Tag Archives: Full-time

Old Friends and New Friendships

Facebook categorized this as a ‘Life-changing Event’. That is an understatement at best. But the best IS that this has totally changed our lives. One of my big fears was the possibility that I would feel as if I were on a trip rather than a lifestyle, and easily yearn for getting off the road. There is definitely a trade-off in such a condensed ‘soup can’ of a home (luxury by RV standards, as validated by the stares and inspections we attract on any campground arrival, yet sparse compared to our previous 4k sf space, filled with all the things we loved). Surprisingly, controlling how much water we use, constantly monitoring our simplest of systems, repeatedly cleaning, recycling trash by item, have provided a small but satisfactory contribution toward appreciating everyday living. As well as leaving us free to explore, enjoy the history and magnificence that is the pride of the land we call home. It is a lot to ask family and friends to keep us in their everyday lives when we aren’t often physically there. The advent of social media has helped bridge this extremely difficult ambition to be everywhere. Traveling around often as we have been still provides a routine to set up our home on arrival. Hook ups of utilities if available, 2 slides out, anything in the interior that isn’t safely bolted, velcro’d or otherwise tightly secured, gets rearranged. The small things that now

To Friendships,  old and new

To Friendships,
old and new

make up our humble home also include any opportunity to utilize the special pieces we were able to salvage from our purging carnage. Brian, putting out the hand-made ‘Castellano’ welcomes Sheila every time. We have only sparse wall space to hang anything, saving what we can for making our home more homey. Our coveted ‘Peggy originals’ found a perfect spot on our LR wall, thank you Peggy Dembicer, for sharing your repurposing talent with us!
Our exposure to America and its hidden agendas, gems and beauty is truly, to steal an overused metaphor, priceless! I have learned that although we hear and know about economic hard times, there is an enormous wealth evident everywhere we go, contrasted only by the extreme poverty. A shift in class separation? I hope not, we are on the cusp and could tip either way, dependent as we are on the government and stock market. Same rule on the road, no politics and no religion and we can all be friends.
The whole ‘leaving family and friends’ dilemma is really just the adjustment to out of sight but NOT out of mind. We remain intensely interested in what and how everyone is doing and enjoy sharing where and whatever we are doing, either through Brian’s select, unabridged email distribution or this Odyssey blog I am striving to keep up with and remain informative, for our loved ones and fellow nomads.
The dust settles (usually right in our home), the true friendships survive and continue with the fervor of distance making your hearts stronger. But the interesting phenomenon for me, is the time constraint of being on the road bringing out our years of experience and intuition, allowing us to make ‘fast friends’ with our new ‘neighbors’. Quickly sharing our stories, tips and creating a bond that will surely be resurrected when we meet again down the road. In the condensed time we seem to shed the introductory stage and don’t have the constraints of busy lives that often don’t leave enough time to let new people in. We are more open to the variety of people who now cross our paths and the interesting perspectives, stories and advice they bring to the table.

Every Day Is a Crisis!

  • Lessons Learned.

    There is no right way to do this. Transition is hard and experience is our friend!
    Mistakes are easy to make, staying calm is an art.
    Relearning to live with someone you have lived with for 37 years can seem like starting over, again!
    We CAN and WILL do this, do it well, and enjoy our new lifestyle.

All the planning in the world can’t get you ready enough for the multitude of mishaps that are waiting to happen in the course of the full-time, large rig with a toad (RV speak for flat towing our Jeep liberty) lifestyle. The best advice is to NEVER be in a hurry, work as a team and check each others work, regardless of how trivial the task. We didn’t do that when we dragged the toad 3 miles not properly set in neutral, messed the transmission up; but so far flushing it seems to be working ($195 vs $$$$2500. for new one), near-major catastrophe. A step-by-step checklist is now in place as well as a two person oversee system. We didn’t do that when we retracted the slide and a, yet to be hung, picture frame was in the way, crunching and breaking it into many pieces; as well as the bedroom door topper in the closed position that prevented the whole side slide from retracting and stopped it dead in its tracks. A rubber mallet to release the stuck wood, short little arm to retrieve the mangled picture frame (all but one picture in tact and rescued), the slide groaned loudly and slid back in. Another major dollar issue averted. Parked in the (very clever) Chicago McCormick Trade Center Marshaling Yard, ready to venture out on our two day city visit (airbnb condo rental), I decide to extend the slide a bit to get something I forgot in my closet. 4″ later, the slide comes to a dead stop and won’t budge. Sounds like only one motor is trying to work. Really?! Expletive. We have people to meet and places to go. We leave anyway and lament about it, in order not to disappoint. It will be there tomorrow (cutting into our visit, but so be it). Desperate emails and pictures later (to our guru MD RV John Godwin) the next day (sure we caused this) and my handy man (Brian) finds the motor wire came unplugged. Easy! Not a crisis after all and totally unrelated. Lesson Learned. Never assume and always look for the easy solution first.

So much stress, isn’t this supposed to be the stress-less choice? Not by a long-shot. Being together 24/7, dealing with one hit after another, takes a toll on even the best of friends. But because we are best friends, we will weather these bumps in the road, the low hanging limbs, and regroup.

This life is meant to be savored. Rushing to ensure we get to use our gifted Wrigley Field tickets put us off our game. Looking back, it was worth it, we feel we were lucky to come out of it somewhat unscathed, but the mistakes (maybe) could have been avoided were we not preoccupied with our schedule.
So many Lessons Learned and Lessons yet to Learn. I vote for a break in the action!Wrigley FieldMarina City Towers Condo

Navy Pier Fireworks from Millennium Condo, Chicago

Navy Pier Fireworks from Millennium Condo, Chicago

Let the Learning Begin

Our master plan, at this point in time, is to luxuriate in the time we have, getting to know our motor home. It would be great (if not unrealistic) to get any and all issues and learning out of the way, sure!

We ended up with the second choice, nearby,

for RV storage. Down a packed dirt, but unpaved, road, with an entry gate for small vehicles. Seriously, why didn’t that occur to me as I rushed there to secure our ‘large’ spot? I was blinded by the spot being in Monument, and that it was available at all! It was the last, and only, game in town, the first having a paved road AND an easy, large gated entrance that is extra wide.
First time getting The Odyssey into the lot across from the dump, not yet 2nd nature on the turning radius, Brian almost took out a rubber coated post on the driver side, the rear end.
It only took out a turn indicator and the bulb on inspection, easily replaceable. Lesson Learned: Can’t make that (sharp) turn with the monster rig without pulling beyond the gate, then backing into the lot (a dump) across the road and heading straight in! Ultimately, we came to appreciate this as good practice for future tough spots. Silently we both curse on approaching the road when we return from any outing! This site was very helpful giving large rig backing instructions and tips to mark your rig, for the navigator: http://donbobbitt.hubpages.com/hub/Backing-Your-RV-into-a-Campsite
…as we found we also had trouble communicating. I apparently didn’t have an innate talent for acceptable and useful hand signals. Said sarcastically, but true story, I was not effective. We broke out the walkie talkies but realize our phones allow hands free, useful for the driver who is putting the big round peg into the small square hole! Lesson Learned: um, maybe not yet…

It’s Official, Our Home to be, The Odyssey

imageKnowing features that you want is a huge first step to being able to move forward to finally purchase the ‘perfect’ RV. Not different from any home is the fact that compromises must be made.  We’ve vacationed and owned our Class C, we’re knowledgeable, right? Wrong. The list of what we don’t know remains much longer than what we think we do know! There just isn’t enough time to become an expert in the value, mechanics and myriad of other subjects inherent with the upcoming full-time lifestyle. So, forge ahead, iPad Air in hand, wifi available to quickly look up what we can as we go!

There were a few models that fit most of our written requirements (see Purchasing ), only one of which was in Colorado Springs, naturally. One call to the seller and it proved to not to be ‘the one’ (not enough horsepower, although owner swore the 360 hp was enough to tow and get around CO passes, we weren’t convinced and stuck to our 400 minimum plan). Further emails and calls gave us choices in Texas and Arizona.  It can get expensive and time-consuming to travel, so choosing carefully by asking for as much information beforehand is in your best interest. If someone isn’t willing to take the time to answer you, they have probably saved you a lot of time, as there is likely something wrong with the unit! We narrowed it down to the Scottsdale, AZ. Class A Diesel 2008 Gulfstream Tourmaster, 425 hp Cummins engine, three previous owners, no smokers and no pets, with 40K miles, (a little higher than anticipated but they were diesel miles and hey, remember compromise) convinced this was the unit for us. Before we booked a trip, we wanted to have an experienced inspector go over the RV (choices to be made: should we be there for the inspector or save $$ in case it isn’t a sound RV and how do we choose an inspector). Decision made, inspector first. (Brian is still working full-time and time off right now can be precious) Back to the internet for options and reviews. We wanted a completely unbiased inspection and therefore didn’t ask the RV dealer for any suggestions. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet, right? The ad boasted auto, RV and boat inspections. It turned out that perhaps Mark’s expertise was in autos and he had been in an RV a few times in his life. That is probably an exaggeration, but he learned a good lesson about not letting your personal feelings about people (the dealership found his lackadaisical approach to appointment setting and actually showing up rather unnerving, as did we) stand in the way of a professional assessment.  After a few days of quibbling with him, we were at least sure the unit was sound enough to make the trip. I would not recommend Mark Allen of Auto Detectives in the Phoenix area for a pre-purchase RV inspection. Perhaps had I asked him the number of RV’s he has inspected and when the last time he inspected one, I would have saved us a lot of trouble and moved on from there. Lesson Learned.

Armed with excitement, liquidated funds and anticipation of our future, we booked our ticket (one way) to Phoenix, with a confidence the (anxious) dealer will have someone pick us up at 10AM in front of our hotel. A beautiful morning, we wait, outside, in the magnificent Arizona sun. It’s getting hotter and lots of people are coming and going, but not us. Okay, they forgot. One call and they will send someone right away. Shades of things to come… After the (term used loosely) driver got lost, yes, I said got lost, we ended up driving through a park that advertised the Dale Chihuly exhibit at the Desert Botanic Gardens. I stashed that possibility away should we have time while we were there. Little did we know that we would have all the time in the world, as the RV was not even close to being ready, as expected, when we were dropped off at Scottsdale RV. What a busy little place and I mean little, family owned and operated, Scottsdale RV was friendly but very short-handed. All hands were on deck and they couldn’t keep up with the demand that seemed to overflow their lot. We saw 3 different RV’s sold during our few days experience with them. Had we not seen it for ourselves, it surely would seem a line that there is ‘another party interested’. They are honest, down to earth but very much over their heads in expanding their business, during the busy season. Maybe not the best of business plans, but we wish them much success, even though they managed to stretch our patience beyond our limits. It reminded us that our new lifestyle was to be one where we didn’t have to worry about time, wasting it, and leaving ourselves open to flexibility and adventure. Did I mention that Brian is still working and we were taking a long weekend to presumably pick up RV and drive it back to Colorado? In fairness, Ryan Beckman, owner of Scottsdale RV did his best to make everything right. Negotiating with him, following our extensive run-through with Keith, his main mechanic/salesperson/driver (getting the picture of everyone doing whatever it takes to get through the day) was a breeze; we left with a promise that all would be fixed, detailed and ready to go the next morning. The inspection was fairly spot-on, at least the few things he mentioned as being worn, so we were prepared for what we saw. I always think having your expectations in check, or having no expectations at all, helps to provide a more honest assessment. There is nothing positive about being let down so I avoid it at all costs. The leveling jack brakes were revealed by the previous owner to be in need of fixing and while adjusting the new installation, the mechanic broke a pin. Hence, the RV was not ready to leave the lot. Ryan put us up in a local Scottsdale hotel and gave us a truck to use (the Chihuly glass exhibit– same artist who has the Las Vegas Bellagio lobby ceiling exhibit was an amazing addition to our sudden and unexpected weekend vacation; as was the spontaneous visit to Chandler for an overdue visit to cousins we were secretly thrilled to see). The next day when it became obvious a new part was needed; Ryan dashed our vision of a wonderful maiden trip to get to know our new home, flew us back to Colorado and said the RV would be delivered to us, at his expense. Although frustrating, this turned out to be the way to go, as learning to drive a 42.5’ RV (almost as large as you can get without requiring a CDL license) is an adventure worthy of another post, soon! Two weeks later, our RV was delivered safely to us via Robert, another of their sparse workforce, driver/mechanic/salesperson. Two minor parts (ladder extension and an interior door lock) were going to be shipped to us in the (hopefully) near future. Lessons Learned? No matter how extensive you study, experience is probably the only thing that will take you through to success for purchasing such a complicated and extensive rig. You will overlook something. Things will go wrong no matter how thorough you are. Remaining flexible and budgeting your time accordingly is paramount to making it all work. Murphy’s Law, that if there is something to go wrong, it probably will, is not a comforting thought. Gaining the experience to deal with it is our goal as we embark on THE CARLIN ODYSSEY!