We debated for months about what our next step up would be from our little 20 foot Jayco Lite we’d been living in for much longer than we’d anticipated. We’d packed ourselves into the tiny thing like sardines and wanted out. Not that we didn’t love each other. Two adults with a 15 year old. We’d forgotten how to be intimate, even.
Me and my husband would spend most of our free time in our half-built shed out of necessity so our son could use the table for his computer time and such. The shed had a tarp for a roof and when it rained, it would sag with hundreds of gallons of water in between each set of supports and we would have to drain each pocket individually with a homemade snow scraper I’d made. We would have to position everything, including ourselves just so to avoid the cascade of water that would spill out when we dumped. So much of our property got damaged but more on the shed in another post.
In a nutshell, we had cabin fever and were waiting for some financial matters to resolve before we could upgrade.
We finally made the choice to go with some sort of larger RV for the winter for several reasons. We didn’t have the money or time to build a real structure and we needed something with the amenities already there. So another trailer it was, for the time being.
We scanned craigslist for something suitable. We needed something that would have a chance of withstanding the winter better than the Jayco. We looked for pre-winterized units and researched exactly what winterized really meant. We also looked for RVs that had solar systems already built in (we’d already decided at that point that we were going solar). Not much out there of either but finally we found something interesting.
It was a slightly older model Royal Voyager fifth wheel. It had been completely remodeled to be more like a real home. The cupboards were better quality, it had a regular toilet, and the black water system had been completely redone to resemble that of a real house. In short, it had been totally gutted and refitted to be more like a regular house than an RV. It fit our needs almost perfectly except that we realized after we bought it that we would have to go back in the opposite direction and re-rig it as more of a camping vehicle again.
Our first clue about that was when we turned on the water for the first time. Nothing came out. We inspected the whole trailer for the problem. No pump under the sink like our old trailer. We looked everywhere. Nothing. We eventually came to the realization the pump had been removed altogether. We ended up buying and installing a brand new one which took a couple of weeks to get to work properly and seal up the leaks.
The water heater was electric and practically killed the generator when we turned it on. Forget using solar power with it. We bought a gas heater. That little issue took weeks to finally resolve and now we have the luxury of hot water.
The propane fridge is on it’s way in the mail. Brand new models were over 1,200.00 on average and there isn’t a used propane fridge to be had in the whole of Washington state from our shopping experience. We decided to buy a tiny little one to put in the old trailer and we’re stealing that one for the fifth wheel. We now feel pretty confident about moving and installing it because of our newly acquired experience working with appliances (hot water heater exempt).
We’ve done all of the insulating for winter (and summer) by ourselves in addition to fixing various issues with the plumbing. I think this has all been pretty good for us and our life experiences. We’re doing things we never would have done back in the days of living on the grid.
Our truck didn’t have a fifth wheel hitch adapter so we paid a guy to bring our new home to us. We were worried it wouldn’t fit going around a sharp corner coming up to our property so we measured the opening and sent a diagram with measurements to the driver. He drove like a champ and pulled the behemoth deftly around the corners, not quite dodging all of the over hanging branches that were never in the way before. We had to cut several heavy branches down to prevent losing our porch light and other accessories mounted to the outside of the trailer before our driver pulled it into it’s final “resting” place.
We’d already dug ruts into the higher points of the ground in preparation but weeks went by before we finally had the rig leveled properly. Lots of digging and one broken landing jack later, we were able to put things down inside without them sliding towards the back and to the right side of the rig.
What have I forgotten? We made many trips to Walmart to furnish on the cheap. A dish drainer, towels, silverware; a push vacuum. We now had two households as our son decided to stay in the old trailer for privacy’s sake. He’s a teenager after all.
Oh, then there’s the fireplace. That’s for another blog. 🙂