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Behind the 4th wall of RV life- Volume 1

Hi, my name is Scott, and I'm the other half of the "Paint The States" crew. Unlike Liz, whose primary job is to use her amazing talents to show off our beautiful country, my job is to support her in every way possible - that means handling the "behind the scenes" work. Lately, most of my time has been focused on getting the RV ready to hit the road.

a large class A motorhome towing a smaller white van on a trailer.
Our home on wheels, towing our van.

I have no previous RV experience, but I used to drive buses, and I've worked as a mechanic for most of my life. So, the trick for me is to learn how the RV does what it's supposed to do, and then make sure those things happen.

Our RV is designed to go on the road and run "off the grid" for extended periods of time. This will help allow Liz and I the opportunity to stay in places where people wouldn't normally stay, except if they were camping. The cool part is, we'll have all of the comforts of "home" while "camping" in some really remote locations.

Staying in an RV while off the grid is called "Boondocking". While Boondocking, your primary limitations are: fresh water supply, waste water storage, and fuel (propane and gasoline). The RV carries 100 gallons of fresh water, but only stores about 40 gallons of "black water" (from the toilet) and 40 gallons of "grey water" (from the kitchen sink and shower). The RV carries 80 gallons of gasoline, which gives us fuel to move the RV, but is also used to power a 5500 watt generator which creates enough power to run our heavy draw electrical appliances, like the microwave oven and the air conditioners. The RV also carries 24 gallons of propane for running the refrigerator and the water heater while off grid, and fuels an on-board furnace in case it's cold out. We also have 200 amp hours of useable battery storage for running RV specific 12 volt appliances (most of the interior lights and TVs run on this power), and a 1000 watt inverter to convert battery power into the equivalent of household current for smaller appliances which require it. Amp hours is a battery term used to rate the storage capacity of a battery. Every device has an Amperage rating, to tell how many amps the device will use per hour. So, for example, our TVs run on the batteries, and are rated at 6 amps. If we divide 200 by 6, theoretically we could watch TV for 33 hours before the batteries would need to be recharged. Of course, we wouldn't just be watching TV, but at least this gives you an idea of how much battery storage we have.

The longer we want to stay in one place, the more we'll need to be careful with our supplies. 100 gallons of water is a LOT of water for two people - if you conserve it. Showers need to be quick and to the point, you can't run the water while you brush your teeth, or wash dishes, etc. On the other hand, waste water storage is also a problem. We need to watch how the waste tanks are filling up as much as how the fresh water tank is emptying. Waste water must be disposed of properly. So, if we're Boondocking, once we run out of fresh water, fill up one of the two waste tanks, run out of propane, or run low on gasoline, we have to break camp and resupply.

The cool part about Boondocking, is that you can do it almost anywhere the RV can go. So far, all of our Boondocking has been overnight stops in parking lots while getting the RV from Florida to Massachusetts. Stores like Walmart don't mind you using their parking lot overnight, as long as you're gone the next morning (no camping or extended stays). We can also rent sites in RV parks which give us connections to electricity, fresh water, and sewerage. RV parks also give you access to cable TV and WiFi, and theoretically we could stay there indefinitely, but RV parks also charge rent for their spaces. We'll be spending some of our time in RV parks and some of our time Boondocking.

So this will be a whole new way of life for Liz and I, never having lived in an RV before. As the blog continues on, I'll talk more about the RV and what we're doing to get it ready to hit all 50 states, and other "behind the scenes" info about our "Paint The States" tour! - Scott


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