The Beast – A Love/Hate Relationship

Our first ever motor home was a 1978 Georgie Boy. Need I really say much more. It had the classic 70’s red carpet throughout, with the striped upholstery to match.

thebeast thebeast Yes, it was ugly. The first thing we did was rip all that red carpet out. Whoever installed it really enjoyed using their staple gun. I’ve never seen so many freaking staples! We pulled staple after staple for hours. But finally, the floor was clean and we laid down a wood laminate.

thebeast

thebeast

This was a huge improvement. We had plans to replace the upholstery also, but it never got that far.

We scrubbed her down inside and out. We turned the rear seating area into our bedroom by adding our mattress and hanging a new divider curtain. A shopping trip to Walmart got us new dishtowels and linens. We were ready.

Pleased with all our hard work, and excited to give this beast a try in a campground, we scheduled a weekend with my parents at Jamestown, just an hour from our house.

On the highway, at 70 mph, she ran like a champ. Jim says you can’t beat a Ford motor.

After working late Friday, we didn’t pull onto our site until 11 pm, so we decided to wait until morning to fill up with water. At the water station the next morning, Jim shut her down while we filled the tank. When we were ready to return to our site, he turned the key and nothing. Nothing. Not a click, not a sputter. Nothing. What. The. Hell. I call my dad and he comes to our rescue. He crawls under the motor home and starts touching different things with a screwdriver while Jim tries turning it over. Finally, she fires up. It’s an electrical problem.

Jim spent the entire weekend buried in the dog box rewiring the starting system. We had no idea if she was going to start again so we could drive her home. We discussed and worried over the cost of a tow for 40 miles for something that big. And Jim was cranked because my parents only eat bagels or sweet rolls for breakfast on Saturday morning. He has to have meat. Bacon, sausage, whatever. (Seriously, he’s unbearable.)

Regardless, on Sunday morning, after a hearty breakfast of grilled sausage and keilbasa, Jim, in a much better mood now, got her fired up. Thank goodness. She drove home with no problem and we were so relieved he had fixed the issue. I’m so very glad I married a mechanic.

Our next trip, over the fourth of July, was just as much fun as the first. We met Jim’s parents at Bayshore campground in Andover, OH. This time we didn’t even get out of town before we broke down. Now, mind you, she was running great when we pulled out of the driveway. Heading up the hill out of town, however, she sputtered and stalled. What. Now.

So, we’re near the top of a very steep hill. It’s 4 lanes, and it’s rush hour. We’re in the left lane, and we can’t move. Knowing this was a fuel issue, all Jim wanted to do was get to level ground. There was a side road behind us to our right. Now that the police were present, Jim asked them to block the road for a moment and allow us to coast backwards onto this street. Oh no, that was too dangerous. So, our only option was to call for a tow truck. It cost $150 for the tow truck to pull us 50 yards to the top of the hill. Once there, she started up just fine and Jim pulled off onto a side street and changed the fuel filter in just a few moments. We were on our way again and had a great weekend with his parents.

Our third and absolute final trip in “The Beast” was to Tionesta State Park. This was our longest trip, and we had the whole family there. My parents, Jim’s parents, and Jim’s daughter and her husband, all agreed to meet at the park around 4 pm. We left home around noon that Friday. It’s roughly 20 miles to I80 and we had no issues. Just as we started to breathe easy, the beast began to overheat. Pulling over on the side of the interstate, Jim eliminated the heater core from the cooling system. This seemed to solve the issue and we were on our way again. Ten miles down the road, she overheated again. Jim took the next exit, found an auto parts store, removed the thermostat, and installed a new gasket to allow better water flow. After this, she was running great and we made it to Tionesta by 6 pm. It’s normally a two hour trip.

We had a great weekend. Sunday afternoon, on the way home, we start struggling with the hills. She’s running, but there’s no power on the upswing. We’ve got a line of angry motorists behind us, so we pull over every so often and let everyone pass. Once we get into Oil City, we stop and Jim replaces the second fuel filter (yes it has two.). Now we’re cruising. Jim’s smiling and says “Honey this is the best she’s ever run! I think we finally got it!”

Then my mother, who chose to ride home with us (this is a whole story on it’s own.), exclaims “What’s all that green foamy stuff coming out from under the dash!” You’ve got to be kidding me right? So, there we are on the side of I80 once again. This time it’s the radiator and there’s no quick fix for that. Luckily Jim’s son-in-law and his family own Watson’s Towing and they cut us a huge break towing it back to their yard. At this point I didn’t ever want to see “The Beast” again. So we sold it to Watson’s for $150. It is now used for practice by towing companies from around their area. They knock it over on it’s side and learn how to strap it up and pull it upright kind of thing. So she’s been put to good use. The best use rather than a junkyard, because I sure wouldn’t have sold her to anybody.

This sounds like it would have been a nightmare of a summer, but we had the best time. Yes, it was beyond frustrating but we handled it with as much humor as we could muster. We laugh about it now, and part of us really misses “The Beast”. Despite breaking down every. single. time. we drove her, she made a lot of great family moments possible. Listening to your 5 year old grandson fart and giggle before falling asleep is priceless. That was also the summer we learned that we absolutely loved this way of life. So here’s to “The Beast” for being a life changer. May she rest in peace.

Since then, we have definitely upgraded. We moved up a few years to a 1995 class c. I know I’ve posted a pic or two, but I will share some of the inside also. Clementine is classic 90’s rose and blue. I’m over that too, but I like it way better than red. The great thing about her is that everything works and she is very cozy. No matter where we are in the country, she’s home to us.

clementine

clementine

clementine clementine4

clementine

 

We’ve made a few changes since we got her. I updated the wall lamps in the living room. The love seat is no longer there. It’s been replaced by two space saving recliners. And, that tiny little t.v. in the front is now a 42″ smart t.v. with storage in the hole behind it. Jim also added a surround sound system so movies sound great when we have the time to watch one. We replaced the kitchen sink faucet with a fancier model and Jim added a sprayer for me.

We’ve had a couple small problems but nothing like we experienced with “The Beast”. One thing I’ve learned since we began travelling is never, never waste your money on a brand new motor home. I’ve met so many people with brand new motor homes dealing with so many issues. I’ve seen them have to return for repairs over and over again. It’s best to buy a used motor home a few years old. By then, the first owner has all the kinks worked out. It’s sad that the quality of work nowadays is so poor. Just a bit of advice if you’re thinking of purchasing a motor home. Save yourself the headache.

Wishing you a magic filled day,

BethAnne

 

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I Have a Dream

Ihaveadream

There’s something about camping. I don’t know if it’s the smell of wood smoke in the fall, s’mores over the fire, or looking at a starry night sky. Maybe it’s that first cup of coffee on a misty morning, reading a good book in the sunshine on a lazy afternoon, or taking a walk after dinner for no reason. I do know it’s a way of life that I absolutely love.

Two years ago, Jim and I made the decision to adopt the RV lifestyle full time. It’s the best decision we’ve ever made. Our days are relaxing and stress free. Every day is open to create whatever we please. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, and if you’re thinking about it, I would highly recommend it.

Rosie has already adjusted nicely to our new lifestyle.
Rosie has already adjusted nicely to our new lifestyle.

It took us roughly a year from the time we made the decision to the time we actually pulled out on the road. We spent several months deciding what type of RV we wanted. There are so many to choose from, and we knew we needed something that would be super comfortable for us. I, of course, needed a fully functioning kitchen. Jim needed plenty of storage for tools and man stuff. We needed to be fully self-contained and able to dry dock for up to a week at a time. We looked at so many different ones, but finally the perfect RV showed up.

The most difficult part of all of this, was selling our belongings. We let go of everything. We reduced our belongings down to enough clothing for one week, items we needed for the kitchen, tools, towels and linens etc. We kept our computers, printer, camera, and dvd player. We reduced our keepsakes and memories down to one tote each. This was the most difficult part. We kept the things that were most important to us, momentos, pictures, journals, cards from the kids and such. What we had to remember was that they are just things. The question we would ask is “Are we going to let this item stop us from the adventure of a lifetime?” That would always put things into perspective. I can’t say some tears weren’t shed in the process.

There’s nothing wrong with loving and enjoying your stuff. If you’re happy with where you are in life, that’s ok. But, if your stuff is preventing you from achieving what you want, it’s time to let it go. In talking with others, I’ve heard comments such as “I’d love to do what you’re doing, but. . .(Insert reason here.)” The house will be paid off in a few years, we just redid our floors, we just bought a new car, I can’t leave my job, I’ve worked so hard for everything I own. It’s just stuff. And in the next breath they proceed to talk about how exhausted they are, they can’t wait to retire, life is so stressful. All I can say is, change it. It’s your life. How do you want it to be? The minutes of your day are yours to spend. How are you going to spend them? Who are you going to give them to? Just something to think about.

Jim's beloved Ford.
Jim’s beloved Ford.

We spent three months selling off our belongings. We held a “house” sale rather than a yard sale. I put price tags on everything and let people walk through and pick what they wanted. We let go of a 73″ flat screen television, a race car and trailer, my coffee and end tables that I absolutely loved, a ford pickup, all of my favorite dishes and serving ware, a really great Steelers collection, all of my favorite wall art etc. We also filled a thirty yard dumpster. There were times we felt like we would never see the end. It wasn’t easy, but we’re not sorry. It’s the best thing we ever did.

It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you set your focus on it. We had some pretty surprising things happen that just proved to me the universe was conspiring to make our dream a reality. We have a decorated box with a lid that we were stuffing our money from the sales in. I call it my magic money box. Now Jim, being OCD, would straighten, align, count, and paperclip by denomination this money every night. One morning we found six 20 dollar bills laying loose in the bottom of the box. No explanation for where this came from, and no chance Jim missed it. It happened again with an added 35 dollars. We also had an unexpected $500 check show up in the mail. The point to all of this is, never underestimate what the universe has in store for you. There is always a way in places you will least expect it. Keep yourself open to receive the gifts meant for you, and never say something is not possible.

A month before we pulled out, we moved into the RV in the back yard full time. That gave us a chance to adjust to the space and work out any kinks or quirks before we left. We discovered the furnace made a heck of a racket, so Jim tore it apart and cleaned and oiled everything. We also discovered you will go through a lot of propane in really cold weather. Other than that, we were peachy. On November 28, 2013, after a foot of snow had fallen, we headed for South Carolina chipping off a little bit of ice in every state. It’s our goal to never see snow again. Well, maybe from a distance, on top of mountain peaks or something.

Blue skies and sunshine!
Blue skies and sunshine!

In Camp Eicher Adventures I will be sharing tales of our journey, where we stay, the food we love, RV tips and tricks, campground reviews, and anything else I think of. No matter what you’re dream is, whether it’s to take on the RV lifestyle, travel the world, start a business, write a book, whatever, I hope I can inspire you to go after it and follow your heart.

Wishing you a magic filled day,

BethAnne