Sunday, March 19, 2017

We bought an RV

Only five months ago my family finished up a wonderful little road trip through Tennessee and Kentucky.  We'd had five wonderful days and four perfect nights.  We'd visited the Smoky Mountains, Cumberland Falls, and Mammoth Cave.  As we drove back to lower Alabama my husband and I started talking about how we wished we could stay on vacation forever. 

My husband was weeks away from transitioning out of the Army. We didn't have any civilian jobs lined up yet, so the conversation turned into a semi-serious discussion about how feasible it would be to turn this blog into a viable income source. We imagined travelling the country full-time to find all the amazing things it has to offer.  It was a tempting prospect, but neither of us was ready to take that leap - especially since we do have four kids, and they probably need some semblance of stability in their lives. We did end up making a silly little promise that if we didn't have any real career prospects by the end of the school year we would look into buying an RV and travelling the country during the summer. 

At the time I thought that my husband would have a job within a few months of leaving the Army.  So when he got out of the Army we moved in with my in-laws in Utah for what I assumed would be just a little while. I got a job at a local ski resort, and my husband stayed home with the kids while working on applying for jobs. Everything seemed temporary until the Federal Hiring Freeze happened.  That put most of my husband's career prospects are on hold for the time being.  

We didn't want to live with family indefinitely so we ended up deciding that my husband should go back to school for additional training.  We got all that lined up, and he'll be starting in the fall.  But there was still the question of what to do in the summer.  

I loved my position with the ski resort, but that would be ending in April. So I started to think about other places where I could do the same work.  Somehow I started thinking about Yellowstone National Park.  I remembered that Xanterra Resorts is in charge of a lot of the facilities there, and I wondered if they were hiring for the summer. I looked at their website and was surprised to see a position identical to what I did with the ski resort.  Before I'd even thought it through all the way I applied for the job.

Later I talked to my husband about living and working in Yellowstone for the summer.  I'd read on the website that I'd be able to bring my family and we all could live in an RV.  My husband thought it was a great idea.  We asked the kids and they loved it too.  Our little crazy idea of living in an RV for the summer seemed like it might actually work out - and we'd have a definite source of income too.

A few days later I was contacted by one of the employees, and had a phone interview.  I was completely qualified, but having a family would complicate things.  If I was single I could just live in the dormitories.  But with a family I would need one of the limited RV spots.  So my employment depended on an RV spot.  For a few weeks it seemed like there wouldn't be a spot for me, but about two weeks ago I was told that there was one.  I immediately accepted the job.  

That left only one little problem.  Okay maybe a big problem - we didn't have an RV yet.  

We had money that we'd been saving for buying a home, and we decided to use a portion of that to buy a cheap RV.  We checked out Craigslist and KSL Classifieds for motor homes, weeded out the scams, and started contacting owners for test drives.  

We learned a few things about RVs as well. We learned that we would have to get a motor home that ran under it's own power rather than a trailer that we would pull.  That's because there was no way our Honda Pilot could pull that much weight. We learned there are three types of motor homes, Class A's, Class B's, and Class C's.  A's are the ones that look like buses.  B's are vans that have been converted into little homes, and C's are the ones with the little "granny's attic" area over the drivers cab. We preferred the Class C's, but we also looked at several A's.  B's were out of the question because they were too small for a family of six.   

We test drove four RV's, and I really liked the fourth one we looked at. The only problems were that it was about $400 over our max budget and it was a Class A.  Still I was getting sick of looking.  But my husband wanted to keep looking and ended up finding a Class C that looked good - and was only $1,900.  On Monday my husband took our amazing brother-in-law along to look at the A and the C.  Our brother in law knows a lot about - well everything - so we trusted his opinion. 

In the end the Class C won out and so that's the one my husband brought home that night. The owner even took off $100 because my husband helped clean it out.  So we bought our first home for only $1,800! It needs a little TLC, but it's going to make a great home for the summer.  
I bet you want to see inside.  So I'll give you a little tour.  Keep in mind, these are very much the before pictures.
 Here's the back of the RV.  It has a little kitchen area, a table, and there is a bathroom in the very back.
The kitchen has a sink, a stove, and a fridge with a freezer. We even found a little microwave in the cupboard.
The only downside is that there really isn't a good area for prepping food, but I'm sure we'll figure something out.
 The table is fairly large and comfortably fits all four kids.
 The table drops down and fits nicely between the benches.
 With the cushions on top it makes a perfect bed.  This is where our son will sleep.
Here is a picture of the bathroom. I was excited to see that there's a tub rather than just a small shower.  There's also a sink in here, but it's impossible to get good shots in such a cramped space.

Okay now we can turn around and look at the front area. There is a couch, two chairs, and the bed over the drivers cab.
Everyone loves the loft bed. That's where my three daughters will sleep.  My husband and I will share the fold out couch. (Luckily, we love to snuggle.)
If we were just going to use this RV on the weekends we probably would be fine with the original layout.  But we are going to live in this thing for two and a half months.  We knew we needed more space.  We decided to take out the two chairs in the living room area.  So unbolting those was one of the first things we did.
There is so much more room there now.  We plan to put a dresser against the wall so we have more space to store our clothes.
On Saturday we spent most of the day working on the RV.  The kids helped me wash all the walls. 
 They also washed the windows.
The RV has lots of cupboards which will be nice for storing things. The finish on the cupboards is peeling.  At first I thought I'd paint the cupboards, but then I saw on Pinterest that you can put cork board onto the cupboards to make bulletin boards.  So that's what I'm going to do.
Other projects include making new curtains to replace all the broken blinds, and recovering the cushions with new fabric.  I thought about repainting all the walls a lighter color, but I realized that the kids are going to be mighty dirty this summer and so keeping the walls dark might be a better idea.

So that's our plan for this summer and our new home.  This summer is going to be full of adventure and I'm looking forward to telling you all about it.

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I would love to hear what you think. Did I get it right, or was I dead wrong? What was your experience like?

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