Five Months Fulltiming: May 2015 Report

The Distance: 1,231 miles, one of our less aggressive months, but the eight day stay at Coach Maintenance for the Jake Brake install and the extended stay in Portland slowed our roll a bit.  Total distance for the year: 7,787 miles.  At the beginning of the journey I had guessed that our full circuit of the country would be about 15,000 miles, but given our plans for the next few months I think we will end up well over that by the time we finish 2015.

The Places: After finally getting on the road following our extended stay with sister Dori and Josh in the Bay Area, we have visited eleven places, starting out with one night of stealth camping in a tractor supply company parking lot in Gilroy, a four night stay at the Navy owned Monterey Pines campground, and eight days with Ted at Coach Maintenance for the engine brake and other work. We stopped at two California and one Oregon State Park: MacKerricher near Glass Beach, Jedediah Smith in the Redwoods, and Cape Blanco in Oregon.  We stayed in four private RV resort/campgrounds: one night stopover at Mad River Rapids in Arcata, a couple of days in Winchester Bay, a way too short one night stop at Sea and Sand, and the end of the month at Jantzen Beach in Portland.  And of course, we spent two nights in Jenny and Rich’s driveway in Hillsboro, OR while we enjoyed their hospitality and tours of the local wine tasting rooms.

We had power and water hookups for 16 days and something close to dry camping for 15, though we are fudging the definitions a bit since Jenny and Rich, as well as Ted, let us run an extension cord to our refrigerator, so maybe it would be fairer to say we dry camped for only five of those days.

The Budget:  Despite our pledge to be, come hell or high water, on budget this month, we broke it a bit, going 8% over.  Take away a few bottles of wine from our California and Oregon purchases and we would have been on point, but we have weaknesses. This means we have badly broken the budget for two months, gotten pretty close but a bit over for two, and actually kept on budget for only one month of the trip.  Man, we need to get ourselves together, but June is presenting the perfect opportunity with our upcoming two weeks of volunteer work at Cape Disappointment State Park in Washington: free full hook up campground, two weeks of not driving anywhere, and relative isolation to keep us from spending money at restaurants and stores.

The Drama:  Oh yes, we had some, but thankfully far less than the ludicrous set of fiascos from April.  In the first week we had near catastrophic problems with the battery charging problem that occurred at the same time as a major downhill run into Carmel Valley, culminating in our intersection blocking breakdown there.  Even after the Jake Brake install, the trips through the mountain on the way to and out of Glass Beach entailed some exciting cliff side hairpin turns and grades.

The Improvements:  Eight days at Coach Maintenance cured of us the battery charging problem, improved our braking ability, straightened out a storage door, and left us with a bit of peace regarding our oil pressure situation.  At the end of the month we made progress on our bathroom remodel, though we experienced a set back for the exterior appearance of the Big Kahuna.

And then there were none: unfortunate end to renovation work in Portland

Last post I mentioned the competing contractor controversy for work on the Big Kahuna while in Portland.  After letting one contractor go I continued working with the other, Bert, for the bathroom renovation, with the intention of having him do a partial exterior paint job as well. Unfortunately the bathroom work stretched and stretched and stretched, and as it finally neared completion on day 10 it turned out that the paint facility was no longer available to support work on the exterior in the time frame required.   Frustrated I called it quits and ended work on the bathroom at about 90-95% done so that Rose and I could have one full day in Portland to clean up and reorganize before we hit the road again.

All in all this was not a great experience, but here is the current status, things left to do, and the lessons hopefully learned:

  • Toilet moved left about six inches to accommodate a larger shower.  This required some imaginative plumbing work.
  • All internal walls replaced with brilliant white textured FRP, which also required some imaginative work due to the major curve in the ceiling
  • Prefabricated two piece full sized shower installed, which required, you guessed it, imaginative solutions to frame, seal, and modify two of the shower walls to fit the curved wall as well as plumbing work for the drain position since it came down right on a support frame.
  • Shower fixtures replaced with Delta valve, handle, and shower head.
  • Walls, framing, and trim mostly restored.

Left to do:

  • Finish cleaning all the Liquid Nails and other glue off the FRP walls.  They looked like a monochromatic Jackson Pollack painting, it was everywhere, and requires a lot of elbow grease to remove.
  • Complete FRP trimming out.  It was mostly done but a few corners are in progress.
  • Restore wood trim on the outside wall. Several pieces were apparently tossed out with the garbage.
  • Put in new floor covering.  We pulled up the old vinyl to get to the toilet and shower mods.
  • Replace traditional shower head with as yet to be ordered, detachable RV shower head.
  • Order and install decorative Delta shower valve sleeve, somehow lost during the install process.
  • Install custom vanity backsplash.  Rose picked out some tile, and hopefully we can work that project while we are volunteering at Cape Disappointment State Park in Washington.

Lessons hopefully learned:

  • Craigslist is fantastic for buying and selling things, but I am finding it pretty shaky for hiring labor.  I will need to sign up for some more professional sites.
  • Avoid pay by the hour work on future renovation in favor of set fee for set services.
  • Have more realistic expectations about project timelines. There was no way I was going to get this bathroom work and the paint job done in the five days I planned for.  Even ten was not sufficient.

In any case, no pictures of the bathroom until I finish some of that work listed above, but they are coming.  And if anyone has recommendations on where to get affordable and basic exterior bus paint work done in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Utah, or Colorado let us know.