We arrived back at our home base on September 26th, more than a month earlier than we had originally planned, but it's just as well that we did. The home base was in need of attention, and had it gone any longer, the effects of setting dormant for that long would have been worse. As it was, a little (or maybe I should say, a lot of) cleanup and power-washing, and we're just about back to normal again.
As far as the coming hurricane (Michael), it appears it is going to land far enough west of us that we don't have to worry. As with Irma last year, our only prep is to retract the window awnings. As long as it doesn't spin off any tornadoes in the outlying areas, we should be fine. The last check of the predictions show maximum average wind speeds in our area of 34 mph, and that doesn't last very long. We've been through stronger winds than that in typical spring storms and temperature changes, and up to 70 mph winds when we went through Irma last year!
And speaking of temperatures, it appears that we are finally done with the 90-degree temps for this year. We're sliding back into the mid-80s as of this week, and will soon see an overnight temp of 57 degrees, so it's time to get the Buddy heater set up again!
One of our goals in coming back early was to see about trading vehicles, but after looking over finances, that won't happen for a few months yet. We don't have enough equity in the van we bought last summer to be able to trade it. And although we paid cash for this RV, we aren't ready to part with it yet, either. If we sell the van outright, we can get out from under the nearly $500 per month in expenses that it is costing us (which includes payments, insurance, tags, fuel and other maintenance).
Our reasons for wanting the van while we were parked where we were have come and gone. Since we don't plan to set in a park again any time soon, our supply runs and errands can be done enroute to our next destination... with the RV. As soon as we can get Sharon's piano moved into the RV (where the dinette has already been removed by the previous owner), and can get the rest of the storage items out of the trailer, it can be sold, also, and the proceeds from that, plus what we gain from the van being gone, will go toward any repairs and improvements that need to be done on the RV.
The RV has less than 68,000 miles on it, and is still starting and running good and strong. The trailer weight had dragged the mpg down to about 8, but I'm confident that without the trailer to pull, we should be able to get that mpg up to at least 10. It's not even close to what a new Promaster would get, but we can control how long we want to stay at our stops, and have a lot of control over how many miles we drive in a month.
The biggest things that have plagued us in our travels are still there... the long overhang and low stance causing tail-dragging problems. But with the travels this summer, we could not do anything about it. Now, with the proceeds of the trailer being sold and the van being gone, we will have the additional funds to be able to take care of the problems with the RV, and that includes purging many things that we don't need with us, to reduce weight and clutter.
The first "improvement" will be to have a couple of extra leaf springs made and installed for the rear axle. Doing that will be much less expense than spending six or seven hundred dollars on Aire-Lift suspension like we had put on the Chevy van (that was $531, and I'm sure this would be more). Either way, it will take the sag out of the rear end and add some height to it, which will alleviate the tail-dragging problem. Going with springs also eliminates any air leakage problems, which have always been a problem with any kind of air suspension.
Just getting the trailer tongue weight off the hitch will help, and probably add at least an inch of height. The receiver hitch that was installed on this RV was a poor job, too, and it hangs down way below the bumper. That is the place that this coach drags the most! I will have that removed, and a proper hitch installed just below the bumper height.
We still won't ever make this a "high-clearance" vehicle, and will still have some restrictions on where we can go with it over rough terrain, but it will get us by as long as it needs to. The ongoing savings over not having van expenses will also allow other, more minor improvements to be done as we have time, such as new cabinet doors, to replace these cheap pressed wood photographic finish doors that are starting to peel around the edges, and a replacement for this cheap laminate flooring that the previous owner installed. We also need a new jack-knife sofa bed in the living room, as the foam in this one is breaking down, and we need something more comfortable.
Anyway, I have a whole list of things that I want to do to this RV, and have been putting off doing it because we weren't sure we were going to keep it. After all, it is a '96 model, and the price is governed (as it is on all RVs) by NADA book value... not how much has been spent on improvements! But on the other hand, it's paid for, is the size we need with the features we need, has low mileage, and I would just as soon put money into improvements where I can control what we spend and how often, as to put it into payments on a newer model that would be mandatory for years!
As far as the trailer, I have decided to sell it with everything on it! I had originally thought I would put the solar from the trailer on the RV, but I really don't want to on an older RV. We have a generator on the RV, and really don't need solar for the way we plan to travel. Besides it is needed to run the fridge in the trailer. And since we have a full set of everything needed to live on the road (as far as kitchen stuff) all of our secondary sets of everything will go with the trailer (except linens).
Many who have followed this blog from the beginning have seen how the trailer was built, and what went into it. For those who haven't, but might be interested in buying it, I will do an "official" sale announcement as soon as we can get it cleaned up, cleaned out and ready to list. I may decide to put it on eBay and let people bid on it. I might even be able to deliver it, or at least meet someone half way to pick it up. One thing is for sure, I can't leave it here to sell, as the owners don't want strangers coming to look at stuff here. It may have to go with us for awhile, but I hope not for long.
As far as the time frame, I hope to have everything ready to sell yet this month. Some things have to be done first, like installing anchors in the RV for the piano, before it can be moved out of the trailer. And it depends on how much stuff we can sell through eBay to reduce our "excess", and how much might have to be taken to our storage unit. We might need the trailer to do that before selling it. One thing is certain... we want to be back on the road by the end of October. The van should be gone by then, but if not, it will go with us, as well as the trailer!
Also, I have been thinking about Amazon, and have decided to go ahead with the Amazon ads, starting with the next post. I still get checks from them, so why not? In fact, this blog is going to gradually include more product reviews with references to products that RVers and vanners can use.
By the end of this year I also want to have my food blog (which is already started but hasn't been turned loose to the search engines yet) active and functional. It is geared toward "very" small kitchens, simple recipes and doing without refrigeration... something that will benefit all vanners and people in small RVs... or "any" cooks in any circumstance! We all have to eat!
But first, we have a hurricane and its aftermath to deal with. Hopefully, the storm will be well past us by the end of the day Thursday, and then we can get back to normal again, and continue with our tasks. If anyone is interested in the trailer, take a read back through the early posts on this blog to get more details, and if it looks like something you may want, let me know in the comments.
Have a great day, and stay safe out there, wherever you are!