The Less Glamorous Side of RVing

My office view: a pair of gold finches at the feeders in my parent's backyard.

My office view: a pair of gold finches at the feeders in my parent’s backyard.

In one week I’ll be leaving Wisconsin and heading out to Yellowstone! Some tasks are hard to do or frowned upon while in an RV park, so instead of doing a lot of sight-seeing or day trips during my time parked in my parent’s driveway, I’ve been pretty busy making good use of this time for more practical things.

It may not make for the most exciting blog post, but not every stop can be brimming with adventure when you’re a full-timer. Chores still need to get done, the bonus is you get more freedom to decide where and when to do them.

So I’ve been spending quiet days at my parent’s house during the week formatting the e-guide for Kindle and getting all of my videos uploaded onto YouTube while watching the birds and squirrels (and occasional black bear) come up to the feeders in their backyard. It’s certainly not a bad view. I’m no longer accustomed to high-speed residential WiFi, I use to take it for granted when I was an apartment dweller but it feels like the pinnacle of luxury now!

At a gas station just outside Madison

At a gas station just outside Madison

New hinges!

New hinges!

Speaking of internet, I also spent an afternoon last week researching my internet options for Yellowstone. For the first time ever, I will not have free campground WiFi at my disposal, so I’ll likely be investing in cellular internet (thanks Mobile Internet Handbook!) . The finally decision won’t be made until I get out there though, apparently Verizon’s 4G signal near Old Faithful is pretty strong, but I want to see for myself.

I’ve also slowly been working on small projects on Cas.

Two of the lower cabinet door hinges have been broken for some time now, nothing’s in danger of falling out, but it doesn’t look nice. One was my fault for not closing the door before shoving something under the bed for storage, the other has been a reoccurring problem since I bought the Casita. I think that door just doesn’t line up right, so it’s prone to coming open when I’m traveling, and the stress of travel on the open door breaks the hinges after a while.

My A/C unit is an older style. It’s in the front of the trailer instead of on top like the newer ones, and there is a canvas cover that goes over it to keep stuff from the road from getting into the grate while traveling. One of the metal bits at the corner that holds this cover on broke on the trip from Texas up here. It took a long time to find a replacement (places like Camping World don’t carry it, because it’s not used in most RVs), but some tiny mom and pop RV place had one buried in the back room, and I was happy to relieve them of it for $4.95. I’ll get that screwed into place later today.

Jerry's Camping Center, where I finally found the bit to fix my A/C cover.  They had a bunch of teardrops out front!

Jerry’s Camping Center, where I finally found the bit to fix my A/C cover. They had a bunch of teardrops out front!

Visiting a friend's family stable in Belleville, WI

Visiting a friend’s family stable in Belleville, WI

One thing Camping World has been able to help me with (hopefully) is a replacement piece for my Dometic fridge. The bottom trim piece that holds up the decorative fiberglass panel cracked and had been slowly getting worse for some time. Eventually I had to pull the fiberglass panel off, because it kept sliding down when I opened the door. Again, it doesn’t impact how well the fridge works, but it just doesn’t look nice. Dometic no longer makes that piece in the beige color that matches the fridge, so I ordered it in black and am crossing my fingers that it still fits correctly. It should be coming in soon.

Weekends have been spent in Madison visiting friends from college.

This past weekend, I went out to Governor Dodge State Park west of Madison to participate in a Lord of the Rings live action strategy game. This was my first time playing in four and a half years. My costume was nothing special, I use to put quite a bit of effort into outfits for Ring Game but this time I just wanted to enjoy the experience and catch up with old friends.

Ring Game picture, courtesy of Jack Barker

Ring Game picture, courtesy of Jack Barker

The weekend before, Julie and I went to the Madison Farmer’s Market, a pretty spectacular event that happens Saturdays around the capital square from spring to fall. On average, over 150 local farmers and vendors have booths up around the square, and if the weather is nice the turnout is big. I enjoy window shopping and didn’t buy much, I did get a spicy venison stick for a snack and it tasted amazing.

And that covers recent events. It may not be a very glamorous month, but it’s been an important month!

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Madison's capitol square on market day

Madison’s capitol square on market day

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Becky

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.

28 Comments

  1. Mark Watson on July 7, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    My fridge door panel also pushed the bottom trim piece off, then fell down when I opened the door. Instead of the screw method mentioned above. I used double sided stick tape,( thick kind, not the cellophane thin kind) across the bottom of the fridge door, just above the two dowel pins. Then reinstalled the decorative door panel making sure it was seated on the two dowel pins located at the bottom of the door AND was in full contact with the tape. This ensures the two pins, not the bottom trim piece support the door. The tape ensures the panel doesn’t move away from the door and slip off the dowel pins, thus pushing the bottom trim piece loose. Sorry for late reply, been on the road. You probably already have this fixed.



    • Becky on July 7, 2015 at 9:45 pm

      Better late than never Mark. My trim piece disintegrated when it broke and Dometic no longer makes a replacement that fits so I just left the fiberglass panel at my parent’s house and the front of the fridge is bare. I’m contemplating covering it with postcards of my travels. πŸ™‚



  2. LenSatic on May 13, 2015 at 6:00 pm

    We had the same problem with the hinges and fridge door.

    The doors are too heavy for the length. I screwed in a small piece of wood that is just above the bottom edge of the opening when the door is closed. It keeps it the door from bouncing too much. The closer you can get the wood to the edge the better.

    As to the Dometic door, pop off the top trim piece and put a couple of short metal screws through the drop out panel. Make sure to place them where they will be hidden by the trip piece. No more problems!

    Enjoy!

    Pat



    • Becky on May 13, 2015 at 9:20 pm

      Thanks for the tips Pat! I wish RV manufacturers would realize this stuff ahead of time and take appropriate measures.



  3. PamelaP on April 29, 2015 at 11:30 am

    BTW – we will be in Madison for the FMCA 92nd Reunion in late summer – can you recommend what I should not leave Madison without seeing? Some good restaurants? It’s always best to get this information from a local!

    Thanks,
    PamelaP



    • Becky on April 29, 2015 at 7:03 pm

      Lets see. State Street, the Arboretum, and you can tour the capitol building too.

      I’m not as up on restaurants, I usually stick to chains so you’ll have to get that from someone else. πŸ˜‰



  4. PamelaP on April 29, 2015 at 11:24 am

    Hey Becky,

    I’ve been to Yellowstone now multiple times for recruiting. I have Verizon and you DO get coverage in the Park in many spots. I used my phone as a hot spot to get on the internet while I was there. Other carriers……forget it! My team had everything from AT & T to T-Mobile and none had anything other than very spotty connections & they had to drive to an open spot to get them.

    I know you will SO enjoy your time there – just watch out for the hail storms. They come up incredibly fast & the size of the hail is damaging (park under a tree!). But it doesn’t happen often thankfully!

    Safe travels,
    Pamela



    • Becky on April 29, 2015 at 6:59 pm

      I’ll keep that in mind Pamela. πŸ™‚

      As for the hail, it sounds like South Dakota. Got hailed on seven times the summer I worked out there, and there were no trees to park under! It looks like there is at least partial tree coverage where I’ll be, but I can’t say for sure until I get there.



  5. Brian on April 29, 2015 at 9:58 am

    We use a Straight Talk Hotspot.. Depends on your usage but 5gb is $50 at Walmart good for 60 days



    • Becky on April 29, 2015 at 11:03 am

      Thanks for sharing Brian.



  6. Jim@HiTek on April 29, 2015 at 9:32 am

    Can’t wait for your posts from Yellowstone. They named it that because of the gold nuggets just lying around on the ground. True story. Please pick me up a couple while you’re there!

    Have fun, and careful which pools you stick your toes in.
    Jim@HiTek recently posted..1st-3rd Days in Dublin…and on to LA…My Profile



    • Becky on April 29, 2015 at 11:03 am

      Haha, I imagine any true gold would be long gone by now Jim, I remember the Black Hills in SD had a lot of fool’s gold lying around though, if I see any I’ll get a picture for you. πŸ˜‰

      I’m really looking forward to Yellowstone and hiking the little back trails that tourists don’t have time for – that’s one of the great things about work-camping at a place for extended periods of time, you find all the secret treasures. πŸ™‚ I’ll be reporting on them soon!



  7. Jodee Gravel on April 29, 2015 at 8:41 am

    People really do want to know about the “behind-the-scenes” of the RV-life. I think it’s human nature to expect the worst if they’re not hearing about it. Taking care of fixes while at your home town makes so much sense, and it sounds like you’re getting them all done. Sweet tear drop trailers! The Ring games sound like a great time – you look quite menacing πŸ™‚
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..Dearly Departed Desert DogsMy Profile



    • Becky on April 29, 2015 at 11:00 am

      I’ve had a good month, not a super exciting month, but a good one. πŸ™‚



  8. J. Dawg on April 29, 2015 at 8:39 am

    I have Verizon and, when I can’t get free wifi or want to use a secure connection, will just turn on the mobile hotspot on my phone. It works just like a mifi or wireless router and my laptop connects fine with it. If you’ve already got a smartphone and its temporary situation, why pay for another device. While I was traveling in March and had limited wifi, my wife and I went to a 10GB plan of shared data (we had 4GB before). It worked fine for email, web surfing, updating my blog, and uploading pictures. Video really chews up the GB. I also have a Wilson Sleek 4G booster with the larger 12in antenna. It has really helped in those places with very weak signals. The top of your truck will make a great ground plane for the antenna. Hope you enjoy Yellowstone. I spent a week out there in 2012 and still left a lot unseen.
    J. Dawg



    • Becky on April 29, 2015 at 10:57 am

      I have thought about it J. Dawg and haven’t ruled it out entirely. The positives are less money on a new device, but there are a couple negatives as well.

      The two biggies are my smartphone is older and only 3G so it wouldn’t be as fast as getting a new device, and I wouldn’t be able to make phone calls while using the hotspot feature (I have an iPhone).

      I’d also like to keep the Hotspot (or whatever the solution ends up being) on a pay-as-you-go plan instead of incorporating it into my regular phone bill, because most of the time campground WiFi is enough for me and I like the idea of being able to turn off the service when I don’t need it.

      That being said, I think because the 2 year agreement I made when I bought my phone is over, I probably could switch the GB I have on Verizon’s Share Everything plan on a month to month basis depending on if I needed to hotspot or not, but the idea of having to manually change it makes me wary – so much easier to just buy data as it’s needed.

      We’ll see! I’m glad you enjoyed your time in Big Bend and that the rest of your trip went well. πŸ™‚



      • J. Dawg on April 29, 2015 at 4:48 pm

        I’m sure you’ll find the right solution for you. We really enjoyed our time in west Texas. It’s become one of my favorite places. Returned home about 3 weeks ago and now I’m getting ready to head out to Colorado to spend about 6 weeks exploring things I didn’t get a chance to see last year. Stay tuned.
        One thing about Yellowstone that struck me was the abundance of water. Rivers, lakes, streams everywhere you go and in some places its bubbling up all around you. Wish I had spent more time in the Lamar Valley. I follow your blog and will be looking forward to what you see and experience.
        J. Dawg



        • Becky on April 29, 2015 at 6:56 pm

          Colorado, that’ll be fun. πŸ™‚ I’ll have a good summer, and hope you do too!



  9. Ann on April 29, 2015 at 7:37 am

    This was a great post. For someone (like me) who is in the preliminary planning stages for a transition to this lifestyle, reading about ALL the ins and outs of full-time life is very interesting. Although I can’t wait to hear about Yellowstone. πŸ™‚ You are a natural writer Becky. Thanks for sharing and I love the photos.



    • Becky on April 29, 2015 at 10:41 am

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this Ann, I try my best to give a realistic view of what full-timing is, the good and bad, the ordinary and the extraordinary.

      I’m quite looking forward to reporting on Yellowstone! Those will be more exciting posts. πŸ˜‰



  10. Greg Gerber on April 29, 2015 at 12:13 am

    I grew up in Madison and am leaving Arizona Saturday to head back there for a few weeks. Keep up the good work. Eventually, I’ll be in Yellowstone by July. Enjoy the trip!

    GREG GERBER
    Editor, Let’s RV



    • Becky on April 29, 2015 at 10:36 am

      Fun Greg! You have a good trip too. The weather’s been really nice this week, sunny with highs in the upper 60’s. Hard to believe we had snow a week ago, I guess that’s spring for you.

      If you stop in to the Old Faithful visitor’s center in July, there’s a chance I’ll be there. πŸ™‚



  11. Jerry Minchey on April 28, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    One thing about RVs, there seems to be a never ending list of things that you can fix or modify if want to. On the other hand, there are usually very few things that absolutely have to be fixed–at least, not right now. But it is a good feeling when you get a project finished that you have been putting off for a while.

    Now after 2+ years on the road, has your family and friends accepted the fact the you made a great decision (at least, for you), about living full-time in a RV? Were any of your college friends envious of your lifestyle?

    Next question, with all of your free time, have you thought about writing your next book? Do you have a title or at least, a topic?

    Enjoy your trip out to Yellowstone,

    Jerry



    • Becky on April 28, 2015 at 8:48 pm

      Most of my college friends think what I’m doing is pretty darn cool, none of them feel driven to try it for themselves though.

      My aunts love following my blog, they think it’s a hoot. My parents are accepting, but would rather I lived stationary.

      All of my free time, haha, that’s a good one! Since my internet will be limited at Yellowstone I am planning on doing more writing when I get out there. I’ve got a couple ideas.

      Thanks Jerry, I’ll have a good trip. πŸ™‚



  12. Frank on April 28, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    Yellowstone should be fun…
    That’ll be a great place to explore aside from the crowds that is..

    WiFi, just a note, I use the Verizon Jet Pack, 5-gig/$50mo but I would look into the ATT or whatever the other one is as they are advertising low rates and no limits. Obviously, it has to work out there right, but I suspect it does, check their website.
    I had Sprint a few years ago, didn’t work in the outer limits and went with Verizon. Jet pac is handy as i can carry it around with me and be walking “Hot Spot” whoopeee heheh

    Anyway, looking forward to the Yellowstone adventure, fun.. I went there in the winter time and it was really nice..

    https://plus.google.com/photos/108683042376142967861/albums/5845281446727777729

    No peeps.. heheh nor bugs..



    • Becky on April 28, 2015 at 8:43 pm

      I’m going to be asking around when I get out there to see who uses what carrier and what they’re getting for a signal.

      Nice pictures! I’m hoping it’ll be a little less snowy when I get there though. πŸ˜‰



    • Alaskan Gypsy on May 2, 2015 at 10:10 am

      I enjoy your blog Becky
      As for traveling and internet I have an ipad with an option to use it as my ISP for the laptop. It’s through AT&T. I have yet been anywhere that it did not get a signal and a lot of times I will use it rather than available wifi because it’s faster. I have 10gb but my monthly bill includes the phone w/ internet, the ipad w/ internet/ and the ISP option so don’t know how much it is individually. I’m currently at home in Alaska but leaving in two weeks for Montana where my RV awaits. Then the road and another adventure or two.



      • Becky on May 3, 2015 at 9:30 am

        Sounds fun Alaskan! Thanks for weighing in.



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