Fifth Wheel to Class B Transition

Three weeks.

It’s been three weeks since we parked Sally by our fifth wheel in Texas.

The Desire

As content providers (which we do professionally - you should hire us), any time we’re faced with a big life event we have a vision of well-thought-out and finely crafted blog posts and video to cover it.

We could show each step of the transition. Explain each downsizing decision. Why does this thing stay and that thing go? What emotions does this process bring out? How do we interact with each other while stressed?

The Reality

Moving is hard.

Moving from one suburban home to another is hard. There’s a lot of stuff. There’s distance between the two houses.

Moving from one RV to another is also hard. You can park them side by side, but when the new one is 1/3 the size of the old? That’s a lot of shoehorning.

Each RV needs cleaning. Each RV needs some things fixed.

Then make it hot. Especially in the afternoon. Nice strong direct Texas sun. In a campsite that’s all gravel and no shade.

And put it all on a schedule. The RV sale came at the 11th hour. Another day or two and we would have been looking at consignment lots. Miranda had a start date for her WWOOFing gig. We had to get going to make it.

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And that whole thoughtful “in the moment” blog series about downsizing into a van? Not happening.

Three Week Blitz

Here’s how we spent the last three weeks:

We spent two weeks:

  • Downsizing our stuff
  • Cleaning the fifth wheel
  • Fixing a few things on the fifth wheel
  • Cleaning Sally
  • Doing some upgrades to Sally

Selling Stuff

Swapping RVs costs money. There are always things to buy for the new rig. We had a budget but adding some money to that always helps.

I didn’t want to try and sell everything, rather just a few pieces I thought were worth the effort:

  • 8’ Aluminum Ladder
  • Our bikes
  • Yakima Roof Mount Bike Rack
  • 2/4 of our Zip Dee Chairs
  • Weber Grill
  • DSLR Camera
  • Air hose and attachments
  • Keyboard
  • Inflatable Kayak

I listed them on the local Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. We also set stuff out in the park with a for sale sign. Most of it sold via Facebook.

I don’t enjoy selling things. The process brings out the worst in me reacting to people lowballing, not showing up, and not reading the ads I write.

Ultimately I slashed the prices on the last couple of pieces. Then we gave the kayak away to friends.

Giving Stuff Away

For the rest of our stuff? All the little bits and gee-gaws we didn’t want to spend time selling?

We got lucky.

The park we were in has a huge Easter event where they open up the entire park to tent campers. Families come in by the hundreds. There was music, easter egg tossing, football games, frisbee, kids on bikes and more.

We placed our picnic table out where people could see it. Put a “free” sign on it. And kept refreshing it with stuff as we cleaned out various parts of the fifth wheel.

Except for a few odds and ends it all went. And we got to interact with the people taking it. It was so much more fun than dropping off loads at Goodwill.

Work on Sally

Here’s what (I can remember) we did to Sally during that two weeks.

  • Removed running boards
  • Restored faded/yellow headlights
  • Changed out all interior lights to LED
  • Changed out most exterior lights to LED
  • Ordered / installed new hubcaps
  • Polished trim rings / front bumper / grill
  • Restored black bumpers/mirrors/door handles
  • 4.5 hours with upholstery cleaner on carpets and seating
  • Cut new front floor mats
  • Powerwashed entire exterior
  • Replaced foam in all rear dinette/bed cushions
  • Made a bed extension
  • Cleaned all interior cabinets
  • Installed compass
  • Repaired some loose trim
  • Researched / attempted fix of dash AC drain issue
  • Removed flat-screen TV
  • Moved keyholder rack
  • Straightened (or “combed”) the A/C fins - 60-70% of them were smooshed and blocking airflow
  • Installed a real clothes bar in the wardrobe

Fifth Wheel Sale

The sale of the fifth wheel took some coordination. We still had a lein on the title. The buyer’s bank didn’t want to put another on it until it was free and clear.

In the end the transaction was delayed a couple of days. We needed that time to complete our move-out of the fifth wheel.

Finally on a late Friday morning we completed the transaction with the seller. We all drove to a bank so they could wire the money into our bank account.

Back at the park we showed them how to hitch up and get road ready, gave some driving tips, and watched them drive our home of 3 years away.

No longer ours.

Recovery

The truck and fifth wheel are gone. We’re all in the van. It’s crammed full of stuff. It’s hot. We’re sweaty and sunburned.

And we have no idea where we are going.

I drove us out of the campsite. Then found a shady spot in the park. Just to think.

The emotions of what we just did were starting to kick in.

I wanted a shower and a nap. The girls did too.

We found a reasonably-priced hotel about an hour away and hit the road. We all got clean and rested.

We were so thankful the campground let us have a For Sale / Free table out.

We were so thankful the campground let us have a For Sale / Free table out.

Parking the rigs next to each other you get a sense for the size difference.

Parking the rigs next to each other you get a sense for the size difference.

MsBoyink spent 12 hours to my 9 in getting new foam put into the rear bed/couch.

MsBoyink spent 12 hours to my 9 in getting new foam put into the rear bed/couch.

I upgraded all the back lights with LEDs. The backup lights are a lot brighter!

I upgraded all the back lights with LEDs. The backup lights are a lot brighter!

MsBoyink processed a lot of paperwork to avoid having to store it in the van.

MsBoyink processed a lot of paperwork to avoid having to store it in the van.

I made a bed extension using as much existing items as possible. This way we can sleep end to end rather than side by side - better for us tall folks.

I made a bed extension using as much existing items as possible. This way we can sleep end to end rather than side by side - better for us tall folks.

When do you fix AC? When it's 95 and you want it. Of course. I straightened all the fins out so it could breath correctly.

When do you fix AC? When it's 95 and you want it. Of course. I straightened all the fins out so it could breath correctly.

I downsized my fishing gear to fit in one small overhead cubby.

I downsized my fishing gear to fit in one small overhead cubby.

Waylon, Willie and the Boys are around somewhere.

Waylon, Willie and the Boys are around somewhere.

Camping in a TX Core of Engineers park south of Dallas.

Camping in a TX Core of Engineers park south of Dallas.

How to sleep three in a Class B.

How to sleep three in a Class B.

We don't have to park with the semis to boondock at truck stops anymore.

We don't have to park with the semis to boondock at truck stops anymore.

In a private park in Oklahoma.

In a private park in Oklahoma.

In a Iowa State Park.

In a Iowa State Park.

Looking forward to more of these again - an Iowa sunset.

Looking forward to more of these again - an Iowa sunset.

Our trailer heading off with its new owners.

A Week of Travel

The third week of those three weeks we have traveled.

We needed to get out of Texas. But we also wanted to enjoy our new size. We started driving towards Dallas but made a couple of stops on the way.

There was Luckenbach. We had “left that for a future visit” during our time in Fredericksburg. Then there was Marble Falls. We can’t get through town without stopping for pie at the Bluebonnet Cafe. Later that day there was In & Out - the last chance at a favorite before getting too far north.

That night we found a COE park just south of Dallas. The weather ahead was iffy so we wanted to pause. We found sites that the fifth wheel would not have fit in.

Our decision proved a good one. Not 90 miles away there were two tornadoes that night.

We made sleeping in Sally work for the 3 of us. It’s cramped, but at $18/night we’ll take it over the cost of a hotel.

Old Friends

In Dallas we killed a windy day catching up with an old friend from two years ago.

We met Jonathon in a Florida county park and developed an unlikely friendship. If you haven’t read the story of the treasure hunt he put together for us you should.

Tornado Alley

We sat in Dallas trying to decide where to go next.

We needed to get to Chicago for Miranda. In between is a whole bunch of weather. Rain. Floods. Highway closures. The forecast calling for more of the same.

We have a black tank we’d never found time to empty after getting Sally home. We had not yet touched the fresh water system.

We needed to cycle some water through the tanks to clean them out. That’s hard to do at a dump station.

We drove to a Cabellas hoping to use their dump station and then spend the night. We got there only to find “No overnight parking” signs everywhere.

We had driven past a Pilot truck stop so went back to it. We put off the tanks for another night and hunkered down against the wind.

The next day we went north.

Into tornado alley.

During tornado season.

We booked a full hookup RV site just north of Oklahoma City for a couple of nights. We used their wifi and showers to feel caught up and human again.

MsBoyink finally got the tanks in better order.

It got cool overnight in Oklahoma. I tried firing up the house furnace. It kicked on and the fan blew, but wasn’t hot. So far this is the only thing that hasn’t immediately worked in Sally.

Killer Travel Day

Looking at the weather North still looked better. We decided to go up to I-80 then cut East.

So, we bought Sally to wander in. She wanders in a whole different way. She’s not great in wind - it feels like steering a house boat down the road. I have some plans for ways to address this.

It was windy and raining. We put in 11 hours, touched four states, and got to Iowa. We booked three nights in a state park. It’s quiet. It’s peacefull. It’s cool.

From Here?

Tomorrow we have 5 hours in the final leg of getting Miranda to her farm.

There is still weather in that stretch. I’m guessing the farm is soggy. We’ll see if it’s worth washing Sally up to make a better impression or if that’s a waste of time and money.

Once Miranda is in place we’ll head to Michigan to put some of her stuff in storage. We’ll catch up with our boy.

And then?

Not sure yet. Between van projects and client work we can’t keep moving at this speed. But there’s no reason to be this small and nimble if we don’t take advantage of it.

There are friends in Colorado. And Washington. And other states. There are National Parks and other pretty hiking spots calling. There’s boondocking to be found.

But our son leaves for Australia in the fall. We’d want to be back in MI by then to see him off.

So we’ll see.

Half the fun is not knowing.

 

 

 

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