Pennies, changes & gas heat

The other day I talked about life without a workshop. On the road, living in a motorhome, that’s one of many compromises we make in return for freedom and adventure. Browsing the grocery aisles yesterday afternoon, I was reminded of another trade-off.

We miss buying in bulk.

Space to store “back stock” is limited in this bus. We buy two rolls of paper towels at a time, not six or eight. We pass by 12-packs of toilet paper in favor of a four-roll bundle. We buy a couple of potatoes instead of a bag. Value-packs and two-fer deals do us no good when we don’t have room to stow what we won’t use right away. Shopping warehouse clubs would be pointless.

As a result, often we pay more per unit and certainly more in the long run. It can’t be helped.

I’ll wager that most folks don’t think about that when getting into RVing. and it’s probably not a thing for weekenders and most once-a-year vacationers. But for long-haulers and full-timers like us, it’s definitely something to consider. Shopping trips are smaller and more frequent, and pennies add up over time.

Speaking of groceries, something else that requires adjustment when traveling far from familiar surroundings is (for lack of a better term) “brand loyalty.” Sure, we can find Heinz and Tide and Dawn and Doritos everywhere we go, but not things like our favorite breads, condiments, sweet treats and produce.

Adapting, then, means giving the untried a whirl. Anything but a hardship, that necessity has immersed us in the bounty of the regions through which we’ve passed, introducing us to delicacies and niche products. Wilcoxson’s Ice Cream in Montana, Blue Bell in Texas and Blue Bunny on the Great Plains. Roadside stands bursting with Flathead cherries, high-country huckleberries and black apples. Local grass-fed beef, farm-fresh eggs and pastries hot from the oven. Incredible salsas and hot sauces, craft beer, small-batch whiskey and fresh-pressed cider.

Many joys of the road have come from changes we’ve made because we had to. I’m pretty sure there’s a lesson in there somewhere.


Ernie has two working furnaces again. The mobile tech we’d called late Friday night arrived early yesterday morning, listened to our description of the problem, reviewed the coach’s wiring diagrams and pulled off the access panel to investigate.

It wasn’t long before he had the rear furnace purring and heating the way it should. The problem was traced to the control board — the same part we’d had replaced in November. The previous tech had used “an Amazon board,” he said, a cheap item that was neither exactly right nor very robust.

Cleaning up the power-and-control contacts got it working again, but the board’s days probably are numbered. He gave us a choice between replacing it now or waiting ’til it failed completely.

This may surprise some, but we chose to wait. We bought a fuse-protected OEM-spec replacement board from this tech, at his cost, and accepted his offer to show me how to make the swap when the time comes. He patiently explained the proper replacement procedure and schooled me on making all of the connections.

Good guy, smart, hard worker. Great experience, and I came out of it with useful knowledge.

Our furnace repair was wrapped up about the time it got warm enough to switch over to Ernie’s electric heat pumps. It looks like gas heat will remain a nighttime thing for the next couple of weeks.

Today and tomorrow look like good candidates for spending quality time on The Mountain. Deb woke up this morning feelin’ a little puny, however, so we’ll have to see how that goes.

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

#LetsGoBrandon #FJB