Oh My Gosh, I hurt all over!

a lone boat at a golden sunset featuring a man fishing

Stepping out of your comfort zone and doing something you’ve never done before can be both scary and gratifying. For many of us, this summer has been chock-full of new experiences and that is certainly the case for Al and me. Aside from dealing with a pandemic, he and I have been working on RV repairs, and let me just say, that has been mentally and physically challenging.

RV Tanks – the good, the bad, and the ugly

One of the reasons this summer has been a record-breaker for new folks embracing the RV lifestyle is the ability to vacation while social distancing. Camping looks a whole lot different this summer due to some of the restroom closures at many campgrounds. Thus the banning of tent camping in certain states is just one of several reasons there’s been an increase in people using RVs.

Al and me working on the RV underbelly. This is serious stuff, ya know!

RVs allow the user to stay remotely at a national/state park or in the backcountry totally self-contained. No room service here! Hmm, self-contained? For those of you unfamiliar with RVs, allow me to give you a quick overview regarding RV holding tanks and why the term “self-contained” is used.

Most RVs come equipped with a kitchen sink, bathroom sink, shower, and toilet. Anytime you use water, that wastewater has to go somewhere. The kitchen, bathroom, and shower wastewater drain into a “grey tank“. The toilet waste drains into a “black tank“. And depending on usage (lots of variables here), most tanks can hold up to a week’s worth of waste at which point a visit to a “dump” facility is necessary. Some RV parks have a sewer/waste connection right at the campsite while others offer a “dump station” that you’ll need to drive to.

The good thing about these RV waste holding tanks, along with an onboard fresh-water holding tank is the ability to be self-contained and vacation distanced away from other people. Therefore, this kind of travel is perfect for social distancing during a pandemic. You sleep in your own bed, use your own towels, and cook your own food. There’s very little interaction necessary with anyone else or anyone else’s germs.

The bad thing is the need to rid (dump) the RV of stinky waste. In reality, it’s not all that bad or difficult especially when you get used to doing this regularly. However, the really ugly thing is when something goes wrong with one of those holding tanks as did with our RV earlier this the summer. Pee-yew! Talk about a stinky mess that’ll stress even the most Zen of people.

roses
Smells like roses around here … one can hope!

The RV repair

Ok, I won’t gross you out with the smell of saturated insulation from a week’s worth of kitchen sink wastewater. Let’s just say, thank goodness a dumpster was nearby when Al and I removed the front half of the RV underbelly covering.

We were really scared and unsure of our abilities to fix the RV ourselves, but we had to figure it out because we were in a part of the country where the nearest RV dealer was a 45-minute drive away and their service department was booked at least two months out. πŸ˜• We had to put our fears aside, pull out the tools, and dig in.

We fixed the leak a little over a month ago but left the belly exposed to make sure everything was in good working order with no potential for a future leak. We tested and retested, and once we were confident in our workmanship, it was time to cover up the exposed belly with new clean material. Easier said than done!

Imagine a large 6 foot by 12 foot area rug that needs to be installed with an exact reveal on all sides. Now imagine that rug to be somewhat ridged and installing it on the ceiling. How do you hold it in place while drilling in the screws? Sure clamps might work … to an extent. Therein lied part of our dilemma. Al struggled with the install. The plastic-like material would slip, sag, and cause the cumbersome sheet of material to repeatedly move which impacted the overall reveal on the metal framework which was totally unacceptable.

This looks wrong 🀣 Me assisting the clamps holding the underbelly material in place while Al installs the screws.

This was definitely a two-person job. Ingrid to the rescue! The photo above was taken near completion. I used my feet to smooth out the material while Al installed clamps further down. By me continuing to hold the material up, the clamps did their job and Al was able to do his. Try laying in that position for hours πŸ₯΄

Al’s brother-in-law happened to step out of the house when Al and I were in one of our many awkward positions and insisted on snapping some photos. He was duly entertained by our antics but also impressed by how well Al and I worked together.

Admiring our work – Teamwork – High Five!

The underbelly install took us two days to complete. And believe me, these 60 and 70 year old bodies were feeling it! We were hurting all over from all the unusual positions and movements that were required to get the job done. We feel so relieved to have this project behind us. Now if only the body aches would subside.

More RV projects!

Oh and as if my body didn’t hurt enough … I decided to tackle another project which required me to climb on top of the RV and give the old gal (referring to the RV) a good cleaning while Al worked on other honey-do items. My brother-in-law’s ladder wasn’t tall enough for me to reach beyond the name Laredo. So I needed to work from the top down scrubbing off all those wonderfully juicy Midwest bugs. Once she’s washed, she’ll need to be waxed. Are we having fun yet?

When a ladder isn’t tall enough to get to the top – work from the top down!
Laying down on the job 🀣 This worked better for me than using our scrubber with the extendable pole.

Next on our maintenance list is replacing some RV slide-out rubber seals. That Arizona sun can be brutal on our equipment and considering, we spend more than half our year in Arizona, this won’t be the first time that we’ve replaced the rubber seals and doubt it’ll be the last.

Gratifying

Near the end of the year, we’ll celebrate our RV’s tenth birthday. We bought her new and were such RV newbies at the time. Everything about the RV intimidated us and somehow seemed very complex. And here we are, almost ten years later, no longer newbies, considered seasoned RVers, performing all our own maintenance on the old gal. (It’s sad that ten in the RV world is considered old.)

There’s something very gratifying about doing the work ourselves and learning the ins and outs of how the RV operates. Even though we may still have doubts, we’re no longer intimidated or afraid to tackle RV repairs. The three of us (Al, me, and the RV) have grown and aged together, and although the RV will require a few more updates, Al and I feel confident in our abilities to tackle those projects … now if only our bodies would agree. Where’s that bottle of Advil?

“And in the end it’s not the years in your life that count; it’s the life in your years.” – Abraham Lincoln

95 thoughts on “Oh My Gosh, I hurt all over!

    1. I would highly recommend renting one. RVing is not for everyone and by renting you’ll get to try it out without committing. You’ll also discover what you liked and didn’t like about the particular RV you rent.
      There are a bunch of rental companies out there including RV versions of Airbnb – RVShare.com and Outdoorsy.com
      Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have more questions. 😊

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    1. Ah, ‘coroplast’ – there’s a name for it! Thanks for the enlightenment πŸ˜€ I keep calling it plastic-y underbelly thingy … very technical sounding, huh. It was a bear to install and we’re so glad that job is behind us.

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  1. Hi Ingrid, I am also in awe at the amount of camping right now using campers and RVs. The term β€œstaycation” is also being tossed about. Your smiles under the RV made me smile. We have an eight foot camper we have had forever. We love it since no leaking, lots of storage and a big, functioning fridge. We have rented RVs in the past and immediately became familiar with the terms β€œgrey tank” and β€œblack tank.”

    You describe the smells so well, Ingrid, I am getting some of the smells through my laptop. Belly laugh.πŸ™‚

    You and Al have an amazing marriage to weather these repair and cleaning challenges. And, the both of you are still in good shape, despite the aches and pains. An interesting and fun post, Ingrid!

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    1. As a fellow RVer, I know you can relate to this post. We all understand the lovely fragrance of RV holding tanks πŸ₯΄ I’m thankful that Al and I still have the physicality to tackle these RV projects. Fingers crossed that’ll be the case for many more years. πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Funny you should mention your ‘tank’. I was just talking to Al this morning about van life. I’d love to downsize, but he won’t even consider it until we’re part-time. 😏

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  2. What a wonderful way to travel. I admire the skill set you’ve learned to repair the RV yourselves! Engaging writing, now following! πŸ™‚ PS you’re in Wi presently I see. We’re in Madison. Happy trails, R

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    1. Thanks for stopping by. Yep, we’re up in Hayward and enjoying the summer … what’s left of it. The RV allows us the flexibility to spend our summers in WI and winters in AZ. Normally we take about 3 weeks to make the 1,900 mile journey but this year due to Covid, we didn’t meander. We originally had plans to stop in Dodgville along the way. Perhaps next year 😊

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, it’s all about fishing up here. So yep we do fish but mostly it’s my husband and brother-in-law that do the fishing. I take the photos while my sister-in-law keeps the cooler stocked with beverages 😊

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I so enjoyed reading this post, Ingrid, and the photos were a wonderful accompaniment. Your descriptions were engaging and funny (“Pee-yew!” followed by the photo of a rose). I am really impressed by the talents and tenacity of both of you, and congratulations on fixing it. Fun post.

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  4. Congratulations to you and Al on a job well done, Ingrid! The more complex the problem, the more gratifying the DIY fix. Repairs are so much easier with a second set of hands, and it’s obvious that the two of you make an efficient team. Working under an RV is no fun at all. This year, for whatever reason, we had a mouse problem in our rig, and we spent a delightful afternoon underneath it with spray foam and caulk closing up every tiny hole we could find. Our job was no where near as complex as yours, so my hat’s off to you. Any couple that can pull off a major repair like that and maintain their relationship and a good sense of humor deserves a round of applause – good for you! Love ALL the photos of both of you under your RV – keepers for sure!

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    1. Oh dear – mice? Since our belly was exposed for nearly a month, we too have had our fair share of unwanted visitors. We’ve come to realize, they are just part of the adventure, but we’re hoping the entrance is not longer open 😁 Invited guests only please.
      We do our best to work together however, some projects run smoother than others. I’m about done with RV projects for a while and no longer feel the need to redecorate … just yet anyway! πŸ˜‰

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  5. First off, I love that quote…”the life in the years.” Perfect! Wow, you really had to contort to get that underbelly area fixed, Ingrid! Very smart to fix things yourself. Hans does an amazing job of repairing, although we haven’t needed much since we don’t live in our trailer full-time. He IS doing a ton of work on our house at the moment, now that we are inside again to avoid the terrible smoke and ash from the NorCal wildfires. Air quality at unhealthy and beyond! I am sore too, as I clean, pack and paint! It’s all worth it at the end of the day! Gorgeous photos of the area!

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    1. Those western wildfires are scary and nasty. Let’s hope they get put out soon. The hazy smokey skies are expected to reach us any day now. πŸ˜• Sounds like you two are rolling right along with your plans for your new chapter which I’m sure you’re getting more excited about with each day. Stay safe and healthy!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! This past spring we replaced 2 out of our 3 roof vents plus one skylight. When we return to Phoenix for the winter, we’ll replace the final roof vent/fan in the bathroom. It’s really pretty easy, just time-consuming because removing the old caulk while assuring we don’t damage the rubber roof is tedious. Doing the actual install of the new vent goes much quicker.

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    1. Nice to hear from you Cheryl. Demented twister under the RV … now there’s a game! Hope you guys have enjoyed your summer in MN. Let’s do lunch when we get back to the valley … I’ll be behind the pink gingham mask πŸ˜†

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  6. I love that the both of you were in blue! Oh… and you both could be the new DIY team on HGTV!
    Loved the flower and lake but enjoyed seeing the both of you the most!
    So did a margarita help take away some of the aches and pains?

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    1. Margarita’s make everything better 😁 Oh dear, I don’t think HGTV would approve of my construction site language. Too many years spent as a General Contractor! I’m still trying to convince Al that we’re able to replace the RV flooring. Probably should wait until his back stops hurting, huh!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We just put down that kitchen floor… well sweet man did. They were vinyl planks… and I love it. 100% water proof is why we went with that.
        Okay… margarita was mentioned so… I think that is my cocktail of choice this evening by the fire.

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  7. Thanks for yet another great post, Ingrid! At some point we’ll need to take the bottom cover off our aging fifth wheel — I’ll remember your technique! And to keep the aspirin nearby πŸ™‚ Gorgeous photos of the lake and flower!

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    1. Thank you! Definitely keep a bottle of some sort of pain reliever nearby if you need to tackle the belly. These RV projects get more difficult the older we get but so relieved it’s done and over.

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  8. Hi, Ingrid,
    I love women who are willing to get dirty! You can even drive a truck towing a fifth-wheel too! Glad to know that the repairs are going well. Now, it’s time for a boat ride and a Margarita! Enjoy!

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    1. Yeah, I do it all 😁 Remember, I was a General Contractor and Captain Al worked for me.
      Boat ride check … one margarita, two margarita check. Now onto the next project. Ah, not so fast says the old guy 🀣

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  9. Your belly pan installation method is the same as ours. On our backs, knees holding up the belly while trying to grab the drill, find the screws and then tighten it down. Good times!

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  10. Great post Ingrid. It’s always better to be able to do these repairs personally. Better in the sense that you know they’re done carefully and the right way. Dave most always does Beluga’s work himself – if he possibly can. He knows every inch of her old body (dirty girl…..I mean Beluga’s old body!) and that knowledge really helps when something “doesn’t sound right” or “something doesn’t look right” on the road. Advil is a needed RV supply, as is gin, for these kinds of days! Stay safe and happy travels south when you decide to break camp.

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    1. Totally agree! By doing the work ourselves, we know the ins and outs of the ‘old gal’ πŸ˜‰ and have a much better understanding of her workings. It’s Advil and tequila around this RV 🍹. Will you guys be heading back to the southwest this winter?

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    1. Al and I have worked together in some form ever since we met. Some projects go smoother than others when two strong individuals are involved 😏 Yeah, can’t believe we bought the RV 10 years ago and have lived in it full-time for 7. Time seems to fly!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Excellent job!
    That sun sure does a job on rubber seals and glues. I made a wreath last year – used hot glue to attach some stuff. Left it on a wall inside the AZ house, which was closed up for the summer. When we returned in the fall, some of the glue had melted and the decorations on the wreath were on the floor.
    When we lived in the Middle East, the interior rear view mirrors in cars sometimes came unstuck (they were glued to the windshield.)

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    1. Yeah, that excessive heat will melt just about anything along with bleaching out most colors. I’m going to try out a new wax that has UV protectant in it to see if it’ll help not fade the RV decals as badly. I’m doubtful it’ll make a difference but one can hope.

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    1. We were very glad to have completed that project. Finding a good facility to fix things ‘right’ is easier said than done. In the past, we’ve paid good money to have something repaired ‘professionally’ only to have it fail weeks later (when we’re hundreds of miles away) and eventually needing to fix the fix ourselves. A few days of laying around, several boat rides later, and a bunch of Advil popped and we’re ready to take on the next project. πŸ˜€

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  12. Well done, you two! I hear you about the gratifying part. And, about team work. Mark and I have a lot of experience with fixing RVs (and boats). Not only is it more satisfying and cheaper, but you learn a lot and know the job is done well, up to your own standards. πŸ™‚ Unfortunately for us, we can’t lie on our roof. It’s very thin fiberglass and won’t support us. Few ladders are tall enough as well to reach everything.

    Sounds like you’re getting ready to head out soon, cleaning and waxing the girl! Soon, we will have to give our Zesty some indoor and outdoor love as well. πŸ™‚

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    1. We won’t head south until I’ve had my fill of photographing fall colors … providing I can handle the cold 🀣. The west just doesn’t offer the autumn foliage colors that can be found around here; something I’ve missed over the years.

      As you well know, regular maintenance and repairs are just part of the lifestyle whether it be an RV or a boat, and being able to work on things yourself is a huge bonus and in some instances a must. Where will you be wintering this season?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We’ll be heading back west whenever we can. Depending on whether this is October or November, a stop in Colorado is on the agenda. πŸ™‚ So, definitely looking for warmer climes for the winter, either in the Southwest or Mexico.

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          1. Will do. Mark was actually going to work at the Amazon fulfillment center in Phoenix for two months this winter (and I had visions of hiking, photographing and girl-time with you), but he recently changed his mind. 😦 I’ll be in touch! I’m sure we will pass through your neck of the woods at some point.

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    1. Thank you Donna. We surprised ourselves with this job. We had our doubts. It probably took us twice as long to complete when compared to a professional but at least we know it’s done and done right.🀞

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  13. Well done you two! With that kind of great teamwork under such stressful conditions, it is no wonder you do so well living in such a small space together! Hope you are able to enjoy what is left of summerπŸ€—

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    1. Thanks Lynn. Yeah, living in a small space does present some challenges; add in the constant RV maintenance and repairs and ya better get along πŸ˜„ All and all, it has been a great summer that we’ll enjoy until the cold weather pushes us out.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Our slide seals probably should’ve been replaced months ago, but better late than never. We’ve avoided it as long as possible while tackling more pressing repairs. It’s great that we can tackle these projects ourselves 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Ingrid – there is always something to do, something to fix. Glad you were able to do it yourselves. Enjoy the remaining days of summer in the North woods. keep making those days count, even when what you do during the day makes you a little sore and stiff.

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    1. We’re loving our time in the Northwoods and am looking forward to photographing fall colors. Whether one lives in a regular house or an RV, there’s always some maintenance to stay on top of. It’s just that the RV is constantly subjected to earthquake conditions as she travels down rough roads and bounced around. Thank goodness for glue 🀣

      Liked by 1 person

  15. LOL! Wow does that bring back memories. Toughest repair we did ourselves? Replacing the bathroom roof vent/fan. Repair that went the most smoothly? Replacing the hot water heater. Scariest one? Bent axles. We left that to the pros. Most expensive? Having a pro replace all the bearings in our trailer after they wore out in spite of lots of TLC. Still, living in a house costs a lot more. It took me a lot longer to install a fresh air intake than doing the roof vent. And the garage door opening went smoothly but it was more work than the new hot water heater. We spent three times as much on our most expensive house repair to date, replacing the windows. Scariest one? Waking up to dripping everywhere on one side of the house and then getting a new roof. RVs are a lot cheaper than houses. I envy your ability to remain in one.

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    1. Regardless of what kind of house we live in, they all need maintenance and repairs. Leaks of any kind are the worst, but that axle problem of yours sounds pretty bad. Some things are definitely best left to the experts. Personally, I wouldn’t envy the RV lifestyle these days … ain’t what it used to be. Between the virus and tons of newbies jumping in, it has gotten crowded and expensive. Boondocking sites are closing left and right due to the ignorant and thoughtless. We’re at a crossroads regarding our future πŸ€”

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  16. Wonderful teamwork, guys! I’ve no doubt your aching, looking at the photos. It’s great that you take on the challenge to repair the RV yourselves, not surprised the scorching desert sun messed up the rubber seals. The RV certainly doesn’t look ten years old, great job!

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    1. Thank you John. We do our best to stay on top of regular maintenance. We thought about changing RV’s, but when I went shopping earlier this year, I was not impressed with what I saw. So, we’ll tackle some future updates and keep this one for several more years.

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  17. It does not look like fun. Everything needs maintenance. Freedom to go most anywhere is still not maintenance free. Great photos of you two making yourselves sore.

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    1. I know you can relate! Oh and to think I had this long list of projects I wanted to complete this summer – very unrealistic 😏 Now, we’re back to a much slower pace much to Al’s delight. The serious remodel I designed may or may not happen, and feeling the way I do, I’m okay with that 🀣

      Liked by 1 person

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