A family on the road living fulltime in an RV.

Tag: Finding the Perfect RV

Heart or Head – Searching for the Best Family Travel Trailer

Finding a new RV We began our search for a new RV the moment we decided to sell our old one. My heart bleeds gypsy blood and to not have…

Finding a new RV

We began our search for a new RV the moment we decided to sell our old one. My heart bleeds gypsy blood and to not have an RV would make the next few years feel even more like a prison than it already does. Okay, so I’m being a little dramatic but we love having an RV for many reasons. It makes traveling affordable. RVing allows us to be remote or as urban as we want to be. It’s one of the ways our family connects and creates forever memories. RVing allows for more comfortable and extended visits with family. I love my family but I also love my space.

Jayco pop-up trailer

When we first started RVing many years ago we had a pop-up trailer that we loved. We would park it under the shade of the Sequoia trees in the Sierra Nevada Mountains or along the California Coast. It was perfect for that time of our lives. Since then we’ve discovered we love winter RVing so a pop-up isn’t going to work. We’ve also grown a bit and were spoiled by our 41’ Gateway fifth wheel.

cedar-creek silverback 5th wheel camper

In between the pop-up and Gateway, we had a 35’ Cedar Creek fifth wheel. It was really great but the big boys really wanted more space if we were going to keep full timing and I was kinda tired of the small kitchen counter. The one thing we loved about the Cedar Creek was the shorter length opened up more camping options. Many parks have 35’ length restrictions and we fit in a lot of driveways. The Gateway at 41’ no longer fit in my or Brent’s parents driveway and occasionally we couldn’t stay in some parks because it was too big. We don’t regret purchasing the Gateway and would buy it over again if we were full time RVing but now that we aren’t, we are looking for something shorter so we have more options.

Last but certainly not least, we no longer have the diesel 3500 Chevy dually to pull the RV. After some discussion we decided that we didn’t want to continue paying those expensive truck payments for a truck that our entire family couldn’t fit in. In hindsight, we should have bought a less expensive truck that seated six. Or maybe not. Six of us in a truck would have been tight especially with two car seats. So after a lot of research we decided to buy a diesel Ford Excursion. I’ll do another post on buying the new SUV because a lot of  research went into it but the short of it is that it can seat six people comfortably and it can haul a heavy load giving us more options for travel trailers, the point of this post.

So without any more rambling let’s talk travel trailers. It seems to us there aren’t as many bunkhouse floorplan variations for travel trailers as there are for fifth wheels. Also there aren’t as many slideouts presumably to keep the weight down since slideouts are heavy. So we have been trying to prioritize and figure out our needs for RVing. While we aren’t full time RVing we do plan on taking a 2 month trip every year and want to be comfortable. So here is what we are considering so far.

Weight – A trailer that weighs less than 10,000 pounds unloaded (UVW). The lighter the better but we can go up to 10,000 as long as we make some modifications to the Excursion. Again another post.

New or Used – Our first two trailers were used and they held up great. Normally, we buy everything used so it was a big deal for us to buy a new trailer when we bought the Gateway. We had looked at probably over a hundred floorpans and it was the only one we loved everything about and it was new that year. Of course. We decided it was worth it to purchase the Gateway even though we rarely purchase new. We are facing the same problem again, a few of the floor plans we love are new this year. Obviously, we would prefer to keep cost down and purchase used. However, we don’t regret our purchasing the Gateway new at all. Surprisingly, it held its value very well and we sold it quickly. Since we had such a great experience with a new rig (the warranty is nice) we are considering new.

Slide outs – Are slide outs a must? If so how many and where? Two slide out bunkhouse trailers tend to put one in the back bedroom and another one in the middle living area. Three slide out trailers have a few more options. Some have one in the back bedroom and two in the middle. Others have two in the back bunkroom and one in the middle. A few have one in each room. Regardless, if we decide we “need” slide outs, we are trying to decide if we want more space in the living room or bedrooms. We are leaning towards extra living room space but trying to decide how important double living room slide outs are to us.

Bedroom Layout – At first it seems like the only travel trailer floor plan option was a back bunkhouse and a front queen bed with the head of the bed situated at the front of the trailer. But then I found the front bunkhouse models. These typically have more room around the master bed and since the littles sleep in our room with us (they do in our house too) this would be much more comfortable and give Brent a good space to work for extended trips. The tradeoff is a smaller bunk room but the teenagers they don’t need as much space as they once did since we aren’t full time. Even in our Gateway they spend a lot of time lounging in their beds so we are leaning towards a larger master bedroom.

“Character” – Before we went on the road we looked at a vintage bus and I loved it. It had so much character and personality. However practically outweighed personality for full time RVing. Since this one is for part time only, we are considering something more “fun” like a vintage camper. We love remodeling/renovation projects and think it would be fun to renovate and older trailer and make it something that “fits us”. However, vintage trailers sacrifice modern comforts and we just aren’t sure we want to sacrifice modern comforts.

Best Family Travel Trailers

It’s hard to say what “best family travel trailers” really are because each family has different needs. After months of research these are the travel trailers that we think would be best for our family.

Cougar X-Lite 32FBS

cougar

The Cougar X-Lite 32 FBS was the first travel trailer floor plan we came across with a rear master bedroom. When we went to Indiana over spring break, we saw it in person and loved it. There is a ton of space in the back bedroom and there is more floorspace in the Cougar front bunkhouse than some other travel trailers due to the slide out closet and two as opposed to three or four bunks.

cougar32fbs_3

The downsides to the Cougar are: it’s only available new and it only has one slide in the main area. However, since there isn’t an island the the floor space is about the same. It’s really just sacrificing counter space.

Highland Ridge Open Range Light LT308 BHS or Roamer RT310BHS

While at the dealership looking at the Cougar, we saw the Highland Ridge Open Range Light LT308BHS. I was impressed with all the space the moment we walked in. Although the master is in the front, there is still more room in the master than other travel trailers of the same layout because Highland Ridge adds 4 inches in width over the standard width of most travel trailers. When you are talking space in RVs a few inches can make a HUGE difference. Highland Ridge also comes with a 2 year warranty and is known for its quality build.

highland-rdge-RT310BHS-floorplan

The Roamer RT310BHS is basically the same floorpan but with an extra slide out closet in the front bedroom for a total of FOUR slides! 

highland-rdge-rt310bhs

We absolutely LOVE these Highland Ridge floor plans and if they were in our budget we would buy one of these in a heartbeat.

Puma 32FBIS

puma32FBIS

We haven’t seen the Puma 32FBIS in person but while I was searching for front bunkhouse travel trailer floorpans I came across this one. I love the layout with the master bedroom in the back and the double slides in the living area.

puma32fbis-1

We are concerned about how this one would do in colder climates though so we will be doing some more research. Also the front bunkhouse is a little tight if there is an outdoor kitchen but it’s fine without the outdoor kitchen. A few more with this great floor plan are the Prime Time Lacrosse 336BHT and the Prime Time Avenger 32 FBI. We aren’t familiar with the Prime Time brand but we love the layouts.

Grand Design Reflection 308BHTS

grand-design-reflection-308bhts-floorplan2

Grand Design is a newer brand. We toured a Grand Design fifth wheel when we filmed the reality show, Going RV, last year. They seem to be of very high quality. Then we went through one of their travel trailers at the RV show in Denver a few months ago.

screen-shot-2016-05-27-at-10-38-36-am-768x317

We really liked the finishes. Although the trailer has a front master bedroom, it felt a little more spacious that some of the others we’ve toured.

Cross Roads Zinger ZT29DB

zinger-29db-floorplan

2007_crossroads_zinger_29db_travel_trailer_1354985b298a93ef2920_5

Thanks to my OCD, I’ve been checking Craigslist multiple times day and came across the Crossroads Zinger 29DB. We really like the back bedroom and how the bunks lie horizontally in the front cutting down on the length and weight of the trailer. While we don’t LOVE this RV, it’s affordable and would be comfortable for our family without adding debt. Since it’s used I wouldn’t have emotional hang ups about painting brand new cabinets and walls. It would be so much fun to do another RV makeover!

 Vintage Airstream

rv-7-airstream-park-city-ut
For years, Brent and I have talked about buying a vintage trailer or bus.  In a post I wrote in March 2011, I mentioned my dream of rolling down a dusty highway in an Airstream, a shiny piece of Americana. We love bringing old things back to life. Although, we don’t have experience renovating a trailer, we did renovate two 1950s houses in California. A trailer can’t be that much harder to restore than a house, right? Years ago, when we bought our pop-up trailer, our tow vehicle was a Honda Odyssey so we were very limited by weight and budget. Today, we have a bigger budget and tow vehicle so maybe now is the time to pursue our dream of restoring and remodeling a vintage Airstream! We have a perfect space to park it while we work on it.

We’ve been researching and really love the 1980’s Excella models, particularly the 34 footer with the double beds in the back. We have all sorts ideas to customize it to fit our family and personality. The downside, besides the lack of slide outs, are the prices of older Airstreams are all over the map and good deals sell really fast. Seriously, we saw the exact trailer we wanted for $7200 but it sold the night before we called. The same models are ranging from 9K t0 20K and upwards! The upside is Airstreams are well built and hold their value.

There are so many choices and each one has their pros and cons. Do you have experience with any of these brands or models? Should we go with our heart and buy a vintage Airstream or use our head and buy a newer RV? What would you do? We would like to make a decision soon!

Love and Laughter,
Jenn and Brent

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Used Heartland Gateway 3650BH for Sale

The time has come to sell our beloved RV, a used 2014 Heartland Gateway 3650BH. We searched for months and looked at many RVs before deciding on the Gateway 3650BH….

The time has come to sell our beloved RV, a used 2014 Heartland Gateway 3650BH. We searched for months and looked at many RVs before deciding on the Gateway 3650BH.

Heartland Gateway 3650BH for sale

She was perfect for our family and if we were going to do it again, we’d buy her. Honestly, we have no regrets but now that we are no longer traveling full time, it doesn’t make sense to keep her. Not to mention we no longer fit in our truck now that we are a family of six so if we did want to keep her we’d have to buy another truck. During this next season of our life it doesn’t make sense so we are hoping she’ll go to another family who will love her and have as many or even more adventures that we did!

used Heartland Gateway 3650bh for sale

She’s a very comfortable fifth wheel with 5 slides and thousands of dollars of upgrades including 600 watts of solar & expanded battery bank. We’ve maintained her well and have the preventative maintenance service records. We’ve never had any major problems and the minor ones the come with buying a new rig have been worked out for you. The back bunk room was modified to have a desk and more storage but it could easily be converted back to a third bunk and even a 4th bunk (trundle). Currently, she sleeps 6. We also modified the front closet where the washer and dryer would go. It is now an office/desk space, perfect for people who want to work on the road.

Asking $43,600 OBO. It’s one of the lowest priced Gateway 3650BH on RV Trader and those don’t include all the upgrades. Here is the link to the RV Trader ad.

We are also selling our 2008 diesel Chevy Silverado 3500 HD LTZ 4WD Crew Cab for $27,500 OBO. It comes with an external diese

Heartland Gateway 3650BH Photo Tour

RV-floorplan

The floor plan was the selling point for us. We loved the L-shaped kitchen as opposed to an island because it really opened up the floorspace between the couch and chaise lounge/chairs and the large bunk room was perfect for the kids.

living-room-2

We love the large living space with plenty of room for everyone.

living-room

It feels more like a small apartment than an RV.

kitchen1

Tons of counter space and the full size residential fridge is awesome for a family.

chairs

We found the stock chaise lounge uncomfortable and unsightly so replaced it with cute comfortable arm chairs. Bonus: the chairs are way lighter than the chaise. The newer model moved the heater to under the chaise so you have to work around the heater if you want to do something else in this space.

couch

We also replaced the stock sofa with a better made and in our opinion better looking sofa.

King-Bed-Option-Fifth-Wheel-Heartland-Gateway

Love the king sized bed and bookshelves on each side. The mirrored closet is large. We replaced the stock mattress with a higher quality and more comfortable memory foam mattress. (Note this is an older photo. We also replaced the curtains with patterned black out curtains and got rid of the bedspread. It was thin and scratchy.)

office

In the master bedroom we also built a custom work space with a slide out keyboard tray. Desk could easily be removed and the space could be used for a washer and dryer (the white box are the hookups) or storage.

baathroombathroom2

The front bathroom has a toilet, sink, tub, shower and plenty of storage.

bedroom1

The second bedroom has two beds, lots of storage, 2nd half bath, and television.

bedroom2

We removed the sofa from under the right bed and built more storage and a desk. The storage and desk could easily be removed and converted to a bunk bed and a fourth trundle bed could be added. (That is an option on the Gateways.)

Half-Bath

The half bath has a rear entry door and more storage.

RV-solar2

The solar is great for boondocking and saving money on camp fees without sacrificing comfort. The 600 watts and extra batteries are enough to keep the residential fridge going indefinitely and devices charged.

Here is a list of all the specifications and upgrades.

UPGRADES Heartland Gateway 3650bh

600 W solar with expanded battery bay (six 6-watt golf cart batteries)
Memory foam KING bed (we replaced the stock mattress with a better one)
Residential fridge
JT Strong Arm stabilizing jacks
Replaced the factory tires with higher quality Greenball Towmaster tires (less than a year ago).
Custom curtains (black out curtains in bedrooms)
Newer couch (the stock couch was ugly and falling apart)
Replaced the uncomfortable lounge with 2 arm chairs
Shelves in cabinets (they come as big open cabinets without shelving)

INTERIOR FEATURES

2 Air Conditioners
Washer/Dryer Hookups
Kitchen Dinette: Booth that makes bed
Interior Flooring Type: Carpet / Vinyl
Master Bedroom: King Bed
Number Of Bathrooms: 2 (1 full bath with tub/shower and 1 half bath)
3 Televisions (one in living room, bunkroom, and outdoor kitchen)
DVD Player

EXTERIOR FEATURES

Outdoor Speakers
Large Basement Storage Compartments
Power Awning
Power Leveling Jacks
JT Strong Arm stabilizing jacks
Exterior kitchen with fridge and TV
Outdoor shower

Heartland Gateway 3650 BH SPECIFICATIONS – (Taken from Nada Guides)

Five Slideouts
Length (ft-in / m): 41′ 0” / 12.5
Base Weight (lbs / kg): 12999 / 5896.3
Carrying Capacity (lbs / kg): 2501 / 1134.5
Hitch Weight (lbs / kg): 2020 / 916.3
2 Axles
Air Conditioning (BTUs): 28500
Heater (BTUs): 35000

HOLDING TANKS – (Taken from NADA guides)

Fresh Water Capacity (gal / L): 57 / 215.8
Gray Water Capacity (gal / L): 80 / 302.8
Black Water Capacity (gal / L): 80 / 302.8
Propane Capacity (gal / lbs): 14.2 / 60
Water Heater Tank (gal / L): 10 / 45.4

If you know anyone in the market for a used Heartland Gateway 3650bh feel free to pass this on. We’d appreciate it!

Love and Laughter,
Jenn and Brent

If you enjoyed this post consider connecting with us! 1. Sign up to have posts emailed to your inbox. 2. Subscribe to the RSS Feed or 3. “like” Newschool Nomads on Facebook  Simple dimple!

Like food and fitness? Follow along as I film a workout in every state and explore finding a healthy balance on the road at Girl Heroes!

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Buying our New Fifth Wheel at Dixie RV

Buying a new RV was a big decision for us. A really big decision. Our old RV was already paid for and it had become our home so we were…

Dixie RV Heartland Gateway 3650BH

Buying a new RV was a big decision for us. A really big decision. Our old RV was already paid for and it had become our home so we were reluctant to part with it. However, our family was in the midst of some changes. Last summer, we found out we were expecting another child. Around the same time we decided to stay on the road indefinately but felt like our preteen and teen needed more personal space so we began our search for a new RV.

After looking at more models of RVs than we could count we found one with a floor plan we loved, the Heartland Gateway 3650BH. Our only hesitation was that it was a brand new model and we had planned to buy used. It would be another year or so before used RVs of this model would start to hit the market. Back and forth we went on whether to buy new or used.

After looking at nearly every bunkhouse fifth wheel on the market, we felt like if we were going to buy used we would basically be getting the same floor plan we already had. The Heartland Gateway was the only RV that had nearly every feature we wanted. Finally, we decided the new RV would give us the extra comfort and space we craved. (You can read more about the features, why we decided to finance it, and watch a video here.)

Dixie RV Hammond

So our search for an RV took a new direction as we started shopping for the Heartland Gateway 3650BH with the features we wanted at a price we could afford. Our search led us to Dixie RV Superstore. One early morning, I couldn’t sleep so I got out of bed and went online again to search for more dealerships carrying the Heartland Gateway line. I came across Dixie RV and they had a lot of Gateway bunkhouses in stock. They also had quite a few with the optional features we wanted. So I sent them an email with an offer. Later that day, we received a phone call from Dixie RV and began the purchasing process.

It was January and Indiana, where we were staying, was being hit by heavy winter storms. We weren’t able to get down to Dixie RV which has locations in Florida and Louisiana for a few weeks so we took care of the paper work to get financing over the phone and by E-mail. Everyone was so nice and helpful. I was particularly nervous that’s my role in the marriage) because we had never purchased a large item brand new. Dixie was able to get us a great rate and our payments ended up being lower than we had budgeted for! I was shocked by how smoothly everything went.

The Gateway with the features we wanted was located in Louisiana so we made plans to go there to pick up our new RV. A few days before we were scheduled to pick it up, Dixie contacted me and said they had found a crack in the bathtub and wanted to make sure it was okay if they switched us to another stock number with the same features. Brent and I were  grateful that they had found the crack in the tub before we got there to pick it up. While the crack would have been covered under warranty, it would have been a hassle to get it fixed. Their thorough inspection saved us time I’m sure.

Dixie RV Superstore Hammond

The day we picked up our RV was exciting. We got there early so we would have plenty of time for the remaining paperwork and to take pictures and video for our blog.

Lifetime RV Warranty

First, we met with the finance department to sign our final loan documents. Regina in finance offered us a few different extended warranty packages but there was never any pressure to buy. We decided to pass and stick with the factory warranty and the Lifetime Warranty that covers a few other major components as long as you keep up on the yearly maintenance.  It is my understanding that the maintenence can be done at different participating dealerships throughout the country. We haven’t used the Lifetime Warranty so we can’t speak of its service but it’s nice knowing we have it.

There was a bit of an unexpected wait to pick up our RV because Dixie had noticed a small chip in the front cap paint and wanted to fix it. A rock had probably hit it while it was being transported from the Heartland factory in Indiana to Louisiana. It didn’t really matter much to us but Dixie wanted to make sure everything was perfect. While we waited we explored the facilities.

Dixie RV Showroom

Of course, the boys wanted to look inside some more RVs. It was nice that we felt welcomed to explore the RVs at leisure inside the large indoor showroom.

Dixie RV Hammond Lot

The outdoor lot is GIGANTIC. If you can’t find an RV to meet your needs here you won’t find one anywhere. It’s always interesting to see the different floor plans and features even if they aren’t what you are looking for.

Dixie RV Hammond Lounge

We spent some time hanging out in the customer lounge.

Camping World Dixie RV Hammond

The customer lounge is attached to a Camping World. Dixie is really a one stop shop for all your RV needs! We made a few purchases for the new rig.

Delivery Pad Dixie RV

Outside there are many service bays and RV pads with electricity for customers to take possession and stay in their new RVs. Dixie even let us stay an extra night so we could drive into New Orleans for a day!

Dixie asked us if we would mind giving a customer testimonial for their YouTube channel while we waited. Dixie has their own video team who produce videos of their inventory and customer testimonials. It was fun way to pass some time by reenacting the buying experience and sharing our story of full time RVing with a family with them.

RV Tour DixieHow to use RV Dixie

Finally that afternoon, we took possession of our new RV, our dream “home”.  Anthony from service led us on walk-through inside and out and taught us Brent how everything worked. After weeks of discussions and searching for a new RV, it was surreal to finally be in it. That night as we went to bed I knew that we had made the right decision and I was thankful that Dixie had helped make the process so smooth.

Dixie RV Superstore Review

Special thanks to our little photographer who helped take pictures!

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Like food and fitness? Follow along as I film a workout in every state and explore finding a healthy balance on the road at Girl Heroes!

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Our Heartland Gateway 3650BH Video Tour

In our search for an RV, we spent a ridiculous amount of hours online looking at various models and reading reviews and forums. After selling our old RV in Texas,…

Heartland Gateway 3650BH Tour

In our search for an RV, we spent a ridiculous amount of hours online looking at various models and reading reviews and forums. After selling our old RV in Texas, we headed to Florida to meet my  doctor before heading to Indiana, RV capital of the world.  Determined to find ourselves a new home we braved the cold to visit RV dealerships and an RV show. We found many models that would work for us but finally narrowed it down to five models that had almost everything we wanted: Avalanche 360RB, Montana Mountaineer 356TBF, Cedar Creek Silverback 35QB4, KZ Durango 358BHK, and the Heartland Gateway 3650BH.

The things we were looking for in order of priority were:

  1. Four or five slides with double slides in the back bedroom (Our last RV had 3 slides. )
  2. A place for Brent to build a desk (If he can’t work we can’t travel!)
  3. 12 cubic foot or larger refrigerator or an RV with a space big enough where we could install one ourselves
  4. Pantry
  5. More kitchen counter space than our last RV
  6. An all-in-one front bathroom (as opposed to a walk-through bathroom, i.e., one where the shower, toilet, sink are separated)
  7. A second half bath in the back.
  8. Washer and dryer hookups (Which ultimately didn’t matter b/c we aren’t going to use them after all.)
  9. Booth dinette as opposed freestanding table and chairs (We like the coziness and the storage a booth provides.)
  10. Storage storage storage!
  11. Bathtub (Not a huge priority but would be nice.)

As you can see we had some high expectations but after living full time in an RV with our family for over 2 years we knew what we wanted.  Although we knew we were going to finance this RV, we still had a budget we wanted to stay within so a few brands we would have liked to look at were out of the question.

A quick word about financing our RV. When we set out on the road we still had credit card debt. Most people insist that you should pay off all your debt before hitting the road. Clearly that would have been ideal but our boys were getting older and we knew we no longer had the luxury of time. So instead of waiting to pay it off, we decided to hit the road before everything was “perfect”. That’s another post for another time but to make a long story short, we chose to not wait to have our ducks in a row before following our dream. At this point of our journey, it made better sense for us to sell our old rig which was paid for to pay off high interest credit card debt and finance a new rig at a rate that is less than a 3rd of our credit cards. Not only did we lower our monthly payments, we improved our overall quality of life. Keep in mind we came from Southern California where we were used to a high cost of living so our monthly RV payment is teeny tiny compared to our house payment. That said, it would be ideal to have zero debt before you hit the road if you can do it!

Anyway back to the RV. Of all the RVs we looked at the Heartland Gateway 3650 BH had more features we wanted than any other RV, including a bathtub! In fact, the one thing it had we didn’t want was an outdoor kitchen. (At this time the outdoor kitchen is not an option on the Gateway 3650.)  The big concern we had was the Gateway is a brand new model so there weren’t any used ones on the market. Used was our first choice but after lots of thinking we decided to get what we really wanted since it is our home. You can read more about how we finally made our decision to buy it from Dixie RV and see the photo tour here. Or for those of you who prefer video I finally had the time to put a little video tour together. Enjoy!

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Dixie-RV-SuperStores

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Our New RV – The Heartland Gateway 3650 BH

After much, literally months of deliberation, and over 8 weeks of living out of bags after selling our old RV, we decided to purchase a brand new fifth wheel. This…

After much, literally months of deliberation, and over 8 weeks of living out of bags after selling our old RV, we decided to purchase a brand new fifth wheel. This is the first time we have ever made a large brand-new purchase. For the last fourteen and a half years of our marriage we’ve always bought used cars and fixer-upper houses. To give you an idea on how hard this decision was for us, it took me over 6 months of research to buy a nice blender and three days of putting it in my online shopping cart only to delete it before I finally hit “check out”.

So why did we decide to go with a new fifth wheel? Two reasons, floor plan and Dixie RV Superstores. We first saw the Heartland Gateway 3650BH in Texas and, despite the hotel-like appearance of the interior, we immediately we fell in love with the floor plan. At the time we still had our old RV and thought there was no way we could buy a new RV so we kept looking at used ones. The Gateway is a new line from Heartland so there weren’t any used ones available. We found a used Cedar Creek Silverback we liked not loved in Michigan but the weather was not cooperating to go pick it up.

A few weeks later while waiting for a break in the nasty weather, we went to the Indianapolis RV show and saw the Heartland Gateway 3650BH again. We walked in and every one of us knew it was a perfect floor plan for our family. We sat in it for about 30 minutes imagining what it would be like to live in it. It had EVERYTHING we wanted: a full size refrigerator,  tons of kitchen counter space, a gas stove and oven, a pantry, a huge bunk room with two slides, a booth dinette (we didn’t want a table and chairs), washer and dryer hook ups (which we decided to use as a place for Brent’s office), a second half bath, and a bathtub in the full bath.  It’s so cute to watch babies play in the tub!

The next morning I got up early and started contacting RV dealerships. I made a few offers and Dixie RV got back to me. Dixie RV was awesome. Not only are the prices on their rigs great, the customer service is phenomenal. (We are going to write a post with video detailing the entire process of buying a new RV from Dixie soon so stayed tuned.)

Anyway, as you may know the weather in the midwest was horrendous so it took us almost two weeks before we could get down to Dixie RV to pick up our new rig. In the meantime, I needed to see my doctor so it was more cost effective for Thing Two and I to fly down to Florida than for us all to drive all the way down and then back up to Dixie in Louisiana. Plus it gave us some special one on one time with the boys. Our family was apart for 10 days which was really hard but eventually we reunited late one night in Pensacola during that crazy ice storm. The next morning we drove to Dixie to pick up our new RV.

Dixie RV Heartland Gateway 3650BH

The Kitchen and Living Room

Residential Fridge Fifth Wheel Heartland Gateway 3650bh

The full size fridge is the most exciting part! It means no more playing tetris after going to the grocery!

Fifthwheel 5 slide Kitchen

Lots of counter space is going to make preparing meals much more enjoyable.

Heartland Gateway 5 slide living room

It’s hard to tell in the picture but there is a lot of open floor space in front of the couches. If we wanted we could comfortably fit a coffee table. Many of the fifth wheels we looked at had an island but then the floor space in the living room felt cramped.

Fifth Wheel Living Room Gateway 3650bh

The Master Bedroom

King Bed Option Fifth Wheel Heartland Gateway

Meow Cow thinks the “king bed” means it was made for him. (He’s on the top right pillow.) Fifth Wheel King Bed Heartland Gateway 3650BH

The washer and dryer hookups are behind the louvered doors. We orginally thought we would install a washer/dryer combo but decided it would be more space effective to use it as Brent’s office.Heartland Gateway Dixie RV

The Full Bathroom

Heartland Gateway 3650BH Full Bathroom

Fifth Wheel Bathtub

Again it’s hard to tell but the bathtub is actually quite large.

The Bunk Room and Half Bath

Fifth Wheel Bunkhouse 5 slide

Fifth Wheel Bunkhouse house five slide Gateway 3650bh

There is a ton of space in the middle of the bunkhouse.

Heartland Gateway 3650BH Half Bath

The half bath taken from the outside door.

As far as renovations and decorating goes, we aren’t sure what we are going to do yet. While we had a blast painting and reupholstering everything in our old rig, we just don’t feel comfortable sanding and painting brand new cabinets or tearing off perfectly good fabric. To be honest, we don’t have the time for a full renovation anyway with the baby on the way. Another reason we decided to go with a new rig. We do know we’ll make new curtains and get a new bedspread. Gold is not our thing. We also have to come up with a solution for the leather couches and headboard because Meow Cow will turn them all into his own personal scratching posts and getting him declawed is not an option. So we may swap out the reclining couch and recover the lounge and headboard with fabric that could easily be removed by a new owner if we decide to sell the rig in the future. Lastly, we are going to build desks spaces for the boys in the bunk room and add another storage cabinet.

So that’s the new RV, a Heartland Gateway 3650BH. We filmed a tour for those of you who prefer video over pictures but haven’t had time to edit it. We’ll  get that posted next week.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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The Couch Angel

Last week, I mentioned a great friend was coming over to help me reupholster the rv sleeper sofa frame. Well she’s not a great friend…          …

Last week, I mentioned a great friend was coming over to help me reupholster the rv sleeper sofa frame.

Well she’s not a great friend…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She’s a saint.
(If you could of seen me around 12:30 when I was hungry you would agree….A SAINT.)

Not only is she a saint but she is also one of the kindest, most creative, and thoughtful people I know.  She got to my house at 10:00 am and left at 9:30 pm.  That’s 11.5 hours (for those who are mathematically challenged like myself.)! ELEVEN and a HALF hours!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the rv sofa before.  We thought about getting an entirely new sofa but not only was it expensive, it was hard to find one to efficiently fill the space.  We didn’t want to waste any space and we wanted to keep the sofa bed for the future when the boys want to bring along friends. I scoured Craigslist but nothing the right size with a bed was coming up and most of the sofas on Craigslist didn’t fit our style.

What to do….

We decided the most cost effective solution was to pay someone to reupholster the cushions (I can sew very simple things like pillows but cushions with piping and zippers are waaay out of my league.) and we would reupholster the frame.

I found someone to recover the cushions with buttons, piping, and zippers for $40 a cushion (and it only took him a day and a half!).  I have no idea what it costs in other parts of the country but for southern California this was a steal.  I know because I called, visited, or emailed pictures to nearly every upholstery shop in our area.  He did an exceptional job and I couldn’t have been more pleased.  If you are in the area the shop is Robert’s Upholstery and the number is 805-659-5600.

So I made two treks down to the LA fabric district and got some gorgeous wool fabric in the exact color we wanted for $2.99 a yard.  The problem was the fabric had a pattern every 3 or so feet and they only had 14 yards.  I bought it anyway because those are the type of irrational things I do assuming we could make it work.  As it turned out the fabric made us work.

This was around noon when I hungry and cranky nearly gave up and called Robert to ask him the cost to recover the sofa frame.  It was going to be more than we wanted to put into the sofa so we persevered into the dark.

See the southwest pattern?  Grrrrrrr!  After Robert had used 8 of my 14 yards for the cushions we only had 6 yards left.  Take out the pattern and it was less. (See my math is improving as I write this post.)

Still working into the night.

Is this still a sofa?

If you ever decide to reupholster a sofa frame, do one side first.  I don’t know what we would have done if we had not left one side intact.  I took pictures and notes of taking it apart to have for references but I might as well been looking at Monet painting from 2 inches away at 3 o’clock am.  They made no sense.  Being able to look at the original side was a sanity saver.

Almost done.  We still had not screwed the frame back together and the cushions are sitting on boxes which is why the cushions look like they need Botox but you get the idea.  The couch itself is ordinary so to add some character I decided to add buttons like this ridiculously overpriced settee from Anthropologie.   All in all, with fabric and labor (not counting our own) it cost about $200 to reupholster the sofa.

So if you ever want to reupholster your own rv sofa frame, here are some tips.

1. Make sure you have enough fabric.  A total no brainer and it worked out okay only because this is an rv sofa and 3 of the 4 sides are hidden.

2. Give yourself plenty of time especially is you don’t follow number 1.  Had we had enough fabric it wouldn’t have taken near as long.

3.  Do one side first so you can look back at how it was put together.  Also take notes of the pieces and the order you take them off.

4. Have the right tools.  I don’t know what the “proper” tools are but here are the tools we used: staple lifter, hammer, pry bar, electric staple gun, needle nose pliers, screw driver, and scissors.  We owned all of them except the staple lifter and the electric staple gun which I borrowed from a friend.

5. Find a saint to help you out.  Most important!

By shopping around for fabric and reupholstering the sofa frame ourself we saved about $300 since the least expensive place cost $500 to reupholster the entire sofa. More important than saving money, I have a new fun (now) memory saved in my heart.  Thank you, Diane.

We are thisclose to being done with the interior!  Brent is finishing the floor this weekend and I have to do the curtains but those are the last major things to do.  I can’t wait to show you pictures!

love and laughter,
jenn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pinholes of Light

Some photos, a preview if you will, I snapped with my phone this week. Brent has been crazy busy finishing up the video and I’ve been painting, cleaning, and going through stuff at our…

Some photos, a preview if you will, I snapped with my phone this week.

Brent has been crazy busy finishing up the video and I’ve been painting, cleaning, and going through stuff at our house. Finally, some pinholes of light are making their way into this dark box of busyness.

It looks like we’ve moved our trip back a week.  I’m a little bummed because we wanted to leave on our official/unofficial (depends on how you look at it) anniversary.  It will be better because I’m nicer when I’m not stressed we won’t feel rushed and we will get to spend some time with some of the people we are going to dearly miss.

A good friend is coming over this morning to help me reupholster the couch frame today.  Clearly anyone brave enough to risk hanging out with me while I impatientlywield an electric staple gun, is not a good but a GREAT friend.

I’m *hoping* to get a Thrifty Threads Thursday post up today.  I found the cutest green vintage dress yesterday when I dropped off a load of stuff at the thrift store.  I also got a vintage Coach purse for $2.  TWO DOLLA can I hear a HOLLA!

Hope you are having a fantastic week!

with love,
Jenn

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Is there a forest around these trees?

Life may be a tad bit on the busy side right now but I still want to document it. This week we’ve been painting, sanding, painting, sanding. From how much…

Life may be a tad bit on the busy side right now but I still want to document it.

This week we’ve been painting, sanding, painting, sanding.

From how much we’ve I’ve been painting you would think that we are moving into a 3000 square foot house not a 300 square foot trailer.

I may or may not have had a breakdown in the bathroom last night over….

LINT.

Yes, there was lint in the polyeurathane and it nearly sent me over the edge.  Good times.  Good times.

I’ll just let you imagine how I felt today when Brent told me today after driving home from the LA fabric district that the polyurethane (I spent an entire day applying to the cabinets) didn’t dry clear and everything has to be re-sanded and re-painted.  I thought I was done with the kitchen cabinets and now I’m almost back at square one.  I basically wasted an entire weekend.

Except I didn’t because…

…I spent precious time with this guy.   His hard work blows me away.

I’m really trying to see the forest through the trees and remember what this trip is really about.

Family.
Adventure.
Memories.
Love.

Who cares about a little lint.

We are hoping to leave October 9th, our 12 year anniversary.  I can’t think of a better way to celebrate.

But…there’s the to-do list.

RV
Finish paint and Hang Cabinet Doors (we took them off to paint)
Paint Living Room Walls
Install Wood Floor
Build Brent’s Desk
Sew Curtains
Find Upholster for Cushions
Upholster Couch Frame – We were going to take it somewhere but it won’t fit out the door!
Install Closet Organizer
Install hardware
Paint Fan
Paint (or Find New) Light Fixtures
Re-upholster headboard
Buy storage bins
Install and plumb new bathroom sink
Purchase various small items

House 
Sell, giveaway, or burn stuff we are not taking.  (This is a mile long list in and of itself.)
Sell Car
Pack RV
Clean and repair current house. (Another list as long as this list.)
Trim bushes at current house
Fix stuff at the rental house. (Our tenant just let us know there is an opossum living under it.  Awesome.)
Order a few more school books

Misc
See friends
Keep up with laundry

Oh and that video we shot in July?  The deadline is fast approaching. When I think I’m working hard, I remember how hard Brent is working.

How many days to October 9th?

Don’t remind me.

But I’m not complaining because it’s all going to be worth it.

I think.

I hope.

with love,
jenn

 

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Making a “house” a “home”.

Today was our first official work day on the trailer. It’s a family affair.  Almost.  Thing 2 pops in and out offering encouragement.  Sort of. However, Thing 1 is more…

Today was our first official work day on the trailer.

It’s a family affair.  Almost.  Thing 2 pops in and out offering encouragement.  Sort of.

However, Thing 1 is more than happy to get to use tools help as long as we don’t paint the kitchen cabinets green.  We won’t talk about the breakdown in Lowes when he and I mentioned Brent and I were “thinking” about a green kitchen.  You would have thought I told him we thinking about giving up electricity.

We started in the bunk room.

 

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Putting new handles on the cabinets.  Thing 1 doesn’t mess around.  He scoffed at me when I suggested a screwdriver

Off comes the border.

 

 

 

 

 

Prepping the wall for paint.

We also brought Meow Cow over so he can begin to adjust.   Seeing that he’s not hiding under the bed, I’ll assume he is adjusting rather nicely.  Oh wait, he can’t hide out under the bed.  Hmmmm…..

You may be wondering what was I doing?  I was sitting on the couch texting while my child worked.  Isn’t that why we have them?  Kidding, I was killing brain cells painting primer on the walls and at the rate I’m going that is all I’m going to be doing this week.

with love,
Jenn

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The Birthday Beast

When I was a little girl I used to tell my mom that someday I wanted to drive across the country in an “old junky convertible”. She always asked me…

When I was a little girl I used to tell my mom that someday I wanted to drive across the country in an “old junky convertible”.

She always asked me “Why does it need to be junky?”   That still makes me giggle.  At 10 years old, I already dreamed of being on the road.

Everyday that childhood dream gets a little bit closer.

Sunday was my birthday and I got a BEAST of a present.  It’s not junky.  It’s not a convertible.  It’s not really even all that old.

Our new to us 2007 Chevy Silverado diesel, long bed, crew cab truck.  (That’s a mouthful.)

I can’t believe I own a truck.
(It really belongs to Brent and I but since we got it on my birthday we are calling it “my birthday present”.)

Confession, it doesn’t feel like “me” and I’m terrified to drive this beast.

I have no clue why I decided to sit on it.

I’m trying to “own it” but it feels like playing make-believe.  Let’s see…I’ll pretend I’m a cowgirl working on a ranch.

 

 

 

 

I drove it once yesterday and ended up parking far far away so I had plenty of room to swing this bad boy around into a space.  Then it took me 10 minutes to back this beast out.  I’m going to have to take xanax every time I drive it.  Wait.  That would bad.  Very bad.

Now we are trying to decide if we should do a veggie oil conversion.  Brent’s all for it.  I’m on the fence.  It sounds fantastic but I’m wondering if the reality would be more trouble than it’s worth.  If anyone has any experience with “going veg” we are all ears!

love and laughter,
jenn

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