March 2019 Budget

Sorry this has taken me so long to get completed, but as you all know there has been a ton going on.  Because of Lee’s heart attack we only made about $1100 in the month of March, but thankfully we got a $1700 Income Tax return that really helped. Lee also made $2800 for working in March but we still haven’t gotten paid for that. We had also socked some money away in January and February so we think we are going to squeak by without tapping our savings.  Still not 100% sure on that, it depends on when the summer job checks start rolling in.  We ended up spending $4311 in March which was $825 over budget.  These costs do NOT include any medical expenses.  Those bills are still coming in and I will report out on them separately. Please see below for more detailed information.

 

Campground Fees – We haven’t spent over $500 on campground fees in a couple of years.  We had other choices, but I wanted to be with friends, and since Lee was working I didn’t really want to boondock alone.  Unfortunately we weren’t able to take advantage of lower monthly rates at the Arizonian because we only stayed 10 days.  The positive part was I spent lots of time socializing Jack, and I got to see Guy and Sue.

Groceries – We went over a little bit, but are staying pretty close to the newly adjusted budget.  I added $100 a month this year after 3 years of hardly ever making budget in this category.

Dining Out – Between the two categories we were $15 under.

Entertainment – We went over by $50.  This was mostly books as we took advantage of the Half Priced Bookstores in San Antonio and stocked up for this summer.

Truck Fuel – This was high this month because of the trips back and forth to the hospital and making our way to Phoenix.

Truck Maintenance – This was $441 because we had our 100,000 mile service done and spent $100 on a deductible to get the transmission pan replaced.

Mail and Postage – We have to keep $100 on account with them at all times and from time to time they do an automatic charge to keep that level.

Gifts – I bought the stuff for Kyrston’s baby onesies.

Not our best month for sure, but considering what happened I was glad to see we didn’t go crazy in a couple of the categories.  Again, no medical expenses are in this month because we haven’t started paying those bills yet.  Once we get into all that I will let you know.

(And here’s my goodies. So sorry I didn’t have this last month, I was busy having a heart attack and stuff. – Lee)

Here’s the year by year month comparison:

And here’s the more expanded graph that shows all of the months

 

 

And here’s the breakdown of the month. RV and Truck insurance and a few others are 1% or less, so aren’t shown. 

 

Here’s the “travel map” for the month. 


There’s no weather data unfortunately, because we moved around so much, and I didn’t always remember to set up the station. So there are so many gaps I just left it off. 

 

And finally, here’s some more detail numbers…

14 days at campgrounds, fees are reflected in the expenses for the month ($563)
13 days “moochdocking” at the Center For Mental Wellness™, also known as Greg & Cori’s place e while I recovered from my heart attack. Thanks again, guys!
4 days at a work location, so no campground fees

Total pictures taken: 893

Total data used across all devices: 298 GB

Total truck miles:  2,102.8
Non-Towing Truck Miles: 915.3
Total trailer miles:  1,187.5
Total Engine Hours: 47
Fuel Used: 183.8 gallons
Avg. MPG: 11.4

and here’s Jack trying to get Hobie to play…..

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

 

First Snowy Hike

You never know what will happen when you venture out with Deb and Steve, but we have learned from past experience to be prepared for anything!  We started out the day with an idea of taking a 1.7 mile hike along the rim trail.  A portion of it was closed, so we thought we would do what we could.  Before we got started though Lee wanted a cup of coffee, and we went into the General Store near Sunrise Point.  Steve and Lee got into a conversation with the employee there who told them that one of the trails to the bottom of the canyon was passable.  Since Steve really wanted to go to the bottom, Lee was willing to give it a try.

I was pretty nervous because although the hike was only 1.5 miles it had an elevation change of 850 feet.  Not only had we never done a hike with that much elevation change, Lee hadn’t hiked that far since the heart attack.  He was adamant he wanted to go though, and since we had packed lots of water and food, I said I was willing to give it a try.  If nothing else I thought we could always turn back, and I would like to see more of the canyon.

We had to hike through the snow to get to the trail head.

 

Here’s Lee with his cup of coffee!

 

The fairyland trail was an additional 4.4 miles but was closed.

 

The path was part mud and part snow, but didn’t look that bad in the beginning.

 

And the views right around the corner were outstanding.

 

 

Closeup with the long lens.

 

The path soon became more snow than mud though and we needed to pay close attention. This tree was the only obstacle in the path.

 

But we didn’t let that stop us

 

The path kept changing and we really had to watch our feet. Small steps were definitely called for and I really wished I would have brought my poles!

 

There were places to stop for rock hugs though

 

And some beautiful trees.

 

Lee’s pic…looks like a painting.

 

Eventually we turned a corner and saw the wall!

 

It was huge and really amazing and stayed in view for a large section of the hike.

 

I loved this section that looked like a mask.

Our favorite section of the hike was when we got really close to a section of wall. It was so tall and majestic it was hard to know where to look.

 

The path was totally dry on this side. See that tiny hole up in the middle left of the wall?

 

You could walk up to it on the path before coming down

 

This “little” section of wall was directly across from the large section.

 

Steve and Deb.

 

We all had a great time taking turns getting our picture taken.  So much to look at.

 

Gives you some perspective.

 

Someone is happy 🙂

 

Directly across was this rock formation that I thought looked like a huge poodle.

 

And I loved this tree

 

After that section the path was in much better shape, but it started to get really hot.  We had to start shedding layers as we walked and by the time we got down to the river, it was definitely warm.

The river

 

Deb heard water flowing and walked off the path to find this charming little waterfall. I have never seen a pink waterfall before.

Lee felt the waterfall deserved it’s own short video…..

 

Finally we made it to the Tower Bridge sign which was the end of the trail.

 

Steve and Deb were glad to see this. Three of these and you are considered a Hoodoo hiker.

 

The tower bridge itself was a bit anti-climatic, but did provide a shaded area to eat lunch

 

Here’s a short video Lee made of the hike….

Now it was time to hike back up and I was really dreading it.  It wasn’t great, but not nearly as bad as I thought it would be, mainly because we took multiple breaks along the way.  Plus it was much warmer going up and we stayed in our T shirts all the way.  I am really happy that we hiked all the way to the bottom and felt a sense of accomplishment from doing it.  It definitely wasn’t easy, but we saw people older than us doing it, and even one family carrying babies on their backs.  That will make you feel like a sissy pretty quickly!  I am especially glad that Lee had no trouble whatsoever, despite the cardio workout on the way back up.  That was wonderful, and I conquered my fears about doing a hike with significant elevation change, which was nice to do.  All in all really glad we got to experience it and especially with Steve and Deb.  We frequently stretch ourselves when we are with them and I am always grateful for it.

(Here’s a bonus video of some of the vistas from Bryce! Always best in fullscreen, at 1080 resolution. – Lee)


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

First Hike to Mossy Cave

Because this was our first trip to Bryce, Lee and I were open to just about anything. Deb and Steve had been there 20 years before with their kids and had a list of things they would like to do to “fill in the gaps.”  Unfortunately, many of the tougher trails were closed due to snow, but we discovered that a trail off the beaten track was open.

In order to get to the Mossy cave trail, we needed to leave the park, get back on twelve, and then reenter the park.  One of the nicest features of this hike is you don’t have to pay the entrance fee to get to it, and because it is out of the way it was less crowded the day we were there. It is also an easy trail with a round trip distance of 1 mile and a payoff of the cavern and a waterfall at the end.

Despite how easy it was, there is a lot packed into it, but let me just show you.

Pretty small parking lot at entrance, but off season we had no trouble finding parking.

 

Stunning start.

 

One of the first things we learned was that the Mormon pioneers had built the Tropic ditch we were walking along to help irrigate their field.  The scope of that is mind boggling and really enhanced the experience.  Not only was it beautiful it was also historical.

Great bridge.

 

The rocks with the irrigation “ditch”. Stunning.

 

It was kiss inspiring!

 

And not just for us. Deb noticed the rocks behind them looked like they were kissing so they wanted to also…it was that kind of day!

It didn’t take long to get to the trail split and we headed left up into the mossy cave. This is the only place the trail gets a little steep but it was definitely worth it.  In the summer, the cave has moss, but we got something better.  Ice!!

As we hiked up we could see the water flowing and I was glad of the railing.

 

This sign explained the cave.

 

But the coolest part was the ice formations. Really pretty and interesting,

 

It was hard to top the ice crystals but we decided we wanted to see the larger waterfall and walked the other way.  The nicest part of that was we could get up close with the water and Lee had a really good time.  I was getting a little hot though because the canyon was in full sun.  That’s been pretty common in our time up here and it’s important to layer up and bring plenty of water, because it might be cold at the start of the hike, but the canyon floors are often VERY hot.

There was a small arch across from the waterfall.

 

Deb really liked the colors in the rocks. They were an interesting shade of pinks and orange.

 

Lee was making me super nervous, although at this point I should be used to it.

 

Lee’s picture.

 

The trail up to the arch was closed, which would have added to the difficulty.

 

Nice little formation.

 

(Here’s a little video of the hike! Looks best in full screen, 1080p!- Lee)

 

 

 

Me and Deb!

It was a really nice hike and it was early enough in the day that you can do something else.  Another day we drove right by it and decided we wanted to try and see Cedar Breaks which was only 74 miles away. Unfortunately we could only get so far because the route was still closed to snow.  It’s surprising how quickly the geography can change at these higher elevations and important to never take for granted that roads can be closed. This year in particular was unique because we learned they received 200% of the snowfall they usually get.  Thus many road/trail closures.

Scenic road 14 is amazing but even in a truck it’s kind of scary.

 

Strange to go from desert warmth to snow covered hills.

 

Beautiful though.

 

The snow drifts were crazy high which we learned when we got to the Cedar Break entrance!

 

No wonder they haven’t opened it yet!!!

So what do you do when you can’t get into a National Monument because of snow??  Well Cowboy buffet of course, at the Ruby Inn.  Don’t get me wrong the buffet was way over priced, but the food was decent and sometimes it’s fun to do the touristy thing.

Ruby Inn

 

Cool lobby.

 

Had a great gift shop

 

I almost bought this for myself.

 

And this for Steve LOL!!

 

It was a large buffet.

 

With lots of variety. The pot roast was great.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not all days turn out the way you expect them.  It’s important to be philosophical when that happens, and remind yourself you are not on vacation.  We may only have 4 days to see Bryce BUT unlike our old life, this isn’t a “one and done” visit.  We can and should come back later.  Being with friends who also take the long view helps with that.  Sure it’s disappointing when a day doesn’t go exactly as planned, but rolling with the unexpected is part of successfully living this life.

Next up the most challenging hike we have done to date!


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

First Time Seeing Bryce Canyon

When we first visit a new national park we generally start with the visitors center and then take the scenic drive.  The drive helps orient us in the park and also gives us a feel for which trail heads are the busiest.  These scenic drives can take hours, and often turn into short walks which can lead to a mini hike.  Even though we knew the Bryce scenic road was open 11 miles we wanted to take advantage of the beautiful day.

Let me just say the views were absolutely stunning.  Everyone should visit this park at least once, but don’t take my word for it check out the pictures.  And yes the sky was really that blue.

Yes just wow.  Aptly named Inspiration Point.

 

From Left: Lee, me, Deb, and Steve

 

Some of the trails/viewpoints were closed, but we saw what we could.

 

You can see how high the snow was in some spots.

 

I loved the snow with the green and the red rocks.

 

 

Bryce Point was really cool, we walked all the way out to the end.

 

The rule in the national parks is “paws on pavement” but we left them in the car because of the snow.

 

 

The hoodoos eventually collapse under their weight and look like this picture. In 3 million years scientists estimate Bryce Canyon will be totally flat.

 

The shades from the sun and the clouds were really pretty.

 

Here’s one without us kissing 🙂

 

 

You seriously cannot take a bad picture here.

 

The guys doing a little posing.

 

 

One of the coolest spots is the Natural Bridge where we let the dogs out a bit.

 

Deb taught us how to do this cool panoramic affect. Basically I started the picture then I run behind the person taking it when they move the camera past me, then switch my position and their I am at the end. Very fun.

It was a really cool day and we decided that we would definitely try and do a hike next.  The warm weather encouraged us all that it might be possible and we had other parts of the park we wanted to explore.


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

Driving to Bryce

Sometimes on short mileage days, it actually takes us longer to get to a place than on a regular day.  That’s because you know you have time and we tend to dawdle in the morning.  Lee decided he wanted to go to the store and do some laundry so we didn’t get moving until close to noon.  Deb and Steve also had to go to the store, plus she wanted to wash her rig and Steve had a conference call, so they had a late start as well.

None of us were worried because Deb had called Bryce and was told the campground was first come first serve, and we should have no problem getting in.  What they didn’t tell her was all but one loop was closed, and by the time we got there around 5pm there were only two spots left!  We were extremely lucky that those two spots were large enough for us and next to each other…but I am jumping ahead.  First, the drive.

It was strange to go from desert to higher elevations with snow.

Deb took this picture of us in the rear view window. Normally we wouldn’t have gone together but since it was first come first serve we wanted to make sure we both got a place.

We knew we were getting close when we hit Red Rock Canyon. This isn’t a part of Bryce but super cool in and of itself and we want to go back and spend more time there.

Glad Deb and Steve went through first! The sign said 13’6″ clearance, but we think it was a bit taller than that.

The red rocks with the snow covered hills nearby was really beautiful.

When we arrived at the campground, as I said only loop A was open, and only two spots left, but they were good ones.  Unfortunately they weren’t totally cleared of snow and no picnic table or campfire.  The dump station was also closed, but we had dumped and filled before leaving Lone Rock, because Deb had found out it wasn’t open.

We were backed right up to the snow in our site.

Steve’s grill lol and as you can see no way we were getting to the picnic area.

Our site

Steve and Deb’s was right behind us.

The park was full and mostly it was tent campers and small RV’s which I thought was crazy. It wasn’t that cold during the day but night was below freezing.

For Jack it was a HUGE adjustment. He had just come from sand and now it was his first time seeing snow. He was a bit tentative at first.

But soon he was climbing the snow banks like a champ.

The only downside was a wet and dirty belly when he came back in from playing in the snow.

That night I’ll be honest I was a little disappointed.  The campground was $30 a night (pretty steep for what we were getting) and it was overcast.  The last part is what really bothered me because you simply can’t take great pictures on overcast days.  We were unsure on whether or not we wanted to stay, but by the time we got settled it was 6pm and too late to move.  The full hookup campground in town was $49 a night and the boondocking spot was a no go because the ground was too wet. All in all it had been a long day and not how I wanted my Bryce experience to start.  Consequently we decided to just get a good nights sleep and see what tomorrow brought us.

Thankfully when we woke up the next day the sun was shining.  It was a beautiful day and despite the snow on the ground, not cold at all.  Lee and I were up and ready to go really early, so we decided to pop up to the visitors center and get some information on the park.

Really nice visitors center.

This solar array was as large as a drive through movie theater screen

Basically only 11 miles of the scenic drive was open and most of the trails to the bottom of the canyon.

We learned that Bryce was part of the same geography that the Grand Canyon was.

Mt first hoodoos were inside but nice replicas.

We learned Bryce was one of the darkest places in the US.

And I got up close and personal with this prairie dog exhibit.

And as a special treat we saw some real prairie dogs on the ride back to the campground.

Things were definitely looking up and the four of us decided to take advantage of the sun and start with the scenic drive.  That turned out to be an amazing experience but I am going to save that for my next post.  Too many good pictures to fit into this one.


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

 

Jack’s New Favorite Place

After we picked up our rig we finally headed north, happy that we were on the road again.  We had plans to meet up with Deb and Steve in Bryce Canyon but had a couple of days to kill.  The great thing about Northern Arizona is there are lot of places to boondock, and we briefly discussed stopping in Flagstaff, but the ground was still a bit snowy and wet, and we were worried about how firm the spots would be.  We also discussed going to Winslow, AZ but that was a bit out of the way.  Ultimately we decided to drive through to Lone Rock Beach in Page where Deb and Steve were.

Desert in bloom as we made our way north.

We have stayed here before and it is a really nice spot.  They have spots right down near the water and trash, water, and a dump station on site.  If you have an America the Beautiful pass it is $15 a night and well worth it for the services and the view, as well as the close proximity to the town of Page.  The only downside we discovered when we arrived is the area is Off Network for us.  Last year we had no idea we were off network but as I mentioned this year AT&T is cracking down on that.  Basically that meant we could make phone calls and text, but no data usage. It was still worth it though because of Jack’s reaction.  Let me just show you.

Jack got out at the dumpstation and was looking around while we filled up with water.

The view is pretty spectacular

There is space up top for people who don’t want to risk the sand down below but Steve came up and we followed him down

We have to be extra careful not to get into soft sand with the 4×2.

They had saved us a spot with some chairs

Deb and Hurley came our to say hi.

And Hurley and Jack spent some time getting acquainted.

Hurley was super patient with the puppy antics.

After we got settled in, I decided to take Jack for a walk and that’s where the fun came in.  We were parked on the edge of a HUGE sand dune and I was able to take Jack off leash.  After all the days of being cooped up he went crazy and then we went down and saw his first ever lake, although he was a bit more tentative there.  I shot lots of video and pictures and Lee made a little movie.  Jack was pure joy to watch and did more than anything else in helping me shake off the stress from the previous couple of weeks.

Zooming

He was going so fast it was hard to get the shot. Got lucky on this one.

Checking out the lake.

Chasing some ducks.

He kept going until it started to get dark.

Nice sunset.

And we all settled in and had a lovely campfire.

The next morning Hurley and Jack ran down to the shore.

More zoomies.

Deb was throwing sticks in the water for Hurley but Jack wouldn’t get in.

He waited at the shore and as soon as Hurley hit the ground would try and get the stick. Was really funny.

Deb finally gave Jack his own little stick.

Jack stayed with me the entire time except once when he started chasing some crows. Then I had to chase him until they finally landed on the restroom and taunted him.

We all had a great day and were a little sad to head towards Bryce.  Jack went from sand to snow in just one day so stay tuned to see how that went.  And if you want to see Jack in action here is a video.  It’s a little long at 3 minutes but it was so much fun to watch.


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • Purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

 

First Time Getting the RV Welded

Last year when we were in Utah, Lee noticed a little separation in a seam of one of our side panels in the front right of our RV.  The separation was only noticeable when we were hitched, and since we were in the middle of our time off we had an important decision to make.  Do we stop everything and have it looked at or continue on and monitor the problem?  We chose to continue on, but that separation really bothered Lee.

During the next five months we were stationary at Timothy Lake, and when we eventually did move the RV, it was only down to Texas where we only moved a couple of times in a four month period.  The separation continued to widen, and by March it was wide enough you could stick your fingers in it. It also appeared that a weld was broken, although this was quite a bit harder to see.

At this point we knew we needed to do something, so when Lee picked up some work in Phoenix near the end of March we thought it would be the perfect opportunity.  Originally I thought about dropping it off myself and staying with Lee in the hotel, but I really wanted him to be available for all of the conversations.  We knew this could be a huge job, because we had seen the work that our friends Howard and Linda had done on their fifth wheel.  Ultimately their entire front slide had to be taken apart and all of the metal reinforced.  We even went back and reread their blog posts to have a firm handle on what we could be getting into.

The problem is you can’t really tell without taking apart the skin.  In our case we wanted to be sure that we were already at a reputable company before tearing it apart.  Lee did a ton of research and ultimately settled on Premiere Coachworks and Autobody Shop. He spoke to Carl at length about our particular situation.  Unlike other RV repair work we knew we would not be able to stay in our rig.  At the time we were assuming an expensive hotel stay and obviously wanted to keep the repair time frame very short.  Ultimately a friend made a generous offer and we had a free place to stay for up to two weeks, which gave us some more breathing room. Carl told us over the phone he could not give any kind of an estimate until they could see inside and was even honest about the fact there was a small chance the rig might need to be totaled. Lee liked what he heard and made an appointment for Monday at noon.

One of the most stressful parts of the whole thing was figuring out what to pack. We needed to pack in advance and had no idea how long we would be gone.

When arrived at the location we were a little early, and unfortunately we were blocking the entrance when we pulled in.  We went inside to the office and they got us sorted out pretty quickly and Lee pulled up the RV so they could take a look.  The technician had the same problem we had, and although he knew something was wrong they couldn’t be specific as to what without doing some tearing down to get a look.  It could be anything from the frame just flexing to a broken frame, and the only way to know was to open it up.  At that point I wanted to talk to our warranty company and Carl wisely suggested we all have a call with them together.

Jack and I went inside the office to tell them we were there.

 

Lee and Carl looking at the rig

The company works pretty frequently with insurance companies, but warranty companies will rarely pay for walls. I had my contract in hand though that stated, “metal frame, brackets, and weld” was covered.  There was also a section that stated, “a covered wear and tear breakdown will be deemed to occur when a component fails to perform its function as it was originally designed to work..”  In my mind it was clearly the metal frame and clearly wear and tear as I knew we had never had an accident.

When we got the claims adjuster on the phone, he had a different idea.  He referred me to the section of exclusions that states and exclusion for,”body structure…delamination…fiberglass panels..”  At this point I pushed back.  I specifically remember asking the salesman who sold me this $4K Platinum coverage warranty if the metal frame was included and being told yes.  Turns out the metal frame is the base only and does not refer to the aluminum frames in the wall.

This is a basic RV frame, or chassis. The vertical pieces (like studs in a house) are not part of the frame, and while the frame is steel, the “studs” are aluminum.

 

This is the construction cutaway from the factory for our model. As you can see they specific the base frame as being made of steel they say nothing at all about the aluminum walls, which is weird right?

The warranty person wasn’t budging and refused to open a claim until he had proof that the base metal frame was cracked.  That didn’t mean they would pay the claim, just that they would open one.  Since the only way to find out was to peel back the skin, Lee and I authorized four hours of work at $110 an hour to diagnose the problem  We had talked about money before ever pulling into the lot and knew what our top end dollar amount was.

Since Carl and his tech spent time walking us through what could be wrong and what their process was to diagnose, we both felt comfortable.  I especially liked the fact that Carl repeatedly said they would not be able to tell if anything was wrong in areas they could not see.  We did ask to be brought back as soon as they diagnosed the problem so we could talk about next steps in person.  If it was going to cost $500 to see the problem I wanted to see it with my own eyes.  Around 4pm we called and they said we could come in and take a look.  The good news was the metal frame that they could see looked fine.  The bad news was the aluminum wall piece had separated from the frame.  When we asked what could cause it he said any number of things including opening and shutting the slide, rattling from the road, or just normal stresses on the rig.  They are designed to flex with stress and Carl really emphasized how common these type of incidents were.

They had to pull off the bulkhead off to see what was going on.

 

Lee looking at the break between aluminum and metal frame.

 

This was the best picture I could get of it. I circled the separation. It doesn’t look like much but when it pushed out it caused the separation in the wall panel. The vertical piece if the “stud” and you can see where it’s only spot welded and has come away from the larger horizontal piece below.

 

Thankfully the metal frame looked really good.

 

They were particularly concerned about around the hitch but that looked fine.

At that point they were able to talk through our options.  They could leave the break, and just fix the outer “skin”.  They could weld the break and use industrial strength glue on it and fix the skin.  Or they could start replacing pieces.  That would of course be the most costly option, because they would need to “rebuild the rig.”  Unfortunately to replace the aluminum pieces they would need to gut the interior, which is why that option is so time consuming and costly. And even if they did that they couldn’t guarantee it wouldn’t happen again. The middle option of a weld and glue would take about three days and cost $1700 (this price included the original $500 we spent) so we decided to go with that one.

Personally I breathed a huge sigh of relief that it was not catastrophic failure. It was clear to both of us that these stress fractures were going to be an ongoing issue, and this was made even more clear when he showed us some other RV’s on the lot.  There were a couple that were torn apart and we could clearly see the aluminum frames.  Most RV’s simply aren’t built for what we put them through, and seeing several that were being rebuilt really drove that home.  Carl also spent quite a bit of time talking us through how to keep up on the cracks in the skin.  It was very important that we consistently inspected them and kept them caulked to keep water from getting in to the frame. We are certainly not alone in having some cracks in the outer skin, but as long as we treat them and make sure we keep an eye on them it shouldn’t be a major issue. The number one focus is keeping any water incursion out.

His honesty really was refreshing and like I said I felt better.  It’s a home on wheels and this is a natural consequence of traveling with it, which is what we intend to do.  I didn’t even bother with going back to the insurance company at that point, because I didn’t want the delay.  From my earlier conversation I knew they would fight the repair, so we just went ahead and signed for it.  They promised to take some pictures of the repair and call us when it was done.

Unfortunately the pictures we received aren’t that good.  They were unable to get any good pictures of the inside work, but did show and exterior shot of when the work was being done.

Exterior when they were holding it together after the weld and glue.

 

The finished product looked good as new, which is the white trim piece. the grey trim piece needs to be replaced, and Lee’s summer project is resealing every seal on the rig.

 

I don’t really know what else to say.  On the one hand, it wasn’t the catastrophic failure I was so worried about.  On the other hand, I have no confidence that something similar wont happen again, eventually.  I will say that I was very pleased with how we were treated at Premiere Coachworks and would absolutely recommend them.  They obviously knew what they were doing and I REALLY appreciated their honesty.  Would it have been nice to be told that the problem was fixed and would never happen again?…sure. But that isn’t realistic, and if there is one thing we have learned in this lifestyle is it is better to face its challenges head on.

 


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