The Cruisin' Crew


Moving in and some maintenance issues

Almost 2 weeks ago we started to move into our home on wheels, though it was not quite ready for prime time. The “slight” damage that the previous owner had caused was to be taken care of at a specialized RV body shop in Palm Desert (which is next to Palm Springs) and they were so kind to let us stay in the coach while the repair work was being performed. At times this proved challenging, particularly because we did not have water and sewer connection (but we had electricity). So we could not fully enjoy our on-board facilities, but instead had to use the shop rest room, which got the job done, albeit not very convenient. We’re nevertheless very thankful for the opportunity and it turned out as a blessing, since the shop owner was there with plenty of advice and help to get us RV-newbies going!

So once we were in the coach, we immediately started cleaning it from top to bottom and it needed it badly. We also found some problems that should be addressed pretty much right away. First, there was an unpleasant odor from the sewer part of the coach, probably because it hadn’t been used for a number of weeks and those “things” can get smelly if they become stagnant. With the advice from our new friends at the shop, we dumped some appropriate environmentally safe chemical in there and the smell dissipated almost completely within a day – yay! 🙂

The next item on the list were the automatic entry steps – they had stopped working all of a sudden and were stuck half way in. One night I decided to investigate further since I saw a cable hanging down behind the motor and thought that this could be the culprit (which it of course wasn’t – that would have been too easy ;). But my fiddling around got the attention of the shop owner and soon we were both deep into trouble shooting mode, checking the fuses, lines, power to the motor etc. All checked out, but the motor and gears didn’t turn. So I crawled under “the beast” and unbolted the motor.

The motor for the automatic entry steps!

From the outside it looked fine, but running power through it yielded no movement… motor fried? I didn’t think so, because from my early exploration into all kinds of technical things as a teenager I knew that electric motors don’t burn up that easily… maybe the contacts were dirty, or a cable inside was lose. So I opened up the motor and gears and took it all apart. Contacts were clean, but I noticed that the drive shaft was very hard to turn, up to a point – then it all of a sudden turned easily. Hooked it up to power and the motor ran like a champ. So I put it all back together and guess what, the stairs retracted. But the joy was short lived because now they wouldn’t come out. So I took the motor assembly off once more, only to find that the whole thing had seized up again. Soon the shop owner suggested that the gear inside probably had worn out and even though it did not look bad on visual inspection, it was enough to cause the gears to seize up when torque was applied. But overall, this diagnosis wasn’t for nothing, since a new motor assembly could be found on the internet for a very reasonable 60-80 bucks… much less than having to buy a whole new automatic step. Let’s hope replacing the motor assembly is all that’s needed!

And finally, our big one: while we were staying inside, we noticed a very strong plastic-y smell one day and it turned out it was part of the repair work they were performing on the back-bumper. But the shop owner was stumped why so much of the fumes had entered the living space as our windows and vents were closed at the time. After some investigation, he found that the seals around the cover of the motor, which also doubles as the base of the bed were old and had worn out, so that fumes could easily enter the bedroom. This was also concerning because during driving or generator use, exhaust fumes could equally enter and actually create a very dangerous situation with carbon monoxide inside the coach. What to do? Reseal everything!

All new seals!

All new seals!

Easier said than done, because it took us almost a full day to take the bed base / motor cover apart, scrape off all the old seals, clean and reapply new seals (as well as adding a brand new carbon monoxide detector in the bedroom, just in case). But we got the job done, again with the help of our new friend, the shop keeper, who even sealed some additional areas with a fancy glue gun that looked like it could have been the weapon of choice for Buzz Lightyear! After it was all over, we were much more insulated from the shop smells – success!

Even though it has been a lot of work, I also had the opportunity to see, hear and film the engine for a short run, right from inside the bedroom with the cover off… what an awesome sight and sound! 🙂

In The Storm of it All!


Chris and I have come so far…and still have far to go.  Sometimes it just seems so intimidating!  I look forward to the day in which we can wake and start/live our day fairly easily (the new American Dream), with our new home clean and organized, and a good amount of working knowledge when it comes to all things RV!  ‘Cause right now we’re so new…needing to learn everything, and I do mean everything.  Neither of us has spent any time in an RV, ever.

Ah, but don’t let me stray too far.  Let me take a moment to look back on what we’ve done the past few weeks:

Getting out of the house on time and with it clean was a minor miracle.  We are blessed to have wonderful friends who let us (and the cats) stay with them for 2 weeks, since our motorhome is in the shop.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Our newly-purchased coach is in the shop for repairs (details in previous post).

Well, it’s taking a looooooot longer than we counted on (in retrospect, it’s all happening and turning out for the best–this is such an important thing to keep in mind when faced with difficulty!), so we boarded the kitties and came down to Palm Springs to see what we could do to help the process along.  The repair shop allows people to stay in their coaches at night, so we figured we’d get a jump on things.

My first impression of the Safari:  it’s big.  Dusty.  And more than a little smelly.  Hello, ‘wet dog’ smell.  Aw, let’s get you cleaned up, girl.  Let’s open up the windows and air it out…with garage-y type fumey air.  Hmmm.

So, Chris and I have been staying in the coach much of the time, trying to clean and organize it while taking in the gorgeous Palm Springs area views.  Here are some pics:

Lovely sunrise over Palm Springs

Lovely sunrise over Palm Springs

Local plant life!

Local plant life!

Our view from the coach! ;)

Our view from the coach! 😉



Normally I would write that with an exclamation point, but I’m too tired.

Chris and I completed escrow on the house mid-February, and moved out of the house 20160225_155552completely this past week, and BOY WAS IT HARD.

We had hoped that we wouldn’t have too much to deal with, that we would’ve sorted/donated/sold more of our stuff by then, but…no. So, we did the only thing we could do when one runs out of time and has to vacate a home: we stuffed all of our stuff into storage.

We were also hoping that 1 storage unit would suffice—but again, no. We had to 20160225_162528buy a 2nd, bigger storage unit in addition to the first, and THEN—get this—we’ve rented a 3rd one to have the room to sort through the other two, since it all got a little panicked towards the end, and less-than-organized.

Again, whew.

BUT, we’re out! And the house is sold! Now…our new life in the RV’ing world!

Except…the seller of the coach we are buying (’97 Safari Serengeti, targeted for puchase after hours of research), in helping us out (driving to the DMV to work out paperwork on the sale), backed the end of it into a dumpster or something, and wrecked the back bumper!!

So what does this mean? It basically means waiting for the time being. It means that Chris and I are waiting for the insurance adjuster to come out and work out a deal with the repair shop, and then work has to commence to fix it, etc…

Meanwhile, we have the blessing of being able to stay w20160228_131421ith a close friends of Chris’ (and now me) in San Anselmo right now—thank goodness—otherwise we’d be out a lot of money with hotels and boarding for the cats and such. And the cats are having a BALL—very content and happy—which is the exact opposite of what we expected from them during this experience! They are handling all of the chaos and changes with aplomb.

Perhaps that is my takeaway from all of this—my cats can be my gurus: they say relax. Be social and open with new people. Eagerly accept new and different situations. Ride the wave with a sparkle in my eye and a purr in my throat.

Purr, purr, purr.

Hip, hip, hooray!

Three cheers in celebration: we just heard today that the lending has FINALLYIMG_4848 come through for our buyers of the house! Things are moving forward for us again, and we are grateful.

We anticipate buying our new motorhome and officially starting this new adventurous chapter in Life by the end of February/beginning of March—and we look forward to keeping you updated on the whole process!

More to come soon!


“Maybe. Maybe not.”

“Yee-hawwww!”, I heard coming from the back of the house. Did that unique southern expression of enjoyment really just come from my German husband’s mouth?

“Yee-haw?”, I asked.

“I’m happy!”, he matter-of-factly replied.

I immediately was struck with the following thought: how often is it that we are so happy that we shout out ‘Yee-haw’, or ‘Woo-hoo’, or ‘Wow-ee’? Wouldn’t it be nice to do that every day? And why shouldn’t we—the Beauty of the Earth, and the Wonder of Life does peek out at us every day; the only question is how open are our minds and hearts to see, feel, and experience it?IMG_4463

It’s so funny/strange/good how Life is: though the business of selling the house and downsizing is turning into a ‘marathon’ vs. a short sprint, Chris and I recently realized (in a way that perhaps we hadn’t previously), that it’s All For The Best. It’s giving us more time to research; to not only find a coach that we suit our needs best, but also emotionally prepare for the new RV lifestyle. Things that seem ‘bad’ at first, actually have a rhyme and rhythm and lesson to them that lead to greater good. The key, however, is to view it from that lens–otherwise you miss the deeper context!

I’m reminded, yet again, of one of my favorite stories: the story of the Farmer:

There was once a poor farmer who could afford to own just one horse. He cared well for the animal, but one summer night, it escaped through a weak fence and ran away.

When his neighbors discovered what had happened, they visited to offer their condolences. “What bad luck!” they exclaimed. The farmer replied, “Maybe. Maybe not.”

A week later, the fugitive horse sauntered back to the homestead, accompanied by six wild horses. The farmer and his son managed to corral all of them. Again the neighbors descended. “what great luck!” they exclaimed. “Maybe,” the farmer replied. “Maybe not.”

Soon the farmer’s son began the work of taming the new arrivals. While attempting to ride the roan stallion, he was thrown to the ground and half-trampled. His leg was badly broken. The neighbors came to investigate. “What terrible luck!” they exclaimed. The farmer replied, “Maybe. Maybe not.”

The next day, soldiers visited the farmer’s village. Strife had recently broken out between two warlords, and one of them had come to conscript all the local young men. Though every other son was commandeered, the farmer’s boy was exempted because of his injury. The neighbors gathered again. “What fantastic luck!” they exclaimed. “Maybe,” the farmer said. “Maybe not.”

There are other versions which continue a bit further, with the young man and his father starting a business that thrives, resulting in them making a lot of money. The farmer’s response to the neighbors’ cries of good luck? You guessed it, “Maybe. Maybe not.”

And so on. 😉

I found a great website featuring different versions of this tale of not viewing things as ‘good’ vs. ‘bad’; it’s worth a read (

And so…onward we go on our journey to, well, start our journey!




In The Eye of the Storm…

Well, one thing that can’t be said about our current situation and Life change is the word boring.  We’ve been riding these emotional waves pretty well, all things considered!  IMG_4848

The selling of our house has been a longer process than originally anticipated, but all in all we’ve realized that it’s been a Good Thing–it’s given us Time and Opportunity to re-evaluate the type of RV that we want, for example.

We’re realizing that the extra time (which at first felt excruciating!), is actually better preparing us for our new Life On The Road!  We’re learning more about ourselves, about what we need (not necessarily what we want) when it comes to our living space, and we’re laying down the groundwork of preparing for this documentation-type blog and upcoming Youtube videos!

We are continuing to look forward to it all!

Seagull symbolism

Earlier this evening, I was in the backyard looking at the evening sky.  It’s been our first really rainy day this winter (*yay) and the sky was an interestingly blotchy-yet-smooth palette of pinks and purples, and there were so many seagulls flying overhead (estimate:  100ish).

Firstly, I’m thinking:  That probably means that another wave of the storm will come in the near future (I’ve heard that seagulls travel inland in poor weather).

Secondly, I’m thinking:  This is a pretty rare sight.  I don’t really see seagulls flying around very often here (Petaluma’s about 45 minutes from the ocean).  I wonder what kind of symbolism it could have?

So, I went inside and looked it up.  My favorite website for animal symbolism is authored by Avia Venefica, called, which has the following to say about seagulls:  “…the seagull reminds us to move where the best resources might be. Many of us deny ourselves opportunities because we feel safe in our comfort zone. Not so for the opportunistic seagull. These birds may be a sign to fly out of our realm of comfort, maybe take a risk, and do so with the goal of finding better conditions for our well-being.”

Chris and I are resonate with this so much right now.  Additionally, the symbolism is all about finding one’s voice, to fly high/show one’s potential, and freedom.  Exactly stuff that I’m working through currently, in my inward preparation for a huge new Chapter in Life.

Niiiiice!  And another favorite,, states that it’s about:

  • Endurance

  • Ability to remain in emotional situations for extended periods of time

  • Awkward, but effective beginnings and endings

  • Understands the effectiveness of extended parenting

  • Stamina

This is all pretty spot-on for me, in terms of what I’m dealing with lately:  preparation for the RV Life, stress dealing with downsizing, feeling in a limbo state through the process of selling our house, etc.  After reading these, I feel confirmed in my path, and inspired (I also couldn’t help but be reminded of the symbolism of Our Crew and ship traveling out into the world, and the sea and water bird that so commonly accompanies water craft–the seagull)!seagull

If you’re new to Animal Symbolism, give it a try someday:  if, in the future, you’re conscious of having some kind of unusual or different encounter with an animal or insect (whether it be one-on-one/in person/from afar or through the written word/other medium, as well as through any of your senses); if you notice it and take note–look up the symbolism.  You may very well be surprised with the resonance it may have with your Life!


One thing that Chris and I have realized in our mission of downsizing, selling our home, and moving into an RV full-time, is the Need For Organization.

Organi-what?  I am not naturally an organized individual, but have always thought it to be a great and wonderful thing (I’ve always been somewhat envious of those who naturally have those tendencies).  And now, on top of All Of This Change, I need to change myself?  Can a lazy slob (admittedly, that might be a bit harsh) actually become an energized, organized individual?

Well, now it’s my time to develop this within myself.  Not entirely by choice, but by necessity!  It’s the only way to go with living in such a small space with My Crew.

The Basics:

A) Clean every dish as it gets dirty, and clean foodstuffs up immediately.

B) I realize that Every Single Thing needs a home, and needs to be put in that home.

C) Will add to list as I realize it.  (Ah, perhaps C is being proactive about things?)

It gets me thinking, though…it’s not just about having a home for the material stuff and belongings and tools in the RV, it’s the Inner Organization that counts, too.

In preparation for the inner changes, it’s important to get clear and grounded.  Here is an article that has become my Great Teaching of the moment.  Hope you get something out of it, too.

And feel free to add to the tips that will be posted as I walk/drive/sail this new path/road/ocean!



So much to figure out…

Right now we are just a few weeks from embarking on our greatest new adventure, living and working full time in a fifth-wheel rv… for month I have been studying different subjects that will need to be addressed so that we can transition comfortably. One of these subjects is online connectivity on the road. Cellular data, free wifi access and other options (like very expensive satellite internet) exist, but there are many questions still unanswered:

I know we’ll need signal boosters for wifi and cellular data, but even after searching online quite a bit, I’m not sure which system is the best. I will try to make a decision by asking this question in some forums to get an idea if there is any system that is used more than others.

Second I will need to get a handle on our bandwidth / data usage needs. To that end I have already monitored our connections over the last few month:

Our biggest data usage seems to be our entertainment, since we ditched cable / regular TV years ago and adopted internet streaming instead (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video etc.), so I am currently trying to figure out if there is any cellular mobile data plan that will work for that – and there may be one: T-Mobile has an interesting option to stream a number of video services like Netflix & Co. to a single device that doesn’t count against a monthly data limit. It’s called Binge-On and could very well do the trick:

However, I don’t know yet how well the T-Mobile network will serve us where we want to go and how we can work within the one-device rule.

Much more research is needed… 🙂

Update #1 (1/11/2016): One big downside of the T-Mobile Binge-On Service is that it doesn’t support Amazon Video Streaming (Amazon Prime Video) and Youtube… 2 big ones that we use all the time. It’s still an interesting option for our upcoming arsenal of internet service, but I wish they would add these sites as well.

Another unlimited mobile data option may be Karma, a relatively new service that apparently piggybacks on the Sprint network (which unfortunately is not much better than T-Mobile in terms of nationwide coverage, but may work perfectly fine in urban areas). They have new plan that is supposed to be truly unlimited data usage for just $50 a month… sounds too good to be true? Probably… one limitation is the speed that they offer – 1.5 to 2.5 Mbps (down from their initial offering of 5 Mbps, which according to them was abused by some users so much that they got into hot water with Sprint, so they “had” to go lower. However, that “may” still be fast enough for a lot of internet tasks (if you are in a area that gets a signal) and not having to worry about how many “data” you have left.

And finally, AT&T is fighting back against T-Mobile Binge-on by now offering another “unlimited” data option, which ties into their connected TV services: if you are (or become) a U-Verse or Direct-TV customer, you can get unlimited data on your mobile devices for a relatively moderate fee. But the devil is in the details (as always): first of, after you use more than 22 Gb in one month, the data rate may be throttled if the network is congested… how much I could not find yet, but it may be to the point where it’s unusable for video streaming. Second, tethering / hotspots are not allowed, because the service is only for approved devices and only one at a time. There are discounts for families, where the 4th device is free, but the more devices you add, the more it costs. Still, for RV’ers who like to watch a lot of “TV”, this option may be useful and worthy, since you can get a Direct-TV package for a modest price (the necessary satellite equipment is also not that expensive anymore) and a moderately priced mobile phone or tablet plan with truly unlimited data. This makes me wonder if Verizon has the finger on the trigger as well… 😉

Update #2 (3/2/2016): Amazon is now supported on T-Mobile Binge-On, so that leaves only Youtube, but overall the T-Mobile service looks extremely attractive and I think ultimate we will sign up for it. If we do and got some experience with it, I will of course update this post accordingly!

But forget about Karma… they totally downgraded their “unlimited” plan now in that after 5gb of usage they revert to 2g speeds, which is in my opinion unacceptable in today’s age.

Update #3 (10/17/2016): Binge-On now supports Youtube as well and we have made the plunge. We got a hotspot device with a $36 data plan (6GB) that includes Binge-On and have used it for a month now. So far it has not disappointed. The feature works as intended with our iPad and Laptops, though one has to be really careful with background services sucking up the regular data (I burned through 4 of the 6 GB in a few days before resigning to use the service only on the iPad with all background data switched off. The account still stands at 4GB after watching video streams worth 35+GB… overall the service is working well!

All Aboard!

Welcome to The Cruisin’ Crew!  We are getting ready to embark on an adventure of a lifetime, and you can be part of it!

We are the Crew:  Chris and Tracy, and our beloved cats, Booie and Lilly.

We decided to sell our wonderful house in Petaluma, CA, majorly down-size, and travel around the U.S. in a fifth-wheel RV (appropriately, a 2009 Crossroads Cruiser)***.  In other words:  we’re raising the anchor, hoisting the proverbial mainsail, and following where the whispering winds tell us to go…

We are looking forward to documenting this new chapter in our lives with you!


“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

–Mark Twain

***Update March 2016: Plans have changed: instead of a fifth wheel trailer we decided to rather go with a class A diesel pusher motorhome, which will better suit our needs. More details about that in a later post.