Sunday, June 5, 2011

RV Living

Have you ever thought about chucking it all and living in an RV? Well, that is my life. I live in a 40 foot 5th wheel. Here is the floor plan for my home: Heartland Bighorn. You can check out the site to see what the interior of my home looks like. It’s not your typical family camping RV.

I have a stacking washer and dryer, both Whirlpools. I consider this a must when we’re traveling since I hate looking for a laundry to wash my clothes. Especially after our time in southwestern Kentucky where I had to drive forty-five minutes to the closest laundry, that was before we bought the 5th wheel and only had a travel trailer which didn’t have the space for a washer and dryer.

Yes, we have a special truck to pull the RV. My husband has a 3500 Chevy Silverado HD with a Duramax engine and an Allison transmission. It’s also a dually which makes pulling the RV much easier. Instead of a bumper hitch we have a 5th wheel hitch in the bed of the truck.

This past winter, while in northern Nevada, we bought a specially fitted tarp which buttons onto the bottom of the RV. It works like skirting on a mobile home keeping the floor of the RV a bit warmer during the winter.

Two months ago we bought a Tempur Pedic California King mattress to replace the one we had in the RV. Our bed is on a platform which can be lifted at the bottom. This provides us with a huge, easy to access storage area. I keep extra sheets and blankets in there, along with suitcases and outerwear. My husband requires several different outwear sets of clothing, depending on what part of the country his job happens to be in.

Instead of depending on the RV parks to provide us with cable TV, we take our own satellite and receiver with us. We have a big flat screen TV in the living room and a smaller flat screen TV in the bedroom. We also have two DVD players and a stereo. The speakers for the stereo are throughout the RV. We still have the capability of receiving cable TV, if it’s provided by the RV park so we can get local channels.

There have been times in our travels that I’ve not been able to get any internet in the RV parks. While in northern Colorado, I had to drive to the library to use their internet. However, I now have an AT&T internet card. It doesn’t work everywhere but it is a good back up. Trust me when I say that rural America doesn’t have the 3G capabilities that are taken for granted in the larger cities.

Unlike many RVs, our bedroom is completely separate from the bathroom, with a wall and a glass paneled door. There are two decorative glass panels on both sides of the door. I absolutely love that separation.

There are two air conditioners, one in the living area and the other is in the bedroom both in the ceiling. The one in the living area is vented, which means the cool air is pushed through vents in the ceiling throughout the RV. However, the bedroom air conditioner is needed because we like to keep the bedroom very cool for sleeping. A fantastic fan is located in the kitchen area, in the ceiling. When it’s too cool for the air conditioner but too warm to be comfortable, we can open a few windows and turn on the fantastic fan. It pulls the cool air into the RV, along with those smaller gnats slipping through the screens. The only unpleasant part about using the fantastic fan is it also pulls the odor up from the black tank (where the sewage goes). One of the saving graces about having the throne room separate from the sink and shower is the odor stays contained.

The best thing about living in an RV—housework doesn’t take very long. The worst thing—not much storage, if you happen to be someone who collects anything. Living in an RV makes you pare down what you need to live. Only the essentials, ma’am, but you can add a few extras due to the extra storage space found in a 5th wheel. It’s called basement storage and is underneath the RV, accessed from the outside.

Our RV has two kinds of window dressings or blinds or shades (whatever you want to call them). When they are both down, it’s considered a “privacy” shade. When that one is up and the other one is down, it’s like having sheers behind the drapes in your house. You can see out, even so no one can really see into the RV due to the tinted windows. Of course, just like in a house, if that shade is the only one down in the evening and the lights are on, people can see inside. These shades are also on the bedroom door and the glass panels beside the door.

Our RV has two kinds of window dressings or blinds or shades (whatever you want to call them). When they are both down, it’s considered a “privacy” shade. When that one is up and the other one is down, it’s like having sheers behind the drapes in your house. You can see out, even so no one can really see into the RV due to the tinted windows. Of course, just like in a house, if that shade is the only one down in the evening and the lights are on, people can see inside. These shades are also on the bedroom door and the glass panels beside the door.

My husband’s favorite toy is the central vacuum. My favorite is the kitchen faucet, it sprays with the touch of a button and pulls out so I can spray wherever I need to spray or make it higher for larger dishes. The stove has three burners and the oven is small but there is a convection/microwave so most things are easy to cook. With only two of us most of the time, I don’t need anything bigger. I do quite a bit of slow cooker recipes especially in the summer because it keeps the heat down. Have you ever cooked a ham in the slow cooker? Awesome! We also grill quite a bit.

We’ve replaced the living room furniture with five recliners and three of them are rocker recliners which are my favorites. With the ease of lifting the backs off the recliners we can stack them off to the sides so we can pull the slides in when we’re ready to hit the road.

What’s great about staying in most, not all, RV parks? One fee usually does it. Once we pay the rent we have access to whatever the park offers. Showers, swimming pools, hot tubs, playground and recreational area are all free to use. Each park is different. Some parks will charge extra for electricity if staying longer than a week. Of course, propane which is used for cooking and the water heater are costs the RV owner pays. Water, sewage, and garbage are all included in the rent.

If you’re thinking of getting rid of your house and hitting the open road in an RV, of any kind, you need to do your research. Decide what kind of RV you want and what features are the most important. Don’t settle because the sales jerk is pushing you, look around, sit in it, picture yourself in it, then make the crucial decision. It’s not for everybody but for some of us, it’s a perfect lifestyle.

Denise Pattison


vickyb said...

Wow. Thanks for the great information and the view inside. Hubby and I have often thought of doing this. We have kids or other relatives in Florida, Texas, Washington, Minnesota and Pennsylvania and would love to just travel and visit them. You've given us a lot to think about.

morgan said...

What an interesting life you must lead. All that traveling, different scenery and people probably makes excellent material for you stories. Thanks for the RV update. Great Job.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I feel like I've been visiting with you, Denise. You place sounds lovely. I am glad you've adjusted so well. All this time I've been thinking a small trailer, but your home looks very comfortable. It's not the life for me because I have too much 'stuff' to deal with.

Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your world, my friend. I loved visiting. :)

Denise Pattison said...

Hi Vicky.

We've been to all of those states. Actually, we have a house in Pennsylvania we are in the process of emptying out to put on the market. We bought land in Texas a year ago and that's where we go between jobs. Our children live east of Dallas.

You could visit relatives in the north during the summer and head to the southern states in the winter. That's the ideal life.

If you have any questions about this lifestyle feel free to contact me. I'll be happy to give you answers.

Denise Pattison said...

Thanks, Morgan.

Yes, I've got lots of material and stories from our travels. I've met some real characters and seen things that most people miss as they drive through a state on the highway.

It's rare for us to be close to the large cities. We're always in rural areas or small towns with friendly people.

Denise Pattison said...


I finally took your advice and wrote about my RV life.

You wouldn't believe the stuff we've been trying to pack up from our house. Living in an RV makes you be selective in what you need to live with and what you can do without.

We've been married for 32 years and packing up everything we've accumulated in that length of time is a long complicated job. What do we keep? What should we pass on to the kids and grandkids? What should we just throw away? Even after all those decisions, we've got a shed in Texas that Kevin is slowly filling up.

Mitzi said...

One of my fantasies: to have an RV and travel to spots where there have been paranormal activities.
Yeah, I'm nuts.
Loved the post and sent the floor plan to My Guy...just in case we win the lottery.

Shannon Donnelly said...

We're currently living in a refurbished 1966 Airstream while we build a house in New Mexico -- The kitchen is great, and it's actually very comfortable. But you do have to downsize. And you really have to think about what you want in the fridge.


Denise Pattison said...

Mitzi, my husband would love you. If we're passing any paranormal area we have to stop and visit. We do historical sites too. He loved visiting the Anasazi sites in Utah. We had our ATV and a tour guide to visit sites off the beaten path.

Denise Pattison said...

Shannon, Airstreams are awesome and meant to last. I know exactly what you mean about the fridge. It does cut down on stuff being in there too long and being tossed though. I plan a few meals at a time when I shop and I don't buy too many frozen items items either. I love the new milk and juice cartons with the plastic spout and lid on the top, yet on the side, of the carton. I can put it on its side with the spout up and still have a good bit of room in the fridge. I stick to the smaller sized condiments that fit easily on the door. Oh, and those little bottles of water fit nicely under the water tray (from defrosting) at the back of the fridge--and they get really cold there. It's rare for me to leave the grocery store with more than three bags of groceries, simply because I have to plan where to put everything--but everything is fresh when I use it.

My husband would love where you're building your house. We're looking into those energy options for our land in Texas. I'll have to let him check out that website. Thanks!

Dawn Marie Hamilron said...

Hi, Denise. My hubby would like to do something similar. Only with a sailboat.

Josie said...

What an interesting lifestyle! Please share more with us. Where have your travels taken you?

Denise Pattison said...

Hi Dawn,

A sailboat? Ummm, sounds so romantic. Do you own a sailboat now? I've never been on a sailboat only a motorboat.

My uncle liked speed and he take us tearing around different lakes.

Unfortunately, I married someone who gets a bit seasick on a ferry.

Denise Pattison said...


We've been to many places.

Once we stayed at an RV park on the beach in LA. I didn't realize when we went there that we were directly behind LAX.

We also stayed at RV park in Malibu. The back of our RV was hanging off the mountain. We could see where the land had slid away and rebar was sticking out of the bank. One night was all I could tolerate of that one.

We saw the first snow of the year in the White Mountains on Columbus day. The autumn leaves were beautiful with the snow on them.

The sands of Panama City Beach are really white and it's one of the most beautiful beaches I've ever seen.

We've traveled through tornadoes, blizzards, sleet, and a hurricane in our RV. There are times there just isn't anywhere to go.

We've been from Maine to California, North Dakota to Texas. There are still a few states we haven't made it to yet.

Dawn Marie Hamilron said...

No sailboat yet, but my hubby is always looking. He has sailed for years. Me--not so much. :)

Clarissa Southwick said...

Your RV sounds absolutely fantastic. I imagine every trip inspires you to write a new novel.