“So far it’s been a pretty difficult process.” That’s what I heard RV Jedeye say on his latest video when he was recapping his RV renovation experience.
And I just had to laugh. I mean, what a wonderful way to put it, “pretty difficult process.” Like RV Jedeye, I have also done an RV renovation.
In fact, it started in November and only God knows when it will end. We’ve rebuilt walls, torn apart our kitchen, replaced carpet with vinyl, ripped out cabinets, you get the picture. But there is still so much left to do. It seems like this little project of ours will never end.
Hang on. Here I am rambling on and on about my RV woes and I haven’t even introduced myself!
Hi! I’m Liz Wilcox. I live stationary in a 36′ Alfa See Ya 5th wheel with my husband and my 2 year old daughter. Oh, and my dog too. We absolutely love it and are working towards hitting the road full-time in just over a year (woohoo!). When we do become a full-time travel family, we will be downsizing from this beast.
This means our RV renovation needs to be spot-on in order to sell our rig.
But perfection is far from reality.
The paint job could be fixed. The floor is in desperate need of trim. And there’s a hole in one of the above storage compartments because well, sometimes life doesn’t go as planned, amirite?
I remember the last time we tried to get anything done with the RV renovation. I was touching up the paint job and my husband was trying to get some trim work done around our newly-lowered, storage-cabinet-turned-toddler-loft-bed. We were laughing and things were going as well as expected.
Sure, I was painting in a less-than-comfortable manner, but I was getting the job done and that’s all that mattered to me. I just wanted this RV renovation to be over. I just wanted to go back to life before paint cans and drill bits.
But of course, the universe had other plans.
As RV Jedeye puts it, things began to get “pretty difficult.”
My husband’s trim job just wasn’t adding up. And my added paint to the corners of the cabinets seemed to do nothing for my desperate cause to… get paint in the corners. (Seriously RV manufacturers?! What were you thinking with this “wood tape” stuff, anyway?”
And while I decided to go with the old adage “it is what it is,” my husband decided to try to force “it” to be something different. He began to really hammer, trying to get the trim in place. With each strike, it seemed as if the wood had the rebellious side of my toddler and was screaming “No. I do not want that nail here. NOOOOOOOO!” That’ when that hole in the wood came in to place (see above).
And in these situations, you just have to laugh.
And so I did.
I started laughing. It couldn’t be helped. I looked up at my husband and was reminded of Jim Carrey in that Liar Liar movie. You know the scene, when he beats himself up and later the judge asks “Who did this to you?”
And he responds,
“A desperate man at the end of his pitiful rope!!”
My husband was that desperate man. And while he saw little humor in the situation, I saw loads of it. Imagine with me for a second, would you?
Here we were, two completely inexperienced and clueless people standing in our 5th wheel (that we bought on a complete whim) trying to renovate it and make it look presentable so we could sell it. There were paint cans everywhere, drills, saws, nails, blood, sweat, tears, all that good stuff. Things weren’t going our way and hadn’t been for over 6 months.
What started as a simple “let’s get rid of this carpet” had turned into a never-ending nightmare RV renovation project that both of us had been avoiding like the plague all summer.
Seriously, look at the video below. We had high hopes of recording the whole RV renovation thing but this rant about how crazy it’s making me is about as far as we got..
Looking back on the last 9 months of my life
We’ve been in our RV for almost a year now and the 3/4 of the time has been spent working on fixing broken parts, painting ugly cabinets, and ignoring what isn’t finished. There have been days I’ve thought “what the heck have we done?!” and wished we had never started this RV renovation process in the first place.
And why shouldn’t I feel this way? I thought we’d be done by Christmas and here we are in back-to-school season! What the heck went wrong? (Oh wait, I can answer that!)
What went wrong:
- Fixed kitchen water damage only to find the back wall of the 5th wheel needed to be 100% replaced due to leakage from the outside ladder.
- Husband only had help for a few days to fix this. It took more than a few days.
- We have a very curious and very involved toddler on our hands. Seriously, I can hardly help with any project while she’s around and we’re military, so no family around to babysit.
- While my husband is SUPER handy, he’s inexperienced. He has had to use the “learn as you go” method for just about everything. He’s an air traffic controller, definitely a job far from carpentry.
- My husband has a full-time, very stressful job. There are many days the RV renovation just has to wait.
- We painted, at first, with a matte finish. This is apparently the DUMBEST thing you could ever do in your LIFE. It took about 3 days of hard work to get most of the RV finished and about 3 seconds to notice that holy cow! We needed something more durable. YEP. We had to repaint everything. That was back at the end of January. There are still some cupboard doors that need to be painted.
- We got burnt out. And by we, I mean my husband. He works a full-time job then comes home to an energetic toddler and a tired wife. He worked super hard every day for about 2 months. Now it’s on and off again whenever I flip out and say “OHMYGOSHICANTLIVELIKETHIS!” Never do an RV renovation/overhaul with just one dedicated person. My poor husband. I’ve begged him to hire someone to finish all these silly little details. I think he’s about 70% convinced.
But then I have to remember without this RV renovation idea things could be a lot worse.
This whole thing has been a disaster because of the water damage we found. It really set my husband’s plans to work in December when I was out of town wayyyyy back.
We found it before things had started to rot in a disgusting way, before mold had crept in. We got to it before it had ruined the floor and started to cave things in. And for that, we are blessed.
We’ve managed to prolong our 5th wheel’s life for who knows how long as well as have documented the repairs for future buyers. Fixing the water damage helps us guarantee the security of the unit when we decide to sell in the next 3-6 months. And we love it for these reasons.
RV life isn’t perfect, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.
Since going through hell and back with this RV renovation, I have a newfound respect and appreciation (some might say obsession) for all things nightmarish when it come to this lifestyle. Call it crazy, call it my sick great sense of humor, but I think there’s a lot to look back on and laugh about.
It seems there are so many out there trying to sell “the dream of full-time travel” but they never mention the terrible travel days, or how plans went awry, and you’d definitely never catch them sharing the time they got there sewage hose contents sprayed all over them!
I say, to heck with that! Let’s share those stories and have a laugh. No life is perfect, and while I absolutely love tiny living and can’t wait to gain my “full-time traveler” status, I know even the RVers rolling down the highway in a 2 million dollar motorcoach, still gotta hook up their black tank just like the rest of us.
That’s why I compiled a new book called Tales From the Black Tank
Tales From the Black Tank is a collection of hilariously crappy RV stories. I got the idea after all this RV renovation craziness. I just knew there were other people out there with outrageous but funny RVing stories, and I wanted to make it my mission to put them all in one place for the RVing community to enjoy.
You see, I feel like the modern RVer (and dreamer) has a lot of DIY content and “top 10” lists, but there’s nothing out there simply for laughs, simply to make you feel better about your decision to RV (part-time, full-time, whatever.) That’s why I gathered these stories.
Not because misery loves company, but because there’s strength in numbers! No one in the “real world” really understands the “wheel world.” You can’t call your best friend up at his office job and tell him the “funny story about how you had to drag your portable black tank up a hill in the dark with your son” and expect him to laugh! He’d call you bonkers and ask when you were coming home.
But an RVer would understand and have a good chuckle with you.
And that’s what Tales From the Black Tank is. It’s a collection of 14 RVing stories that aren’t picture-perfect, that don’t make the “instagram cut,” but are real life and real hilarious for RVers.
Just like my RV renovation.
Do you have an “RV nightmare” to share?
I’d love to hear it! Like I said, I’m obsessed! Drop it in the comments and we can laugh together.
Author bio: Author of Tales From the Black Tank, Liz Wilcox isn’t afraid to dig deep for a story (or self-publish.) Armed with an RV obsession and a dream, she’s blazing the trail for a new kind of RV site she calls The Virtual Campground. Find out more about Liz and her fierce dedication to RVer entertainment over at lizwilcox.com/about.