Category Archives: Maintenance and Repairs

Just enjoy the journey

Just enjoy the journey

travel, photography, motivation, inspiration, Instagram, sunrise, open road

When you become a full-time RVer, or embark on some other kind of epic trip, it’s easy to let the pitfalls drag you down. Things break; people are strange; the dream job is still a job. Sometimes you’re gonna get sand in your margarita. It’s easy to get discouraged, but when those situations come up, remember:

Don’t worry about the potholes.

Just enjoy the journey.

Would you like some ice with that drive?

Would you like some ice with that drive?

ice, freezing rain, ice-coated RV, RVing in the winter, treacherous driving conditions,

We are on our way back to Vegas for Christmas.  Leaving from Milwaukee, our route runs in a southerly direction to avoid the worst of the bad winter weather.  We’re on a deadline, so we can’t afford to be delayed more than a couple of hours.  (We normally try to leave more cushion than this to reduce stress and the risks of “get-there-itis”.)  Despite our best efforts, we hit freezing rain as we rolled through Oklahoma.  The motorhome was coated with ice before we parked for the night, west of Oklahoma City.  As we headed out this morning, we saw two tractor trailers and three cars off the road.  Yikes!

On a side note, yesterday, I drove the most I’ve driven so far in a day: four hours total.  (I generally drive about two hours.)  I also navigated my first toll plaza…at night…in the freezing rain!

Our strategy for handling these conditions is to slow down and avoid using cruise control.  And one more thing…

  • If you have to drive in freezing rain, heated mirrors are worth their weight in gold!

ice, freezing rain, ice-coated RV, RVing in the winter, treacherous driving conditions, heated mirrors, ice on mirrors

5 Tips for RVing in the Winter

5 Tips for RVing in the Winter


We’re just shy of five months into this motorhoming escapade, but we’ve already encountered plenty of cold weather.  Where we go is dictated by where Mike is working, which means that we’ll be dealing with frigid temperatures fairly regularly.

Here are five things Mike has learned that are helping us stay warm and watered during the winter.

1.  Not every park delivers propane to you.  Packing up, unhooking, and driving across the street to refill is a hassle.  Plus, propane can get pricey.  Besides that, you surely don’t want run out when temps are below freezing.  (Which we did.)  Using as little propane as you can is crucial.  Buy electric heaters to run off of the park’s electricity – that you’re already paying for – to save your propane.  This is ours.  It’s pet-safe, has other safety features, and comes with a remote so we can control it from anywhere in the rig.  We also have a propane heater.

2.  Stuff bubble pack insulation in the windows. Your rig might feel like a cave, but it makes a HUGE difference, even with double-paned windows.   (This also works great in the summer when you’re cooling the motorhome.  We know from firsthand experience.  We started this lifestyle in Las Vegas… in July.)

3.  When you’re hooked up to park water, keep your hose as short as possible.  Coil the rest of it up and store it inside your wet bay.  Insulate what’s left outside with foam pipe insulation.

4.  If you’re in a Class A, run small electric heaters in the wet bay to keep the pipes and tank from freezing.  Make sure they have tip-over and overheating protection.   You may also want to buy thermostatic plugs that’ll turn the heaters on just above freezing and turn them off at warmer temperatures.

5.  If you have an electric water heater, leave a trickle of hot water dripping into your sink.  It keeps water circulating through the hose so it doesn’t freeze.  Also, leave the gray tank open so the trickle of hot water runs down the hose.  It keeps the gray tank from filling up, and the heated liquid prevents the sewer hose from freezing.

The bucket brigade

The bucket brigade


When I noticed the buckets had “LET’S DO THIS” imprinted on them, I burst out laughing.

It was 8 at night and below freezing in Stowe, Vermont, and this was exactly what we DIDN’T want to be doing.

We were pumping water into our fresh tank.  Gold Brook Campground had shut the water off before we arrived.  The only way to replenish was to use the spigot on the outer wall of the shower house.  We did that when we got there, but after we were connected, we had to bring the water to the rig, rather than the other way around.

Two five-gallon buckets were topped off from the spigot up the hill and driven back to the RV.   Hands plunged into frigid water to hold the pump down so we could extract every bit.  Pump, refill and repeat.

We’re researching more efficient, less frostbite-inducing ways to do this going forward.  But until then, the next time we have to manually fill our tank, we’ll bundle up, clasp hands, and charge into the night with our buckets, saying “Let’s do this!”

Talking about Living the RV Life

Talking about Living the RV Life


We’re famous!

Well, not really.  smile emoticon

But we are very honored that we got to tell our story to Bobby & Sue of the Living the RV Life podcast and share it with all of their listeners.

It was such a treat, chatting with them about their plans to head out on the road, dishing on our experiences over the first four months of our motorhoming escapade.  Thanks, Bobby & Sue!

You can listen here:

And be sure to subscribe to their podcast to get all the latest info about living the RV life.

Wet ‘n wild

Wet ‘n wild


It began with the sprayer hose.  It was a silent, tiny drip that was only revealed when you grabbed the hose to rinse the toilet. The yellowed plastic had been worn down by 14 years of use.  It wasn’t that big a deal; a quick wipe with a paper towel took care of it.  But it was a harbinger of things to come.

You can’t buy a 14-year-old motorhome – even a single-owner rig that’s got all its manuals and service records – and think it’s not going to have issues.  The question then becomes what those issues are going to be.  For us, it’s been water. Water has been the bane of our RV adventure since we started.

We became accustomed to the drip from the sprayer hose, kept reminding ourselves that we needed to replace it, and then went on about our business.  About two months into our journey, I was cleaning behind the toilet when I noticed what looked like a plant growing up through the tiles.  It was black and spiky.  Clearly, this was not good!  Upon further investigation, Mike discovered that the hose was leaking from the other end, where it connected to the toilet.  Apparently, the previous owner had tried to repair it; that repair had failed, and water had gotten under the tile.  It was rotting the floor!   We removed the nasty old toilet.  Mike pulled up the tile and repaired the rotted portions of wood.  We bleached.  We sanitized.  Mike caulked and spackled and sprayed Kilz everywhere.  He installed a brand new toilet.  He assured me that the floor was not going to collapse under me when we were rolling down the highway.  Whew!  One problem solved.

Then, while scooping kibble into the bark babies’ bowl, I noticed the dog food bag was wet.  I checked the shelf where I store it.  It’s the bottom, carpeted shelf under the sink.  It was sopping wet.  Apparently, there’d been a leak from the sink plumbing.  Not only was the shelf soaked, but it was covered with mold!  Mike tightened up the fitting for the water pipe, which fixed it.  We vacuumed up the mold.  We heat dried the whole thing.  Second problem solved.

Then, in the midst of a deluge in Sioux Falls, the vent over our bed started dripping.  We’d had this problem on occasion in the living room, and now our bedroom was compromised.  Mike decided to wait til the rain let up to get on the roof and figure out what was going on.  So, of course, it rained for days.  We improvised by taping a garbage bag around the vent and periodically emptying it.  As soon as the weather cleared, Mike was up on the roof, filling the cracks in the covers of the heat/air conditioner pumps with silicone.  So far, no more vent leaks.  Third problem solved.

Is the third time a charm?  Or is this not the end of our water woes??


The Great Tomato Massacre

The Great Tomato Massacre


RVs are called “rolling earthquakes” for a reason.  The vibration and swaying wreak havoc with things like door latches and pictures and knick-knacks that aren’t properly secured.

Even when you think you’ve successfully battened down the hatches, there are still things you didn’t count on.  Like the swing of an overstuffed mesh produce basket and its proximity to the kitchen wall.  Piles of fresh, juicy tomatoes do not fare well in a situation like that.   Two words: Produce. Bloodbath.

The basket was easy enough to take down and wash.  The wall, however, was more problematic.  I am still finding tomato seeds encrusted in unwelcome places.

Lesson learned.

Well, that’s just peachy

Well, that’s just peachy


We were on our way to the Freightliner service center in Gaffney, motoring down I-85, when we saw it.  A huge orange ball sticking up out of the trees.  Since it was early October, we assumed it was a pumpkin.  As we drew closer, we realized that it was actually a peach: a giant, tangerine-colored orb embellished with its own leaf.

“The Peachoid”, commonly referred to by locals as “The Peach”, was commissioned by the Gaffney, South Carolina, Board of Public Works.  It took contractors five months to design and mold the steel for the one-million gallon watersphere which was built in the early 80s.  In the 90s, New Jersey artist Peter Freudenberg painted it.  After studying local peaches, he used fifty gallons of paint in twenty colors to create the fruit’s authentic look.  A 7-ton, 60-feet long leaf was applied to one side to complete the trompe l’oeil effect.  I’m not sure how the peachy transformation would have cut down on rubbernecking fatalities, but that’s the rumored rationale for the paint job.  I think it might have more to do with dispelling the myth that Georgia the biggest peach producer in the south.  Come to find out, that’s a misperception, and South Carolina really holds the top spot.

In a strange coincidence, just days after seeing The Peachoid in person, we were shocked when this roadside America attraction factored heavily in an episode of House of Cards.  The Netflix show, which we’d just started watching, features Kevin Spacey as a conniving Congressman from South Carolina.  In Episode 3 of the first season, he has to leave Washington to deal with a family whose daughter died while texting a joke about The Peachoid.

If you want to visit The Peachoid, look for it on the north side of I-85 between exits 90 and 92.  A service road runs between the two exits, and there’s a small parking lot at the base.

Pieces and parts

Pieces and parts


When you’re buying a motorhome, one of the things you have to decide is whether you want a gas rig or a diesel one.  A big plus for gas is the availability of parts.  Every auto parts store has tons of supplies for gas vehicles.  We knew, in going with a diesel pusher, that we were trading ease of replacing broken pieces and parts for engine durability.

So far, it’s been a fair trade, but it does make replacing damaged doohickeys a little more challenging.   A few months ago, we noticed that our coach was struggling as it climbed hills.  The steeper the grade, the more sluggish we became.  Mike did some research and figured out that our fuel filters were gunked up.  Luckily, our stay in Fletcher, North Carolina, put us reasonably close (three hours round trip) to a Freightliner service center in Gaffney, South Carolina.


We tried to schedule a full service for the rig, but apparently, those are booked out months in advance.  (It’s become clear that pre-planning is something we need to work on.)  Even though they couldn’t squeeze us in for the service, they did have the parts we needed.  Besides a water separator fuel filter and an engine fuel filter, Mike also picked up a branded ball cap and travel mug.  He’s so proud of his chassis!

He still had to buy filter pliers, but after that, swapping out the filters was easy peasy.  And now the hills are no match for our hallway on wheels!


He breaks for quadcopters

He breaks for quadcopters


Mike loves gadgets and technology and especially technological gadgets.  (Is there any other kind?)  This DJI Phantom quadcopter covers all the bases.  It’s a streamlined, ready-to-fly multi-rotor system with a GoPro mount, for capturing stills and video.

More than a nice diversion at rest areas, it’s great for taking aerial photos of campgrounds and for inspecting the roof of the rig.  Play and practical purpose all rolled into one.