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About Bill&Anneli

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    Full time on the road
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    Cycling, hiking and Class A diesel pushers

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  1. We used NIRVC when we went to Sweden. We have used their Dallas as well as Atlanta facilities, not Lal Vegas (yet).They were great- we were able to stay in the RV on their site both 2 days before and also 2 days after our return flight to catch up on rest etc before hitting the road. If you ask, they may also be able to store your toad (we stored the jeep with them as well while in Europe). They will wash/wax/clean inside, empty/flush tanks, whatever you need. They have indoor storage which we used since we stored with them during winter. There are probably less expensive options, but I doubt you'll find much more convenient ones.
  2. YES, health insurance is our biggest bill.... VERY expensive. We are also many years away from medicare. Have been on COBRA thru a former employer, that is about $1,700 per month, which will expire in November this year. We have shopped a bit, and depending on your income you may qualify for premium tax credit thru the market place (healthcare.gov). And you can call the insurance agents affiliated with escapees (look under Benefits, endorsed vendors), they offer a different type of coverage that may work for you depending on your health and risk tolerance. You may want to review the other threads on this forum on this topic. lots of people provide links to different websites with info. Sorry, yeah, health insurance is a total mess in this country...
  3. No, the Economic Impact Payment is not includible in your gross income. Therefore, you will not include the Payment in your taxable income on your Federal income tax return or pay income tax on your Payment. It will not reduce your refund or increase the amount you owe when you file your 2020 Federal income tax return. A Payment also will not affect your income for purposes of determining eligibility for federal government assistance or benefit programs. As always, it's best to consult your tax professional or the IRS website directly for details.... https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/economic-impact-payment-information-center-reconciling-on-your-2020-tax-return
  4. We went thru the Costco website to find an ACA provider - they were really helpful and knowleagble about what we would qualify for etc. Didn't try to sell us anything, directed us to the website, to type in the info so we could narrow it down to what we qualify for etc. Then we could click on the plans, read the fine print to learn about the things that are of importance to us. After we were educated we could call back and ask specific questions, help signing up etc. This took weeks for us. Here is the link. https://www.cbcins.com/ Remember, the income/subsidy thing for the ACA plans is a bit tricky and VERY important. - If you apply for insurance for 2021, you have to estimate your income for 2021. The exact amount of income on which your eligibility for the tax credit is based is not determined until you file your 2021income tax return (which you would do usually spring 2022). Say you take the tax credit. THEN, when you file your 2021 income tax return (usually in April 2022) - you will know if you either qualify for more of a credit than you got (ie your income turned out lower than estimated) THEN you get a tax refund, or the refund is applied to whatever you otherwise might owe the IRS for past years. If your income turns out higher than you estimated, you may have to PAY BACK the tax credit to the IRS. I have seen folks owe as much as $18,000 to the IRS because they signed up for a $1,500/month plan, took the full tax credit and paid $0 premium per month. Only to be shocked when they filed their income tax return a year and half later (from when they signed up for that insurance), had higher income than they estimated and now have to pay all that money back to the IRS. So estimate your income very carefully, err on the conservative side (ie estimate high), because you will eventually get all the credit to which you are entitled when you file your income tax return. I think its better to get money back from the IRS than to owe them money.... Ofcourse best is to estimate exactly right - but who has a perfect crystal ball. IF your circumstances change during the year after you sign up for the market place insurance and tax credit - NOTIFY the exchange immediately of your change in income so they can adjust your tax credit accordingly in the middle of the year. One example is if you cash in Retirement funds (IRA, 401K etc) - that is INCOME that counts for this purpose. This could wipe out your eligibility for the tax credit. So consult your tax professional about this! There does not seem to be any PPO plans in the ACA network - all HMO, so geographically limited. We are healthy, and think maybe an HMO would work for us if we plan once a year trip to Texas, schedule our regular medical etc then. And supplement with a Skymed type plan (that flies you "home" in an emergency). The HMO plans we looked at do cover out of area true medial emergency, and then all follow up treatment etc needs to be in the HMO area. This probably only works for people who don't go to the doctor often and are willing to pay for some office visits out of the area out of pocket if needed. This option gives us peace of mind that if we have a major medial event we are covered (albeit we have to go to Texas, we probably wouldn't do much traveling anyway if we had a major medical event like stroke, heart attack etc). And we have the option of paying out of pocket for minor things if we don't feel like driving all the way to Texas for a simple doctors office visit. Now, maternity care is a totally different situation, you need regular appointments, and I for one, would prefer the same doctor to care for me thru pregnancy and deliver the baby.... so would think long and hard about traveling full time without ability to go see that one doctor. But we're all different. Also, we found that the Fixed Indemnity plan thru RVer exchange specifically excludes maternity care, so you want to ask for that stuff in detail before signing up- they may have supplemental stuff they could sell you for that. We spoke to John Fitzpatrick at the RV exchange, he was very helpful, sent detail/fine print etc so we could answer specific questions we had. I agree, this whole insurance thing is time consuming, frustrating, complicated and there are way too many people out there just selling stuff they don't fully understand. Take the time to research this and educate yourself, I don't know of any shortcuts. Good luck !
  5. If your budget is flexible, consider Newmar, they make diesel and gas. We have a 37 ft diesel with a sleep number king bed. (3717 floor plan, I also like 3709 or 3409 in the 2019 line-up. Floor plan numbers vary with each year). We definitely do not feel we need more space, if we trade this in, it will be for smaller, not bigger. I wrote about our recent experience on the Class A blog on this forum. I think you will be impressed by the Newmar brand. I also wrote a post on the "Beginning RVing" about a week ago reflecting our first year experience full timing and included comments on what we spent. There are lots of bloggers out there sharing their budgets. And ofcourse there are people who live on $1,500 month all the way to $10,000 or more per month. I looked at a wide variety of budgets, made adjustments based on our life style and made one for us. The most helpful to me were budgets from people who fulltimed in the same type of RV as us (ie class A couple vs single people in a van for example). What I can say after one year, is that we spend about the same every month as we did in our sticks&bricks house. Our food/entertainment/cell plan etc spending is about the same on the road as it was in our house. The Mortgage payment, hoa fees, insurance, property taxes, utility bills etc are replaced by camp site fees, diesel, maintenance etc. We had a small mortgage (having planned and prepared for full timing for years), and we tend to stay in RV parks, maybe not always the free or cheapest option in a location, so that ofcourse may not be true for all. Happy trails !
  6. As an update, Newmar lives up to their reputation, and stands behind their brand. Today we spoke with the Customer service manager at Newmar, and he stated that they have what they call "seamless service". Meaning, Newmar works out issues directly with Freightliner, leaving us, the customer out of the middle. We are a few months out of warranty with Newmar, but still under warranty with Freightliner. Newmar has approved the entire claim today. We ofcourse don't know how Newmar and Freightliner work that out on their end, which is the whole point of seamless service. We are very grateful that Newmar is treating us the way we were told they would when we purchased their brand. Newmar has proven to us that they are standing behind their product.
  7. Lowest cost is not always the least expensive.... Buying from a reputable dealer with excellent support may end up costing you less in the long run. Especially first time buyers. Knowing what we know now... oh boy!! We could have been taken advantage of in a big way buying our first coach. Luckily the dealer didnt "cheat" us on anything and was very supportive and provided access to their service department thru our initial learning curve. I would personally rather buy from someone who treats me right, than a "shady" lowest price. And usually dealers will match other dealers for the exact same make/model etc.
  8. We first off had the coach professionally waxed before we went to the Gulf Coast. We spent one month near South Padres. Because we were cautioned about the salt, we stayed at Tropical Trails RV resort in Brownsville. Took about 20 mins or so to drive out to SPI. We didn't have any problems with rust. (Tropical Trails was by the way one of the nicest places we stayed this year). We then stayed in Galveston TX for a month, this time just across SanLouis Pass Rd, so walking distance to the beach. We washed with baking soda solution as recommended on various blogs and hosed things off. We also sprayed T9 liberally in certain spots. Had to scrub off a few rust spots on our bikes and Jeep, but nothing serious. After that we stayed in Gulf Shores Alabama for 3 months. Same procedure there, and we chose campgrounds about 1 mile from the beach. When we finally left after a total of 5 months on the Gulf Coast we didn't have any significant rust issues. We never did the "on the beach camping" though. It looks cool, but we feel that will have to wait for another chapter in our lives when we don't have so much (and expensive) equipment with us to take care of :-) Enjoy your trip !
  9. Thanks for all your replies. So far we are jumping thru the hoops with Freightliner, providing photos etc. I will say one thing, their customer service representative is very professional, knowledgeable about her product and knows her own processes very well; and she follows up with phone calls and replies to e-mails within the time frames she commits to. And yes, searched iRV2, can't really find anything similar, from what we understand this is not a common occurrence. There is a lot of info out there regarding how to repair (mostly on trucks). On our coach everything is pretty much encased and protected from the elements so we can't really access or see much of this stuff by even laying under the coach with a flash light. And sorry Dennisvr, I can't really provide any more detail. All I know is the arm was not bolted on as it should be (the Freightliner technician did not take photos, just went ahead and attached the arm with a bolt). Freightliner told us the air control arm is bolted on at Freightliner before shipping to the manufacturer. We also plan to discuss the issue with Newmar, as there should also be some responsibility there. Newmar supposedly does their own safety/inspection when the chassi is delivered to them, AND, more importantly, BEFORE the coach leaves their factory.... the right people at Newmar are not as easy to get in touch with as Freightliner, so we hope to talk to Newmar tomorrow. We'll see where this mess ends, I will keep you posted, please keep us in your prayers. Thank you !
  10. We had a traumatic drive last week.... came to find out that the air valve control arm was ZIP TIED (!?!?!?!?) instead of bolted on as it should be. The zip tie broke, so the air control valve arm was just hanging there. Because we were not fully aired up we a lot of things happened - water leak, coolant leaking to the chassi control board which is now damaged, internal "house" damage (cracked tile) etc etc. Needless to say, nobody thinks its their responsibility...(We have an extended warranty thru Wholesale warranties, still waiting to find out what, if anything they will pay for.) We have a 2019 Newmar Ventana, 3717 on a Freightliner Chassi, cummings engine. My question is, does anyone know how the chassi is delivered to the manufacturer - ie is this air valve control arm zip tied at FL, so the manufacturer (NM) can bolt it down after they add their components to the system ? How would one go about finding out ? what other mechanical issues (that we can't see) should we be worried about (driveability, safety) etc? we are scared to take this thing on the road now.... Any suggestions of where to turn is appreciated, thanks !
  11. Thanks 2 gypsies, I'm taking the conversation about Freight Liner, repairs etc to the class A forum.
  12. For what it's worth on the length thing - definately have your wife test drive a 34/35 ft class A as well as the super C. Super C may feel less intimidating at 40 ft than class A at 34 because of where the driver sits in relation to the front wheels. It also takes some getting used to being comfortable in the passenger seat of a Class A, vs a super C. We have a 37 ft class A and after taking the 2 day RV driving school I am ok driving it. I find it a bit exhausting and can't say I love to drive it as much as my husband does. Whatever you buy, consider RV driving school. Good luck !
  13. Hello!! Today we celebrate exactly 1 year of full timing in our class A diesel pusher. It has been NOTHING like we planned or thought it would be and yet it has been an INCREDIBLE, wonderful, some things even better than we imagined. We have no regrets, glad we did this and at the same time, we feel today that maybe its time for us to go back to a sticks&bricks home. It has been awesome, but we have also had set-backs, and we were a little stressed out by our steep learning curve in the beginning (never having owned any type of RV before). While some things were more expensive than we thought, we managed to stay within our budget. We have mostly stayed in RV resorts, not much boondocking. I think sometimes we spent money like drunken sailors this first year, so many things to buy.... We have spent on average $7,200 per month - all in (food, diesel, taxes, insurance, entertainment, travel, all the RV supplies&gadgets, engine service etc etc). We have no debt, our biggest bill is COBRA health/dental insurance which we pay $1,700/ mo for. And the $7,200 average includes going to Sweden for Christmas (staying with family there and storing the RV at an indoor facility). I'm glad we had some cash reserves, because the spending was un-even and some months we needed to use it, other months we were able to replenish it. We picked up our Class A in Tampa Florida on August 29, 2019, our start was a little "rocky" as we ended up having to rush out of there due to a threat of a Hurricane, rather than stay and learn our coach at the dealer as planned. Also campgrounds in Georgia were full as Floridians were evacuating, and we didn't have any reservations. It all worked out despite several smaller set-backs, we successfully arrived in back "home" in Oregon to register the motorhome with DMV and had fun along the way. We left Oregon early October and headed toward LIvingston TX, where we had signed up for RV bootcamp in November. Which everyone should attend once in their life, and weigh your RV and take the driving school - all great experiences. We stayed at fun places along the way, visited national parks, went on great bike rides, played golf and hiked. Ate awesome food - we joke that we eat our way across America - LOL We headed to a Newmar Dealership in Dallas TX in early December, where we had the annual diesel engine service etc performed. This we had budgeted for, its spendy, but since its still under warranty we wanted this dealership to do it. Then went to Sweden for Christmas, returned to Dallas and headed south to spend the winter along the Gulf Coast. We had a few wonderful RVing months, seeing parts of the country that we never had seen before, met awesome people, caravaned for the day to Mexico with fellow RVers, met the best Karaoke singer ever and learned a lot from seasoned RVers taking us under their wings. Started in South Padres Island, and stayed in great places as we traveled north, staying about a month at each place (we found it cheaper to pay the monthly rate rather than daily/weekly). By the time we arrived in Orange Beach Alabama Covid broke out. We were scheduled to stay there from March 1-31. We ended up staying there, sheltering-in-place for 3 months, so left Alabama June 1. We felt very fortunate to be "Stuck" in that beautiful place of all places during the shut-down, even though it was a little unsettling not to have a place to "go home" to in such extraordinary circumstances. But we really were fine not being able to "go home". I was a bit upset that we could not go see our son during that time as he was isolated working from home for weeks, it was a little hard being so far from family at that time. Like everyone else, our original travel plans and reservations for summer 2020 were canceled..... so since we had nowhere to go in particular, and by now had a black tank sensor issue, we headed to the Newmar dealer/repair facility near Atlanta Georgia on June 1. Oh BOY - we got to see rioting up close and it was SCARY, so we decided to stay out of big large metro areas..... Our coach was manufactured in Nappanee Indiana, near Elkhart (RV Capital of the world), so we headed there for a sensor replacement. AND we went to the RV Hall of Fame Museum, very cute, worth a visit if in the area. While in Nappanee, we discovered how beautiful and peaceful rural America is, even in times of crisis. And how much we appreciated the peaceful, beautiful rural bicycling, so we extended our stay there for another week. Thanks in large part to COVID we had to re-think our travel plans and decided to focus on the best bicycling and rails to trails, while staying rural. We discovered the most gorgeous, peaceful towns and awesome bicycle rides in Missouri, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Places we never heard of, wonderful places we probably never would have found if we had stuck with our original travel plans. Many of these little places were Amish communities, with the best pies you can ever imagine ! And, great bicycling, there were even roads that only allowed horse&buggies and bikes, no motorized vehicles, a bicyclist dream !! Because the Amish are non-political, we found that as long as we kept the TV off, our moods were good, life was grand and we felt a bit removed from current events. We were of course horrified and saddened by the tragic events that took place and still are affecting people across the country. But it felt good to be able to still focus on the good things in life, and take a break from all the negativity in media and sometimes not so peaceful protesting. We love having our home and all our comforts with us wherever we go. We had really looked forward to attending RV rallies - none of which we were able to go to, again because of COVID. I will say that because of COVID, we have mostly kept to ourselves, in our RV and on our bicycles, limited our trips to the store, not really eating out etc. So we have not met many new friends. Luckily we enjoy each others company, but its a bit lonelier than we had expected out here on the road. Our drive last week was the trip from hell. Evidently our Air valve Control Arm was ziptied rather than bolted down. And the zip tie broke, so the air valve control arm was just hanging there, as a result, we were not fully aired up. We got scrambled so bad that we have a cracked tile, lots of saw dust, the water re-circulation system in the shower leaked, so water was running out under the coach, wet insulation and all that goes with that. One of the coolant lines from the Oasis to the engine began leaking, dripping onto the control board, so break lights etc are not working correctly. Engine coolant leaking. Because we were riding so low, our Jeep (towed vehicle) broke lose. Disconnecting your TOAD on the side of the freeway is not a fun experience at all....Luckily Bill is a very good driver and we didn't have a wreck. We had to stay at a rest stop for the night until we could call coachnet and Freightliner for help. Luckily we are so comfortable in our home wherever we are. So now we are back where we started 2020, at NIRVC in Dallas, waiting to hear if our extended warranty will pay for any of this - so far the estimated repairs will run $5-6,000. The coach manufacturer has declined the repairs because we are 8 months out of warranty. As a side note- some people recommend towable RVs instead of motorized so you can stay in it while being repaired. I can say that we have been able to stay in our coach at every repair place, including the factory. Never had to go to a hotel. As we sit here, we are thinking maybe we just get the RV repaired, sell it and buy ourselves a sticks and bricks house. We really have mixed feelings about this. It has been a wonderful year, so many great experiences, and we still have so much we want to see and do. At the same time, maybe we are not cut out for the stress associated with owning a Class A Diesel pusher and all the things that can go wrong. This last drive was traumatic. Even before this happened to us, we have been talking about whether this coach is too big for us and maybe we should get something smaller. So, this is our first year experience, as I write this I don't know if there will be a second year for us.... In conclusion its been a mixed bag - mostly good. To Any one out there considering trying the RV lifestyle - we say: DO IT !!! It's worth it, and who knows, maybe you'll love it or hate it, but we don't think you will ever regret it.
  14. Yup, we have given up on the whole east coast trip for all of 2020, probably will head back out west in June, and hunker down for the rest of the year. We are still in Gulf Shores Alabama, have not moved since March 1. Hope to "re-plan" our east coast trip from the Florida Keys to Maine in 2021... I will keep the posts so I can refer to them when we resume travel planning. Thanks again for all the info, hope you're safe and healthy!
  15. Thank goodness for the internet - reading and participating in these lively discussions via the key board helps keep he boredom at bay and pass the time a little faster as we self-quarantine. As an update, we are staying put in Gulf Shores Alabama. Yesterday, we checked around with another 7-8 private camp grounds in this area, and all that we checked on were still open. All had LOTS of empty spots...We only found one that still honors the winter rates (the higher summer rates go into effect around here April 1 normally). The state park here was still open as of yesterday and as far as we know no plans on closing, lots of empty spots there too (its a huge park with about 500 camp sites). We asked a Ranger we met and she said she had not heard of any closure of the state park. Beaches, restaurants etc are all closed so its not your usual experience/vacation, but it is a safe place to stay will full hook-ups until this crisis settles down. I think there are lots of places like this around the country. So instead of spreading more dooms-day info - why don't we all support eachother by posting where places are still open for RV-ers who can't just "go home". Seems like a much better use of this forum than all the people posting about closures.... It seems obvious that before heading anywhere you call ahead to see if its still open... Stay safe and healthy, and please try not to spread negativity, there is plenty of anxiety right now and we all can use some reassuring words...
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