Getting our Sea Legs – Jon’s Tale

This weekend, Audrey and I rented a Four Winds Majestic 28A from CruiseAmerica to give living in an RV a try – to see how we like it, to see how living in 212 square feet worked out for us, and to see how our two cats adapted to living in that space. We did reach some conclusions, which I’ll get to toward the end of the article.

Rewinding a little bit – Thursday night I was trolling on RV Trader, when I found a 1984 Airstream Class A motorhome for just a tick under $30,000. It was (and looks like) it was originally owned by Larry Hagman – the actor that played JR Ewing on Dallas. It’s so retro, and very, very cool.

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Completely on a lark, I clicked the “Get Financing” button on RV Trader, and I submitted an application. It’s hilarious to think that there would be financing available for a 30 year old motorhome, but I submitted the app and figured I’d get a rejection letter a few days later.

Friday afternoon, I left work at 12:30 so I could get to CruiseAmerica on Federal Boulevard by 2 – however, I got a call just before I left work from Dana at Southeast Financial. I called her back when I got home, and we had a nice long, informative chat about where I am credit wise, and that no, they can’t approve the loan right now, but that the dings that I have on my credit (that an awful lot of people have, actually – thank you, 2008) will be falling off pretty soon, at which point my credit should go from merely ‘average’ to ‘fantastic’, and that, why, yes, a 40′ Diesel Pusher just might be in your future… *blinks* That was not an answer I was expecting to get.

Anyway, after the call, I was running late (but sort of floating on clouds), and drove over to CruiseAmerica, where I did the walkaround and checkout on our home for the weekend. Then I got back in the car, came home, and took a Lyft back to CruiseAmerica to pick up the RV.

My first impression? MAN THIS THING IS LONG. I misjudged how long it was, and had to back and fill once just to get out of the parking lot. The drive back to the apartment was full of adventure, too, since there was construction along 92nd avenue, and each side was down to one narrow lane in each direction. After some finagling and figuring out which direction I needed to go to get the RV faced the right direction, I got the RV parked in front of our garage for the afternoon while I did some laundry and waited for Audrey to get home.

She got home about 6pm, and we had the RV loaded with clothes, sundries, and cats about 7:15. Once we got underway, Figaro and Little One made it clear (with a chorus) that they were having none of this moving business! That said, they both *really* like the overhead space that’s available in a Class C. That much became apparent by the end of the weekend.

We stopped at Wal-Mart for linen – we didn’t want to use ours on a rental mattress that (potentially) had bedbugs (it didn’t) – and some other sundries. We found some grape purple sheets and a grey and red plaid comforter that we liked that were well within ‘disposable’ budget. After that, we headed over to our friend Ann’s house to pick her up for our weekly evening of karaoke at Ogden Street South. We cheated a little bit – we’ve been talking about going without a tow-behind vehicle, but it became apparent right out the gate that it isn’t going to be feasible – taking the RV to karaoke would be hilarious and bad. We wound up taking Audrey’s Yaris. I do have to say that it was very nice to get back to Ann’s, and just crawl into bed right there, curbside. Friday night was pretty cold – I didn’t turn the heater up quite enough. By morning, the (single) house battery was just about dead, as well.

DECISION: We need an RV and a Car – at least for now. Someday we might be able to downsize again to perhaps a pair of motorcycles and bicycles, but for now, if we’re fulltiming and location independent, a car is a must.
DECISION: We need more than one piddly house battery.

Saturday, we helped Ann put together her new computer – she’s building it from scratch – and we helped her do some troubleshooting to get it going. About 1pm, we drove 38 miles across town to Audrey’s parents’ house in Ken Caryl, Colorado, to see them. The cats, again and predictably, did not like rumbling down the road one bit – but they dealt with it better than they did at first. Audrey’s dad really liked the DJI Phantom quadcopter we got recently, despite the preview that YouTube picked for the video. =)

We had dinner with them at Rubios, then we had our first – “Well, where in the hell are we going to stay tonight?” moment. On Friday, Audrey was ALL ABOUT having a plan. For the entire weekend. I was really super proud of her when, coming into Saturday Night, it got to be a little late to go with our original plan (drive up into the Pike National Forest along Rampart Range Road), and we needed to improvise.

Chatfield State Park was full.

Bear Creek Lake Park was full.

Cherry Creek State Park was full.

Jefferson County Fairgrounds, however, had space, and was reasonably priced at $30 for a 30 amp hookup. We were there in 20 minutes, and had probably another 20 minutes of chatting with the camp hosts while we signed in. The camp hosts (Melissa and her husband) have been fulltiming in Colorado for 3 years now in a variety of vehicles from a travel trailer to a 5th wheel and now they’re in a 31′ Class C. They were wonderfully friendly, and just full of advice. The spot we wound up in was hilariously not-level, however, and so…

DECISION: We MUST have leveling jacks.

We were up until around midnight talking about our experiences (we went to bed at 10pm, believe it or not) We were warm enough Saturday night (I was roasting, Audrey was freezing – weird.) and the cats were really starting to settle in. This is a good sign, I think.

Sunday morning, we decided that we’d had a long enough test run. We stopped at Village Inn for lunch, then brought the RV home and decamped. We’ll return it in the morning after getting gas and propane.

DECISION: We are going to buy an RV before our lease is up – even if it’s a $3000 Craigslist special. I’m not 100% sold on paying cash for a craptastic RV and starting from there – I am sold on not going $100,000 into debt buying our third RV first. I think we’ll be somewhere between buying a $3000 RV and something in the $10-20k range.

DECISION: Starting out fulltiming in an RV at the end of our lease will kind of SUUUCK because it’ll be Winter – but the hard cold winter in Denver is really from January 1 to the beginning of April. It’s just 90 nights. We can find a place with electric hookups and buy some fantastic ‘enclosed space’ heaters, and suck it up, buttercup.

DECISION: A 28′ Class C is large enough for what we want to do. It’s still a little cramped at times. 28′ is nice enough if we can have LR and BR slides for just a little extra space.

DECISION: 2015 will be 12 months to work on ‘non-job’ income. 

All in all, we had a great time, we learned some valuable lessons that we wouldn’t have learned without actually going out there and doing it, and we’re looking forward to the next step along the path to truly becoming digital nomads!