A short while I ago, as an aside, I mentioned that I might be buying an RV to live in. It seemed like a good idea, so every day I checked ebay to see what sorts of deals were to be had. I wasn't ready to buy, but I figured it would be good to know what's available for when the condo sold.
I sat in my living room chatting with some friends on AIM when one of them brought up the RV idea. While I explained it to them I opened up ebay. By default it shows the most recently listed RVs on top. The very top one was an R-Vision Trail Lite, one of the few models I'd really liked. I glanced over at the price and it was $14,000, less than half of what they usually go for. There must be something wrong with it.
I opened the listing and read through the description. The front "shotgun" seat was missing. No big deal. They'd backed into something and the fiberglass around the tail light was cracked. No big deal. The couch wasn't the one specifically made for the RV. No big deal.
The Trail Lite is a twenty one foot RV, which is just three feet larger than a regulation parking spot. That means that it can park anywhere with little enough overhang that no one will complain. Our school bus, on the other hand, took up two spots front to back, or about 5 spots sideways. It's about as small as you can get and still have a fridge, bathroom with shower, and stove.
The deal was just too good to pass up. I wrote a short list of questions and called the guy. He seemed particularly honest for a car salesman and had all the right answers.
"Well, I'll have to think about it," I started, "but if you'd take $13,000, I'd buy it right now."
"Ooh. I can't go that low. How about $13,500?"
I thought for a split second. This was definitely a good deal, but was I really ready to commit to living in an RV?
"Sure. Let's do it."
Sometimes you just have to do the things you want to do. I've always wanted an RV, and this was exactly what I was looking for. If it didn't work out, I knew I could sell it for more than I paid.
We hung up and I called Doug to borrow his credit card to pay the deposit. The guy didn't take Amex, and that's all I have.
Fifteen minutes later I call him back.
"I'm glad you called back. I've already had four people call who wanted to buy it."
I checked the listing and realized that I had caught it within minutes of it hitting ebay, and was his first caller. Sometimes being impulsive pays.
I told all of my friends, and most wanted to come with me to pick it up. Evan had obligations she coudn't skip out on. Todd got stuck in San Francisco longer than expected. Jonah was going on a trip to Italy on Wednesday and didn't want to be rushed. Kristen was free.
We planned on leaving Friday morning at 5am, but I was too excited to sleep so we left at 1am instead. I rented a one way car from Avis and we headed out. It was a twelve hour drive, which got us to the RV dealership at 1pm. The drive up was unexciting other than the general anticipation of picking up the RV.
I saw it as soon as we pulled into the dealership, and couldn't wait to look inside. On the way up I wondered if it would really be big enough to live in. After all the cabin is only about 120 square feet, and that's before you start counting things like the closets and counters. It looked tiny on the outside, but the inside felt really big. The back has a small hallway with a closet on one side and a bathroom on the other. The hallway connects to a tiny kitchen with a sink on one side and a stove and microwave on the other. Between the kitchen and driving area is a living room with a dinette and a couch.
The dinette folds down into a small bed (barely wider than a twin), but if you fold down the couch as well it makes a huge bed that's much larger than a King. It's probably the biggest bed I've ever slept in.
What's particularly great about the RV is that it's a 2002, which is new enough to have a good engine and appliances, but it's not so new and polished that I can't modify it. The first thing I'll do is take the microwave out and put a light oven in (and, yes, I did bring my light oven with me on the trip).
I still haven't decided where to park the RV. Doug offered the alley next to his house, which might be good choice until I move out of the condo. When I get back I'm going to try staying overnight in a parking lot near my house to see if anyone complains.
Soon I'll be going city to city, listening to audio programs from The Learning Company as I drive. This summer I'll do NY and Boston, maybe Montreal and Vermont. I may also do the West coast too.
Kristen and I are driving down I-25 towards White Sands now. We went to the aquarium in New Mexico today, which was neat. They had sand tiger sharks which bare their teeth as they swim. Tomorrow we'll do Carlsbad Caverns and head home!
I've lived in my RV for 10 days now. I have only gone back to the condo to get clothes, and to sleep one night (basically I picked a loud parking spot that was 10 feet from the condo and it was 5am so I just went inside instead of driving to a quiet spot). A lot of things have panned out as expected, but there have also been some big surprises.
I could go on and on, but you probably get the idea. I totally love living in this RV. It's a great feeling to drive over to my mom's house and have her say "Oh, you didn't happen to bring those tickets, did you?" and to just be able to walk into my house and get them.
My parents are really into the RV thing, which is funny. They're always a bit skeptical about my schemes. My dad helped me take out the CRT TV and the Microwave which I replaced with a flat panel and a flash bake oven. My mom made me nice curtains. I'm trying hard to resist the urge to totally trick out the RV. The carpet smells a bit musty so I might put in granite tile or bamboo floors. I think that would be neat.
That was me circa 1990 right after I graduated from the University of Colorado. My focus was to get "On the Road to Find Out" and decide if not what I wanted to do with my life when I grow up, where I wanted to settle down at least. Purchased a 1976 VW Westfalia pop-up with the idea that the window in my life I was currently in was a fleeting one and if I was ever to go on this wild adventure this was my one opportunity to do so. I had no immediate need to work, a few thousand in savings, two empty credit cards to get in serious financial trouble with, and plenty of time yet until I entered "the real world"... saddled by the monthly mortgage payment, meager paychecks that would leave me with more month than money, and all that comes along with a wife, children and raising a family.
My original plan was to leave Boulder and take a figure eight journey around the country, traveling as far North as Quebec, the French Gaspé, Turtle Island and Vancouver, and as far South as Key West, Pony Island and Baja California. I planned on following every inch of the US coastlines that I could, seeking out as many new adventures and experiences as possible. The estimated time table the trip would require was approximately 2 months to complete from start to finish, with many different family members and friends to stop in and visit along the way.
As one of my favorite quotes from John Lennon goes - "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."