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They’re Towing My House!! With my FAMILY INSIDE!!! (AKA: 6 Month Update)

November 13, 2012

I had finally done it.  After six months of careful parking spot selection, I had finally gone and carelessly slid into a convenient space in the dark and rain that was actually in the way of something or someone awfully important and now, at 5 a.m., a semi-sized tow truck was coming at me with that awful BEEP!  BEEP!  BEEP!  that indicates a really large vehicle is backing up.  I sprang from bed, frantically thinking how I was going to explain to the clueless tow truck driver that the vehicle he had been instructed to tow was actually my house and that my wife and children were actually asleep inside and wondered if I could beg him to just drive away and forget the whole thing.  In the dark and confusion I was grasping for pants… for shoes…for a little sanity!  THIS WAS AWFUL!!!  And it was all MY FAULT!! HOW COULD I BE SO CARELESS!?!?  I took a moment, just then, to slowly lift the little curtain that separates my domestic dwelling space from the entire outside world and see what I was up against….

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  The purpose of THIS post is supposed to be an update on what we’ve experienced and learned as we zing past the six month mark of my family of four living in a tiny RV.  If you need a primer on why we’re even doing this,  you can start here.  But let me do a quick run-down of what we’ve learned over the past six months.  And I tend to talk a lot about how much we love it, so just to keep it real, I’m intentionally throwing in some of the hard stuff too.  Ready?  We’ll do it Top Ten Style!

10.  I’ve been dreading the rain ever since we moved.  We LOVED living in the beauty of spring and summer, but figured the rainy, cold, dark days of a Pacific Northwest winter might just do us in.  But instead the season (albeit just beginning) has brought a surprise benefit in that when it’s dark and cold no one is out and about, which means I can park anywhere and feel “hidden”.  That and the soft pitter patter of rain falling on my plexiglass skylight over my bed makes it kinda nice.  Mostly.  (More on that in a minute).

9.  We modified the curtain that goes around the front window to button quickly and easily behind the two front captain’s chairs.  This has been HUGE!  It creates a barrier between us and the outside while still looking from “out there” like a van with a couple chairs.  Nothing says “we’re moving in” like that curtained-off RV look.  So we love our little curtain.

8.  Despite epic efforts to the contrary, we still haven’t perfected our menu, and find that we still eat out far too often.  This is exacerbated by the fact that Portland is one of America’s best places to be hungry, with exotic and affordable food on every corner.  But we’d still like to cook in more.  Much of this has to do with the pace of running two businesses, but is certainly contributed to by lack of pantry and refrigerator space.

7.  We figured we’d do a LOT of reading.  Nope.  Won’t get into it, but we find we read LESS than when we had a house.  Hmmm…

6.  All hail the North Face Dolomite 20 degree rectangular sleeping bag!  Each of us has one of these (no small investment at $90 each) and LOVE ‘EM.  The rectangularness allows us to use them as blankets OR sleeping bags.  Cozy!

5.  It took awhile, but I finally figured some things out about our electricity needs by reading Handyman Bob’s RV Battery Puzzle.  Changed my life.  Biggest takeaway was that my inverter needed to be near my batteries with big, thick wires connecting it.  Once I did that I can now run my computers, TV, and even an occasional power tool.  Don’t think me shallow, but it is NFL season and I gotta watch me some football!

Xandra takes in a bit of presidential debate

4.  We’re all sleeping great in here.  I keep wondering how long I can sleep on a fold-out dinette after spending the last 6 years on a pillow top Sealy Posturepedic.    But fact is, I’m sleeping way better on a firm support system than I ever did on lush pillows of comfort.  Which works out because I couldn’t put a new mattress in here if I wanted to.

3.  I used to be all idealistic about how much time used to be spent on mowing my lawn or cleaning my gutters was now available for spending with my family or reading.  This is a total farce.  My RV is 12 years old, and in constant need of my attention.  And even if it were newer, we still have our modifications like wood and tile floors or ripping out the TV and microwave.  So I’ve decided that saving time compared to owning a house is not hap’nin.

2.  I mentioned we don’t mind the rain, but there is one major drawback:  CONDENSATION.  Four bodies in a high-humidity atmosphere crammed into less than 100 square feet = LOTS OF WATER trying to escape, and when it can’t, accumulating on the windows and whatever else is between it and the outside air it’s trying to meet up with.  This is only a problem when it starts raining and doesn’t stop for days upon end.  A situation which around here we like to call “November thru May.”

1.  And finally, the number one thing we’ve learned has to do with where to park this thing, which brings me back to that morning a few days back at 5 a.m.

As I peeked under the curtain to see how close the tow truck was to actually being hooked up and ready to pull me away, I watched in horror as its bright rear-backing lights shone right in my face, the BEEP-BEEPS still howling through the soggy air, and the truck inched its way toward me.  Then at the near-last minute it turned and backed into the gateway just in front of me, then into the church parking lot where the dumpsters were.

Trash Truck.

I sank to the floor, heart still thumping, realizing that – once again – we had parked in a residential neighborhood on their trash pick up day.  Small oversight.  Really inconvenient.  (For me at least.  The girls slept through the whole thing, which is how this stuff usually goes down).  Which brings me to my parking matrix.  When living in your car on the street, there is a decision making matrix to follow.  It’s not exact, and a lot of it is your instinct, but just for fun, here are some of the criterion for judging the ideal parking spot for overnight.

*  Is it near where you want to be in the morning?

*  Is it level? (Some streets slant more than others, which causes you to wake up all balled up on one end of your bed).

*  Is it in front of anyone’s home?  Churches are a great option to park in front of because they’re going to be low-traffic six days a week.  Just don’t choose one on Saturday night.

*  Are there garbage cans lining the curb?  (An obvious sure-bet for a 5 am wake up call!  And hey, why DO they pick up trash that early?)

*  Is it on a well traveled road?  Even being on a quiet street which happens to be a path for bicycles is a bad idea.

*  Are there street lights overhead?  Seems like a good idea at first, but it causes me AND my children to wake up at odd times, believing the sun’s coming up.

And other such things.  Fascinating ain’t it?  And here’s a bonus nugget in case you want to celebrate living in an RV for six months some o’ these days with a 1st and 2nd grader.  DO take them bowling.  It’s dry in there, they have bathrooms with real toilets, and you get to hit stuff.  But do NOT waste your time going to the schwanky lanes with leather couches and 20 foot music video screens because you’ll pay out the hootie for these things and your kids won’t appreciate it.  Just take ’em to the regular sketchy lanes and keep an eye on ’em.

Oct 26, 2012: Celebrating 6 months of Full Time RVing at Grand Central Lanes!

  1. JAY STATON permalink

    Very entertaining prose. You actually lived in the Rialta for 6 months??? With kids??? I am a 50 year old single man, professional landscape photographer, looking to buy a Rialta and was wondering if I would have enough space.


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