The Test Drive

December 21, 2017 – continued.

So I walk into a dealership, and I tell the guy working there that I want to test-drive a big ass truck that I am going to need to pull my big ass camper. He looks at me like I am crazy.   I am a 5’5” 120lb little thing. I assure him I know its crazy, but this is what I am going to do, and no there is not a man coming in behind me to also partake in the driving of said Truck. I hold strong and he goes and gets someone to help me.   I am at this particular dealership to test drive a GMC 3500 dually. It is really nice with a Denali package. It also comes with a feature for lane departure. Your seat will vibrate if you cross the line without a signal on or if you are not paying enough attention to the road. The ride is smooth, but the dually is wide. I end up taking the truck for the afternoon and drive it over to my husbands office so he can check it out. But not before I take it through a drive-through for some lunch. I made it without hitting a rim or tire on the curb! This is worth congratulating, I took a selfie I was so proud.

Tino loved the truck – not sure what truck loving man wouldn’t. Its big and loud and sexy inside. And I was driving it… 😉   We knew this truck could pull any sort of 5th wheel or travel trailer we would buy. I flash a thought to my friend who has a truck and we always made fun of his parking choices. Always as far away from any other vehicle as he could get, possibly because he washed it 2-3 times per week if able? (LOVE YOU SHANE)

I had sent that selfie to some of my family and in the mean time my step-dad called and said “YOU DO NOT WANT A DUALLY.” I debated his points for a while because he drives a luxury Porsche, even though it does have 4-wheel drive for necessity, and everything I had read in my research says bigger is better in terms of truck. I conceded. The main reasons: it was going to be difficult to drive on a daily basis in town. Parking?!? Not so exciting. And more power than I needed. In the end I valued his opinion tremendously on this as he grew up on a working cattle ranch and has driven and bought all kinds of trucks.

Back to the dealership I went, returning the truck and letting them know I had other options to test drive. We went and looked at the second truck on the list; a slightly older Silverado 2500. After driving the Denali package there was no way I could forfeit the finer things it offered to save a little bit of money. Yes I am spoiled, but I worked hard to get to where I am.

In the end I went back to the first place, Ferguson GMC Buick, and bought a 2015 GMC HD 2500 Diesel Truck. She is beautiful and capable of pulling whatever I buy. (Again, I double checked my weights, towing ability, and the RV I wanted.) Now back to the RV dilemma. Tino did some digging and remembered the name of the company who had THE RV I liked. He called and was informed it had been offline because someone made an offer, but he was pretty sure their financing was going to fall through. Sorry for them, but this was all coming together for me. Except time was running low. The next day I took the boys to school and drove the hour south to look at the 5th wheel again. I took a lot of pictures and asked a lot of questions. Mainly comparing the brand and features to that of the competitor model I had seen earlier in the week. This fired up the owner and it was comical to hear his rants and obvious disdain for the other brand. He apparently used to sell that brand but stopped because of the poor customer service they received for their purchasers. That was all I needed to hear, my decision was made. But I left and would have Tino do the purchasing side because I was leaving for Florida and didn’t have time to drive down there again and deal with the process. I am over the process after the truck (3 days). Where are we going to store this thing once we do get it, if we get it now? I instructed Tino to have pick-up day after my trip. I would be gone for 12 days, a trip planned prior to the deployment and life changing decision, at the end of the week. After the trip we would be leaving in 3 weeks for ?? possibly ever??

Part of the Deployment preparation for Tino has turned into 4 weeks of training at Ft. Dix McGuire in New Jersey. Really? Now a 6month trip is 7 or more months gone. L Another month of no husband/father/adult to talk to… We are going with you! It was a logical decision. I really liked the idea of Tino being there for all the troubleshooting and learning process with the camper. Ya know, just to make sure I can do this all on my own hahahaha

My kid can miss a month of school right? Enter the next rabbit hole. Home schooling… Never in my life did I have a thought of homeschooling other than that’s “granola” and I would NEVER do that! (Obviously more on this later.) The short version of the month long development is it is second grade, it hardly matters, it is building on 1st grade and his spelling words were harder last year. He is a young one in his class, having started kindergarten at 4 years old. 3rd grade is when things get hard[er.] It would not even matter in the long run if he redid 2nd grade, but that would be nearly impossible as he is smart. His teachers were fine with the plan and have no worries about him and progression to 3rd grade. They outfitted me with all of his school workbooks, homework sheets, etc. We would home school for the month in New Jersey and figure out our long-term homeschool plan later.

The camper saga turned to be much more painful than the vehicle purchase. We needed a 5th wheel hitch. It was ordered. We needed a special kind of hitch because the truck is not a long bed and we have seen pictures of back windows and frames smashed. It was ordered. I wanted solar – it was ordered. A week, or two later I decided I NEEDED a generator – it was ordered.   It was winterized already; this needed to be “undone.” We also thought of parking it on the base and moving into it for a few days before we leave. Fewww more troubleshooting time and cheap storage.

Time kept ticking away, and departure date quickly approaching. Meanwhile I was packing up the personal items from the house and selling as much as I could part with. Think “whatever the name of the book is that helps people purge.” Haha. If it didn’t elicit joy and love, it could go. Mostly the items left via a Facebook moms group.   Some were consignment shop worthy, some I gave away, and some went to goodwill. I made $1000 purging. It felt great, and I can’t wait to purge more.   The boxed excess was stacked like a game of Tetris into the 3 storage closets in the basement in the house. Tino did not think it would fit and was convinced we would need a storage unit. I had to start a lot of it by myself since he was a non-believer. Did I mention I did a lot of it myself because he has had recent ACL surgery? We do not trust his knee completely yet, and he is in a brace for daily life.

We decided to leave the house furnished, less headache, less work now, and rent it out. We tried listing on Zillow and Trulia but had endless problems trying to list. Our address is not found because it is new construction and apparently takes around 2 years before its mapped. After a month we listed it on Airbnb and VRBO with hopes of a long-term rental.   It didn’t take long to have 2 families over the Thanksgiving holiday and 2 families through Christmas and New Years. Not a lot of volume but enough to pay the rent and utilities. We’d come back to the house in January for 2 weeks before Tino leaves for Iraq and figure the rest out then.

Things finally feel like they are coming together.   One puzzle piece at a time.

We picked up the camper in the beginning of November, brought it to the house and loaded it with the items I thought necessary to comfortably sustain life for 7-8 months of living. It took an hour or so because I had already loaded most of those boxes and purchased items and stacked them into the garage. Then we moved it to the “famcamp,” Family Camp, on the Air Force Academy. We organized our set up and underneath/outdoor storage areas, decided a lot more than could be purged or added and had our first social event. We took the camper to the Army-Air Force football game for a tailgate J We showed her off and learned how many people can fit – a lot! We tested battery capabilities, generator life, black water tank holding etc. It was a great learning experience. I also learned that leaving the 7-pin power plug plugged into the truck doesn’t kill the truck battery, oops.   It also tested the wind resistance, this day had 30+ mph winds with gusts well over that. Most of the flyovers for the game were cancelled. We rocked a little bit, and didn’t notice the rocking at all once entertaining with other people inside with us.

Fam camp set up and our first dinner in the camper 🙂

During this break-in week we also experienced running out of propane for the first time. It was a cold, cold evening with snow and wind. We promptly evacuated to the house for heat and comfort and refilled the propane tanks the next day. Talk about fair weather campers 🙂

I am not sure how many times I have said the following things since October:

  1. What did I get myself into?
  2. Why did you let me do this?
  3. Why didn’t I get the smaller 5th wheel?
  4. She is huge! (the camper)
  5. I must have lost my mind. Insanity.
  6. I love her! (the camper)
  7. This is going to be an awesome, crazy adventure.
  8. I am really doing this…

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