Adventures in Caulking

So I have a sheepdog trial that I help with every year out in Soldier Hollow (Midway), Utah. The trial is all 4 days of Labor Day weekend, which is 3 weeks from now. The transmission is dead on my 4Runner, so my only real option at this point (unless I want to pay $1,500 to fix the 4Runner) is to go in the RV. My main goals before heading over the mountain are:

  • Re-caulk all the windows, doors, and seams
  • Re-caulk the seams on the roof, and then reseal the entire roof
  • Get it inspected
  • Get it licensed
  • Get it insured
  • Get the alternator tested
  • Get the oil changed
  • Get it a tune-up
  • Get my own driver’s license renewed

So I suppose that doesn’t seem like a whole crazy lot, but I essentially have 6 days off work between now and then to get it all completed. I wanted to get on the ball and get everything done ASAP, so I started on the caulking last week. I got probably 15 minutes into the job when I encountered THIS:

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Let me just state here the #1 rule of RV maintenance: You do NOT put silicone on the outside, anywhere! Click on any RV maintenance page anywhere on the internet, and it will be one of the first things you see people warned about. And yet some person in Flash’s past liberally applied this crap all over the seams of this RV. When my little plastic paint scraper hit the first patch of silicone, I could NOT believe it. I just stood in disbelief, staring at it, dumbfounded. Did someone really…?! Is that seriously silicone?! Yes, boys and girls, silicone. And then I started checking out all the other seams and cracks, and found, to my horror, that it was everyyyyywhere. Grumbling and shaking my fist at the moron who dared do such a thing without doing their research first, I figured the only way to get it gone was to jump in head-first and tackle it. All the little pieces of silicone you see in the picture above are from me scrape-scrape-scraping. It comes up in little tiny balls, but doesn’t actually come off all the way.

In a few places I was lucky, and since the silicone-slatherer was lazy enough to just pour it over the old caulking, it didn’t really adhere, and just came off by pulling on the end. But as you can see, there is still residue left all over the side of the RV:

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Kedric grew bored of watching me, and decided to take a nap in the shade while I scraped and scraped and scraped in 90*+ weather…

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And then, out of nowhere, clouds rolled in, wind started blowing like a hurricane, and rain started to fall. Kedric quickly moved from his spot in the shade to inside the RV when the thunder started to rumble.

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I figured I’d just keep scraping away and ignore the rain… until the thunder started cracking right over my head, and lightning started lighting up the sky. I’m determined, but not stupid, so I headed back in the house. Within minutes of coming indoors, the raindrops had turned into a downpour, and the thunder was shaking the house.

I got online to ask the RV experts what I should do about the silicone issue, and was told that unless I could get it 100% off, that the caulk I got would not stick, so it would essentially be pointless to try to caulk over it. I was offered a bunch of suggestions on how to get it off, and then the rain passed, so I went out to remove what caulk and silicone I could before the daylight ran out.

I found that the highest recommended silicone residue remover was available at Ace, so the next morning, Ked and I walked to the store. They were completely out, had none coming in on freight, and are the only store in the Salt Lake valley who carry it. *sigh* All the other recommendations I found had reviews online warning people that it would take the paint right off your vehicle. Eek. Thanks, I’ll pass!

I guess now can be the time where I mention that nothing has really gone according to plan up until now. I drove clear to the south end of the valley to Camping World only to find that they were out of everything I needed. In the middle of camping season, there was none of the caulk or roof seal that I needed in stock! WTH? So I had to order all of that from the internet. I went to Wal-Mart to pick up a new battery for the RV, and they were out of batteries. I went to AutoZone to get the battery instead, and ended up missing my turn for it and landing on a one-way street heading away from the store. Circled back around, and was told that I needed the exact van type, because they don’t carry motorhome models in their system. Went back home, dug through my info, and the closest I could come to a model type was “30 series”… So I went back to AutoZone, and he was like, “Okay, 30 series… What engine type?” ARGH! He said it would be in the VIN, so if I just brought the title in, they could tell. So I went home, got the title, and went back. Then they said, “Oh, this is a motorhome VIN, not a regular van VIN, and it doesn’t tell us the engine type.” I threw my hands up and questioned them about pros and cons of getting the wrong battery, then made an educated guess and went with the best damn battery they had. Luckily, and to my surprise, it fit perfectly. So now, when I need this silicone remover, I just have to laugh about the store being out of it. So I logged online and ordered that too. I hoped it would arrive by my next days off. But no. I ordered two custom dog tags for Kedric 2 days after I ordered the sealant remover. Those custom dog tags were made to order and sent to me, and I RECEIVED them (from two different companies!) before the company I bought the silicone remover from bothered to ship it. I just have to laugh though. Getting pissed isn’t going to make things happen any faster. I should receive the silicone remover before my days off next week though… Looks like this week is going to be spent getting it inspected, licensed, insured, and getting my own driver’s license renewed.

I feel at this point like it’s a good thing I’m flexible and not easily stressed out, or I would have thrown in the towel. I just have to keep rearranging the schedule for things to get done, and hope it all falls into place by the time I have to leave. Last year it poured and we had crazy electrical storms all four nights of Labor Day weekend, so I’d really just like to have my motorhome water-tight and good to go before I head out there this year. I really wouldn’t mind getting wet, but I can’t risk the water damage to the RV. It’s an adventure already!

Categories: goals, RV maintenance | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thar she blows!

So here she is, on the day I brought her home:

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The previous owners decided that she was a boy, and named her Flash. They had the emblem even put on the hood, lightning bolt and all. It makes me laugh.

You can see in the picture that some of the clearance lights along the front on the top are missing or mangled. They were the only thing preventing it from passing inspection. Everything on it seems pretty good. At some point in the past, there was water damage inside, but it’s been dry for a long time. Nothing inside is wet. We’ve been having some pretty good rainstorms this summer, and it doesn’t seem to have sprung a leak. It looks like someone previously coated the roof with some kind of roof seal, and it’s held up well. Someone also caulked along most of the seams on the outside with silicone (I’ll get to that in the next post), so none of the windows have been leaking either.

Something seems to be wrong with the battery or alternator. It will start right up, and then refuse to start minutes later. Then minutes later, it will start up just fine… I didn’t start it for a week, went outside, and it started right up. A month later I went out to start it and it was dead as a doornail. So I bought a battery, and Kyle and Andy came over and we installed that, and she started up better than ever. I’m going to take her into AutoZone to get a free test done to see if the alternator is the issue. I really hope the issue was just the battery, but who knows.

So first things first, I ordered some clearance lights from etrailer.com. Great lights, great service, great price. Two thumbs up there.

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Had the lights in under a week, and Kyle came over to install them, since I don’t know jack about electrical, and I really don’t want to be the cause of my RV burning down.

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We worked until well after dark getting them installed, but they look great (I didn’t think to take pix of the install until the sun had already set – duh). Here’s the finished product:

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Things are coming together! Thanks, Kyle and Andy! 😀

Next up on the Flash to-do list is stripping all the exposed caulk from around the seams and re-caulking them all, as well as re-sealing the roof.

Categories: RV maintenance | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

And so it begins…

Life is short. You sit around, thinking about what you could be, or what you could do, and suddenly years have passed by and you have nothing to show for the wasted hours. We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. We’re not even guaranteed a minute from now. You could die before you finish reading this sentence, and that’s that.

I’ve been struggling in this rip tide for years. It drags me out, I let the current take me, and then I decide I want to change, so I start swimming hard. And at some point, although I know I will eventually be allowed back in to shore,  swimming parallel to it just feels like I’m getting nowhere, so I flip onto my back and let the current carry me along again. All that progress, lost. At some point though, I decided to fight the current. Sometimes the waves suck me under, but I feel like I’m actually making progress. I can see the shoreline now.

Four years ago, I moved out of the black hole that nobody ever seems to be able to get away from. Maybe it’s the magnetic pull in the area or maybe it’s simply that people without a lot of hope just simply tend to keep doing what they’re doing, rather than jumping ship and following their dreams. I felt like the longer I stayed there, the more depressed I became, and the more pointless my life was. I decided to make Salt Lake City my stepping stone. Not where I want to be in life, but far enough away from where I was to break out of that mindset and feeling of hopelessness.

It’s taken me a few years, but I downsized from an insane amount of stuff to a very small amount, and started to think about what I wanted from life as I began to realize that living my dream was possible.

So… what do I want from life?

  • To be surrounded by people who make me feel good. People with drive, passion, kind hearts, and easy laughter. People who encourage me to live my dreams, and who have great energy. People who communicate well and can reciprocate good friendship. Friendly neighbors. People with positivity, who are increasingly hard to find in this jaded world.
  • To be on the coast again. There is nothing that rejuvenates the soul like crashing waves, enormous trees, and great energy.
  • To have a farm. I miss my animals. I want to plant trees. I want to go back to raising gardens and canning food. I would love to be able to turn my love of farming into a business. That is the ultimate goal and dream.

So now that I know what I want, and feel like it’s actually possible to get it, what now? I decided I wanted an RV. I can pick up and simply move somewhere else, but what if it’s not the place for me? Then I’m stuck until I can raise up money to move again… I decided that I’d rather just live in my home. Then I could travel around and find the place where I want to be without having to make a commitment to a certain city, a certain house. I could stop into towns and get a feel for them, see if they have what I’m looking for… You just know when some things feel right, and I’m hoping to find that city or town that I just don’t want to leave. The only catch with this plan is that I’d have to stay put for some time in order to hold down a job to pay for additional gas money, or I’d have to make money somehow on the road. I do tie-dyeing for fun, and I also hand-braid dog leashes. The dog leashes are very popular among people I know in the real world, but I would have to actually set up a site online, or join a site where I could sell them. And until they got really popular, I’d still be living on money I’d saved or having to hold down a job somewhere. I’ve been kind of wishy-washy, not sure of what I’m doing, but saving up money for when the right opportunity came along, and then… it arrived.

On June 1st, I bought a motorhome. I’d been wanting something over 18′, since they were the smallest, and had zero storage room, and smaller than 23′, which had pretty much everything I wanted, but seemed like a lot of space to pay to haul around just for the extra storage. I really have to think about the cost of things, since I’ll be alone on this journey. I’d been watching the classifieds like a hawk, checking them day and night, when a 20′ model popped up. 1978, only 40,000 miles on the engine. Bunk beds (read: extra storage) and a decent floorplan… I texted the owner, and our schedules were all wrong, but the person who was supposed to show up that night fell through, and it was still available the next morning. The owner texted me to let me know it was still there, and Andy whisked me down to the south end of the valley to test drive it. A couple hours later, and I handed my savings over for a set of keys and a piece of paper.

So now I have the RV in the driveway, and a list of things that need to be done for me to feel 100% about taking off in her. That does not include setting up the dog leash business so that I can start getting some happy customers and putting money in savings for the journey. I want to document all the steps I’m taking to get where I’m going. From fixing up the RV to what I’m doing with my days while on the road. I’m thinking it would be fun to include roadtrip recipes (I’m greatly looking forward to lots of grilling and campfire cooking, as well as the learning curve with learning to use a tiny RV oven). I also love to take pictures of everything, but I do not have a high-pixel, GOOD camera. So I have added that to the list. And I think videos every now and then would be great too, because I know that I love seeing videos from travelers’ wanderings. I recently looked into getting a GoPro. I thought, from how much people talk about them, that they’d be a few grand. I was pretty surprised to find that they’re only a few hundred bucks. I also will be traveling with my dog (and more than one at some point), so there will be info on traveling/RVing/camping with pets… So basically, all I have at this point are ideas. But the means is in the driveway. The rest is just a puzzle to be sorted into place as I go. And this blog will be the journal of how I make it happen. 🙂 Wish me luck!

Categories: dreams, goals | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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