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A break for comic relief.

December 31, 2012


I recently moved from my apartment into a 35 foot motorhome.  My husband and I made the decision to do some serious downsizing and buy an RV to live in once it became clear that I would not be able to continue working.  Almost a year later, after we had both secured disability income, we bought a used Fleetwood Bounder, intending to make it our new home.  Going from an apartment with more than 700 square feet of living space to an RV with 200 to 250 square feet is a big adjustment!  I got rid of an incredible amount of stuff two years ago when we moved from a three bedroom house to the one bedroom apartment.  Now we’ve ditched most of the rest of it.

Our hope is to start traveling some day so we can visit friends and relatives that live in other places around the country.  Living frugally in the RV while traveling should cost about the same amount as maintaining an apartment in one place.  For now we are staying put in Central Texas as we get accustomed to the new way of life, staying close to family and doctors.  In time, with more medical stability, we can hopefully cut down the doctor visits enough to allow us to leave for a few months at a time.

So let me tell you about moving day, December 1, 2012.  That was the big day we planned to take the RV out of storage and move it to the RV park.  We had been taking bits and pieces of our belongings to the RV over the past several weeks, but were beginning to realize we weren’t even near done.  That morning we loaded a borrowed truck to bursting with the rest of the things we needed to be able to spend the night in the RV, things like the cat box, dishes, toilet paper, more clothes, the dog and two cats.  As we drove away from the apartment I could hear strains of the Beverly Hillbillies Theme in my head…”so they loaded up the truck and they moved to Bev-a-lee.”  All we lacked was Granny in her rocking chair.  Our dog, Allie, was so excited she kept trying to move from one side of the back seat to the other, but kept tripping over the cat carrier.  Mr. Bebe began the plaintive meowing while still in the apartment parking lot.  Miss Bebe was calmer, though by the time we reached to storage facility to pick up the motorhome she was beginning to claw her way through the soft sided carrier she was in.  There, I dropped off my husband to drive the motorhome while I went ahead in the truck.

Driving a truck with three restless animals in it while trying to keep an eye on my husband following in a big RV is quite the job!  Not more than a block out of the storage place, Miss Bebe burst free from the carrier and began climbing the passenger seat, adding her wailing to Mr. Bebe’s. By then Allie was lying down on the back seat with her nose to the door of Mr. Bebe’s carrier, whether from curiosity, concern, or a wish to stop the noise I do not know.  I continued driving, hoping Miss Bebe would be satisfied with her perch on the seat back and not try hiding under the brake pedal as some cats I’ve known have done.

As I pulled onto the highway feeder road, Miss Bebe made her way to the space between the back seat and front.  There she

Our RV as it might appear in your rear view mirror.

Our RV as it might appear in your rear view mirror.

squatted on top of the bag of cat litter, placed her front paws on the back seat, and stared in the air holes of Mr. Bebe’s carrier.  I allowed myself a sigh of relief that I would not be choosing between crashing into something at high speed or squishing a kitty.

The twenty mile trip down the highway proved uneventful, though continued to be punctuated by indignant cat wailing.  We missed our exit for the RV park and had to backtrack a couple miles.  Finally we arrived, walked into the office to inquire about our reservation to be met with a blank look.  “Did you have a reservation?”  I’m thinking, “Oh my God, please don’t make me drive around looking for another place to park this traveling circus!” while saying, “Yes we did.”,  as calmly as possible.  I can see the manager bustling around behind the  clerk muttering about how she had our information on a piece of paper somewhere.  Finally we were told that they did have space for us and were led to our spot by a lady driving a golf cart.  My husband’s nerve failed him, so I had to do the backing up with him waving me in.  I actually have some experience driving 40 foot busses (one of the many career opportunities awaiting someone with a bachelor’s degree in psychology), but alas almost never had to back them up.  Our RV has a back up camera, which sounds great, but turns out to provide surprisingly little relevant information when moving backwards.  It works great for checking behind you while driving down the highway (position in lane or “what was that bump I just felt?”).  After only 10 grueling minutes of backing and pulling up, trying to get aligned in the parking space, our RV was in it’s new home.

At this point I thought I could relax.  After all, we were no longer moving, the

Parked safely at the RV park.

Parked safely at the RV park.

rest should be easy!  No, the fun was only beginning.  I let my dog out of the truck and the first thing she did was run though the mud that appeared to be our yard and plopped herself down in a puddle where our neighbor (just moving in herself) had just drained her hot water heater.  Then our happy, muddy pup headed toward the steps to enter her new home.  Disaster was narrowly averted by my husband’s quick retrieval of a towel from inside to wipe her feet.  I began the task of extricating cats from the truck.  Miss Bebe appeared frozen in place, still sitting on the cat litter bag facing the carrier containing her loudly complaining brother.  I had to pull a few things out to reach her, then prayed she wouldn’t explode into hissing, clawing action when I got her outside.  Fortunately Miss Bebe remained nearly catatonic until I could close her securely in the bedroom.  Mr. Bebe soon followed, still in his carrier.  I left him with the carrier door open and the bedroom door closed.  When we looked in a while later, cats were no where to be found.  We later realized they had squeezed themselves under the overhanging edge of the bed platform and backed into the space between the bed table and the bed.

Our next adventure once the pets were secured was “hookups.”  No, not the kind the youngsters arrange by text message.  These involve plugging in the electricity, connecting the clean water hose between the faucet and the intake on the RV, and connecting the sewer hose to the sewer.  I fearlessly opened to compartment on the side, pulled out the electrical cord, and realized the contacts on the plug were rather corroded and felt like they might break off.  Well, the question of why there was a spare plug end amongst the equipment in the hookup compartment was answered.  This device was a mystery to me when I first discovered it, but

Mystery device.

Mystery device.

the kind people on the RV Forum helped me identify it’s function a couple weeks before.  No problem, if we need power we can start the generator.  Well, the generator stubbornly refused to start.  I asked my husband how much gas was in the tank.  He tells me just under a quarter.  Ok, no electricity for now.  The generator has a great safety feature that does not allow it to run if there is less than a quarter tank of gas.  This prevents you being stranded somewhere with no gas.

Let’s try the water.  We easily identify the clean water hose.  In fact, we had already installed a dandy new water filter on it.  We attach it to the faucet and then I go to what I had thought was the place you hook it up.  After much head scratching over why there were no thread to attach the hose to, we finally realize the hole we are looking at is only intended to be used to fill our clean water tank.  Back to the hook up compartment and there ios something that looks like a faucet with the correct threads.  Eureka!  All manner of leaking hose hell ensues trying to hook this up.  We give up and try to hook up the sewer hose.  I easily identify the cover on the sewer connection in the concrete next to the water faucet and the electric pillar.  I then find I cannot open it without a wrench.  I was feeling some panic when a neighbor asked if I needed help.  I said I did and shortly a nice man with a wrench turned up and opened the sewer for me.  Then we took out the hose, aptly named RhinoFLEX.  It was a heavy duty accordion hose with a clear elbow connector on one end and something that looked like alien claws on the other.  I’m sure I know how to hook this up.  I take the RV end and my husband takes the other end. Making sure the valves for the grey water and black water tanks are closed, I start fumbling around trying to get this thing to connect to the RV.  My husband is telling me he can’t figure out his end either.  Then, he brilliantly suggests trying the hose the other way around.  Voila!  The clear elbow screws into the connection in the ground and the alien claws attach securely to the connector in the RV.  At that point I did manage to successfully dump the tanks.   At least I knew how to do that.

We then called the calvary in the form of my father-in-law who is handy with all manner of home repair.  He and my mother-in-law arrived shortly with lunch and tools.  Dad was able to change the plug end and get us electricity as well as tighten up all those pesky pieces of hose and valve hooking us up to the fresh water so there were no more leaks.

Finally our new home was all set up and ready for habitation.  We were so ready to sleep in our new bed that night.  Fortunately Allie had it broken in for us.

Allie resting in our bedroom.

Allie resting in our bedroom.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 31, 2012 11:20 am

    Welcome aboard, brave explorers! The ongoing saga of how city dwellers have taken the challenges of disability and turned them into new opportunities has me transfixed. It seems so darned heroic to me, what you’ve done. I can’t wait for you to drive up my rural driveway for a visit here in the Northwest!!! Carry on! LOVE,

  2. Beverly permalink
    January 1, 2013 6:51 am

    I am in awe of what you all have just done! In AWE and impressed. You must have been beyond exhausted by day’s end, but quite proud. All the best for the new year in your new home. Beverly

  3. Reyna permalink
    January 2, 2013 11:25 pm

    Congratulations on your new home. I hope your home will be all you dreamed it would be and always be filled with love, warmth, laughter and happiness.
    I hope you make it to Northern California for a visit.
    As I read of your moving experience I am completely amazed.
    Happy new year to you and your family.
    I enjoyed reading about your pets.
    Love- Reyna

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