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Post Info TOPIC: What we learned from our most recent RV adventure, food for thought from future FTers


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What we learned from our most recent RV adventure, food for thought from future FTers


Here's the set-up...

The objective of our latest adventure was to expose Josie (our nearly 5 year old beagle to our future RV Dream) and to get out for a long weekend of fall colors and trail hiking. For this adventure we rented a small Class C. Our CG was Starved Rock State Park in Illinois. Day time temps were in the high 50s to low 60s, overnight they dipped into the low 30s (including freezing for a short period on 2 nights) We had no issues with the weather. We hauled in our own firewood and water. Our site was 30AMP electric only more than adequate for our needs.

As boondockers (okay sorta boondockers), we suck. Well not quite, we went through all of our water (approx 40 gallons.) in three and a half days. We were under the impression the CG showers were closed so we didn't avail ourselves of that option until too late (found out they were still open with hot water on our last day, ugh) We planned our food well enough and activities, though we overdid the hiking, by the third day and nearly 15 miles we were both feeling the effects, fortunately we knew when we had enough and laid off any further strenuous outdoor activity. From the water consumption side of things we have some serious work ahead. noconfuse

Even though we were only camping for a few days, and our rig organizational skills are stilll on neophyte levels, the importance of a place for everything and everything in its place was very apparent. In such a small space and with a comparatively small amount of gear and food, there were a few moments of "where's the flashlight", or "where did the camera charger get stored" etc. Minor, yes, but there nonetheless. We decided that a storage briefing was a good idea whenever something was put away. This would be less of an issue once we go FT, as familiarity would come into play.

Josie needs help with beds (or anything else for that matter) over 21 inches from the floor. this trip the bed was nearly 36" so we had to lift her up. Yes, she owns our bed when she chooses to sleep there. biggrin (not really, but we do allow her there on on occasion)

We, did poorly on site selection (online thru ReserveAmerica) probably due to our CG evaluation and selection skills and lack of experience in this area. Our site was only adequate, there were many better ones, some by far, we could have picked but failed to determine that was the case until we got there. We might have been able to switch sites but without park personnel readily available we just stuck it out. we'll do better next time... famous last words. biggrin

We had no internet capable devices with us, and strangely, it was a blessing as we devoted our energy to nature and not the current news of the last few days. We cannot do much about current affairs, so why get upset about them by being upto speed on them. We can deal with that later.

The weather was perfect for the long (for us) hikes. We will however invest in better hiking shoes, ours were barely upto the job. Josie, the four wheel drive beagle that she is, was more than capable of wearing us out, though she seriously conked out once we returned to our campsite. However just mention the "Walk" word and she was ready to go again. biggrin

I was more than comfortable driving the RV but was a bit disappointed by the crappy gas mileagebleh for such a small RV, though we did also take it for two short trips in the area so that could also account for the less than stellar MPG number. All the same I will make adjustments to our RV planning budgets to account for periods of excessive fuel consumption.

I paid particular attention to low hanging branches, tight turns and narrow CG roads with an eye toward future similar issues with what we are currently contemplating for a future rig. I can foresee some real problems in certain areas so scouting CGs is now much higher on our to do list when planning.

We pretty much stayed within budget for this jaunt, however, an examination of the food portion revealed a definite need to up our future grocery budget to accomodate the RV lifestyle we envision.

We have rented Class C's before for entirely different activities and before Josie entered our lives. In those situations we were  hooked up to full hookups so we have never experienced a dump station until now. It went completely without incident... nitrile gloves are your friend and we are thankful we had them. 

We got some excellent pix of the colors and the canyons and waterfalls but it also revealed that we correctly identified the need for better photographic equipment and we have planned for that as a future goal. 

Here's an eye popper (to me at least), I had no concept of how expensive propane was. So it should come as no surprise to the veterans on here, that I was blown away by paying 3.95/gal for it here in IL. OUCH!cry Granted it was only 3.5 gals to refill the tank but the sticker shock compared to $1.82/gal for regular gas was an eye opener. Could it just be IL or a temporary price fluctuation? Either way, my ignorance here quickly vanished. Fortunately our circumstance was keeping the rig comfortable (for us) on chilly nights which sucked down propane (yeah, in afterthought we could have brought a small electric heater, our bad) Lesson learned. The rig water heater was also propane only so that also contributed to consumption. It is what it is. Sigh.

All in all, we had a blast. Learned a few things, had a few moments, both hilarious and testy, quiet and breathtaking... but would not have dared miss any of it, even for a heartbeat.smilesmile

Come on spring 2019.



-- Edited by BiggarView on Tuesday 15th of November 2016 09:52:06 AM

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Brian, Cindi & Josie (our fur baby)



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Glad you learned a few things, always nice to know what you need to rethink or plan differently.

Regarding storage - it does get easier over time after you've been living in the rig for a while. The first month we had many, many moments of what did I do with XYZ?? I know one couple who had post it notes on many of their cabinets for the first few weeks. However, what we've learned is that every time we purge, (weekly for the first 3 months, monthly for the next 6 and now about every 6 months we go through another purge) I then rearrange things to take advantage of the storage space we've freed up and then we find ourselves looking for things in the wrong drawer or cupboard. We adapt pretty quickly, but every purge results in some rearranging. It does get easier over time, I promise!!

Of course, since you have so much more time to plan and think about this than we had, maybe you won't be purging for the first few months! LOL, for us everything happened so quickly once we got the rig home and with both of us still working, we brought way tooo many things along, left a few in storage that we wished we would have brought, etc.

I think I'll go purge some more stuff out of my closetwink

Regarding water usage - did the rental have a shower head that was a water saving shower head?  That makes a HUGE difference in water consumption.  



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No it didn't have a water saving head... good tip. Having been in the NAVY I took showers as I was trained... Living in a S&B, Hollywood showers are far to easy to do.nowink

As to the purge in preparation phase.... while we are currently trimming some things, it is still too distant to get serious about it yet... should we worry?biggrin I am still loathe to part with my beloved model trainsno. Cindi, is charging ahead with reducing her crafting inventory.... I'm jealous.biggrin

 



-- Edited by BiggarView on Wednesday 16th of November 2016 11:06:40 AM

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Some Water Saving Tips:

Navy Showers
Fewer Showers- use Adult Cleansing Wipes
Plastic Pan in floor of shower to catch some of the water. Use this water to flush the toilet or other uses where non-potable water is OK (wash feet, windows).
Use paper plates and plastic utensils to cut down on dishes.
Cook on the outside grill to eliminate using pans when possible.
Make sure guests are taught how to properly use an RV toilet and take a Navy shower.

Carry a collapsible water jug to fill at a campground spigot or ranger station or gas station to refill your fresh water if needed. Blue Boy tank to empty the gray water tank if needed.

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Navy showers... check

fewer showers... check

recycled some water for the toilet... check

paper plates... check

outdoor grilling... check

blue boy, we were renting and only for a few days, turns out we wouldn't need it anyway... but we thought about it, does that count?biggrin

collapsible jug... thought of it but forgot to bring one from our actual inventory of camping gear.... d'ohhhh!!!no



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You've already gotten some great advice above.

I will add that any/all fuel (including propane) costs will vary greatly by location. The $3.95 per gallon you paid is pretty high. We've paid as low as $1.53 a gallon at an Escapees Park (which is cost to them - no mark-up), another low was $2.19 a gallon in Q, AZ and $2.25 per gallon in KY while working in Campbellsville. The highest we've paid in the lower 48 was $2.54 in Montana. After awhile, or learn from those of us who've gone before you - try to plan when you will need propane just like your fuel. Bill starts checking in advance so we know if it's less expensive where we are going - we wait (if we can of course).

We use the GasBuddy app to find best fuel (diesel and regular), and have saved a ton of $$$ that way. If we are in an expensive area and where we are going is cheaper, Bill will figure out how much we need to get there and wait to fill up.



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A couple of things to think about,

We had a Class C and found that it was too restrictive for fulltiming- great for short vacations but we knew that it would NEVER work for fulltiming. So remember this experience when looking for a fulltiming rig. We love our motorhome because we have 100 gallons of freshwater, a 100 gallon grey water tank and an 80 gallon black water tank. 10-12 days before dumping without much trouble, just don't use the on-board washer/dryer is we don't have full hookups. Most people find their grey tank is the limiting factor in their boondocking efforts. You'll get a feel for how often you need to dump and how to lengthen that stay.

Google Earth is your friend. Look at a proposed campground using Goggle Earth and see the site (and nearby sites) and look at the ingress and egress for the site.

As a fulltimer you will learn that you don't have to do something everyday. Somedays are for NOTHING. And that is ok.

If you have to worry about fuel mileage, then maybe fulltiming isn't for you. Remember, you are moving a HOUSE down the road.

Barb

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It was fun reading, and you sure did learn a lot!
We are avid hikers and mostly buy our boots (we each have 3 pairs- water proof low profile, desert mid profile and waterproof high profile) at REI. They have an incredible return policy. Even after you hike in them, you can return boots if you aren't satisfied, and they have knowledgable people to help you choose the right fit.

As for finding where things are stored- we learned that lesson too- when we moved from first rig to second, I moved the interior stuff while hubby did the basement, so he had NO idea where anything was. He said Never Again. On the next move, we decided on placement together.


Glad you had fun!!

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Kelly (Jrzygrl64), we watch GasBuddy fairly religiously, but on this short trip, there was no need, as the store where we grocery shop also gives a 10 cent per gallon discount for members dropping our fuel costs to unbeatable for anywhere within 200 miles. But point taken. As to the propane, point also taken and we don't expect to run into major propane expenses as we mostly intend to follow the sun anyway, this trip would count as extraordinary in that light.

Barb, the class C was and is expedient for current needs but entirely inadequate for our FT needs. We'll be looking at something in the 38-41 foot range in a fiver or 40+ feet in a MH. Since we wanted to see as much of Starved Rock on this excursion with waterfalls flowing, we did push ourselves and see just how far Josie was upto the challenge as well, turns out she is better equipped that us, LOL.  We don't plan on being touristy once we go FT, though we'll cetainly see and do many things along that line of thinking. Chillin' is a perfectly good strategy and we'll doing plenty of it. Google Earth is already my friend and it's a wonderful tool, we just didn't use it this trip as we have been to this park a few times in the past so it was already familiar to us. About fuel mileage, we have rented larger Class Cs in the past and got nearly 10MPG so this trip was disappointing (around 8MPG) in that regard because the terrain and distance profiles were similar to past trips, but I am not shocked or unprepared for it. In our budget planning for FT, I have pencilled in a $425/mth fuel budget & $30/mth for propane (in 'today' dollars) So I think and hope our assumptions are reasonable. We have about $500 per month of unassigned funds (not including savings which we will still be doing) so we have so room to adjust any underfunded areas of our budget. As new data comes in, we are tweaking the budget as needed.

Susan (soos), we have been to Starved Rock four or five times in the past, but never when the water falls were actually flowing. Well worth a visit to actually walk under a waterfall, picnic in a gorgeous canyon, and watch bald eagles soaring just feet from your head from one of the many lookouts. One morning in the CG, while walking Josie for her morning constitutional, it was calm and quiet, when slowly, a steady and increasing cacophany of what I, at first, thought were leaves rustling in an oncoming breeze turned out to be the biggest, by far, flock of either blackbirds or starlings (too high up to determine) I had ever seen. Had to be well over 2 million of them, the sky was literally darkened by the sheer number, it went on for nearly two minutes. Absolutely amazing. Fun?.... ooooh yeaahhh! Moments of "awe" are totally inspirational to me.

Next RV adventure will be southern Illinois for the total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017. For those unaware of it, Google it. The path of totality is 70 miles wide and runs coast to coast (a rarity all by itself) next year. This is a bucket list event that only the weather will prevent us from seeing. If it does, we get another shot in 2024... good times.

Brian



-- Edited by BiggarView on Wednesday 16th of November 2016 07:31:21 AM

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Brian,

I'm sorry, your original post made it sound like this was a trial run for you and you didn't have a lot of experience with RVing, etc. I guess I'm confused and thought you needed some tips from those who have fulltimed for a long time.



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Barb, we're definitely not "RV experienced" other than a few Class C rentals and a pop-up once... we, have learned a lot already from this forum as we dig into the research. Still, I thought it would be helpful to convey some of our learning and experience to others in a similar position and to do some tongue in cheek self-admissions of our newb-ness and yes gather up any tips offered along the way, some we knew about already from you, and others, and some that were so obvious that we simply overlooked them altogether. The OP was definitely about a trial run for us in terms of having Josie along with us, thus there was some learning there, and other things were more sharply focused since this was the first time we took an RV out for a trip since we decided to plan the deep dive into FTing back in late 2013. It kinda changes ones perspective about camping vs FTing when everything you deal with is viewed through a different prism. Tips are always welcome. Especially appreciated your advice regarding having an appropriate repair fund and adding to it regularly, that item is now solidly entrenched in our planning, so thanks again for that.

Brian



-- Edited by BiggarView on Wednesday 16th of November 2016 10:55:29 AM

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Brian are you guys now out of the house and full-time RVers?


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I wish, still got a couple of years to go... shooting for spring 2019.

 



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