One year ago today, we took the plunge and bought our first RV. It’s been “quite a ride,” too!
Seriously, we have not regretted our decision at all, and we look forward more and more to our trips out in it, even more than I thought we would a year ago when we first got into this new hobby. Over the past year, we have visited eight state parks, some closer and some further away, as well as a national forest, a nice private lake, and yes, even a quick overnight stay in the parking lot at a Wal-Mart when nothing else was available in that area. Most have just been long weekend trips, but two trips were full week-long trips and were just awesome.
We have especially enjoyed having our two dogs along with us. They have adapted to RV travel well, especially our younger dog who has pretty much grown-up spending time each month in the RV with us, and we no longer have to worry about boarding or finding a pet sitter for them while we are gone.
Our area is mostly lacking in quality boarding facilities, and we really do not like to board them unless there is no other option available. That is a story for another post sometime, especially after I spent much of last Friday visiting boarding places around town again for the first time in a few years, which was not a good experience at all.
I can best describe the work that we have done on our RV as basic restorations and a few upgrades. Ours is a 1990’s model motor home, but it was used very little in its lifetime with only about 30K miles when we bought it last year. The interior was in very good shape, and there was only a small amount of exterior paint fading on the front and rear. We have since repainted the front and rear stripes that were faded, and that simple restoration is the single thing that outwardly improved the look the most. The rest of the exterior received several treatments with a chemical paint restoration product, and we are quite pleased with the exterior look now.
Inside the RV, we painted the ceilings in the two bathroom areas and the wood trim in the driver’s cab, which was in need of some attention from sun and heat exposure over the years. We also added matching wood molding around the skylights in the main cabin to dress them up a bit. We replaced all four of the roof vents/skylights right away, as most had holes in the netting where bugs could have flown in. We also updated all of the plumbing fixtures throughout the rig to avoid any issues with possible leaks in the future, and we also recently updated the hardware in the bathroom. Everything has been steam cleaned at least twice throughout the RV, including the curtains which are in great shape. I have also lemon-oiled all of the woodwork once a month, too. Even though a few of the cabinet doors were a little dry from lack of attention, the lemon oil has brought them back very nicely, and regular oil treatments seem to be working just fine.
My husband has spent quite a bit of time on general engine maintenance over this past year, as he likes to tinker with it in his spare time. Every belt and hose has been replaced, as well as other work that he wanted to do on it. We paid a professional RV mechanic to do a few things, including the replacement of pretty much everything associated with braking system and the master cylinder. We also had the fuel tank removed and boiled out, and we also replaced the fuel pump and filter. (This is something that we recommend to anyone buying an older motor home now, too.) The Onan generator was repaired by a certified Onan mechanic, and it has run perfectly since that repair. We put six new tires on it the day after we bought it, which along with the generator repair, was factored into the price we paid upfront.
At this point, we have a great 31 foot RV that has everything working perfectly on it and many things brand new. We have beds for four or five people, a new refrigerator and freezer that runs on propane or electric (thanks to the previous owner), microwave/convection oven combo, gas range, double-sided sink, lots of cabinet storage space inside including a slide out pantry and a large closet, a sofa and two nice rocking chairs, two captains chairs that swivel around to the living area when parked, a table for two that folds back against the wall when not in use, two additional tables that can be set up inside when needed, two ceiling mounted refrigerated air conditioners, central heat with a thermostat, bathroom with separate shower and toilet areas, bathroom sink, HD TV with an updated TV antenna on top of the rig and electronic signal finder inside, DVD player, new sound system and speakers, phone connection (if we want it, when available), cable TV connection (when available), automatic step for the main door, gas grill outside (on the side of the rig), and an 18-foot awning, We are out less than $11K on everything, too, including the repairs and updates we have done, which is still well within an acceptable price range for a good RV of this age. On any given four-day / three-night weekend trip to some nice destinations within a three-hour drive, we save at least $300 in hotel, boarding fees and food costs, even when we factor in the cost of the fuel for the motor home. But of course, hotels are not even available inside the parks, so camping in the RV has finally opened up this great option for us, rather than having to commute in and out of the parks when we go.
In addition, we have added some outdoor amenities, too. We each have a nice outdoor chair, and we purchased a great outdoor rug from Camping World that folds up with little effort, is easy to clean and will not mold. I also made side panels and a front panel for our awning to help us claim a bit more shade in the hotter weather months. I bought the sun shade fabric and sun shade grommets from Home Depot in their garden section, and the panels were simple to make and just attach to the awning with velcro strips on the sides and to on our regular clips on the front. Similar awning panels are quite expensive to buy and would have cost over $300 for ours, but I made these for around $80 total. We also bring along a mister and a good utility fan to use outdoors when it is really hot, too. Of course, we also have a selection of awning lights and solar light stakes to use at our campsite. The solar light stakes are great to have, especially when walking outside on a moonless night to walk the dogs, as it gets really, really dark in the middle of nowhere.
The most important benefit of RV travel for us, by far, is the quality time that we’ve been able to have away from home and cell phones and email and news and the everyday stresses of life these days. We have also been pleasantly surprised at the number of family and friends that have also jumped on the “RV bandwagon” since we bought ours, too. It’s fun to have family and friends that also enjoy this hobby, and we are looking forward to all the great new experiences in store and the fun new memories that we will make. We certainly did our part over this past year to make some new camping memories, and it’s been a great ride indeed!