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Our Experiment with Fulltime RV

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Dale's Version
Gwen's Version
Morgan's Version
Annie's Version

GPS: N42.24358 W122.41433

Our spring and summer home at Howard Prairie Lake Resort
Campsite #50
Howard Prairie Lake Resort
We are the Star on the map.
A dusting of snow on our arrival at space #50 Our experiment is to try out full time RV living without selling the house or retiring from the "day-job". Our home is in Grants Pass, Oregon which is a 45 minute commute to my job in Medford. There is a very nice resort, Howard Prairie Lake Resort, at the 4,500 foot level in the Cascade mountains about 45 minutes south east of Medford. Gwen has taken a job at the resort restaurant which includes an RV space at the resort. I will continue my 45 minute commute to my day job while she works at the restaurant.

We think we would like to become full time RV tourists once I retire (about 5 years) but we have never spent more than two weeks at one time in an RV. We expect that living in an RV for about five months will help us to know if full time RV is for us. Some of our questions will be answered but I've already found that some will NOT be answered. For example, we will learn what it is like to sleep and eat in an RV for a long time period, how to care for our pets while away from home and how to maintain our RV when I don't have all my home tools. I'm learning that there is much we will not learn. Since we are still working we are away from the RV and each other during the working hours so we won't learn how to be with each other 24 hours/day. We aren't moving to a new location every week or so, which means we are setting up camp in a more permanent way and don't have to deal with packing and moving frequently. That also means we have the same neighbors for five months, we've already made friends and enjoy special privileges because Gwen is a member of the resort staff. We wouldn't have those privileges as "nomad" RV campers.

This report is a continuing "saga" of what we are learning in our experiment. I hope you too will learn from our experiment. Our accounts will be different since Gwen is here full time and I travel off the mountain every workday. I hope you will return for frequent updates.

Our water hose must be insulated from the cold nights.
We are on the west coast, we've not seen ice hanging from our RV before.

For some men, I think this decision to leave your "stick-built" home for 5-6 months would be a difficult one. For example, my next door neighbor spends every spare moment in his yard mowing, pruning, planting, gardening, raking and trimming. I don't like to do yard work but I did set my automatic sprinklers to keep everything in their path alive. I use to have a complete wood shop with every power tool and I enjoyed making furniture and other knickknacks around the house. I can remember thinking that this would be neat to do once I had retired. However, I sold all my power tools many years ago and haven't replaced many. It would be difficult for a man to leave his complete wood shop to go RV traveling. Finally, I've been through two divorces so I've had to leave most of my "possessions" twice before. I can remember the feeling the first divorce. My "possessions" WERE me so I had to learn who I was all over again. Since then I've learned to be more than my possessions so leaving them for 5 months was not hard to do. In fact, after loading our fifth wheel with all my important "things", I still had much back home and wondered if it was important to have that much stuff.

Something else that we have here that we would not have while full time RV are some of the yard chairs and table. We brought four yard chairs and a side table that are not portable ... so there is another way this experiment is not like the real thing.

Our experiment means staying at a full-hook-up site at the resort. At this resort that means sewer, water and electrical connections (note, no cable TV). However, the electrical at Howard Prairie is a total of 20 amps. I'm finding that 20 amps is not much especially in the cold spring nights and mornings. We have two 1,500 watt floor heaters but can only run one at a time and can't run the electric hot water heater at the same time as one of the floor heaters. Same goes with Gwen drying her hair, can't run the hair dryer and a floor heater at the same time. We must also turn off the heater when using the microwave. For me this means two things. One, I'm learning how much power our gadgets use and how to conserve that power and two, we are burning lots of propane to heat our fifth wheel and hot water. These cold days/nights will be ending soon and it won't matter so much any more. The other many perks of working at the resort make up for all the propane. These first five days we have used nearly 10 gallons of propane and the cost was $17.77 to refill the tank. That seems like a lot but it would cost more to stay in our stick-built home.

It seems to me that one of the reasons a person chooses to become a full-time RV camper is to change the home location frequently. We won't be moving our trailer again until possibly mid-July for four days to attend the Great

Early campers in the mountains will find a few cold days in the spring.
A small section of the camp road runs by our trailer. American RV Rally in Bend, Oregon. Otherwise, we will be at "Space 50" until Labor Day and perhaps later. So what am I doing differently here than in Grants Pass? We don't have television or the Internet here. Television is a choice while Internet is not possible even with a satellite dish because of the trees. I don't have the
the usual "chores" here, no lawn, garage with projects, or remodeling to complete. So I wonder if living in our RV at a resort will be routine? I lived at Lake Tahoe in Northern California for 13 years and I will admit that there are days I did not "see" the lake but there was never a "routine" day. I've always said, "there was never a day I did not like at Lake Tahoe". I made good use of the recreation that was available at Lake Tahoe and I expect to do the same here in the Cascades. Before we left Grants Pass I began to wonder about leaving the "familiar". In Grants Pass, if I need a hardware item, grocery item, or clothing I know which store to visit and usually know the shelf unit to find the item. I began to wonder if all full-time RV people face the same problem of leaving the Our covered "patio" area.
Our front yard. familiar. I also thought about my relatives in 1846 who left Indiana in a covered wagon then traveled the Oregon trail to 640 acres near Brownsville, Oregon. I think their challenge was much more serious than my leaving Grants Pass in a 33ft fifth wheel. I have an Internet RV friend, George, who gave up the familiar. George boondocks every
night then details his experience on the Internet for everyone to read and gain courage to try the same. George has a Datastorm satellite Internet system so he is connected from any location. I will certainly have an "instant" Internet connection when I retire. By that time, who knows what that might look like or what it will cost? Rear view of the trailer, canopy is nice to keep off the rain but must be retracted when it snows.
Gwen is behind Claudia, the cook, standing at the grill. Gwen is the reason we are able to "play" at retirement because she enjoys working with people and cooking. She left her job in Grants Pass to accept a cooking position at the resort restaurant. She only wanted part-time work but they need her skills so is working nearly full time. We'll see if this becomes too much of a price to pay for "resort living". We are one week into our adventure and she is learning new skills and still enjoying "mountain moments" which give her enough energy to continue for several more hours. She has also found that the resort management is "mature" (the management in Grants Pass was "immature") and they have made it very pleasant to be a part of the team. They have also welcomed me even though I am not an employee and I feel good about volunteering for "rescue" projects when the tourist, fishing or boating rush hits.
Morgan is our 4-1/2 year old Golden Retriever. She has been the best dog we have ever owned. She is people and pet friendly and easy to please with dog toys plus loves to travel anywhere with us. She especially loves to hike through the woods and swim in any sort of water. As long as she is with us, she is happy. In Grants Pass she has her own backyard to play in. At the resort she must go with Gwen to be tied outside the restaurant, stay at the trailer to be tied or go to the office with me. View toward the lake from the outdoor eating area at the restaurant.
Howard Prairie Restaurant and store.

Morgan has a cat named Annie. We looked up the law in Grants Pass and found that you can not legally own a cat because they will NOT be owned. So Annie does her own thing and returns home when she feels like it. She tells her own story of some of the adjustments we have made for her to our fifth wheel.

We expect to have many adventures during our stay at the resort. These will come from the work that Gwen does, activities in the area and new friends we make.

I love gadgets, whether electronic or mechanical. For example, one of the gadgets I've found is the $20+ "Weather Station". As I have time I'll show you all my gadgets and where to get them.

There are often special days here at the resort. Special days are days such as opening day of fishing, holidays and the Rogue Yacht regattas. The whole resort atmosphere will change during those days.

Our first visitor to our mountain experiment has been my son Ben, his fiance Kim and their new puppy Jackson. They happen to visit during the opening day for fishing season so saw the resort completely sold out. We are looking forward to more visitors.

Gwen and I don't fish which is the main activity at Howard Prairie Lake. So why choose this resort? We like many other outdoor activities. For example we both enjoy sea kayaks. We have been on a week long sea kayak trip in the islands between the British Columbia mainland and Vancouver Island. This was true camping because we had to carry everything needed for the week long trip. Other activities we enjoy are hiking, mountain biking and road riding (the term used by those who

A fawn nibbles near the rear window in our fifth wheel
A noon-time fog rolls in causing navigation problems. The mast of the next sailboat is only 40 feet from this boat but can barely be seen in the fog.

ride high performance bicycles to ride long distance). I have been road riding since the 6th grade (so a very long time). I have ridden many century rides (100 miles) in a day. On my initial "scouting trip", I found a great deal of mountain bike routes as well as lots of paved roads for long distance cycling. You will find that Morgan writes about mountain biking too.

Before we began our fulltime experiment I loved to look in the online catalogs at all the stuff needed for RV travel. I hope I will have time this summer to add the accessories I have purchased or built plus their usefulness to these pages.

Finally, the repairs and maintenance an RV owner must do are included in these pages. I have much to do both in repairing and in writing about those repairs.

There are two methods to see what's new at RVeCafe because it changes everyday. The best method is to bookmark What's New so you can visit each day. There is an easy link to click at the top left of the page to help you bookmark the page. The second method is to visit the site map to see the structure of the site and watch for new pages as they are added. Gwen and I love to get email so I hope you will choose to write you comments to us.

August, 2005: Click here for the Midterm Evaluation.

Dale and Mindy (Dale's daughter) ready to seakayak in freezing weather.

Pepper Goes Home Update-September 25, 2005: We expect to be leaving Howard Prairie Lake Resort within four weeks so all the extra lawn furniture and bicycles must go back to Grants Pass. Pepper must also be taken back to Jack and Carole. Today is one of those travel days. It's normally 1-1/2 hours to Grants Pass, but pulling Pepper will slow us down. We have other reasons to be in Grants Pass today so this will be a trip with multiple purposes. We must plan ahead because we will be traveling to Pennsylvania soon for Ben and Kim's wedding.

The park is empty
October 18, 2005: Howard Prairie Lake Resort is virtually empty. Gwen's last day of work was two days ago but we are still here enjoying the mountains. The view above was not possible until about a week ago when Bob, the security guard, towed his fifth wheel back to Medford. The closest other RV is about 200 yards and that is another staff person. They will be leaving before we do. Our plan is to leave the last weekend of October. Until then, Gwen will enjoy the resort where she has worked so hard this summer. Note that we have never had to extend our window awnings since the windows are shaded most of the time.

October 31, 2005: Yesterday was moving day. The resort closed and locked the gates yesterday afternoon. I will be writing a "final evaluation" soon to go along with my midterm evaluation to spell out all that needs to change. I've told you that we have already committed to returning next season, April, 2006. So you know the outcome but I have a list of problems to solve and adjustments to make before next April. Yesterday was my first time to hook up and tow my fifth wheel since last April and it took some thinking and remembering to get everything right. I can tell you that I'm at my home in Grants Pass with my satellite dish sitting in my back yard and transmitting so you already know that Gwen and I made it home safely. There were a few things inside the trailer that we forgot to secure so some things are scattered about but no serious damage.
Our empty resort parking spot
Traveling Forest Service Road 37
Forest Service Road 37 You can see from these photos that I drove back to Grants Pass using Forest Service Road #37 rather than coming down the steep mountain into Ashland as I usually commute each day. By doing this I avoid the worry of this steep grade. FSR #37 is not cleared in the winter and is used as a snowmobile trail. No snow yesterday however. Yesterday was the coldest morning since last April but the sky cleared and the day warmed to the point that it was almost short sleeve weather. That promises to change however and Jim (the resort owner) expects this winter to be heavy with lots of precipitation. I hope so because I would like to see Howard Prairie Lake filled for next season.

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