I Beg Your Pardon, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden!

Along with the Sunshine, there’s gotta be a little rain sometimes.” Lynn Anderson sure nailed it in her 1970 hit Rose Garden. It was released the year I was born and a favorite song of my dear departed mother who was known to regularly break out in song. So though I can’t specifically recall her singing me those exact lyrics when I threw a childish rant, I am still quite sure she did, and that she is the reason they, and many other lyrics, pop into my head, and usually out of my mouth, when an appropriate situation arises.

RVing is not all rose gardens, unicorns, and rainbows. I wouldn’t want to be accused of glossing over the pitfalls and troubles that sometimes go with the lifestyle. I try to tell it like it is in my posts and include in my accounts the bad with the good as in “A Great Weekend and One Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.”

But honestly there are a LOT of minor inconveniences and annoyances that it would just seem petty for me to bring up on a regular basis. But it also seems almost dishonest to never bring them up at all. So here is my top 5 list of the worst things about fulltime RVing.

Sometimes RVing Stinks! There, I’ve said it. Living in close proximity to your sewer system is usually the culprit. But why are you smelling your gray or, god forbid, your black tank? It is not always the easiest question to answer.

Example #1 When we first got our Mesa, it smelled really awful every time we changed locations. We thought it had to do with the actual movement of the trailer. We finally realized that trailer was so much more airtight than our last, that when we opened the slides it was pulling air from our sewer traps. All we had to do was open a vent or I often just hold the front door open a crack while I extend the slides and now it pulls fresh air into trailer instead of sewer gases.

Example #2 Our Mesa has a mechanical sewer vent in the basement. For some reason the manufacturer didn’t run the vent for the shower all the way through the roof. This results in a less than pleasant smell from our gray tank that sometimes emanates from under our kitchen sink. We thought the mechanical vent had just malfunctioned as they sometimes do, but we replaced it and it didn’t help. So we finally taped a plastic grocery bag over it, leaving some room for it to still work, and remarkably, it’s no longer a problem.

Example #3 The water from the bathroom faucet of the Mesa really smelled terrible. It didn’t make sense that the same water coming from the shower or the kitchen smelled just fine. It was just that sink.

This went on for months and was really annoying. We avoided using that faucet at all. Jim tried everything he could think of, even taking the faucet completely apart and cleaning it.

Finally, while perusing an RV site one sleepless night, he read that the clothes washer supply lines, when not in use or properly shut off, can somehow cause this. I still don’t exactly understand the how or why of it. But since he drained those lines and then closed the valves to them it has been fine.

Unfortunately it is not only your own sewer system you have to contend with. When you are in a trailer park you will often find your neighbor’s sewer dump in your front yard. You have no control over how or when they dump their tanks. If they want to do it in the middle of the family reunion you organized at your picnic table that is their prerogative.

They don’t make them like they used to. Our newer 5th wheel, which we love living in, just wasn’t built as sturdy as our old Alpenlite. Like so many things these days, it just wasn’t made to last. There are more durable models still out there but they are way, way out of our price range. There are also many less well made models available.

That brings me to the reason this song came to mind this particular morning and prompted me to finally write this post. On the way from Florida to Missouri one of our rear jacks stopped working. Jim announced that we had sheared a shear pin.

The same thing happened to the other rear jack about this time last year. Jim took that one off, finally located a new shear pin, and rebuilt it. So he knew what was necessary and he wasn’t prepared to tackle that project in the panhandle of Florida.

In order to get us moving again he did have to climb under the slide and remove the jack, which was not a minor project in itself. We’ve been making due with 3 jacks since then and Jim has worked on the jack several times and every time he puts it back together it shears the new pin. He’s finally decided that the jack is slightly bent and we’ve got a new one on the way.

My point is this. Jim is very mechanically inclined. He chooses to do the work himself. He wants to know how everything works so if we are in the middle of nowhere he can handle any situation. And he likes to save money too.

If he had to call for help or take the trailer into the shop every time there was an issue then we would be out some serious dough, occasionally homeless, AND probably dissatisfied with this lifestyle in general.

Where am I?! It is not at all unusual for it to take me a full minute or so to remember what is outside the thin walls of my trailer when I wake up, be it the middle of the night or at dawn. OK, that doesn’t sound like such a horrible dilemma.

But often sleeping in strange places night after night can be a challenge and disorienting. More often than not we are in an RV park, packed in like sardines, where other residents arrive late into the night or leave ridiculously early. Our neighbors are often celebrating their weekend or trying to enjoy their vacation and quiet time does not seem to apply to them. We try to go with the flow in these instances and are grateful that at least we don’t have to get up and punch a clock the next day.

That leads me to my next issue, lack of privacy! As a weekender, this is not a big deal. You’ll go back to your minimum quarter acre, your six inch walls, and your privacy fences on Monday.

However, if this is your whole existence then it is what it is. So if you are trying to enjoy your tiny patch of grass and one of your many neighbors is blasting some godawful music, having a fight with his girlfriend, or even enjoying (hopefully) marital relations on the other side of that 2 inch wall, well there is not much you can do about that. Boondocking is usually a dream, however if you are on public land and someone chooses to park right beside you, you are also out of luck.

Where the H E double hockey sticks is IT? Can your favorite and least favorite thing be the same?! I have a love/hate relationship with the amount of storage in my RV.

We once owned a large home. We also had an office in town with an apartment upstairs in case we didn’t want to drive a whole 30 miles home. And, of course, we had a travel trailer as well.

I swear we once owned a half dozen refrigerators. The only thing I disliked more than taking more perishables home than we needed, was getting home and having to waste gas to make the 10 mile trip back to the nearest grocery store for whatever we couldn’t live without.

I was constantly looking for stuff: tools, clothes, kitchen gadgets, etc. etc! I hated buying things we didn’t need because I couldn’t locate them. Usually as soon as I broke down and replaced an item I had given up on ever seeing again, it would magically appear.

My favorite thing about full time RVing is that practically everything we own is within a 50 foot radius. If it is not inside the trailer, in the truck, or in the basement of the trailer, then it just does not exist in our universe.  You would think keeping track of things in this limited space would be simple. Not!!

There are 44 cabinet doors and drawers in this trailer plus a large underbed storage area. There are plenty of places for us to lose things. Then we have a large basement which is thankfully accessible from both sides of the trailer. More often than not, whatever we are looking for is right in the middle of it and requires us to unload almost everything before we can reach it.

When we first started I was determined to stay organized. I made notes and drew diagrams of where everything in the trailer was stored. I even redid it a couple times. But I finally gave up.

The good news is we have the time to look for things and reorganize our storage areas as often as necessary. And when looking for one thing we often run across something else we forgot we even had. Sometimes we are very happy to see whatever it is and sometimes we realize we must not need it very badly and it joins our donate pile.

That’s all I have to say about that. That was a lot of words but I got it into one post and now I can go back to focusing on the many positives of having a location independent lifestyle. For us, they far outweigh the minor inconveniences and occasional unpleasantness.


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