Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Halfway Point

It appears we're more or less at the halfway point in our attempt to be snowbirds. If I go by the expiration date I set for the temporary forwarding order for our mail, we're not quite there. If I go by when I'd actually like to be home, we passed it a while back.

This whole RV-ing thing has been an interesting experience. Along the way, the S.O. and I have figured out a few things. Some of it is stuff we probably should have realized before we ever committed ourselves to living in a tiny space for approximately six months, and some of it is stuff you learn through experience.

One is that we're not really suited, at least not yet, to a lifestyle that doesn't involve doing much. I have heard of fulltime RVers who have hobbies they pursue while living in tiny spaces, but unfortunately neither of us pursues that type of hobby. You know, like carving little tiny wooden figurines or something similar that doesn't require much space to spread out and it's easy to carry your supplies in a 31-quart Rubbermaid tote. I do have a hobby or two that can easily transported, sort of, but have discovered even something that seems like it would be portable isn't quite that simple. I quilt, for example, and do have a couple totes filled with quilting supplies along with my sewing machine stashed here in the Guppy. I've got several quilts in progress, although progress is slow. The quilting is a good example of a pastime that is theoretically portable but isn't always. I am really missing the Woman Cave and the ability to have stuff spread out and to leave it spread out until the next time I'm ready to do something with it. Here in the Guppy there is no place to just leave the sewing machine set up until I'm ready to go back to it in a day or two or three.

In any case, the S.O. doesn't have anything comparable to fill his time. Back home, he had projects like the POS ATV he bought last year. If he was feeling bored in the house, he could go wandering up to his shop and find something to do. Here, not so much. He's not a rock hound (rock hounds love Arizona), he's not a fisherman (and, yes, there is fishing to be found even in a desert state), he's a tinkerer -- and there's nothing to tinker on here other than the Guppy itself. And let's face it. Installing a few cabinet latches or trying to figure out what the odd rattling noise is coming from the engine compartment when the Guppy is running doesn't eat up a whole lot of time. He needs to have something to do even it is just cruising around in a golf cart once or twice a day to make sure everyone's paid their camping fees.

Bottom line: if we want to spend a prolonged period of time in the Guppy, we actually do need to be volunteers in a park somewhere. We may be geezers, but we haven't hit the just sit in a lawn chair and watch the world go by stage yet.

Two is that I am increasingly happy our foray into RV-ing did not involve much money. When we first started looking, we actually looked at some totally new equipment, but I was hesitant. I'd seen a few too many examples of people spending huge amounts of money on travel trailers or motorhomes that just sat in their backyards or a storage facility most of the year. We had no desire to spend a significant amount of cash on something that rarely got used. After one visit to an RV dealer's lot, we started looking for something used, something we could pay cash for without flinching. We succeeded.

I have mentioned before that the Guppy is well aged. It's 1989 Class C Rockwood. It has its issues, but we have learned from talking with other campers as well as reading online discussions that the issues the Guppy has are common to almost every other RV out there regardless of age. Leaking seams, for example. Every time you move a motorhome or a travel trailer, the seams flex. When they flex, caulking pulls loose and leaks appear. Sometimes you're lucky and go can for years without a leak; sometimes you've barely got the beast off the dealer's lot and it's leaking like a sieve. The Guppy's previous owners retained a box that has all the documentation relating to its history and equipment. It includes correspondence with the original dealer. In that correspondence the first owners do a nice rant about "if they'd wanted to camp in something that leaked every time it rained they'd have bought a tent." If we'd been those first owners, I would have been mad as hell that we'd dropped a significant chunk of change on a piece of equipment that had leaks so bad I wound up sleeping in a puddle. As it is, hey, you get what you pay for -- you don't expect perfection when something is 25 years old when you buy it. And whatever that original issue was, it got fixed years ago because we haven't had any problems with water coming through the back wall. (We did have a window leak in the bedroom, but that was a different problem than what the original owners described.)

Of course, water seeping in from the outside isn't the only water issue in an RV. In cold or damp weather, there's the humidity problem. RVs are not particularly well-insulated, but also do not breathe especially well. When you have to have everything closed up in cold or rainy weather, the interior humidity tends to climb fast and condensation builds up on the cold surfaces: window glass, metal window frames, etc. We were having major issues with condensation in the bunk over the cab area. We finally got smart and invested in a mini-humidifier to help suck the dampness out of the air.  It seems to be helping. In another week, or two, of course, humidity will no longer be an issue. What passes for Winter here will be almost over, things will start warming up to the point where we'll feel comfortable having the screen door open during the day, we'll take the insulation out of the ceiling vents, and the excess moisture will vanish. The S.O. did try one trick that had been suggested by other RVers: putting bubble wrap over the windows on the inside. Supposedly that would prevent condensation. Pshaw. All that happened was the condensation built up on the bubble wrap instead of on the glass. Live and learn.

Three. . . well, there really isn't a three. I was thinking about ranting about the poorly designed storage space, but I have a vague recollection of complaining about it before. In terms of cubic feet of available storage, there is actually an over-abundance. In terms of accessibility and convenience? Not so much. There are way too many dead areas, spaces you can't see into easily or that are reachable only if you lie on the floor and view things from a snake's perspective. The overhead cabinets have awkward, impossible to see into spaces; ditto the ones at floor level. I spent some time yesterday inventorying the canned goods I have stashed in one of those floor level compartments. I want to use up as much of the home-canned stuff in glass jars as possible before we're on the road again so needed to know just how much was left. Every time I got down on the floor I found myself thinking about those "Help, I've fallen and I can't get up" commercials. Except in my case I wouldn't have been trapped on the floor due to the vicissitudes of age but instead because space is tight enough in the Guppy that I would simply have been wedged between the arm chair and the dinette with no room to turn to push myself back up. Those people on "Tiny House Hunters" and similar shows have no clue just what it they're getting into by downsizing into a minuscule box.

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