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.


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.


The Importance of Exceptional Personnel

First impressions are powerful things and rarely does a company get a second chance to make a good first impression.  Our first impression of La Mesa RV was so far from favorable that honestly I’m surprised that we gave them a second chance.  The second chance impression was even worse than the first which I found impossible.  So when we first contacted the Tucson dealership it was with zero positive expectations and every belief that the experience would be as negative as all previous interactions with La Mesa had been to date.

We got lucky.  Our call to Tucson to view the Heartland 3900FLP was answered by Chris Johns.  Chris is Internet Sales and not a salesmen waiting like a vulture outside the front door.

Chris is polite, soft spoken, and funny.  He did everything I requested and didn’t seem to mind the obvious chip on my shoulder (Dave is more forgiving than I).  Chris and the outside sales guy, Terry, left Dave and I in peace to discuss the FLP.

We made multiple visits to the Tucson dealership in the coming six weeks.  Every time Chris answered our questions and let us wander in peace.  He gave us the space and time to do our research and make a decision.

Chris Johns is the sole reason La Mesa RV got our business.  He alone is responsible for delivering us as customers.  I was ready to price shop and drive across country to give  another delearship our business.

Floyd Hall is our Service Manager and the reason La Mesa will continue to get our service business.  Floyd is an extremely busy man but he is polite, funny, and conscientious about doing what is right for the customer.  Floyd answered our overnight emails every morning and got our concerns addressed promptly.  That level of service and response has continued since we took possession of The Gump.  We have no concerns that Floyd will ensure things are done right the first time.

Dave and John of La Mesa were immensely helpful while we were there as well.

Chris Johns and Floyd Hall are exceptional employees that La Mesa RV is lucky enough to employ.  They completely reversed our opinion of the corporation and are the reason we will drive four plus hours round trip to return The Gump to Tucson for future work when there is another La Mesa RV less than ten miles from our house.  Chris and Floyd made, and continue to make, La Mesa RV Tucson a delearship we would recommend in good faith to friends and family.