Our Truck Went Into Self-Preservation Mode

One thing we’ve learned over the years as full-time RVers is things really are not much different than if we were living in a sticks n’ bricks home. There are things that break in our RV home like a regular home but then we throw vehicles into the mix. Regardless if you plan to move around you need a vehicle. And unfortunately regardless if you do preventative maintenance on our vehicles or not, things will break. Its all how you choose to deal with them. Try to roll with it. But to be honest, many times it comes with a bit of a melt down first, then we try to focus on the task.

Watch todays video to find out what went wrong. Click here or the picture above and the link will take you to the video.

Why should you choose the RV Life?

Living in an RV means that you can live wherever you want to live. Our great country has so many beautiful places to see and live, and because it would be hard to just pick one place, RV life allows us to live in as many as we want.

And, it’s more than just going on a vacation, which is nice too, but we love being able to bring our entire home with us. This way we are not forgetting anything, and because our home is always with us, we still get to live comfortably.

If you want to spend your summer in the mountains and your winter near the beach, you can do that. If you want to do the opposite the following year, you can do that too.

If you want to have your front window open up to a beautiful national park, you can even do that.

By living in an RV, you can choose to live wherever you want.

One of the best things about RV life is that you can park your home wherever you want to. We love being able to do things outdoors, and we usually pick places that make that even easier. So, we like to park next to hiking trails, bike trails, and more.

Our dogs love the RV life...

When it comes to our fur babies, Missy and Mason, they too love the RVlife. Okay, so we can’t be exactly 100% sure about this since my dogs can’t talk to us, but they seem pretty happy whenever they are able to explore new places, sniff new things, go on long hikes, and so on.

Our dogs are much more active now than they ever were before and seem pretty happy to us.

Since we can park our home wherever we want, we can follow the weather. We like to stay in temperatures that are just perfect – somewhere around 70 degrees year round.

Following the weather is something that we truly love. After all, who wants to be too cold or too hot?

Thankfully, the RV life lets us just leave whenever the temperature is something that we don’t fully enjoy.

Another thing you could consider. When your able to travel to the weather you like, you really only need one set of clothesWe really only have clothes for one season, so we avoid places that are cold. I pretty much wear dresses, sandals, shorts, and/or tank tops year round, which is really nice and comfortable.

Downsizing is liberating…

Living in an RV means that you’ll have to downsize. While some people dread this, getting rid of nearly all of your stuff is extremely liberating.

When we left our sticks & bricks home and moved into an RV, we donated and got rid of a lot of our belongings. At first it was difficult to get rid of so much, but it became easier as time went on. We will have to admit that we kept a storage shed for approximately 2 years with belongings that we felt that we could not get rid of. Each time we returned to our storage shed, whatever items that we ‘did without’, they were either given to family members or donated.

These days, all we have is what we have with us. We have a small amount of everything, and we like it best this way.

We are much more mindful of what we buy and this is allowing us to save money as well.

Plus, when you’re RVing, you no longer have a need to buy as much stuff because the outdoors take up all of your time. Before we would waste time going to the mall, Target, and other stores- but we hardly ever do that now. Instead, we spend a lot of our time exploring new places.

No more yard work or other house work with RV living...

One of the factors that is debatable for us is, not having a sticks & bricks home is that we do not have the yardwork or the routine things that come with a normal house. But I will say that one of the things we do miss is mowing our lawn. But, if your one that does not care for lawn care then this definitely will be a pro for you.

We also don’t have as much maintenance and repairs to do. While RVs aren’t perfect, there’s less that goes into an RV than a house. General maintenance of our RV seems to feel a bit like what you would do in a sticks & bricks home however we feel it is less.

RV living means you can move if you don’t like your neighbors...

The saying we’ve learned over the years is; “Have Wheels Will Travel.” I think pretty much everyone has lived next to a neighbor that they didn’t like. The great thing about RV life is that if you have a crazy neighbor or someone who you don’t get along with, then you can just move your home!

And trust me, we have done this in order to get away from some not-so-friendly and/or crazy RVers.

You can work and travel at the same time...

Yes, you can do both.

We’ve met many amazing people while RVing. Some are retired, but others are like us and also trying different things in order to make their traveling dreams a reality. I know that thinking about making money while traveling can be a scary thing for many people, but it has really allowed us to live our dream life.

This factor is something that holds many potential full-timers back, but it shouldn’t! Don’t let making money on the road hold you back from living your dream, because even though it may seem big, it’s something that can usually be worked around. Check out our series of YouTube videos about this subject.

Living in an RV makes traveling and working (and living) much more enjoyable because we can bring our home everywhere we go. We don’t have to worry about forgetting something, bringing a suitcase, or anything – I just have it all with us. No packing required!

Also, we’ve had a lot of you ask what we are using for internet. If you plan to live this lifestyle and you NEED internet DO NOT depend on RV parks free WIFI. In the 11 years that we’ve been Full-Time Rvers we’ve only experienced 1 RV park with great WIFI speeds.

Currently we are using a 3rd part service called Visible which uses Verizon towers. Their phones have hotspots set up for unlimited data use. I believe we paid $75 for the phone and our monthly service plan is $40. We also have AT&T phones that have limited use of our hot-spot in case we get in a pinch. This way we are always covered.

You’ll want to travel as long as you can...

RV life is a lot of fun, and due to that we know now, we want to do this lifestyle as long as we possibly can. Our next adventure is unknown at this time but that is what’s great about this life. You can go where you want to go when you want to go. We are so glad that we gave the RV life a shot in 2009, because our lives are so much better due to it.

If you are interested in learning more about the RV life, head over to our YouTube Channel to check out some of our experiences and possibly learn a few things.

Tornado Preparedness for RVers

Tips for staying safe if you are camping in a tornado region

If you are planning on RVing or camping in a tornado region there is basic tips and information you should know before you go, straight from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The United States averages 1,200 tornados a year, according to NOAA. Doppler radar has improved the ability to forecast tornados, but still only gives a warning of three to 30 minutes. With such little forewarning, NOAA stresses that tornado preparedness is critical.

Tornado Warning Systems

If you are RVing near a small town, chances are there is a siren system that can be heard for several miles. Take a moment when you first arrive at your RV park to find out about the tornado and storm warning systems for your area, even if you are staying only a short time. 

Tornado Shelters

Find out if your park has a shelter onsite or where the nearest shelter is located. Basements and underground shelters are the safest, but small, sturdy inside rooms and hallways provide adequate protection during a tornado, as well.

If there is no shelter onsite, alternatives might be the park’s shower or bathroom stalls. If there is a sturdy building with closets or an inside hallway try to take shelter there. If none of these exist drive to the nearest shelter as quickly as is safe. Keep your seatbelt on. 

Tornado Preparedness Plan

NOAA’s and the American Red Cross’ recommended actions include:

*Monitoring an NOAA Weather Radio
*Know where to go for shelter, preferably within walking distance
*Be ready to go when a tornado watch is issued
*Remove lawn furniture and other objects that could become projectiles to an inside location
*Go immediately when a tornado warning is issued
*Wherever you find shelter stay away from windows
*Do not plan on staying inside your RV
*Bring your pets, in a carrier if possible
*Grab only essentials (purse, ID, cash, medications) and only if easily accessible (We now have a ‘bug out bag’)
*Don’t waste time searching for anything

Practice your tornado drill periodically

Signs of Potential Tornado 

*Electrical charge in the air — hair on arms standing up (not always present)
*Large hail
*Lightning
*Roaring noise
*Grayish/greenish clouds
*Visibly rotating clouds
*Wall cloud that appears as thunderclouds dropping close to the ground
*Cloud progressively extending down to the ground, increasingly funnel-shaped
*Rotating dust or debris rising up from the ground, often “reaching” towards a descending funnel-shaped cloud

Inland and Plains Tornados

Tornados that develop on the plains and most parts of the country often are accompanied by hail or lightning. These warning signs are your signals to seek shelter until the storm passes. We tend to think of tornados as “approaching” from some distance. Bear in mind that every tornado begins somewhere. If that “somewhere” is close to you, you won’t have much time to get to a shelter.

Tornados can develop during the day or night. Naturally, nighttime tornados are the most frightening since you may not be able to see them coming, or might be asleep when they hit.

Tornados Spawned by Hurricanes

Unlike inland tornados spawned from storms, those that develop in hurricanes often do so in the absence of hail and lightning. They can also develop days after a hurricane makes landfall, but tend to develop during the daytime after the first few hours over land.

Although tornados can develop in the hurricane’s rainbands, far from the eye or center of the storm, they are most likely to develop in the right front quadrant of the hurricane. If you know where you are in relation to the hurricane’s eye and sections, you have a better chance of avoiding tornados.

Obviously, evacuating before the hurricane makes landfall is the best choice you can make but isn’t always possible. Many situations can prevent you from getting as far away as you’d like, if at all. Running out of gas or diesel might be one of them.

Fujita Scale (F-Scale)

Have you wondered what the term “F-Scale” means, as in a tornado rated F3? Well, it’s a rather unusual concept, since most of us expect ratings to be derived from direct measurements. The F-Scale ratings are wind speed estimates based upon three-second gusts at the point of damage, rather than wind speed measurements.

Originally developed by Dr. Theodore Fujita in 1971, NOAA placed the Enhanced F-Scale in use in 2007 as an update to the original F-Scale. Based on this scale tornados are rated as follows:

EF Rating = 3 Second Gust in MPH
0 = 65-85 mph
1 = 86-110 mph
2 = 111-135 mph
3 = 136-165 mph
4 = 166-200 mph
5 = Over 200 mph

Bug Out Bag:

A Bug Out Bag Could Save Your Life. We recommend putting all these things into a bug out bag, which should be kept in an easily accessible location near the door. This will ensure you’re well prepared and can get to safety quickly, no matter what kind of weather comes your way. Because if you need to leave your RV on a moment’s notice, you will want to have a bug out bag easily accessible and ready to go.

In addition to the items above, make sure your family is fully dressed with closed-toed shoes on. Grab your phone and any important documents in the rig and then get to shelter. If you can, grab helmets and/or pillows to cover your head and protect yourself from flying objects. 

Items to include in your bag:

Bottle Water
Medications

Hand Crank Portable Power
Portable battery bank
Irreplaceable papers ie: social security card, passport etc.
First-aid supplies
Dried food
Flash Light
Pet supplies, shot records
A sweatshirt, gloves, warm cap, and rain gear, for every member of your family

I also suggest having cash on hand. You might not want to put cash in your go-bag but having it in a ready to grab-and-go location in your RV will save you time.


Properly Maintaining Your RV

Properly maintaining your RV is the most important thing you can do to keep it running and help retain its value. It is recommended to follow the manufacturer’s owner’s manual to see exactly what you should do to keep your RV in top condition however, we’ve listed a few tips below. 

1. Change Oil and Oil Filters Regularly (Drive RV) 

Like cars, RVs need their oil and filters changed at regular intervals. This is necessary to keep your engine running properly.  Most manufacturers suggest an oil change every 3,000 to 4,500 miles, but you should check your owner’s manual for advice on your specific vehicle. 

2. Service Your RV Generator According to Schedule (Drive or Towable RVs) 

Servicing your RV generator is important as well. Again, check the manufacturer’s recommendations for how often the oil and filter should be changed. Remember to run your generator regularly when your RV is stored too. It would be a bummer to go use your generator and it does not work properly. 

3. Replace Air, Fuel, and Other Filters (Drive or Towable RVs) 

Replacing the air, fuel, coolant and hydraulic filters in your RV should also be done regularly. Damage could result from increased fuel usage or overheating issues with the cooling system and oxidization in the hydraulic system.   

In towable RVs many use a hydraulic system for their jacks & slides.  It never hurts to check the level of fluid or for any possible leaks. 

4. Regularly Inspect the Roof (Drive or Towable RVs) 

Inspect the roof seals and seams of your RV every six months. Water damage can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars to repair if it’s not taken care of immediately.  If repairs are necessary, follow the manufacturer’s instructions because it varies by material used. 

5. Have Your Brakes Checked by a Mechanic (Drive or Towable RVs) 

Keeping your brakes maintained is important for your safety and those of everyone else on the road as well.  

6. Take Care of Your RV’s Sewer System (Drive or Towable RVs) 

Keep your wastewater system in good condition by using biodegradable RV toilet paper and using proper tank treatments will make your travels more enjoyable.  It’s also extremely important to empty your RV’s holding tank to prevent unwanted backup. The right RV sewer connections can make this process much easier. It’s also important to empty your holding tank every so often. The more the liquid in the tank before draining is best. 

7. Have Rubber Roofs Treated Annually (Drive or Towable RVs) 

If you have a rubber roof, make sure to have the roof treated at least once per year. This prevents the sun from doing damage. Follow the manufacturer’s owner’s manual to see exactly what you should do.  You can also have your roof inspected 1-2 times a year by a professional as a precaution. 

8. Check Your Tire Pressure (Drive or Towable RVs) 

Check your tire pressure and lug nuts before every trip. Tighten lug nuts as necessary and add air to tires based on proper specifications.  TPMS systems are a great safeguard to add in your tow vehicle or RV to monitor your tires as you are traveling. 

While you are checking your tires, just take a quick glance at the suspension to make sure everything looks good as well. 

9. Check Your Batteries Regularly (Drive or Towable RVs) 

Check your batteries before your trip. Deep cycle batteries last 3-5 years and should be replaced after their life cycle is complete.  For a lithium battery, keep your batteries at room temperature. The worst thing that can happen to a lithium-ion battery is to have a full charge and be subjected to elevated temperatures.  Avoid completely discharging lithium-ion batteries.  If a lithium-ion battery is discharged below 2.5 volts per cell, a safety circuit built into the battery opens and the battery appears to be dead.  The original charger will be of no use. Only battery analyzers with the boost function have a chance of recharging the battery. 

10. Store Your Battery Properly (Drive or Towable RVs) 

Take your battery out during the winter months and store it somewhere warm. They have the possibility to freeze and break, voiding the warranty and rendering them unusable.  For extended storage of lithium batteries, discharge a lithium-ion battery to about 40 percent and store it in a cool place. 

11. Maintaining Your Camper Seals (Drive or Towable RVs)

Constant inspection of the seals is the key to keeping water out and your RV looking like new. We recommend that you caulk your camper twice a year; once after you de-winterize and once right when you are winterizing in the late fall. Or as needed when you are cleaning or doing your inspection.

For Rubber camper roofs, we use Dicor roof sealant. Dicor is the industry choice for sealing RV roofs because it is a self-leveling sealant.

For the remaining exterior of your camper, Geocel MHRV (Motorhome/RV) heavy duty sealant. Geocel has a high UV rating, which makes it an excellent choice for truck campers.

Seals around your RV slide outs need regular maintenance as well. We recommend using Thetford Premium RV Slide Out Rubber Seal Conditioner & Protectant. The Slide Out Rubber Seal Conditioner coats the surface in a water-repellent film, cleans, conditions, shines, and protects against UV rays, Cleans, conditions and shines. Prevents fading, cracking and deterioration.

With the proper maintenance and care, your RV exterior will keep looking good, and most importantly, it will keep you from running into expensive problems in the future.

Different maintenance activities have different maintenance intervals. Some components may require yearly maintenance, while others may need to be maintained every time you use them. Creating a maintenance schedule will help keep you on track, so you don’t accidentally forget to maintain a vital component.

How to find work while living the RV Life Pt.1

So many people these days are thinking of quitting their full-time jobs that require them to stay at home in one place. Instead, they want to hit the road full-time in an RV or campervan and live an adventurous lifestyle. We are doing a series of videos showing you what WE do to find work while living on the road.

Perhaps you’re considering a full-time RV or campervan life. But if you’re not independently wealthy, retired, or otherwise financially stable, you’re likely going to need a job. You may not know what types of employment options are available to you on the road. To help you come up with options for an income, we reviewed a few options online to determine what types of jobs people have while traveling full-time. In todays video we show you one of the options that we use to find jobs while living the rvlife.

Living in a RV during Winter – No Running Water – The Generator Died

As full-time RVers & gate guards in Texas, we work in remote locations and run off a diesel generator, use a portable freshwater tank and an external tank to dump our tanks into.  Well, the Polar Vortex hit the state of Texas hard.  Parts have seen snow & freezing rain that have not seen this type of weather for years.  Since this is not a normal occurrence in Texas, many people and companies have been caught off guard.  The rolling black outs, water in cities shut off trying to conserve so that everyone can have access to the items we just take for granted.  When I wake up in the morning I like to jump right into the shower. 

Well…with the Polar Vortex took that luxury (?) away from Ed and me.  Our water, we hope, is frozen at our portable freshwater tank and we have not split pipes inside our RV.  We initially did the “water circulation” method that had been recommended to us.  Ed found the water had stopped so when investigating he found a piece in our freshwater connection had broken causing the water not to circulate.  Well yes, the part was broken however after Ed did the repair, thinking we were good, the water froze in the hoses.  The “water circulation” method did not work.  Possibly it would have if the temps had not dropped so severely.  But then we decided to fill our fresh tank and run off our RV fresh tank until the temps warmed up.  Approximately every 30 minutes we would run our water to keep things moving inside the RV hoping not to freeze the pipes.  Well, when doing that, I think, well we hope, that our RV freshwater tank ran out.  Our gauge reads empty, so we are hoping and praying that it is true and that the cold temps have not turned our tank into a block of ice. 

Ed removed the plug from the freshwater tank, drained our hot water heater and opened all faucets to remove any excess water in the lines.  We are hoping once the outside temps get above freezing, we will find the external freshwater tank was the issue & our pipes and tanks are fine.

It is interesting and challenging BUT what has come out of this situation so far, Ed said; oh, heck now, I know we can boondock.  Gotta love him.  Now warm up so we can go boondock on a warm beach.

At our second day, during my shift, I woke Ed up early because our commercial generator, that is provided by the company we are working with, started surging.  Since we grew up in Iowa, we knew what the cold weather does to diesel if not a winter blend and/or anti-gel put into the fuel.  Yep yep our generator was gelling up and shut down.  We thought our company support man had put anti-gel in the fuel, but he had not.  Our support came from Fort Worth, which is approximately a 3-hour drive but considering the road conditions it took him a few more hours to arrive.  During that time Ed was able to get our personal generator running so we could run the furnace and portable heaters. Our support arrived with anti-gel and additional fuel filters.  Thankfully, it did not take our support and Ed long to get it running again.  Cross our fingers as I type this, the generator is running fine and we are warm. 

After I (Dora) got 4 hours of sleep, we got permission from the site supervisor to leave our gate unsupervised, go to town to refill our propane tanks and find a truck stop to shower.  The 2nd day of no shower sure makes a person feel yucky.  It was difficult to find propane as many companies were out.  Luckily, we found one place that had not run out yet.  As Ed states in the video, we believe they changed an outrageous amount, but he had us.  We needed propane.

Once our propane tanks were filled, we decided to go to Walmart to get more gallons of water.  Boy oh boy were we shocked when the shelves were empty.  They had flavored waters but who wants flavored water to use to flush with or in your coffee.  We left empty handed but felt ok because we can use a bucket to get water to fill gallon containers out of our external freshwater tank.

After leaving Walmart empty handed, we sat in the parking lot calling several hotels to see if we could rent a room OR if a pool area had a shower so we could get cleaned up.  That too was a bust.  The cheapest shower was going to be $120 because we had to rent a room.  Well, my budget, or anyone’s budget, should not allow a $120.00 shower.  We started calling campgrounds to see if we could pay them for 2 showers.  Our first call was met with a genuinely nice southern woman.  We explained our situation and she said, oh yes dear, the showers need renovated yet but your more than welcome to stop in and get your showers at no cost.  Yes, they were not the best condition, but the water was HOT.  Ed and I both felt like a million bucks.  A big shout out to Miss Ellie’s RV Park in Waskom, TX!

During our drive back to the job site we enjoy some beautiful scenery AND a few deer.  The ride back was wonderful.  I guess a good shower can give you a new lease of life.  #itsagoodliferv  Since this video is in real time.  I guess we will see how much longer before the crew gets back to work and we have running water.