Nuts and Bolts (The Everyday Stuff for RV Living)
Hi… This is Steve. Chari has been doing most of the posting on this blog, with one or two asides from Opal, but occasionally I may throw in my two cents. I thought I’d start a series of posts about the normal, routine stuff that non-RVers may not be aware of. And even those who have RVs but use them for weekend trips and vacations. Living full-time in one is very different.
A few years ago, while visiting the First Flight Museum at Kittyhawk, North Carolina, the docent was pointing out the distances of the Write Brother’s first four flights. I don’t recall the exact numbers, but each successive flight increased from roughly 120 feet to something over 800. “Why do you think this was?” he asked. Well, no one had ever flown before, and with each additional attempt, they were learning to fly. When Chari and I got our first camper trailer, there were a lot of things we hadn’t considered. We started calling our adventures and misadventures “Learning to Fly”.
“Learning to Fly” included all sorts of things. I remember very clearly lesson number one… Carry Lumber. We’ve found from camping at lots of locations that there is a tremendous difference in campsites. Some are paved; most are not. Some are perfectly level; most are not. Some don’t even come close! If the site is off level “fore and aft”, it isn’t a big deal, since the front of the trailer could be raised or lowered with the tongue jack. But off level side to side is a different story. The solution here is to park the trailer with one two or sometimes even three two by eights under the left or right side tires. I wish someone had a camera to take a picture of me cooking breakfast on our first morning… standing on one foot with the other raised so I could hold the frying pan on the stove with my knee while I tried to crack eggs and have them land in the pan instead of all over the stove as the pan crashed to the floor! The next trip, we had lots of lumber with us!
We thought that after a couple of years of trailering, we had things down pat, but full timing is different than weekending or even long vacationing. Lesson number one here is all about “stuff”. How much “stuff” do we want? How much “stuff” do we need? How much “stuff” do we actually have room for? Three questions, and three very different answers! When we first started out, we thought it might be a good idea to keep Chari’s Suburu as a second car. It would be a good “running around” car, we could use it as a shuttle car if we wanted to do some kayaking or biking, and we could use it to carry “stuff”. It would mean we would have to travel from one place to another separately, but it would probably be worth it. It wasn’t. We were mostly using the truck for our running around, the car was loaded with “stuff” that was almost totally inaccessible, and we missed driving together. One day we unloaded all our stuff and laid it all out to decide what we really needed to have with us. When it was all out, we couldn’t believe what we had dragged along with us. WHY? Did we really think we’d need a large Totes container full of Christmas tree decorations? In an RV? Luckily, since the house in Charlotte hadn’t sold yet, we were still staying in the general vicinity, and all the “stuff” we decided we didn’t really need with us but still didn’t want to part with, we took to our long-term storage unit for the time when we eventually decide to settle down. Other stuff went to the trash, or if it was good enough, to Goodwill.
We have a lifestyle we want to keep, and that means holding on to a lot of things someone else might not. We want our bicycles. We want our kayaks. Keeping kayaks means keeping other things like life jackets, paddles, etc. I want my fishing tackle. We need to keep a certain amount of tools and hardware. We need clothes for four seasons. And clothes for the rare occasions when we want to “dress up”. We have Opal, and that means carrying things like dog food. All this takes up space, and space is at a premium in an RV.
We’ve got things down to a manageable level now. We have a place for everything we’ve decided we need, but I’m sure as time goes by, we’ll pare down some more. This will be a never-ending process.
So, this is the kind of thing I’ll be talking about in “Nuts and Bolts”. Our daily routine. How we pack up to move. How we set up when we get to where we’re going. The different types of campgrounds we find and what we like or don’t like about them.