Fifth Year – By The Numbers

Numbers by Lee…..

This year we did a total of 7,334 travel miles on the trailer, and 18,874 miles on the truck!

For the first travel map, we started out at Cori & Greg’s and from there went to our first gate, near Encinal, TX. Then a brief few days off between gates and on to our second gate at Los Angeles, TX. That’s where I had my heart attack, and then we went back to Cori & Greg’s. From there we went to Phoenix, and then on to Surprise where we had a little work done on our rig. Once that was done we headed to Lone Rock Beach for a quick stay and then on to Bryce Canyon and Torrey, UT with Steve & Deb and Cori & Greg.


We also did Goblin Valley and then everyone went their separate ways and we headed up to Promontory Park and then to Timothy Lake for the summer. After that we came right back down the way we came up, until Salt Lake City where we headed east to head south!

We went through southern Wyoming and saw Jo, and then across a bit of Nebraska before heading down to Oklahoma to see Dan & Sharon, and then on down to Cori & Greg’s place again! And from there we headed east once again to Charleston and then up to Rock Hill and back down to Charleston.

Here’s the complete travel map-

Started in San Antonio. Went to Utah and up to Timothy Lake. Came back to San Antonio via Wyoming, Kansas, and Oklahoma and then over to Charleston.


Other Numbers

Total number of days “workkamping” where our site was provided:                   195 (55%)
Total number of days “moochdocking” where we stayed with friends or family:  58 (17%)
Total number of days “boondocking” where we had no campground fee:           11 (  5%)
Total number of days of paid camping:                                                                 78 ( 23%)
Total amount spent on campground fees: $ 1,504

Total data used for the year: 3.64 Terabytes (3640 GB). Our total data costs for the year were $1,380, which works out to about $ 0.38 per GB, which is not too shabby. This is a fantastic value for us because we use that data for internet, obviously, as well as every TV show and movie we watch.

We took 16,505 pictures totaling 76 GB. Here’s how that compares to previous years:

2015 – 24,436
2016 – 28,929
2017 – 20,087
2018 – 15,246

Repairs, Upgrades and Major Expenses Five Year Summary


  • Solar – $5,400 Whether or not solar is worth the expense is debatable to some. For example, if we spread this out over five years, it’s $1000 per year. If we go with an average of $30 per night for a campsite, we’d have to boondock for over 30 days each year to “get our money back” on the solar in that five years. My problem with that is that when we do boondock, it tends to be in places that either don’t have campgrounds or RV parks within what I would call a reasonable distance, or because they are in such demand, they would be worth WAY more than $30 per night.  Also, I think that the intangible value of a view or solitude also goes WELL beyond $30 per night. And finally, our AGM batteries have a life expectancy of 6-8 years, depending on how much the batteries are discharged, and how many times, and how fully they are recharged. I estimate that they will last even longer than that, but we’ll have to see. In any case, having solar and being able to boondock is more of a lifestlye choice than anything else, so it’s really impossible to calculate return on investment, but for us, I think it was worth every penny.
  • 4 New RV Tires & 2 Front Truck Tires and Installation – $1659 Trace commented at some point recently that it seems like we’re “always” getting new tires, but as you will see throughout this summary, we have actually only replaced all 10 of our tires twice. Remember the first trailer tire replacement was in November of 2015, and we were only replacing the junky “China Bombs” that came with the trailer at around 10,000 miles because we had already had a blowout. Those 4 tires lasted us until we replaced them this past April at 44,395 trailer miles, so we got 34,000 miles out of them. I’ll talk more about this later in the summary.
  • Surge Protector and Voltage Regulator – $1100
  • Sea Eagle Inflatable Kayak – $840
  • Camera and accessories – $499
  • TPMS – $490
  • Blue Boy” and Waste Pump Kit – $475
  • Dyson Slim Vacuum – $400
  • Magma Stackable Cookware – $400
  • WeBoost – $400
  • Electric Dump Valves – $300
  • Stenciling for the camper  – $300
  • Heated water hose – $ 163
  • Weber Q Grill – $200
  • Flagpole Buddy –  $205
  • Valve Extenders for Tires – $167


  • Fresh Water Pump and Tank – $300
  • Replacement Surge Protector – $200
  • 4 Rear Truck Tires – $1,013 These were replaced at 41,000, of which around 15,000 were towing miles. I feel that this is a reasonable amount of wear for the tires.
  • Repair & Upgrade RV Suspension Shackles – $747 This is where the unusual wear and tire on our tires started, although we didn’t know it at the time.
  • Repair Truck AC – $448
  • Deductible to replace truck engine due to putting diesel fuel in tank.  We got off cheap on this one as the total cost was $15,000.  We only paid $1000 and insurance paid the rest.


  • Front tires and alignment – $592 These were replaced at 60,000 miles and were last replaced at around 16,000 so we got a good 44,000 miles.
  • Kayak motor mount and trolling motor – $200
  • Mor Ryde Suspension and disc brakes for trailer – $5391 – which you can read about here.
  • First attempt to repair the furnace and repair fridge slide. –  $380. The mobile tech who worked on the issue was in a motorcycle accident and was unable to finish the repair before we moved on to our next job. The slide got fixed but the furnace did not. We still had to pay $380 in various fees even though it was all supposed to be covered by our extended warranty.


  • Furnace repair $310 – After one full year of not having a furnace we finally got it fixed in Columbus, Ohio!  Just in time, because we definitely needed a working furnace for all the boondocking we did in Utah.
  • Underbelly Heat $150 – We dealt with frozen pipes in the rig for the first time and Lee added some insulation and a heat source to help with the problem.
  • Toilet $242 – We replaced our toilet with a standard sized one, which by the way I still really love, and is one of the best repairs we have ever made!
  • Valves $150 – Lee put in valves on the fresh water tank vents.  Seems like a little thing, but for him it made things a whole lot easier.
  • Slide Repairs $1200 – We also spent a few days having our slide floor replaced.  We found a great RV tech in Texas who had previously worked in Indiana at the Open Range factory and he did a terrific job.
  • Steps $160 – Lee (with Bill and Ben’s help) replaced our steps and did lots of other small repairs while we were at the reunion rally.
  • Landing Gear $1024 – We had one of our front jacks fail and Lee had to do an emergency repair.
  • Truck Bearing $435 – A front truck bearing seized up and we were stranded on a mountain road.  The whole thing turned out OK, but it was pretty stressful. We paid for the tow and a deductible.
  • Door $281 – Our entry door window glass broke in a wind storm in Utah and Lee replaced the window portion of the door in Texas.
  • Quilt $200 – Something a little more fun, we got a T-shirt quilt made from shirts we had collected in our travels.


  • Bluebonnet $314
  • 2 Truck batteries $360
  • Living Room TV $400
  • Bedroom TV $140
  • Workstation for Tracy $350
  • Replacement WiFi Hotspot $216
  • Dog Platform $250
  • Convection Microwave $ 370
  • Cooktop $300
  • Exterior Wall Repair $1725
  • Trailer Tires $1556 – After the replacement of our shackle and hanger the tires started to wear in a really bad and unusual pattern. We finally replaced them but still managed to put a LOT of miles on those tires before we did. I’ll be very curious to see how long these new ones last.
  • Kitchen Vent and Cover $334
  • Rear Truck Tires $1120

Patterns I am Seeing- By Tracy

Five years ago we started out on the road with a large group of fellow travelers.  Over the years we have done a good job of staying in contact with one another which has allowed me to notice some general patterns as the years go by.  As always these are just impressions and not backed up by statistical data.  In year five I see two major trends emerging.  First, several people we know have bought a piece of land.  Some are using this land to winter or summer and others are staying in one place more often and traveling part-time.  Consequently several people we know have sold their larger rigs and are now traveling in a smaller setup.  Having a piece of property makes total sense to me, but we don’t have a place yet we want to settle.  If we could agree on a place I would 100% start looking for some land.

The second trend is several of us are becoming first time grandparents.  It makes sense as many of us had children around the same time and are kids are hitting 30 and deciding to have babies.  I know of five couples personally who are in the new grandparent situation and each one of us needs to decide how that will affect our travel long-term.  Where the babies are matter of course as RV’s don’t do great in winter locales and those of us who work have to factor that in as well so its a balancing act of family needs and the desire to keep traveling.  How that turns out long term I don’t know but I am extremely glad we have five full years of travel before we had a grandchild to balance things with.

Top 10 Things We Saw 


Hole in the Rock required several hours of rough driving down a dirt road but was totally worth it.


Bryce Canyon.  Some things absolutely live up to their press.


Giant land grab statue in Oklahoma City


Goblin Valley.  We wouldn’t even have known this place existed if it wasn’t for our friend Deb.


Arizona Desert in bloom.  Thanks to Guy for loaning us his buggy.  I’ve never seen the desert so green and it was beautiful.


Lunar eclipse in the middle of nowhere Texas.  In an oil field far away from any lights it was a spectacular sight.


Snake River where Evil Knievel attempted his jump.  An iconic moment and place for those of us who remember it.


Slot canyons in Utah…super cool love hiking those.


Zoomies in the desert, in the forest,  in the grasslands, and finally, at the ocean.  Jack’s zoomies are amazing everywhere!


The absolute best though was Oliver’s smile. Being a grandma rocks!


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  • As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Search Amazon Here
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Fifth Year – The Emotional Arc

Before I go through what happened in our fifth year, I wanted to take a moment and recognize that we made the Five Year Milestone.  To be honest, I was pretty skeptical about the sustainability of the lifestyle when we first started and I would have given us less than a 50/50 chance to still be on the road five years in.  I was completely convinced that we would have run out of money by now, and I am more than pleasantly surprised that that hasn’t happened.  That being said, it’s fair to say this lifestyle is not exactly what Lee and I thought it would be.  We had a romanticized vision in our heads and the reality does not always match.  I wrote a post this year called Original Expectations Versus Reality to talk about some of these differences.

My friend Kelly started her fifth year summary by answering a few questions and I thought I would take a moment to do the same.  For those of you who haven’t read the whole blog this will give you a high level overview of where we are.

  1.  Do you regret your choice to go on the road?  Absolutely not.  At times I have regretted my decision to quit my job, but never to sell our house and go on the road. (Not even a tiny little bit. – Lee)
  2. What is your least favorite part? For me it has been the jobs we have had to work. I have been pretty honest about how much I have struggled with most of them. This year I have taken steps to solve that problem and I hope it is better going forward. (For me it’s that I thought we would have more time off. We’ve still done way better than before we hit the road with the work/play ration, but 50/50 was my goal. – Lee)
  3. What is your favorite part? I love, love when we are out in nature.  When I think back on the last 5 years it evokes a series of amazing images that no one can ever take away from me.  Plus Lee and I are at our best when we are exploring.  There is less of that than I would like, but more than I originally thought would be possible. (Seeing awesome things. Not just majestic vistas, but largest balls of twine. A close second is not being in any one place for too long. – Lee)
  4. Do you miss your old life?  For Lee that answer is not at all.  He felt confined in his old life and although this one is not perfect it suits him much better.  The answer for me is more complicated.  I miss parts of my old life.  I definitely miss the type of work I was able to do in my old life (although I do not miss the stress).  I miss seeing family, especially around the holidays.  I definitely miss having easy access to consistent medical and dental care.
  5. Is it a fair trade??  Again Lee would say absolutely.  My answer is most days.  I do get frustrated with the fact that I cannot have the things I mentioned above and still be a full time RVer, although I am continually striving to find a balance where that is possible.

I wrote a post called Compromises on November 26, 2104, two weeks after we went on the road. Five years later, I don’t think my (or Lee’s) perspective has changed all that much. Here’s an excerpt:

“One of the things about this lifestyle is it involves many compromises.  In our sticks and bricks we had created a life that really suited our day-to-day needs.  Obviously it wasn’t good enough or we would never have made the move, but we were comfortable. (I’m never actually comfortable, the best I can shoot for is minimally uncomfortable. – Lee)  Going out on the road is an exercise in getting out of your comfort zone and it seems every decision we make involves compromise of one sort or another.  Compromise is not bad in and of itself, (yes, it is – Lee.) but you really have to be honest with yourself and each other about what really matters to you.”

So let’s talk about this year.  It was a turbulent one and in many respects this year has caused us to go full circle.  We spent the beginning of this year in Texas with our friends Cori and Greg and this year it took over a month for us to find a gate guarding job.  We really weren’t expecting such a big delay and we took a hit to our financials as we waited.  On the plus side we celebrated our first “Friendsgiving” and we able to reconnect with Kelly and Bill.  We finally got a job in December and ended up spending Christmas working in the oil fields.  It wasn’t totally terrible, but certainly not the best Christmas we have ever had, but at that point we were happy to be working again.

On the plus side after Christmas I finally published my autobiography.  I had been working on it for a couple of years and after editing and re-editing I finally was ready to pull the trigger and put it out there.  It was much more nerve wracking than I thought it would be but the response was generally good.  In particular it was nice that my brother and dad both read it because neither of them read the blog.  I learned a lot through the experience, mainly that I love writing and hate editing.  Since I can’t afford a professional editor, I need to do that work myself and that process more than anything else would make me hesitate to do it again.  There is a higher standard for writing a book than writing a blog and my “stream of consciousness style” didn’t really serve me well in that format.  All in all, I’m super glad I did it, not sure if and when I will ever do it again.

Right after the holidays I started seriously thinking about Finding a Consultant Job that fits our lifestyle.  I knew I was unhappy with the status quo but wasn’t exactly sure what type of job would fit.  I knew I needed to loosen up on my criteria though, and started looking for something in the San Antonio area.  I got really far down the path with one company but unfortunately the job was pulled before they hired anyone.  They tried to find me something else in their company but I wasn’t the right fit for any of their openings.  The whole experience really bummed me out especially because I was interviewing while trying to work overnights and scheduling interviews was complicated.  It didn’t help that in the middle of all this we had our 30th anniversary and even though we luckily had a few days off work we didn’t do anything to celebrate it.  Milestones are important to me, but not so much for Lee, and generally we manage to find some middle ground on celebrating them.  This time though nothing we could do felt right and we ended up doing nothing which really bothered me.  I knew I was unhappy with the way things were going and it became obvious that Lee felt the same way.  I had been so focused on myself and my own feelings I didn’t see that he was also struggling.

We were still trying to dig ourselves out of a financial hole though from all that time off so after a few days we started at a new gate.  We were both happy that this one was farther away from the border and we quickly settled into a routine. I kept thinking that the best time to deal with what was happening with us was when we had our month off in April, so kicked the can down the road until then.  When you are gate guarding one of you is always working and its really not the best situation to have serious relationship conversations.  I did write a post, which I never published, called “Cracks in the Foundation.”  I don’t delete many posts without posting them, and when I do it’s definitely not a good commentary on my state of mind.  Here is some of that post:


“As the days drag on at the gate, I’ve found that I have lots of time to think.  It’s been hard to put those thoughts into a cohesive post of any kind, which is why I haven’t written in awhile…  I’ve always been a person who looks for patterns or themes in my life, in part to figure out what God/the universe is trying to tell me. But as I stated it’s been a bit chaotic and the only idea that keeps occurring is the concept of foundation… We each have building blocks, and we can assign a simple designation to each of them.  Mother, Wife, Christian, Employee, Traveler, Photographer, Writer are just a few of mine.  These designations make up the unique personality of who I am and form my foundation.  In theory, those foundation blocks should be completely portable… For me, however, it hasn’t been that simple…  There is something about this life, often lived at its most basic, that strips away the noise and shows the core…

When we are traveling there is lots of distraction.  In the beginning, in particular, there were so many pretty and shiny things to look at, that the foundation was largely ignored.  Eventually things slow down and the less pleasant realities of the lifestyle start to appear.  RV repairs, money concerns and family issues all bring a dose of reality to the fantasy, and in many cases impact the foundation… There have been other events that have shown me cracks I didn’t know existed.  Or to be honest I had some inkling, but really didn’t want to look to hard.  If the basement isn’t actually flooding, who cares about the occasional minor leak?  The last month a series of events has me taking a really hard look at several bricks in my foundation. I’m not going to get into the specifics, because they are deeply personal and for the purposes of this post don’t really matter. The point is that at times like these I wonder if those cracks could be addressed easier if I lived a different lifestyle…

In the past when I had difficulty with a portion of my life I would focus on something else.  Marriage issues…work more. Kid trouble…spend more time with husband,  Work problems…focus on home.  I am fully aware that playing hot potato with my problems wasn’t always the best choice, but it was effective.  Things pass, issues work themselves out over time, circumstances changes. All of those things are true. In this stripped down life, that doesn’t feel like an option.  The problems are front and center and in this incredibly small space it is hard to shuttle them to a corner.  There is no unoccupied place to put them…In a perfect world I would love to just fix the cracks and move on. Sometimes that’s not possible.  Sometimes it’s just too painful. Sometimes it’s too scary. Like I said,  I just don’t know. It’s tempting to blame it on the lifestyle, that would be the easy way out.  But I brought this foundation with me. The life is simply the basement stripped clean.”


That post was written on February 24th and on March 4th my life turned completely upside down.   Lee had a heart attack.  It wasn’t expected and we were absolutely not prepared.  The one purpose it served was to completely shift the focus and provide a warning shot that we needed to lead a healthier lifestyle.  We quit smoking, went on diets, and both of us started seriously reevaluating our lives.  I also experienced PTSD, although I didn’t recognize it for what it was and didn’t receive help until later in the summer.  It also put on hold any plans about looking for a job.  We needed the time off in April to relax and it made the most sense to return to our jobs in Oregon for the third year in a row.  Lee really wanted to go back and although I was dreading it, I wanted him to have whatever would make him the most comfortable.  So we scheduled our time in Utah and then made plans to head that way.

Utah was the absolute best part of the year.  This was our second month in the state, and we were able to finish seeing several areas we missed the year before.  We saw Bryce Canyon with our friends Deb and Steve and explored Goblin Valley with Deb & Steve and Cori, & Greg,  The absolute best thing that we did was go on a 10 mile hike in Little Wild Horse Canyon.  First, it was one of the best experiences we have had on the road, and just as importantly it showed Lee that he could still be physically active post heart attack.  He actually did better than I did and for both of us it was a big accomplishment.

Right after we arrived at Timothy Lake Jack turned one.  I can’t stress enough what a joy he has been through a very difficult year.  Even when Lee and I weren’t communicating very well with each other, talking about the dog gave us something to work on together.  Jack has taken to the RV life very well, but it has required some adjustment on our parts.  Overall I am so very glad that we got him, but it definitely has changed the way we do things a bit.  Timothy Lake itself was not great.  We met some really nice new people, but there was more of a barrier between seasonal workers and full time employees than ever before.  I thought this year I would be able to work on some special projects, but very little of that actually materialized.  I felt underutilized and once again started thinking about next steps. My daughter was also expecting our first grandchild and I really wanted a job that would enable me to spend more time with her and the baby.

I started looking for full time or long term jobs at the beginning of August and finally in mid August I flew out to see Kyrston and to meet Oliver.  My feelings towards the baby were so strong from the moment we met and I knew I was on the right track looking for a full time position with remote options.  When I went back to Timothy I was honest with my boss and Lee about what I was doing and I worked really hard at work to fully transition my job to a new person since I knew we wouldn’t be coming back the nest year.  I helped select the right person, trained them, and documented everything I could.  I also kept looking for work, although it was definitely more difficult than I initially thought it would be.  Right when I felt I was starting to make progress we got the word that they were letting some couples go from the Work Kamping job and we were one of them.  I was told that because I had trained my replacement I had “pretty much done it to myself,” and we were given a few days to pack up and move on.

Needless to say that experience was the low point of a really crappy year and we were both very angry at being treated that way after three very loyal years of service.  These things happen for a reason though and I firmly believed God had a plan so we headed back down to Texas to see if we could get a gate guarding job to tide us over until I found something permanent.   I should stop here and say Cori & Greg were an absolute lifesaver this year.  Not only did they give us a place to stay several times, they were also unfailingly supportive friends through all this craziness.  We both learned on them pretty heavily and I am incredibly grateful that they are in our lives.

Once we got down to Texas things started heating up.  I was interviewing with multiple companies and Lee was much less resistant to me having a full time position than he initially was. Between the delay in getting a gate, the heart attack medical bills, and getting let go early from PGE we definitely were in a hole and we needed something drastic to dig our way out of it.  He definitely still had his concerns, don’t get me wrong, but he was more open to me working full time again.  To be clear I think eventually we could have worked our way out of it with gate guarding, it just would have taken much longer and for me at least would have been much less rewarding.  Finally on October 7th I started a full-time position and I felt like I could breathe a sigh of relief.

Originally we were going to stay with Cori &  Greg until November 1st, but we had a Facetime with the baby and we both decided on a whim to leave earlier and head east.  We made the drive in three days, got settled in and then went to see the baby which was very special.  The next morning I received word that my nephew had committed suicide and we packed up and moved a few hours inland to be close to my sister near Charlotte.  Having a home on wheels was a blessing in this scenario and having a job even more so.  My new boss was very understanding about my need to be with my family and as a full time employee I got paid for bereavement time.  We stayed with my sister through the week and then came back to Charleston and into the same RV spot.  Our plan is to stay here through the holidays which will allow us to spend time with Oliver and be close in case my sister needs us. We are also working through what our life looks like now that I am working full time again and Lee is figuring out what he wants to do with his time.

Overall this was a year of extreme highs and extreme lows.  Things are by no means perfect and we are still working it out, and considering the year we have had things could definitely be worse.  At this point I am living very much in the here and now, and taking things day by day.  Thank you all for following along, and here are some of my favorite pictures from the year.

Jack helps Cori with her emails.  They are good buddies.


Celebrating Kelly’s birthday


Merry Christmas


We got the fantastic news that our daughter was expecting!!!


Jack stares down a herd of cattle in the oil fields


Greg fixing Lee’s oxygen. He kept all of us in good spirits.


Hobie keeping Jack company


Visiting the donkey sanctuary with Linda.


Dinner with our friends in Arizona from left: Deb, me, Steve, Guy, Sue, Harry, and Vicki


Guy let us borrow his four wheeler to take a ride.  What a terrific experience.  We both loved it.


Seeing Bill and Nancy at Lost Dutchman State Park


Deb and Hurley at Lone Rock Beach Campground.  It’s one of our favorite boondocking spots.


Deb, Steve, Lee and I at Bryce Canyon. It was just as amazing as people say it is.


Hurley and Jack playing in Goblin Valley


AMAZING boondocking spot outside of Goblin Valley


Cori in a super cool slot canyon in Little Wild Horse


Deb, Cori, and I at Calf’s Creek Falls


Greg, Cori, Lee and I at Devils Garden on our way to Hole in the Rock


Shoshone Falls in Idaho was an unexpected treat.


Jack goes to Good Manners Class


Lovely spot near Bagby Hot Springs


My daughter Kyrston and Oliver. I adore this picture


My sister Wendy, niece Bailey, daughter Kyrston and me


Mom’s first great grand child


Dad’s first great grandchild


Olivers first fancy dinner.  He was nice and slept as I had one of the best meals of my life with my son-in-law Jeremy, daughter Kyrston and my Dad.


Jack got to meet Peyton and Sammy when Jo came to visit!


Adding to the giant ball of twine. Bucket list check!!!


Seeing our friends Dan and Sharon in Oklahoma City…another state sticker!!!


Oliver hangs out in the blanket I cross stitched for him.


I adore this child!!!



Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Search Amazon Here
  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can 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.

Five Year Camper Anniversary…How it has Held Up

One of my big questions before embarking on this lifestyle was how well will the average RV hold up.  There are a few high-end brands that are specifically designed for the full-time lifestyle, but we like many other people bought a middle tier RV and have adapted it.  In five years we have put over 40,000 miles on the RV.   It’s definitely been road tested, although we have also spent long stretches just sitting in one place for our summer jobs.  To answer the question on how it has held up, I am going to show you the before and after pictures and talk through some of the issues  we have had.  I will also discuss the enhancements and you can find details on how Lee did them on our DIY Mods Inside and DIY Mods Outside Pages. I can still remember picking it up and how shiny and clean everything was.  Obviously the place is lived in, the pictures will show that, but cosmetically it has held up much better than I expected.

Let’s start in the bedroom, which has probably changed the least.  The RV came with basic bedding and absolutely horrible valances.  We removed the valances right away, with the vague idea Lee would build something custom and I would make something to cover them.  Neither of those things happen so the blind hardware has been bare this entire time.  Honestly it rarely bothers me and I personally am still a huge fan of the wooden blinds.  Yes they get dusty, but I have never been a person who cares that much about dust.  I will say that little shelf in the back does catch a ton of dust and really doesn’t serve any practical purpose.  The two side night stands are used every night though and I would never have an RV without them.



The wood on the night stand is a little scuffed up, but other than that pretty much the same.  Lee added a reading glasses holder on his side (with command strips) and above some hooks where he can put the IPad and stream a TV show at night.  We have a TV in the room, but we rarely use it.  Even though it is on an arm, the picture is really too far to see from the bed and I think I have probably used it less than ten times in five years.  The dresser area has held up VERY well and I am so happy Lee insisted on full depth drawers.  Many RV’s only have shallow drawers and we need all of this space.  Our travel quilt is one of our favorite things although we also have a lighter weight one for warmer weather and an electric blanket for when it gets really cold.

I have to have a fan, so we added this little fold up table and Lee put in an extra outlet and an extra 12 volt plug for the fan we use when boondocking.

This artwork came from our house and is very lightweight. It stays put well despite the bounciest of roads and has held up well.

These were mirrors originally and I hated looking at myself first thing in the morning so Lee put Artscape window film on and it has held up VERY well.  I still really like it.

One of my favorite mods is how he turned part of the closet into a laundry hamper with netting. The laundry hamper solution is a challenge in almost every RV and this really works for us.

We knew from the beginning that we wanted a washer/dryer combo and we are so glad that we have it.  We use the washer dryer all of the time and only go to a laundromat when boon docking or for our blankets etc.  Unfortunately the first unit we got with the rig never worked right and we needed to use our extended warranty right away.  We had technicians out twice before they finally received permission to replace the Pinnacle with a Splendide.  I will say we occasionally have issues with it when we are on unusual power.  It’s not just us, Greg and Cori have had similar issues, but mostly it works great and we feel lucky to have it.  Would never get an RV without one.

We have only had two problems related to the washing machine.  One is before traveling you have to store the laundry soap inside the machine.  One time I forgot and it fell off, cracked, and laundry detergent leaked into the floor.  It was impossible to get out, never evaporated, and ultimately contributed to having to get the floor replaced.  When we got the slide floor replaced they couldn’t quite match the carpet so it is slightly different now around the slide.  Our second issue is the mirrored doors to the closet are cracked.  These doors see a lot of use and have not held up well.  Unfortunately they are not that easy to replace so for now we are just living with it.

Original Pinnacle washing machine.

Replacement Splendide. If you look closely at the carpet in the bottom you can see it doesn’t match.

Crack in upper right portion of left closet door. That bugs me.

Of all of the rooms I would say the bathroom is the most beat up.  Not surprising because it sees a ton of use and also because I find it very hard to clean in there.  My claustrophobia is mostly a non-issue in the other rooms, but I tend not to spend a ton of time in there. The shower itself has some nicks at the base and the doors are pretty bad.  The glass is cloudy and in the corners it has mildew etc.  Lee and I have both tried to get it clean, but without completely taking off the doors at this point I don’t think it is possible.  Instead I took the route that many others have and added a shower curtain.  When company comes over I just pull the curtain closed so no one sees.

The one really good thing we did do was upgrade to a larger toilet.  I hated the small toilet that came with the RV and the larger porcelain one was a HUGE improvement.  This upgrade still make me really happy and I would never own another RV without having this changed. It’s that big of a difference.

Brand new shiny bathroom. People really like the bowl but honestly it’s kind of hard to clean. It gets splatters underneath.

Current. The soap scum and mildew drive some people crazy. I’ve learned to live with it because the amount of work it takes to stop it from happening is frankly not worth it to me.

Lee says the stains and nicks at the bottom will never come out. The whole piece would need to be replaced.

The front of the drawers get toothpaste etc on them. I wipe them down but back the next day. It’s just a really small space.

Old toilet which I hated.  Low to the ground and never felt “secure” on the plastic.

New toilet is taller and porcelain.  Feels more secure.  the only downside is a small amount of water goes in after every flush.  That’s great for keeping it from getting stained, but not so great when trying to conserve water while boon docking.  The only downside though and a minor one at that.

The other space that has probably taken the most beating is the kitchen.  I use our kitchen a lot and although the cabinets have held up extremely well, the stove area and floors are a bit of a mess. The trim around the refrigerator slide is loose and the floors are pretty scuffed.  When I clean them they will look good for a few hours but in general tons of dust, small rocks etc tend to accumulate. Essentially it still looks good from a distance but when you get close up you start to notice all the little nicks. I just try to not let it make me crazy.

One of the biggest problems we have had is over time the sink developed gaps between it and the counter top.  It was a significant enough problem that once Lee replaced the sink and another time tore it apart and resealed the whole thing.  I find this really annoying because it is a pretty basic structural defect.  It is well within Lee’s ability to fix though so ends up being an annoyance rather than an emergency.  One of the best things we did was replace our table with a standard dining room table and ultimately we replaced the chairs with standard cushioned chairs.  I use the table routinely for cooking or computer work and the chairs were super uncomfortable.  I just wish we hadn’t waited so long to get regular chairs, because the new ones are sooo much better than what we had before.

At this point you might be wondering why we just don’t have the warranty take care of it.  Turns out that getting warranty work done can be extremely painful.  Since we travel we can’t go back to the dealer and have to find a shop wherever we are.  It’s never quick, we always have to wait too long for parts, and the quality of work has been substandard on several occasions.  That being said I still 100% recommend getting an extended warranty.  There are some things Lee can’t fix himself and others that are just too expensive.  We spent $4,000 on our platinum extended warranty and so far have gotten $3500 worth of value from it.  Since it lasts until 2021 I have no doubt we will get our money’s worth.


Brand new kitchen

Current State.  If you look around the handles on the bottom cabinets (where the trash is) you can see the wear. The upper cabinets have held up much better.  That bright spot by the way is from the sun.


New view from living room.

Current view from living room. The new dining room tables and chairs don’t take up that much more space, but definitely better for what we need.

New microwave stove area.

Current Microwave area

The one major change we would like to make in this are is to replace the microwave with a convection.  If I would have had any idea on how neat they are I would definitely have insisted on one.  Then Lee want to put in a propane stove top and we can reclaim the oven space for storage.  Two big problems with the propane oven.  First it cooks unevenly so baking anything that requires precise temperatures is out of the question.  Second it really makes the rig hot.  This can be a benefit when we are in a chilly place, but requires running the AC when we are in warmer climates. Between a convection oven, Air Fryer, and Instant Pot we feel we will have all of our bases covered and we could use the oven space to store our Instant Pot and Air Fryer, which currently don’t have a permanent home.  Some people would remove the propane all together and go with induction plates, but we like having propane burners for boon docking.

The biggest changes from when we picked it up were definitely made in the living room. We are on our third couch in five years because of the unique setup of our slide. We purchased our current couch at Lambright in Amish country and although isn’t a perfect fit for the slide is closer to what we want.  We also removed all the valances in this room and once again just have the hardware.

The original couch which was super uncomfortable. It was great that it opened into an air bed but I couldn’t sit or lay on it easily.

We bought out second couch before we even went on the road but it was just a standard loves eat.  Once big problem was the back covered the windows which significantly reduced our airflow. It was comfy though. Our current couch breathes better and has slightly shorter backs.  It also has a center section that comes down allowing for more airflow.  Because it gets so hot up in that corner we have also added a small fan which helps. Unfortunately it still sticks out and Lee built a second base for it to rest on and this time built-in a shoe cubby which is nice.  The only downside is you still can’t put your feet on the floor which is awkward when guests come over.  I usually have it reclined so it doesn’t bother me.

As you can see in the next picture we intentionally had the second couch left out.  Lee knew he wanted to build a desk and that has been absolutely awesome.  He added a slide out keyboard mount later, which really improved the design and all the details on how he did it are on our DIY page.  One thing I loved when I initially bought the RV was the front window. I still like it but because it has a structured screen print on the front it is very difficult to clean.  Dust and bugs also hang out in that section and it’s hard to get back in there.

It really doesn’t matter much though because it turns out we keep the TV up most of the time.  We use it as a second computer screen or just have it up with a running slide show of our pictures.  It comes down when we travel of course but I am sure it is up 90% of the time we are stationary.  The only downsides to the TV is unfortunately it isn’t smart TV, which we would like to have AND in the process of putting it up and down the power plug often wiggles loose.  Lee usually deals with that, because you can’t see the plug you have to feel for it.  It happened while I was taking pictures for this blog though and I managed to do it myself.  It’s just a poor design and another reason we usually leave the TV up.

Brand New

Our desk area which I love. Only downside is does get a little hot in that corner sometimes.

The carpet has held up remarkably well considering how light it is. Replacing it would be a huge job because of the slides and desk.

I love the front for a place for special knick knacks but not so much for the dust.

And the window is always dirty. See that red streak in the corner. A big blood splat against the window and bled between the grill and the glass. I have tried everything to get rid of it, including hydrogen peroxide and a Qtip but it is stubbornly not leaving. I try not to think about it anymore, because without replacing the glass I am stuck with it.

Lee’s chair area hasn’t changed much at all.  The only difference is we added a table that Lee made from a piece of wood we got in the Redwoods.


Current. The chair is original and held up very well.

Overall the inside is doing pretty good.  Our biggest problem has been repeated issues with our slide cables, which thankfully Lee can usually fix himself.  We knew when we bought the Open Range the slide system was unique, but Lee wanted something he could work on himself.  And to be honest I have not been easy on these front slides.  Still it is my biggest complaint about the interior of the rig and for me feels like a structural defect.

Speaking of structural defects it is time to talk about the outside.  Lee is working this week and unavailable to add to this post, so I will do the best I can hitting the highlights.  As you can see below everything was bright and shiny when we picked it up, but of course are a little more beat up now. the main cosmetic changes are that Lee removed the swirls from the windows, which I really appreciated because it opened the window up.  The logos on both the front and back windows are also getting a little faded but this seems to be a common problem with older RV’s.  We like the way it is fading though because of the light colors it really doesn’t look that bad.  We actually are very glad we have a light-colored RV.  It hides the dust better and the paint doesn’t show fades nearly as much.  The only thing we have added is our blog logo on the front and a quote on one of the slides.  They are getting a little frayed as well, but holding up ok.


Brand new and shiny

As you can see the horse in the front is fading away

Some of the logos are doing just fine though

The back is also starting to fade but again it doesn’t look that bad

The quote we added on the side.

The windows are so much better without the swoop through them.

It really looks pretty good.

So cosmetically we are fine but we have had our share of structural issues.  Pretty early on a truck in front of me lost its tread and it bounced up and hit our stairs and trim.  Eventually we had to replace the stairs because they were bent but we just left the trim piece.  Too expensive to fix.

We also upgraded the tires to G’s which I highly recommend. The tires it came with were awful. Would never have cheap tires again.

New Stairs.

We also have some dings on the side because I hit it with my chair. again minor issues.

The awning has done ok, although we have had a couple of close calls.  The underside gets stained, no easy way around that, and although I have cleaned it a couple of times it’s a rough job and not really worth it to me.  It’s also starting to rip a little in one corner which is concerning because they are not cheap to replace. We are super careful with our awning in bad weather because we know how easily they can get ruined.  Although we deliberately chose not to have slide toppers (and I don’t regret it for one second), I do wish we had an auto-retracting awning.  that seems like a nice feature although it is something else to break.

the underside of the awning.

The tear.

We do have stains on the sides of our slides because we don’t have slide toppers and the water runs down, but again would never have them.  We don’t have to put our slides in when the weather gets bad just worry about our awning which is quick to bring in.  Storms are sudden in the west.

One of the biggest structural issues we had from the beginning was with the front jacks.  We are not alone in this because they are often designed poorly.  One of ours bent early on and Lee fought with that thing for years.  Ultimately it failed and he could have been seriously hurt in the process, and he finally replaced them.  They work much better now and he added a remote control system so he can lower and raise them while he is in the truck.  This makes hitching MUCH easier for him and is one of Lee’s favorite mods.  We are not alone in having front jacks fail by the way. We have two close friends who have had the same thing happen.  Thankfully in all cases there was no people or rig damage, but this is not an area of the RV to take lightly.

They seem so slender for what they hold up.

Finally we come to the frame.  Ten days after our two-year Lippert manufacturers warranty expired we broke a shackle.  Since we could not travel until it was fixed we did call a repair technician and our extended warranty ultimately paid for it.  Lippert on the other hand refused to pay for it despite how close we were to being in warranty. The big takeaway from the repair was the difference in our existing shackles and the heavy-duty ones.  It truly was night and day and made us think more seriously about what we were resting on.  Ultimately we decided to get a Mor-Ryde heavy duty suspension system and again the difference in one came with the RV and the upgrade was stunning.  I am a layperson and it was easy for me to see.  Consequently  I would never full-time in an RV without a heavy-duty suspension system.  Although we did just fine for the first couple of year we have no idea what unnecessary stress we put on the rest of the rig.  That is why I would have it from the beginning.

The new shackle was on the left and the old was on the right. World’s of difference.

Old Axles

New axle. Again no contest.

Why I mention the unknown stress is that at the five year mark we may have a brake in our frame.  We are taking our rig to a welder on April first and we will know once they take a look at it.  Unfortunately to see the problem they need to take the skin off which is time consuming and expensive.  We have no idea what we are getting into until they see it and there is even a small chance the rig may need to be totaled.  As much as I love my RV, if it can’t be repaired I lose my home.  If the warranty company won’t pay for it, I lose my financial cushion. According to the contract it should be covered, but the welder says they will rarely pay.

This one repair could change everything, and personally I believe that if we had gotten a heavy duty suspension system sooner it may not have happened.  That being said, the regular frame should last more than five years.  Anyways, here is my happy face the day we took possession of our new home and five years later  I still mostly feel the same way!



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