Leaky Window | No Battery Power

Anyone with an RV will tell you that there are always things that need fixing or maintaining–after all, you’re driving around with your house on wheels, rocking and rolling through potholes and bad weather. And as RV newbies, we know just enough about our Thor Chateau Class C to be dangerous.

The first issue we encountered was a leaky window. When we went on our last camping trip, I climbed up into the overhead compartment to retrieve the privacy curtain which was folded up and stored in a little nook under the overhead side window. I found the curtain to be wet, but couldn’t determine where the moisture was coming from. Nothing else was wet, so we decided that water must have dripped in through the window and landed on the folded curtain.

After the trip was over and we returned Lizzy to the storage lot, Andy did some testing. In the space where she’s parked, she leans just a little to the left. Andy was running the air conditioning, and as the condensation from the A/C unit pooled on the roof, it eventually ran over the side of the RV, right down onto the leaky window.

Andy called an RV service shop here in Tupelo to see if they could take a look at it, but they said it would be about a week, due to the holiday weekend. In the meantime, we turned to YouTube to get some ideas for temporary fixes–saw a lot of suggestions for duct tape. And that’s what we were about to use until we saw a video where an RV owner was showing how to clean the tracks and weep-holes on RV sliding windows.

Andy decided to check the tracks on our problem window, so he headed back to the storage lot with a shop vac, air compressor, cleaning supplies and tools. He got on a ladder and looked for the weep-holes on the problem window, but didn’t see any. He checked all the other windows–they all had weep-holes. So he went back to the problem window and looked more closely.

And there it was–someone had put dark adhesive tape over the weep-holes. It blended in so well with the frame of the window that it was almost invisible. He pulled the tape off, and immediately water drained out of the tracks. He tested it thoroughly, and it has stayed dry ever since.

Problem #1 – SOLVED!

The second issue has been more challenging. Our RV has a battery disconnect switch just inside the door that is labeled Store / Use. We were told by the previous owner to put the switch in Store mode when we were storing the RV, and to put it in Use mode when we were actually using her. He didn’t specify whether or not it made a difference if we had her plugged in to shore power while being stored, and we are such newbies that we didn’t make the connection.

So when we put her in storage, we plugged her in and put the the switch on Store.

BAD!

We didn’t notice anything particularly wrong except that the audio system/backup camera display wouldn’t work consistently. But on the last day of our last camping trip, we tried turning on the overhead lights after we had unplugged from shore power, and nothing worked. The battery monitor said the house batteries were fully charged, but we were getting nothing. Nada.

So when we got home we started researching, reading the pitiful excuse for an owners manual that Thor puts out, searching Google and YouTube, and posting in the online RV forums. Andy even called Thor’s support line, and the guy told him to crawl under the RV and look for a 50-amp breaker under the chassis, which would need to be removed and replaced. Andy did as he was told, but there was no such breaker there.

So I got back on the user forums this afternoon, and finally found a post from 2015 where someone with our same unit had the same problem. He stated that he found the reset switch–but to get to it you have to pull out the bottom kitchen drawer that is under the stovetop, and the breaker reset switch is bolted to the floor under/behind the drawer.

I showed the post to Andy who had just started cooking dinner. We dropped everything, got in the car, drove to the storage lot and started working on Lizzy. We finally figured out how to remove the drawer from the suspension tracks so that we could get into the space under the counter, and sure enough, there was the breaker and relay we were looking for. There was a tiny, tiny little black button on the side, and when Andy pushed it we heard a click. We unplugged the shore power, pushed the button again, tested the overhead lights and they finally worked!

The lights were significantly dimmer than they are with shore power, so we’re thinking the batteries may be drained, or may even need to be replaced. But now we know several things we didn’t know before:

  • If the RV is plugged in to shore power, the battery disconnect switch should be in “USE” mode, even if it’s technically in storage. It should only be in “STORE” mode if it’s unplugged.
  • We now know the location of the reset switch.
  • We now know that we actually have a bottom drawer under the stove–we had been told that was just a decorative panel on the cabinet face.
  • We now know how to remove the drawers from the suspension tracks.

This is exactly why we wanted to spend some time in a smaller “practice” RV before we pull the trigger to buy a larger unit and go full-time. We need these kinds of learning experiences to build our confidence and skill set so that we can take care of ourselves and our future home on wheels. Every time we’re able to troubleshoot and resolve a problem, we gather information and gain experience that will serve us well in the future!

Tombigbee State Park | Kitties Go Camping

It’s been a week and I’m just now getting around to reporting back on our camping experience at Tombigbee State Park on June 9-12, 2017 . It was awesome!

Tombigbee SP is located less than fifteen minutes from our house, and we chose that location because we were taking our two kitties, Maggie and Molly, along with us for their first ever camping experience. We wanted to be close to home in case there was a major freak-out in the RV and we needed to take them back to familiar surroundings. We needn’t have worried however; once we got to the location and let them out of their crates, Maggie made herself busy exploring her new environment inside the RV. She’s always been the more adventurous of the two. Molly, on the other hand, stayed inside her crate up in the overhead compartment until we went to bed, and then she came and got in bed with us. She was fine after that for the rest of the weekend.

Molly Ann – she liked the high space

Maggie Mae – The explorer

We parked our RV, Lizzy, in site #11, which turned out to be a perfect spot. It was very shady with lots of grassy space behind the RV. There was a nice picnic table along with a fire ring (which we did not use). The space was not quite level, but a few leveling blocks took care of that. The site had full hookups (30 amp electricity, water and sewer), and we paid $14/night using the senior discount available to those over 65 (hubby, not me!).  We were right across from the bathhouse, which was very nice and clean. In addition to toilets, it had free showers along with pay laundry machines. The sites in the campground were well-spaced, and the people camped there were all friendly and well-behaved.

There’s not a lot to do in the park as far as activities go. There’s a lake for fishing, and there are two disc golf courses that meander through the beautiful wooded hills. There’s a big playground for the kids, and several hiking trails. There are also cabins for rent, and they look decent. We were happy to spend our time reading, walking, shooting video with the GoPro, and cooking and eating some delicious food.

Sunset on the lake in Tombigbee State Park

Each morning I enjoyed taking a walk down the park road shortly after sunrise. It was quiet and peaceful with only the birds making noise. I saw a huge owl fly up into a tree not far from me–it turned and looked at me for a couple of seconds before flying on. So spectacular! I also came across this turtle that had just dug itself out of the rain-softened ground to get some morning sun.

Good morning, Mr. Turtle!

I saw beautiful flowers blooming, as well as wild blackberries on the side of the road.

Wild blackberries

Wildflowers in bloom

We stayed three nights in the park and enjoyed every minute of it. We did run the air conditioner the whole time we were there as the temperatures were in the mid-to-high 80’s. The humidity level on the first day was around 39%, but it got up into the 65-70% range on the last day. We brought along a large electric fan that we used when sitting outside under the awning in the afternoons and were very comfortable.

Our living room

We liked Tombigbee State Park so much that we have already reserved a space for July and August. It’s just so convenient to have such a beautiful park so close by as we continue to learn more about how the RV functions. It’s comforting to know that we’re close to home in case something goes haywire, at least for the next few trips. In fact, I had a dentist appointment scheduled for Monday morning, our last day there. So I just got up early, drove home to take a shower and put on my non-camping “face” and clothes, went to the dentist and got my teeth cleaned, and then drove back to camp!

We did have one little issue with a leaky window on this trip, and I’ll be filling you in on the details in my next blog post, so stay tuned for that!

Foil Packet Vegan Cooking for RVing and Camping

One of our favorite methods of cooking while camping or RVing is using foil packets.

On our last trip I put together packets with red potatoes; yellow onion; red, yellow and green bell peppers; Tofurkey meat-free Italian sausage; and Mrs. Dash salt-free Southwest Chipotle seasoning. These were wrapped in heavy duty Reynolds aluminum foil that is specially made for the grill–it has a non-stick side that helps keep everything from getting messy. Then the packets just go on the grill for awhile–the cooking time depends on the quantity of food in your packets, the temperature of your coals, etc. It’s not rocket science, you can always unwrap one end and test the veggies with a fork, and throw it back on the grill if it’s not done. Ours usually take 35-45 minutes to cook.

Here’s how I put them together on our last trip–try this recipe out and let us know in the comments how you enjoyed it!

Swinging Bridge at Tishomingo State Park (Video)

We’re getting ready to go on our second camping trip in our new RV this weekend, and I’m just now getting around to editing more footage from our first trip two weeks ago. My work schedule has picked up significantly in June, and I’m already ready for a break in the woods!

As you remember, our first RVing trip was to Tishomingo State Park, one of my favorite spots from my childhood here in North Mississippi. Tishomingo has a beautiful swinging bridge which crosses Bear Creek. On the other side of the bridge are some gorgeous hiking trails with exposed rock outcroppings. We only walked down the beginning of the trail as Andy is still somewhat recovering from fracturing his leg last October and the surgery which followed. He did pretty well on the steps leading up the incline, but we didn’t want to push it on the rock climbing.

Enjoy the video, and stay tuned as we report back from our next destination, Tombigbee State Park. And this time, the CATS will be with us!!

When the Universe Speaks, Listen

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

Have you ever been faced with making a life-changing decision, and found that circumstances and coincidences present the answers to your questions almost before you’ve asked them?

I’ve found this to be true more than once in my life–when changing jobs, moving across the country, marrying the love of my life. Every time I was faced with a huge opportunity to make my life better, I would start to ask those questions: How will this work? Can I do this? Is it worth the risk? What if I fail?

And every time, the answers to those questions just appeared at the right time. Sometimes it would be a book, sometimes a friend’s advice, sometimes a television documentary, sometimes just a passing comment from a stranger.  Those fleeting bits of advice or voices of experience would provide answers to my questions, along with the courage and confidence to make those leaps of faith into the unknown.

Andy and I have dreamed of becoming full-time RVers for almost twenty-five years, since right after we got married. Our original plan had been to wait until I hit full retirement age for Social Security, but this year we asked ourselves the question, “Can we do this earlier? Do we really need to wait eight more years?”

And suddenly we were being inundated with green lights from the Universe. We found a huge community of full-time RVers of all ages on YouTube, all documenting their travels and providing a wealth of information and advice on living the RV lifestyle.

I contacted my investment advisor only to talk about rebalancing my portfolio of retirement accounts, and he suggested doing some retirement planning. So Andy and I told him of our dream and asked whether it would be feasible to move up the schedule. He ran the numbers and said, absolutely it was possible, that it should not be a problem based on our lifestyle and ages. Another green light!

We had never actually met anyone who was a full-time RVer…..that is, until we made the decision to actually pull the trigger. And now in the past few weeks, they seem to be coming out of the woodwork.

First we met a couple from Buffalo, New York who stopped by our booth at the Oxford Makers Market where Andy sells his handmade silver jewelry. This wonderful couple regaled us with stories from their travels, and were so excited about the lifestyle they were living.

“Any regrets?”, we asked.

“Absolutely not!”, they both said. “Don’t put it off, just go for it!”

Then today, again at the Oxford Makers Market, we met a sweet older lady who just happened to mention that she had been a full-time RVer. Of course our ears perked up, and soon we were listening to her stories. She and her husband (who sadly passed away last December) spent thirteen years on the road, starting out in a Class C, and trading RVs six times for a total of seven rigs over their full-timing journey, including travel trailers, fifth wheels, and concluding with a Class A. She had us in stitches as she recounted the story of her husband getting drenched when the sewer hose wasn’t fastened securely when dumping the black tank. She gave us advice about what to look for in a rig, and she gave us confidence that we, too, can learn to tow a trailer behind a large pickup truck.

“Any regrets?”, we asked.

“Absolutely not!”, she said. “If I could find a rig I could afford, I would go out on my own right now!”

As with any dream, it’s easy to find excuses to just accept the status quo and stay put. But I’ve known or heard about too many people who put off their dreams for too long, and then passed away just weeks after “retiring”. When the Universe tells you it’s time to act, don’t wait! Open your heart, your ears, your eyes, and pay attention to those signposts leading you onward.

Of course there will be challenges to be overcome. Of course there will be new things to learn. Of course there will be times when you wonder if you’re on the right path.

But I’d rather face the end of my life with mind full of wonderful memories than a heart full of regret for all the chances I never took.

Our dream, our goal, our plan is to be full-time RVers by the end of 2018. To reach that goal, we have a lot to do, but we’re already on our way. And every time one of those voices from the Universe speaks up, we know we’re on the right path.