first this was cute and charming but after a mile, I was over it. It wasn't cute anymore.
 I was envisioning the kind of dog who would love to travel, sit on the dash (dash-hound), and be calm, cool, and collected. HA! Nothing could calm this four-legged child. She was a mess. So our alternative was to load her crate with her favorite things: blanket, bed, Kong with peanut butter, water dish, and her favorite stuffed toy (Dottie). While this helped with the running around issue, we could still hear her panting and whining. A fellow RVer suggested we give her a low dose of Benadryl. This worked for all of 50 miles. Then we put her crate in the back bedroom on the bed so she could see out when she wanted, but had a softer ride. No luck - then the howling set in. I then put her crate on the floor in the bathroom and shut the door - maybe she wanted peace and quiet... NOT. The crying became unbearable even over the roar of a 454 with an exhaust leak (fixed now). So back out into the salon she came. In her crate. Where we were. The panting suddenly became the least of her anxiety issues.
We are still working on a solution for her. :)

5. Our dogs are used to grass - well, a weed patch, but that is beside the point. So when we stop and there is not a blade of grass to be found to do their business on, it can become a chore to convince them to go. I have seen the little green patch of grass that you can buy for your pets with a removable and washable tray but I've yet to take the plunge. It just seems weird to me. This whole thing makes me think that a traveling cat is the way to go. Anyway, sorry for my wandering thoughts - Annie is more persnikety about this than Dot. Dottie is old, has been around the fire-hydrant a few times and is no respecter of bushes, flowerbeds, or graveled lots. Annie will hold on until the bitter end and if I am in a hurry and give up, invariably there is a gift waiting for me upon my return. So, this makes miss Annie, the most problematic travel companion. In her defense, however, we have not been on the road that long so hopefully, she will figure it all out lest she get left with a sitter. So what do you do when your pet refuses to go without grass? I'd love to know! 

6. Children and/or overly freindly people- We know that children and animals have this almost magnetic pull to one another. Some parents are vigilant in telling their children to not pet strange dogs without asking the owner first, but not all. I love my animals and I am proud to say that they are friendly and gentle with everyone; however, this is a big problem when you don't want them "getting up in someone's bidness" on the end of a leash. They are good about staying, sitting, heeling, and all that, but what do you do when the person comes up, sits down without an invite and proceeds to pet your animal but then gets bent when said animal won't leave them alone? (I cave and put them in the RV or in their outside crate but really, I am seething that my pet has to pay the penance for a human's ignorance). So we've come up with a plan. If we are in our campsite and a "guest" comes along and invites themselves, we ask "do you mind our pets being out? We can put them up if you'd prefer." I don't want trouble and I don't want to hurt feelings or make any camper upset if I can help it. So, we cave.

I've rambled on too long... bottom line, take your pets if you can put up with all the little and sometimes big, issues that arise. Take your leash, harness's, collar, crate, a vet approved calming drug for your anxious pets, and favorite  treats. OR leave your pet(s) with a trusted sitter or kennel. 

Your dog-lover-for-life-and-cant-stop-bringing-them-home bloggerette

Maggie, the new .5 pup

Saturday, September 29, 2012

To do or not to do... that is the question

The last few days, while we wait for our coach to be finished up and for the bank to get it's ducks in a row, we have been discussing and researching what to do with the house. Do we rent it out, rent out a room and maintain our 'personal space' or do we let her sit, essentially empty, for the months we will be away and hire a house sitter? OH my goodness, what a nightmare! 
There are so many pro's and con's to each option.

Renting out: 
 Renting it out means that the potential renter may look great on paper but be a total slob and not care about the place even with a management service. Or, the renter is great and we are happily raking in a monthly fee that will help pay for maintenance on the house and maybe, if we are blessed, give us a small income to sock away. 

Renting out a room: 
I was thinking that if we were selective in where we advertised our "room for rent," we may be able to get a good kid from college who is tired of campus living. We do have three universities in our town but knowing college students as I do (yes, I am lumping them all together - my bad), I am not sure this is the best or the wisest option for almost obvious reasons. However, the student may be a good kid and would take care of the house, the backyardigans (two of our fur babies) and the cat. We would have to find someone that we trusted explicitly with our things and animals. This option may be worse than just emptying the house and renting it out. Of course, there are others to think about besides college types but in our town, this individual may be hard to find. 

Letting it sit... and fall to shambles... and break my heart... 
Sorry, I guess I am getting ahead of myself. Well, we all know what happens to things when they are not used and sit for awhile. Not only is the house subject to all kinds of issues - theft, looting, destruction by hoodlums, mice/snake infestations, among other ornery and pesky critters like opossums, skunks, and racoons. This would also require a 'house sitter' to be paid to care for the animals, gardens, pool, mail, and misc. shipments. This has been our choice for the last two years when our travel time was a total of 3 months, tops. However, I am not sure it will be worth the cost for 9+ months. 

So, there you have it. This is what we are faced with and I've no idea which to choose. Each has it's own good and bad sides so we are still weighing our options. Trust, faith, and a lot of thought... I am tired. Guess we will decide this tomorrow. :)

Speaking of tomorrow, the grands are going to the Tulsa State Fair. I want to go, but we are trying to watch our P's and Q's money wise. I guess after such a big plung in the finance pool, we don't want to over-do it. So, I guess we will stay home and enjoy the Facebook pictures. 

Speaking of added expense - This sweet thing came home with us tonight.

 I am a sucker for a good story and well, this angel's mama and daddy (with baby) couldn't take Maggie with them to their new home and were almost forced to send her to our local shelter. So I caved. Mind you, we have 4 dogs and a cat already and they are another decision to be made. I cant take them all and so what do I do.... bring one home. Before you all get bent at me, I took Maggie with the intention of finding her a good forever home and that is still my intention (sort of, maybe, not-likely); however, knowing my hubby as I do... Maggie will be going but not to another home. She will be going with us, on the road, with the other fuzz faces.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Move in day!

Today we told our family and friends about the new coach via Facebook. This was so much fun since I had been posting bits and pieces about a big surprise coming. Many were excited and apparently, counting down the minutes. At one point, I was reminded that it had already been 4 hours since I had posted and it was time to share the news! So, I did. LOL 
At any rate, our people seem to be very excited for us and for that I am grateful.
We headed to the bank this morning to wrap up all the paperwork and get everything signed, sealed and close to getting delivered. A few things cropped up in this meeting that we weren't counting on but it wasn't so bad that we lost the deal. Just those little bits that can either roll off your back or just sit in the back of your brain and bug you. (Click pic for more) 
 Things like that silly concept of the "right of rescission" which is really for your own protection and essentially gives you the right to back out of the deal within a 3 day period when using your using your home's  equity for your loan. And other things like waiting for a title search to make sure noone has placed a lein against your property.  However, we have waited forever for this day and I doubt we are backing out. :) Nevertheless, we have to wait those pesky few days before we can drive her off the lot, permanently. It's looking like late next week...
It turned out okay though, because this gave us the opportunity to have some things worked on, replaced, and updated while it sits at the dealers without us having to drive it around to various places and wasting our precious gas. So between the bank issues and these projects, the wait won't seem so bad. 
After the bank, we took care of other business, like breakfast and dropping off a car we were putting on consignment. After that, it was time to move in! So off we went to get the trade-in coach and unload it into the new one. Boy, was that a lot of work! Fun work, but hard non-the-less. The dealer did this really fun walk through with one of the tech's who taught us all about our new coach and how to use all the bells and whistles. 

Our Tech, a cowboy kinda guy, was so thorough that we forgot nearly everything he said except "You will forget 90% of what I have just said, so you will have to just take her out and play with her to learn her ways." He was right. We did forget; and play with her, we will. Funny enough, it was through this walkthrough that we found out we had more coach than we thought we did. Little (BIG) things like solar panels to charge the battery bay, fun things like a switch that will help when changing from the generator to electric and vice versa, a motor home cover (!!!), and a pile of other things that I can't remember. I suggest that even seasoned RV'rs don't skip this step when buying a coach. It is amazing what you learn! 

Well, that was our day and we ended it with a big family trip to the Circus in town. What a grand way to end the day of such fun, stress, frustration, but something that will be worth it all in the end. 

Next up - 
 What do do with the house, furnishings, and pets now that we are ready to hit the trail in a few months

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Week 1

We have found the motor home we love and have finished the negotiation process but I thought we should share how we arrived to this point. 
First of all, we looked back on our past experiences with RV's and made a list of wants and don't wants and then listed them in categories of must have, would like to have, and do not want, and so on... These lists become invaluable when shopping for your perfect RV. If you are new to the RV world, sit down with seasoned RVer's and find out what they have learned. 
For instance, after our 3rd RV, we knew we must have at least one slide. Two would wonderful but a slide in the salon (livingroom) area, was a must. We also wanted electric/hydraulic levelers, basement storage (the large bay doors on the bottom of the coach in which to store all your things), Day/Night shades, central heat and air, generator and a backup camera. 
Things that really didn't matter to us but would be nice, were thermal paned windows (Nice if you plan to RV in the winter months), tinted windows, separate room for the toilet, carpet or wood floors, free standing dining table vs. booth seating, double fridge and so on. 
Things that we did not want period, were cloth or folding doors to the bathroom and bedroom areas; venetian, horizontal or vertical blinds, and things like this. Once you've spent time in an RV, these things really become an issue or they don't. But, you learn what you like, what you don't and what doesn't matter one way or another. 
Second, we looked at new vs. used. New is fun because nobody has been there before you, its fresh, it's under warranty, and often, it's state-of-the-art. While these are very valid reasons to buy new, the one drawback is that when you drive your new coach, 5th wheel, trailer or camper off the lot, that nasty thing called depreciation sets in and you take the hit when you go to trade in or sell. Granted, this is not always a bad thing since certain brands (Airstream, Marathon, etc.) have slow depreciation. So it's really up to you on how you want to handle this. We chose used for two reasons; one, the price is right and generally more negotiable. Many older RVer's buy new and then find themselves unable to travel so you CAN find a cream-puff out there that has low miles and/or minimal usage for a very reasonable price.
 One thing I have noticed about most RVer's, they either are meticulous in caring for their RV or they aren't. The ones who aren't are not hard to spot. 
The second reason we chose used, is because we trust our dealer. We've done business with them for years and they take in trades, go through them and fix all the problems then give you a quality used coach or trailer. Shop around and get all the details in writing! 
Here is our own journey - We spent 3 months on vacation in the RV Mecca of the world (the Pacific Northwest) and looked at many different coaches and compared brands, floor plans, and engine size (454 gas or go with Diesel). With that under our belt, we came home and shopped local since our state prices were much lower than prices in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Day 1- Went to our lender, told them what we wanted to do and got pre-approved for a set amount. Then we went to our favorite dealer (where we take our current RV in for repairs). Looked at what they had and talked price, mileage, generator hours, etc. 
  • Day 2- looked up the same RV online (Dealer website) - We found that if we bought it online, we would get a better deal. So instead of writing in to apply for it online (since we already have pre-approval), we took the figure in and asked what they could do for us. We looked at the coach again and went home to talk. 
  • Day 3- did other things but talked about the coach and shopped around on Craig's list, other dealers in the next town and beyond. 
  • Day 4- came back to the dealer, drove both coaches available, talked about trade-in's and visited our lender about the one we thought would fit our needs. 
  • Day 5- Visited with the dealer and negotiated a deal, worked out what things they would fix, detailing of the coach and working on the minor engine problems (turned out it was just low on power steering fluid). With our paperwork in hand, we left satisfied that we had done our homework. 
  • Day 6- (tomorrow!) We will meet with the lender, draw up the paperwork, pay the dealer and take possession of the coach. Party! Well, not quite yet. There is still a lot of work to do! Unload the trade-in coach and load the new one. Go through a "lets learn all about your new coach!" session and  THEN we can party. 
  • Day 7- a small short road trip to get used to our home-on-wheels before the big trip in the spring. 
So, we have our coach picked out. The deal is nearly complete and we are so excited that we think it's Christmas. I will be honest though, this can be very stressful (especially if you are going through a random lender and have to wait for approval on something you think you LOVE). Take it slow, try to not get attached to one or the other so if it doesn't work out, you aren't crushed. 
The best advice, take your time, do your homework, make your lists, and be prepared to negotiate.  It appears that we did our deal pretty fast, and really, we did. However, we had already shopped around for 3 months in the Pacific Northwest and had looked at all the dealers near our home here during that time as well. So in all honestly, we spent around 5 months looking.

In the beginning...

Hi everyone! 
We decided to start a new blog to document our adventures in purchasing a new RV, all that goes into packing said RV, and hitting the open road. 
This is not our first RV purchase so we knew after owning two very different styles of motor homes, what we were looking for. Our first coach was a very old Concord that we had a ball in with two dogs and two kids. This coach was old when we bought it but we wanted to try it out and see if we would like it on something inexpensive. 

After vacationing in this one on weekends, we were hooked. The kids loved it, we loved it and the dogs just went along for the ride. We then decided to "upgrade" a bit and take the plunge by moving into an RV, homeschooling the kids, and trying out RV Park life. We bought a Beaver Coach that was made right there in my hometown and left our home for a lovely RV park off of I-5. The kids especially enjoyed this since the park had a pool and after "class" they were rewarded with time in the pool or on the playground. We were able to pull out after work and head to another location just for a change of scenery. Also, this was when gas was quite a bit cheaper! :)

Fast forward several years- Don had a stroke so we sold the Beaver. The kids are mow grown and after his recovery of 7 years, we felt we wanted to give it a try again so we bought the Winnebago Brave from our neighbor. This motor home was a great starter for us since it was smaller than the Beaver, compact but yet roomy enough that you didn't really have that cracker box feel if you were just weekend camping or on a short trip. This is the motor home in which I learned to drive a big rig - but more on that later.

Now we have purchased another one and will pick it up tomorrow (hopefully!) We have taken two trips to Oregon/Washington in the Brave and had an absolute blast. During the first trip, we were hooked even more and decided we wanted to seriously think about part time RVing but we had so many things to think about and clear up before we could venture into that territory. Things like kids in college, a house to make decisions on, grandchildren, and too many pets to take along in this small of a coach. It wasn't until our second trip that we decided we were closer to being ready. So after shopping around, and determining if we wanted to go with a new coach or a used one, we settled on one that I think we will enjoy for many years. Show and tell coming soon!