Happy Thanksgiving, Huge Changes Coming Soon

Currently located at Tombigbee State Park near Tupelo, Mississippi:

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Hope your holiday is a happy one! We are wrapping up our two-week stay here in North Mississippi where we’re spending the Thanksgiving season with my parents. It’s been such a joy to be able to visit with them after being on the road for over a year, and we’re looking forward to sharing a Thanksgiving meal with them today, even though Daddy is still recovering from the oral surgery that he had done on Tuesday.

While we’ve been parked here at Tombigbee State Park in the Tupelo area, we’ve taken the opportunity to visit a few of our old favorite restaurants (veggie sushi at Mt. Fuji, build-your-own-pizza at Pyro’s), while also taking care of some minor maintenance issues on the rig. I also helped Dad pick out a new laptop, got it set up for him with his genealogy applications, and then helped Mom with a few technical issues on her phone and tablet.

Both Andy and I visited our old dentist and got our teeth cleaned. And then the kitties got to visit their old vet to get their annual exams and their vaccinations.

Molly gets her shots, and Maggie is next

Andy was able to fix a pesky little leak in the attic window over the cab by removing the window entirely and then resealing it.

Andy fixes the attic window

He also replaced the gas strut that holds the door open, and also diagnosed the source of some moisture that we found under the dinette (it’s coming in when we fill up the fresh water tanks from the inlet on the side of the rig).

One other bit of maintenance was necessary because of my hard head. Last week I had climbed up into the attic to retrieve a couple of items from storage. When I was backing out of the attic (on my hands and knees), I put my foot on the edge of the dinette to step down, but my foot slipped and I took a tumble, winding up on my butt down in the stairwell by the door. On the way down, I managed to bang my head on the plastic slide on the screen door (the 8″ square clear plastic piece that covers an opening in the screen so you can keep the bugs out when the front door is open), and I broke it. I also broke the plastic strap that holds the fire extinguisher in place on the wall. Oh, and I also put a knot on the back of my head, but that’s not important here.

Anyway, we ordered a new part for the door, and Andy got it installed yesterday. We still need to find a source for the strap on the fire extinguisher. And my head feels much better, thank you. 🙂

Replaced the screen door slide after I busted it with my hard head

So, it’s been a fun and interesting stay here in our old stomping grounds of North Mississippi. We still have a few days left before we hit the road again, during which Mom and I will do some Black Friday shopping (but mostly people-watching), and we’ll hang out with Dad while he continues to recover from his surgery.

So that’s what we’ve been up to lately, but things are about to change dramatically.

We’ve decided that it’s time to leave our 24′ Thor Chateau Class C “practice rig”, Lizzy, behind and upgrade to something more livable. No, we’re not going back to a sticks-and-bricks house, and we’re not leaving the road. We are going to sell our current RV and our beloved Tacoma, and upgrade to a fifth wheel travel trailer and a 3/4-ton pickup.

We’ve been doing a lot of research over the last few months, and we’ve settled on the model that we want (I’ll make you wait awhile before I tell you exactly which one). We’re going to go for a used model in both the RV and the truck to avoid paying for someone else’s depreciation.

As you know, our domicile location is Livingston, Texas. That’s where we get our mail, where our vehicles are registered, and it’s the address on our drivers licenses. Therefore, we concentrated our search for our new home in the Livingston area. Right now there are four rigs in our desired model and floor plan that are listed for sale within a 200-mile radius of Livingston. In fact, one of them is parked at the same RV park where we’ll be staying next week while we begin this process, Escapees Rainbow’s End RV Park. We have spoken to the owner of this rig, and we have an appointment to view it on Tuesday, the day after we arrive there.

There’s a second rig located at a consignment dealer’s lot in Houston, which we also plan to take a look at (it’s one year newer), and then there are two other rigs located in New Braunfels, Texas. We feel confident that with four rigs available, we should be able to get one of them.

The second order of business will be, of course, the truck. We’ll need at least a 3/4-ton truck to tow the rig that we’re planning to buy, and so we’re also shopping for a late-model, lower-mileage deal (again, I’ll spill the beans on exactly what make and model later). The truck may actually prove to be the more elusive part of this deal, but we’ll see how it goes.

So, why are we making the move? Glad you asked.

  1. More room! The new rig will have much more interior living and storage space, including a pantry, so no more climbing into (or falling out of) the attic to retrieve canned goods or the Instant Pot. We’ll have a lot more kitchen counter space for prepping our huge salads.
  2. Bedroom totally separated from the living space. We sleep on different schedules–I’m an early bird, and Andy is a night owl. It will be nice to have a bedroom door that can be closed off from the living space at the times when one of us needs to sleep.
  3. Walk-around queen bed. Our current rig has a full XL bed, pretty small for two adults and two cats. The mattress fits snugly against the wall on three sides and half of the fourth side, so it’s a pain in the butt to make the bed or change the sheets, not to mention how hard it is to get out of the bed in the middle of the night for a potty run. The new rig solves all those problems with a normal queen-size bed that’s open on all sides except the headboard. Normal!!
  4. Comfortable seating. In our current rig, the only seating is the U-shaped dinette, which I don’t find comfortable at all, especially as the foam in the cushions has compacted. Our new home will have a small sofa along with two recliners, in addition to a stand-alone dining table with four chairs. Heaven!!
  5. Larger storage tanks. We’ll have more fresh water and propane on board, and the larger black- and gray-water tanks will mean that we can boondock several days longer before having to take the rig to a dump station. That’s huge!
  6. Only one engine to maintain. While we haven’t had any engine problems with either the Tacoma or Lizzy, we do have to maintain both of them with regular oil changes, fluid checks, etc. By moving to a fifth wheel, we eliminate the need to maintain one engine.
  7. Less fuel usage on travel days. Since we’ll only be using one engine on travel days, we’ll have less fuel to buy, lowering our travel costs.
  8. Sharing the ride. Now we’ll be able to ride together on travel days. This will greatly simplify communication especially when navigating through tricky interchanges in large cities. And it will be more fun to be able to talk about the interesting things we see on the road while driving.
  9. Ability to travel while sick or injured. Right now, with two vehicles, if one of us gets too sick or injured to drive, we’re kind of stuck. By moving to a setup where there’s only one vehicle to drive, we can continue to our destination if only one of us feels up to driving.
  10. Stupid rules at National Forest Campgrounds. This sounds petty, but it’s an issue we’ve encountered. In National Forest campgrounds (and some others as well), you pay a fee for your rig and then you pay extra if you have a second vehicle. But if you are TOWING that vehicle, it doesn’t count as an “extra” vehicle, so there’s no extra charge. When we tried to get into a campground near Williams, for instance, we would have been charged extra for the Tacoma simply because we weren’t physically towing it behind the Class C, while any big Class A motorhome towing a pickup truck could get in without paying the extra charge. It’s totally unfair. But anyway, by upgrading to the fifth wheel, we’ll no longer have to worry about paying the extra charges for the second vehicle in any campground.

There will definitely be some disadvantages to making this change. Some of the ones we’ve thought about are:

  1. Our daily driver vehicle will be larger and will get lower gas mileage. It will also be harder to maneuver in tight parking lots.
  2. We will no longer be able to park the RV while I drive the pickup into the woods to scout for a boondocking location, since now the truck will be hitched to the RV.
  3. The kitties will have to be crated and ride in the truck on travel days, at least initially. Currently they ride in the RV where they hunker down in their hidey-holes while we’re moving. We’re hoping that we can eventually convince them to wear a halter with a leash on moving days so we can avoid the crates where possible.
  4. There will be more mechanical and electrical parts on the new rig to maintain, including slides and the automatic leveling system.
  5. The new rig will be almost 33′ feet long, about 12′ high, and that doesn’t include the length of the pickup that will be towing it. That will make it tougher to get in and out of gas stations, and will start to limit us on what campsites we can squeeze into. But the RV still fits within the limitations of most of the National Parks which tend to be around 34′.
  6. We’ll no longer have the option to store a lot of stuff in the back of the new truck like we do in the Tacoma, since the bed has to be open for the fifth wheel hitch. We’ll probably look into getting a lockable metal toolbox installed on the truck at some point, and of course there is more outside storage capacity on the fifth wheel. But it’s still going to be tighter than we’d like.

So, that’s all I’m going to tell you at this point!

We’ll be pulling out of Tupelo on Sunday morning to make the drive to Livingston. We’ll break up the drive into two days, stopping overnight in Monroe, Louisiana, probably dry camping in a Walmart parking lot (always fun!). We’ll pull into the Escapees Rainbow’s End RV Park on Monday afternoon, and hit the ground running on Tuesday.

We’re very excited about what’s to come, so follow along to see how it goes!

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Safe travels!!