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.

More True Tales from the Laundromat: 2021 edition

If you remember giggle-snorting over my 2018 compilation of Top 20 True Tales from the Laundromat, you are not alone. It has endured as one of my most popular posts, clinging to the top of the list like an acrylic sock to a fleece jacket.

And guess what. I’ve continued to collect these stories since then, and I’m giving you a quarter’s worth more — no scrounging for actual coins required!

To recap:

One of many “You Do You” facets of RV life is that some folks go for the in-coach washer and dryer, and others don’t. Although we’ve got dedicated hookups for them in our bedroom closet, we opted against installing our own machines, and here’s why: We didn’t want to sacrifice the storage space, weight allowance, or power & water usage, when we can do our laundry elsewhere — in a facility that someone else has to maintain and repair.

Top 20 True Tales from the Laundromat, OwnLessDoMore.us, November 2018

Wondering about the cost comparison? Well, we’ve been on the road for 6+ years, paying to do laundry nearly every week. Sometimes a nearby friend offers up their machines, or we get free facilities as part of a workamping gig, but we still probably average about $6/week.

A new RV washer-dryer combo would have paid for itself by now, with enough green left over for new wardrobes for both of us. We do not care. The entertainment value alone is worth it to this girl, and since Tim only does laundry if he absolutely has to (like if I’ve recently given birth, or had cancer surgery, or happen to be located several hundred miles away), he does not get a vote. We like this system. It works for us. End of discussion.

But one more thing before I get to the final spin: you cannot force True Tales from the Laundromat. They must rise organically from the lint trap, and reveal themselves like a stain you forgot to pre-treat on your favorite hoodie.

So are you ready to get sudsy? I’m starting with the one and only heart-warming story, and then you should prepare for the load to become a little more… unbalanced.

1
“Here. Let me buy you some dryer time.”
“You guys too. Here’s some dryer time.”
“Have some dryer time, on me.”
A man just walked around the room depositing little stacks of quarters into smiling people’s hands, and explaining that he’d found some cash on the ground, didn’t know whether or not it had fallen out of his own pocket, and nobody nearby had claimed it, so he decided to put it in the change machine and pay it forward.
I’m gonna pay mine forward too.
How unexpectedly fun is this???

(January 2020, Apache Junction AZ)
2
Today you get a tail from the laundromat.
Sorry.

#justsaynotocrack

(December 2018, Kerrville TX)
3
I’ve enjoyed unfettered access this week to our friends’ laundry room and its mega-sized washer and dryer.
I think I could wash every item of clothing and bedding we own in 2 loads. Three, tops.
Is it possible to have a crush on a washing machine?
Ack.
This time I’m the weirdo with the detergent.

(January 2019, Pensacola FL)
4
Wow. I don’t know why they’ve put a phone in this brand new facility at all, but you definitely know you’re doing laundry on a military base.

#looselipssinkships
#opsecaf

(February 2019, Barksdale AFB LA)
5
If I ever forget what part of the country we’re in, I can usually count on the laundromat bulletin board to offer up a clue.

(February 2019, Sturgis MI)
6
They were the same size when they went into the dryer.

(February 2019, Sturgis MI)
7
I literally walked uphill.
Through the snow.

(March 2019, Clarksburg MD)
8

(February 2019, Manassas VA)
9
My first thought was not, “Wait. Is this here because they’ve had problems with snakes? Inside this laundry room???”
It was, “Heh. MiSNAKEn identity would have been better.”
I sometimes miss the important part of the message.

(April 2019, Elmendorf TX)
10
Never — no matter how hungry you are — eat cookies that have been abandoned on a folding table.
The dude who left these behind admitted out loud to nobody in particular that they were terrible.
He had also recently informed his companion that he expected to be arrested tonight.
He did not elaborate.

(April 2019, Kerrville TX)
11
In a room the size of a large storage unit: 21 signs
Nine of them deal with pet bedding.
These humans, under close supervision of their dog, put their laundry in the only machine available, which is the one designated pet-free for allergy sufferers.
Dogs are terrible at reading signs.

(July 2019, Hanscom AFB MA)
12
I don’t always judge the amount of laundry a gal tries to cram into a dryer, but when I do, it’s because I’ve had to pull out every single abandoned piece in order to use that dryer myself.
I dried and folded my two loads, and there was still no sign of her when I left — other than the mountain of laundry, of course.
Someone has an affinity for neon mesh undies.

(August 2019, Hanscom AFB MA)
13
Ohmigaw, I love these things!
I was just in here on Monday, and either it’s been installed since then, or I failed to notice it because that was the day I was apparently and inexplicably giving off some sort of “Hey, everybody, please come talk to me” vibe.
Two perpetrators were representatives of my usual gray geezer fan club.
The younger of the two watched me try to rebalance the load in my thunking washer no fewer than three times before informing me that I shouldn’t feel bad because it’s the one that always does that.
The older one, at 86, is still working 16-hour days, says he’s found the secret to longevity, and I can ask anyone in Alamogordo how to find him if I want to talk more about it.
There was also an old Asian woman who didn’t speak quite enough English for me to understand her, so I just smiled and nodded until she left.
It later occurred to me that she might have been saying some version of, “You just put your stuff in the washing machine that always thunks through the spin cycle, unbalanced load or not.”
The fourth and final one was a grandmotherly woman who leaned over toward me as she was walking by, and confided in a low voice, “I know you told that gentleman that you don’t usually talk to men in laundromats, but I met my second husband that way.”
I bet none of those books contains shit like this. Not one.

(January 2020, Alamogordo NM)
14
I bet he likes pinna coladas.

(March 2020, Borrego Springs CA)
15
Your mother doesn’t work here.
Left you a note though.

(August 2020, Kanab UT)
16

(October 2020, Seguin TX)
17
Wearing the pants you can’t figure out how to wash, fluff and fold on laundry day?
You have to admire that boy’s sense of logic.
Maybe try a car wash for those?

(April 2021, Sturgis MI)
18

(April 2021, St. Croix Falls WI)
19
Ew.
It’s one of the dirtiest I’ve patronized, but at least the name is amusing.
Note to self: check dates of last tetanus and hepatitis shots. Maybe google “cholera symptoms” too.
Sandra Dee would not approve.

(April 2021, Wagoner OK)
20
Why the quotation marks?
Why is it not emblazoned over the sink?
Wouldn’t “Wipe your butt —seriously” be a better option in this location?
I have so many questions.

(June 2021, Lake Dallas TX)
21
Teen photo shoot in the laundromat.
Can somebody please help me find my eyeballs?
They’ve rolled out of my head and under a washing machine.
Sheesus.

(July 2021, Coeur d’Alene ID)
22
Threw our stuff into an empty dryer.
Hit start.
Opened it five minutes later to pull out a couple of shirts. (I don’t iron.)
This bright green pet bed jumped out like a Muppet freed from captivity.
We do not have a pet.
I did not put the furry thing in there.
Guess it had been clinging to the top of the drum like Tom Cruise doing some stunt in Mission: Impossible.

(August 2021, Chimacum WA)
23
When the laundromat is attached to the bar…

(September 2021, Bend OR)
24
Based on where we are, I know that they mean the greasy clothing worn by local oil field workers.
But I still couldn’t help wondering who would stuff Danny Zuko — or any other T-Birds for that matter — into a top loader.
And don’t even get me started on the apostrophe.

(October 2021, Hobbs NM)
25
Although it sounds contrary to my posts over the last six years, there really is no drama in laundromat.
Spelling matters.
That is all.
(September 2021, Garibaldi OR)

Author’s note: Just like last time, these posts came from my personal Facebook account. I don’t think it’s plagiarism if I copy & paste my own work, but I thought I’d better explain myself to those of you who are thinking, “Hmmmm. I’m pretty sure I’ve read this before…”