You’re driving along and as you are passing or behind an RV, whether it be a motorhome, 5th wheel or travel trailer, you might notice it has a decal showing a funny name or catchy phrase with some funny looking social media icons under it. You wonder, ‘hmmm, I thought only boats and ships are named’.
At sea, naming vessels was a way to communicate with each other. This was done way before radio communication even existed. It was a misnomer for a sailor (or pirate!!) to put his long glass up to his eye and read the name of a ship on her stern to determine whether it’s friend or foe. Tradition has carried itself through centuries to modern day. Seagoing vessels were typically named after important females; either historical or personal, hence why they are referred to as ‘she’.
Well, seemingly, the tradition has gone hard aground and traipsed over to the RV community…
Today, it’s common to drive into a campground or RV park to see what some RV’s and Campers are named. Some names are personified like ‘Rosie’ or ‘Georgie’ however, some have really catchy titles or phrases…like ours…Always On Liberty! And yes, we have those funny looking social media icons under it too!
Originally, when we first started our RV endeavors, we were dry-docked at a local state park campground waiting for our home to sell. We moved all of what belongings we wished to stow into our RV. There were many a campfire when Captain Dan and I would chat over a bourbon on the rocks or a glass of vino. One of the topics was, especially both of us coming from maritime backgrounds, ‘what were we to name OUR land yacht’?
It didn’t take long for ‘Liberty’ to come rolling off our tongues like mermaids singing. It sounded cool and hip…liberating, actually. It’s another word for freedom and that’s exactly what we were about to embark on. So, instantly, our ‘then’ Heartland Cyclone Toyhauler took on the persona of Lady Liberty…but not in the same fashion as the tall green lady in New York Harbor. Our ‘Liberty’ was personal. She was now our new life blood. In the Maritimes, ships were identified as M/V meaning ‘motor vessel’ or S/V meaning ‘sailing vessel’, so, we deamed our land yacht “RV Liberty”…RV meaning ‘road vessel’. We were excited and eager to set up our Facebook page and blog and away we went. We finally had our road name and now our identity.
HOWEVER…BLOW ME DOWN!!
We quickly learned ‘RV Liberty’ dot com website was taken by *gasp*…ANOTHER ‘supposed’ RVer, even though our RV Liberty Facebook page was already set up and we were stylin’ with the big boys and girls in them big boxy homes on wheels with their own cool names. We were perplexed what to do next. I mean, we were already known however, we were like a ship out of water without a paddle. Back to more campfires. More bourbon on ice. More vino. And then it hit us!
‘Always On Liberty’ *mermaids singing*…
…because we ARE always on liberty. See, in the Coast Guard and the Navy, ‘Liberty’ is another word for ‘time off’ aside from taking leave. Oftentimes, they were for several hours up to a four day weekend. In our tenures, there always seemed to be a guy who was ‘always on liberty’ and never at work. We loathed those guys; we so wanted to be them. So there ya have it, now you know and knowing’s half the…oh, whatever! It makes for a good belly-up-to-the-bar story at least.
So, let’s fast forward a few years. We’ve noticed quite a few of our RV friends have their names on the backs of their rigs too! What’s funny, is we will pass each other on the roads and know exactly who they are.
In 2016, while we were at Fort Sam Houston Army Post FamCamp in San Antonio, I was trottin’ around the campground (sort of exercising) when I noticed a very familiar ‘blue honey wagon’ (portable crap tank…see picture!) attached to the ladder on the back of a certain 5th wheel. I kept thinking to myself every time I passed it, ‘I know these people, I’ve seen their photos on social media. I recognize that Bighorn with that infamous blue crap tank’. And then it hit me; Emily and Tim Rohrer from OwnLessDoMore whom we’ve connected with vaguely on Facebook. We instantly got to know each other and that connection grew stronger (something to do with understanding military family life?) Since that day, we’ve met several times on the road (psssst, they keep following us!!! LOL). They have somewhat added to their bold “identifier” showcasing their own road name that’s decal’d on their Bighorn’s upper transom. Oh yes, and that blue shitter tank, is still there but it matches perfectly with their www.OwnLessDoMore.US decal. Oh! They too have a blog. Now that we’ve become ‘RV Besties’, I can get away with sharing this story. Check their daily posts on their OwnLessDoMore.US Facebook page. They are awesome RV peeps to hang with. Oh, and she always has wine (or something stronger) for our “RV Sister Time” while we roll our eyes and watch Tim and Captain Dan talk RV tech gibberish over cables, wires, batteries, and…more power. It’s like we have our own version of Tim the Toolman on Home Improvement.
This past January (2017), we meandered our way over to Quartzsite, Arizona from Yuma for an XScapers Convergence. So, we pull into what seemingly was a good site on the vast craggy desert. Low and behold, who did we park near? Julie and Marc Bennett of RVLove! I instantly recognized their motorhome. Up until then, we had only conversed and networked with them also through social media. (Pssssst they’re sort of ‘famous’!) Anyhow, their road name was beaming from the top of their motorhome windshield. I won’t share how they decided on their RV road name; that’s their own story but it is quite humorous. Since meeting at the Q, we’ve become good friends with this Aussie/American couple, helped with a video or two and met a couple times for dinner. Marc and Julie, though on the same time path as ourselves, have been instrumental to our future success as bloggers. Today, they have their own online RV Success School for those yearning to hit the road as RVers. Check out their RVLove YouTube Channel.
Just recently, while we were parked at a campground in Elkhart, Indiana, I step out of our truck to do something and I noticed the stern of a gleaming Airstream across the roadway from us. They too, had a decal on the back of their silver bullet Our Someday Is Now. Now, I’ve never met these people in my life; in person or online. I get bold and log onto Facebook liking their page and then messaging them ‘pssssst, we see you…we’re right behind you!’ Quickly, I receive a response back, ‘OMG, it’s Always On Liberty!’ We arranged to meet later that day and instantly became friends. We invited Nancy and Paul over to relax in our air conditioned Landmark. Oh and their adorable Corgis, Macy and Jake, stole our hearts! You can keep up with their daily activities on their Facebook page Our Someday Is Now Facebook page.
Lastly, a week ago in Elkhart, Indiana, I was pacing-to-the-80’s (that whole ‘exercising sorta thing’) and stopped dead in my tracks at a particular campsite. While catching my breath, I stumbled closer to their Nissan SUV because I recognized their road name decals…Drive Dive Devour! It was just only two weeks prior that I spoke to them on the phone about their visit to Kentucky since we were so familiar with the area (they were organizing an Xscapers convergence). Again, this fun couple we’ve only corresponded with through Facebook and following their blog.
Finally, I grab my sweaty nerve up, making myself look a little more presentable, I stuff my stray hairs under my redneck ballcap, push my movie star sunglasses up on the bridge of my nose and courageously knock on their door. A big bearded dude came to the door and I said, ‘hey Brandon, how’s it going’? He had NO IDEA giving me the who-the-heck-are-you look until I said “Dude! Always On Liberty? Lisa? Dan?” Becoming instant friends, we had a couple of our own private convergences while they were in town.
BTW, don’t let Brandon’s size fool ya! He’s a really nice guy and very knowledgeable about ‘everything RVing’! And Kerensa is cuter than cute and knows her way around RVing as well! They have a Facebook following on their page ‘RV to Freedom’ helping young and old learn about RVing and how to live in an RV.
Those are just a few that we’ve met on the road by recognizing their ‘road names’ from their blogs or social media. It’s awesome putting faces with names and end up sharing our life stories and future plans. We then become ‘RV Family’. It’s a fun way to identify and be identified on the road, in campsites or on social media. So, when you get your own RV or camper, what are you going to name her?
Next time you’re rolling down the road or highway and you see our RVs with our road names, look all of us up! Give us a shoutout on our Instagrams and Facebooks! We all love hearing from our followers…and fans! Oh, but please, don’t text and drive. We can certainly wait to hear from you when you’re high and dry.
If you are interested in getting your own decals made at great prices, check out these RVers, Mark and Linda Comer, who do this in their own RV! We met them at the Heartland Owners Club North American Rally as they were vendors. We also had decals made for Captain America too. Tell them Always On Liberty sent ya!
Recently, we looked into acquiring a better and more attractive set of entry steps to replace the ones that came on our 2016 Heartland Landmark 5th wheel. Unfortunately, the manual pull-out steps appropriated for our 5th wheel were rapidly degrading and looking deplorable.
In January of 2017, we boondocked in Quartzsite, Arizona with the Escapees Xscapers. Sadly, the weather was just plain snotty, cold, windy and rainy. It reminded us of pre-winter days in New England. Supposedly, we’ve heard that sort of weather is not typical that time of the year, but I digress.
So, what actually IS and WHERE is this place called “Quartzsite”?
Quartzsite is the Rock Capital of the World but to us RVers, its the Mecca west of the Mississippi where RVers make at least a once in a lifetime pilgrimage to. Quartzsite is located about 18 miles east of the Colorado River at the junction of US 95 and I 10 in southern Arizona.
For the first two months of each year, this town blows up with popularity. Its famous Rock/Gem Show and Swap Meet as well as the RV Show are the town’s claim to fame. Its notoriety has grown to epic proportions as does its population from 4000+ residents to an estimated million visitors… (I’m just quoting what we’ve heard from area residents). It has become known for the largest gathering of RV’s in the whole world. We equate this to a bike week for motorcycles but for longer and with more people.
Now, if you happened upon Quartzsite during these two months, you’d see hundreds…no…thousands…no…make that tens of thousands of every possible kind of camper and RV known peppering the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) desert land ‘boondocking’ everywhere.
You’d think we (RVers) had lost our marbles because, why would anyone buy a hundred(s) thousand dollar home-on-wheels with all the amenities to go live it up in the dry dirty desert? Well, that question remains; we all do it for different reasons.
Quartzsite is an annual meeting place for some and a pilgrimage for others. Some do it to get away from the daily grind to party it up while other more adventurous crowd goes hiking, dirt biking, or ATV riding. The usuals though, go rock shopping, RV shopping, and converge with big groups, etc.
One thing we’ve learned; there is no right or wrong at the Q.
|Captain America pulling our Landmark Liberty
to our boondocking site near Dome Rock at the Q
Okay then, what IS ‘boondocking’?
Also known as dispersed camping, dry camping or living off the grid, its when people, who live in homes on wheels or fabric houses go out and park in the middle of nowhere to live with limited or no amenities or hookups. That whole ‘let freedom ring’ thing. And, because its on BLM land, we really do it for free (up to 14 days per BLM). There are no campground or utility fees unless you opt for one of the local campgrounds or RV parks.
For us, our first Quartzsite experience was actually the perfect time to get away from the television because of the upcoming Presidential Innauguration. We had talked about trying this whole boondocking thing before and what better time than to start where there are amenities should we fail miserably at it.
So, being this was our first ‘long term’ boondocking adventure (more than 2 days at a time), this was a genuine learning experience.
Owning our Landmark 365 fifth wheel with a residential refrigerator, convection oven, induction cooktop, keurig coffee maker, and other electricity suckers surely presented some huge power challenges. With a little ingenuity, patience and nerve, we got ourselves through.
We called our friends…
A couple days after our arrival, we contacted our Heartland RV friends, Emily and Tim of OwnLessDoMore, who weren’t very far away and asked them to join us. They too, were new boondockers, so we did this whole experimentation gig together. Tim and Captain Dan worked on figuring out our dry-camping electrical power while Emily and I either relaxed, blogged or attended an Xscaper member-presentation or two…or bitched about having no electrical power.
Oh, about that ‘electrical power’…
Our coach was equipped with a 1000 watt inverter (because we have a residential refrigerator). Our battery bank lasted only about six hours which meant we needed to run our generator a few times a day to charge two batteries to keep running off that inverter. As we’ve shared in a previous blog posting, our Wen Generators have been our saving grace to allow us to boondock and going off the grid.
But we also had to run the generator at meal times because, like I mentioned above, our coach is ‘all electric’ (convection oven and induction cooktop). We had to monitor our electric usage and not have it running all day or night.
We also needed to run one of the generators during the night to supply power to a CPAP machine that requires humidification for one of us so that presented a whole other added issue.
Since, Dan installed a 12volt DC outlet close to the bed so we could plug in the CPAP to feed off of the battery bank so we don’t have to run a genny during sleeping hours.
Sounds simple, right?
To do that though, meant we had to beef up our battery bank from two 12volt house batteries to four 6volt house batteries when we got back to Texas in the next months. We figured approximate cost for that mod would amount to a cool grand ($1000). We estimated that would enable us to run on battery power from 18-24 hours barring use of the convection oven, induction cooktop, and both AC’s. (Note: at the time of writing this, we don’t have solid data yet).
Though we enjoy owning a full electric coach, our issue of cooking while not tethered to an electrical source meant we needed to fire up at least one of the generators just to boil water. Seriously???
So, anytime I needed to use any appliance that produced heat or excessive power draw (i.e. Keurig, induction cooktop, convection oven, etc.), both generators needed to be paralleled to power the higher wattage appliances. *sigh*
Sooooooo, that beautiful and super-convenient Keurig coffee maker I loved so much became a huge inconvenient pain in the behind! In fact, as I have learned, Keurigs are the worst energy hogs! Additionally, anything that has a heating element of some sort replicates.
So, we had to look at plan B; pre-making our coffee when both generators were on and storing the hot coffee in our thermos.
So, those are just a few things we learned on how to survive out there in the Arizona desert in our ‘all electric luxury’ 5th wheel.
Now, about this whole DESERT living…
The desert around Quartzsite is not the pictoral desert of beautiful, rolling hills of sand dunes you’ve seen in magazines. The Arizona Desert is actually craggy and rocky with small mountains and ridges with tons of washes where torrential rain water collects in rocky trenches. What may look flat from a distance is actually deep trenches and troughs. Oh, and when it rains, you best not be anywhere near them as they flood quickly which is one of the reasons why ‘we’ parked up on high ground.
There are Saguaros Cactus, Chollas, Prickly Pear Cactus and Barrel Cactus along with small Mesquites and Junipers peppering the landscape. Its scruffy and quite ugly actually which leads to the question ‘why would anyone really want to go there?’
Well, as they say, ‘when in Rome, do as Romans do’ and we did just that. We, as RVers, went to Quartzsite because it was just the thing RVers do…at least once.
On a good note, despite the cold, wet and windy weather we experienced, Quartzsite boasts awesome scrappy terrain full of single track and double track trails; the perfect playground for Jeeps, dirt bikes, ATVs & RZRs. Being ADV riders, we took full advantage and rode through the washes and trails; as solos or with other fellow adventure riding Xscapers.
|Lisa being her rebel self|
|Captain Dan at the base of Dome Rock|
|Our Xscaper ADVer group is ready to roll|
So, there you have it. Now you know what Quartzsite or ‘the Q’ is all about and our ‘First Quartzsite Experience’. We learned a lot. We failed at some and succeeded at others but we came out alive knowing what we need to do to prepare ourselves for next year.
In late 2016, we purchased
two WEN 56200i 2000 watt generators for our
Heartland Landmark 365. We planned to use these for limited dry camping
(boondocking) and for emergency situations. These portable generators are
2000 watt inverter generators that can be run in parallel to provide up to 4000
watts and approximately 30 amps. We purchased them from Amazon along
with a parallel kit for a total cost of less than a cool grand.
|Liberty’s Lisa posing with our new power sources.|
Description borrowed from WEN’s website:
.37 quarts of 30W oil
1 gallon of 87 octane gasoline.
about three pulls to start. We let them both run at variable speeds for
about an hour and before hooking them to Liberty.
|Paralleling the Wen generators using the Wen 56421 kit.|
and providing full power to Liberty.
The generators were able
to provide power for Liberty’s residential refrigerator, battery
charger, lights and one 15000 BTU air conditioner with no problems.
We only ran them for thirty minutes the first time. In the future, we
plan on conducting more evaluations to determine fuel consumption rate and
decide on what electrical appliances and devices we can power. Liberty
has an Electrical Management System (EMS) on board that will shed power to the
desired appliances. Liberty’s monthly maintenance plan includes
exercising the generators for two hours every month to keep them active and to
keep fresh fuel in them. In the meantime, their light weight and small
size allow them to be stored in Liberty’s forward compartment.
on their success and reliability. We have used the units in multiple
dry camping situations and one time at a campground that lost power for 14
hours. The generators have been run for over 24 hours several times
with no adverse issues. Ours averaged about 10 ½ hours of run time
on one gallon of gasoline. We changed the oil in both generators
after 50 hours of use. The oil change was straight forward and easy
available from many different manufacturers and sales outlets
today. They may not be for everybody depending on your situation,
but we have found them to be less expensive than installed systems and equally
reliable. They have taken the anxiety out of dry camping with our
residential refrigerator and have allowed us to keep our batteries fully
charged while we contemplate if solar panels will be installed on Liberty in
Blog Post written by
opinion of usage. Though we receive commission via Amazon sales, we were not compensated in any way by WEN to publish
this review. We will not be held liable for mishaps and/or misuse of any kind. These opinions and review is our own.
Once I got down to the Sunshine state, I started our search a couple days before the RV show with that price range in mind. I went to the big dog RV stores; the ones that sell both, new and pre-owned. Boy, if I wasn’t flustered before I got there, I certainly was after I left. No…it was more like a reality slap-in-the-face wake up call! Now, I’m not saying they aren’t out there but certainly, not where I was looking! $35-40 for a pre-owned motorhome was completely unrealistic for our standards. After viewing approximately twenty-five coaches, I sadly called the Captain telling him of my disappointments…”smelled like dog piss, very worn and dated cabinetry and furniture, weather etched headlights, oxydized chrome, broken this, smelly that”…you get the picture. We agreed to sit on this a few days and to just go enjoy my vacation until the RV show in Tampa.
Let that sink in a moment…
|Mothership of RV’s Motorhome|
A couple days later, our friends Al and Kat accompanied me to the RV show. The first mistake I made was upon arrival was, which is I guess, by strategic marketing design, going inside the big MOTHERSHIPS of RV’s in the main entrance hangar. You know, the ones with perfectly laid red carpets leading to their doors, live mini palm trees with VIP bar height tables and signs at the doors ‘please remove your shoes before entering’. They’re the ones with the flashy million or more dollar price tags! Anyway, I went in only one; it was all I could take…marble tile floors, granite countertops, high end this and that with more lights than the Las Vegas strip. Our laughingly skinny budget just wasn’t going to do here; time to move on. All I kept thinking is ‘this is how the beautiful people play’. Al and Kat decided to split off to go on their own shopping venture; looking at 5th wheels (they were same age as us looking for weekend or week vacation RV’s with the grandkids) as I was more interested in looking at affordable Motorhomes.
In every marriage, each must meet in the middle to compromise. He raised the bar on understanding I wasn’t going to live in a yard-sale rig of unknowns (happy wife, happy life), so I guess I needed to knock myself down a notch or two. So, we collectively again, agreed a Toyhauler 5th wheel was the end-all answer. I get the ‘new RV smell’ and he gets the mechanics part that he was comfortable dealing with. Oh, and that he gets a big big truck to pull it with. Win win? I still didn’t get my big windshield but oh well. *shrugs shoulders*
|Class A Motorhome Toyhauler|
|Not quite our idea of our stateroom aka master bedroom.
Notice the floor to ceiling height
So, our new plan was to trade our car in for a new big truck to pull a 5th wheel toyhauler removed all of those issues and made more sense to us. Our decision was made. We ordered a 2014 Heartland Cyclone 4100, and weeks later, purchased our truck. NOTE: Taking advise from several BTDT’s on those Facebook groups, it’s important to buy your towable RV BEFORE your truck/pull vehicle. Your pull vehicle must be fully capable to do the job; weight, engine size, and pulling and stopping what it tows sufficiently. Our truck would double as the work horse as well as be our transportation after disconnecting (we call it ‘mooring’) so, we opted for a 2014 Ram 3500 Cummins Diesel DRW (dual rear wheel) aka a ‘Dually’. Upon selling our everything by Thanksgiving (11 months, from the first day of shopping for our RV until the day we rolled out of Kentucky), we finally hit the road looking like this:
|Captain America pulling our 2014 Heartland Cyclone 4100|
|Captain America pulling our 2016 Heartland Landmark 365 “Liberty”|