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Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Welcome, come and take a tour of our 5thwheel home!

Our story of living in a stationary RV in East Texas, and the path we took from volunteering with the National Parks System to six acres of land!  


Living in a stationary RV is legal in ten states, including our home state of Texas. 

But that is not why we started living in an RV or how we came to choose one for our permanent home, here in East Texas. Let's take a quick look back 7 years when I retired and we decided to travel the U.S.A. and be part of the volunteers needed by the National Parks Service. 

First we sold our 1400 square foot home and began the large process of small-ing down. Which was not as easy as it sounds! We had a lovely, well appointed home with furniture and household goods in each room. Plus we had about 5,000 books. Seriously! I am not kidding, I had over 3,000 cookbooks and my husband had at least 2,000 (probably more!) novels...


From there we needed a home, now what? 

We had set a budget for both purchases because we did not want any payments in retirement. We found a wonderful older low mileage, blue, one ton dually truck and a like new, but older Holiday Rambler 32ft 5thwheel.  We moved in got settled and started volunteering! We did our first assignment at Fort Vancouver National Historic Reserve in Vancouver WA. From there we went to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument a UNESCO site outside of Ajo, AZ almost on the border with Mexico. 

These two positions were a commitment of over two years time with traveling and needing to stay put until winter was over and the passes were once again safe to travel back to Washington state with an RV in tow. 



Along the way, I learned to break down my kitchen in 1 hour to be road ready. I was responsible for the inside breakdown, and my husband the outside breakdown. Once we were both ready, we would re-attach the truck to the 5thwheel and the next leg of the journey would begin. The same set up to put the kitchen together, took over 2 hours. This process was repeated each time we stopped for the night so that we could cook dinner and have coffee and breakfast the next day! 

Traveling from one park to the other often took 3 to 4 weeks, needless to say, I was always glad to arrive for our next assignment! During our time in Ajo AZ, we were stationed in very rural setting, with out of the way places for grocery shopping. I learned to be very creative during this time! And honestly we eat better for it to this very day.   

After these two assignments we took a bit of a break from volunteering. 

We returned to Washington state and decided to partner up with our adult children and move out of Washington. But first we had another house to sell, and lots of household goods to pack for the move. All four of us settled on Montana, as our destination. Once settled in Montana, my husband and I started searching for a smaller, easier to pull 5thwheel so we could once again join the ranks of the volunteers. We settled on a 26ft 5thwheel. Ironically the kitchen was better in that small model than the Holiday Rambler, but OMG the bedroom, not so much! But we managed to volunteer for the entire season at Three Frogs Campground in Darby Montana.  

We had a few moments of excitement like when my husband saw a lightening strike, start a fire in one of the trees way up on the ridge. With no cell service in the park, he had to drive about 5 miles into town until service showed up on his cell to call and report. Back at camp we then helped to escort out and redirect campers and hikers from going to the area where the fire was an active burn, as helicopters were dropping tons of water on the fire.

Then one final assignment before moving to Texas! 

For our last volunteer position we volunteered at Lost Dutchman State Park in Apache Junction AZ. For this last assignment we volunteered along side our kids. Now with our grandson in tow! For this position there was one thing we needed from the park management team. My daughter and I could not have overlapping duty times, so one of us was always available to be with the baby. With all of this time living (on and off) in a 5thwheel, I knew what worked for us and what did not! 

Unfortunately while we were in Arizona waiting (again) for the passes to clear, we learned our home in Wyoming had sustained great damage during a cold snap of -35 degrees. All of a sudden we had no home to return too. We managed to get all of the repairs completed as we lived in one RV park after another. 

Once back to Wyoming where we had moved the summer before, we knew that living in an environment where you had to escape the winter to be happy was not where we should be living. Since we had spent so much time on the road while the house was repaired, I knew where I wanted to finally settle! Yes, here in East Texas!


Once in Texas, a stationary RV seemed like the easiest solution!

So we started looking! It took awhile and honestly the entire process was a bit tiring. My husband had grown weary of driving for a couple of hours to see homes that were advertised with photographs that were definitely not recently taken. Or we would get there and even with an appointment set up in advance, it was already sold. And while I was not above purchasing a home that needed some work, I had a list of must haves, and I did not want to have to take a pass on any of them: 
  • a bedroom large enough for a king size bed, we each needed enough room to sleep in comfort. 
  • a kitchen with a workable layout, because nothing had changed, I still cook almost every meal.
  • and enough storage spaces throughout the entire home, so things would be put away and our living area is not cluttered looking. 

With all that back history, are you ready for the tour?


Let's start in the kitchen, because to my way of thinking, the kitchen is the heart of the home, no matter the size of the home. 



You are looking into the kitchen from the living room. Remember the "Welcome Home" chalkboard when you are in the kitchen looking out...



This is the countertop to the left of the double sink. It's not super big, but it does get me by! There is a counter top section that fits into the sink if I need more space, but so far I have managed to make this work...



My appliance line-up to the right of the double sink. We use most of these everyday so instead of digging them out of a closet or off of a shelf, they have been given free rent on the counter!



Continuing right, my stove and microwave. This stove top is three burners. But three is plenty for most meals. Currently the oven is non-operational. One repair is still needed, but in the current heat, I am not baking much...



Here in East Texas we have some very friendly ants, so we use our microwave for storage of short term foods, like a bag of organic bagels. or this package of cake, my husband had picked up at the store. My husband truly loves his sweet snacks! 



This was a very pleasant surprise, a double refrigerator! I had made due with a standard RV fridge for all those assignments, so this is a real luxury in my book! The small cabinet to the left of the fridge is a pull out shelf unit, it holds wraps and plastic storage bags. 



I wash dishes 2 or 3 times each day. So I have learned to stack them high! When we have more than the usual amount, I also stack them in the sink...as shown.



Remember the "Welcome Home" chalk board? This is the back side, as it sits on the kitchen counter. It keeps my dish soap, hand soap and pan scrubber out of sight, for those sitting in the living room. I taped a piece of my favorite poetry on the back, where I can enjoy it while washing the dishes...



Also in the kitchen I have a scrap bowl for the hens. I toss all the peelings, and such in the bowl as I cook, then after dinner we take the bowl out to the girls. They love it when they get strawberry tops and corn cobs...




I also made room on the floor, for a little cannister I use to collect egg shells, these are dried in the oven and made into grit for the hens. The spray bottle sitting next to the egg shells is a mild vinegar and water solution for spot cleaning. The garbage can has a lid, which we keep closed almost all of the time, only opening to add garbage. 



This pantry is just to the right of the refrigerator. It holds basics on top and pots and pans in the section below. There is a third set of door up very high, I only keep long term storage items up there. I am happy for that storage area, but it is not as convenient as the middle and lower storage spaces available. 



This model trailer originally came with a stacked laundry pair just off the kitchen. I turned the space into an overflow pantry. And because this closet is equipped with hot and cold water as well as a drain, I have toyed with the idea of a counter top dishwasher....



Our dining corner! We look out onto our property. We have 6 acres that we share with the kids, and that tractor has been more help than I could have ever imagined! Almost everything is covered by a roof here in Texas, to protect what sits under the roof from hail damage.



Even in our tiny house, I like to change it up a bit! 



We decided to break away from tradition in our little home. In place of standard RV furnishings, we each have a comfortable chair with the needed side table for a coffee cup or glass of water. Also I love having the electric frame with photos of the grandson! 

RV window treatments tend to keep the living areas dark, one of the first things we did was remove the side curtains to let in more light. We did leave the valances to keep the day and night shades, dust free. 



This chair is my husbands, there is also a bookshelf behind the chair. His chair is a power motion recliner, which has proved interesting if he is relaxing and the power goes out...



I have a small desk in the living room, and I love it! I do my blog writing here as well as pay bills, etc. The drawers hold the usual assortment of legal paperwork we all tend to gather along a lifetime of living!



Continuing to the right, we have the usual entertainment tower, with a component cupboard at the top, the TV in the middle with a large horizontal speaker and an electric fireplace at the bottom for a quick removal of the chill in the morning. So far the fireplace remains unused...you can also see the backside of the kitchen counter and the appliance line up, so we have come full circle, in the living room. 



Heading upstairs to the bedroom suite, the first thing you notice is this king sized bed! Rolling into spring and summer, we are down to sheets only. But in cooler weather we have the usual bedspread and decorative pillows in place. 

Originally, a frilly headboard was attached to the wall. Not our style as well as being soiled, we took it off and replaced it with aged wood found here on the property. Found in an old outbuilding that had been used for an office, which my husband dismantled. We are natural born recyclers and will salvage and re-use any and all materials when ever possible. 

We also replaced the standard RV light fixtures with the ones you see, they are rechargeable and work great for just about any area. While we had the factory electrical wire available to hook up new bedroom lights, we like the low profile of these over our heads. Then we hung our favorite painting of the beach to finish it out! 
 


Continuing right we have the usual double closet, I have all my clothes here, along with a few linens hanging on hangers. I love the cloth shelves that hang right on the closet rod. I have had these for over 20 years...yes all you see are jeans and shirts. I made myself a promise that in retirement jeans would be my new daily uniform!



To the right of the closet, is this linen closet. We keep towels, a huge first aid kit (orange tool box) along with vitamins and pantry overstock. You can also see the corner of the built in chest of drawers, the chest of drawers hold my husband's clothes. 


I like having this chest for my husband's clothes. It is easy with each drawer holding like kind items. All other clothes needing a hanger are kept in the smaller personal closet below. 



Perfect for jeans and button up shirts.  

Also in the bedroom suite is the usual large-ish walk in shower, a sink vanity with storage cupboard below and a separate water closet.  

But that is not all the storage! If there is one thing the RV industry did an excellent job of, it was making great use of space for storage of needed items! 



The slide room has a row of cupboards end to end! These hold dishes and serving wear, along with a few smaller appliances, such as a stick blender and a coffee grinder. 



Plus this bank of cupboards above the large picture window behind my husband's chair. We have dry goods stored in these cupboards.



And lastly there are a couple of smaller cupboards above the desk area...



We are in the process of building a deck, and I can't wait until it is finished. I love having the additional outdoor space!



And here is the hail cover over our Caravan, I love the sound it plays during a rain storm!

I hope you have enjoyed this tour, and as always, thanks so much for stopping by!

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Would you like to comment?

  1. WOW, just WOW Melynda, You and your hubby did an awesome job and your place is spectacular. Love it and thanks for the look into your home.

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    1. Esme, thank you so much, I appreciate that you took a moment to stop by!

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  2. Thank you for sharing this post with a tour of your home. I'm always curious about your lifestyle and how you manage to cook all your meals in an RV. I am still wondering what did you do on your volunteer jobs?

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    1. Judee, most volunteers do have a choice in what they do, but sometimes not. The parks must be kept up and all the work necessary to do so, is completed by volunteers and NPS staff. But through the years I have done the following in my duties as a volunteer: roved the trails picking up trash, and answering question, collected fees, interpretation duties in the main park office, trained foreign students for various volunteer positions, Interpretative guide in an antique kitchen (my favorite!), checked chlorine levels on the public water system, campground host, verified fees were paid, reminded guests to the park of the rules and I am sure a few more! Thank you so much for stopping by, I appreciate it!

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  3. We have a travel trailer that I love traveling in once a year but I secretly wish it was our full time home! I loved coming by to see how you guys are doing it. . Your place looks so nice and cozy! Thanks for sharing this post!

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    1. Lof2Snowbirds, thank you so much for stopping by, I appreciate it and your lovely comment!

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  4. Thanks for sharing your home Melynda, it looks like you have everything and it's so cozy. I can't believe all the storage and love your new porch! I was considering a camper for my future home but I wouldn't be able to live year round here so I will have to go in a different direction.
    xx ~ Maria

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    1. Maria, an RV works quite well as a primary home, and with all the interest in tiny homes here lately, it is so easy to do. Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.

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  5. This was such a fun post to read! My husband and I have been talking about getting a 5th wheel for travel when we retire and we've been touring lots of them to find the perfect layout for us.

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    1. Joanne, what a great plan! You will love the freedom of staying where you want, to do all the things you want to do. Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.

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  6. It's beautiful! What a lovely place to call home. I lived in Vancouver, WA, for 13 years and loved it. I hope you got to see fireworks on the 4th of July over the Columbia from Ft. Vancouver when you were there. They stopped doing it about the time we left. Thanks for sharing this post with us at the Will Blog for Comments #40 linkup. Hope to see you at #41, too. Have a great week.

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    1. Hello Jennifer, what a small world ! I absolutely did see the fireworks at the Fort on many occasions! I lived in Vancouver off and on for over 20 years, and ironically Fort Vancouver was our first assignment as National Park Volunteers. Thanks so much for stopping by, I appreciate it.

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  7. It looks pretty roomy and homey!
    www.chezmireillefashiontravelmom.com

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    1. Mireille, thank you! We do quite well in here, it is comfortable and offers every convenience. Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.

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  8. That's so interesting to see how your RV is set up and hear a bit about your volunteering. I particularly love all the storage cupboards - this is the sort of thing I wish we had in our apartment. It makes me so annoyed that I have a built in wardrobe that does not have any storage in the top 50cm under the ceiling because the ceiling is inexplicably built lower in the wardrobe than the rest of the house - maybe one day I will get it sorted - though I love the 1960s frame and would be sad to lose that so am still waiting to find a good solution!

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    1. Johanna, in the 35+ times I have moved, I don't think I ever had a home that was not, in some need of changing! I just think it is due to who designs the home, often does not live there and some ideas look better on paper than they don when built. Thanks so much for stopping by, I really appreciate it!

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  9. So fun touring your home, Melynda. Man, you have a boatload of storage! I thought I had a lot... not even close. Thanks for sharing at Tuesday Turn About. I'll be featuring you at this week's party (of course, I'm not gonna let a trailer post go by without sharing it at the party)! Pinned!

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    1. Julie, thanks so much for the feature and great comment. Yes storage is priceless in a trailer. If I remember correctly you also have s Keystone trailer, and they do go the extra mile to build in storage cabinets.

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  10. This was such an informative post, Melynda. I loved learning about the years leading up to Texas and I so enjoyed the tour of your home. You and your husband have thought out everything and been so strategic in your planning! What a wonderful spot! Thanks so much for sharing!

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    1. Laura, thank you! Living on the road as a volunteer will teach many lessons that come in handy as the years continue to go by.

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  11. I loved this post Melynda! Thanks so much for showing us around your beautiful home. You have both planned the layout so well! :) #MMBC

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    1. Jayne, thank you so much! We are coming up on one year, and still finding new ways to organize and get it just exactly as we want!

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  12. Hi Melynda, Just popping back to say I will be featuring your lovely home on #MMBC. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. :)

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  13. Thank you for a wonderful tour of your home. I'd happily live there it looks so cosy and you have so much storage. Everything is so well organised.

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    1. Anne, thank you very much! Thanks for taking the time to stop and say hello.

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  14. Oh wow! You have had such an interesting life and I love your home. You have certainly made it look and feel homely. All of the little touches are brilliant. It is amazing what you can fit into such a small space, you have done a great job.

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    1. Kim, thank you very much! It has been a very interesting life, one that inspires me to keep growing and learning as the years slide by! Thank you for visiting, I appreciate it.

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  15. I just loved the tour of your home! It's so warm and welcoming.
    I appreciate you sharing your home with Sweet Tea & Friends June link-up.

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    1. Paula, thank you and thanks for letting all of us share with your readers at Sweet Tea and Friends!

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