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Back In The Game!

For the past year, I have been off the road and settled in to semi-retirement on my own lot in an Escapees park. Age has caught up to both my trailer and myself. The days of traveling 400 miles once a week are long over and gate guarding has changed considerably, especially for single gate guards. When I retired, I could swear I heard a sigh of relief and a “Me too!” from my 5th wheel. I still work part time in (Ugh!) retail. However, I still get itchy feet now and then to get out there and see what is over the next hill or see something new. What to do? Buy a new (to me) RV and move up to the next level, a motorhome, of course! Yep, I’m done with hitching up and towing. While I am still keeping my trailer to live in and truck for daily travel, I just bought a very sweet little Roadtrek Class B camper van for weekends and vacations. Hooray! It looks like a van, drives like a van, parks like a van in a single parking spot but it has almost all the amenities of home! It can also be used for daily travel when my truck breaks down and is being fixed not to mention it actually gets better gas mileage than my truck.

Meet Mariah, the new wind beneath my wings.

Mariah1     Mariah2

I found Mariah on Facebook local classifieds. A friend drove me over to check her out. She’s a 1992 Roadtrek Popular 190. She’s old but the price was very good, she’s in pretty good shape, she has all new tires, and she drives great! I went into the deal expecting some major expenses for repairs and counted those costs in when deciding to buy her. The main issues were a cracked windshield (now fixed) and the 3 way fridge only works on gas (but oh it works really well on gas!). On my first overnight trip, I also discovered leaking sewer valves (new replacements came with her though) and a leaky water pump (part is on the way). The awning looks to be in good shape, all curtains are there, toilet works fine, stove and microwave work, furnace and AC work wonderfully, all manuals are onboard, mileage is low. This model does not have the optional shower and water heater but the previous owner rigged up a sort of shower and I already have a solar shower bag. I heat up water in the microwave or on the stove to do dishes which won’t be necessary once it heats up here. I found an empty compartment with drawings for an exterior door and a cable going to the battery compartment. This is where the optional generator would have gone if installed. I will be looking into that possibility as well as solar. I did replace the stereo myself with a modern one which is the same model as what I installed in my truck. I also added a backup camera on the back.

The more I tear into Mariah, the more impressed I am with the company’s innovation. They used the available space very well and designed it for both plenty of storage inside and less drag outside. I love the trunk in the floor to store stuff and the table up front that uses the passenger chair turned around. The rear passenger seat makes up into a clever bed in conjunction with the front passenger seat and it does fit an adult just fine. I found several hidden storage areas and a hidden but handy power plug up front. The walls have 3-4 inches of insulation and the ceiling is padded. The bathroom door folds out to form a privacy wall both to create a bigger bathroom area and to provide privacy between the two sleeping areas. I added a long curtain nearby for further, faster bathroom privacy. The air conditioner and TV antenna are both built into the roof rather than sticking up outside. The 3 windows in the roof provide lots of light and star gazing. The sewer connection hose is built in! It is housed in a pipe and pulls out easily and already connected to empty the tanks. They even included a bar to pull the gray water tank valve open without reaching underneath. I wondered why they didn’t include a latch to hold the electrical/propane door open but then I found a bar that pulls out for that too. Awesome! It’s nice to have a built-in propane tank too so no more bottle hauling.

I was hoping to be able to keep the big table in back up to use but while all 3 twin beds are suitable, they don’t work for me in a single sleeping bag with a bad back. I finally gave in and put it down to make two twins into one big queen bed with two identical sleeping bags zipped together. That is sooo comfortable! Luckily, they thought to add that second table up front which while smaller is still large enough and comfortable enough for computer work or eating.

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All in all I am very happy with it and so glad I found it. I look forward to many happy trips in it. My neighbors are jealous!

Dang Improvements

One thing I didn’t know before buying into an RV park in the Southwest is the incredible amount of wind that blows through here. I found out the hard way this past Spring when the winds kicked up and nearly blew my 30 foot 10,000 pound 5th wheel RV off it’s foot pads. I was having to put my full length slideout in constantly and couldn’t sleep due to the creaking of the bedroom wall and the constant rocking motion of the bedroom. I spent a few nights sleeping in my truck instead. I am now in the process of converting my large garage building into a comfortable she shed with a foldable cot, sleeping bag, outdoor carpeting, porta potti, dorm refrigerator, and TV. I am looking at possibly insulating it and installing permanent AC along with a portable heater.

I am also working on stabilizing the trailer further. I already had X-chocks on it which I highly recommend to anyone. Recently I added a stabilizer tripod to the hitch up front. I hadn’t thought that would help much before and didn’t want to add more to my setup routine but decided to give it a shot now that I am spending much more time in one place. I bought it from Amazon and found it easy to put together. Installation was also easy. Oh my gosh! It works! We had more wind here right after I installed it but my trailer is much more stable and I was able to sleep through it just fine. I don’t know yet if it will be able to also handle the Spring winds but it has given me hope. In any case, I will also have my she shed ready.

5th Wheel hitch stabilizer

Another improvement I am adding this week is a very large propane tank with regular onsite service from a local company. The genius who designed the location for the on board tanks on my trailer made it very difficult to get the tanks out to refill them and well, I’m not forty anymore. I’m really looking forward to using it though I heat mostly with electric in the winter. The water heater uses a lot when it is cold outside and I occasionally use the on board furnace to quickly bring the trailer temperature up in the morning.

Giant propane tank

Last winter I bought a Camco heated water hose and can now say the expensive item is well worth it. I haven’t frozen up once since then. I unplugged it when the temps started staying in normal ranges and only plugged it back in recently when they plunged again.

 

General Delivery

For anyone using General Delivery for mail and getting told by a Postmaster that they can only use it for 30 days, apparently several postmasters have been misreading the DMM (Domestic Mail Manual). The manual has been updated to make it clearer that the 30 days only applies to how long they will hold an individual mail piece and not how long you may use the service which has no limit. While General Delivery is meant to be a temporary service, they do understand the need for transients and those without a formal mailing address to receive mail per an update notice published by the USPO and current section 6.0 of the DMM.

Personally, I do use a mail service to receive all my mail and send it to me wherever I am when I ask for it. I have been doing this since 2005 and it has worked well most of the time. On rare occasions, I do get a postmaster who threatens to stop accepting general delivery. Educate them by showing them the manual and/or going over their heads, move on, or accept being bullied. Your choice.

Still Alive!

Sorry I haven’t written in a while. The last two years have seen huge changes in my life which have kept me busy. Last year I lost my easy gate that I was guarding for 3 years. The oilfield activity increased all over as oil prices went up and my sweet gate suddenly became a nightmare. Many of the other gates becoming available were going to be too busy for a single person. Yes, I could have partnered up with another single but then the pay would be split in half and you might as well work at Walmart for 4 hours a day less to make the same money so not an option for me. Eventually, I was forced to take day gates that required working out of my truck for 12 hours a day which is not fun, expensive driving to the gate every day, dangerous driving oilfield roads in the dark, and pretty boring. Then I caught a regular live onsite gate to be shared with a couple and I wrote previously on how bad that turned out to be. The good ol’ days for single guards in the oilfields seem to be over and I am 6 years older now which definitely makes a difference in my needs and abilities.

After finding my wonderful RV site to lease in New Mexico, I just couldn’t bear to go back to gate guarding right away. Both my old trailer and I were groaning. I decided to try to find another type of job still in the oilfields but easier such as delivering parts or water or perhaps driving escort for rigs. I submitted many many applications but it seems that although there are plenty of old men working in the oilfields, nobody wants an older woman despite all my varied work experience and knowledge. I was offered a shot at one job at the nearby refinery but they do rotating shifts which is a killer for young and old. No thanks! In the end, I reached Social Security early retirement age while searching and decided to pack it in and semi-retire. I’m still working things out but in the meantime, I took a job at the local Walmart part-time to cover the bills and keep me active. Several people from my RV park work there. Walmart doesn’t care about age or sex. They just want bodies which is true of many of the stores and fast food joints in the area. If interested, submit an app online.

So here I am, living full-time in my 5th wheel in a very nice RV park on my very own lot and working part-time. My trailer is still good enough to live in but I believe it has seen its last road trip. I still own a house up North that is now going up for sale. I hope to buy another smaller RV next year for short trips for fun and to continue this blog. I do still cruise. I may try gate guarding again at some point at a guard shack or just doing relief but it won’t be for awhile due to Social Security rules for early retirees I have to navigate. I have renewed my security license just in case and plan to keep it until I am sure I am not going back.

I did get to do my best gate ever back in January for two weeks before I retired where I lived in the oil company man’s mobile home for two weeks just keeping an eye on the equipment there. It paid extremely well and for the most part I was totally left alone with a large flat pad to walk every day for exercise, normal house shower and kitchen, and satellite TV with loads of movie channels. I had a blast and cleaned it up a bit for them to thank them and have something to do. Wish I could get more like that one but that was just a fluke.

For now, I will be posting my explorations of this area and my cruises. This actually is a great area to retire except for housing and RV park prices which have skyrocketed due to the Permian Basin oilfield activity. Not a problem if you are an Escapee!