Blog Migration

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We’ve taken the plunge, fitting on Independence Day!  The blog has been migrated to our own domain.  It’s still a work in progress but then again aren’t all websites a work in progress as content is added?

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So, celebrate the Fourth with friends and family.  Enjoy some fireworks and the musical celebration of the Boston Pops, then tomorrow come on over and see what’s new with Pickles and the rest of the flock.

Our first week as Houseless but not homeless

Well, it’s official as of last Friday we are fulltimers which is when we surrendered our keys to the sticks and bricks world.  This morning marks the seventh day we’ve awoken on The Gump without a “safety net” to return to.  So how’s it been so far you might be asking yourselves?  Short answer, stressful from the start but hopefully as week two dawns, the stress begins to abate as we settle into our routine.

We luckily picked the hottest possible time to move out of the air conditioned world of a sticks and bricks house.  The temperatures last week and this in Phoenix was in triple digits with an average somewhere right around 115 with little relief overnight. 

We picked up The Gump and parked him at Estrella Mountain Regional Park which was close, as the crow flies, to the house.  The two nights before we turned over the keys let us get the flock settled and gave us someplace to sleep as the last of our worldly possessions was removed, more on that in another blog post.  Estrella Mountain is hot and there are no mature mesquite trees to provide any relief for RV campers. 

The stage is now set for Sunday morning, when we pack up and head to Tucson for three weeks.  Tucson is a good stopping off point, big enough to let us donate if we were overly optimistic about what would and would not fit and had a pool and reservation availability over the holiday weekend.  So, my parents stop by and we say a tearful goodbye and then off we head to Tucson. 

We check in, pull in, and begin to settle in when Dave suddenly realizes “OH CRAP”.  “Hun, did you stow the satellite before we pulled out?”   My face crumbles in terror as I realize, “No, oh good heavens I completely forgot.”  Panic ensues as we turn on the satellite receiver and nada, go outside and discover the dish bent in half.  Dave climbs onto the roof and unbends the dish but to no avail.  The receiver and the dish just aren’t communicating.

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At this point, we are each blaming ourselves and Dave is in flat out stressed to the max.  We have the unspoken agreement that only one of us is allowed to freak out at a time and so, I remained calm.  So, while sweating in The Gump which has not yet cooled down I sent out emails to Winegard and La Mesa (which just happens to be across the street).  After doing all we can do, we finally go get something to eat for the first time all day and try not to focus solely on the destroyed satellite dish.

Monday morning rolls around and bright and early I hear from our service advisor.  A tech is here in less than an hour and confirms that yep, it’s broke but he does share good news.  While the satellite may be a complete loss there is no structural damage to the roof.  We quickly get a quote and an appointment for Wednesday morning.  We decide to board Leo at PetSmart because he would not handle sitting in the service center reception area well. 

Yesterday, went smoothly and the satellite was repaired quickly and faster than than time we were quoted.  Only really damage was to finances, which while painful and will hurt for a couple of months, it wasn’t catastrophic.  The Gump and his family are now settled in for the remainder of the stay in Tucson.  I need to finish putting away things that got stowed in the office for “later” and we need to forgive ourselves. 

Lesson learned, not eating and extreme temperatures is a combination designed to make us fail.  We are adding to visual reminders to The Gump specific to the satellite.  We are adding a small wind chime to the railing on the front door and a ribbon to the handle on the utility cabinet where the satellite control box is located.  If either of those two items are still attached they will be obvious in the future before we close up and lock up to travel.  No system is fail proof but it’s a better, more reliable chance than non-visual reminders.

So, week one is complete and boy howdy was it a learning experience.  It was a definite speed bump but we handled it.  I’m proud to say that despite the heat, stress, and unexpected financial impact we didn’t lose our tempers with one another and we never blamed one another.  There has been one other lesson this week but I will save that for another post.  For now, The Gump is healthy, whole, cool, and his family is in-tact.  All is good with the world.

It’s a good thing despite initial impression

As you know, we spent a couple of weeks in New Mexico at the beginning of May on our final shake down trip after picking up The Gump from La Mesa.  We needed fuel and food and so we stopped at a Petro truck stop just over the border in New Mexico.  Dave pumped diesel and I went in search of snacks.  Fuel and food obtained we continued on blissfully unaware that we, well I, had picked up an unwanted passenger for the trip.

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We arrived at Percha Dam State Park mid-afternoon on Saturday and settled in comfortably.  Come Monday morning I was starting to feel a wee bit off but then Tuesday arrived and I spent the day in bed wondering if I’d survive.  Whatever cold/flu virus I picked up was nasty awful and hit me hard.  That first week is a blur, I was miserable and felt like I was drowning.  I finally start to feel better and wham Dave gets hit with it that Monday of the second week. 

We changed campgrounds, for a variety of reasons, on Thursday and go to the KOA in Las Cruces.  We hunker in the bunker so to speak, not doing much of anything.  Sunday morning arrives and we leisurely pack up and head back to the house for the final time.  About four hours into the trip back, I tell Dave he is weaving.  He denies it and I say, hey hon seriously you’re weaving.  He’s congested and coughing up a storm too.  I quickly make reservations at KOA Tucson/Lazy Days and here we are until Memorial Day.

MOM, stop rambling and get to the point!  No one wants to hear about you and Dad’s snotty adventures in New Mexico!!

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Pickles has a small point, but the background information sets the stage.  What driving back to the house on Sunday proved was that we are both capable and ready to adapt to life on the fly without it becoming a huge bone of contention.  We needed to pull off and recover and we quickly found a spot where that could happen.  Sure, it was a mere two hours or so back to the house but it wasn’t worth the risk.  It isn’t just some random life belongings we two behind us but the items we’ve deemed most personal and essential to us.  That ability to adapt and react in a timely manner isn’t surprising to me but it does prove that we are capable of doing so to any remaining family members who doubt our sanity.

Dave is feeling better every day.  We are both enjoying the nightly trips to the hot tub after Pickles goes to bed for the evening.  Wally is getting a haircut Friday morning thanks to a local mobile groomer that could work him in on short notice.  Sangria and Leo happily lay out on the deck during the day while Pickles hangs out in the sun.  Overall, the six of us are quite pleased and content with ourselves. 

We are dreading going back to the house come Monday.  It no longer is home and it is going to be hot with a lot of hard work in front of us.  That being said, we are both motivated to get it accomplished as quickly as possible so we can be free and clear of the house and it’s expenses. 

It’s a good thing despite initial impression

As you know, we spent a couple of weeks in New Mexico at the beginning of May on our final shake down trip after picking up The Gump from La Mesa.  We needed fuel and food and so we stopped at a Petro truck stop just over the border in New Mexico.  Dave pumped diesel and I went in search of snacks.  Fuel and food obtained we continued on blissfully unaware that we, well I, had picked up an unwanted passenger for the trip.

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We arrived at Percha Dam State Park mid-afternoon on Saturday and settled in comfortably.  Come Monday morning I was starting to feel a wee bit off but then Tuesday arrived and I spent the day in bed wondering if I’d survive.  Whatever cold/flu virus I picked up was nasty awful and hit me hard.  That first week is a blur, I was miserable and felt like I was drowning.  I finally start to feel better and wham Dave gets hit with it that Monday of the second week. 

We changed campgrounds, for a variety of reasons, on Thursday and go to the KOA in Las Cruces.  We hunker in the bunker so to speak, not doing much of anything.  Sunday morning arrives and we leisurely pack up and head back to the house for the final time.  About four hours into the trip back, I tell Dave he is weaving.  He denies it and I say, hey hon seriously you’re weaving.  He’s congested and coughing up a storm too.  I quickly make reservations at KOA Tucson/Lazy Days and here we are until Memorial Day.

MOM, stop rambling and get to the point!  No one wants to hear about you and Dad’s snotty adventures in New Mexico!!

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Pickles has a small point, but the background information sets the stage.  What driving back to the house on Sunday proved was that we are both capable and ready to adapt to life on the fly without it becoming a huge bone of contention.  We needed to pull off and recover and we quickly found a spot where that could happen.  Sure, it was a mere two hours or so back to the house but it wasn’t worth the risk.  It isn’t just some random life belongings we two behind us but the items we’ve deemed most personal and essential to us.  That ability to adapt and react in a timely manner isn’t surprising to me but it does prove that we are capable of doing so to any remaining family members who doubt our sanity.

Dave is feeling better every day.  We are both enjoying the nightly trips to the hot tub after Pickles goes to bed for the evening.  Wally is getting a haircut Friday morning thanks to a local mobile groomer that could work him in on short notice.  Sangria and Leo happily lay out on the deck during the day while Pickles hangs out in the sun.  Overall, the six of us are quite pleased and content with ourselves. 

We are dreading going back to the house come Monday.  It no longer is home and it is going to be hot with a lot of hard work in front of us.  That being said, we are both motivated to get it accomplished as quickly as possible so we can be free and clear of the house and it’s expenses. 

The Best VALUE AROUND

Let’s face it, unless you are an avid oasis camper who doesn’t routinely need the comforts of air conditioning and electrical power to survive, then we all end up paying something to park our rigs and live.  Be it at a five star resort or a city park, if we want amenities then we have to be willing to open our wallets and fork out the cash.  We have no trouble doing so but like all us, we prefer to get good value for our hard earned money.

New Mexico has the flat out best value to any camper, full-time or not, in the country.  Residents pay $180 and non-residents pay $225 a year for an annual camping pass allowing the holder to camp at one of the more than twenty state parks for a nominal fee per night depending on the type of spot.

Primitive (no hook-ups) are free of charge to annual pass holders.  50 amp electrical plus water sites are $4.00 a night, while adding sewer to the above pushes the nightly fee to $8.00.  No matter how you slice the pie, that is an extremely good value for your money.  Many of the parks also have wifi available for use.  Even if you only use the pass a couple of times a year, it more than pays for itself.  You can spend 14 nights out of 20 in any one state park and reservations can be made up to six months in advance.

I know what you are sitting there thinking to yourself, but it’s HOT in New Mexico!  True it can be, but a quick look and almost every state park is located on a body of water.

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Percha Dam State Park is pictured above.  It is far from barren and hot.  There are mountains in the background, the trees are full of birds, and there are actual trees versus cacti. 

The value of the New Mexico State Park pass cannot be beat, especially when compared to the prices for similar amenities in neighboring states.  We have already booked our summer plans and they involve staying at the various lakes around New Mexico.  The Gump can handle winter camping without issue so we are looking forward to doing some winter camping as well.

“A rose by any other name…” or Wherein I Rename “Dry” Camping

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Romeo and Juliet has produced some of the most memorable lines of Western literature, including the oft quoted “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  The quote is incredibly apt because the connotation of dry camping, wild camping, or boon docking fail to do the glory and solitude of the past two weeks justice.  I’ve renamed it Oasis Camping because it is truly our oasis of peace, solitude, and relaxation. 

Dry camping makes it sound like you are truly roughing it, making do with less than all the creature comforts to which we have become accustomed.  Oasis camping sounds much more inviting and luxurious in comparison.  We’ve been oasis camping for just shy of two weeks straight now without sacrificing anything.  Ok sure, we aren’t showering everyday but hey who cares?  We have showered on a semi-regular basis which is more than sufficient in the middle of the desert with just one another for company.

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Sunrise has been stunning every morning we have been here at King of Arizona National Wildlife Refuge.  The animals are content, basking in the sun, howling with the wind, and chattering at the occasional bird that flutters near.  We’ve watched Dodgers baseball every night, worked without interruption, satellite has been flawless, and there has been absolutely no light pollution.  Sure, the winds have been fierce and have prevented our planned spit grilling but all that meant was that we were forced to go shopping for meat in town and discovered an amazing butcher in the general store.  That butcher and his tender, succulent meats alone would have made the entire trip worthwhile. 

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Sangria is comforting Dave as he’s been forced to rest and rehab his left knee the entire trip.  We wanted to go hiking and see the beauty that is Palm Canyon but that isn’t on the agenda for this trip.  However, while a bummer it hasn’t changed the fact that the overall trip has been amazing.  It has been what we needed on oasis of calm and relaxation.

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There’s me most days, on the patio from sunrise until the heat of the day or the whipping winds drive me inside.  The skies are crystal clear, the flock comes out to join me, and I’ve gotten a lot of reading and writing done, well if I’m truthful more reading than writing.  If Dave’s knee is up to it, we are going to venture into Quartzsite late this afternoon to visit the Reader’s Oasis aka the used bookstore run by the nudist.  It’s supposed to be an awesome used bookstore and I’ll admit, I’m looking forward to it very much. 

So, there you have it we have been Oasis Camping for the last two weeks.  Two weeks off the grid, away from the endless treadmill of modern life, while maintaining our standard of living.  So next time you venture off the grid, enjoy your own personal oasis and go Oasis Camping instead of dry camping.

“A rose by any other name…” or Wherein I Rename “Dry” Camping

o20160418_061527

Romeo and Juliet has produced some of the most memorable lines of Western literature, including the oft quoted “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  The quote is incredibly apt because the connotation of dry camping, wild camping, or boon docking fail to do the glory and solitude of the past two weeks justice.  I’ve renamed it Oasis Camping because it is truly our oasis of peace, solitude, and relaxation. 

Dry camping makes it sound like you are truly roughing it, making do with less than all the creature comforts to which we have become accustomed.  Oasis camping sounds much more inviting and luxurious in comparison.  We’ve been oasis camping for just shy of two weeks straight now without sacrificing anything.  Ok sure, we aren’t showering everyday but hey who cares?  We have showered on a semi-regular basis which is more than sufficient in the middle of the desert with just one another for company.

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Sunrise has been stunning every morning we have been here at King of Arizona National Wildlife Refuge.  The animals are content, basking in the sun, howling with the wind, and chattering at the occasional bird that flutters near.  We’ve watched Dodgers baseball every night, worked without interruption, satellite has been flawless, and there has been absolutely no light pollution.  Sure, the winds have been fierce and have prevented our planned spit grilling but all that meant was that we were forced to go shopping for meat in town and discovered an amazing butcher in the general store.  That butcher and his tender, succulent meats alone would have made the entire trip worthwhile. 

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Sangria is comforting Dave as he’s been forced to rest and rehab his left knee the entire trip.  We wanted to go hiking and see the beauty that is Palm Canyon but that isn’t on the agenda for this trip.  However, while a bummer it hasn’t changed the fact that the overall trip has been amazing.  It has been what we needed on oasis of calm and relaxation.

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There’s me most days, on the patio from sunrise until the heat of the day or the whipping winds drive me inside.  The skies are crystal clear, the flock comes out to join me, and I’ve gotten a lot of reading and writing done, well if I’m truthful more reading than writing.  If Dave’s knee is up to it, we are going to venture into Quartzsite late this afternoon to visit the Reader’s Oasis aka the used bookstore run by the nudist.  It’s supposed to be an awesome used bookstore and I’ll admit, I’m looking forward to it very much. 

So, there you have it we have been Oasis Camping for the last two weeks.  Two weeks off the grid, away from the endless treadmill of modern life, while maintaining our standard of living.  So next time you venture off the grid, enjoy your own personal oasis and go Oasis Camping instead of dry camping.

Learning Experience and curve

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We thought ourselves smarter than the average bear when we decided to purchase The Gump last December.  After all, we had done a lot of research, looked at a lot of different models and manufacturers, we knew what we wanted and needed for our family, and we walked away from the ultimate choice at least twice before deciding to purchase.  It was a non-emotional and well thought-out purchase.  And yet, as we’ve learned we would have landed in the same spot if we had bought the first time we set foot in The Gump.

Listen folks, Mum is about to admit that she was wrong and that Dad handled the situation much better than she did.  Also, can we get The Gump back already!  I miss travelling and impressing folks with my sparkling personality.

Pickles is right, Dave handled the service issues much, much better than I did.  I come from a background where every decision, choice was treated like the life and death matter it was (aerospace) whereas Dave can navigate murky waters of corporate life with an ease I cannot comprehend.  Guess whose skills are more relevant in the RV world?  Yep, not mine.  I’m ok with that, now.  I’m perfectly content to be the writer of the blog and planner of trips.  Those dark, murky waters of slime can be navigated by Dave, I’ll be content to be the port in the storm from here on out.

Rather than turn this into a rant, I’ve decided to share a couple of lessons we learned in the last nine weeks of extended shake-down service.

Lesson One

The closer to home you get your rig worked on, the better.  Nope seriously, sounds like common sense but we learned this one the hard way.  Two hour drive one way through some of the worst traffic in the nation to check on progress of repairs means you won’t be checking in on a regular basis.  Phone calls and emails are easy but are also easy to ignore and dodge.  It’s much harder to ignore a person who shows up and wants to see the status of repairs. 

Next time, despite the lack of trust in the dealership closer to the house we will be taking it there instead of the dealership we’ve spent months building a working relationship with simply because ten miles is a lot closer than two hours.  Our showing up yesterday did far more than all of my emails and phones in the weeks since we dropped off The Gump for service.

Lesson Two

Be willing to make repairs yourself even if you aren’t the handyman type.  We heard this but took it with a large grain of salt.  After all, if you could pay to have the work done professionally isn’t that less risky than let’s say  Tammy All Thumbs trying to repair something?  Short answer, undoubtedly yes but should you opt for the professional repair option be prepared to be royally and repeated screwed.

We have a simple, easy to repair safety issue that Dutchmen is refusing to repair.  The details are for another post but the repair is less than $35 in raw materials and some time and labor.  Fair enough, when the quote came in for the repair let’s just say it was far in excess of 100% markup in what I thought was the cost of raw materials.  I told Dave, nope we’ll figure it out.  He’s always engineering stuff and this time the conceptual can be made real.  We’d save a ton of cash and get The Gump back that much sooner.

Lesson Three

Spreadsheet action items are your best friend.  Your rig may be your weekend get away or it may be your home but either way, the spreadsheet is your best friend when it comes to tracking ongoing issues and repairs. 

Our dealership is busy and our service advisor is swamped.  I know this logically but honestly, I’d become lazy and dependent like we all have on just throwing ongoing issues in an email as they came up.  Guess what?  Emails are easy to lose track of and a pain to follow-up on individually when there is long list of problems awaiting resolution.  Spreadsheets on the other hand, attach to an email just as easily and keep everything that is ongoing in one place. 

So, as you can imagine we now have an action item spreadsheet for The Gump.  That same spreadsheet will be used until we no longer own The Gump.

Conclusion

So, would we do it all over again knowing what we know now?  Yes, no hesitation and no regrets.  We would do things differently regarding service and letting Dave handle interactions with Dutchmen and Keystone.  But as for The Gump?  No question we made the right decision for us, even if we haven’t made the right decision every time since.  Life is a learning curve and we’ve learned a lot in the last four months.  But much like the photo at the top, the sun is beginning to break through the clouds and there is light at the end of the road.  I’m off to grab a cup of coffee and plan the next shake-out trip.

The car snack conundrum

What do you do when you are on that long drive between point A and point B and stopping to pick-up a sandwich (or pop into the fifth wheel and make them) just isn’t feasible?  This is a common problem for us, between Pickles needing to eat at roughly the same time everyday and just plain hunger on those long drives.

We’ve tried the old standbys of crackers and cheese, fruit, and cookies but honestly those aren’t such a great solution.  We don’t have anywhere we can store a cooler to keep things cold.  Dave always suggests jerky but it is usually overly salty and not the best choice for the animals (despite their universal love for all forms of jerky). 

I made these awesome cookies last weekend and in the middle of this week.  They are oatmeal cookies so full of good fiber.  But they are not savory and trust me, Pickles hyped up on sugar in the backseat chattering his fool head off will make no one happy!

This week we ordered a meat bar from Epic.  I know sounds weird right?

Dave was the designated test subject.  Let’s just say they weren’t what we were expecting.  We were both surprised when he opened the package and there was moisture, ooey, gooey moisture.  Raised eyebrows and a skeptical bite later (well, ok I took a small nibble as opposed to his bite) and we were confused.

It wasn’t bad, but at the same time it wasn’t something I’d go out of the way to find again.  Yes it’s full of protein and is something we could all eat in Lana toddling down the road, but it is incredibly bland.  And by incredibly bland, it might have been raw bison because there was no other flavor note.  We couldn’t taste the bacon or the cranberries, although you could see the cranberries.  There needed to be a spicy, peppery note to balance out the sweetness.

It’s hard to wrap your mind around wet meat that is shelf stable.  Admittedly it checks all kinds of trendy boxes: gluten-free, paleo, environmental etc. but as nice as all that may be, if in the end the product is just weird on the palate what’s the point?

We have more of the bars sitting on the counter and I highly suspect they will become expensive dog and bird snacks while traveling.  I still need to come up with a savory cookie that travels well and tastes good.  I can’t see myself voluntarily consuming the meat bar. 

So, what do you eat driving down the road?

Our Overall Review, impressions, & wish list

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While The Gump is in for service, we thought we’d share our overall impressions about the design and things we would change in a perfect world with unlimited finances.  For reference, here is a floorplan of our Voltage 3970 (ours has the stowable table in the garage not the living room).

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Master Bedroom and Bathroom

Not much here either of us would change, this is especially true of the bathroom.  The bathroom is filled with natural light, although Dave would consider this a detriment when he’s trying to sleep late, and plenty of space to take a shower and dry yourself off without feeling cramped.  Dave isn’t overly fond of the placement of the medicine cabinet but small complaint compared to some of the bathrooms we toured.

The master bedroom has a couple of items we would both change.  First one being the cabinetry above the dresser which houses the television.  While the two small cabinets surrounding the television are nice, we would both gladly give up the storage space for a larger bedroom window.  The television could be on a slide-out mechanism tucked into the laundry closet. 

There are two heater vents, one in the bedroom and one in the bath.  These vents are less than three feet apart and if you are the partner sleeping closest to the closet on a cold winter’s night you are going to be grumbling about the absence of a heater vent.  Dave is always hot and so he blocks off the heater vent by three quarters in the bedroom and closes the bathroom door except for a couple of inches for Leo at night.  So basically, the hottest person in the family gets all the heater vents and stubbornly refuses after all these years to switch sides of the bed.  So yes, in a perfect world I would move the heater vents because I know I’ll never get that side of the bed.  (Love you honey)

The other major thing I’d change in the bedroom is the bar in the closet.  The bar itself is good, the holes in the metal keep hangers from flying about during travel  However, on each end of the bar those same holes are unusable because the hangers collide.  So it sits there and waits to smack me in the head if I forget its there as I stand up from using the shelving built into the front cap. Small issue but a headache at least once a week for me.

The last little thing are the accordion fabric blinds in the bedroom instead of  MCD shades.  The fabric blinds don’t come all the way down past the window hardware and so cold air seeps in at night.  These blinds also do a horrible job at blocking light in an east west bedroom like ours.  Dave loves to sleep late, or well I should say he used to love to sleep late on weekends.  Now, the daylight forces him to depart from the land of nod well before ten o’clock on a Saturday morning.  MCD shades would do a much better job in blocking cold or heat depending on the season and keeping the room dark during the day.

Living Room

The room with the most changes for both of us, and changes we agree on and differ.  First major change is the entertainment cabinet.  It’s great and awful at the same time.  It’s tall and has a built in bookcase which I adore.  However, those same tall cabinets are wasted space.  So few items are actually tall that most of the cabinet is storing air and not actual items.  If they had just including adjustable shelving for every tall cabinet it would have made much more sense.  Yes, relatively easy fix but matching wood would have made me much happier.  There are also two cabinets that open upward but they failed to install actuators to hold the door open.  So, you are trying to wrangle stuff with one hand and hold open the door with the other.  Not so easy when you are short or when you are tall and you are having to dodge sharp metal corners.  The last thing is that the cabinet would be far more useful if it were an inch or two deeper.  It doesn’t fit a console and we don’t think it will fit the satellite box without leaving the metal door propped open.

The sofa of awesomeness that we loved so much is now not so loved.  Part of that lies squarely with Dutchmen (to be discussed in another blog post) and part of it is personal comfort.  The sofa is comfortable for anything but watching television or playing video games.  The odd angle you have to cock your neck at to see the television makes for an ever growing crick that is painful after a couple of days.  I’d much rather have a wing back chair or Euro-recliner that could be moved to face the television.  We aren’t so concerned with guest seating as everyday life when it’s just the two of us.  Design decision we can rectify in time but so many toy hauler manufacturers make this same odd viewing angle decision in toy haulers and we just don’t understand why.

The L-shaped sofa is a nightmare but if we change it Leo would never forgive us.

That’s right Mom, I love that sofa.  It lets me hang out and watch birds and squirrels and chipmunks.  I’ve had far too many interesting afternoons soaking up sun on the back of that nightmare as you mistakenly call it.

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As you can see, Leo has truly claimed the entire back of that sofa as his own.  We know where to look when we can’t find him.  However, from a human perspective the sofa is a mess.  The recliner (not visible above) completely blocks off access or egress of the non-reclining portion of the sofa.   So, whoever is relaxing in the recliner has to move every time another person wants to sit down or stand up which defeats the concept of relaxing on the sofa.  There’s no easy solution here unfortunately, and for us the sofa has been claimed by the dogs.

Another problem without an easy solution is the fireplace.  We love the blasted thing and it is great for Wally.  But it pumps out a lot of heat that is directly below all of the electronics in the entertainment center.  So every time we turn it one we know we are slowly cooking the electronics to death.  Unfortunately, there is no other place to put the fireplace and neither of us would give it up.

Kitchen

I love my kitchen.  No seriously, I love the layout and the storage.  Everything I need is right there and I have plenty of storage space.  Is it perfect, nope but it far and away the best kitchen in any RV model we walked through.  It has the same problem with metal cabinets opening upward that the entertainment center does.  The design looks pretty but it’s functionality is severely limited by the failure to install actuators.

The oven is worthless.  It was something we both thought we’d need and now I’d give up that item from storage space.  The oven is a propane hog and it’s an odd size.  Cookie sheets don’t fit, whereas a cookie sheet will fit in the convection oven.  I would love to have the oven removed and shelving added to store skillets and sauce pans, or baking dishes that I know fit in the convection. 

I have a huge amount of storage in my floor to ceiling pantry but one again a lot of that is storage for air.  I also store a lot of air in the cabinets above my metal ones in the kitchen.  These are once again too tall to be easily reached by me and seriously how many tall things do you store in the kitchen (besides alcohol bottles)?  Personally, in both of these I’d like to see adjustable shelving that made better use of wasted space.  Sell an after market package that matched the interior wood that let customers design shelving that actually works for them.

I love the center island of the kitchen.  It clearly separates the kitchen from the living room and provides a nice countertop.  I wish it was about two inches deeper however.  Those two inches would make a world of difference for cutting boards or serving dinner.  It isn’t an insurmountable problem, just more of a minor annoyance if I’m in a nitpicky mood.

Garage, Loft, and Outside

The Loft or as it is known here, inaccessible storage.  Seriously, why is this even here?  It’s a huge heat loss.  If you find people willing to climb up there and sleep, you then have the ladder issue to contend with.  We have a frosted glass door separating the garage from the rest of The Gump.  The ladders are steel.  It just takes one minor miscalculation before that frosted glass door is shattered by that steel ladder.  Another problem, assuming we have a full house with at least one other person, but up to four, sleeping in the garage how are they supposed to get the bathroom in the middle of the night if the ladder is blocking the way?  It just a horrible use of space.  We are going to use the space for storage.  We aren’t sure how yet but it makes a great place to store out of season clothing and bedding in vacuum sealed bags.  I’m also going to hide my needlework stash up there since I can’t bring myself to get rid of all of it.  Of course, getting anything back down from the loft is easier said than done.

The garage and deck are pretty close to perfect.  The television cabinet could be improved.  It could run the length of the wall and contain more storage space.  It would also be nice if it were about six inches lower from my perspective.  The garage is one of our favorite places to be honest.  It is flooded with light and stays surprisingly warm even in subzero temperatures with a space heater.

There are things we would change however.  The garage doors leading out to the deck do not open flush.  Thus limiting the size of any potential toy you are considering parking in the garage.  Also, the workmanship on those doors is inconsistent.  There are gaps in the framing that we are going to have to find black caulk to seal.  The Mylar coverings on the screens are also inconsistent in fabrication, some are longer than others and do a better job at covering the screen.  We used felt as a stop gap measure but long term we will need a more permanent solution that isn’t quite so redneck.

The new deck railing is phenomenal.  It is sturdy and we never worry about the dogs being able to push it down.  The steps off the deck are fantastic too, I just wish they were telescoping somehow for those few situations where the steps are too short to secure the deck railing and reach the ground.  We both wanted a Florida porch option for the deck.  We are now in disagreement over the wisdom of such a desire.  Dave is adamant that it would be a potential liability with disastrous consequences should it be in place and we were in a sudden windstorm.  I  agree with his concerns but I still want the option.  I want some type of defense against mosquitos and flying critters.

The outdoor television, the cause of so many of our problems indoors, is in a weird place.  It’s wickedly high off the ground so that anyone sitting outside is going to be craning their neck upwards to watch the game.  It isn’t under an awning so it will have almost constant glare during the day, and the panel opens all the way up so it doesn’t work as a shade device.  The whole placement is just wrong, almost like it was a complete after thought and then someone said “WHOOPS!  We forgot to install an outdoor TV!” 

General Observations

A central vacuum was high on my list of wants when we were looking at rigs and I got my wish.  I hate it.  It is a power hungry, unwieldy, inefficient mess of a vacuum. For the amount of amperage it consumes, it should do a much better job at sucking dirt off my floors and out of my carpet.  Instead, I blew a breaker (usually the house breaker) every time and every time only a fraction of the dirt was removed.  We are investing in a Dyson and putting the central vacuum equipment in the loft.  I would not personally recommend a central vacuum to anyone.

The Gump came with Furrion televisions installed.  We had never heard of them but they are amazing.  They are vibration tested and are designed for RV and marine use.  The picture quality rivals or exceeds our top of the line Samsung television here at the house.  The blacks are deep and the colors are rich.  We highly recommend the television.

Overall, we are happy and pleased with our choice.  Yes there are issues that drive us nuts or that we need to come up with solutions to that fit our needs.  We would both recommend the rig.  In fact, we and the animals miss The Gump and eagerly look forward to his return.