Our slow start...

I wasn't kidding when I stated we are slow rollers! It took us 2 years to pick out a class A coach and make the jump. We looked at everything from pull behind, 5th wheels, class C's, Gas class A, and Diesel Class A. We spoke to a lot of dealers, individual owners of all different units, and finally decided for us we would search for a Class A diesel.

 

New was not an option for us. The biggest reason being this was our first unit! It just didn't make sense for us to invest so much money on our first unit. Looking back, no regrets!  Neither of us liked the new interior with brown fake woodwork, valances,  plastic looking, cheap builds they were pumping out at an alarming rate. They so 

u g l y!

We searched another year to find the right Class A Diesel for us. She was not on a dealer's lot. We drove 2-1/2 hours south to find her and once we saw how well she had been maintained we knew she was the one. She was a 1998, 37.5 ft, Santara, Coachmen. Her layout wasn't exactly what we hoped for, but by far, she was the cleanest, most pristine coach, for her age we had seen. She was garaged stored, custom paint job, new captain seats, Banks powered, and many other upgrades. From the outside she shined despite her age. Inside we had big plans for her...so the layout was going to be changed up anyway. 

It was mid February 2020. We brought her home and started planning a list of changes we would start with. We headed to an RV repair shop to install a tow package for our car. While there we added to our cart all those beginning things "newbies" need to have on board. While sitting in the lobby of the RV place we watched on TV as the news reported how Covid was now at our doorstep. 

This put a bit of a damper on our plans. We weren't sure how that would effect all the renovation plans we had begun to map out. My husband was immunocompromised from his B.M. Transplant and I was working in an ER. I was concerned I could bring home Covid to him so he moved into the coach and I moved into a 5th wheel next to our coach for the next 4 months. 

This meant no rehab was going on and I was working crazy hours. It didn't take long before we decided it was not worth us putting everything on hold while we waited for Covid to end. Looking back that was the best choice.  So I gave my notice and waited out the 2 week waiting time before I could join my husband in our coach. 

The actual renovation began in July 2020 and the demolition began. We did not have a timeline or expectations of when our rehab would be complete. How could we?  We were in the middle of a pandemic! No one could guess what obstacles we would face.  

 

 Everyone forewarned us that rehabbing an RV was COMPLETELY different! AND that's an understatement! As we began to get behind the walls we discovered all kinds of perplexing surprises. My husband is at "nerd" level of knowing code for residential...yeah, that was extremely frustrating to him to discover that RV code is nonexistent. It is a vehicle on wheels, not a building on wheels. We decided whatever we found behind the walls, we would make it more functional and more home like. The coach had no water shut off valve inside the unit! If left and we had a leak we would have to exit the coach, get around to the other side, and open the cargo bay to shut off the source. Then we could not use any water until the repair was fixed. Rene quickly installed shut off valves at every sink, toilet, W/D hook up. This is just one example of  things we changed, mainly so we could sleep better. 

Rene was in charge of what went on behind the walls, while I was in charge of modernizing the coach, giving her a much needed facelift. There was a lot of work to be done! We removed sinks, faucets, toilet, oven/stove, washer/dryer, and installed all new. The fridge was the only appliance we did not replace. It was a large double door and in good work order. It only need a front makeover to bring it up to date. That was the easiest of all the remodeling. The worst by far was removing staples (hundreds and hundreds) and painting and repainting! Staple removing resulted in weeks of blisters, duh, why didn't I think of gloves? The painting would not have been so bad if I would have started with Scuff resistant paint. I went with middle grade paint to defer some expense. After numerous scuffs and retouching I realized it just made sense to repaint with all scuff resistant paint and be done with it. Who wants to carry paint with them on the road for touch ups?!

 

Rene would say the worst part of renovation was updating the lighting. He started by updating the electrical.  The outlets were in very odd places and not enough of them. He went to work on rewiring and upgrading with multiple outlets with USB ports. Finding lighting that actually worked in our space was a huge challenge. Unlike 5th wheels or newer units that have higher ceilings we had very minimal head room due to my husband being 6'2". Trying to find low profile ,modern lights, that he wouldn't hit his head on was a year long challenge. We found some that just graze his hair, lol! He even made his own lighting. This is just few examples of things we learned the hard way despite all the research we did from other RV'ers. It's a learning curve! Each unit is so different.

I 'll spare you of all the details of our rehab. You get the jest from all the photos I've included.  While renovating we sold both of our homes (one in Missouri and the other in New Orleans).  We also helped moved 2 family members, and 1 family member had a medical emergency and was hospitalized for serious injuries. The very last day of November I came down sick. A few days later it was confirmed that I had Covid. That stopped everything! 

Rene and I had been very careful to wear a mask and make only necessary outings. We had a Thanksgiving party of 2! We weren't willing to take the risk. Covid found us anyway and soon after I tested positive so did my husband. His first bout of Covid was pretty mild and all maintained at home. But for him, what seemed to have gone away, returned several weeks later and more severe. His fever would not go down and with his medical history I knew we didn't have a lot of wiggle room. I took him to the ER and thankfully was able to take him home several hours later. The following 2 months we were in "recovery mode" and hunkering down. It was bitter cold for 2 to 3 week stretches of below zero degrees. We took a much needed break and waited for the weather to warm up before we broke out the projects again.

It's the only winter we have stayed in the coach...and our last in sub zero weather. Now, we can leave for warmer weather. But last winter we had no choice. We have double insulated windows and a good heating system and we still woke up to frost at the end of our bed during a cold snap of -10 degree below zero.  When I went to put my boots on my boots had frozen to the floor! Yah, no more winters for us! We will find warmer weather!!!

 

In February we began renovations again and by March we started taking "test run"mini trips" with one grandchild (we take turns) in tow to break in our "new to us" coach. By June we had completed most of our renovations with the exceptions of the battery and solar install.

Our first trip was to a small town outside of Manhattan, KS.  This is how our Journey of being "Land Drifter's" began. 

On this page our photos show our RV as we bought her and then progress to the numerous stages of rehab. Clink link of "Coach Reveal" for all of our after photos.

We hope something you read will inspire you to find your adventure whatever that may look like! It's a lot of planning, a lot of hard work, some great frustration, and of course expense, but so worth it!  Looking back we would not trade it for any traditional home. We love being out there with gorgeous natural views and so much to see and learn. If you are thinking about it....do it! 

Hope we see you out on the road and I hope you share with all us full-time RVer's your journey!

Cheers,

Beth and Rene

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