Since I started working towards full-time RVing in late 2015, I felt a little boxed in by my city life. Now I’m spending a few weeks with family in Fort Collins before I hit the road. This is my view every day. It doesn’t get old. ūüėä

AWNINGS! (Good gawd.) What are they good for?

First, the good news: I’m moving out of my apartment this week, and today I moved my first truckload of stuff into Miles! (I’m not moving into Miles full time yet, but am taking a pit stop with family for February because I didn’t want to start out during the coldest month of winter.)

But when I drove to the RV storage lot for the first time in about 40 days, I was greeted by an old nemesis at my door: the awning. Completely unfurled, and already torn and shredded in multiple places.

The awning over my trailer, fully unfurled and being ripped up by the elements.

I’ve had nothing but trouble with my awning from the start. The very first time I saw Miles at the dealership, a technician was tweaking the motor to make it work. He seemed worried that it wouldn’t work¬†while demonstrating it to me. I was overwhelmed by a lot of details while inspecting the whole trailer, and this didn’t register with me as a big deal at the time.

The very first time I actually used the awning was in Albuquerque during my trip back home. Some mild wind kicked up and rocked the arms around, and suddenly the motor wouldn’t work at all. From what I’ve heard from other RV owners, this seems to happen all the time. (The worst irony? The manufacturer’s name is “Carefree!”) It was hard to get the awning retracted as just one person, and I have no idea how it’s supposed to lock into place without the motor working. I managed to duct tape a zillion different parts of the awning down – not knowing my way around my RV’s systems yet, I just tried to compensate with redundancy after redundancy. I knew the duct tape wouldn’t last forever, especially with exposure to UV rays and changing temperatures. But it got me home just fine.

It’s probably just an issue where something is out of alignment or needs to be tightened. I tried to take it in for repair, but then it became too cold to work on. I had been planning to just call a mobile repair technician once I was living in it. ¬†But, indeed, some of the duct tape has lost its stick in the extreme cold, and wind unfurled the awning again. Add snow to the mix, and nothing about it is safe. The material is already showing heavy shredding.

I haven’t made up my mind yet, but even if I can get everything back to working state, I’m not sure I want to keep the awning at all. Not that it doesn’t offer some benefits, but it sounds like RV awnings¬†have frequent problems. I don’t want to deal with something that’s both hard to repair solo, and represents a big safety hazard going down the road.

Full-Time RVing and Carbon Footprints

Today I did some back-of-napkin math comparing carbon impact of RV life versus sticks-and-bricks life. I also found¬†tons of really helpful details on Where-RV-Now?, which¬†others will likely find more useful than what I’ve written here.

The Bad:

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Perhaps a more efficient combination. (flickr: Andrew Bone)

  • I didn’t know trucks have worse CO‚āā emissions per passenger-mile than jet airliners.*
  • Add the trailer and it’s about twice as bad.
  • Replacement tires add a lot more to the carbon footprint than they would for an urban commuter.
  • A Class C motorhome (the kind with a van cab and a bed over the cab) towing a small car might have been smarter in hindsight.
* This changes if you have a big family in a heavy-duty diesel truck. I’m not going to put¬†Athena’s paws on the scale to make this look better.

The Good:

  • No commuting!
  • RVers tend to use less day-to-day energy than traditional households.

The Great:

  • Any energy I avoid getting from the grid, be it from propane, a cheap generator, or an expensive solar rig, emits far less CO‚āā than Colorado’s majority-coal grid.
  • Most of my appliances can run off of propane. (The propane heater also needs some electricity for the blower fan.) The only obvious consumption monster is the air conditioner.
  • I currently can charge all my gadgets except my laptop off of solar, and the next laptop will be able to charge off solar via USB-C.
 
It looks like I’m on target for a significantly lower overall carbon footprint unless I’m moving locations all the time.¬†Again, this is back-of-napkin, and my qualified engineer friends will know a zillion inefficiencies that complicate this.
Also, the napkin is made from hemp.

Let’s Go!

This is the first post!

I’ve got a lot to say, but right now I’m not ready to talk about everything from the start. Soon I’ll¬†write more with background details about how I decided to get into full-time RVing, how I settled on the trailer and tow vehicle I ended up buying, and what my plans are from here. For now, a brief rundown:

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I’m Zeke Weeks:

  • Single 28-year-old guy from Colorado.
  • Born in Boulder
  • Lived in Tempe, Arizona during High School
  • Went to college at Colorado State University
    • Business major, Computer Information Systems concentration, Spanish minor
  • When I was a kid, I made websites as a hobby.
  • As a teen, I got into blogging and have been writing about all kinds of things on ZekeWeeks.com ever since.
  • I now own a web consulting company. I do most of my work from home or wherever I’ve got an internet connection.
  • I’ve been living in Denver since 2012.

Athena IMG_7395.JPG

Athena’s a little rescue mutt who was born in February 2015.

She looks like a lab, but her DNA test says otherwise. Athena stopped growing at a medium-smallish size, is SUPER extroverted and friendly, and is a good wrestler.

The tow vehicle: “Barry”

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Barry is a 2012 Toyota Tundra CrewMax 4×4 Limited:

  • 5.7-liter V8 – 381HP, 401ft.-lb. torque (at sea level, at least…)
  • Rated to tow just shy of 10,000 lbs.
  • Gets about 15 miles per gallon in the city, 19 MPG on the highway, and 8.8MPG when towing my trailer.
  • BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO2 tires
  • Extendable towing mirrors
  • Aftermarket wheel flares & HID+Fluorescent Halo+LED running and tail lights
  • ARE camper shell
  • Ranch Hand Sport rear bumper
  • Tinted glass everywhere but the windshield
  • Everything but the tires was installed by the previous owner. This baby had everything I was planning to install after purchase ready to go! I bought Barry with 63,000 miles and in great shape.
  • Barry feels ridiculous driving through Denver’s cramped old neighborhood streets ‚Äď the towing mirrors feel like huge ears sticking out the sides. This is how he got named after another Barry with big ears.

The Trailer: “Miles”

Miles is a 2013 Arctic Fox 25Y from Northwood RV Manufacturing.

  • 30 feet long from bumper to hitch
  • About 6,800 lbs.¬†without anything inside or in the tanks
  • 10,000 lb. Gross Vehicle Weight Rating
  • Named after Miles, mascot for the Denver Broncos.
miles(photo credit: Jeffrey Beall on Flickr)

I’ll rave all about why I went to this trailer another time. I bought it used in California, camped there for my first week with it, and towed it back to Colorado.