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.

Another Sunday, Another RV Show

Sunday dawned and we decided to go to the RV show at the stadium to see if there were any models we liked in comparison to the Heartland Big Country 3900FLP*.  We ignored the toy haulers knowing their layouts didn’t suit our needs.

Heartland Landmark Key West

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This is the top of the line Heartland fifth wheeler and it is the only Landmark at the show.  It is nearly perfect in that it has the double slides in the bedroom which make the space feel amazing.  There’s plenty of room for Pickles  (who is quietly napping after dinner as I write this) and Wally and Sangria to stretch out and snooze. 

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The Newport floor plan suits our needs better with the option to make the half bath a pantry/office for Dave.  I just wish the bedroom had double slides.  Also, it’s hard to decide on a coach you’ve never stepped in because there aren’t any in your local area.  Maybe if we go to the Tucson RV Show on Saturday we will get lucky.

Heartland Oakmont 390MBL

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Dave loves this coach, the extra bedroom would make a fantastic office and gaming room.  It would also give us somewhere to roll Pickles out of the way and shut the door when he’s cranky.

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The construction insulation value of all the walls, and there being no upgrade or winterization option, make this coach an interesting but difficult choice for fulltimers.  That being said, the recliners on the coach are divine and we both didn’t want to move from the heated massage.

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There were two models at the show and both would work, the LS38RS and LS39RE.

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I preferred the FB model and I don’t think Dave really had a strong opinion either way.  The fit and finish was good but nothing was so spectacular that our jaws dropped.  And to be blunt, the asymmetrical lines throughout were driving his engineer mind bonkers.

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Augusta Luxe

To be honest, I don’t know which model we walked through but I do remember the entryway and steps were atrocious  (I wrenched my back exiting).  Also, and I wish I had thought to take a picture if this, the whole LUXE inscribed in the wood door frame at the door made it a commercial vehicle and not a home.  For the price, it was utter crap.

Closing Thoughts

We don’t live in a small town, admittedly Phoenix isn’t the largest city in the nation but it isn’t tiny, and yet trying to look at a good representation of manufacturers and models is blooming frustrating.  Hours of driving, high pressure sales, exclusive dealerships that do not carry all or even most of a model line, and brochures about as scarce as an wrapped gift on Christmas morning.  We’ve had some really awful experiences and some good ones.  We haven’t made a decision yet but I think we are getting closer.  Tomorrow we are going to the show at PIR to look at the Redwoods and hopeful a Rushmore model.  Fingers crossed that something meets every need and we both love the same coach.

*Blog post about our drive to Tucson will be up later this week.