Saturday, June 18, 2016

Whew! Downsizing is Exhausting

We began RVing in 1988, first borrowing a tent trailer, then buying our own Coleman pop-up. We traveled to the east coast and to British Columbia with that RV. We enjoyed it for probably 9 years before moving up to our first 5th wheel, a 1997 Komfort with no slides. (Our son Eric is still using that tent trailer.) We took the Kombort on many great trips, including one to the east coast. Eventually, about 5 or 6 years later, we decided we wanted at least one slide. We traded it for a 2003 Montana. Enjoying that one, we drove and rode the Alaska Marine Highway to Alaska, returning entirely on land. We also drove it to the Canadian Maritime Provinces.

In 2008 after volunteer assignments in Oregon, we were headed south into California when the front legs no longer worked. We were not able to take it off our truck until it was in the garage for repairs. While it was being fixed we checked out the dealers lot and bought a 2009 10th Anniversary Montana with 2 slides. We traveled extensively in that trailer including another trip to Alaska, after which we returned all the way to the lower 48 on the Marine Highway.

In early 2012 the front landing gear on that trailer failed. When we finally got it onto the truck, we had both front legs replaced under our extended service plan. By the end of the year, when we decided to look for another 5th wheel with 3 slides, we decided to go with a DRV Mobile Suites. We ordered it on line, using lots of advice from the Suites Owners forum and 3 different DRV dealers. After deciding which dealer to buy from, we waited for it to be built the way we wanted then picked it up in Chanute, Kansas, in 2013.

The Mobile Suites is constructed with more quality interiors, more style and upgrades than the Montanas. And it had a Lippert Level-up system that was a dream to use. Put down the front legs, removed the tow vehicle, push a button and it leveled itself automatically. That is done with hydraulic landing legs. Last September we began having serious problems with the hydraulic system ... more serious than the electric legs in either Montana. We had one front leg replaced last September after it wouldn't stay up. We had to keep stopping the truck every 10 miles as we drove on I-70 and I-25 in Colorado. This May, the system again failed: first it came down while we were parked with the RV still on the truck. Then the front end of the 5th wheel got lower and lower while we were parked.

We traveled from Arizona to Oklahoma to have the closest DRV dealer examine it and, we hoped, repair the problem. When we arrived at the dealership we were told our trailer wouldn't even be examined for 7 days, even though we had been led to believe he would immediately work on it when we arrived. Seven days later he spent 2 1/2 hours testing the legs and declared it OK. He then suggested, if we intended to keep the unit, we have the legs replaced and recommended a shop in Indiana. We left the dealership and drove directly to Amarillo. While in Amarillo the trailer legs again failed. We contacted the shop in Indiana and found that the earliest appointment was at least a month out.

We drove to Colorado without disconnecting our 5th wheel. It's difficult to get fuel, to shop for food and to visit when you have to drive a one-ton dual wheel truck and a 36 foot 5th wheel everywhere.

That was enough! No more 5th wheels for us. The living space and storage space in that type of RV is great. We have lived full-time in our last 2 for a total of 7 years. But we are no longer full-timers and we decided to downsize and look on our travels more like camping.

We arrived at Chatfield State Park near Denver on June 7. Since we couldn't take the 5th wheel off our truck, our son loaned us his pickup so we could get around without taking the trailer everywhere. The next day we went looking for a travel trailer. At Windish RV in Lakewood, we looked at several Airstreams as well as a Jayco and Grand Design unit. The latter 2 had slides so there was more living space. But they felt cheap inside compared to the Mobile Suites and Airstream. So that day, we made our choice and said we would get back to them. We then drove to Stevenson Chevrolet in Lakewood. We didn't need a 1-ton dually to pull the Airstream which, fulling loaded, weighs 10,000 pounds less then the Mobile Suites. Once we made a choice there, we returned to Windish and made a down payment on the trailer. Then back to Stevenson and made a down payment there.

Not done yet, we returned to Chatfield and spent the evening with our son Eric and his family on their boat, including another celebration of my recent birthday.

Thursday it was time to begin downsizing our stuff. When we lived in the Suites full-time, we had everything we owned (except for a small storage unit of stuff) in the RV. In late 2014 we bought a small house in Arizona and took what we needed for the house out of the trailer. We traveled in 2015, then returned to Arizona. But we still had way more than we needed for our travels. We have been sorting clothes and boxing up what we want shipped back to Arizona, keeping on what we absolutely need. The 5th wheel has a large basement storage area that we will miss. The idea is the put a cover on the bed of the truck and use that to store those items.

Friday we were out by 9 to finish the paperwork and pay for the truck. Then we returned to Windish to look again at the Airstream storage. Back to Chatfield to sort, throw stuff away and give Eric and Liz what we think they can use.

Saturday there was more sorting and packing. In the evening we attended my 55th high school reunion. Sunday was a chance to relax little. Monday we took the Mobile Suites to Windish and picked up the Airstream. Since the refrigerator wasn't cold in the new trailer, we left all our food in the old RV until the next day. But it took a while to move everything else into the new RV. We had boxed and bagged a lot of it before we got there, but it still had to be carted from one unit to the other. We used the old truck to move it. Back at Chatfield, we began trying to find a place for everything.

Tuesday it was time to trade the old truck for the new one. That didn't take long at all. The biggest task was to have all the new electronics in a 2016 Chevy explained. We still have to read about it so we remember, but all the upgrades are amazing! Then we drove to Windish to pick up our food.

Wednesday we had appointments with our dermatologist and returned Eric's truck. We made a trip to Goodwill, ordered a bed cover for the truck, ran some errands and started changing our insurance to the new vehicles.

We are exhausted. It is an effort to mentally take in all the changes. We try not to get lost when we get up during the night, looking for the bathroom. Every time we want something we stop, look around and try to remember where it might be. Sometimes it takes checking several cabinets before we find it.

Finally, Thursday, we had a full day at our site in the state park. We did laundry and continued working on putting things away. By dinner time, we finally were rid of boxes and piles on every surface. Whew.

I'll post pictures of all this in my next blog.

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