Year 1 Day 4: Making The Transition – Part 3

The long awaited day where we were to actually take possession of our new home had arrived.  However, it was not to be a simple “sign the papers and drive off the lot” experience.  Since our legal residence is Sioux Falls, South Dakota (we have actually spent a few nights there over the last 10 years), we had to take possession of the Beast outside of Arizona to avoid paying both Arizona and the City of Mesa taxes.  The closest out of state location was Blythe, California, a “mere” 170 away.

Since we would be the ones driving the RV back from Blythe to Mesa, AZ, so we could pick up our car and continue on to Tucson (where our daughter, Christina, and her family live), this meant we would first have to learn how to drive a 40-foot-long, 40,000-pound beast down the freeway and over city roads without knocking over stop signs, fire hydrants, and other vehicles that would be zooming past us.

To become “expert” drivers, we both had a crash course (excuse the pun) that taught us the basics of being truck drivers in two hours.  As a comparison, most newbie truck drivers take a two intensive week course before being let out onto the open roads.  Watch out world, here we come!

We then followed our RV to Blythe in a shuttle van.  The trip took about 2.5 hours.  After signing the transfer papers, all witnessed by a notary public and then having our pictures taken with the Beast in front of the Blythe Post Office to document to the State of Arizona that we were actually in Blythe with our RV, the La Mesa RV folks shook our hands, patted us on the back, hopped in their shuttle van and drove away.

Gulp!  It was now up to Mary Margaret and I to figure out how to get the Beast and ourselves back to Mesa, Arizona; a long, long, long 170 miles away.

With the confidence and bravado that experienced truck drivers are renowned for, we climbed aboard, buckled up, turned on the engine and released the heavy-duty air brake system which issued a loud spreeeesh.  Holly, sh*t, we really do need to drive this 40-foot, 40,000-pound beast through the town of Blythe and then find the freeway back to Phoenix/Mesa area.  Double gulp!

To help get us into the mood, the town of Blythe was kind enough to block off a maze of streets due to a recent monsoon rain that flooded the roads.  Thus, we were forced to weaved through and around orange warning cones and barricades, slowly making our way out of town.

To make a long story just a bit shorter, we did navigate our back to Mesa just fine, buzzing down the freeway at 65 MPH, passing cars and big rigs along the way as well as getting passed by other cars and other big rigs that were going 70 to 80 MPH. We drove through rain showers and Saturday evening Phoenix traffic with Mary Margaret helping me avoid other vehicles by keeping a sharp eye on the traffic coming up behind us and in front of us. She also kept me advised as to how well I was staying between the lane markers.  It was really great team work that we both enjoyed.

Once we returned to La Mesa RV’s lot, we parked the beast and hopped in our little Fiat to return for our last night of staying in our hotel.  Tomorrow, we would hook up the Fiat to the Beast and for the first time drive our vehicles in tandem down to Tucson, where we would be staying for the next few weeks in order to outfit our new home.

I have finally taken some photos of our living room, dining room and kitchen area and have posted them below.

This is the view after you have entered our home.  It is of the living room, dining room and kitchen area.   The door at the end leads to our bedroom and master bath.

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Here is our kitchen.  It comes with a large microwave/convection oven, two sinks, a induction stove top that we love, an extreme quiet dishwasher and a L-counter which retracts.  All of the cabinetry throughout the RV is solid cherry and the workmanship is outstanding.  There is tons of storage room throughout the RV.

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Another view of the kitchen, this time with the cover for the induction stove top raised.  There are also two covers for the sinks if one wished the have a completely open counter top.

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Next to the kitchen and right before you enter our bedroom is a powder room.

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Across from the kitchen is where you will find our full size refrigerator/freezer.

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Next to the refrigerator is our cozy  but comfy dining area.  The windows here and all around the RV come with both day shades and night shades.  Since we are in the desert and during the summer, we have the shades pulled to keep the heat out

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OUr RV comes with 4, yes 4 TVs.  Go figure.  Two are in the living room, one in the bedroom and one is outside,  Here is the entertainment area of our living room and it comes with a electric fireplace that also supplements our heating system.  Also, the porcelain floor tiles are underlain with a floor heating.

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This shows the front of our livingroom with the second TV and where we sit while driving down the road.  Both the driver’s chair and the passenger’s chair swivel 360 degrees.

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Year 1 Day 3: Making The Transition – Part 2

We left San Francisco very early in the morning to make our escape from the city before the morning traffic began.  Plus, our goal for the day was driving to Las Vegas which was 550 miles away.  Our sweet little Fiat was packed to the hilt, loaded down with every conceivable thing we could take with us.  For the last 10 years we have been storing stuff at each of our children’s places knowing that someday our sailing days would end and things that one needs to live on the land would once again become useful.  We had given away most of our “stuff” before moving on to Leu Cat but we still kept certain treasured keepsakes

We were very impressed with how much stuff we could cram into the little Fiat.  Every time Mary Margaret came to the car with another treasure, my eyes would roll as I was sure there was no way we could squeeze it in.  Time after time this happened and by the time we were through and had packed ourselves into the car, I felt like the little car in the circus that is jammed full of clowns.  Nevertheless, the little Fiat handled all of the load just fine and we put-putted up and down the steep hills of San Francisco making our escape.

We arrived in Las Vegas in the late afternoon and stayed with our dear friends the Kennedys.  We last saw them in April when they came and visited us on board Leu Cat when we were in the US Virgin Islands.  We had such great memories of this visit and we all reflected sadly on how hurricane Irma has destroyed St. Thomas, St. Johns and, of course, Leu Cat.  Tears well up in our eyes each time we think about it.

The next morning we were off again in the early morning darkness so that we could miss the horrible Las Vegas rush hour traffic.  Our goal now was reaching Mesa, Arizona, just a short hop for our “husky” little Fiat of about 350 miles. We had agreed with the dealer to arrive there by noon so they could start work on installing the towing and supplemental braking system on our car that is required so we could tow it behind the RV.

Once we arrived and handed over our car, we got the grand tour of the RV which included 4 hours of detailed instruction on operating every little gizmo that it comes with.  Our heads were swimming with details well before the 4 hours were over.  Added to that overload of information was our excitement of actually seeing our new home and how beautiful it was.  Wow!  The beast is massive and our eyes widened to the max as we kept walking and walking and walking to go from its back end to its front.

The beast (we still have not named her and would love to get some suggestions from you to help us out) has 4 slide outs which greatly expands the room inside.  I will post some photos that I have copied off the Internet to give you some idea of what our home looks like.  In the not too distant future, I will take photos of our actual unit since we have some features that are a bit unique to most other units.

By 5 PM we were exhausted and rather overwhelmed with how much we still needed to know before we could feel comfortable with what we were about to move into.  For example, there are over 110 switches and buttons (at last count, I am sure there are more as we discover more and more each day) that control a vast array of operations.  Sheesh!

Here is a photo of our bus.  It is a Tiffin Allegro 40Sp.

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Here is the floor plan of our bus.  Note that we have the table option with the two upholstered bench seats.

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I will try to post interior photos tomorrow.

Year 1 Day 2: Making The Transition – Part 1

Making the transition from living on a sailboat to living in a RV has been quite a challenge. The living part is actually very easy as our new RV is very spacious and comfortable. The challenging part has been the logistics that one has to deal with in making the transition. Who would have thunk it?

First, we spent weeks in the hot tropical sun prepping Leu Cat to be sold. This not only including spiffing her up but also going through all of our stuff that was on board and determining what should stay and what should be packed up and shipped back to the states. Once that decision was made, we were next faced with how to get our stuff back to the states. Fortunately, I found a freight forwarder located within a mile of us so we took our packed up boxes over to them for storage and then shipping.

We left Leu Cat in Sint Maarten to be sold and returned to San Francisco where we moved in temporarily with our daughter, Heather and her foster baby, Victoria. It was a real joy to be able to spend some intimate time with them.

Now was time to find the perfect RV to call home. This was actually the fun and easy part. In past visits back to the State over the last 3 years, we has gone to some RV shows and it was during those visits that Mary Margaret fell in love with the bus that Tiffin makes. Thus, all I had to do was search the Internet to view the various buses on the market, looking for the one that had all of the features we wanted and at the right price.

Within a couple of days of Internet research and searching we found our new home and we were anxious to buy it while it was available. However, we were still in the negotiating stages with a potential buyer of Leu Cat and were not in a position to make an offer on the RV. As it turned out, I had to fly back to Sint Maarten to address some concerns that the potential buyer had before we could close the deal. Before leaving for Sint Maarten, I talked to the sales manager at La Mesa RV and explained my situation to him. I shared with him that we love this particular bus and desperately wanted to buy it but could not commit to doing so until Leu Cat was sold. Vince Meo, the sales manager, was very understanding and suggested that he remove the bus from its Internet market listing and holding it for us during the month of August. If we still were not able to buy it by then, he would put it back on the market. Also, he said that if someone came onto his lot and wanted to buy the unit, he would sell it to them. Seeing that this was a new 2017 unit and the end of the model year was quickly approaching, we felt this was more than reasonable, especially since we were not putting anything down on it and we had agreed to a price which was 25% less than listing.

With this understanding, I flew back to Sint Maarten to address the issues the potential buyers had. As it turned out, I was not able to make the potential buyers happy unless I dropped the price of Leu Cat by $30,000! I discovered that the potential buyers were real estate brokers in the US and I felt like they were trying every trick in the book to buy Leu Cat well below market value.

Fortunately, on the day we made the decision to kiss the potential buyers goodbye, a new offer came in just below what we had listed Leu Cat for. Yay! Saved by the bell! They immediately flew in when they heard that I was on the boat and we took Leu Cat out for her survey sail. Leu Cat passed her survey with just a couple of minor issues noted (a slight tear in a batten pocket and a rivet on the bowsprit that needed replacing) and we went into escrow with a closing date of August 30th. Double Yay!!

On the day that we received the funds from the sale of Leu Cat, I immediately signed a contingent agreement to buy our new RV home. The agreement allowed us to first inspect the bus before actually buying it, just to make sure we were getting the home we wanted. I put less than 1% of its value down at this time knowing that if we did not buy this unit, our down payment would be applied to the actual unit we did buy.

During this time we also had to find the perfect car to tow behind our new house on wheels. More research, more angst in finding the right vehicle in such a short period of time. Again, thanks to the various car buying search engines on the Internet, within a few days we had lined up the perfect car to tow and drive. We wanted a very light and small car that is designed to be towed with all four wheels on the ground and with no special alterations needed to make it towable. For us, this whittled down the field to just the Fiat 500. As it turned out, our nifty little car was sitting on a lot in San Jose, just waiting for us. It too was a new vehicle and since we were in the end of model season, we were able to snap this puppy up for just $12,500. Wow! What a deal!

Now we were ready to pack up and head off to buy our RV. Whoa Nellie! Not so fast. As it turns out, our son and daughter-in-law decided to give birth to our brand new granddaughter a week early. Actually, it was little Molly who decided to be born just in time to meet her Leu grandparents. Yay!

With David Paul, Allison and little Molly all doing well, we finally loaded up our little Fiat and off we went, striking out on our new adventure and our new lives.

Here is a photo of our neat, little Fiat 500 Pop.  Whoo Hoo!

2017 Fiat 500 Pop

The End Of One Journey, The Start Of A New One!

This is the post excerpt.

This is the very first blog of our new journey through life.  We have just finished selling Leu Cat, our Lagoon 44 Catamaran sailboat which we spent 10 years sailing around the world, and have bought a Tiffin Allegro Bus to explore North America.  We are very excited to begin this new journey and look forward to sharing it with you.

Before we begin, we wish to share with you some very sad news.  The new owners of Leu Cat, Susan and Doug, have just emailed us to say that Leu Cat is no more.  We sold Leu Cat on August 30th and she was anchored in the lagoon at Sint Maarten.  Unfortunately, the massive hurricane called Irma swept over Sint Maarten just a few days later and destroyed much of the island and hundreds of boats, including Leu Cat.  Here is the message that we received from Susan and Doug:

“It is my sad task to tell you that Leu Cat is a total loss from Hurricane Irma. According to the last AIS transmission, she ended up against the Skipjack Restaurant on Welfare Road at the short bridge to Snoopy Island at 5:05 am on Wednesday, Sept. 6. That was almost immediately after the hurricane hit St. Maarten. With that information, Ian found her at that location today under a pile of wrecked boats with only the flags on the forward hulls visible to identify her. She is in small pieces as she was blown through the causeway bridge. We are saddened also to know that he lost his Leopard catamaran (which was a business in addition to his surveying) as well.”

We were so saddened to hear this tragic news.  Susan and Doug are such nice people and this is the last thing we would want for them.  Fortunately, they did purchase hurricane insurance so they should recoup much of their loss.  Also, we are saddened because Leu Cat was such a wonderful home, sailboat and companion to us as we sailed around the world.  If you are interested in sharing the adventure we had with her, you can go go to our blog site by Click here to go to our sailing adventure blog site

In the days to come, we will be sharing with you our new adventures as we start our exploration of North America in our new home.  We have yet to name her and are open to any suggestions that you may have.  We will post photos of her in the next few days as the dust settles from our outfitting her.  She is a beauty!

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