Life in an RV, while potentially fun, is anything but normal when compared to living in a sticks and bricks house. Little things in a normal house can be more challenging in a rolling home, even if it’s not rolling in the moment.
Case in point – getting internet set up in a stationary RV. Now you probably wouldn’t think it all that difficult, right? I first made arrangements for them to come out here over a month ago. I was told it would be 7-10 days before it would be installed. At the ten day point I called them and was told that I would be hearing from them shortly. A few days later Jim the park owner told me they were supposed to be coming that day but, instead, they wouldn’t be coming for another four days due to the weather. Finally, on the Monday prior to Thanksgiving, they arrived to start digging the trench and laying the fiber optics. I left for Indiana and Thanksgiving with my family the next day with an appointment set up for the following Tuesday for the install.
As it seems to be doing all too often, the rains came and kept them from finishing their work on time, thus pushing the install for another two days.
Marcus working on the exterior installation of the internet. The coiled blue hose is my heated water hose, necessary for winter to keep water coming into the RV from freezing. To the left of the hose is the water spigot which is also outfitted for freezing temps.
On Thursday they arrived exactly at 8:30 AM, as scheduled. Now I should’ve known things were going to be different when a cable company actually arrived on time! Two men in two trucks started to work outside the RV when Jim arrived. I was quite grateful for his arrival since I had just found out that the technicians were not allowed to drill any holes in RV’s for liability reasons and I was about to wield a drill myself! Jim had already gone through the various install options with me and so was ready to help right away.
There were several holes to be drilled but the fun began when trying to determine just how they were going to do the interior install. The wiring was going to come in from the far side, opposite where the hookups were located. To accommodate them, Jim had to install a conduit under the RV so they could bring the wires to the other side while protecting them from weather. After going beneath the RV, they emerged into a little cubby designed for the various hookups, all insulated. From there a hole had to be drilled to allow the cable to then cross back to the other side again, but this time inside the RV. They needed to reach the electric outlet in the “basement” storage area of the RV for the transformer. Another cable was then fished up into the entertainment center, requiring hole number two to be drilled. Now if this sounds confusing to you, well, that’s the point! Those wires went back and forth either in or out of the RV three different times – first outside in the conduit, then inside to the electric and finally back across again to reach the entertainment center.
The utility section of the RV with its various connections. Beneath the RV you can see the white conduit housing the internet cables. This shot was taken prior to the hole being drilled so the cables are all bunched up still.
Now while this might sound simple enough, it was anything but. Working within an RV, particularly when dealing with electrical systems, is always going to be a bit of a challenge, minimally. Even the best built RV’s seem to use cheap labor to build them and electrical systems tend to be more than just a strange as a result. I remember when I had work done on my other RV how the TV antenna system was more than just a little wonky and needed to be fixed prior to my being able to get TV coverage.
Jim working at finding a way to get the internet wiring into the entertainment center.
While the last shot looked like Jim was about to come up through the hole in my floor, this one appears as if the tech is going to go the other direction!
In the process of fishing wires through here and there, I got to see some of the guts of the RV. Plumbing runs, electrical runs and sewage lines were all quite visible. The so-called insulation – a sheet of maybe 1/2 inch foam – surrounded all the vulnerable parts. In many RV’s there is actually even less or no insulation around these items which is why most RV’s are not appropriate for winter camping.
This is a shot I took with my head poking through that floor opening so it is looking down. What a mess of wiring and piping down there!
While expecting the job to take around 45 minutes, it ended up taking just over two hours. Then the hard part came – they asked me to pick a name for the router. Oh, I hate doing those kinds of things but somehow managed to come up with the name “Picasso’s Place” rather quickly. Then it got worse – I had to pick a password for it! Ugh. Just as I was ready to give up, Marcus, one of the technicians, came up with a dog related one that works perfectly! Soon enough they left and the fun was over….
….until the next morning when there was no internet at all and no more landline either. Worse yet, Jim closed down the internet down here so while I was able to get online for a few minutes in the morning using his internet, it wasn’t strong enough for me to place a simple Skype call. I ended up having to go down the mountain to get cell coverage. I had to call Brian the RV guy and confirm that he was coming at lunch time. He arrived not too much later to fix the water heater again.
After Brian left I ended up going back down the mountain again so I could call the communications company to tell them of my problem with the internet. They asked me to try something so that necessitated a trip back up the mountain and then down again so I could call them to tell them it didn’t work. Now here comes the surprise – they told me a tech would have to come up. I asked them, “Today?” to which she told me yes so I scooted back up the mountain once again. The tech was actually here in under an hour! Wow for their customer service! It was Marcus again from the day before, the tech who gave me my password!
After going through it all he determined that the transformer indeed needed replacing. Within moments we were up and running again. I’m happy to report we are still running a little over 24 hours after the last visit!
Another story about how things are different in an RV – my hot water heater still isn’t working when on electric. For those who don’t know, most RV’s have hot water heaters that work on either electric or propane. If one is at an RV park and hooked up to electricity, one plugs in and uses electric to heat their water. On the other hand, if one is out “boondocking” (not using any utilities), they can have hot water by using propane to heat it. Propane is also a whole lot quicker to heat the water and can be used when hot water is needed quickly. Hot water tanks on RV’s are typically significantly smaller than a household tank and usually hold either 6 or 12 gallons. My first RV had a 6 gallon tank. I quickly learned to take short showers, turning the water off between rinses. Works well in the summer but a little less well when it is really cold out. The new RV has a 12 gallon tank so in theory I can take a bit longer in the shower.
I mentioned that Brian was here yesterday to fix the water heater yet again. On his first attempt he replaced the heating rod and figured it would be good. Thankfully I now knew not to just hop in and hope for the best! After determining the water was too cool to shower, I switched it to run on propane, waited a little while, took my shower and then called Brian to let him know of his failed fix. Yesterday he replaced the two relays and, finding one to have a bit of corrosion, figured it was once again fixed. Nope, not so! We are back on propane once again while he comes up with the next fix. At this rate we will be soon enough replacing all the parts in the tank!
The two most recently replaced parts for the water heater. You can see some corrosion but that still wasn’t the issue.
The reality is that I enjoy when Brian comes over since I get to pick his brain about this or that. He is extremely knowledgable about all things RV as well as automotive. Brian is not only a good businessman, he is also a very fair and honest man besides just being an overall good person. Let me give you an example – I was telling Brian how I had to go to Winston-Salem to pick up my desk but given the size of my car I really wasn’t sure I would fit it and figured I’d have to rent a car. After picking up the desk I also had to go to another town to get the office chair. I’d be driving probably something like four hours or so. What does Brian tell me? Well first he tells me that I really shouldn’t take my car since there was probably no way it would fit even with the roof open. Instead I should take his truck. Huh? You want me to take your truck? He goes on to explain to me that he buys one regularly from a dealer he is friends with and gets a fleet car with high milage but low in years. For this he pays only $5,000 and he is very happy to loan it out when needed by someone.
Now I’m not at all used to this kind of kindness and generosity. Yes, I do believe this is how we people should all be but, sadly, it rarely materializes like that.
I don’t think I’ve ever run into so many genuinely good-hearted people as I have here in North Carolina. Just writing about this brings tears to my eyes, tears of gratitude. After everything I’ve been through in the past one of my biggest fears had been that I would die while still not healing the wounds from the things I’d been through. People have really hurt me, taken advantage of me, broken my trust and proven that humans just aren’t all that nice in many cases. I’m a trusting person but it has been so very long since my trust has been appropriately placed. But now it appears healing is coming and I have no words to adequately express my gratitude.
Slowly my RV is becoming my home in a way the first one never could. It is more than a function of size although that figures into it greatly. I think it has to do with the usability of this RV as well as finding some really good people to help support me when I need it. As a result, the RV life feels a bit more safe to me. RV’s are not like homes and can always find new ways to show you their differences. Part of that is the issue of taking them out on the road and bouncing them all over the place. Imagine if you put your house on wheels and then drove at 60 miles an hour, the equivalent of a tropical storm, for hours on end. It is no wonder they develop issues. The other reality is that they are built terribly, even the more expensive ones, and that causes issues over time. Staying stationary will help to ease some of those issues but there will be others. That is the nature of an RV.
Once I’m fully settled and am ready to put the move-in process behind me, I hope to take some time to give you a tour of my home as well as the surroundings so you can see why I’m so enamored with this place. The peace of nature here truly nurtures my soul. I cannot wait to share that with you!
© 2015 deborah kauffeld