Friday, April 17, 2015

2015 Update

Big changes since the last post in 2014. Our full-time RV experience has ended. Not that we wanted it to, but logistically we did not have a choice. We were blessed to setup our RV lot on family land, but that ended in September 2014. By October 1st, 2014 we moved into a 2 bedroom apartment in Henryville. Our 36' Jayco 5th Wheel camper sat parked all winter. Again, we did not "give up", and this was not by choice. The underlying reason is simply because the land we were staying on is no longer available for our use, and we aren't ready to purchase land yet. With the winter approaching and our 2nd daughter due to be born October 24th, we wanted to get settled quickly, so we were fortunate to find an apartment that fit our needs. If we had stayed where we were, it was going to be doable with plenty of winterizing and preparation. With having to suddenly move, there was no time to find another place to "park" and get all of the winter preparations completed before cold weather hit.

Now we are into spring, and we have sold the large 5th wheel and diesel truck. We will be staying in our apartment for at least another year. We have been looking at homes and land, but decided to just wait for awhile. We do not have a contractual lease on our apartment, the rent is affordable and we have nice neighbors. It's a convenient location and there's plenty of room. In the meantime, we have purchased another camper. We can't go too long without making family camping and road trips a priority. We downsized quite a bit and got a 2010 KZ Spree 240 BHS. It's a 26' travel trailer with bunks. It's lightweight and easily towed by our half-ton pickup or suburban. While we wait for the right time to purchase land, we can still enjoy family outings and escape the apartment once in awhile.

The new rig:
 photo 0B50F7B3-F92F-4361-B9D1-1E5BD4E59F98_zps32im8vbs.jpg

 photo F6C45619-1A68-47CB-A3F0-5C0BB68A5C50_zps4iq3j9fk.jpg

Alice checking out her bunk:  photo 3C6D3A44-0178-4A54-8D0D-1B68F7F73FB7_zpsessqxwwm.jpg

The floorplan:  photo ADA1D2B8-1A1C-4E40-98AF-CA8CFE354FBA_zpso3idrynw.gif

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Water Lines and Wonder Valley

Well, since the last post we have been quite busy. We've built a deck, trenched and installed water and sewer lines, and spent a week away at Wonder Valley Camp.

I got tired of waiting for a clear, dry day to work, so I did this project in the rain and mud. Also, we wanted to get the deck built, and the water line needed to be put in first. Laid out the 3/4" PVC to determine the best "route" of travel.  photo IMG_1504_zps6c307e72.jpg

The day before it rained, I dug the first hole to find the source line, and Alice needed to inspect it:  photo IMG_1492_zpsd05773f7.jpg

Rented a trencher from Salem, and got to work:  photo IMG_1507_zpsd2551a9c.jpg

 photo IMG_1508_zps5fc1689b.jpg

Took three attempts to get this off-set line connected, while bailing out muddy water in the pouring rain.  photo IMG_1515_zps3beb5073.jpg  photo IMG_1514_zps0b58e7e1.jpg

Sewer line trenched:  photo IMG_1510_zpsc23055b9.jpg

 photo IMG_1511_zps7e78b4b9.jpg

The second week of June, we got to stay at Wonder Valley Christian Camp for a week and help with a group of 4th, 5th and 6th graders. We of course took our "house" with us and had very little to pack or prepare. Alice slept just fine in her own bed; she didn't notice a difference. We had a great week helping to lead a group of young kids, and of course they all just adored Alice.

poolside-living:  photo IMG_1720_zps285264d5.jpg photo IMG_1751_zps4fef7f75.jpg

Alice loved the camp food:  photo IMG_1793_zps681e0890.jpg

and as I said, the kids loved her:  photo IMG_1756_zps7210c91f.jpg

She started walking this week too, and she had plenty of room to do it!  photo IMG_1747_zps1444f596.jpg  photo IMG_1762_zpsb27fd4d4.jpg

It seems that this particular blog post is beginning to focus on Alice more than anything. That's ok! This is Father's Day, and I'm proud to be one for her.  photo IMG_1745_zps8ee5d4cb.jpg

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The days are longer, but never long enough.

Even as the sun shines longer each day, it still seems like there's never enough hours in a day to get things done.
On my to-do-list:
Build a deck.
Finish unpacking/storing bins.
Finish interior of utility room.
Finish lights/wiring on utility room.
Build dog house.
Build gate for chicken coop.
Finish plumbing for sewer line.
Finish plumbing/extending fresh water line.
Convert all interior and exterior RV lighting to LED.
Install Maxx-Air (or similar) vent covers on RV.
Install drinking water filter on kitchen sink.
After deck is built, start on landscaping, flowers, etc. Also, porch swing and bird feeders.
Many more things that I think of throughout the day (and night). Plus, there's the daily chores of keeping things clean and organized, feeding animals, cleaning out the animal pens, gathering eggs, bagging/hauling garbage, fixing things that break, or breaking things that I've already fixed. Speaking of chickens and eggs:  photo IMG_1472_zpsfb60cea9.jpg

Well, since today is Sunday, I tried to follow the 8th Commandment and rest a bit. Spent the morning at Cracker Barrel for breakfast, then service at Eastside Christian Church. I did manage to sneak in a trip to Home Depot to get some plumbing supplies (what every mother dreams of doing on Mothers Day). But ask her; we had a nice day. Alice loves Home Depot or any store where she can look at new things. The rest of the day was spent spending time as a family, resting and fishing. We are just steps away from the pond where we can catch fish almost faster than a line can be cast:  photo IMG_1446_zps098ed040.jpg  photo IMG_1447_zps08822859.jpg  photo IMG_1437_zpsca2ac230.jpg

After dinner, we pitched-in and cleaned the entire house (all 200-something square foot) in about 20 minutes. It's nice having all the housework done in such a short time.
Since everything is looking organized at the moment, here are some new interior photos of our living space now that it looks more like a home.

Master Bedroom:  photo IMG_1448_zpsb37ff944.jpg

Here's our wardrobe (ignore the pile in the middle; those are belongings who's storage location is yet to be determined) as viewed from the bed:  photo IMG_1449_zps7af6e6bf.jpg

It's fun being creative with storage and organization options. Lora's side of the bed doesn't have a nightstand, so I made one. This works to hold her books, phone/charger, baby monitor, water, and LED reading light:  photo IMG_1473_zps08015938.jpg

Another invention of mine; a way to hold a water bottle, phone and remote by the sofa. This is actually a shower caddy and a couple 3M hooks. You have to get creative when working with small spaces:  photo IMG_1468_zpsae329e6a.jpg

When shopping for a 5th Wheel for living, we viewed dozens of floor plans from many different manufactures and dealers. Some options were negotiable, but a main requirement we had was that the bedrooms had solid doors that separate them from the living area. Many floor plans include living room, bedroom and bunks but have no more than a sliding curtain between them. Not bad for weekend camping, but living full-time with kid(s) requires a bit more privacy. It would be impossible to even wash dishes or watch TV if they were trying to sleep just behind a thin curtain. So, we narrowed it down to 2-3 different models and finally settled on our Jayco Eagle 31.5 FBHS. I posted the stock photos and floor plan in this post.

This is looking out from the master bedroom towards the living room, with the bathroom door closed:  photo IMG_1455_zps987ba5ba.jpg

The door on the left in the above photo is to the room with the toilet and linen storage:  photo IMG_1453_zps6490fd31.jpg  photo IMG_1454_zpsf32ae24c.jpg

Shower. A big downfall to most RV's is the shower. They use cheap plastic components that are very inefficient and waste water. If you have low water pressure, you don't get much more than a stream from the shower head, not a spray, and your hot water is gone before you're done. We have a 6-gallon hot water heater, as most RV's do. After a couple nights and an unhappy wife, I knew something would have to change. I did my research, and fixed the problem. One of the best upgrades we've bought is an OXYGENICS shower head. This nifty device somehow uses air to increase water pressure. We can now take a long, hot shower with plenty of pressure and never run out of hot water. She's happy; I'm happy.  photo IMG_1450_zps153037e9.jpg

As I shared in the earlier post, I built a gate for the kids room. Here it is with the door open:  photo IMG_1464_zpsa685fc88.jpg
At night or during nap-time, we slide the door closed to cut out the noise and we can still watch TV or live as normal without waking her up.  photo IMG_1465_zps8cc6c508.jpg

To save on space, we stored the large high chair. Instead, I ordered this chair from Amazon.  Again, I did my research and read reviews on many models. This one is the best for the money. It attaches easily and works great:  photo IMG_1469_zpsbb1beb32.jpg

We do have a nice view from the dining table:  photo IMG_1470_zps1c8bbb2c.jpg

From the window by the couch:  photo IMG_1471_zpsc7236b72.jpg

Relaxing at the end of her first Mother's Day:  photo IMG_1467_zpseec5da2f.jpg

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Getting settled.

Well, a week or so has gone by, and we are getting settled into the new home. As we are familiar with RV's already, we were comfortable inside on the first night. The main focus has been the exterior; sorting through storage bins, organizing the utility room, updating the water supply for the laundry, and finishing the chicken coop.

I've started insulating, wiring, plumbing and finishing the interior walls of the utility room, so that I can build storage shelves. I'm moving bins around and doing one wall at a time. The rough-cut oak boards look great on the interior; gives a nice rustic finish:  photo IMG_1340_zpsa4d6a635.jpg

Soon after one wall was done and shelves installed, it became a priority to get the laundry operation functional. We worked late one night to finish the back wall so I could install the washer and dryer. Yes, I know the boards should be staggered to give a better finished look, but I did it this way so I could have one section easily removed to access the plumbing behind the washer. Lora likes using the nail gun:  photo IMG_1378_zps86342c52.jpg

So, what's it like living in 288 square foot? Most people don't realize that modern RV's are very efficient and comfortable. The designers take advantage of every square inch and make it as livable and useable as possible. I will post more photos as we get more settled, organized and decorated, but for now here are some stock photos of the 2012 Jayco Eagle 31.5 FBHS.

Here's an overall floor plan of the new home:  photo 2014-eagle-315fbhs_zps41be64ca.png

Living room/Kitchen/Dining:  photo floorplan_gallery_image_2547_zpse58f2c85.jpg  photo floorplan_gallery_image_2545_zps89376e4c.jpg  photo floorplan_gallery_image_2546_zps3986ac3f.jpg

Kids room:  photo floorplan_gallery_image_2549_zps473f3e52.jpg

Master Bedroom:  photo floorplan_gallery_image_2553_zpsaf7fba94.jpg

One of the very first projects inside was to build a safety gate for the baby's room. It's at the top of three stairs; not very high but high enough that she can fall. No store online or local has any type of safety gate that would meet the dimensions required for the small door. So, I build my own:  photo IMG_1336_zpsf02fff95.jpg
 photo IMG_1342_zpsa4d2b9e4.jpg

She really enjoys having her own little room to sleep/play in:  photo IMG_1329_zpsddfa3e45.jpg

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Well, we are moved-in and attempting to get organized. The hardest part about this transition is not having less space or less belongings; it's figuring out what to do with all the stuff we've acquired over the years. What to keep, what to sell, what to store, what to give-away, and what to toss.  I have hauled at least five loads to the landfill in the past couple of months. I don't even know what is missing. I need to haul at least that much more, but now the process is more tedious, as the pile of storage boxes starts to dwindle.

The camper has all the furniture and beds we need already, so we didn't have to keep much. We gave away a sectional couch, two dressers, a night stand, two mattress sets, a desk, and a kitchen table/chairs.  I stored the baby crib, our bed frame, an antique dresser, and a small table. All of those things were more sentimental than anything, and we may need them again someday if we ever go back to a "sticks 'n bricks" home.

The property where we live now has a large barn, with an empty  now half-full barn loft. It currently is holding all our spare clothes, kitchen utensils, dishes, bicycles, and the aforementioned furniture. I have loaded, hauled and lifted into the barn loft almost every thing we own by myself, except having help a couple of times.

Moving books...many many books.  photo IMG_1325_zpsefdbe0e0.jpg

The load-in:  photo IMG_1317_zpsa1bcc63d.jpg The load-in process consisted of backing the truck to the barn wall under the loft, and using a step-ladder in the truck bed to reach the barn loft. Lifting and heaving each item up to be stored above.

The loft:  photo IMG_1318_zps6389002d.jpg Before we could do much moving, I had to build a new fence as I said before, and create a driveway. Nothing very exciting here, just a lot of work. I drove 40 metal fence posts by-hand, through rocks and roots and whatever else was in the way. I also had to widen the driveway entrance by about six-feet, to accommodate the long RV rig.  photo IMG_0931_zps90b3326f.jpg  photo IMG_0930_zps6b2f0579.jpg

Clearing brush from the land, and the tree limbs from the driveway:  photo IMG_0942_zps625da028.jpg  photo IMG_0986_zps80fb5f80.jpg  photo IMG_0982_zps207a27a7.jpg

Side-note: I bought a 1999 Dodge Ram 3500 Diesel as a tow-vehicle for the 5th Wheel.  photo IMG_1055_zpsd7025833.jpg It's a quad-cab, manual transmission, 4x4, flatbed. Setup and ready to work. It will handle any job, and will be very handy in this project and in the future. Then... One tragic morning, it lost oil pressure while warming-up and ruined the motor. It's currently in the shop getting a replacement motor. That's an entirely different blog post. Because of that setback, I'm working the '01 Silverado exceptionally hard:  photo IMG_1284_zpsfad95f09.jpg  photo IMG_1285_zps64aed37d.jpg On the scales at the rock quarry, the whole thing weighed over 16,000 pounds. That's quite a bit for the 5.3 V8 with 200k miles to be hauling around. But, it keeps on cranking.

MOVING ON... One of the biggest issues with living full-time in an RV and in one place was having some type of permanent structure to house a washer and dryer, as well as store some commonly accessed items. We decided on a pre-made outbuilding. After looking at Lowes, Home Depot, and Craigslist, I bought one locally from an Amish family.  photo IMG_1240_zps32e10f5f.jpg Girod Mini Barns on Blue River Road. Very nice family and he does great work. His prices are cheaper than anywhere, and I would trust his construction over anything that's manufactured for a big-box store. Moving the shed was a chore. Of course this was an Amish job, so everything was manual. I learned how to work that day. I borrowed a tandem-axle trailer, and Rueben Girod and myself jacked the building up by hand, loaded it, and moved it to the new site. Rueben came along and it was just as much work getting it unloaded and set. It took us the better part of the day. We also had to deal with low-hanging branches along the driveway. Rueben climbed up on the building and rode atop the building with my chainsaw, cutting limbs as we crawled along the 1/2 mile gravel driveway.  photo IMG_1272_zps857c2713.jpg  photo IMG_1277_zpsdfdf0fa7.jpg

Once the building was set, it was time to build animal pens. We have dogs and chickens currently. Also, the building was going to house my main electrical service. I installed a 100 amp panel, and ran new wiring in conduit to the REMC pole. Jackson County REMC came and inspected my install, approved it and connected to their meter.
Lots of manual labor in this whole endeavor. I haven't been to the gym in weeks; haven't needed to: Digging the trench to bury the electrical service conduit.

Finally! Power:  photo IMG_1306_zpscc59007a.jpg For most of my construction, I found a source for rough-cut oak boards at a local sawmill. At $1.00 per board, its an unbeatable deal. I have used it for all my fencing and the interior of the shed.  photo IMG_1288_zps5ea8ccc5.jpg

Building animal pens:  photo IMG_1287_zpsf2d3e7d6.jpg Younger brother Aaron was happy to dig fencepost holes and use the pneumatic nail gun.  photo IMG_1295_zpse6c3226c.jpg  photo IMG_1297_zpsaad5ed43.jpg Beginning of the chicken coop:  photo IMG_1308_zpsd4376a76.jpg  photo IMG_1344_zps641cc89d.jpg  photo IMG_1345_zpsdc162a41.jpg Stay-tuned. More photos and details coming soon.