Frugal RVing In South States - Ebooks

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve

Good Bye to 2008.  The last portion of it has definitely provided its share of learning, particularly when it comes to dealing with cold weather.

One of my friends at this site is moving along.  (From Travels With Miranda) Through her, I am learning about some of the fun of preparations for moving from a winter location as a full-timer. These are issues of brittle plastic piping, frozen black water, and other non-summery matters, as well as just the general effort of closing a well lived in motorhome back into gypsy portable.  
It is definitely a challenge I would be less inclined to invite.  As it is, I have developed a degree of settled in that will provide challenge enough during a spring move.  
It is amazing how, even in a mobile unit of occupancy, one can trench in and settle.  I look around and see a lot of battening down that will need doing before we can hit the trail come mid to late May.
There is one particular thing I have become very aware of.  She is in a motorhome, and can hear any upheavals  that twists, turns and bumps along the road can cause, and be instantly aware that stabilization is required.  We discussed the mixed blessing that this feature provides.
If a pull over location can't be found right away, it is something you can start to stress over while being unable to deal with it.  On the other hand (unfortunately first hand experience) with a Fifth Wheel, you are completely oblivious to the disaster of omitted securing processes, and can be several hours down the road before they are discovered. 
(For random example, a 32" old style heavy boxy tv falling out of its alcove onto the floor. This despite assurances by the dealership that it would be secure with a friction style tether strap . - Fortunately, the tv survived and the cabinet only mildly damaged by the passing through of said tv on its journey to test gravity - Proven again - Gravity IS the law....) but I digress...
We have decided, after watching our electricity metre spinning like a hamster on a stroll, that we would try heating only using the propane.  We have successfully aquired the 100 pound propane tank with multi-valve, and will see if is cheaper that way.  It definitely is easier on storage.  We do still have 2 parabolic heaters, and a small space heater if needed, but the oil-filled radiating ones didn't seem to work for us.  I know many who swear by them, so that is something you will have to see for yourself.  
I have learned to be confident in returning things that don't work for us.  At $80 per heater X 2, it is well worth it to return to the store and say that it isn't working for us. Most stores are reasonable about returns with receipt and proper packaging brought along.
Again, we will keep you posted on how well that billing is working for us....
Anyway, New Year's Eve is slipping away, so I will turn from you fine folk to my hubby, so Happy New Year, and..


Monday, December 29, 2008

Back On Line

So, something to consider in the world of full-timers is internet access.  More and more RV sites have Wi Fi access.  Unfortunately, we have been at a site that due to holidays and malfunction, has been without for 3 days.  
We have looked into providing our own internet via a dish, but we are resisting it for now as it is an initial outlay of somewhere in the vicinity of $2000 the last time I checked, and then a monthly fee of approximately $45 - 55 ish dollars (again, this research has not been reviewed since the summer, so is relatively dated in worth).  This spring we may review the matter again.  I will keep you posted on that info and decision.
In the meantime we continue to wait for the ever bumped, but still looming thawing of the weather.  Due to inability to do too much outside, that about sums up my contribution to this posting.  We did pick up the tank in Kelowna today though.  It was nice to get out for a day.
I will be setting up some links on the borders of some of my more favoured sites.  Some are in earlier posts, but I will repost them on the side so that they are always handy.  
Well, for now I bid you,


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas quick post.

I have family to call, and people in the park to connect with, so being Christmas day, I am not going to linger.  I do have a quick note that will hopefully be helpful.  I found a link for checking fuel prices.  You can switch it for your region and your fuel type.   I am looking into setting up a link that would be useful for roving price seekers.  Stay tuned... 

Hey, here is another neat link!  I know that a GPS is an indispensable device, but this page goes back to star navigation.  It is a series of tests that teach you some basic star navigation.  If you have a few minutes, try it out.  I had some fun with it myself.

Have a happy holiday, folks!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

.... And So It Continues....

We got home from our outing yesterday in the later part of the lit afternoon.  We decided it was best to check the tanks one more time because we need to be sure to have enough propane to last a couple cooler days during the holiday shut down in a smaller town.  It seemed that all was well. (After all, you wouldn't expect troubles to arise in the warmer and lighter hours... What fun is that...)
So once the darkness we hunker down for the night, and I am starting to bake a pie while hubby is working on his computer.  He comes in and asks where the draft is coming from.  It turns out the furnace was on, but not blowing heat.  In fact, it was blowing very not heat.
After a few back and forth searchings inside and out, confusion and interpreting of gauges versus tank weight, we finally decided that there should be enough propane, the line was heated, so it must be the regulator.  We heated it with a heat gun ( a bit risky as the heat coil could potentially sparked the propane fumes that always linger in the propane tank compartment - but what else can you do??...) we got it running and it functioned fine for the rest of the night.
Today we topped both tanks.  While at the service station, Ken was discussing the details of our night time ventures, and we learned a bit of new information.  It was basic information that should have been a part of our extensive walk through that our dealership gave us.... but how much can you cram into a 10 minute tour??... But I digress...
We discovered that because we had a setup that has 2  30 lb tanks, the regulator is of the persuasion that you can open both tank valves, and set the flow to come from one of the tanks, and when it empties, the regulator will automatically switch it to the other.  When you go out to monitor usage, if the flow is coming from the other tank, you know that you need to refill the first tank.  We have been manually switching it and only keeping one tank on at a time.  We thought the second tank would leak out if we left its valve on at the same time that the other was in use.  (you can never be to careful, you know)
The other thing we did was to get a piece of foil coated bubble insulation and wrapped it around the tanks to keep the cold from overwhelming the chamber, and we have a trouble light with a low wattage regular bulb (one that still gives off heat) and if needed, we will turn it on inside the compartment to take the chill off.  Again, we will only do it if needed, but if the bulb breaks and causes a spark, you may cause a fire.  Unlikely, but very possible, nonetheless.
I took some pictures today of our surroundings.  The one I found amusing is the pile of snow in the corner of the yard where the plough pushed it.  the humour of it is found in an earlier post's note on the comment from this park's management about the snowfall generally being clearable with a broom.
Anyway, as it is Christmas Eve, I am going to settle into a light and fluffy movie with Ken and wait for the visions of sugar plums to dance.  The heaters are now working well, and we will pick up the larger tank on Monday.  (by then, the cold snap should break, but hey - propane fills for half the cost is worth it any time of year.)
Merry Christmas and may the season's blessings be on you all.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Day Off

Well, we took some time off today.  The cold and snow and inability to effectively do anything outside allowed for a bit of cabin fever.  
To break the monotony, we went to Osoyoos today to run a couple errands.  We also stopped for a nice late lunch.  
The day was still cool, but with the sun was beautiful.  I actually remembered to bring a camera today, and we went a little way up the Anachrist Summit Road on Highway 3 and took a couple shots.  
So this blog will focus on sharing some of the photos.  I hope you like them.  I was experimenting with the artistic angle of shots through the windshield.
  I am baking a pie and faking the domestic look fairly well, if I do say so myself.  I even started planning supper by mid morning.  (a nearly unheard of phenominum)  Amazingly enough, I don't have much else to add on this day.  I will simply attach the pictures and bid you,


Monday, December 22, 2008

A New Day

Well, today has been a day of catch up.  I have shuffled the blog layout for about the 60th time and I think I am at a workable arrangement...At least for now.  
I sit in the laundry room waiting for sheets to dry, hoping that being closer to the wi-fi router might allow me to stay connected long enough to get this posted. There is a chair for sitting, and a plug for recharging the ever draining battery on my laptop.  (The charge would likely last longer except that I do like to see the display, so set the brightness high and drink up the juice rather thirstily.)
I have also ordered flowers for a friend for Christmas, & a subscription to a magazine for my Father-in-law's 94th birthday, looked into the previous post's mentioned seeking of propane tank, and still need to follow up about the fridge that seems to like soft serve ice cream (Currently, it stays firmer on the front step than the freezer...) and find out why my washing dryer is not inclined to the latter part of its description lately.  I suspect that it is getting a bit of cold back draft through its vent.  Since it is only a regular 110 plug, that might be taxing it a bit more than it can bear.  
I still have to vacuum and tidy the home, but have been successful in tracking down the storage containers that Raven (fellow blogger - see my related links) mentioned for CD/DVD storage.  I can now rest assured that I haven't got a collection of movies that are slowly crushing themselves into a very expensive set of slightly warped coffee coasters in the binders that they had previously been in.
I might even be inspired to a little baking of cookies, you never know. First, I need to wrap 2 gifts for the gift exchange the park is doing on Christmas day to accompany the potluck dinner.
Well, the dryer is done, the load is folded enough to clear the snow barriers that lie between me and my humble domicile, so off I go.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Our Okanagan Life In A Freezer

It has been since the 12th of December that this usual "northern snowbird" haven has fallen into its version of a deep freeze. Apparently, this particular freezer doesn't have a defrost feature either.
We have actually encountered temperatures that challenge the abilities of these wonderful homes we and our neighbours have chosen, and we were assured that a broom would likely be sufficient to clear "what little snow comes here"... broom, sure, but you might consider upper body (arms specifically) development first. By the time this "snap" is done, if you do choose a broom as your weapon of choice, you can probably become the 1st round draft choice for the local curling team.... but I digress. Oh well, we console ourselves by watching the weather network. It helps somewhat to see that the various lands we have left to winter here are suffering to a greater degree than we are.
So the lessons learned here:
  1. Heat tapes are a good addition to water lines, but it also helps to cover them with pipe foams. We wrapped our first hose in the heat tape, but coiling it around caused overheating of the hose, and its outer lining actually melted off and then started leaking. We then switched our winter line to a washing machine hose as a sturdier line, then straight lined the heat tape, and finally foam packed it. The line has worked fine since then.
  2. The propane furnace taught us a lesson as well. During cold snaps, propane gas (which incidentally, is a product which has traces of oil in it) can form blockages in the low points of the lines. The end result is that the main furnace was unable to heat as it wasn't getting the propane. (Rather similar to the plaque that clogs arteries that cause heart attacks). We fixed it by attaching another heat tape. We have left it on the line until spring, but only plug it in when the furnace seems to be thermostatically challenged.
  3. We have also started keeping a hair dryer in the 5th wheel and a heat gun on the outside. The reason was at 6:30 am when we discovered that leaving the home was a bit challenged, shall we say - the door having frozen shut. 'nuff said....
  4. Space heaters are important as the electricity is cheaper (and easier to access) than the propane tank, but the propane heat is critical in the maintenance of freed up water lines. If you have a fan it actually helps tremendously in the balancing of heat distribution, and reduction of cold pockets. It only has to be on a low setting, but constantly on.
  5. We have recently learned that it is well worth your while to get adaptors for your propane tanks so you can refill at the auto propane pumps versus just refilling at the standard propane tank refill pump. We are going to do this ourselves this week, but our neighbour was told that it works out to be nearly half the cost for refills.
  6. Keep the contents of your cupboards slightly pulled away from the outside walls of the rig, because moisture does accumulate. Monitor it, and wipe them down often. A dehumidifier will help. It doesn't have to be an electric device. You can purchase a chemical dehumidifier. Especially if you are one who uses your rig's shower versus ones provided in the facility.
  7. With all the circulating air from space heaters, we often get static charges and frequent "zap" occurrences. If you put a grounding strap from an exposed metal part outside to the ground, you can minimize unpleasant jolts.
  8. Plastic parts on outer parts of the rig such as screen door handles become brittle in the deeper cold temperatures. Use them gently, and consider purchasing a spare in case one gives at an inopportune time.
  9. Sewer lines are among the parts that become brittle. It is best to not have the pipes open full time. Letting it build up in the tanks and then doing a draining every day or so can reduce slow trickle freeze-ups. - Tweak on this advise - check your holding tank locations. If they are more toward the outer parts of your rig, belay my last. Frozen holding tanks are more hassle than replacing a sewer hose, but the afore mentioned advise still holds if the tanks are part of the workings protected by your heat vent routing in your rig. (Thanks Raven @
I think that is the essence of our lessons on deep freeze survival.


Friday, December 19, 2008


Today I decided to review our list of challenges encountered thus far. This for us was aggravated by the fact that although we are very happy with our 5th wheel, the dealership was lacking in professionalism worthy of such determined first-time buyers bound for full-time from the outset. We were gifted with a 5 minute tour of the rig which was about as personalized as a generic credit card mail offer. The best advice they gave was, "Don't hesitate to ask your site neighbours, they are usually very willing to help."I digress. Back to our list:
  1. Hitch setting
  2. Yolk height
  3. Understanding all features of the rig
  4. Thinning out our stuff
  5. Supplementing our stuff
Hitch Setting:
This was an important matter, especially with a large rig (ours is a 36', and for rookies, that means that it is 39 when you add the tongue length). The balance is found in the knowledge that the connection of the hitch must be centred over the rear axle, but with a short box on our truck, it causes sacrifice in the turning radius. The solution (hard learned as spoken by the dent in the driver-side cab on our maiden voyage) is that you set the hitch over the rear axle for the drive to the site, then if need be, reset it further back for tighter maneuvering once at the site when speed based control is no longer a factor. It is worth while to invest in an adjustable hitch for that point.
Yolk Setting:
This too, we assumed that the dealership set appropriately for rookies who were counting on their professionalism and knowledge. I might advise that you don't assume as we did. Many are true professionals, but you wear any short comings in this field, not them. Again, a hard learned lesson. We had an extra fuel tank added to the bed of the truck as fuel economy is very much at the whim of the wind, weather, roads etc. The same trip can take 1/8 of a tank on one trip, and 1/2 a tank on another just with difference in wind direction and strength.
The factory setting of the yolk or tongue hitch was left as it was for us, and therefore, the bed-nose clearance was only 2 inches. We didn't even know that it could be adjusted. We now have a fuel cap sized hole in the nose waiting for the arrival of spring and an opportunity to correct it. (White duct tape holding the gap for now)
We have now extended it down 2 settings longer.
Understanding The Rig's Settings:
Boy, still on this journey!! When you are green, many people don't fully grasp your "hue". Some of our basic unknowns include:
Stove Function - Although your stove may have an igniting feature, the oven requires manual lighting of the pilot. If you use your oven often, you can leave it in the "pilot" setting and it will hold a minimal flame for faster re-ignition.
Sewer System - Even when in a site of full hook-ups, it is better for your gauges and tank readings to close the black and gray water and let it build, then release every 2-3 days. This is especially applicable when in a colder temperatures. If it is trickling out on an as used basis in the cold, pipe freezing and breakage is more likely. Fortunately, this was a "see neighbours' issue" lesson.
Powered Appliances - Most people are aware that the fridge can switch from electricity to propane, but I didn't know that our hot water heater can function either way too. Not all do, but it took kindly neighbours to show us how ours works. Also from them we figured out how to ensure the water flow valves were set right. On our first set up, we found that from the overflow valve on the hot water heater that it was hot, but it wasn't releasing into the general water flow lines. One of the shut off valves actually needed to be shut in order to allow it to flow out of the heater. Apparently, when de-winterizing the rig for us, the dealership forgot to switch it. The on/off switch on the heater is for the power. For us, if you want to run it on propane, you control it from the inside panel.
Propane heaters-This season has proved especially useful in our learn curve in this matter. Did you know that propane has a bit of residue oil in it? (I didn't) Did you know that especially when it gets very cold, that oil can pool in low points in your lines - causing the cessation of furnace fruitful flow?? (I didn't) We solved this dilemma (3 days into an Oliver level deep freeze) by attaching a heat tape to the line and heating the oil. We left the heat tape on, but will plug it in only if problems arise again.
Anchoring Contents For Travel - Again, we relied on the dealer for wisdom on this matter. Our rig is one year before the conversion to plasma screen dominance for entertainment centres. Our living room tv is about 32", full tube. To anchor it, they had attached a "friction strap" as it was attached to a swiveling pull out shelf. They assured me that it would be we now have a 2"x6" board that we pad with a towel that gets wedged into the tv's cavity to brace it into place. Not everything needs to be taken down, but when in doubt, floor level prevents further experience of the gravitational pull of this great planet. It might be helpful to actually have a list of specific items that need securing, especially if you land in a site for any length of time where you allow yourself to truly "make yourself at home". Also, doors, cupboards and compartments should be secured. Although most have some degree of resistance to opening for the benefit of travel, weightier contents can shift and push doors open. Child-proof cupboard clips and such devices are often very helpful in this effort. I also place dowels in the tracks of my closets as the catches that secure them are fickle in their functioning.
Thinning Out Our Stuff
This is a challenge for anyone shifting to full timing. We did store some of our items, and truth be told, I believe there is a sale coming soon to the Pincher Creek area, but time and hubby's whims will guide that. The important thing to keep in mind is that if you are serious, and going to give it a few years to see if it works for you, then the thinner the better. For example, if you store half to a full house worth of items, and don't consider returning to the world of the fixed address for several years, is the cost of replacement less than the cost and risk of storing your old items. You may find that you thin, store some, then thin some more later. If this world works for you, the less you hold the better.
Supplementing Our Stuff
Although we had to get rid of a lot of things, we also had to buy some things to make things work easier.
In the kitchen I have had to get the small cookie sheets, and I also got a lot of the new silicone cookware. They work well, but for ease of removal, I still put them on the cookie sheet. I also have stainless steel pans as teflon is now overly flame friendly. For my pots, I have a corning-ware type produce so that I can both stovetop cook, and microwave. There is a bit more breakability in it, but if stored carefully, it should be minimal risk. I also have silicone collapsible measuring cups, flexible sheet cutting boards, and a large container for the large bulky utensils.
We put a pet door on the bathroom/bedroom door as the litter box is in the water closet (appropriate term for our style layout) I actually am using a very small pan that I converted Glory to before we moved in, and am using a pine pellet litter that I simply dump in the toilet when changes are required. I only require about 2 hands full of the pellets, and I scoop as she "goes".
As for power, we are in the process of looking for a 7000 w generator (with 50 Amp service, we are a thirsty beast for juice) and are going to get solar panels too, to allow for easier "dry camping".
We have a rather extensive DVD collection, and to compact it we have currently put them into binders and storage sleeves. I am going to revise it to bins as soon as I can find them as I was advised that the weight of them on each other can cause warping of the disks.
We invested in something my parents refer to as a "blue boy". Ours is a 15 gallon rolling container that can be used when your site doesn't have an individual sewer hook-up. You connect your sewer hose to it, drain, and haul to the nearest community dump site so that you don't have to hitch, and dump. Most RV parts places will know what it is, if not by that name, at least by description.
We found that investing in a couple moped style (bicycle frame type) scooters were useful too. As our vehicle is a 3500 Dodge 4x4, a more fuel efficient putt-about vehicle is useful.
(This list will build as I go, but for now that is what sticks out in my mind.)
I guarantee that not all posts will be this long, but I think I managed to scratch the surface of at least some of our greater learn curves.


Thursday, December 18, 2008


Well, here we go. I have been full-timing since mid-October, and figured it is high time to join the world of the cyber-journeyers. I will be developing my genre as I go, but for now, I will consider this blog to be the life and times of a rookie full-timer and her accompanying crew of cast-aways. (To be introduced in a later post....). The accompanying shot is to introduce you to the Ark, my husband and me (at a distance - yes, I am a female, therefore if I must be in it, I will be as distant or blurry as possible.)

We also have two critters to validate the title given to the rig. Although one is male and one is female, they are breeding impaired by 2 factors. The most obvious being that one is a toy poodle, and the other is a very refined and dignified barn cat - come - house cat. (Rather a "My Fair Lady" story, but I digress...) The second significant if not immediately obvious challenge is that they have both suffered from a common human imposition on their rights, degenderization.

I must get on with other matters of life in this impromptu winter wonderland. Stay tuned, in our next episode we shall give a brief summation of what brings me to this world of, "Home is where the truck lands".

For now, Adieu.