Living with Lucille

Monday, May 20, 2013

RVing, Star Wars Edition: The Phantom Menace and A New Hope

So, after our last optimistic post with Bill and Jefferson, our handyman heroes, it rained. Not much, but enough to make us realized the roof was still leaking.

You must understand, there's little that creates more sturm und drang in RVers' lives than a leak. When water finds its way from outside to the inside, there's more at stake than ones possessions and a dry place to sleep. In particular, older models of RVs have coach bodies that are constructed from plywood and framed out with wood, rather than newer models which are usually entirely aluminum. So, little Lucy has wooden framing and walls, and if water finds its way in there, it's very difficult to get out, and therefore, can lead to mold, mildew, and ultimately rot. Catching a leak early is crucial to maintaining the integrity of one's RV, and protecting it from the Phantom Menace of leaks. (See what I did there?)

Well, we caught it. It's definitely been rained on a few times before we could repair it, but we seem to be able to keep drying things out. Jefferson and Bill repaired the window on Saturday morning, and ran a hose along the window, with no leaks. Hooray! We went along our merry way, fixing all the other things that can go wrong with a 20 year-old RV: do those awning arms lock? (Yes.) Why are they bending in the wind? (Because you didn't lock them.) Why won't the generator start up? (Don't know. Good thing we've got power.) Why did that fan stop working? (Fuse blew.) Wait, the microwave and AC just went off. OHMIGOD WE BROKE LUCILLE! (No. City power went out. Bill doesn't have power either. GET A GRIP, WOMAN.)

*whew* Seriously. If you're as dramatic as me, living in an older RV is an emotional rollercoaster.

Then, it rained Saturday night. And in the morning, we checked the overcab area: the Phantom Menace had risen again.  So much for our lazy Sunday. Jeff would spend 3 hours in the hot sun on the roof, patching with a different kind of sealant to see if the water was coming from higher up, and just escaping around the window.

But first, we made pancakes. Because when troubled by the Phantom Menace, a breakfast of coffee and pancakes is a handyman hero's superweapon.

Jefferson went roofward, and I went into the RV to struggle with Crankers McCrankypants, who had gone several days taking really crappy naps, if any at all. It was a long day. When folks asked me if we were EXCITED about moving into an RV, I always said yes, but with the caveats that at times, it would suck, and that the first 2 weeks would probably be the hardest. I recalled those comments later in the evening, and Jefferson said, "yeah, I believed you, but I didn't think it would be quite this hard." We both went to bed feeling a bit discouraged about the state of Lucy, saddened by McCrankypants' difficulty with the transition to RV living, and teething, and not nursing to sleep, and not napping in a swing, and generally wondering if we had made a big mistake.

Monday Morning:
Jeff went back to the hospital this morning. I woke up at 6am to the sound of heavy rain on the RV. I ever-so-gently crept around a SLEEPING BABY in my bed, extracted myself without waking her, and snuck up into the overcab area to check the leak. It was damp, but I was pretty sure that was the day before. I checked again at 8am (baby still sleeping!), and no pooled water. Just checked again at 9am and there was only a few drops where the leak is. Now we're getting somewhere. A New Hope springs forth! Hopefully in the next few days, before we leave the RV for a week in storage, we'll be able to get the leak taken care of completely. Meanwhile, forecast calls for rain every day, so we'll have plenty of chances to check it.

Oh, and did I mention Addie slept until 9:10am?

Looks like Monday morning is the new Saturday afternoon. A new hope, indeed.

Saturday, May 18, 2013


We were warned before we embarked that RV folk are generally helpful and pleasant people.  It's not that I don't believe such statements, more that I take generalizations with a grain of salt.  Not every camper at the Pikeville municipal RV park has fit that description.  There's a trailer next to us which houses six, yes six, plumbers who do not wave or reply to a "hello."  (I might not be too happy living with five other dudes in a trailer, so I guess I understand.)  There is a retired couple here from Michigan visiting family who pretty much  do fit the stereotype.  The other day they loaded us up with leftover homemade chili and hamburger buns.  He's a retired contractor who worked for facilities management at a state university, a self described "jack of all trades and master of none."

With our recent leak in the front window of the RV, we've been outside standing on the hood of the RV pondering where the water is coming in, applying and removing the tarp, etc.  Without needing an invitation, Bill has offered caulk, a hair dryer, various tools, a garden hose, and manual labor to assist with fixing the leak.  Looks like we now have it under control.  Thanks, Bill!

In other news, here are some gratuitous, adorable "Addie in the RV" photos.

Gumming a measuring bowl
Gumming a teething toy

Gumming a bib
Gumming her hand
Almost pulling up and out

Friday, May 17, 2013

A few additions

Pikeville (pronounced "PAHK-vll") has been pretty good to us so far. Aside from the SNAFUs already mentioned, we are having a good time, and this is very beautiful country.  Although Megan's post is titled "Week 1," this is actually week 2 for me.  Week 1 for Papa was spent in Jenny Wiley State Park and commuting 40 minutes each way to Pikeville Medical Center.  Other than missing Megan and Addie, I'm seriously not complaining here.  The campground was fun, the weather comfortable, and I got to witness several games of cornhole.  ("Throw 'em back, J.R.!")  Here's a photo of the cheap tent and 1989 MR-2 which I called home for Week 1.  Obviously the motorhome is a huge upgrade.

This would have been awesome in 1989.
Having now completed two weeks of my clinical assignment (out of five total), I've gained several experiences which I had thus far found very difficult to find in Richmond.  That was much of the impetus for this adventure actually.  That and finding a craigslist post for a 1988 Holiday Rambler motorhome, thinking it looked like a bus, and thinking I needed to own it.  We did not end up buying that RV, but a different one which is in much better shape.  Anyway, in two weeks at the hospital I've been able to give anesthesia for an aortic valve replacement, several cesarean sections, and perform several peripheral nerve blocks, all of which had proven elusive in Richmond.  It helps that there is only one other senior student here, and P.M.C. has a very busy OR.

Just a couple more photos for now because it is getting late.

The fam
Perhaps my favorite thing about this particular photo is that a stranger approached us with open arms, as if to say "hand over that baby."  We are pretty compliant with those requests, and we let them hold Addie until she cried.  The stranger then took our picture.

And of course, here's one with the RV as it currently exists with a tarp over the leaky window.  We promise to be less trashy very soon.

Did you know that "tarp" is short for "tarpaulin?"

Pikeville, KY: Week 1

We set off with Lucille on Saturday, May 11th after an arduous moving of all of our "we-live-in-a-2-bedroom-house" belongings into a smattering of friends' homes, parents' basements, and distant storage units. Two bits of advice:
     1. When you "reserve" a moving truck, make sure it's an actual reservation, rather than some mystical promise of unicorn-like moving equipment that will disappear only 2 hours before your scheduled pick-up, leaving you "moving" without a "truck" because your "reservation" wasn't an actual reservation.
    2. Do not let your smug self-satisfaction of your supremely efficient packing of your storage unit distract you from checking to make sure that said unit has a latch that can be locked on it. Otherwise, all those perfectly positioned earthly possessions will be stacked into a unit that CANNOT BE LOCKED. If this happens, don't panic. Sit on the edge of your empty moving truck, and drink a warm beer.

After a stopover in Blacksburg on Saturday night and a fine breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes provided by our excellent host Old Man Kelly, we took to 460 West, the weather glorious, the views stupendous, and the baby... well, she did just fine, considering everything. Pulled up in the City of Pikeville RV Park, hooked up the electric and water, and since Jeff starts at the hospital in the morning, we put the baby to bed, and packed it in. The real work started tomorrow.

Captain's Log, Day 1: Monday in Pikeville, KY

Finding a place for the things of 3 human beings in a 27-foot motorhome is no easy feat, but we managed. After removing one of the on-board "lounge" chairs in the coach to make room for the nursery (*ahem* Pack 'n' Play), we found stowage for Addie's Things. Ohsomany things a baby requires. Cloth diapers, wipes, clothes, burp cloths, swaddle blankets, diaper lotion, toys, books, changing pad, sippee cup. Even with our modest packing, Addie's stuff takes up a fair bit of space. By comparison, our clothing items fit in the back bedroom with room to spare.  Our "office" items are limited to our laptops and one file box with important papers, a few paper clips, and a stapler. No books. No media. No knickknacks. Only the essentials.

Oh, and then there's the kitchen.

When it comes to material possessions, I am not a collector of things, but I have a weakness for kitchen doo-dads. However, to my great shock (and Jefferson's delight) I have managed to pack a PERFECTLY APPROPRIATE AMOUNT of cooking tools, dinnerwear, and pantry items into our new home.  (Jefferson made me leave the 6 quart cast-iron Lodge dutch oven at home. He's very smart.)
Monday supper was sweet potato-black bean tacos, our first motorhome-made meal.

Captain's Log, Day 2: Long Day's Journey into Naptime
Addie is awesome, but I'll be honest: she sucks at sleeping during the day. It's gotta be DARK, it's gotta be QUIET. How do you achieve this in a 27-foot RV, and still have somewhere to be? Turns out: lots of blackout curtains.  Naptime goes like this:  asleep for 30 minutes, awaken crying. Spend 1 hour trying to get her to fall back asleep. Give up. Deal with pissy baby for 2 hours. Try again. Sleep for 30 minutes, wash, rinse, repeat. Do not get groceries. Do not pass go. Do not cook dinner. Proceed directly to Dairy Cheer for Smashburgers and milkshakes. Actually, "Smasharue" burgers, which are fully loaded, but also include the bonus of scary cheddar cheese sauce and bacon bits. Feel considerably better about Day 2.

Captain's Log, Day 3 & 4: Wednesday & Thursday
Aside from Jeff's bike's affliction of flat tires (!), we start to settle in. We find a rhythm. Addie sleeps a bit longer. I FINALLY figure out how to put out the awning and pull it in again (a very complicated process requiring an advanced mechanical engineering degree or MENSA membership). Addie chills in her bouncer on the concrete pad on a little rug, bouncing and smiling like a fiend. The whole thing is pretty freakin' adorable.

Wednesday dinner is smashed chickpea pasta salad, and Thursday we have bison burgers on the grill and a big green salad. Lots of beer. Jeff has Friday off, so we stay up late (10pm!!) chatting in the back, delighted with our adventure.

Captain's Log, Day 5: Wherein Our Parade is Rained Upon
Everything was going splendidly. Went for our first hike with Addie in the morning, up a giant radiotower road. I swear, the last half mile we climbed 400 feet. I got my heart rate up for the first time since 2012, and Jefferson, LIKE A BOSS, wore Addie in a backpack all the way up and down. Thunderstorms were forecast for afternoon, and the weather delivered. A good long, strong rain shower for about an hour. Addie and I were snug in the RV while Jefferson visited his new barber, Jimmy. Songs were sung. Toys were chewed. Fun was had by all. Once the rain stops, we'll go to the laundromat to do our pile of dirty diaper laundry.

Until we checked that spot up by the overcab window. You know the one. The one we thought we'd fixed a few weeks back. Erm, not so much. Actually, more like, water trickling into our RV, water working its way into the wooden walls, finding it's way into our "attic" space.  NOT GOOD, PEOPLE. Jeff triaged the situation, soaking up the incoming stream with cloth-diaper-burp-cloths while I called the nearest RV repair shop. The tarp is re-purposed as a temporary roof band-aid, because of course, chance of showers for the next 4 days. Jeff hustles to the RV repair shop to get some info and materials for resealing the window. Laundry will fester in the trunk of the Mazda for another day, and we console ourselves with a (delicious) supper of drunken beans with tortillas and avocados.

 No really, it's gonna be FINE. Good thing our neighbors, Bill and Sheila, are handy with RV repairs. And are willing to lend us their hair dryer.