Recent Stress In RV Life, Update

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So as you can see life’s problems and stress will happen no matter what you live in, or where. The difference is that living in an RV...

For many, living full time in an RV, traveling around the country, seeing new places may sound like a dream. And it is, most of the time. As we have said before this lifestyle can be a challenge. Even more so than living in a sticks and bricks house. For us, the last 4-months have been just that. Many challenges that all seemed to have taken place too close together and way too much stress.

Career Thoughts

Around March, Don was toying with the idea of a different career. His mind rested by working in his current shipping and receiving role. The stressful years from his former store manager days appeared to vanish. Yet, he found himself reminiscing the joy and satisfaction of leading a team and store. So his hunt began to find the ideal position which would fill his soul and enable us to get on the road sooner. 

Towing Weight

Getting on the road was at the top of my mind. However, the drawback is our ‘05 Chevy Silverado 2500 hidden gem of a truck with only 35,000 miles. We fought hard at a dealership to seal the deal on this rig (read more here). At that time we did not know we would buy a 5th wheel. So 2-years later, Bailey our 5th wheel (read more here) is at our weight limit for the 2005 Chevy. To be safe with towing and not damage our young transmission, I had been toying with finding a replacement truck. 

Unfortunately, between Don wanting to find a new career and my idea of a new truck, created several sleepless nights. We dove into researching Ford, Chevy, and Dodge 1-ton trucks. After an overwhelming amount of figures, we plugged towing numbers into a spreadsheet to keep our thoughts straight. Then, snagged a good friend who has been working with vehicles all his life, to get his insight.  

Soon, we had narrowed our search down to a small year range within Chevy. We knew, ideally, we needed a diesel 1-ton to haul our 15,000 pound fully loaded 5th wheel. Then it came down to single rear wheel or dual rear wheels. Both would be adequate, and both have pros and cons. In the future, we may want an in-bed truck camper that has slide-outs, making a dually the best option. Now the hunt begins for a 2011 to 2014, Chevy 3500, diesel, dually. That has low miles, great service records, and is in good shape. A tall task, but at least time to look for this new gem is on our side.

Tree Sap

In May, when Don was cleaning Bailey’s roof, he found a lot of pitch from a nearby tree all over our brand new slide-out covers (read more here). Once again, we dove into research to see what product we could use safely on the fabric.  With a lot of elbow grease, the covers were coming clean, but some discoloration from the sap was present. The sticky mess is almost as bad as dropping a jar of honey on the carpet.

Since the problematic tree is on a neighbors property, we are unable to cut it down. This left us with two options. Do we relocate by finding an RV lot to rent for the Summer? We did like the convenience of being on our family’s property to help them out. Or do we try to angle the 5th wheel? This idea is a tricky one since the concrete pad is only so big. Then there is a beautiful lawn with a sprinkler system we need to avoid parking on, and another tree. The chain-link fence would also hinder the truck from making sharp angles. However, attempting to dance Bailey over a few feet, seems to be the best first step.  

Bailey’s Move

One gloomy day, we jiggled Bailey away from the tree. That was a very long, highly emotional day. Between a couple of people having different ideas and a busy street to pull into, we knew we needed more practice. But, through it all, the 5th wheel is moved far enough away, so we are not under the tree. Bailey is not on the grass, and we can access the garage behind us. The only minor issue that came from Bailey’s dance is a tree scraped the side of the 5th wheel. Those four stressful hours, along with the prior 8-weeks, was quickly catching up to us. 

But wait, there’s more stress…

Tank Valve

In RV life, something is going to break; it is just a matter of time. Especially if you live full time in it. On our weekly dump day, a gate valve to the gray tank broke open. Don was able to get the fluid out of the tank, with a minor mess. It could have been much worse. He had an extra gate valve to put at the end of the pipe, where you connect to dump.  This would act as the final stop for the gray tank until we could get it properly fixed.

Now, the choice: Do we replace only the broken valve knowing that the other two may break soon too?  Should we replace all three valves at once? Or upgrade to an electronic system? As always, we dove into researching the options, costs, and weighing the convenience of it all. Since I have a hard time pulling the valves open, we decided to go with the electronic gate valves. One push of a button is all it takes. Of course, it was a little more money, adding stress to our bank account. But the short term stress will be worth the long term payoff inconvenience (blog HERE soon).

Insurance Headache

Regardless of where you live or what you live in, chances are you will have to argue with an insurance company. For us, it was with our dental insurance company. Our plan covers a particular procedure, but they never pay it unless we call them. They always claim it is a problem with their computer system. This has been going on for a year now, and sometimes enough is enough. After such a long stretch of things going wrong in life, this small molehill can seem like a mountain. Especially when it takes several calls and the stress of waiting weeks for it to process. On occasion, they have denied the payment, making us start the process again.

Don Broke

With everything that is going on, and how far away our goals seem to be getting pushed, Don hit his breaking point. The stress had built up to a boiling point. We are not invincible. We stay as strong as we can, for as long as we can. But some days, when the string on the curtain breaks, for the um-tenth time, so do we. 

By June, all the stress, bad moods, low energy, and just a lack of joy, our projects were suffering. I was not writing as many blogs for the website, and videos had taken a back seat. At this point, we are not sure when we will have a good log of video’s to launch on YouTube. But our desire remains the same, to have helpful, quality videos to aid you in your RV lifestyle. Or to just watch our ups and downs in this adventure.

Another Break

In July, as Don was getting set up to install the automatic tank valves, he accidentally dropped his cell phone. The phone was in a case and fell from a mere 16-inch distance onto the concrete driveway. And the screen shattered on his 1-year old phone that did not have insurance.

Don quickly began researching to see if the screen could be replaced. The answer was a maybe. You can dish out a couple hundred dollars for a new screen, and it is hit or miss if it will work. Or you can buy a new phone. Close to $400 later he has a new phone and a new case. 

And More Stress…

For the last 2-weeks, I have been having the worst stomach issues. Nothing I eat or drink will stay put. So much so, that we were unable to take our planned getaway for the 4th of July.  And we have not been able to go hiking or enjoy outings with friends. 

Since Don is not sick, I have ruled out a virus. We make 99% of the meals we eat, so if it were something along that line, Don would be sick as well. My only thought is the amount of stress has set off my gastroparesis (GP). However, at times, it does not feel GP related. It is time to go to the doctor to figure things out.

New Truck

Mid-July, despite all the stress and everything going on, we continued looking for a new truck. One appeared in town, we drove it a few times, did some further research, and it came home with us. It checked off all of our boxes except for the interior color. Everything on the truck is black: exterior, bed liner, leather seats, dash, and carpet. It will take a lot of upkeep. However, the bonus of cooled seats may help take the edge off the burned bum from the black leather. We will have more info in a future blog on our new truck.

Just like our prior truck (more info here) that we purchased out of state, we only get a 3-day trip permit. So it will be sitting for the next three weeks until we can get everything in order. In the meantime, we are researching what hitch to put in it. Also picking out floor mats, and running boards. All of which will place more stress on our bank account.

Coming Soon

With one week left in July, Don has a project going of building a nightstand for my side of the bed. Our rig had a King bed that we replaced with our Queen. So now there is plenty of room for a second nightstand. 

We will be installing the 5th wheel hitch (blog soon) and running boards for our new truck. I will continue to monitor my stomach issues and try to reduce stress in my life. Because I really want to go hiking and in my current state I am not able to do so.

Now An Injury

But first, Don must heal. Our unlucky July would send him falling onto the ground, out of a forklift at work.  He is fortunate that he did not break anything, only severely sprained his ankle and now is in physical therapy. July is Don’s birthday month. Why it is treating him so unkindly with a hurt ankle, and broken phone, we have yet to figure out. 

Unfortunately for us, a lot of negative things were happening all at once, and my body could not keep up with the stress. So it will take me a little longer to overcome, but I will. As for Don, his ankle is on the mend, and I foresee him back at full speed in a few weeks. 

So as you can see, life’s everyday problems will happen no matter where you live, or what you live in. The difference is that living in an RV, a few more issues will pop up, like a broken dump valve. That may or may not happen close to a town to get a new part. However, how you deal with the stress and unpredictable situations will prepare you for the next adventure around the bend.  

Thanks for your support and we will see you on the next adventure!

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Melissa McElfresh

Melissa McElfresh

In 2012 I was diagnosed with Gastroparesis (stomach paralysis), which made me realize life is too short and not to take simple things for granted. As an avid indoor-girl with allergies, I did not go on hikes of any sort. But, one day my Marine husband, Don, asked if I would go on a 'nature walk' with him. It was on the paved Going To The Sun Road in Glacier National Park. I went and was hooked, eager for our next adventure! The desire to see new places, meet new people, experience new cultures, has aided me to share with you my new adventure.

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About Us

We are sharing our adventures to not only document our full-time living in a 5th wheel but to provide others with information.  Our extensive research involved searching for answers to these questions: how to begin this lifestyle, what RV is best to live in full-time and what jobs could we do to support our dream.  However, we did not find a lot of answers out there that pertained to our quest.  Quickly we realized people choose this lifestyle and their RV for many different reasons.  There is no right or wrong answer.  We are here to provide you with another perspective.

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