I feel like a broken record saying WOW, what a long time it has been, and that I have been very busy, BLAH BLAH BLAH…….. But really, the last several weeks have been CRAZY. Sometimes crazy good, sometimes…..welllllllll not so much. Having said that, we know how blessed we are to be living this life, and I hope that we continue to take full advantage of it. The benefits have been great and we already see a much closer relationship with Z. Mainly because she hasn’t had the opportunity to make a lot of friends. But hey, a win is a win.
So what has gone on? I know you are probably yelling at your screen by now for me to quit tip toeing and just get to it. So without further adieu, I present to you, THE LAST 3 WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKS.
As mentioned in our last post, we were at Lake Whitney in Texas. We had a nice site, and although the heat was continuing to kick us in the junk, we had some time to do some fun things. We headed to a science museum, but it turned out to be more for little kids and not our big 12 year old. She made the most out of it and I appreciated her efforts.
I love her attitude and love watching her grow up. We also got to go to a wood turning show and we were blown away by just how creative folks can be. There were all kinds of awe inspiring creations and Lisa’s dad and family are very in to it. It’s always GREAT to get to spend time with anyone who is extremely passionate about their craft, no matter the craft. Z was soaking it in and asking great questions. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any good photos from that event.
We did meet some fellow full timers and bloggers from http://rvreboot.com/
A really nice younger couple who are spending the year really hitting a TON of states. When I met them in Texas, they were headed toward Maine and planned to be there in a few weeks. It’s always interesting to see how people approach this lifestyle, and it’s fun to share stories.
As we wrapped up our stay at Whitney, our plan had always been to head to the Texoma Thousand Trails, then up to Norman OK. This is where the issues began. We went to pull in our main slide and heard a few “pops”. I crapped myself a little bit and we stopped pulling the slide in. I reversed and put the slide back out and a very nice neighbor came over to see what was going on. He pointed out that the slide was out further on one side than the other. You could probably feel the stress radiating off of my gigantic head. Questions began to swirl and concerns were flooding my way. As we continued to work on it, all we could come up with was to push it in manually to get it all of the way in. We were able to do that and we decided to move forward with the plan. It was a very quiet drive. When we landed at Texoma, we had to put out the slide in order to live for the night. Of course it struggled, but with some pushing, we got it all of the way out. Process repeated the next day as we headed to Norman.
Unfortunately, because we are on this extended trip, taking your home in for repairs is VERY difficult. On top of that, we were heading to Mexico for a wedding and I just didn’t have the energy nor desire to start getting it looked at right before we left. I didn’t want to leave any responsibility on my family, and we opted to just set it up and await our return. Luckily, my father in law has a great friend who allowed us to park Dory on his land and he had a 50amp hook up which allowed our fridge to stay on, a HUGE plus that you probably know about if you know RV’s.
It was actually a great distraction and stress reduction to head to Mexico. I doubt many know that I am an ordained minister (online) and have been asked by some family and friends to perform their weddings. I was blessed to have the same happen here and I was lucky to perform the wedding for my awesome family. Between that and 5 nights of tequila therapy, I didn’t even think about Dory. It was all pool, party, and good times.
The flight home began to add weight to my shoulders with every mile. What were we going to do about Dory? I feared that we were really starting to cause some additional damage, and I wasn’t sure how to address. As we got closer to Oklahoma, Lisa and I decided to get Dory from her spot out west of Norman and pull her in to the Cleveland County Fairgrounds in Norman. It’s the ONLY full hook up RV campground in the area. You can stay at OU but it’s power and water only. Great for a weekend football game, not so good for long term.
The debacle debacle
We pulled in to the “campground” (I put quotes because its more of a parking lot with several hook ups), and found that the Fair and Carnival were starting in 2 days. A fair AND carnival? YESSSSSSSSS. What can go wrong with rides that are traveled around the US and have very little governance. Sign us up. Of course we bought the unlimited rides package. We are on this trip for adventure aren’t we? Well what spells adventure more than taking your life in your own hands at a pop up carnival? Nothing I tell you, NOTHING.
Many sites were blocked because of the need for parking, and we actually found the only spot remaining. Again, I hate to sound uppity, but we ended up on a row of permanent tenants and the way they parked it made it VERY difficult to get Dory in. I think they did it on purpose to try to dissuade people from parking there. When we set up, getting the slide out was nearly impossible. We decided enough was enough and we told Jayco we would be calling a mobile repair guy out. After several calls, we got one we felt comfortable with. They came and determined that our issue was that one of our motors had been torn up by an errant screw and had been pulled completely out of the housing. WHAT?????? He was going to order a new motor, but felt sure that this would solve our problems.
Whew, maybe I am just an over reactor. Maybe this isn’t so bad. In a few days, he would come out and sprinkle his magical friggin pixie dust on our trailer and all would be back to normal. So upon his return with our new motor, I was giddy, like it was Christmas. He installed. and told me to go ahead and try to pull it in. Wellllllllll……………………
Needless to say, Jayco got a call. The bottom of our slide came in, but the top stayed. We are stuck. We really couldn’t even sit in the couch. And because we were so close to our neighbors, we couldn’t lower the side patio, so we were really out of places to hang out. A lot of time was spent at the in-laws.
One thing did occur to me. Given how close we were to our neighbors, how would anyone work on lifting and repairing our slide? We were also having some intermittent power issues. After MUCH debate, Lisa and I decided to move Dory, with her slide open, over to a new site that had only recently come open after the fair. There were several nicer units over there and if we were lucky, we would have plenty of room for repairs to be made. It was a WHITE KNUCKLE event. We loaded Dory up and pulled out at the blistering pace of 0-1mph. Lisa walked along the outside, presumably to be able to scream at me that the whole slide had fallen out should that have occurred. After about 20 minutes of sweating in an air conditioned truck, we successfully moved and it made our view, neighbors, and everything feel just a little better. It’s amazing to me how the spot or the park can change your whole attitude. Being away from the “mobile home” side of the grounds and with people like us to travel full time or were in for the game made it feel like things were getting better.
Jayco, for what it is worth, has done a very good job of working with us. I don’t want this to become a Jayco bashing session, because really and genuinely, I feel that they are as frustrated as we are. I have actually been very glad that we bought a Jayco after hearing some of the horror stories of our neighbors. I just really feel like this entire industry is one that pumps out units and the quality control is nil. I have had multiple people from within the industry tell me that one in like 5 units is actually even checked and that the assembly line often knows which ones (seems like a bad system), and that in the spring/summer busy months, that number can go down to as little as zero units inspected. I can’t say for sure if this applies to Jayco or not, and I like to think they don’t do that. I have been working with a gentleman from Jayco who has honestly worked very hard to help us out and has been very flexible with our needs. So from that perspective, kudo’s to them. I would have hated to own a different manufacturer who might not care. I just wish there was more care put in to the product pre-release. It seems at this point that Jayco is losing their asses on us. Between new patio railings and a new toilet being shipped and installed, to 6 on site service calls, to shipping it back to Indiana for repairs for a month, I feel like they could put a little more effort in to pre-production quality to mitigate these types of costs. I am beginning to think that part of the cost bakes in these types of repairs, but it seems silly. We have owned this rig for 5.5 months and have only been able to travel for 4 of those months. Given the length of the loan, this doesn’t bode well. I have repeatedly told Jayco that either they make all of their units crappy (which I don’t believe), or I got a lemon. I will say that I have asked to speak to someone about trading in to a new one given all of the challenges we have faced. Also, Jayco did contact Lippert (the manufacturer of the slide out systems, frames, and leveling jacks) and they did send one of their best of not the best guy out that they could. For that I applaud both companies. Ron, our guy, was there bright and early and worked even in the rain. In the end, he was able to complete the repair on site, but told us that something still isn’t working right and he fears this will happen again. GREAT. While I had him there, I explained that our “auto leveling” system has hardly ever worked right. He took a look and it turns out that the “brain” of the system that says whether we are level or not was mounted to a soft underbelly portion of Dory. He said it had to be attached to a rigid cross member of the frame and he did that work for us too. I was so impressed with his work ethic that I called his boss to tell her what an asset he is to their company.
I am still working with Jayco on what we do next. I can’t help but feel as though we got a bad unit. We may have got a bad unit from a good company, but that doesn’t help the fact that we are trying to take our daughter cross country in a trailer that sells for over 120k list and we haven’t even had it on the road for 20% of the time we have owned it. I am hopeful that we can come to a conclusion and so far Jayco hasn’t given me reason to doubt that we can. I would rather have this issue with Jayco than any other similar manufacturer given the stories, but we will see. I don’t want to include any lawyers or anything, I just want to get what I paid for.
All of that aside, we did leave Norman early Saturday morning. There was a BIG OU football game that evening, and we were warned, repeatedly, that we would want to beat the traffic. So we were up at 7 on a Saturday morning, loaded and on the road by 9.
Let the adventure really begin.
So the funny part of this all is that, as I believe I have mentioned previously, we are just actually starting our “adventure” portion of the trip. Family commitments have kept us going in the opposite directions that we would have otherwise. This week represents a few major milestones. First, at the end of this week, we will have completed 6 months of this adventure. It hardly seems like we have been doing this for half of a year already. Second, our current stop at Terra Starr RV park at Lake Eufaula in eastern Oklahoma represents the first stop that we have no commitments and we can really go whatever way we want. stay as long or short as we want, see what we want, and really DO what we want. We are headed toward Tennessee then will hopefully head toward Georgia and then to Florida. We will get to see our kids and our grandson in December as we are flying them to come see us for our grandsons first birthday. I will also get to see my Marine brother while near Nashville, and we will get to see other family down in Atlanta. This next phase has already seen lower temperatures, which is nice. We have actually sat on the deck for football games, and once everyone is healthy (a bug ripped through the RV), we will be out on the bikes and on walks. Third, we are entering our first holiday season in the RV. It will be very interesting to see how things like Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas go.
We are so looking forward to the future. If this has taught us anything, it’s that stressing out does little to solve problems. I have been proud of our family for how everyone has handled our adversity. It may not seem like it, but Karma has really shone on our family. We have yet to have an issue that we couldn’t get resolved on the road, and although we continue to be plagued with problems, we have managed to be in places where we had a support network. Norman was no different and Lisa’s folks and their family and friends came through huge for us. It was the longest we had spent with them too, so that was nice. This life has a lot of upsides and we are preferring to look at that. Keep in perspective just what is important.
Until next time, thanks for reading. I hope it is helpful.