Welcome to the fleet, little buddy!

Do get ahold of yourself. This is not a birth announcement.

Nor is it a puppy announcement.

We’ve added something else to the family, and although it means we do in fact now own more, we can travel for part of the year with less, and there’s kind of a sweet little coincidence thrown in too.

It’s a lot less.
Like less-than-half less.

But first… my existential crisis

Own more, do more? Oy vey. Let me type through it.

We wanted this, it feels right, and we’re confident with the decision — which was a good two years in the making.

But I don’t know how to sit with “owning more” yet, and I feel like the more I try to justify it, the more it sounds like I’m making excuses.

So indulge me while I examine things with my head tilted and one eye squinched.

Even with the contents of our storage unit considered, we still own significantly less than we did before we downsized to our first RV in 2015 — from a 2900sf 4br 2.5ba house with a 2-car garage, a shed, 3 vehicles, all those sets of sheets and towels, 4 people’s worth of shoes and clothing, formal living and dining areas, multiple desks and dressers, and walk-in closets containing all the we-might-need-these-somedays.

At present, we own one vehicle. As for our “houses,” the 5th wheel offers up about 350 square feet of living space, and the truck camper… maybe 150? All the furniture came with (and stays with) them, and we can travel with only one of these boogers at a time.

Well, then.

No name change is forthcoming. Own Less Do More stays.

So why did we do it?

We’d started talking about it maybe a year after we traded in our old 5th wheel and moved into this Mobile Suites in 2018.

It’s really big, y’all. There are places we can’t take it because of its size. And at great risk of making the poor thing feel fat-shamed, we really thought we’d be happier if we had a more svelte companion.

A lot of places we’d like to go are remote, petite, or require travel along roads that are unsuitable for 60 feet and 10 tires worth of moving mayhem. Plus, we’ve got our eyes on RVing to Alaska in 2023, and although we know folks who’ve done it in large rigs, we’d prefer something more stealthy and streamlined, so that we have a wider selection of places to stay, minimal need to book sites in advance (we hope), and far less worry about banging the thing up a bit in the name of adventure (we hope again).

In a truck camper, we can squeeze in just about anywhere, and scratches and dents on an 8-year-old previously owned unit become the start of a good campfire story.

However, we aren’t ready to give up the comfort of using the 5th wheel as our home, nor are we ready to return to sticks-and-bricks living, so we think of the truck camper as our mobile summer cabin. Our plan is to take off for about 5 months of travel in it this April, so that we can get the feel for a season of use in the Lower 48 before we try schlepping up to Alaska next year.

Plus, we helped Tim’s folks do this same thing just a few months ago, and that definitely stoked the fire. We did first ask if we could borrow their truck camper for Alaska 2023, but those two actively traveling seniors weren’t yet ready or willing to relinquish the rights. They might still be using it themselves, and we quite honestly hope that’s the case, so we bought our own.

This is the one Tim’s folks bought (the in-law suite?).
Joke: Just how old does Tim have to be before his father will let him borrow his toys?
Apparently 55 is still too young.

Got some specs?

Of course we do.

It’s a 2013 Lance 1050S, and I’ve taken the liberty of adding a column for our 5th wheel’s stats, so you can appreciate the differences.

Truck Camper5th wheel
Length19′ 8″40′ 6″
Height during travel11′ 8″ 13′ 6″
Dry weight3,030 lbs17,000 lbs
Mattress size60″ x 74″ (RV queen)72″ x 80″ (RV king)
No. slides14
Fresh tank30 gal100 gal
Grey tank27 gal75 gal
Black tank22 gal50 gal

There are more specs here, an actual brochure here, and I’m not going to give you a video walk-through because this dude has already done that in one like ours, and as a salesperson, he got paid to do it. Ours lacks the slide topper and the drop-down bunk over the dinette. Other than that? Samesies.

This is confusing af. How’s this gonna work, Em?

We are in the right place at the right time with the right friends.

J & K are fellow RVers, they’ve got acreage near our home base of San Antonio, and we’ve been staying on the property since early November. They’re letting us leave one unit here while we travel in the other.

Plus, J is every bit as much of a handy fixit guy as Tim, if not more so, and he’s got a tractor.

Why is that important? Okay, well, when we’re using the 5th wheel, we’ve got a big-ass hitch in the bed of the truck, plus bed-wide boxes full of tools, and a 65-gallon auxiliary fuel tank. All of that heavy stuff has to come out in order to slide the truck camper in, and then be put in again when we’re ready to switch back. So twice a year, we’ll take advantage of tractor-assisted switcheroos and an assortment of outbuildings in which to leave whatever ain’t ridin’ with us.

We pay for the privilege by helping out with projects on the property, and we’re also trying to convince J to accept something more valuable than an occasional family-size bag of peanut M&Ms for this stupid convenient option he’s given us. This would be tremendously more difficult for us without his generosity, and although we could do it without him, we probably wouldn’t.

Number of pairs of jeans I own: 2
Number of RVs we own: also 2
I am now afraid to buy more jeans.

Do they have names?

Not really, but we’re trying.

In homage to the largest and smallest states in the continental US, we’d like to go with Tex for the 5th wheel, and Road Island (misspelling intentional) for the truck camper, but neither of us is doing very well with the mental gymnastics.

The big one is usually “the house” or “the RV,” the truck camper is usually “the camper,” and if we’re inside one, then the other is simply, “the other one.”

What about that coincidence you were talking about?

When we were in San Antonio back in May of 2021, Tim and I spent a couple of days helping with clean-up efforts at an Escapees RV park near here, after it was walloped by severe storms with record-breaking hail and tornado-force winds. Almost all the RVs and vehicles on the lot were totaled, forcing this senior population to start over. I wrote about those emotional, sad, yet hopeful days here.

On December 30 of 2021, while in the San Antonio area once again, and shopping-but-not-shopping like we tend to do, Tim texted me a link to the craigslist ad for this camper. 

I looked at the first photo and could tell immediately where it was: that very RV park.

The owners — who we determined we had not met while we were helping with the clean-up in May, but wow, would that have made an even better story — had bought it in Dallas, after the storms, to live in for a few months until they could obtain a new 5th wheel to replace their totaled one. 

We spent about an hour checking it out the next day (no odors, no stains, spotless fridge and oven!), went out to lunch to talk it over, and texted the owner an offer from the table. He came up a little, but said he’d throw in a bunch of accessories that we might want/need, so we settled on his counter-offer and got approved for a loan that afternoon.

New adventures, coming soon

And that’s about as much as I can tell you without actually having lived or traveled in Road Island, which means I can’t yet say how awesome — or awful? — it is to cut our living space, storage space, and amenities by more than half. That’s coming up when we get back from our 2-month trip to Mexico. (If you missed that news, I included it in our previous blog post. We’re flying!)

Over the past two weeks, Tim’s been tackling caulking, wiring, and other fixits to get the camper ready to go, and I’ve been taking care of transferring and procuring interior items. We’ll have time to spend a night or two onboard to test all the systems before we leave for Mexico on Feb. 1, and we’ll move into it fully when we return at the end of March. We’ll then give ourselves an additional 2-3 weeks to take care of any issues before we roll out of Texas for the season.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got packing to do, but at least the bathing suit decision is easy. I’ve only got one of those.

9 thoughts on “Welcome to the fleet, little buddy!

  1. Oh, little Road Island! It’s a good thing you like one another. But I do hear ya on the accessibility with a smaller rig. Sometimes I miss our Chinook. Like you, when the time comes for us to “do Alaska,” we’ll go in a smaller set-up. It just makes sense! Alaska’s cold, though, so don’t be afraid to buy more jeans 🤑

  2. As for buying more jeans, you could do what my son and his then-girlfriend did when they toured the Himalayas. (Yes, those Himalayas. ) You purchase the warm stuff, like a fleece/down vest, at one end of the trip and sell it back to similar outfitters at the other end of the trip. It’s all arranged in advance so you don’t have to schlep the warm clothes into hot places like India (or Texas.)

    1. Excellent idea! We’ve also considered doing more thrift shopping for short-term needs, and then just donating the items back — if we haven’t worn the hell out of them, of course.

  3. Wow, Emily and Tim!

    We met you both in Quartzsite years ago but have followed your blog since, hoping someday to run across you again. We downsized from our motorhome to a Lance trailer looking for more flexibility since we hike long sections. We had to cancel Alaska in summer 2020 (border closed.) But now are planning 2023 there. And we are also looking for even more flexibility by using a Transit van to get to Alaska (but keeping the Lance trailer for other travels). We landed in Silver City, NM in 2020 just to hide out. Really hope to encounter you and Tim in 2023. How wild that would be if we encountered you in Alaska. Lon and Deb

    1. We remember you and will watch for you in Alaska! Funny, I’ve been thinking about that week in Quartzsite lately; I guess because it’s that time of year. We haven’t been back since, but have kept up with several RVers we met at that convergence. What a seminal moment for us.

  4. What a great story and future adventures abound! I like Lil-Bit, or Tiny they both sound good with Tex as the big Bro!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.