Friday, November 28, 2014

Thrift Stores Vs. Discount Boxes

In my effort to outfit my new home (motor-home) I've come across a lot of deals and come to this conclusion.

Sometimes you just need to buy a brand name.
Take for instance the dollar store broom I bought. On the first sweep, the blue plastic bristles started flying out. Seriously, I asked myself, not even one sweep and the very reason for the item is lost.

Ok, next conclusion. Not all hangers are created equal. See those 8 for a dollar deals? Take care, one wrong twist and the hook is gone. Humm. Easy does it in the closet.

So last night I braved, for the first time ever, the Black Friday Sales, only, you're right, it was a Pre-Black Friday sale, at Walmart, named the First event which began at 6 p.m.
After spending the day writing my summer memoirs, I was ready for some action.

Action I got. All I wanted was some $1.99 DVDs, or at the least, a look at the selection. After all, its a dollar and gas to go rent one via Red Box, and sure I could stream, if there's streaming capabilities. .
Back to my story.
Ten minutes to six, thinking I'm early, I pull in the parking lot. Everyone in town is there. I kid you not. Where is a gal supposed to park?
Aha, in the back 40 is a spot, big enough for the Geo. Park, one last sip of coffee, lock doors, head out.
Two police cars are parked at the store, yellow tape cordoning off various approaches. Dude, what'sup with this??

Ok, deep breath, check my wallet, and phone, yes, still there, safely installed in my jacket pockets.
Once inside, we're given cheat sheets as they pull back the plastic from bins of STUFF. "Dvds?" I ask. "This is my first time to a Black Friday event."
"Mine too," the employee replies, "and I'm working it. Dvds are in Produce," and she points the way, clear across the store. "Good luck."

If I'd know then what I do now, I would have retreated outside and approached Produce from the other entry. But no, I've grabbed a cart and start making my way, through the maze of intent bargain hunters, wall to wall carts, garage size bins of bargains, bodies, kids, STUFF.
A deep swallow later, and I'm at last past Shoes, heading towards the baby aisle, where yellow tape prevents me from approaching Food.
Now what?
Its like abandoning your car in a traffic jam, but frustrated, I ditch my cart in a blocked off aisle and weave my way. No one can stop me now. I smell fruit!.
Movies, I'll just settle for a few movies, though originally I'd hoped to buy a few incidentals like toothpaste and popcorn.

"You can't go there," a woman calls. I spin around, "I just want to buy some movies but I'm about to bail."
"Ok, you have to go back towards Milk."
"Wait, wait, I can't get through there."
"Alright, hurry, get on up there," and points, unable to leave her station.
Walking swiftly, I see my goal where masses are bending to check titles and call home seeing if thats a keeper.
I pass between two employee guards, nodding, "I just want some dvds."
"Right this way."
Over my shoulder a customer says, "Only ten." apparently to a child mesmerized by Angry Birds and Curious George.
At last. My quest in view, various cardboard shelving with DVDs. Green dots are $1.99. Yellow, $3.96. Red and blue, more.

I found my movies, eight all told, all real copies, no bootleg reproductions. Among them : Grudge Fight, Gladiator, Forest Gump and Flight.
Award winners. Movies I can enjoy more than once.

Now, to the taped areas allowing me to pay for the choices. Fifteen minutes later, I'm back in my car, heading home. I'll eat some trail mix. Forget the popcorn.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Home Aspects

So after the motor part of the RV is under control so that you can actually get this thing on the open road, legally motoring down the highway, there's the longer than expected list that makes this box on wheels home.

Here's a list of the things I've bought so far, from kitchen to basement. Of course I owned a couple items, which I list first:

books, dvds, pens and paper
black milk crate that served as the book shelf
a mug
a plate
a backpacker's cook-set
a quilt and fleece throw
hand weights
hand tools (basic repair kits in car)

Items bought so far:
coat hangers
sheets and pillows
bedding set
throw rugs
waste can
scrub bucket
dish soap and scrubbies
sauce pan with lid
saute pan
stove lighter
8 forks
4 butter knives
4 teaspoons
4 tablespoons
paper plates
serving tray
cookie sheets that fit the smaller oven
baking pan
large mixing bowl
pot holders
towels, bath and kitchen

As you can see, most things are kitchen related and alot can be found at thrift stores. However, I've noticed, you can get better deals at discount stores like Walmart. I went fairly cheap and can upgrade as time passes.

As I talk to various friends about my need for this personal space versus living with others, I find most are very supportive. Yet once I was accused of having 'baggage' . I've been thinking about that and conclude, as I get older, maybe this so called baggage is actually wisdom. There comes a  time in life when we've been there and done that enough times to shy from the flame. Is that baggage, or wisdom? I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Don't Blow It All At Once

Here's the skinny on buying a motor home.

If you have twenty thousand to spend, don't. The additional costs add up until you wonder when the "hidden costs" will end.

As a beginner RV owner, I'm learning things I never thought existed, besides the obvious things like outfitting the rig. Gone are the days you live with one spoon, one pint pot, one cup, a pepsi can stove.
You are allowed to own a regular cotton towel. Even two.
You can have pillows. With an s. More than one. I have eight at present. My daughter gave me three of them, so I'm guilty of buying five.

There's a closet for dress boots. I'm talking the kind that have heels and zip up the side.
You'll want real soap, some shampoo, pajamas.
Wow, its like owning a HOME.

Wait. This is a motor HOME. I get it now. We drive the home.

Ok, the list of things associated with motors first.

Insurance. Full coverage so if/when you take your rig on the road and crash it or someone else, you're covered. I got the full year coverage. Because I've been with my company so long and have an excellent driving record, very doable, in fact, full coverage on this 34 foot rig cost less than twice what liability cost on the Geo. Yeah.

Then, tags. Idaho does calendar year tags and prorated for the 6 weeks of this year remaining. The fact my rig is older made the tags less expensive than a full blown luxury model. Cha-ching. Frugality wins again.

There were taxes paid at the dealership. I've heard you get around that by buying in Montana. Nope. Pay your state taxes and suck it up.
Next, a docking free. I guess that's all about the feds keeping track who owns this sort of thing.
Then, transfer of title. Not bad, only 14 bucks.

I decided on Triple A. Why not? If I needed this baby towed for whatever reason, or locked myself out of the one door, I'd have help. Thanks AAA, nice to know my back is covered.

By only spending a portion of my available budget, these costs have not sent me into bankruptcy yet. Yet. Fingers crossed. Job seeking in full swing.

Stay tuned for the list of HOME related expenses.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Home on Wheels

Newly purchased bedding in deep rich purple help bring the decor together, pulling off the hint of the same shade up front. The shades are drawn in cold weather. Raised to let sun heat the interior. This 34 foot Fleetwood had no slides, but simplicity is my motto.

Kids have a way of putting you in perspective. Thankfully, these blunt talkers like having time to practice decorating graham crackers with white frosting and trail mix in anticipation of the holiday season.

I was astounded to find the only door was on the side. There are no doors for the driver or front passenger. However, there is an emergency exit out the back bedroom window. After checking out various other Class As, I saw this was not uncommon. Bottom line? You can't accidentally fall out!
 The back up camera is a must. Take it slow, where ever you go.
Oh, and the gas tank is accessed behind the licence plate. Who knew?

Looking towards the back bedroom, you can see there is plenty of seating. Both chairs and couch have seat belts. The microwave, sink and oven are across from the table.
I love all the storage and haven't even begun to fill half of it, though all my stuff is now inside (barring the Search and Rescue equipment I keep in the Geo in case of call out.)

I'm excited to say the rig is completely paid for and fully insured.
Have Motor Home, will travel. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Motor Home and I Survive

Photos to come, but just to touch base, I have survived two nights in my new motor home, in spite of Idaho's record cold. Two below this morning!

The propane tank is full, as is the gas tank (who knew that gas went in the hole behind the license plates!) An emergency run into a local dealership, over ice, in the wind was needed so my LP leak detector could be fixed. Turned out to be a wire not properly grounded. Two nights ago, after just getting it home, the solenoid had burnt out after being previously hard wired. Yikes. Does it end?
Please say yes.
Starting to have second thoughts on expenditures, minimalist that I am, I muttered to the salesman, "Its like a black hole for time and money."
The Salesman replied cheerily, "Like owning a puppy."
"Might give it up for adoption," I laughed.

But, the bed is ultra comfortable with matching purple comforter and signature sheets. Ok, I could   get used to this.

Its winterized, though. My water comes from a jug instead of  a hose. Can't get crazy here. Just one step at a time. From tent to trailer is a sweet upward move.

Electric and WiFi enabled, things are looking up. A shopping trip and hundred bucks later, there's groceries, cookie sheets, scads of coat hangers, paper plates, cups and towels, fluffy pillows and coffee. Never never forget the coffee.

The process continues.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Buying A Motorhome

There's nothing easy about buying a motor home. First of all, you'll want to figure out what you're going to use it for. Or maybe like me, the future stretches out uncertainly and all you know is you need a place to put your stuff, and a bed you can always count on.

A very nice class C is shown above. Its located in Maine. I drove across the country, though, in my Geo.
Now, here in Idaho, I've visited and stepped inside another 33 motor homes. Some were Class C. Some were Class A (the kind that look like a school bus). None were trailers or Class B (a van conversion thing.)

Some had slides, providing a lot of additional floor space, yet adding weight and possible complications like fuses and electrical outages. I know you can crank the slides in manually.
I looked at rigs old as 1988 and as new as 2008.  Bottom line, I went with a 34 foot Class A, Coranado Fleetwood. Its immaculate and fully paid for. Done deal.

It has complete insurance and AAA for the first year. Who knows what I'll decide after I get used to this rig.

The stats:
I visited and heard the speils of seven dealerships for a total of 22 rigs.

I tried Craigslist and found two complete scammers, a piece of junk by a private seller (water logged so bad I feared to even drive it) and one missing random things and overpriced.
One rig, parked along the highway was inspected and defended by the seller. It reeked of cats and dogs. The linoleum rippled. No go.

I visited two Consignment dealers, whose income depending on selling at a percentage, and inspected another eight units. A lot of trust goes into the purchasing process. Its important to feel the person doing the selling is not lying. When and if you catch them in a lie, trust goes out the door. Move on.

Some rigs are winterized. All but one dealership was as is, no warrantee. Bottom line, bring a friend, bring family, bring your top inspection genes. Ask questions. Tons of questions. Check everything, every corner, every tire, every appliance. Then check again. Ask to see each 'basement' storage unit under the main floor. Touch the insulation. One dealership opened the spare tire box. I felt the insulation. Sopping wet. "We got a lot of rain last week," was his excuse. My tent doesn't even leak this bad. Forget it. 

Now that I own a motorhome, I can travel to seasonal jobs or stay in the area.
I'm not sure how much survivalism goes into owning a camper, but I'll keep you posted. Seems like a lot of folks are looking at this lifestyle either for retirement, traveling, or seasonal jobs. It does open up possibilities.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Scam Alert! RV Buyers Beware

I'm looking to buy a Motorhome. Class C or Class A, doesn't really matter, but something large enough to call home when I'm not using employee housing at a cool location, or on the trail living in a tent.

Class A motorhomes resemble a bus. They have huge wrap around windows. Class C look like a pick-up truck with a wide camper installed and over the cab bed.

Craigslist is a popular site. Anyone can list their stuff. Within just a few days, I've responded to two adds, both "steals."
The owner will reply saying the motor home can not be seen in person. Its ready for shipment, NOW. You buy it through E-bay, using their Protection Plan. Supposedly, after giving them basic information, the owner will create an E-bay listing where you will simply click on the Buy It Now button.

Probably, E-bay and Craigslist are completely innocent of this process. Its nearly believable. The owner promises everything is in working order and if, upon receipt of this immaculate RV, you find it is not, you can get a full refund.

Yeah, and I'm Santa Claus.
Ask yourself, how can this 'owner' sell a 2000 Winnebago for $9,000, class A, ship it from Utah, to Idaho, pay the fees, gas and e-bay commission, and still make any money.
I had a nearly identical RV owner from Denver, offering the same deal. When I offered to fly down and see it in person, and pay cash, she reiterated it was ready for shipping and had to sell it on E-bay.

The question arises: How can it be ready for shipping yet the thing hasn't even been listed at E-bay? Wouldn't you just take the thing to a consignment dealer? Surely they'd sell it locally if it was so sweet.

The fact I have two owners spilling the same story, details slightly different, in just a couple days, made me feel the need to post this warning.
Yeah, once again, I think I'll just shop locally.