Saturday, March 29, 2014

Scoopy’s Renovations

When we liberated Scoopy from the shop, our itemized bill was 7 pages long and jokingly referred to as "the nightmare". Ours was certainly not the largest repair and reno job Auburn-Kent Valley RV Center has ever done, but our job included of a bunch of little stuff along with the more significant things.

“The Nightmare”

A good portion of the upgrades happened in areas we rarely see. In fact, when you walk into Scoopy, with a couple of exceptions, you'd be hard pressed to see much of a difference in the before and after. One significant “unseen” item is the repair of the automatic levelers. On this trip, for the first time ever since we’ve owned her, Scoopy leveled herself!  While we’re kind of excited about that, Laurie and Odel had them repaired several times and they always failed eventually. We’re not holding our breath that this fix is final, but we’re going to enjoy while it lasts.

One of those inside exceptions is our amazing residential refrigerator. It's a gorgeous stainless steel Samsung French door model that replaced our four-door Norcold. It is a popular model in RVs because it fits perfectly in the existing space and doesn't protrude into the hallway. The doors open nearly flush, so there's no chance of obstructions with cabinetry. More importantly, the depth of the fridge is perfect.

As I mulled over all of these dimensions, there was something nagging at me. I knew the Norcold was just over 36" wide and the new Samsung was 33" wide. It bothered me that 3.5" of space would be wasted. I didn't say anything for a long time but I continued to obsess over this loss. Finally, I mentioned it to Jeff, fully prepared for him to tell me "that's the way it is." But he didn't. Instead, we started brainstorming all the things we might do with that space. We settled on a full-length spice rack.

During one trip out to visit Scoopy, Jeff had the basic idea in place, but one thing I realized was that little containers of spices would get lost if I wasn't able to see through the shelves. So I told him I thought the front should be acrylic. He did one better. He fashioned them out of polycarbonate, which is scratch-resistant and more durable than acrylic. 

We also took into consideration any heat that the fridge might put off, but Jeff determined that the heat vents at the front, and the side stays cool. Perfect!

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Our new fridge                                                          Super spiffy spice rack reveal!

When we arrived to take Scoopy out for a 3-day weekend, I brought along a crate full of spices to load up into my glorious new rack. That plan was very nearly thwarted soon after we arrived. Steven sat the crate down right inside by Scoopy's door, on top of the straps of his camera bag. When he picked up said camera bag, the crate full of spices shot down the stairs, went right out the front door and the entire contents crashed to the ground. He cursed loudly, so I knew it was bad. I was so in shock, I couldn't even look at the mess of broken glass and spices scattered on the ground. I screamed, "OMG! Did you break my Sunny Paris?? Did my Sunny Oaxaca survive?" Those are my two favorite and I was heartbroken to think they were scattered in a puddle of glass and rain.

The remains of the big spice disaster after salvage. The white stuff is Cream of Wheat.

One by one Steven picked up the survivors and dried them off. Turns out, it looked much worse than it was. In the end, I lost only two things and I didn't really care about either one. YAY!

Jeff did an amazing job building my spice rack. One other thing I love about it is that when it's closed, you would not even know it's there. You would walk right past it and not notice it. He also put three latches in the rear, so when closed, it stays closed. I love it!!

The little knob to the right is the only giveaway that there is hidden treasure!

I'll let the pictures do the talking with regard to other improvements we made. Tomorrow, Scoopy goes back to the shop, there are a few more things left to be done, such as our Oxygenics showerhead and probably a new water pump. But the end is near, and we could not be happier! Scoopy is very nearly ready to once again hit the road full time. We think she's pretty excited about that!

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Lots of extra storage!                        Two new adjustable shelves double the space for dishes.

More space to store our wine amongst other things. Hmmm, seems like we are almost out of wine!

Our new bright LED bulbs above the kitchen will be a great help when our sight begins to fail.

Because it rained constantly during our three-day shakedown, we had loads of time to check out each and every repair and upgrade. We are very happy with the results and know that Scoopy is as ready as we are to hit the road fulltime.

Liberating Scoopy!

After two and a half months at the spa, we finally liberated Scoopy just in time for a 3-day getaway. Our plan was to arrive at 11:30 am and spend a leisurely couple of hours or so going over the operation of new things and to learn how to hook up and unhook Toadie Hopper. Yep, she finally got her baseplate!

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Scoopy is ready to roll (so we thought)!       Steven installed our Pressure Pro sensors on Toadie Hopper.

As is common in the world of RVers, however, that plan soon went out the window. Something was amiss. We weren't sure what was going on, we were too busy unloading and storing all the goodies we brought with us into our new residential refrigerator. Once that was done, we sat around for a while until Jeff, our reno guy, finally told us that Scoopy no longer had blinker lights or emergency lights.

Jeff and a coworker trying to figure out why Scoopy had no working turn signals.

Okay, we thought, this will be an easy fix. We maintained that happy-go-lucky attitude until Jeff finally said, "I'm running out of ideas." Oh crap. So to give Jeff a bit of breathing room, Steven and I headed off to a nearby Ikea.

On the way to Ikea, trying to stay positive.

Now, in our former lives, we would have spent hours there and purchased cart after cart of crap we didn't need. This time, it was just painful to even have to walk through the maze of aisles full of stuff we were not even remotely interested in. (Progress!)

Finally, after wasting all the time we could stand, we headed back to the shop. Just as we were about to arrive, Jeff called. All was fixed! We were elated! As we slogged through Ikea, we had talked about the very real possibility that our camping trip would not happen. We were both massively depressed.

At this point, our initiation to our new systems was like speed dating. Do this, then do that, poof! Bob's your uncle! kthxbai! It wasn't just that Jeff wanted to be done, we were chomping at the bit to hit the road!  Jeff is our hero.

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Jeff explaining that we should criss-cross      We had the water filter mounted to the wall.
applesauce our wires when towing.

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New inverter panel. We have no idea           Installing the Brake Buddy. We have no idea how to work it yet.
how to work it yet.

Though this was our first time ever towing our little Toadie Hopper, we had an easy drive to Blue Sky RV Park in Preston, WA. It's always a crapshoot as to which site we'll end up getting at Blue Sky, even though we requested our beloved site #21. We were quite happy when our reservation, pinned to the outside board, indicated we were to be in site #23. The site itself is exactly the same, but the view is slightly different. Who cares? It's raining, so we can't see much anyway, so we were thrilled!

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At Blue Sky with partially blue skies. Hasn’t stopped raining since.    YAY! Site #23!

After we unhooked Toadie Hopper, I drove Scoopy into the campground with Steven following behind. As I approached our site, I saw that someone had parked their own little Toyota in our space. I was tempted to lay on the air horn, but thought better of it. Steven knocked on a few doors. He might was well been asking about a robbery in the Bronx - nobody saw nuthin'.

Found this rogue car in our site. Grrrrrr!

We called the office and soon camplady and dude showed up and also began knocking on doors. Eventually someone came and claimed their car without so much as a wave. Nearly four hours later than anticipated, we were right where we wanted to be.

Now we have three glorious days to check out all of our renos. Life is freakin' awesome.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Letting Go

There are few things we own that have strong emotional value to us, which makes downsizing pretty much a piece of cake. Of course, we get to keep a fair number of things at my parents’ place in Texas, so maybe I'd feel differently if absolutely everything had to go. And then there's the kids - they are also taking a fair amount of stuff. So really, I look at the upcoming Estate Sale as the "dregs" sale. Stuff we truly don't care about. That's not to say there won't be some nice stuff at that sale, but it isn't stuff we need or want and probably won't ever replace when we stop fulltiming.

The library in our former lake house was the perfect place to showcase our piano

That said, there are a few big ticket items to which we are emotionally attached. And being "big ticket" items, part of the fear of letting go of them is knowing we paid a load of money for them and will likely get little of it back - or worse, that we can't sell them at all. That last one scares me the most.

Number One atop that list is our beautiful Boston Grand Piano. I always envisioned that one day it would be passed to Zoe, so it hurts to think of letting it go. For years, as our fulltiming plans became more real, we wracked our brains to think of an alternate solution. We thought about letting friends hang on to it for us, but the notion that, as we are out on the road enjoying our new life, we might one day get a call saying, "Hey, come get your piano!", led us to conclude that option wasn't really feasible. It's going to be years before Zoe might actually have a home large enough for a grand piano, if ever. I never want anything they get from us to become a burden to them. Storing it is out of the question. Not only would it be expensive (think climate-controlled) it would just be so wrong to leave such an exquisite instrument untouched in storage.

Slowly, very slowly, we came to accept that the best solution was to sell it. Man, that was a tough decision. And knowing that craigslist was full of piano ads that just languish week after week, month after month, we knew our big ticket would likely suffer the same fate.

Finally, Steven made the plunge. He took a few gorgeous photos and posted the ad. Just putting that ad out there was somewhat of a relief, but we had close to zero expectations.

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And then, ping! Not two hours after the ad was posted a reply came in. A buyer who not only indicated a serious appreciation for the Boston, but also lived in Sammamish!

After several visits and play sessions and a visit by a piano professional who gave it the once over, we closed the sale yesterday. We got a great price, and the buyer got a wonderful piano. It was a win-win, the best we could have hoped for.

The family who bought our piano are serious musicians who are fulfilling a life-long dream to own a significant and beautiful piano. Knowing that our beloved Boston is making such an impact on their lives and that it will be truly loved and cared for makes it easier for us to let go.

This week we also let go of Chloe, our kitty. She moved to Bellingham to live with Zoe. She's not a big ticket per se, she's just big, but takes up much less space in Zoe's apartment than a grand piano, so this was doable.

Chloe, from a portrait collection Steven shot for All Critters Animal Hospital

It feels good to make this kind of progress. We've come to realize that fear of letting go can be a very limiting factor and can stop progress in its tracks. I think we've finally learned that eventually, if we just do what needs to be done, everything will turn out fine in the end.

As for those other big ticket items, I'm still mulling those over. There's only so much heartbreak I can handle in a short amount of time.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A (not so) Brief History

I've never really had a conventional life. My parents would play good cop/bad cop at the dinner table when talking to me about my future. "Do you really think that being in a rock band is a good career choice? What will you fall back on if it doesn't work out?", my dad would say. My mom would take me under her wing and encourage me to do whatever I wanted. Ever since then, "real" jobs have always played second fiddle to my creative endeavors. 

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With Mom the day I left for the US, 8-31-87              My band, Naked Grape, outside CBGB in New York City

I spent a decade in New York trying to make it as a musician but to no avail. The experience was amazing but the success rate was zero.  I spent a couple of years in Texas with Linda and then we moved to Washington where I got a real job as a graphic designer. We bought some beautiful lake front property and built our own castle on it (metaphorically speaking about the castle).

I need to be stimulated all the time, you know, have something to look forward to. The life of going to a job in the morning, coming home in the evening, having dinner, spending time with the kids, watching TV, going to bed and starting all over again the next day never had much appeal for me. Paradoxically, I like predictability and stability, which is what a real job had given me but I just wasn't fulfilled.

Linda and I discovered camping together in 2006. We both had experience camping in our lives but not together. For me it was an extension of my new found love of nature by the lake. I had taken up videography and loved to capture all the wildlife around me. I would make little movies and have "showings" for all the neighbors. For years Linda would say how much she wanted to take me to Yellowstone. She said it would blow my mind so I had high expectations.

When we finally did go to Yellowstone, it was one of the highlights of my life. It was almost like I had beamed down from the mothership to another planet. I could see miles and miles of unspoiled land. The geysers fascinated me. It was a sight I had never seen before. Driving down to Hayden Valley at dusk to watch hundreds of bison crossing the road was eye-popping. Needless to say, I was hooked. You can see the little movie I put together by clicking here. At that point we were camping in an actual tent and I never considered anything else.

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Scenes from our first trip to Yellowstone together

Over the months that followed that trip, we became more and more interested in finding an alternative to the classic tent. We went to an RV dealership just for fun and looked at some popups. Linda was already familiar with these contraptions because her family had owned one when she was a kid. I looked at the price and cringed. If we spent that amount of money, I thought, it would be one of those things that gathered rust and dust in our backyard. Still, my curiosity and imagination went wild. Linda whipped out her laptop and over the next few days did a huge amount of research, sending me photos of popups and proposing all of the cool places we could go. Long story short, she won me over (as she always does) and we bought our first popup; a Jayco we named "Alfred Hitchpop".

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Linda’s family had a popup way back when                    Ah, the good old days in Yellowstone

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Linda’s first RV (on her back)

Little did I know what this miracle of invention would do. I used to jokingly refer to it as the "Tardis" (for you Dr. Who fans) because, while it appeared to be a modest size on the outside, once inside with the slides out, it was massive!!

We took that thing were no man (or woman) had gone before. We went down the West coast, we went to Yellowstone again, Glacier National Park, and much more. We racked up thousands of miles driving that sucker all over the place. We even spent a freezing and damp Thanksgiving in Alfred in Brackendale, Canada. There was so much condensation on the inside walls one morning, it was like we had just installed a rain shower!

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Alfred Hitchpop at Anacortes, WA

Linda and I not only love camping but we love the whole process of traveling. She likes to drive. No, she insists on driving which is fine with me because I usually have my camera in hand doing as much drive-by shooting as I can. Although I am direction-challenged, I am also the navigator. Yes, that sounds weird but, if people in wheelchairs can play basketball, then I can read a map, by cracky! At the very least, I'm going to do the very best I can.

Sometime during our initial outings, we toyed with the idea of doing this fulltime. We bought a book on Amazon written by a couple who actually lived fulltime in a popup. Could we do it? Sure we could. Would we do it in Alfred? Probably not but the idea of fulltiming was an idea we never let go. 

As our thoughts obsessed on fulltiming, our attention began to focus on what kind of rig we would live in. There were two choices; a motorhome or a fifth wheel. It was like the Mac versus PC, paper or plastic dilemma. At first we decided that a motorhome was not for us because we didn't like the fuselage feel of the space. Sitting in a fifth wheel at the RV Show in Seattle felt much more like home. Yes, a fifth wheel was going to be our choice. 

As the years went by, anytime we were bored on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, we would look at each other and say "Let's go look at RVs!". We were like two kids at a toy store! We never really found the perfect interior design although we came close. The kitchen was too small, we didn't like the steps, the bathroom was weird, etc.

Our fulltiming master plan, on the other hand, was coming together. We decided that as soon as all our kids were in college (or jail, whichever came first), we would hit the road. We settled on August 15, 2014 as the target date.

In the Spring of 2013, some friends of ours (Laurie and Odel) who were fulltiming for over a decade were coming off the road due to family illness. We had met them a few times and really liked their rig. It was a motorhome. Yes, a motorhome. I know I just said we were stuck on a fifth wheel but, more recently we were going to and fro on the motorhome/fifth wheel thing. Laurie and Odel were selling their beloved 2002 Travel Supreme.

We had put away some money from the recent sale of our lake house for the purpose of buying a used rig so the timing was perfect. Knowing Laurie and Odel the way we do and reading their extensive blogging about the motorhome, we knew it had been well taken care of and all the specs really suited our needs. In a short time, we had negotiated the sale and met them in California for RV boot camp. They taught us all they knew in a couple of days and soon we were on our maiden voyage home to Seattle, stopping along the way at some lovely campsites.

When we headed out on the highway for the first time, we both looked at each other and knew that there was no doubt that this was the life for us. We immediately fell in love with "Scoopy" (the name Laurie and Odel gave the motorhome) and we felt like we were at home from the first second.

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Scoopy, what more is there to say?

So now it's March of 2014 as I write this and I'm sitting here both excited and scared for this new life. We have so much work to do before we actually leave on August 15 (unbelieveably, we have managed to hold onto that date for over five years) but it's all just "stuff" so I know it will get done. What lies ahead is an amazing experience. As I approach 50, I'm not thinking about winding down. Hell no, I'm getting ready to start the next chapter of my life. 

Future Road Sign

How long will we stay on the road? Hard to say because we are not putting a limit on it. Like everything else we do, we live in the moment and we are both so simpatico that when the time is right to hang up our hats, we will both know it at the same moment.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Keeping Dreams Alive

88520-84635 At the end of a blog post I wrote on March 18, 2009 I said, "That's how the idea of Steven and Linda as fulltimers came to be. We have five years and five months until we hit the road. We can't wait. Dear God, please let Zac love college! :)"

A lot can happen in five years and five months to change the course of our lives, and in fact, a lot did. The economy tanking for one. That sucked, and it certainly became a challenge for us as we put our big ass lake house (BAH) on the market at the worse possible time. We had three kids to get through high school and into college. We had a ton of stuff to get rid of, and we hadn't even begun our search for a fulltiming rig, and still had no idea what we wanted.

There were so many variables, in fact, at times it seemed easier to give up our dream of fulltiming than to do what it would take to see it through. For a while, we just forgot about it. We had to, if we were to stay sane. We had to live our lives in the moment in order not to wish the years away.

But just as there are events that can derail the dream, there are also those that push it forward. Our kids managed to stay on course, we sold the BAH and did not lose money, and the recovering economy found our lost investments. And amazingly, we found Scoopy. More than anything else, this propelled us forward. With our fulltiming rig purchased and everything else seemingly on track, our thoughts turned to going fulltime as soon as possible.

So here we are, five years after my blog post, and in five months, we will hit the road as fulltimers. That's not to say we don't have a ton of work left to do, because we still have a house and all that stuff. We still have two kids going off to college. But at least now, we have a plan. A great plan.

4/25 - Steven's last day at work

5/30 - Linda's last day at work

6/2 -   Linda's mom arrives to help go through stuff

6/7 -   Linda's dad arrives to help go through stuff

6/13 - Zac & Tara graduate from High School

6/16 - Linda's Mom & Dad drive off in a U-Haul taking our stuff to Texas

6/27 - Estate Sale

6/28 - Estate Sale

6/29 - Stage the house

6/30 - The house goes on the market

7/2 -   Steven moves Tara to San Diego for college

8/1  -  Move into Scoopy

8/2 -   Move furniture into Zoe's apartment in Bellingham

8/3  -  Move furniture into Zac's apartment (location unknown right now)

8/15 - Hit the road

Of course, there's so much to do in order to make all this happen, but at least we have a plan. Send us your Mojo, we need all the help we can get!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Top Ten Reasons Fulltiming is Right for Me

TOP-10    In no particular order...

1. Forced downsizing.
Not everyone gets the opportunity to declutter all the precious belongings accumulated in a life. As I get older, I find that I need less stuff. Most of us probably feel this way at one time or another but when you are forced to go from a fairly large house to a tiny space, you are faced with a lot of hard decisions. Basically our rule is: If you're not going to use it in the next month, it ain't coming on the road.

2. Travel, travel, travel
I'm originally from Ireland which is a small country so it's possible to see most of it in a relatively short time. You can drive from one end to the other in a matter of hours. The US, on the other hand, is a whole different enchilada. I feel like we could travel for an entire lifetime and still have new experiences. I can't wait to see this great country!

3. Food
Linda and I are both food lovers. It's easy to just opt for pre-packaged junk when you have a typical busy family existence. Linda has been good about food choices but I have been remiss. We have promised each other that preparing healthy food will be a big part of our new lifestyle. I'm excited to try new things and spend afternoons cooking with our favorite music blasting through the speakers!

4. Photography
I love photography (duhr!) and the opportunities that are available while traveling are limitless. I plan on documenting our travels in photographs and video. I'm particularly eager to get some aerial shots with my newly acquired quadcopter camera. I also recently bought a GoPro camera for when we create some fun video blogs. Discovering new places will inject new life into my creative world.

5. Time with my partner
Yes, Linda and I have been living together for almost 18 years now but, with all the hustle and bustle of family life, we rarely get quality time together. At the end of a busy day doing our own thing, we both just want to veg out in front of the TV. Living in close quarters on the road will bring us closer together as we will share more of our lives with each other.

6. A simple life
The idea of not only simplifying our possessions but also our minds is so appealing to me. Although we are not exactly camping in the traditional sense, we are still getting outdoors a lot more and it will be a so much easier for us to have structure in our days. Funny enough, it's the simple things that will make me smile. For instance, if I put something in the fridge I will actually find it exactly there the next day. Not so with a family of five...things tend to go missing and during interrogation, no one admits guilt. Reducing all of this down to two people in a small space eradicates this problem.

7. Trash
My kids take out the trash once a week. They have never done it without a reminder from me. If I forget, we will have two weeks worth of trash lying around. I hate being the trash nazi so the idea of taking out a teeny little bag and placing it in the campsite dumpster and never have to worry about trash night again makes me giddy.

8. Reading books
The last time I had or made time to read books was years and years ago. I'm definitely a product of our modern age where I am happy to read little bytes of info and be done. The only books I read these days are user manuals for my photographic equipment. I'm really looking forward to just having the time in my simple life to read a book or two without distraction.

9. Learning how to take care of my home
I've never been much of a handyman and any house I've owned has been a burden to maintain. The scale of everything is just too big. I can become an expert at one thing while another thing fails. I have vowed to get to know all of the relatively simple systems in our motorhome. Everything on this smaller scale seems way more doable to me. Being in control of all things and understanding the inner workings of Scoopy's machinations is something I look forward to.

10. No lawn!!
We lived in a huge house on Pine Lake not too long ago. We never really got around to doing any kind of landscape design so most of the acre of land was grass. Sometimes it would take an entire weekend just to get all the grass cut and cleared. I loved it for a while because I was the captain of my ship when I was sitting on my John Deere tractor mower but I soon got sick of it because it consumed the only days I had off in the week. When we moved into our current home, the grass demands where far less. Quantity of grass, however, was replaced with a challenging hill in the front yard. Pushing the mower up that hill on a summer's day was not my idea of fun. Anyway, I hate mowing grass so not having a lawn to take care of... WINNING!!

There are so many more great things about fulltiming, of course, and this blog post could go on to infinity. Just know that we couldn't be more thrilled with our decision to give up sticks and bricks for a home on wheels.

To quote from one of our favorite singers-  “Drive it like you stole it, Park it like it’s rented”: Shotgun by Sheryl Crow

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Scoopy Gets Road-Ready

When last we blogged of our adventures with Scoopy, we were celebrating our first RV-style Thanksgiving holiday in a wonderful lakefront setting with our entire family of five in attendance. It seems like forever ago, and I guess it was, because here we are nearly three months later and we have not spent another night in our beloved home away from home. That would, under normal circumstances, make us very sad, but the past few weeks with Scoopy have been anything but normal. We do miss her dearly, but lately, she's been very busy and has had little time for us!

As you know, Scoopy is a beautiful and well-maintained rig, but beyond the routine care and keeping, she also appreciates a bit of extra attention. Not just a cut and color, but a new style. Perhaps a little nip and tuck, a bit of Botox here and maybe some Juvederm there. And why not? She works hard and she deserves it. So let's just say that for the past few weeks, Scoopy has been enjoying a well-deserved "spa" vacation, m'kay?

While at the spa, Scoopy's modified sine wave inverter will be replaced with a new Magnum 2812 pure sine wave inverter, along with four brand new Lifeline AGM batteries. These upgrades were necessary to support Scoopy's new residential refrigerator, a stainless steel 18 cubic ft. Samsung french door model. She'll get a few more electrical outlets, a new kitchen faucet, a few LED lights, some new shelves, and a few other minor upgrades here and there. She'll also get a new Thetford Aria Classic china toilet, which is a huge upgrade from the Thetford 135 we had in Alfred Hitchpop. We used the T-135 mainly as a wine cooler and bedside table, so this changes everything!

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Linda inspects our residential fridge.            Our spiffy new faucet.

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New LED lights are installed above our kitchen cabinet and living room.                                                       

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A toilet that fits our requirements!           Removeable separators.       4 brand new Lifeline batteries.

Additionally, Scoopy's new companion, Toadie Hopper, a 2013 Chevy Sonic, will be fitted with a baseplate and wiring so the two can travel together harmoniously.

During our time in Scoopy over the last few trips, we paid extra attention to anything that seemed as though it could use some attention or an upgrade. We made a very extensive list and before we turned Scoopy over to the RV Spa, we emailed them our list. They took each item very seriously, and now when we call in and identify ourselves, we hear, "oh, you're the six-pager". Yes, we have six detailed pages of stuff for them to check out. I tell you that for a reason. Before we even adopted Scoopy we knew we wanted a residential refrigerator. When I researched shops in our area, I came across one in particular that caught my attention, Auburn-Kent Valley RV Center.

Auburn-Kent Valley RV Center. If you are in Washington and need repairs – go here!

I went to the "About Us" page, and this is what I read:
A long long time ago and far away (but not really) we used to work for a small RV dealer (that is true). That dealer came upon some financial difficulties and decided to close their business. Then we thought, well, now what? Since we all liked working together and knew each other so well we thought that maybe, just maybe, we could start up our own repair center and stick together.  Looking at the alternatives it made sense. We could sit around and collect unemployment or do something about it ourselves. We looked and looked for property but everything we found was either too big or too small.  Then we talked to the landlord of the space we used to work in and lo and behold he needed someone too! Well, we worked out a deal and then we moved in. We cleaned and we painted and we cleaned and we painted some more.  It took awhile to get the word out but thanks to our customers they have been more than helpful in spreading the word. We have been busy ever since. We give thanks every day things have worked out allowing us to stay together and stay employed in these hard times and we feel we are on the right track. So now you know!

How can you not appreciate that story? So I fired off an email and asked whether or not they could install a residential refrigerator. The owner, Tami, forwarded my email to Jeff, asking if he could reply to me with details. Jeff replied, and from that moment on, we were bonded. Consider this: we had not yet adopted Scoopy, yet Jeff sent multiple and detailed responses to my "newbie" questions. He even offered suggestions on storage and maintenance. It was months later that I contacted him with our detailed list. Let's just say that when the time came for us to choose a "Spa" for Scoopy, there was no doubt.

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Jeff shows us the back of our old fridge. Some mild burn marks could have been a problem in the future.

It was sometime after that we checked them out on and found that Auburn-Kent Valley RV Center is not only tied for the greatest number of reviews, but also for the number of most "excellent" reviews in the entire state of Washington. I have every confidence that when Scoopy checks out of her stay at the spa, our review will put them in first place.

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Scoopy will be glad to be out of rehab!

Were there items on our wishlist that we didn't get? Yep, a couple or three. But we learned a lot in the process of trying to make these changes.
Captain's Chairs:  We wanted to upgrade Scoopy's captain's chairs to new one that included integrated shoulder seat belts. What we found out was that the manufacturer of Scoopy's chairs, Flexsteel, will only provide replacement chairs if they are exactly like the existing ones. Apparently, it's a liability thing. So the only way we were going to get new Captain's chairs with integrated seat belts was if we purchased used, or an off-brand. Let's just say we saved ourselves about $3k by crossing this item off our list.

Early prototypes for the captain’s chairs. Sadly we could not make it so.

Dishwasher: Don't be throwing shade at me for this one - I will not even apologize for trying to get this upgrade in Scoopy. I hate washing dishes. I was absolutely willing to let go of our propane oven if I could replace it with a Fisher-Paykel dish drawer. Anyway, it didn't happen. The oven and stovetop are connected, and if I want a dish drawer I have to replace the entire stovetop. I was still thinking about this when Steven piped up and promised that he would be my dishwasher. Each and every reader of this blog is now my witness, so let's not ever let him off the hook.

Back-up camera: Before trading in Ace Yukon for little Toadie Hopper, I was totally reliant on my back-up camera. I felt it was vital to have one in Scoopy. Yeah, nothing changes "vital" to "luxury item" faster than an outrageous price estimate.

In the end, to (mis)quote Mick Jagger, we may not have gotten everything we wanted, but we absolutely got everything we need.