Sanity Tried in RV Prep

I have a lot to write about. I’ve been busy. Really, really busy.

In the beginning

Since I met a man named “Thomas,” my life will never been the same. Good ol Tommy sold us the RV we’re now traveling in. Mark and I rolled up to the LA valley one fine afternoon to meet Tom and see our soon to be RV after searching various websites for weeks. We had found ones here and there, but we had to be particular about the quality and price of the RV…we are running a very low budg operation, after all.
Looking through rose-colored glasses this day in Northridge, we were able to see our home despite the decor akin to Glamour Shots backgrounds that Fleetwood thought was stylish circa 1996. I asked all

Glamour Shots. HOT.

the right questions, even checked the serpentine belt and fluid levels (because I’m from Detroit and badass). Thomas, an LA business owner, seemed an honest man with RV experience, indicating things that he had replaced and wanted to replace, but hadn’t had the time yet.

Not so hot...

So we bought it.

And took it home.

And then to the DMV.

The DMV is a horrible organization that sucks the souls out of human beings. Like dementors. It is there where the shit storm officially began:

  • Mark learned the registration had not been paid in THREE YEARS and there were $650 of penalty fees alone that somehow we were now responsible for. Dick move for glossing over this fact, business-owner Tom. Idiot move, Mark and Jackie for not looking at the license plate tag, which read “2008.”
  • The same day of the DMV visit, the orange “check engine” light came on. Hey RV, I checked your engine yesterday when we bought you.

Go away!


  • The next morning when Mark moved the RV from the driveway to the street (to the chagrin of all the neighbors) I noticed a thick smoke emerge from the muffler. I felt this would not bode well for the smog check.

    RV > Bono?


There was no cup holder to be found in the front seat. BUT HOW WOULD I DRINK MY DIET COKE?! I decided direct injection into my veins would be too expensive and began having a nervous break down that the home we had purchased to live in for the next year was nothing more than a giant shitmobile worthy of being measured by Zürich’s European Faecal Standards and Measurements Institute.

In an effort to make me feel less terrible about all the bad things wrong with the rig, I decided I would begin focusing on all the fun stuff, like the decor.

Before it got better, it got worse. As I mentioned, the RV was outfitted with less than acceptable decor– white walls embellished with pale pink and blue flowers, green velvet cupboard panels, and vomit inducing teal and purple swirl curtains. I wanted to banish these eyesores as soon as possible, but not before finding large amounts of mold on the under side of the mattresses and water damage underneath the carpeting I pulled up.

I chucked all of these things out of the side door. Cushions, rubber mats, carpets went flying out. I was a mad woman. Mark came home from work and after assessing the pile of carnage strewn outside of the RV stated “nothing seems to be going be in the RV.” With a crazed look in my eye I responded “Nope. This is my personal vendetta against Thomas. I will not stop until every remnant of his existence in this place is deleted.”

See how I prime!

Mark brought me a glass of wine shortly after this interaction. I married a highly intelligent man.

I bleached and 409’d every inch of the jalopy and things actually started looking and smelling better inside. Meanwhile, we ordered a new mattress (with a cut corner) and took the car for a smog check, where I prayed to every deity I could think of. Thank God/Jesus/Allah/Buddha/Zeus/Shiva/Ra/Tom Cruise we passed! N&N Smog Check in Altadena were incredibly nice people who also helped us through the “Check Engine” light situation, which turns out is not an immediately necessary issue. They even introduced us to our sign-makers, A&G signs.

Original concept made better by Luis at A&G Signs. You are the bomb.com.




I called the DMV, explained our situation and got the most helpful person in the entire existence of the department of motor vehicles. This woman was sans-attitude AND even RESEARCHED through the vehicle codes to find the ones that would help us out of our penalties. A mini miracle, I say.

My mother-in-law and my sister-in-law crafted new curtains, working endlessly like Jaq and Gus the mice from Cinderella. I channeled my inner Bob Villa and primed and painted, re-caulked the bathroom, reinstalled and added some carpeting, and most importantly tea stained pieces of our favorite books, framed them and hung them in the bathroom. My brother-in-law put in some cedarwood to help with smells.


And as for the cupholder, there was one inside the ashtray.

Calm has been restored for now and this baby is livable!  We’re still dealing with a few things like how to make the water warm, how to make the bathroom (dubbed “The Room of Requirement”) not smell like dirty baby diapers, and how to get a muffler for our generator, but this is a learning experience. A tedious, dirty, smelly, but totally worth it learning experience.

Finished photos:






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6 Responses to “Sanity Tried in RV Prep”

  1. On September 9, 2011 at 12:57 am Jill responded with... #

    I always felt that my spirit animal was little Gus Gus. THIS POST NOW PROVES IT.

    • On September 9, 2011 at 5:57 pm Jackie responded with... #

      I’m envisioning Gus as your patronus. He shoots out of your wand (crafted by Peter from child’s clay and a paintbrush) and scurries away (even through staircases!). His tailoring happiness easily wards off dementors…and the DMV.

  2. On September 9, 2011 at 2:04 am DonnaP responded with... #

    As a fellow RV owner I felt your pain. Way to work it and make it right, Jackie! And nice move with the glass of wine, Mark. In fact, I need one just reading the story. :)

  3. On September 13, 2011 at 1:40 am Chris Mossman responded with... #

    Met you guys at Warrior Dash Oregon “Warrior Wedding” loved your bit about it, and thought this was personnaly moving cause i want an RV and this is why I haven’t delved down that path yet….bad used car X 1000 is my fear! Glad you busted it out and hit Warrior Oregon!

  4. On September 21, 2011 at 1:55 pm Margaret responded with... #

    I love you Jackie

  5. On December 12, 2011 at 3:28 pm Debra lives in 320 square feet! responded with... #

    I just saw your comment on Tiny House Blog, had to check your RV out. I love it! You did a great job.

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