One of my Facebook friends has this single line as her bio on that platform:
Expect wonderful things to happen.
If I visit her profile it’s one of the first things I see. Maybe she put it there as a reminder to herself. Maybe it’s there for worrywarts like me. Whatever the reason, it always makes me feel curiously optimistic. Heaven knows I need these positive kicks in the ass from time to time 🙂
That friend, by the way, said sayonara to suburbia a couple of years ago. She now lives and works in a small travel trailer wherever the heck she pleases – usually in the middle of nowhere, not an RV park.
I know this friend because of social media, where it’s easy to present only the shiny, happy side of RV life. I don’t know her real-life day-to-day, but I do see her willingness to share its rough spots.
That’s an important dose of reality.
When people make everything about this lifestyle look like Shambhala, and we don’t realize it’s highly curated, we yearn for a perfect life that doesn’t exist.
In reality, of course, whether you live in an RV, house, boat or missle silo, shit happens just as wonderful things do. That’s life. When my friend struggles she is often publicly transparent about it. Yet she manages to keep a sense of humor and, apparently, a positive outlook.
I like the internal nudge and wink that comes from hearing that I should expect wonderful things to happen. It makes me open to possibility. When I’m more open and less fearful, I’m likelier to take chances that could help move us down the road a little farther.
While we haven’t had any super-dramatic developments of late, we’ve moved along a bit since the last status update. I figured I’d share where we’re at. But if I had to sum up our status in a single sentence I’d say we’re expecting wonderful things to happen.
The house & the ‘hood
Welcome, benevolent dictators
Another HOA communique arrived two weeks ago, this one telling us that the president had turned the association over to a management company, making good on his threat to wash his hands of petty, asshole neighbors and genuinely inconsiderate ones alike.
Can’t really blame the now-former president for dumping the HOA, but I do wonder how this will change things around the neighborhood.
Will someone complain that we replaced our gas lamp with a solar one? Or that there are dandelions in places on our front lawn? Will I need to keep a notebook to document retaliatory claims in case I can’t do anything else to fight back?
Jeebus. I hope not.
Things are looking up
Brian’s daily walks keep him more in tune than I am with what’s going on in our neighborhood. I feel icky walking around here. So I exercise indoors, away from the bad juju.
A week ago Brian returned from a morning walk and mentioned that the one somewhat divey house in the neighborhood had a for sale sign in the yard. It’s been rented out for years.
“It’d be great if someone bought it and fixed it up,” he said.
“Yeah, but they’ll have to at least clean it up now so they can get a better selling price,” I replied.
Even though the house is around the corner and down the street, I thought it might help us out if they’d finally taken care of the maintenance that had been let go over the years. Brian and I jumped on Zillow to find the listing, and were astonished at the asking price.
$215K!!! And they hadn’t even cleaned up the exterior before taking the listing photos!
The place has a ratty yard, gutter hanging off the roof on one side, and an oil-stained driveway streaked with dirt. When we got to the interior photos we discovered the house had some “wow” features one wouldn’t expect from seeing only the outside. It looks to have been well cared for – inside. I guess they’re not concerned with curb appeal.
Wondering whether the asking price was a realtor’s wishful thinking, we checked recent home sales for the immediate area. Mid- to high-200s – some higher. This is in a newer section of our neighborhood, and not in Tributary, the awesome nearby neighborhood with gorgeous Craftsman-style homes and amenities galore.
No wonder our tax assessment has gone up again. Yeah, we got that notice a couple of weeks ago, too.
Bottom line is that home values are up in our neighborhood. 🙂
It would be a great time to sell. Prices are high. Trees are decked out with maximum foliage. Our house now has a new roof. It could use some landscaping work and a few fixes, and the trashed carpet needs to go. $10-20K could get it looking like new.
But we don’t have $10-20K, or even a place we can afford to stay so our beloved hounds don’t mess up new carpet and paint.
I’m thinking if we did have that much money we’d probably use it to more directly get the heck out of Dodge.
We’re in somewhat of a holding pattern with the house. Making money, paying down/off what we can, and keeping an open mind about our path out of this house. Which brings me to…
I could totally be the (camp) hostess with the mostess
If you’re not familiar with RV life, you might not know that many campgrounds employ camp hosts. Well, employ might not be the right word since many camp host positions don’t pay at all. But all of them offer a free site with hookups when you work a certain number of hours at the campground.
Finding a camp hosting position at a park or campground near where we currently live would allow us to move out of our house just about right away. The RV is ready to move into – but right now it’s not livable without hookups (electric, water, sewer). Paying for a spot with hookups might kill our already-stressed budget. But camp hosts ride free! Well, after the required 15 – 20 hours per week of work.
There are almost no viable RV parks or campgrounds within a reasonable driving distance of Brian’s shop, where he needs to be for the near future if we’re to shore up our finances to start our new venture. There’s one state park that’s practically in our backyard, but I checked the website and they did not have a camp host position there. The park only recently – perhaps within the last year or so – added overnight camping, in the form of yurts. Not RVs.
One day as I drove by the park, something told me to pull in and check out the yurt village to see what’s up. I wound my way throught the trees toward the village. Nearing the loop where the yurts were situated, I saw water shimmering through the trees and realized the village was right on the reservoir. How beautiful, I thought. As I drove into the loop, my jaw dropped. There on the right sat a huge old Tiffin motorhome, in a spot with this sign out front: “CAMP HOST.”
Holy crap – they DO have a camp hosting position! I mean, obviously it’s occupied. Given the detritus strewn about the site it looks like the host is somewhat entrenched. Still, I’m keeping my mind open to all possibilities. That means marching my fanny to the park office and seeing what’s up with this camp host position they obviously do have.
Inside the park’s interpretive center, a teenager in a park ranger uniform (maybe he was a junior ranger?) tells me the person in charge of the camp host is in a meeting. He adds that, as far as he knows, the current host has no intention of leaving. Hmm.
“Well, you never know,” I replied. “Plans change. I’d like to get information on applying in case there’s an opening, since you guys are not in the state system.”
“Yeah, I don’t know why we’re not on it,” he agrees.
He hands me a Post-It Note and I leave my name and number so the park manager in charge of the yurts can call me.
He never does. But –
I visited the state parks website and discovered the park had been added to the campground host system. Even though it’s a longshot, I applied.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but once you’ve submitted your volunteer application and your background check comes back clean (ours both did), you get a pass for five free nights of camping in any GA state park. Woo-hoo! What an unexpected treat.
No, it’s not likely we’ll be campground hosts at the one park convenient to Brian’s shop. But I figured it was worth trying. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
We’re bringing the RV home for 24 hours (thanks, HOA!) starting Saturday night so we can work on it. It’s pretty much ready to live in now, but we wanted to make a few more upgrades before our next trip.
The “miracle” sink I hoped would replace the one I cracked did indeed work. Barely. Thank god. Except I did bad math when I was adding up what all it would cost, and it turned out to be $500, not $400. Rob from Artisan Countertops was awesome if you ever f**k up your sink or counter and need help.
Brian is adding a new water filtration system to fix the gross-tasting water we enjoyed (?) on our first trip. Because I’m a girl, I get to finish the Smart Tile backsplashes I started. Because I am a slow, perfectionistic girl, I may not get it all done. But hot damn will it look good when I do! 😉
After our last trip, we pulled the Flexsteel Sofa/MagicBed (sounds like something that takes quarters, but no…) and ginormous matching recliner out of the RV and stuck them in the garage. They’re waiting for the estate sale, I guess. Before the
$400 $500 sink fiasco I thought we finally had the money to take advantage of RecPro’s sale on the wall-hugging reclining sofa that would replace both Flexsteel pieces.
Oopsie. But it all worked out. I had an unexpected avalanche of website work. Thank you, universe (and paying clients <3 ). Now we have a smaller, but more comfortable place to relax in the RV. Or work. It will be good to work in comfort for a change.
My side of the sofa is adjacent to the spot I plan to mount a new iMac on one of those fancy, swinging arms so I can work with my feet up. Hopefully our son-in-law can bring over the desk he made for us so we can get that in while the RV is here.
Parking (there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but…)
Rick, one of the owners of the business park where Brian’s shop is located, has inquired about our RV multiple times. We’re not sure why he’s so curious, unless it’s just that living vicariously thing that strikes many of us before we figure out that it’s OK to go ahead and live in an RV if you want.
Anywho, dude really wanted Brian to just pop over to the complex in the RV some day so he could take a tour. Brian was like, dude – it’s not like hopping in a Kia and whipping it down the road in five minutes. And six days a week I’m running a business here in your business park, y’know?
Rick even suggested we could leave the RV at the complex. Mmm…the RV is huge, and the complex isn’t all that big, and there is a possibly shady neighborhood adjacent to the complex, so no – thanks but no thanks. At this point, Rick’s real-life RV experience remains unfulfilled.
Meanwhile, we’re paying over $100 per month (and that’s with a discount) to store it at a place about as far away as the business park – only in the opposite direction. It’s gated, so no hooligans can get in and mess with it. Well, unless they hop a fence or climb a big hill. But it’s safe. And it sure looks purty sitting up on that big hill at the shiny new storage place.
Besides the expense, the place is out of our normal travel route, and it’s a pain to just pop over and work on the RV in our limited spare time.
A few days ago Rick popped in again and asked about the RV. It’s cute how fascinated he is. But guess what? He really feels bad that we have to pay for storage when there’s some space at the complex. So we’re going to take him up on his offer and move it there. We’re really about done with the fixes, but it would be nice for it to be where it’s easier for us to access.
Moving it to the business park won’t save us a massive amount of money, but every little bit helps. We are working on being more open minded about approaching challenges instead of holding out for silver bullet solutions. $100 is at least 1/8 of the way to monthly rent at a nearby campground. 1/4 of the way at a cheap campground!
There’s more going on here than I can cover in the time I have left to write, or you have time to read. How about a sentence or two for each of us?
Brian is still struggling to exercise regularly, due to sleep deprivation. He hasn’t given up; he’s plugging away at it. I’ve exercised nearly daily, and despite working quite a bit lately I’ve mostly felt good. I credit Becky Schade and poi (see her Instagram post below…totally random, but playing with poi helps keep the neck/shoulder pain at bay). John Lee is still a spaz who’s anxious when he’s separated from me; we’re all still working on him.
Laurie, our 14-year-old Greyhound and the cause of Brian’s sleep deprivation, is struggling. Struggling to walk, or even stand. Needs to go outside constantly. Pants as though she’s in pain. A vet visit is in order.
Another super-quick, catch-you-up no-fluff section 🙂
Ott Gun Works
Doing good. Ready to be done, but it’s the bread & butter.
the simpler web
Lots of smaller projects – perfect for helping people without ruining health.
OnSite Firearm Appraisal
Nothing. We’ve had some appraisal inquiries come through Ott Gun Works, though.
I’m going to write a book, but start with stories…perhaps posted to the blog. After I get past some of this paying work, but before another month passes.
We’re going to the RV Entrepreneur Summit in Texas in February. Somehow we are going to make it happen.
Actual Nomadic Behavior
The week before last I got an e-mail from Brian with the subject line “This looks interesting.” The message body contained only a link. I recognized the URL as that of Sweetwater Vally Park, a place I’d shot down months ago. That decision was based on one or two less-than-stellar reviews on one website, and a lack of information about it anywhere else.
The place was only about 20 minutes from the shop. What’s more, it was cheap. Only $20/night or $100/week. Around here that’s pretty damn amazing.
When I took another look at the campground online, it looked like a simple, shady lot. I liked Little Tallapoosa Park (where we stayed our first trip in the RV), but there was a lot of pavement. That was hard on Laurie, since she’s having difficulty picking up her hind legs when she walks. Our experience at Little Tallapoosa provided a bit more appreciation for Sweetwater Valley’s campsites.
We drove out last Sunday to take a look. It’s a small campground, surrounded by woods and very quiet. Unlike Little Tallapoosa Park, Sweetwater Valley Park is mostly flat, and also mostly not paved. Even though they say there’s a 2-week limit on stays, several RVs have obviously been there a long time.
This doesn’t sit well if you’re primarily concerned with appearances, but it’s interesting to me. At $100/week it wouldn’t take much for us to get out of our house and start there.
Ultimately we want to be nomads, not parked anywhere long term, no matter how nice. Right now, though, we are just looking for a way to ditch the house. I’d take this “rustic” (love that euphemism for run-down) campground over an unshaded, asphalt
parking lot campground crammed with RVs any day.
One downside of the park, and no doubt a reason for its low price, is that there are no sewer hookups at individual sites. You have to either move your rig, hire a service to empty your tanks, or use a portable tank.
With the prospect of a getaway that was half the distance from the shop, and a price that would allow us to stay twice as long as our first trip, you know what we did.
Right now the plan is to spend a couple of weeks at Sweetwater Valley in late August. Maybe early September. I’m not even going to call it glamping.
We’ll be surrounded by older rigs of dubious mobility, and toting a giant crap wagon up and down the road. Yes, our RV might look fancier than the one next to it, but the shit all smells the same.