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Life In An RV

Fulltime RVer Creativity and Must Haves

craftEveryone new to the fulltime living of RVing always has that one question of – What do I need? What is a “must have?” There is no one right answer but I can give you a few tips and ways to get creative with what you have in order to not over stock, over crowd and basically just simplify your supplies.

Most will probably agree with me on this one sure fire need is duct tape and gorilla glue. If you have both of these items there isn’t much you can’t fix. They even have clear duct tape now to repair say your awning when it accidentally gets ripped in a wind storm. Lets just hope it’s a tear and the awning doesn’t shred; that’s an expensive fix. You’d either have to get it replaced or take stock in duct tape. Odd use of duct tape? If you have children who love art it won’t seem odd to them. Take them to the store, let them pick from the plentiful colors and designs and let them have at it. My daughter has actually made a headband sporting a rose. My husband and I have used the chamo duct tape to make wrist bands. So duct tape is for repairing, playing and while it sounds funny it is practical. I have even used duct tape to secure a large umbrella to my fishing chair just so I could have shade. This worked really well until I went to put the fold up fishing chair in the trunk with the umbrella attached. It’s very long but I did make it fit. Duct tape can even come in handy in an emergency; say you break a leg or cut yourself you can use the tape to secure a splint or bandage. You can use it to secure a broken window till it can be taken to the repair shop. The uses are endless. Now back to that gorilla glue my husband has used it to repair shoes, replace wall and floor trimming, and fix chairs.

I’d have to say the next thing on my list is a five gallon bucket. I could probably write a whole review on uses of five gallon buckets. We use ours from everything from storing dog food to a potty. They are great for storage containers because they have lids that seal tight. They are small enough I keep one five gallon bucket in the RV to store our dog food. The tight lid keeps out critters; like ants. We always get ants in the RV. This way the dog food doesn’t attract them and you don’t get the dog food smell throughout the RV; we all know the many smells that come along with the fulltime RVing lifestyle.

007If you have not seen the movie RV with Robin Williams – rent it for a night of laughter; sit back laugh, point at the TV and say yup that’s us! We’ve also use the buckets as ladders to stand on to pull the awning out or reach things up high in the back of the cupboard. Sometimes we have guests over and run out of chairs – just pull up a bucket, flip it over have a seat. We use it to go fishing to carry our bait, rags, etc. Then, when we catch a fish we use it to hold water and the fish. You can use it to store work supplies, nails, hammers, tools. We even have one we use as a potty if we take a vacation from the RV home and take our tent we are sure to bring along the five gallon bucket potty. They even make snap on toilet seats for this purpose. We’ve used it to walk the campgrounds and pick up sticks or pine cones to be used in our fire. Pine cones make a great fire starter. We have even used it to clean up litter or pop cans. Again those seal tight lids really come in handy to keep down smells and secure items.

The next item I LOVE is a four wheeled cart. Found at most home improvement stores or Walmart. I found mine online. You can get great deals online. The cost runs from $20 to $50 depending on size and style; worth every penny. I have used my cart for fishing. I can load everything in it from my fishing chair to tackle box and fishing poles. For those of us who have bad backs these carts are life savors. Load it up and away you go. I’d have to say my favorite use of my cart is for laundry. We are currently at a campground that has limited parking. Therefore, we try to walk to the laundry facility. Again for those with bad backs walking any distance carrying laundry can be a feat. I simply load my cart up and off I go. My husband has used the cart to collect cans, sticks, etc. Basically anything that needs hauling can be done so with this cart.

Last but not least a must have: cast iron skillet. While some frown upon it because they are heavy the amount of space you save makes up for it. I have no cake pans, no other skillets just my cast iron skillet. I can make pizzas, cakes, corn bread, soups, stir fries, pork chops, etc. the list is endless. I simply store my cast iron skillet in my oven.

So there you have my must haves and creative ideas. I’m sure you could add more. Most importantly have fun, get creative and use every opportunity as a learning experience.

RVing Trip to COSI in Columbus Ohio

spaceRVer Trip to COSI

Let me start by giving a simple definition of what Cosi is: As the saying goes “Welcome to the Wonderful World of Science.” Cosi is located in the Capitol City of Ohio. Cosi is located in downtown Columbus, Ohio. This is an ideal location in my opinion because it is geared more towards those who live in the city and may not have the opportunity to explore Science found in nature.

This was our first trip to Cosi. This will be our last trip. While I am very grateful to A Kid Again (cancer organization for children) supplying our tickets I simply could not afford the tickets on my own nor would I want to pay the price they are asking to visit the facility. I was disappointed in the fact that once you pay the high price to get in the door that there was additional charges for many of the activities inside. You had to pay additional for the movie, the tornado simulator and the adventure room. I guess we got caught up in all the hype and when the place didn’t meet our expectations it was a let down. I don’t like to give negative reviews and I will keep the negativity to a minimum with Cosi because it can be a wonderful experience for younger children and those not exposed to Science in the world. My husband did see the movie they showed about Tornadoes and he thought it was very educational. While he was viewing the forty – five minute show my teen daughter and I explored the gift shop.

I am not a shopper; in fact I dislike shopping but I was impressed with the gift shop. They had some original products like the sand you cut and play with that is more like clay but really is sand. The texture was sand like and held up like clay and made no mess. No mess! A great item for children in an RV. They also had colored rocks that resembled candy; this could be dangerous as a child was in a stroller with reached out hands saying “candy, candy, candy.” I quickly explained to the child that it was in fact not candy.

016They had some really cool items like a swinging pendulum, stingless harp, and a high wire tightrope unicycle (not for those with bad backs, weak hearts or short legs). One of the exhibits I liked was the NASA exhibit. I liked the food display of what the food looks like that they take into space. I thought the one item was donuts but not so. I believe it was cereal. My other favorite exhibit was the Ocean. However, I am claustrophobic so I did not fully experience this exhibit. One step in a few turns and I was panicked. Quickly finding my exit I left this exhibit to my family. I did see the submarine on the right that was really cool and to the left was a waterfall with water shooting gun like objects. If you visit Cosi make sure you see this exhibit it is free and very cool.

There are three floors and an outdoor area with different Science learning stations. There is even a food court if you get hungry: pizza, pop and snacks. One last note parking is not free and costs about $8 and $5 for members. Would I recommend Cosi to my friends and family? Only if they have smaller children from say Kindergarten to sixth grade. You can find Cosi at 333 W. Broad Street Columbus, Ohio.

How RVers Exercise in the RV on Those Rainy Days

exersiseHow RVers Exercise in the RV on Those Rainy Days

Now I’ve titled this review Exercises in the RV on Those Rainy Days but you don’t have to wait for a rainy day. So grab those dumbbells and let’s get started.

You don’t have to go to a gym or buy a fitness membership to get or stay fit. I like to think of this type of exercise being like homeschooled children. Sure they can go to a public school and gain knowledge just like you can go to a gym, hire a personal trainer and get fit, or you can get fit in your own RV. (Please always check with your Doctor before starting any new exercise program.) Of course it would be nice if we all had our own personal trainer and gym on the road but for many fulltime RVers we don’t. I do however have a pass to my local YMCA. This allows me to join their away program. For a certain allotted amount of days I can visit a YMCA if there is one in the area I am in.

So what are some items you will need if you don’t have a gym? Simple – you have everything you need right in your RV. Water bottles or cans of fruit or veggies or you can purchase three, five or eight pound weights. What ever best suits your needs. If you have an internet connection or a cell phone that has internet you can simply go to you tube and find an array of exercise videos; everything from warm up, beginners to pros. All free. Because I am a beginner I enjoy Victoria Secret Model Workout: 10 minute Fat-Blasting Circuit. There are several Victoria Secret Workout Videos. Why do I choose these ones per say? I choose these videos because they are easy for me and they won’t knock the RV over or knock pictures off the walls. Most RV’s are stable but I prefer not to do fast jumping, hard running type exercises that might hurt my floor in my RV. Now one person doing those exercises won’t hurt the RV but if you get say me and both my teen girls all doing high cardio in the RV that might not have a good ending. However, with these low intensity videos one should be okay. I also like the video titled Tank Top Arms. Again a video that will allow you to get fit, stay fit and not rock the RV. Make sure to always stretch. You can find many stretching videos online.

008Don’t have internet? That’s ok too. Doing simple weight lifting exercises using water bottles, or cans of fruits/veggies or dumbbells will do the trick. Just have fun with it. Something we also have is a WII. I love the WII Fit Plus. I’ve used the Biggest Loser game as well but didn’t find it as enjoyable. You can use the WII Fit Plus to exercise and to watch your weight.

If you are looking for an app to help you count calories and keep track of your exercise I recommend Myfitnesspal. There are a lot of programs out there so just find one that works for you.

Another exercise I like is jumping jacks but not full jumping jacks because I don’t want things falling off the walls. They are half jumping jacks. While not as intense just increase the amount you do. A half jumping jack is similar to a full only when you raise your arms in that clapping over the head movement instead of both feet going out you only do one at a time; when you put your leg out touch the heel to the floor as your hands clap above your head. If you have never done this or seen it again it can be found online.

RV Friendly Kimodontics Provides Invisalign Solutions For Teens On The Road

One of the most frequently asked questions by parents who travel full-time with teens on the road arises when it’s time to determine how to handle braces when the rite of passage arises.

For us, two discoveries led to the most wonderful solution and inside of 2 short months, our  daughter Marina not only met and fell in love with her new orthodontist, she’s also proudly sporting a new set of braces that will not interfere with our full-time RVing travels in the least.

braces

To begin with, it was Marina who took it upon herself to research Invisalign braces and based on what she learned, we discovered that the frequency of office visits was far less with Invisalign than for conventional braces. Hurdle #1 accomplished.

But the true tipping point was meeting Dr. Sharon Kim, of Kimodontics in Las Vegas. In all my years, I have never met a medical provider who is as positively delightful as Dr. Kim and her entire staff. Hurdle #2 accomplished.

During one of our recent trips to Las Vegas, Marina located Kimodontics on the Invisalign website under the list of Preferred Providers. On a fluke we simply stopped into the office, without even so much as an appointment – figuring we would pick up some literature, have a few general questions answered and make an appointment for another day.

Instead we were greeted, seated, and next thing you know, Dr. Kim herself was sitting there chatting about our full-time lifestyle and we were sharing tales of life on the road as if she were a long lost friend we hadn’t seen in ages. So when we broached the subject of our “typical” travel schedule, we were bracing (no pun intended) for the other shoe to drop and to hit a brick wall. But instead, Dr. Kim was exuberant in getting more details from us to see how she could make it all happen!

Next thing you know, she had Marina back in a chair in the brightly decorated, open air exam area and was doing an initial consultation, right then and there.

Remember – we had no appointment! But within minutes of a walk-in arrival, we were face to face with the orthodontist herself – not an office manager, staff member, or assistant. But rather, the caring, concerned and extremely professional Dr. (who immediately picked up on Marina’s fear of not being able to get braces because of our lifestyle) and wanted to do an initial exam so as not to get her hopes up that she’d be a candidate for Invisalign, only to have her hopes dashed during a later appointment.

She was indeed a candidate and the sheer look of relief on Marina’s face told me that we had found our solution and Dr. Kim would be our chosen provider – hands down!

invisalignSo what we’ve discovered is that with Invisalign, you are provided with sets of trays – after impressions are taken and the Dr. works hand in hand with the lab to get the treatment plan and desired results established. Once the trays arrive and the initial fitting is done, the trays are taken out and replaced with the next one in the numbered series by the patient every two weeks. With proper care and training, Dr. Kim felt comfortable that she could provide us with enough trays between our travels and only if something went wrong would we have to return – even if we weren’t in the area for a few months at a time.

puppy

So what does a traveling teen do when she’s doing cartwheels about finding a solution to a problem that was previously weighing heavy on her heart? She texts her best friends, of course! LOL

Excitedly, she fired off texts to two of the three triplets, otherwise known as the Coast To Coast Trips – so thrilled about her appointment with Dr. Kim and the solution to the “braces on the road” dilemma. But as it turns out, they too were in need of orthodontics and next thing you know the Trips paid a visit to Dr. Kim and the rest is history, as they say.

Not only are they now happy patients of Dr. Kim also, the girls can now share their experiences with one another and swaps tips on care and their progress – helping each other along the way on the great braces adventure. Which by the way – Marina has had little to no pain so far and is so thankful to avoid the horror stories of traditional metal braces that other friends have shared with her.

Tales of life on the road… stopping in for visits just to say hi (and having them put pics of us up on the Kimodontics Facebook Page )… as well as playing with Dr. Kim’s precious “babies” (shown at right) has now become another blessed experience of life on the road for us all. Not to mention a great excuse to meet up with the Trips each time we all go to Vegas for our appointments!

And as my daughter said the day we left Dr. Kim’s office…

“None of this would have been possible without Dr. Kim!” 

 

 

 

 

 

Life In An RV Story Contest Submissions

What an amazing and talented community we have represented in our first ever “Life In An RV” Story Contest!

Below you will see all of the submissions our traveling friends have so generously shared with us, so please take a moment to enjoy what they’ve prepared and leave a “vote” for your favorites by commenting on the ones that touch or tickle you the most! You can vote as many times as you like – just be sure and leave a comment at the end of the post itself for your vote to count!

VOTING ENDS: Wednesday, December 19th at Midnight Eastern – so don’t delay!

Congratulations in advance to everyone who gave of their time and joined in the fun to make this holiday special for us all with your inspirational, funny and though provoking tales!

Mina Greenlee – Truck Shopping While Traveling Full-TIme
Rebecca Anne – Hunter Of The Night 
Lu Swart – Johnny and the Bear Essentials
Jennifer Hodgkiss – Throwing of the Colors
Dennis Swart – The Sled
Angel Price – Beginner RVing – Let The Adventure Begin
Wanda Peel – What A View
Jody Scholl – Stale Popcorn
Kent Butterfield – Waiting With a Purpose
Dana Butterfield – The Day the Hurricane Hit
Ron Hart – Our First Christmas in the RV

Truck Shopping while Traveling Full-Time

Life In An RV Story Submitted By Mina Wells Greenlee:

This story actually begins with our Montana Camping group known as MOC – Montana Owners Club. The National MOC Rally is every year in Goshen/Elkhart, Indiana in September. When we meet it is like seeing family at a reunion. (Except the people who are here “want” to be here participating!). There is sharing/learning about axles, brakes, warranty issues, tires….etc.

So imagine, all the same brand of 5th wheel (Keystone & all Montana) just different floor plans.

Now, in order to move the 5th wheel, you need …… A truck w/5th wheel hitch. (I know there are a couple other ways, but the hitch is for this story!). And men, being men, have to check out each others “ride”!

To shorten the story, let’s just say HoboBob got the bug for a dually!!! The pull truck at this time was a ’05 SRW 3/4 T Dodge Ram. It pulled our other 11,300 ib Montana just fine!

After our first Indiana rally, we returned to California & decided to go full-time. In the meantime, he is still happy with the ’05 pulling our 5th wheel.

Fast forward to 2 years ago this winter, and know that we have been to a couple more rally’s with truck towing Montanas! Every time he takes the 05 in for maintenance (ie oil change, filters& such) he checks out the newest dually on the lot! 60,000 dollars plus!!! This is of course in Tracy, California. Too much $$$$$$!!!!! So, that winter we went to Arizona (Quartzsite then Apache Junction area). Priced dually Dodges there!!! Same price! Went to South Dakota, about the same. That year went to a rally in Nebraska and “almost” bought there, but…. Not heated seats and not right “color”! ’05 is Maroon, his favorite color!!!

Then we went to Salina, Kansas to visit friends (& fill in Kansas on our map!). Priced trucks there, but no Laramie dually on the lot. They could order or check other dealers though! (By now he is getting pretty good at saying “No”! Too much $$$ or not right color or did not have something on it he wanted if he traded!!!)

So, we headed to Goshen for an appointment for our black tank slow leak repair. Also just a couple weeks before the rally, again. Trailer is in for repair at 7 am! We go to breakfast & ride around shopping, killing time. Go back to pick up trailer and we could not stay in our home because the sealant stuff needed to completely dry! So go to motel!

Next day, kill time, looking for furniture to replace what we had in trailer. Was driving to another shopping stop and had to stop at a light. I was driving and HoboBob was looking around. He noticed a “white” Dodge sitting on a berm with a Jeep, across the street! So, (not really into furniture shopping again!) he says pull in! We can “look”!

It was a 2011 white w/gold trim dually, Laramie (which means heated seats!)……with ….. 14,300 miles on it! Just purchased at auction! Okkkkkkkaaaaaayyyyyyy…….. It “also had” ….. Price tag $20,000 cheaper than brand new off the lot! Okkkkkkaaaaayyyyyy, but……not right color! But, had power-rear window opening (05 did not), had step-up rails already on it (I could get in!), had the rain gutters over window already on it AND did I say it was $20,000 cheaper than new! :)

Okkkkaaaaayyyyyyy, he is seriously considering this trade “if” they give him what he wanted for ’05 AND keep the payment at his point range!!! I am having a hard time believing that this is happening ….. So, then I get serious and talk about needing to prep the truck for the 5th wheel hitch…you know that means taking the truck to a place to have a new one installed. Guess what …… There was rails already in the bed of truck!!!!!!! All we had to do was UNCLIP ours from the ’05 & move it over!!!

And that my friends, is the story of how we got our current truck and how he traded his “baby”!

If you are a believer that God is in control of all things, then you will understand me when I say God blessed without us even asking. (No way I would have ever believed he would trade his beloved new, Maroon, Dodge truck 3 years ago!)

If you enjoyed this story and would like to vote for Mina – please leave a comment below!

(Enjoy all the other stories submitted by clicking here – you can vote on as many stories as you like, but your vote will only count once per story. Have Fun!)

Living In A Small RV

When I first bought an RV to live in  a lot of people thought that it was a phase I would quickly snap out of. Part of me thought the same thing. Would a move from a 2000 square foot condo to a 100 square foot RV be bearable?

As it turned out, it was more than bearable. I loved it. When I left the country to travel, I sold everything including the RV I loved so much. Seven months later, back in Austin and faced with the proposition of finding somewhere to live, the decision was simple.

I wanted another RV, and it had to be even smaller.

This series is going to be about why I decided to live in an RV, what it’s really like on a day to day basis, and some tips and ideas for other people who might want to try it themselves.

Most RV owners don’t actually live in their RVs, and those who do usually stay in an RV park. I park on the side of the road, totally disconnected from any sort of outside support. This article is for people who are interested in this particular arrangement.

Which RV?

I have a 1996 Winnebago Rialta. I researched virtually every brand and model and decided that this was by far the best RV available.

It’s very small. A regulation parking space is 19′, and this baby is only 20’8″. That means that unless a spot is very tight, I can probably park in it. The RV doubles as my car, and I can park it almost anywhere, including parallel parking it downtown. In 1997 the RV grew by nine inches.

Having a small RV also makes it a lot easier to park overnight wherever you want without making a scene.

It’s very fuel efficient. On the highway it gets around 20mpg.

It has the perfect layout, including a full time bed with a real mattress and a table big enough for my laptop and dinner.

rialtafloor

Winnebago, the manufacturer, is one of the best RV makers, so the whole thing is very high quality.

It is one of the smallest RVs that has a full usable shower, toilet, stove, generator, and fridge. In fact, if I were to sum up all of the reasons this is the best RV (for me anyway), it would be that it is the smallest RV that fits my basic needs for comfortable living.

Do not buy a bigger RV than you absolutely need.

Why live in an RV?

I can think of about a billion great reasons to live in an RV, but I’ll just cover some of the biggest ones and then move on.

Maybe most important, it forces you to live a simple life and focus on what’s really important. You can’t waste your time looking for a great armoire because you have nowhere to put that armoire.

Who needs armoires anyway? They’re a symbol of what’s wrong in the world, if you ask me.

When I bought my first house it never occurred to me that I would need to furnish it. A good portion of my time and money was spent furnishing that house. Lamps, rugs, tables, chairs, couches, beds, art, plants.

More time was spent maintaining it. Mowing the lawn, cleaning the gutters, shampooing the carpet, cleaning out the fridge.

Think about that for a minute. I bought this house to live in, and then spent a good part of my life working on the house. A lot of this was fun, of course, but at the end of the day it was a self perpetuating cycle.

An RV can’t hold your junk. It doesn’t have the room. You don’t remodel it. If you want to move then you put it in drive. You have no bills to pay. No rent.

Even though you have less stuff, you always have it all with you. Your files are with you, your clothes, your computer, your bed, and your bathroom. You never stop home on your way somewhere, because you’re always home.

It takes about 5-10 minutes to exhaustively clean up your whole RV.

You’re ready for any activity. You can take a quick shower if you need one. You can have a snack.

When you go on vacation, your bedroom comes with you.

it’s also fun. It feels like an adventure. Remember the feeling of camping in the woods as a kid? It sort of feels like that when you sleep with a breeze coming through the screen window at night.

It’s also way cheaper, of course, than living anywhere else. Once you buy the RV you know that you have a place to live no matter what. That means that you can take financial risks and not jeopardize your lifestyle

You can live wherever you want and can move for free whenever you want. I park on the street across from my favorite restaurant, right in one of the expensive areas of Austin. If I still went to clubs downtown, I’d park in the middle of downtown for the weekend and walk a block or two to go home at the end of the night.

But What About….?

Air Conditioning – Don’t need it. It’s 100 degrees during the day here in Austin. By about 11am it’s too hot to stay in, so I go out and enjoy life. After dinner it’s cool enough to go back in. If I park in the shade (and forgo solar power) and turn the fan on I can work through the day if I need to.

At night it’s 75 or 80, which is perfect for sleeping in my underwear with just a sheet. I leave the window next to my bed open and turn on my fan and get a pleasant constant breeze.

Also, let’s consider what percentage of the world’s population doesn’t have air conditioning. It’s only necessary because we’re so used to it.

Getting Claustrophobic – Maybe this would be an issue for some people, but these RVs feel very big on the inside. Think about how much of the space in your house is actually useful. Do you USE all the space between your bed and the wall? Does having that space REALLY contribute to your happiness?

Storing my Stuff – If you can’t fit it, then get rid of it. I lived like a king traveling the world with 28L of stuff. Now I’ve taken it out of the backpack, bought a few more things like a third and fourth pair of underwear, and I want for nothing. Well over half of the storage is empty.

Even if you don’t want to go super minimalist, you’ll find that these RVs are designed for people with a lot of stuff and will generally accommodate you well.

Electricity – I’ll cover this more in a future post, but electricity can be totally covered by a single solar panel and a battery or two. I’ve been in my RV writing, listening to music, and running the fan for five or six hours now in the dark and still have power to spare.

What Other People Will Think – Pretty much everyone I’ve met thinks that it’s outrageously cool, including attractive girls. Everyone’s so busy trying to impress girls with their BMWs that they don’t realize that the most attractive thing you can do is follow your own desires.

But, more importantly, who cares? How much do you want to have someone in your life who is going to think less of you for living in an RV?

Crime – I don’t know where you want to park your RV. Maybe it’s in the middle of a riot zone or a crackhouse neighborhood, in which case crime may be a problem.

Generally people greatly overestimate danger and crime. I’ve parked in a bunch of different socioeconomically classed areas and have never had a problem.

Wrapping it All Up

Living in an RV isn’t for everyone, but I think a lot more people would give it a try if they knew how genuinely awesome it is. I don’t know that I’ve necessarily conveyed the bliss I feel for living in my RV, but maybe it will surface a bit more as I get into the particulars…

UPDATE: Because of the popularity of this topic, I wrote a comprehensive Kindle Book on RV living, available at Amazon for only $2.99

Gasoline Vs. Diesel — An Age-Old Dilemma

When we bought our tow vehicle, Matt and I talked to other full-time RVers about whether we should go diesel or gasoline. The general consensus was that diesel would get you more power going up an incline, but in flat areas, gas would be fine. However, no one ever discussed the concept of “altitude” with us — and we learned the difference between the two the hard way as we just drove through the Rockies for the first time this past week.

How Each Engine Works

Let me start by thanking my friend Paul the mechanic for explaining to me (patiently, several times, and with visual aids) how engines convert liquid fuel into kinetic energy through internal combus­tion — not my strong suit! As each piston in a gasoline engine moves up and down in turn, it sucks air in through the intake valve and compresses it to create a vacuum in the engine. The air is mixed with gasoline, and the spark plug ignites the mixture. This series of small explosions keeps the engine’s pistons pumping inside the cylinders — which causes the crankshaft to rotate, which then turns the wheels so your vehicle moves forward (I apologize if that’s a really oversimplified version of “Engines 101″ — but enough for you to get the point.)

A diesel engine works in much the same way as a gasoline-powered vehicle when idling (sucking in air and creating a vacuum in the engine) — but once you hit the gas, the “turbo” system takes over. As you rev the engine, exhaust gasses are routed into a special turbine before being shot out the tailpipe. The engine speeds up, the turbine spins faster, and the system shifts from “vacuum” to “pressure” — forcing more air into the engine. This forced air heats up as it is compressed and causes the fuel to ignite sans spark plug. That’s where diesel gets its superior power. Less-refined fuel (having a higher energy density) collides with an air compression ratio 2-3 times that of gasoline — you get a greater reaction and more “vroom.”

A gasoline engine is an “open” system — it requires an in-flow of air to help the gas burn. Diesel is a “closed” system — the turbo creates its own air pressure (its own “atmosphere,” as Paul says) and isn’t reliant on the quality of the air outside the vehicle. Why does this matter? It doesn’t, if you’re at sea level — but when you’re in a higher altitude, the air is thinner and contains less oxygen. Gasoline burns less efficiently and your vehicle isn’t going to perform as well. Count on a drastic reduction in both torque (how quickly you can accelerate) and horsepower (how fast you can go in a given gear) — especially when you’re pulling 6,000 pounds behind you. A diesel engine, on the other hand, can keep on cranking without a slow-down — even high up.

Matt and I read tons of articles on diesel vs. gas before we bought our truck, and the concept of altitude affecting your ability to tow was never once mentioned. We both grew up in coastal communities and did most of our driving in the southeastern U.S. — how the hell were we supposed to know? On our way through Vail Pass, we found our speedometer needle creeping ever downward — even with the truck in first gear and the pedal to the floor. WTF? Granted, it was a 7% grade — but we had just driven an 8% grade in Utah with no problem. We had successfully toted our Airstream up mountains in Tennessee, Georgia, West Virginia, Montana, South Dakota, California, Idaho — but these are all steep inclines at a much lower altitude. It wasn’t until Matt and I were bitching about our lack of horsepower to Paul once we landed in Denver, that we discovered there wasn’t actually anything wrong with our truck — problem was simply the kind of gas it used.

Of course, you can compensate for some of these issues, even when driving a gas truck. If you’ve got a good fuel injection system, it should automatically adjust to create the correct mixture of gas and air at any altitude. And here’s a neat little trick Paul taught us — if you’ve been driving at sea level, then head up into the mountains and find yourself slowing way down while trying to crest a hill, mash the pedal to the floor a couple of times and it help your engine re-calibrate the parameters for fuel efficiency for higher altitude. Who knew?!

Cost Versus Benefit

When Matt and I were shopping for trucks, we did a lot of back-and-forthing about which system would make the most sense economically, over the lifetime of the vehicle. Diesel fuel costs more per gallon than gas, but you get better mileage — at least twice as good as a gas truck while towing your rig. We also examined the up-front cash investment — a diesel truck could cost half again as much as we would spend on a gas truck. And we compared the cost of repairs (almost always more expensive) with the longer diesel engine life (you might get 500,000 miles out of a diesel, and barely half as much from a gas truck). You have to replace a gas truck more often when you work it hard the way full-timers do — but the lifetime savings on maintenance (when your labor and replacement parts cost less than half of what it would to fix a diesel) seem to balance out with the expense of the new truck. Dammit — that didn’t help us make a decision!

We needed to consider how often having a diesel engine would actually improve our truck’s performance. Very rarely do Matt and I drive in super-high altitudes — the majority of our travels are along the coasts and through the heartland, where even a gas truck can handle the big hills. We also spend most of our time driving without the trailer attached, which could be a problem. Diesels emit a lot of soot — if you’re towing something heavy and working your engine at full capacity, the system “self-cleans” by blowing a nasty cloud of schmutz out the exhaust pipe. But in-town driving doesn’t provide enough “oomph” — and the soot builds up until you have a nice layer of grimy cement, clogging your moving parts and ensuring an expensive repair bill.

Paul said that “under-utilization” of a diesel’s capabilities is the cause of most costly repairs on trucks and SUVs these days — it’s the “soccer mom” syndrome, when you have a vehicle with way more power than you need, you never pull anything with it, and only use it for grocery shopping and toting kids to and from extracurricular activities. We only tow for a few days at a time, every 2-3 months — so diesel could actually have been more trouble than it was worth (thank goodness, considering we already own a gas truck!)

So all-in-all, gas is a good choice for us — however, your situation may be completely different, and you need to evaluate all of these factors for yourself before committing to a particular vehicle. I’ll end by saying that I am far from an expert on this matter, but these are the bits of info we’ve picked up along the way as we RV across the country. Hope you find this useful and helpful — and at the very least, you know to ask about altitude when truck shopping (which we surely didn’t!)

 

Copyright Ramona Creel, all rights reserved. Ramona Creel is a modern Renaissance woman and guru of simplicity — traveling the country as a full-time RVer, sharing her story of radically downsizing, and inspiring others to regain control of their own lives. As a Professional Organizer and Accountability Coach, Ramona will help you create the time and space to focus on your true priorities — clearing away the clutter other obstacles and standing in the way of that life you’ve always wanted to be living. As a Professional Photographer, Ramona captures powerful images of places and people as she travels. And as a travel writer, social commentator, and blogger, she shares her experiences and insights about the world as we know it. You can see all these sides of Ramona — read her articles, browse through her photographs, and even hire her to help get your life in order — at www.RamonaCreel.com. And be sure to follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

Our 5th Turkey On Wheels – Reflections From 2008

This post below is a reprint from a blog post I made in 2008 as our family celebrated our first Thanksgiving on the road. I thought it was a perfect time to reflect on our own blessings as well as inspire our new friends, near and far, who are experiencing their own Thanksgiving on wheels or looking to the future when the dream becomes a reality…

The picture is from 2008, when our (then, very tiny) daughter Marina was delighted that “Mr. Turkey” fit!

Please enjoy a look back at where we were 5 years ago today:

REPRINT FROM 2008: As we celebrate Thanksgiving today in parts of the world, I would like to share a few of the traditions that the Mulac family embraces during this day of gratitude and I invite you to leave a comment and share some traditions and gratitude of your own.

You are part of our “online family” and as you read this, know that no matter how near or far, we count you today as one of our blessings. To have been able to be a part of your life this past year embodies the passion we have in helping others achieve the lifestyle of their dreams and our gratitude and heartfelt wishes go out to you and those your hold dear.

As many know, the Mulac Family Marketers have been mobile for most of this year, traveling the U.S. via Motorhome, so the prospect of a Traditional Thanksgiving posed some new challenges. But the tradition alone that my dear mother instilled is taking the old and merging it with the new, and that’s been exactly the theme this year.

While my mother is no longer with us, the traditions that I knew as a child are alive and well and I am honored to pass them to our own daughters in hopes that they will reach adulthood with the same joy and warm memories I feel today as the festivities get underway…

While we had some generous invitations from dear friends to spend today around their holiday tables, the Greg, Marina, Morgan and I decided that we wanted our memory of the “First” Thanksgiving in the Motorhome to be one filled with all the traditional fixings – no matter how hard we had to shove to get all 16 pounds of Mr. Turkey to fit in the motorhome oven!

So as I write this, the stuffing is being prepared, the bird is ready to be stuffed and the Thanksgiving Day parade is playing on the TV, with the girls excitedly looking forward to Santa’s arrival at the end of the parade. At face value – nothing would seem to be different… with the only exception being that our “space” is a 37 foot motorhome.

Yes, lots of people thought I was a little “off” when I proposed to do all the traditional fixings in the motorhome, but it’s not about the space, it’s all about the place. And our “place” is the love and gratitude that we have, no matter where we are…

Sure, I’ve prepared many a Thankgiving meal in sprawling kitchens, state-of-the-art appliances and all of the comforts that one could hope for. But this year, Thanksgiving is shaping up to be one of the most cozy and special holidays we can ever remember.

So can I cook a full holiday extravaganza in the motorhome? You bet!

I’ve employed a little creativity and pulled out all the stops between the oven, microwave, crock pot, electric skillet, toaster oven and more… it might be the smallest kitchen I’ve ever managed, but it the largest excitement the girls have ever had and it will be a memory that they will never forget – the “First Thanksgiving” had nothing on the Mulacs!

And as I have told the girls, while we feel that we may be “roughing it” – there are people throughout the world who are no where near as advantaged as we are today – and THAT is the real meaning that we must never lose sight of!

Be sure and join me in sharing your traditions  too, by leaving a comment below!

I must run now and join the girls in singing “There’s No Place Like Home For The Holidays…” yes, another tradition that takes on new meaning this year…

With Gratitude,
Stephanie, Greg, Marina & Morgan

== END REPRINT ===

Please enjoy these free gifts that will assist you in keeping the true spirit of the holidays at the forefront of your celebrations:

http://infiniteevolutioncenter.com/givingthanks/StressFreeHolidayMemories.pdf
http://infiniteevolutioncenter.com/givingthanks/HolidayMemoriesWorksheet.pdf
(click to open in a new window or right click and “save as” to your desktop)

 

Why We Became Full-Timers Part 5: Taking The Leap

To be honest, we’d never even considered the possibility of becoming full-timers, until one day in March of 2007 when we drove past an old-fashioned Airstream travel trailer cruising down the interstate — a beautifully polished classic from the 60’s. I was immediately enchanted!

Making It Happen

I had always thought RVing meant those obnoxious, 40-foot monsters that take up half a parking lot and spew diesel fumes everywhere. Matt and I never wanted a motorhome, because they run counter to nearly every one of our core values and most deeply-held principles. How exactly would buying a $250,000 RV be simplifying life? Who wants to take a tour bus the size of a building with them as they travel? Not I! But this teeny, slick, hip-looking travel trailer really clicked with us. I went into high gear. We could do this! Become full-timers and live on the road — nomads, Bedouins without all the sand! And in an Airstream! They’re practical and compact and last forever! Perfect!

You know the time is right for something to happen in your life when opportunities seem to fall in your lap from out of nowhere — and this was certainly was the case as we started shopping for a rig. Once I made my intentions clear, the process absolutely snowballed! In April, I posted a request on several Airstream websites, outlining our requirements for a suitable trailer. At first, I agonized over the condition of the ones we could afford (falling apart) and the cost of the ones that were in any kind of decent shape (exorbitant) — it seemed that never the twain should meet. Then in May, I got a call from two local Airstream aficionados who had seen my ad. This lovely lesbian couple spent their weekends renovating vintage models, and were selling the 29-foot Excella (named “Stella”) that they used for personal travel. They really wanted someone who would love her, and were thrilled by the idea that she would be our full-time home. After an hour-long phone conversation (during which I grew more and more excited, until I was pacing the room and gesticulating wildly to no one as I talked), we scheduled a time the next day for me to meet “Stella.” I could barely sleep that night, imagining our new life on the road.

I tried not to get my hopes up too much — I knew that this trailer would probably need work. It was a 1989 model, for pete’s sake — at the very least, we would have to update the mauve-and-gray upholstery that was so popular during my senior year of high school. But I was amazed by the condition Stella was in — after having looked at so many junky trailers on the internet, this was heaven. Custom oak cabinetry, new electronics, a stained glass window in the living room, red and black accents throughout — and of course, mechanically sound. It was the perfect combination of funky and tasteful, of retro and modern. Best of all, they were asking far less than I had originally planned on spending. The “fixer uppers” being sold on the web (ones that needed to be gutted and completely rebuilt, requiring tens of thousands of dollars in work) were selling for as much as $10,000-$12,000. A custom-renovated trailer could run upwards of $60,000-$75,000 — and a new one might cost $150,000 or more. Stella was delivered to our home on June 2nd for just $15,900. A new home for less than the cost of a car!

The stars aligned, my husband and I welcomed our new baby girl Stella into the fold — and in June of 2007 (exactly six months after I created my “vision board” for our new RVing lifestyle, the one with a projected launch date three years down the road!) our time frame for becoming nomads suddenly got a violent shove forward. We had a place to live — now all we needed was a plan. Before Matt and I could get out the door, we had to sell the house, decide what to take with us, and get our “administrative” ducks in a row. But that’s another blog for another day!

 

Copyright Ramona Creel, all rights reserved. Ramona Creel is a modern Renaissance woman and guru of simplicity — traveling the country as a full-time RVer, sharing her story of radically downsizing, and inspiring others to regain control of their own lives. As a Professional Organizer and Accountability Coach, Ramona will help you create the time and space to focus on your true priorities — clearing away the clutter other obstacles and standing in the way of that life you’ve always wanted to be living. As a Professional Photographer, Ramona captures powerful images of places and people as she travels. And as a travel writer, social commentator, and blogger, she shares her experiences and insights about the world as we know it. You can see all these sides of Ramona — read her articles, browse through her photographs, and even hire her to help get your life in order — at www.RamonaCreel.com. And be sure to follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.