Ringing in 2014

ringing-in-2014On the morning of the 28th I’m on the road by noon, having said goodbye to the good folks of Little House Customs. The next few days are driving days with no stops other than overnights. I’m on a mission and nothing will derail me: ringing in 2014 on the shores of the Atlantic with friends in SC. That means I have 900 and some miles to go in three days, time to drive.

This trip has marked several first time state visits. Besides Texas, I cross into Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama for the first time. I don’t have one of those sticker maps of the USA where you fill in the states as you visit them, but even if I did I wouldn’t call my brief run through these three states as a “visit”. I stick to I20 and make no detours to see the sights, from the road I only see trees and marsh whizzing past, the towns I do stop in are just for a quick gas refill or to dry camp at the local Walmart, which is where I spend the next two nights. Nighttime temps are holding above freezing, my winter escape plan seems to be working.

Like with every repositioning trip I take with the RV, there are minor mishaps. I’m not sure that I shared them with my last couple trips (up to the Badlands, and from the Badlands down to Amazon), but I feel like stating the ones that happened this time for the sake of the new prospective RVers who finding IO and imagine that my life is like a fairytale. While I continue to find full-time RVing to be an amazing and very rewarding lifestyle, it is a fact that I have never driven Bertha and Cas for more than 700 miles without something breaking.

Think about that a moment. Every time I move more than a state with my RV, I can count on having to spend money and or time replacing or fixing something that breaks not because I’m a reckless driver or abnormally careless but just because of the normal stress put on a house on wheels by rattling it for several hours. Every time I take a trip and factor in the cost of gas of driving 1,000+ miles, I also need to throw some money in for the thing(s) that are inevitably going to be negatively impacted by moving my home.

Usually what I do is just intentionally over-estimate how much I’ll be spending on gas. For instance for this trip I budgeted $400 just on gas, prices for unleaded are pretty low right now and when I put this estimate on a previous post a reader pointed out that it wouldn’t be that high. “No it probably won’t be” I said, “But something else will happen to use that money.” For any repositioning trip, always estimate high on expenses, that way you’ll never be caught short.

I’d made it from Kansas to Texas without anything happening, which surprised me. Usually when something breaks, it happens pretty early on in a long trip. My second day out of Texas is when it happened this time. One of my small cabinet doors will not stay closed when in motion, on a previous trip the screws holding the hinges on the frame stripped out of the cabinet and the whole door fell off. A coworker at Amazon put it back on for me using a piece of wood behind the fiberglass to give the new screws something to dig into. The new screws held up great and didn’t budge: instead the hinge itself snapped, there must have been incredible pressure on it to break the metal like that. The bottom hinge is still holding for now, I’d unscrew it and take the door off to prevent further damage but I can’t get the screws out, they’re in there so well.

On the same day I forgot to secure a plate and it hit the front of the fridge and shattered, taking the bottom part of the plastic frame that holds the front fiberglass panel on the fridge in place along with it, or maybe that wasn’t from the plate hitting it but just another general stress thing over time from all the movement. Also another one of my wood valences is going, the screw or the hole in the frame it’s bolted to on the left side is stripped and I can no longer tighten it to stay in place. I’ll have to remove the whole thing soon or risk having it fall and break while driving, like what happened to the valence over the emergency window last year.

ringing-in-20142All of these things happened in one day of driving. Not a single one of them has an impact on my quality of life. The cabinet with the loose door is at ground level and has a big lip, nothing’s going to come spilling out of it and break. My fridge will still function fine with that fiberglass panel askew. I still have two more serviceable plates, and the valence serves only cosmetic purposes. But it’s still annoying, and it’s something every prospective RVer should keep in mind before jumping into this lifestyle, things like this are going to happen. It’s inevitable.

It’s really all a matter of perspective. The minor things that break can ruin the joy if you allow the annoyance to consume you, to ruin your day. Or you can shake your head, take a deep breath, and make the conscious decision to move forward. On the 30th I pull back into Stoney Crest Plantation Campground, where this adventure started in the spring of 2012. I meet up with old friends and as the clock strikes midnight on the last day of 2013 I’m on Coligney beach on Hilton Head Island with Julie, enjoying a frozen margarita from a small plastic camp cup and watching three separate fireworks displays up and down the coast. Hold on to the things that matter, the good things that made you smile, and learn to let what doesn’t serve you go.

* * *

Also, my sincerest and most grateful Thank You to everyone who helped IO last month through donation and using my Amazon links.  Paypal donations for the month of December totaled $98, a new record.  Amazon affiliate income ended at $565.51, also a new record.  Thank you all for thinking of me this holiday season, to those who contributed to IO through monetary means and also to everyone who responded to a blog post in 2013 or sent me an e-mail.  IO is a community founded on a love of life, travel, and friendship and it would not have been possible without every single one of you.  Here’s to an amazing 2014!

I’m still behind on posting, so another one will be going up tomorrow to catch up.  For now I’ll say I’m safe and sound down in Florida and my first night at Ordway-Swisher was extremely cold for this part of the country but otherwise well.  Tomorrow will be my first day working (volunteering) and I’m looking forward to it.

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At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and travel full-time before retirement, and share stories of my adventures (and misadventures) to inspire future nomads and armchair travelers alike. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.


  1. Bill on January 8, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    Hey Becky,
    Welcome to Florida. If you head into town G’ville on 26 Morningside nature center will be on your right. There are some nice trails there and a working farm (free). The art museum and Florida natural history museum are both worth getting to. Not too far away from the museums you might try to make it to the bat house on campus near the northwest corner of lake Alice for the bats (at sunset). Millhopper sink park northwest of town has trails and of course the sinkhole that is worth seeing. You might also like to canoe the Itchucknee Spring run kinda a must do in the area with about a dozen plus springs on the run to the Santa Fe River. The run is up near High Springs an interesting small town. The Downtown Arts Festival in a couple months is also worth hitting. Unfortunately most the things in town are on the west side. A couple day trips worth looking into are St. Augustine on the east coast, with an old Spanish fort and town area, the Manatee are currently in the spring run at Blue Springs State Park down near Deland. And finally Cedar Key out on the west coast, kinda like a little Key West in North Florida, it’s most interesting on a art or seafood festival weekend.


    • Becky on January 8, 2014 at 8:12 pm

      Thank you for the list Bill, some of these things coworkers at the new gig have told me about but not all of them. Looks like there will be plenty to keep me occupied.

  2. rafe waddell on January 8, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    are you planning on making any trips out to the west coast in the near future

    • Becky on January 8, 2014 at 8:10 pm

      Not in the near future Rafe. I will make it out to the west coast some year, but it’ll be a while yet.

  3. vern on January 8, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    for wood screws that strip out a quick fix is to take some toothpicks and fill the striped hole with the toothpicks, use enough so you have to tap them in with a small hammer, then break off flush with surface. Then go ahead and put the screw back in.

    To make the job even more secure dip the tooth in some Elmer’s wood glue before putting into hole, wait a hour or so then replace screw. Hope this helps you or anyone else. VERN full timing

    • Becky on January 8, 2014 at 8:09 pm

      Thanks Vern, putting a new piece of wood behind the screws did the trick very well in my case, but there must be something else going on if the pressure is bad enough to make the hinge itself snap.

  4. PamelaP on January 8, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    I don’t know if you know about this old carpenters trick for screws falling out but if you put some steel wool (or part of a Brillo pad) around the threads it will help hold the screw in – it’s at least a stop gap measure until you can get it fixed properly. I spent well over 25 years of my life in Florida and every 7-8 years you’ll get a “real” cold spell that is very UN-Florida-like. We used to tease that Winter usually came on a Thursday & was gone by Friday – but our weather in the US is doing all sorts of off the wall stuff this year! I’m just glad you got there safe & got to spend the holidays with friends.

    Enjoy your time in the Sunshine state!


    • Becky on January 8, 2014 at 8:08 pm

      Thanks Pamela! Hope things are warming up in Seattle for you, our warmer weather is coming tomorrow. When my neighbor fixed it he put a better piece of wood to screw the screws into and it worked well, very well. I’m thinking something must not be aligned right with the door to make the hinge itself snap. Take care!

  5. Cindie Brandt on January 8, 2014 at 9:58 am

    Welcome to Florida! I’m 3 hours south of you, it will warm up in the next 24 hours and you will love it! Sorry to hear about your “dings”…you will no doubt have them fixed on no time.

    • Becky on January 8, 2014 at 8:05 pm

      Thanks for the welcome. I’m looking forward to warmer weather tomorrow.

  6. Furry Gnome on January 8, 2014 at 9:44 am

    Glad you got there safely. Hope your winter warms up! It’s -24C here this morning!

    • Becky on January 8, 2014 at 8:05 pm

      Brrr Furry!

  7. Gerri Jones on January 8, 2014 at 9:39 am

    Our temps have been extremely off the charts for the past few days. Hopefully all that will change very soon and we’ll get back to normal.

    Yes, full-timing isn’t a fairy tale…its real life!! Things do happen. I especially enjoyed your comment ” Hold on to the things that matter, the good things that made you smile, and learn to let what doesn’t serve you go.” We are former full-timers so we get it!!

    Hope you enjoy your new gig…looking forward to hearing more about it. We volunteered at Hagerman Wildlife Refuge, and hosted at state campgrounds. Lots of fun meeting the people and learning new things.

    Stay warm!!

    • Becky on January 8, 2014 at 8:04 pm

      Temps are suppose to improve considerably tomorrow, possibly 80 by the weekend. I’m happy you liked that last bit, it just rings so true to me.

      And yes, there will be more about OSBS coming up soon! You stay warm too.

  8. Bruce on January 8, 2014 at 5:56 am

    I’m not familiar with the Casita suspion but if they don’t come with shocks you may want to see if the shop in Texas you work with could adapt them. I think it make a difference. Glad you arrived in Florida save and sound.

    • Reine on January 8, 2014 at 11:04 am

      Casita suspension doesn’t have shocks but considering the age of the trailer, a better option than shocks would be to save the $$$ for a new axle – which provides all new suspension and brakes as part of the new axle. We replaced the axle on our 2000 Casita last summer “just because” we didn’t want to deal with surprises down the road.

      • Becky on January 8, 2014 at 8:02 pm

        Hey Bruce and Reine, As I just told Plein above it’s probably a combo of age and the fact that my hitch isn’t adjusted right. Eventually I want to do some boondocking out west and I think I’m going to want a new high lift axle for that, but it’s still in the future. Thanks for chiming in.

  9. Pleinguy on January 7, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    Sorry to hear you’ve had so many problems with your rig. Sure, things do need attention; but, it shouldn’t be every trip. Perhaps it’s the age of your unit. At least you’re handling it well. The real cold temps in FL usually only last a few days. I used to say our winters were two weeks long. Hope you enjoy your gig there.
    Pleinguy recently posted..RiversideMy Profile

    • Becky on January 8, 2014 at 8:00 pm

      I’m guessing it’s a combo of age and my hitch not being adjusted right (see comment above) but since it’s all been little things I’m not too bothered by it.

      You lived in Jacksonville for quite a while Plein right? I’m not terribly far from there, if you have suggestions of things to see in the area I’d be happy to hear them.

  10. George on January 7, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    Hi Becky
    I have followed your site for some time now since I’m also interested in full timing.
    Every time you have issues with things in your RV falling apart I’m thinking there is some thing wrong with your hitch. Some thing is to harsh either your sway bars or hitch set up.Over the years I have had a few trailers and never had anything shake loss.I presently have an air stream and during the purchase and picking up the trailer I had a Equalizer hitch from the trailer I had traded in.
    I was told from the dealer to use a different hitch because the bars where to rigid for the trailer.
    I had this dealer re hitch it up using a conventional hitch ( chains) with friction sway controls and can’t believe the smooth ride of trailer and truck with little or no sway.
    Any ways things should not shake lose and cause you grief, and I believe from the research I have done you have a quality trailer.
    Have fun in Florida
    Wife and I are headed back there in March.

    • Becky on January 8, 2014 at 7:59 pm

      You’re very perceptive George. My hitch is rated correctly for my truck/RV combo and does work very well when aligned properly (I’ve seen other Casita owners with it) but the (not so) good folks at Camping World adjusted it wrong when they installed it so it rides stiffer (more sway control/more weight distribution that I need) and probably makes for a bumpier ride. This is also why my friction pads wear out so quickly, I’ve been aware of the problem for some time and Larry at Little House told me the same thing. It needs adjusting but will take some time and money to do, next time I stop by LHC it’s going on my list of things to fix.

  11. Donald N Wright on January 7, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    What kind of gas mileage do you get towing the Casita?

    • Becky on January 8, 2014 at 7:55 pm

      Flat land, no headwind, highway/interstate driving (I don’t go much faster than 60 mph) 15 mpg.

  12. Lee on January 7, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    Yep it was -11°F this morning at my house!! I was in Navy Bootcamp, Jan. and Feb. at Orlando, many years ago. I had a few cold mornings, but it warmed up during the day. Beside some chilly mornings and a few cold shots, Winter in Florida is great. Enjoy!!!

    • Becky on January 8, 2014 at 7:53 pm

      Thanks Lee. I’m looking forward to the temps later this week, it sounds like there are a lot of neat things to do around here too.

  13. LenSatic on January 7, 2014 at 5:39 pm


    I’ve had all of the above problems. In fact, on our last trip, a couple of months ago, the hinge on the forward dinette cabinet broke as you described. Even the screw that hold the separation panel broke once and the panel vibrated out!

    For most of the cabinet hinges, I replaced the wood that the screw into with a harder wood and replaced the screws with drywall screws. Fortunately, we had extra cabinet hardware since we removed the large cabinet door (over the fridge) where we placed a micro/convect oven.

    For the refrigerator door panel, I popped off the upper trim strip and secured it with a couple of flat head sheet metal screws that are now covered by the trim strip. When ours dropped, it broke the lower trim strip so I had to order a replacement from Dometic.

    Since we only boondock, and the roads in and out really suck, I’ve learned to order extra spare parts because I know that we will eventually need them. Oddly, we’ve only popped one rivet , and it was part of the awning hardware.

    Enjoy the warmer temps!


    • Becky on January 8, 2014 at 7:51 pm

      I haven’t popped a single rivet yet which I think is amazing considering everything else that’s been shook up, did have one rivet loosen and start leaking.

      Thanks for the fridge tips, my bottom trim is broke like you described and I’m not sure it’s worth replacing to me. The top is intact but loose, which is perhaps what allowed the panel to fall. It hasn’t moved anymore since the original displacement though so I’m just leaving it for now since it’s just cosmetic.

  14. Eric on January 7, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    I love it when things break because it shows me the weakest link, so as the years go by my trailer gets tougher and stronger.

    • Becky on January 8, 2014 at 7:48 pm

      That’s a good way to look at it Eric. 🙂

  15. Marvin on January 7, 2014 at 3:37 pm


    Becky ,

    You picked a heck of a night to start your first Florida winter – I do not remember it ever being this cold .
    When something breaks , think positive – the repair will often be better than new .
    Hope your time near Gainesville is a neat experience .
    Be Safe


    • Becky on January 7, 2014 at 4:20 pm

      I’m having a hard time believing I’m in Florida right now. Did I take a wrong turn at Albuquerque or something? By Thursday the high is suppose to be 80, hard to imagine.

      I’m looking forward to exploring the area, once it warms up a bit. 😉