Our very first RV adventure blogging post!

091316-visited-states-map
As of September, 2016 we have finally visited all of the 48 connected states in the US!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The blog below was the first blog that started documenting our travels and the experiences we’ve had.  A lot has happened since this first blog.  We were such newbies in the RV world and over the past 5 years have gained so much experience not only with RV life but in our own lives.  God has been so good to us leading us through this journey.  Hope you will read through the various posts to learn about RV life and about the silly couple that are the Chauvins!


August, 2012 – Hello world! Welcome to my first blog about Roy, Rosalyn, Dora and Boots’ adventures exploring the United States. We won’t start exploring for a while, other than an occasional trip to locations around Louisiana and a Christmas trip to Disneyworld! At least, not until our sticks and bricks house is sold! Please someone buy it!

This lovely 2 story Acadian style home on one acre is for sale!!!
This lovely 2 story Acadian style home on one acre is for sale!!!

If you’re wondering who Dora and Boots are, no they’re not our new grandchildren! They are TV characters our granddaughter Madisyn loves and consequently we’ve seen many episodes of Dora. In her show, Dora is an explorer and we learn all sorts of things through her exploring. Since our RV adventures will take us exploring throughout the United States, we thought it fitting to name our RV “Dora”. Our truck we are towing behind the RV is now named Boots, Dora’s trusty side kick who follows her everywhere! Our Dodge Dakota truck that we will tow is called our “toad”, in RV lingo. That means Boots is our toad!

I am married to my best friend, Roy Chauvin! Roy and I are a regular every day Southern Baptist Christian couple living in Hammond, Louisiana. I am a young 58 years old, born and raised in New Orleans Louisiana. Roy is a slightly older 63 year old who just turned the Social Security retirement age in January, 2013 and was born and raised in Metairie, Louisiana right outside of New Orleans. We met in 1971 and were married in 1972. Our first son was born in the late 1970s followed by his brother Chip in 1981. They are both grown men now with wives and children of their own. All that’s a story for another day but we wanted you to know a little about the folks going on this journey. We moved to Hammond, Louisiana 25+ years ago and have lived here since. It’s a small college town between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. We both currently work at Southeastern Louisiana University. Roy is the Computer Fix It Guru (of course not his official title) and I am the Telephone Billing/Work Order Coordinator which is my official title. We are die-hard New Orleans Saints fans. We’ve loved them since they became a team in our teen age years and have supported them faithfully ever since.

Our adventure began back in August of 2012. I started keeping notes as we began the journey, making the decision to undertake this total lifestyle change. Instead of a daily blog, at first it will be a monthly blog for the months August, September, October, November and December 2012. From here on out I’ll post as I have the opportunity to or when enough experiences have occurred to be interesting.

We hope anyone considering the full time RV lifestyle will learn a little from our experiences as we have learned so much from others experiences. Ask us questions if you want, if we’ve experienced it we’ll let you know what happened with us! If you’re experienced full timing RVers and you see we’re making mistakes please, please shout out to us and share your sage advice with us newbies! We’ve been so happy since we made this decision that we are hoping some of our family and friends will get the itch and come join Roy, Rosalyn, Dora and Boots on our great adventure!

The blogs below are in newest blog first order. If you’d like to read about our experiences in order start at the last one in the list from August and read up to the current date. You may have to click on OLDER POSTS to get to the August one. Please click the FOLLOW link on the right if you’d like to receive an email whenever a new blog is posted!

10.19.18 PAINT NIGHT PARTY at Trinity Baptist Church

The ladies at Trinity Baptist Church gathered for a PAINT NIGHT PARTY as part of our Women’s Ministry!  All the supplies, snacks and sandwiches were supplied!  Doesn’t get much better than that!

Our amazing professional artist and church member, Rebecca Bankston Willoughby giving us detailed instructions on how to paint our canvas, cross and angel.

Here’s the ladies who enjoyed this evening together creating cross and angel paintings, even without power for part of the evening!  That’s me in the red shirt at the table.

Here’s the young ladies that joined us.  Madisyn (my granddaughter), Mia, Gracyn and Ryleigh painted crosses and angels right along side us!

We had two choices. Either to paint a cross and angel for free and donate it to the Family Fall Festival next week where they will be sold in the “Country Store” to raise money for our kids camp.  Or we could buy our own work for $10.  Mine was so amazing (not) that I bought mine.  My angel actually looks like Cousin It from the Addams Family!

These are the ones that will be available for purchase at the Festival.

Yall come to our Family Fall Festival at Trinity Baptist Church 42062 Pumpkin Center Road, Hammond, LA and purchase a painting to benefit our kids program!

Come and join us October 28 @ 5:30 pm7:30 pm for a time of food, fun, and fellowship. We will have games, inflatables, climbing wall, cupcake walk, country store, selfie photo booth, hot dogs, face painting, trunk or treat (7:00-7:30pm) and many other fun things. There will also be a chili cook off benefiting the kids camp fund. Come and join us for this amazing event!

Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!

 

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10.20.18 Renting Out Dora – Part Seven – Renter’s review and some comments

Saturday, October 20, 2018 – So the last rental that I shared with ya’ll was with the 3 young men who went to the races.  Their photos were in the last post.  They went through Outdoorsy and left us an awesome review that I just have to share!

Reviewed on Oct 17th

We had an absolute blast with Dora! The trip started after meeting Rosalyn and Roy at their lovely home outside of Amite. I cannot stress this enough for first time RV drivers: GET THERE EARLY! Roy and Rosalyn know their rig inside and out. There are so many bells and whistles, that it can be a little intimidating just walking in and seeing the airplane style cockpit. But like I said, Roy and Rosalyn are pros and they will patiently walk you through all of the different features on the RV. Also, read the manual before you get there. All of the information is in there and it’s better if you know a little about everything before you see it. When you do the test drive, be confident and follow Roy’s instructions. He really knows what he is talking about and will help you feel comfortable about driving the rig. The rig itself is very comfortable and has all the amenities of home. I cannot recommend renting with Roy and Rosalyn enough!

Thanks so much for that you great guys!

I posted on the RVShare and Outdoorsy owners facebook groups about the six part posts about our experience renting.  Got some nice responses and an interesting one from a very experienced rental gentleman. They said it was okay for me to share this here so check it out!

This positivity and encouragement is just what Roy and I needed to keep going with our rentals

A young couple just picked Dora up for this weekend to enjoy LSU tailgating.  They are experienced RVers so we’re hoping for our second straight wonderful rental.

Ya’ll have a great weekend!

10.17.18 Tangipahoa Parish Fair 2018

Click to enlarge. These words of wisdom are great!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018 – The Tangipahoa Parish Fair 2018 was last weekend.  The school children were allowed off of school the Friday of that weekend.  We’ve lived in Tangipahoa Parish (that’s like a county in other states) for over 30 years and have never been to the fair.  We went this year and took our granddaughter Madisyn to it.

The day started with the Tangipahoa Parish Fair Parade.  We have parades for everything in Louisiana and each fair has a parade.  We live in Amite, Louisiana which is the parish seat for Tangipahoa.  The parade went through the downtown of our small town.  All of the schools in the parish were represented by their cheerleaders, dance teams, flag teams and bands marching in the parade.  There was a lot of candy and lots of beads thrown and we caught a bunch of it! Here are some photos of the groups that marched.

I thought this tractor with the umbrella and flags we just adorable! 

I love horses in any parade.  This is all there was in this parade but they were very pretty.

We love this little munchkin so much and love taking photos of her with us!  She’s growing up so much I’ll have to stop with the “little munchkin” thing I guess.  Probably won’t though!

Madisyn is in 4H at her new school and this was their display in the 4H building.

That wraps up this exciting event in our lives! Probably not the most exciting event ever but any time we spend with our grandchildren is very special! Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!

 

10.15.18 Update on the Chauvin Produce Company

Monday, October 15, 2018 – I am really pleased at how well our fall vegetable garden is doing.  Some of what I planted are not fall vegetable/fruits, like the watermelons and cantaloupes, but it was seeds from giant watermelons and delicious cantaloupe so why not, they didn’t cost us anything!  The cantaloupe vines have several flowers.  The watermelons have dozens of flowers on long 10 foot plus vines with four little bitty watermelons forming!  The biggest watermelon was like a marble yesterday and today it is the shape it will eventually be like a pecan.  I planted a couple of peanuts down by those plants just to see what would happen.  They have sprouted and have several leaves already!

The marble size watermelon

The regular garden has grown and grown.  I’ve already harvested a dozen nice size radishes and several green onions.  Where I pulled those vegetables out, I planted new seeds and in the case of the green onions new onion sets.  One vegetable that did absolutely very very little was green onion seeds.  I cleared those out and planted additional bell peppers.

The cucumber vines, okra plants and tomato plants are doing fabulous!

These were taken about three weeks ago.

These were from yesterday. The cucumber vines are at the bottom of the picture.  They are growing up multi colored ribbons leading to a wire thing where the cucumbers can grab on to as they grow. The three Big Boy tomatoes are on the right and the okra are to the left near the other end.

The okra are well over a foot high and needed some support so we located what we had around the house (tall sticks) to put next to each plant.  A couple of our medal hangers for the hummingbird feeders are holding two of the plants up.  It’s an odd collection but it works!

I am also growing bell peppers, lettuce, green onions, carrots, turnips, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and broccoli. The only plant that wasn’t started from seeds are the tomato plants. 

I know that it might have been too late to start some of these vegetables from seed but it’s been a wonderful learning experience so far.  My brain has had to work really hard researching all of what’s involved in growing each of these plants and that’s a really good thing! I am happy to be able to still do that, for now!  If the lessons I am learning now make me better prepared to plant them next year at the right time, that’s a good thing.  If they do grow and produce this year before our first frost that’s a great thing!  I read a lot about tips for growing the different vegetables.

One thing I thought was cool but I ended up doing wrong was with the bell peppers.  I read that they need additional sulphur in the soil and that you can put a match stick upside down with the sulfur end in the group near the plant.  My plants were tiny and I put the match stick too close to the tiny plant and the little bell pepper plants withered, from I guess too much sulfur too close.

I have been surprised at how much effort it takes to keep this little garden going well.  Just pulling weeds is a daily job.  The compost and manure in the soil make the weeds go wild with growing!  I have everything growing on hills and am not sure they all should be.  That’s another matter to be researched.

Anyone with tips to help our little produce do as best they can, please share! Next year I am planning on planting peanuts, potatoes, egg plants and some of the ones we are growing now.  Any recommendations on what to plant in the spring in the south, let us know!!!

Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!

 

 

10.14.18 Trinity Baptist Church’s 65th Anniversary Old Fashioned Sing Along

Sunday, October 14, 2018 – Last evening we were blessed to attend Trinity Baptist Church’s 65th Anniversary Old Fashioned Sing Along. I don’t have pictures of everyone who sang but I have a bunch.  I got so caught up in the music that I forgot to click that “take the picture” button on some of the singers.  The congregation sang several old hymns throughout the evening.  I love the old hymns and they made my heart smile to sing them again!

After the singing, young Gracyn Willoughby shared with me that she found my blog while searching the internet.  Seems I wrote about her cousin, Caroline doing something at our church and my blog popped up in the search. She thought that was neat so I told her I’d write about the singing event and she liked that!.

Here’s the photos of most of those who shared their love for our Lord through song.

Our choir sang two beautiful songs, led by Teddy Forrest!

Juanita Watts, such a pure clear voice singing Praises to our Lord

Wilson Watts sang two beautiful songs, while photos of Trinity members over the decades, were shown on the big screens

Mia Dixon accompanied by her dad Pastor Avery Dixon and brother Aiden Dixon

George Martin singing one of my favorites “I Can Only Imagine”  George sang that at my mama’s funeral.

Gracyn Willoughby, beautiful young voice

Raylea Willoughby – Our Ole Miss soon to be graduate and future Supreme Court Justice!!

Ms. Louise Traylor, one of our two remaining original charter members from 1953 when Trinity was formed.

Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!

10.12.18 Renting Out Dora – Part Five

Friday, October 12, 2018 – With all of the things happening to our renters and us having to purchase and repair so much we have made absolutely no profit off of the first five rentals and are actually in debt from them!  We continue to rent hoping to at least pay the debt off!  While we haven’t made any profit, renting Dora has paid the motor home’s monthly note for four months and will again this month.  That’s a great thing!

Some of the issues we’ve had: financial losses, all the hard work Roy has had to put into repairing Dora, dealing with Dixie RV and the insurance company’s recent issues that I didn’t even write about, and how much time and hard work it takes us to clean her inside and out each time and get her ready to go. Every time we think we’ll stop renting out Dora we start having several inquiries and more booked rentals.

One thing we’ve changed is we no longer have a “cleaning fee” being charged if they do not return it in the same extremely clean condition they found it in. We found out that our version of clean and theirs is different.  I want it like I want it and they think they’ve done enough to not have to pay it. We now charge a Prep and Sanitize fee up front to get it ready for the new renters.  That is non refundable and is always charged up front. I learned on the RVShare Owners Facebook page that this is how other owners handle it.

Another thing we’ve learned is that sometimes renters just do not understand that if there is more than two people in the motor home while they are driving, that the people in the driver’s and passenger’s seats will be quite comfortably cool and the others will not.  The two roof top air conditioners do not run while you are driving, just the dashboard a/c.  If the people sitting somewhere other than the two front seats want to say nice and chilly they will have to run the generator.  At some point they realize that doing so will make them go over the 4 hours of free generator use per day.  We’ve been fussed at about that and told our air condition doesn’t work well.  That was the renter who left with four and came back with ten people! Roy did a thorough review of the air system and it works just fine, they just do not understand. We believe that people think our motor home is suppose to be like a tour bus or a Greyhound bus where everyone in the bus is sitting in air conditioning.

The excess generator use is especially a problem for people who are not hooking up to utilities but are parking at places like a tailgating lot at a football game.  They know they have to use the generator while tailgating if they want power, but when you add using it while you travel that’s a lot of hours and they are not happy because they have to pay for the excess use.

The same renter who said our air condition didn’t work well also said the front end was badly out of alignment.  When we put all new tires on her recently we had the front end aligned.  No one else has mentioned this and Roy drove Dora when that rental got back and her front end is fine. A motor home is a house that drives down the road.  It makes noises as it hits little and big bumps and just plain ole while she’s driving on smooth highways.  She does squeak and after that rental Roy spent an entire day under her greasing up everything that could possibly squeak.  She sounds better now so hopefully no one in the future will mistake some squeaks and the normal feels of driving a big bus down a highway for her needing to be re-aligned.

Dora just got back on Tuesday from Dixie RV where she got a new awning (from the accident) and they buffed out the paint jobs she’s had (from the accident) and some scratches. She looks wonderful with her new awning and it makes her cooler inside which I know will make her and all future renters happy!  The repairs from the accident the first renters had took 4 months to complete (since we had to bring Dora there between rentals for repairs) in 4 different visits to Dixie RV, $100 in diesel going back and forth from Amite to Hammond, and loss of one rental of $2000.

We have six future rentals already booked and paid for (to the company).  These six are to LSU tailgating weekends, Talladega racing this year and next, and family vacations.  Two of the six are for next March and April. There are two other week long rentals that have said they are definitely renting Dora, just haven’t pushed the “Book Dora” button!

Just a couple of hours ago we finished doing the walk through and training for three young men who are now on their way to the races (Dora’s not racing of course!!).  Dora’s was spiffied up and all ready for them when they arrived.

I’m going to wrap this one up here.  This was going to be the last part.  Since I want to share about the effort, time and paper work that is involved before the rental there will be a part six!

Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!

10.13.18 Renting Out Dora – Part Six

Saturday, October 13, 2018 – We received this message from our current renters last night.

“Made it to the race track safe and sound! Dora was great, no issues at all!! Thanks again for the great tutorial and driving lesson. ………………….Thanks again and enjoy the weekend!!”

What a wonderful message to get.  I had to share it after what we shared in the last five posts!

Here they are during their training on Friday.

There is so much that goes into renting out Dora.  To give you an idea of the effort, time, work involved, here goes!

There a lot of “back office” work involved. Every time a potential renter shows interest in Dora we communicate with them.  I usually communicate through my laptop but I’ve gotten pretty good at doing this from my phone when we’re away from home so they are responded to very promptly which counts.  I don’t want them going on to the next RV to rent it without me giving it my best try!

If they don’t actually book her we may only have 2-3 contacts.  We ask them lots of questions to get a feel for if we want to rent to them or decline.  If they do book and pay, we communicate with them no less than four times before they come to pick her up.  We have a lot of information to pass along to them plus we send them the website contract, our personal contract with them, a form we all fill out when they pick Dora up and a form we all fill out when they return Dora.  We also ask them to read one of our blog posts about driving big motor homes like Dora.  We feel that the more educated our renters are the better their experience will be, and the safer Dora will be!!

I communicate or am doing paperwork with either an interested possible renter on Facebook, RVShare.com or Outdoorsy , or a new renter or an upcoming renter at least some time out of every day.  Some Monday mornings I am doing rental related work a couple of hours or more.

We also have the 3 hour in person training where they learn all about Dora. That’s usually before the pick up date. They also get a refresher and they learn to drive Dora the pick up day. We go over every aspect of every system and feature in Dora in depth, from front to back, inside and outside.  My portion of this training is much shorter than Roy’s portion.  When he finishes every time we have a rental he is exhausted, mostly from all the talking and answering questions!  Of all the things involved in renting Dora I think the training is the part we do the best.

In the early days of the renting adventure we spent two solid weeks creating an instruction manual for the renters on all things Dora!  It’s been updated after just about every rental with lessons learned and is always on the dashboard when the renters come to pick Dora up.  They and all adult members of their traveling party receive a .pdf version of the instruction manual as soon as they book and then a couple of weeks before they pick her up.

Sometimes we have a “come check out Dora” day or two when we open her for viewing by anyone that may be interested. Appointments are needed.  It always helps interested folks make up their mind about Dora when they walk in and see how spacious she is with the slides out and how pretty our big girl is!

Here’s where the next big work come in –

When Dora returns from a rental the big job of cleaning her begins.  All the bath towels, wash clothes, kitchen towels, sheets, pillow cases and bedspreads from three beds are collected and taken inside our house for a sanitizing hot washing, drying and folding.  The pillows are sprayed with disinfectant and aired out. The bath mat and front floor mat are taken out and sanitized in the house. They are all kept inside the house until the day before the next rental when they are taken out to the motor home and the beds, etc. all made up for the next renters. All of the utensils, silverware, pots and pans, glass pans, metal pans are washed, dried and put back in the drawers, shelves after the many drawers and bathroom cabinets have been sanitized and the cabinet shelves have been vacuumed. The shower and bathroom are high priority for sanitizing and airing out!  The kitchen appliances get a good scrubbing and cleaning.  Even if they aren’t used they accumulate dust, grime and need to shine again!  The walls, windows, sofas, countertops and all wood surfaces are sanitized.  All the mirrors (there are a lot) are cleaned and shine.  We supply RV toilet paper, paper towels, plates, bowls, small plates, solo cups which all need to be refilled after each rental based on how long the next renters will be gone and how many people will be traveling in Dora. The dish washing detergent holders are refilled and the hand cleaning soap in the bathroom is filled.

I was almost finished this post and then realized I didn’t even mention that I mop and vacuum everything when she comes back.

We make sure that everything is working like it should. If something was broken during the rental, it needs to be addressed before the next rental.  This includes, all the drains, all the faucets, all the appliances including the washer/dryer, the built in vacuum system, all the televisions, the satellite system, the awnings, the fold out beds, GPS system, rear back up camera, and more.

The outside is a whole different animal to get cleaned!  It takes Roy several hours to clean the exterior, tires, roof, windows, etc.  Inside all of the storage bins are checked, always require cleaning which is very difficult and requires a lot of bending over and inside the storage bins to do it.  I do that part which between the interior cleaning and the bin cleaning takes me two half days to complete.

Before the next renter picks up Dora we work from the back in the bedroom to the front door getting her ready for pick up.  All three bed sheets, pillows and bedspreads are put on all the beds.  The bathroom and the shower are wiped down with Clorox wipes.  All the kitchen surfaces, sofas, dining table, drivers and passenger front seats are all wiped down with the wipes.  The entire drivers area dashboard and instrument panel is cleaned thoroughly.  Moping and vacuuming is done again. There is more than this to take care of but I’m tired just writing all this so!

Roy always cleans anything on the exterior and tires that may have gotten dirty since the last rental.  Since she’s been back and forth to Dixie RV in Hammond each time after she rents she always comes back with some dirty spots.

We’ve had things go missing over the course of the first rentals.  Our really nice fold up stainless table left, just found out that the First Aid Kit left, a towel left also.  We’ve found some little treasures (a new floor mat, kitchen utensils, basic tools, etc. ) left behind for us by renters as well so that’s cool!

When you see that we charge $150 for Prep and Sanitization I hope you can see it is well worth it.

I keep a folder on each rental with all of the forms, ready for them to sign when picking Dora up. That means monitoring the website for when the forms are ready, down loading them to save in a folder on my computer just for their rental, printing them out, and assembling them for the folder.

In addition to Dora being listed on RVShare.com and Outdoorsy.com, we now advertise her (for free) in several Facebook groups and on Facebook’s Marketplace.  My son Chip helped me a lot setting up the Facebook groups. Now I just answer any questions that come in about it.  It does require a little work every few days.

We’ve learned so much and feel that we have improved all we do taking care of Dora and having her ready for renters.  We’ve learned more about what we need to teach them and what we need to emphasize to them in their training, and what we expect from them as renters.  If we didn’t include so much “free” with a rental (sheets, towels, shampoo, kitchen utensils, small appliances, toilet paper/paper towels, dishes, cups, outside chairs and lots more) our work would be cut by a lot.  However all that seems to appeal to a lot of the renters and was probably one of the deciding factors in their choosing Dora to rent.

We’ve started giving our renters a survey when they return.  We want to get an idea of what attracted Dora to them in our listing, what they liked most about traveling with Dora and what they liked least, and some other questions.  We give it to them in a stamped self addressed return envelope to encourage them to return it! We are definitely in the learning phase so this information has been helpful.

When we started this I thought what we were charging was awfully high but we now know that our rate at this time is low for renting out a big Class A motor home.  When we have a little more experience we will adjust our rate so that this wild and crazy ride we are on becomes more profitable.

I never thought I’d ask for prayers for a motor home but Dora needs to behave and she seems to be turning in that direction.  Please pray for Dora and for us!  We love her and she’s loved us.  This hasn’t started out quite like we hoped it would but we’ll keep trying!

That it for now folks on our experiences renting out Dora!  I plan to share this with other folks thinking about or already renting out their RV (whatever type) to others.  The young men who have her right now said they will send photos we can share of their time at the race track!

Ya’ll come back, now ya hear

 

10.11.18 Renting Out Dora – Part Four

Thursday, October 11, 2018 – This one is pretty long.  Three rentals covered in one blog post. Buckle up and let’s go!

The sweet couple that we now call our friends, picked Dora up in late July. They came twice for their training and it very much paid off in the fact that they didn’t damage Dora in anyway!  They took excellent care of her even when she acted up. Their party included the couple, her sister and their college age daughter and boyfriend. I think their time with Dora didn’t go down hill until around the second or third day.

Before they even left our home with Dora she started acting up.  The master bedroom slide out wouldn’t come in so they could get on the road.  With them sitting there for a couple of hours Roy tried everything he knew of to get it fixed.  I enjoyed talking with and getting to know the dad and his daughter’s boyfriend while my hubby frantically tried to fix it.  After calls to Dixie RV and to Berryland Motors he learned from Berryland that there are fuses that are hidden in one of the outside compartments.  Never knew that before!  Those fuses control the slides.  After replacing that little bitty fuse everything worked fine and they were able to leave with Dora very happy. This wonderful family bought some extra fuses just in case.  They are now stored very safely inside the motor home to hopefully never be needed!

They also experienced the back up in the toilet due to paper, poop, paper poop, paper, poop with little water.  This happening again lead us to add very graphic warnings in our instruction manual to not do this. It’s also now in our rental contract and as part of the in person training they get in all things Dora.  We now call it “toilet training.” Since all of that has been implemented there haven’t been any poop backups.  Sadly, this couple had to bring a hose through the bathroom window from outside.  Put it in the toilet and push everything down. This was just the beginning of these wonderful people’s experience with Dora acting out.

Next we received a call from them saying that Dora seemed to be slowly losing power as they were driving her.  None of us knew at that moment how that would affect their trip or our pocketbook.

They brought Dora to Mid America Diesel in North Platte, Nebraska.  They wound up living at Mid America Diesel in the repair shop for three days . Roy was in touch with the husband and the repair shop several times each day.  Finally it was determined that the injectors in the engine had failed.  The initial price quoted to us was over $5,000 but the shop took the time (good for us financially but not good for the renters who had to stay there longer) to figure out that only 3 of the 6 injectors had to be replaced.  Including labor the final bill was $3,500.  This is almost twice what we made off of that rental. Are you starting to see why this has not been profitable for us!?

Roy and I were so upset that yet again Dora seemed to be trying to spoil someone’s vacation.  I know it sounds odd to say that we felt that Dora was acting out because we weren’t living in her and she didn’t know the families she was going off with.  Once she got to know the families and did her thing to put a huge cloud over their time with her, she seemed to come out of it and allowed them all to have a wonderful time on the road with her.  We’ve heard from all the renters that they love Dora.  Even after the first renters who had a very upsetting accident, the second couple who put up with stink, poop, and a lot of hard work on their part, and this third couple who lived in the repair shop for three long long days.  They all ended up saying they love Dora.  That makes my heart so happy to know!

We told the third renters (with the power problem) to ignore our 4 hours of free generator use a day and use as much as they needed to.  They left the repair shop August 3rd to head north and finally begin the happy part of their vacation.  We offered three additional days at the end of their scheduled time.  They ended up using two days and we refunded them for the third one.

The final disaster for these guys was when the water heater stopped heating the water a few days before the end of their trip. It would not work on electricity or gas. After trying everything Roy knew over the phone they just weren’t able to use hot water for the last few days.  Figuring it was the control board he ordered a new one before they got back and a thermostat kit.  Not cheap.  Once Dora was home Roy decided to do more trouble shooting before changing the control panel to figure out what was really going on.  It turned out that the control board was not getting power and he found another fuse that was blown.  That fuse was in a place he never thought it would be.  After changing the fuse, little bitty fuse, everything worked fine.  Thank goodness we were able to return the control board but we did keep the thermostat for possible future use as that part has gone out before.

When the first couple of renters lifted the bed to get to the storage underneath, some circuit breakers would trip when lowering the bed, if not lowered very lightly.  We got calls from them saying electrical things weren’t working all of a sudden.  At some point Roy changed all of the circuit breakers in the fuse panel inside as a precautionary measure.  I think that was before this rental but didn’t want anyone to have problems in that respect.  More money gone, just in case!!

My knee surgery was done one of the first days of their trip.  Knowing that I’d still be recovering when they returned, the wonderful wife (with help I am sure) cleaned our motor home top to bottom, washed, dried and folded all of the sheets and towels.  She said she didn’t want me to have anything to do since I was recovering.  What a kind, kind lady she is.  They were so intent on cleaning everything that they left lots of clothing behind in several of the drawers! That was kinda funny!

This families positive spirit was woven into every aspect of all they went through, and in all of our conversations and communications since they returned from their trip.  We quickly became friends on Facebook and yet again they are a special amazing family whom we are happy to say are new Christian friends.

When Dora came back she again went to Dixie RV to try to get more of her work done from the accident.  Dixie had to actually see the awning to get ordering information off of the awning since now it needs to be totally replaced.  There are other parts and other painting to be done.  She was there several days but no actual work was done.  At least the information needed to order the awning was obtained and that is now on order.

I haven’t said this before but as all of this mess has been going on affecting our renters, every time someone sent an inquiry about renting or actually booked their rental Roy and I started saying to each other.  “Well we have another family whose life we can destroy.”  Not us obviously, but it seemed Dora’s bad behavior was getting worse and worse.

The next renters were two young couples with three little children.  The two dads came for their walk through right before Dora went to Dixie RV the second time.  I was so thankful that the third renters had cleaned Dora so well that I didn’t have to do anything to show it to them.  These two young men paid attention really well and really took seriously learning about Dora. We did have a couple of calls from these renters.  The first was a simple question about the air conditioning.  The second was that Dora’s front left jack wouldn’t retract which meant they couldn’t move from where they were.  Over the phone Roy walked them through manually retracting them.  The rest of their trip, according to them, was quite enjoyable!  And even with three little children they didn’t have any problem with the toilet back up problem.  Yay, no one’s life ruined on that one!

Since the jacks are important to the stability of Dora when she is parked, the one that wasn’t working had to receive a lot of Roy’s brain power and hours of hard work to fix it on his own.  He couldn’t and several hundred dollars later (yes for just one of four jacks) the new jack arrived and Roy spent time replacing it.

Next Dora went with a young man, his girlfriend and a couple of friends to a football game out of state, tailgating.  Our first tailgating rental, our first Outdoorsy rental, our first delivery and pick up of Dora.  Nothing bad happened to them.  They did however switch out our outside television for their larger television and destroyed the HDMI cable.  They were charged for that and for Roy to repair it.  That repair turned out to take much longer than it should have but it is fixed, thanks to Roy’s crazy fix it skills!

That rental was a great example of someone not understanding motor homes and misunderstanding things because of the lack of understanding.  Their review of Dora was less than stellar even though they didn’t have any real problems.  When they left with Dora I think there were four people in the motor home, when they returned there were at least 10 people exiting Dora with lots of baggage, ice chests, BBQ pits, tents, etc.  Wow, we did not expect that! At least no one’s life was destroyed on that one also!  We’re on a positive roll now!

Next I’m going to share more about lessons learned and where we stand with renting Dora in the future!

Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!

10.10.18 Renting Out Dora – Part Three

Wednesday, October 10, 2018 – Here’s another lesson we’ve learned in our renting out Dora experience.  Renting can put lots of mileage on the motor home. When we purchased Dora she had approximately 9,000 miles on her.  When we started renting out Dora she had 38,789.  That means that in five years of traveling Roy and I put 29,789 miles on her.  The amount of mileage that Dora now has on her is 50,780.  That means that in four months of rentals she had approximately 20,000 miles put on her. We’ve reduced the number of free daily miles from 250 to 150 because of this lesson learned.  Also, hoping to compensate the renters for the time they lost from their vacation, we also gave away a lot off free miles.

We gave away several free days to two couples for the same reason.

Another lesson is that renting can put a lot of hours on the generator. When we purchased Dora she had approximately 1000 hours on her generator.  When we started renting out Dora she had 1559 generator hours on her.  That means that in five years of traveling Roy and I put 559 generator hours on her.  The amount of generator hours that Dora now has on her is 1892.  That means that in four months of rentals she had 333 hours put on her.  We’ve gotten reimbursed by the renters for only 60 hours. First because we give them 4 hours per day free and second we gave a lot of free generator hours to the renters when they were living in the shop with the motor home and other reasons.

Trying to make up for the problems our renters had has cost us a good bit in mileage, free days and generator hours.

Okay, on to the second renters.  They were a couple who went with Dora up to the uppermost north east portion of our beautiful country. Their trip was about 16 days long.  I really don’t remember how soon after they left that Dora started acting up.  Roy and the husband had many phone calls about the toilet backing up.

Those who are not familiar with RV toilets and black tanks here’s the first thing that happened.  When you poop you HAVE TO add water to the toilet bowl before and after the poop so it doesn’t land right at the bottom of the pipe in the tank.  If that is not done repeatedly and if like people do like they CAN do in a house which is use a lot of toilet paper you have a pipe that is eventually filled with paper, poop, paper, poop, paper,poop.  Then some one screams out of the bathroom, the toilet won’t flush.  Even if the black tank is emptied and flushed, the column of poop and paper has gotten hard and you think you emptied and flushed but you didn’t affect the column of paper and poop.  The first calls from those renters were about that and they finally got it to go away.  Seems it started when the first renters had her and even though we thought it emptied (you cannot see inside the tank) and we put water in it to finish the cleaning, we didn’t know it had done no good. Over the first few days of this 16 day rental the renters had to purchase some tools and other things to fix the poop problem and the next problem.

The next problem lasted for a few days.  The kitchen sink, the bathroom sink, the bedroom sink were all backing up and these renters were greatly inconvenienced.  GREATLY!  They tried their best to fix the problem themselves, buying unstopping merchandise and tools.  While they were working on it from their end, we were searching frantically for a Mobile RV Repair service in their area.   The renters were traveling towards Pennsylvania each day so when they settled down in an RV park we called that RV park’s office to get repair service recommendations and we called everyone in that area we could find.  Some services couldn’t come out for a few days. We were so frustrated at not being able to fix it ourselves or get someone to them quickly.

We F I N A L L Y found a wonderful man, John LeFevre, at LeFevre’s Mobile RV Service from Quarryville, Pennsylvania.  John came out the afternoon we had called him in the morning.  He did a lot of checking and work over a few hours.  The end result was that there was a clogged pipe in one of the walls.  The most awful things were in that clog.  He cut a big chunk of the pipe out of the wall and replaced it with nice clean unclogged pipe!  We started about two years ago using these little wire strainers in the sink hole to capture things from going down the drain since there isn’t a garbage disposal.  That didn’t stop small amounts of butter or grease from going down the drain and joining the clogged “stuff”. Over the 13 years of Dora’s life it all built up, sadly I’m sure we contributed ourselves to the clog over the years.  We just never had the “indications” they did.  Sometimes the drain would drain a little slow but that always went away for us.  It didn’t go away for our renters and became a huge nightmare for them.

I cannot imagine what it was like for the second renters to go through all that.  Once the initial disasters were behind them their trip was amazing and they saw so many magnificent things along our countries east coast and then back down to Louisiana.

Then the finishing disaster for their trip was when the driver’s side slide out would not come in.  It’s motorized and usually just takes the push of a button to bring it in.  The renters were leaving the RV Resort they stayed in and needed the slide to be in before they could get on the road.  Roy got “that call” about the slide.  He asked them to get some people to help push it in manually while they pushed the button inside.  Once the slide was in Roy asked them not to use it again for the rest of the trip which was just a couple of days.  When Dora came home the slide worked fine but we had already purchased an expensive slide motor and Roy changed it as a precaution.

So much that has happened with Dora are things Roy could have handled easily, or easier than how it had to be handled since Dora was far from home. It also would have been far less expensive if Roy could have been there to fix it.

In summary, between the poop buildup and the sink plumbing clog the first few days were stinky, smelly, gross days for these renters.  Roy could have handled all this if we were there but we were so far away we had to pay someone to do the “dirty deed.” We gave the renters extra days on the rental, offered to pay for everything related to the problems plus a wine bottle opener they wanted!  We did not charge them any overage fees for the miles they drove above our free miles (and this was back when we were giving 250 miles a day free) and right now I can’t remember if there were more things we provided.

This couple own a business and as business owners they wanted to help us improve the experience that future renters had.  They left a list of a few suggestions and a couple of minor items that needed to be fixed.  We appreciated their recommendations and were able to implement almost all of the suggestions and Roy got all of the items on the “to be fixed” list completely taken care of.

The two week rental that cancelled because of the first renters accident would have been the next rental.  Because they cancelled we were able to get Dora into the shop at Dixie RV for the first of her repairs.  The majority of the damage was all along the passengers side.  That is beautiful now!

The rest of the repairs will be done when she has some more down time. I am writing this while the fifth renters have her so we know now that she’ll go into the shop on September 6th and stay until everything is finished, we hope!  Note: This was written a few weeks ago and since that time no she hasn’t been completely finished.  Today is Tuesday, October 9th and we are going to pick her up from Dixie RV this evening for what we believe will be the last time, wrapping up the work from the accident.

The second two week rental that cancelled had a very understandable reason and they were able eventually to re-book for the same two weeks plus that they originally booked.  We originally met that couple several weeks before when they came to check Dora out.  We visited with them long after the Dora tour was over and found we had many, many things in common and left that day knowing we’d made new friends!

I can see now I’ll have to write about Dora’s travels much sooner after they occur because there is so much I’ve forgotten.  Next up will be the couple I just called new friends.  Their time with Dora didn’t start off great either.  She again acted up, causing them much distress and trying to break our bank.

Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!