Projects & Preparations

The boys have been keeping plenty busy with activities with the grandparents and toys of various vintages brought out from storage for the occasion.

Our main concern in this department is that there won’t be a whole lot left to do once Lori and I finally set about the task of getting our new home ready for our next adventure. But we’ll figure it out.

After two weeks in the U.S., we finally get to bring the RV home today, which we’re super excited about. We’re hoping we can move forward as quickly as possible with prep and provisioning and be on the road headed south in 1-2 weeks max.

But there are three things at this point that we’re hoping won’t gum up the plans too much.

The first is getting the plates, registration, and title. Not as quick as we originally thought, but we have some ideas.

The second is Amazon delivery times to Roseburg. We were banking on 2-day Prime delivery to get a jump on outfitting this monster, but seems things are taking around a week to reach Roseburg. That wouldn’t be a huge if we knew what we needed right now (or earlier). But we’ll need to take measurements and installation of some stuff will take a while once we get it.

Being winter, the third wild card is the weather. It’s been pretty darn rainy this past week and there’s a storm front coming in. Looks like we’ll have a dry couple of days next week, but there’s quite a bit of snow forecast for the Siskiyous to the south and Sierra Nevada, which are both right in the direction we’re headed.

But first things first. The owner of the dealership is delivering the RV to Eugene at 11am today. Time to head north!

The exchange went off without a hitch, and we made it back to Roseburg without incident. We also lucked out on the weather.

Lots of fog driving north to meet up, but good visibility and dry pavement on the way back. And by early afternoon, clear skies and unseasonably warm temps.

Here she is, parked safely in the driveway of Lori’s parents’ currently vacant rental house located just behind their primary residence, which should make for a convenient outfitting situation.

Rolling into town, we thought we’d go ahead and get titling and registration done.

We were originally going to do what everyone seems to do these days heading to Mexico and get South Dakota license plates for the rig.

Why on earth would we do that? Well, there are all sorts of advantages, and I could fill an entire blog post on it. However, we did not end up going that route because the turnaround time was obscene. 3-5 weeks just to process the paperwork, then another 10-12 weeks to get the plates (confirmed by the Clay County Treasurer, herself).

In that respect, it’s really good we didn’t end up trying to buy the vehicle in Arizona. Not being Arizona residents, we would have had two very inconvenient options: to go the South Dakota route or drive the rig up to Oregon to get it titled and registered.

After deciding on doing it all in Oregon, we initially thought we’d have the dealer do all the paperwork, which in hindsight would have been a big mistake. Dealer paperwork goes through Salem, where it can take a couple of weeks to get plates and registration and 4-6 weeks to get your title. In the end, we opted to take her ourselves to the good ol’ DMV in Roseburg.

10 minute wait (max) and 15 minutes after that, we walked out with our plates and registration. Estimated time of arrival on the title is two weeks. We’re hoping it arrives sooner, but it’s the quickest turnaround time we could have hoped for.

It’s a strange feeling having something in your possession that you kind of know how to work, but that still seems alien and mysterious. Brings back memories of my first sailboat and motorcycle in Seattle. I bought each literally not knowing a thing about sailing or riding. By the time I sold them, it was a whole other story.

Sure, there will be a lot of trial and error, and we’ll make mistakes. But that’s the best way to learn and it’s all part of the adventure.

Fortunately, the Winnie came with all the original manuals (a thousand pages combined weighing at least 20 pounds). I’m very excited to run through each system one-by-one, page-by-page. Lori’s excited that she doesn’t have to.

Of course, we couldn’t return for long without bringing the boys down to have a look at their new home. Noe saw it at the lot when we first viewed it, but this is Riley’s first time. Come to think of it, it’s probably Riley’s first time ever being in an RV.

In case you were wondering, this is a 2010 Winnebago Chalet Class C motorhome. 25 feet in length and powered by a Ford Econoline E-450 Super Duty chassis with a 6.8 liter Triton V-10.

The Winnie sleeps 6, has a Cummins generator, propane furnace and water heater, dual-power fridge (gas and shore power), microwave, propane oven and range, and brand-new 15,000 BTU heat pump roof unit. It holds 55 gallons of gas, 36 gallons of fresh water, 18 gallons of propane, 39 gallons of black water (toilet) and 29 gallons of grey water (sink/shower).

According to the dealer and Carfax, it’s spent most of its life in Arizona, and just arrived in the Pacific Northwest this last fall.

The rig is ready to roll for a week-long camping trip. But there are several additional things we’ll need to do before we are able to live in this thing full time in Mexico for the next year or two.

Some upgrades we’re considering at this point are a backup camera, tire pressure monitoring system, Starlink, solar panels and DC inverter for off-grid/ boon docking, built-in safe and/or secure space for valuables, window tint, and some sort of dividing wall for the overhead bunk for the boys.

We also still need a lot of the basics, like a 30 amp surge protector, water filter and pressure regulator, levelers, windshield cover, kitchenware, bedding, organizers, new fire extinguisher, new spare tire, and so on.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to source most of that stuff locally, so we’re beholden to the online shopping gods. Which means we can’t start on a lot of these projects until the parts arrive in about a week.

Until then, we’ll be cleaning, provisioning, planning, doing the projects we can do, and making the most of our time with family before we hit the road.

It was a particularly pleasant February evening, so we headed to the park down the road for the boys to monkey around a bit.

We were surprised by the number of other families there who had the same idea, despite the growing number of transients and drug addicts taking up residence just yards away from the playground.

Noe’s favorite play structure in town at the moment. He couldn’t reach the top this past summer, but now summits like a pro.

Tuckered out from an eventful day, the boys fell right to sleep. Lori and I seized the opportunity and stole away to the town’s McMenamins for a celebratory drink. Tomorrow, the real work begins.

With the RV finally sitting in the driveway, it’s time to tackle our To-Do list. Fortunately, the rig was delivered squeaky clean from the dealer, so we won’t have to spend a lot of time on that. Lori’s diving into organization projects, while I head to town with Noe.

We’ll spend the morning running fun and exciting errands such as pricing various parts and doodads at Home Depot, getting keys copied, and stepping into Harbor Freight for only the third time ever.

I admit, all of this was more exciting for me than it was for Noe, so I sweetened the deal with a hot cocoa. Given that the kid’s only had hot cocoa a handful of times in his life, it seemed to go a long way in ensuring a happy project buddy.

Enjoying Poppi’s famous yogurt covered strawberries and diving into some new-to-us books.

Yep, more baking with Grammy. Riley would be happy to do this every day if he could, I’m sure.

As you can see from the bins strewn about and taking over Grammy and Grampy’s family room, things are starting to get a little hectic around here with RV preparation. And the rain’s back. So, afternoon movie time’s in order while the grandparents rest and Lori and I buckle down on RV projects.

Amidst the craziness, Lori felt it might be a good time to trial the boys’ home school/ road school materials.

Though only five, Riley’s been attending some sort of traditional school for the past 2.5 years (Mexico starts public school at age 3). Noe’s started nursery school in Laos at just over a year old and has been in classes ever since (with the exception of six months in 2020 for some reason I can’t seem to recall at the moment).

All that to say, this is new territory for all of us. But the boys seem eager to have mommy as a teacher and open to try something new, which is a good start.

Today, Grampy had the idea of taking Noe to listen to the pianist at the Lenten Meditation at the church. Noe was excited to get to have just-Grampy time and he’s always up for listening to live music. Afterwards, he was proud to show off the detailed picture he drew to capture the experience.

Our first shipment of goodies arrives. While we wait for the rest, we’re also taking the time to pull a few bins from storage. We’ve still got some odds and ends left over from our time in Portland that we’re looking forward to unloading. At this point, if our housewares aren’t fit for a tiny home, it’s time for them to go.

The shipping boxes are starting to collect…again.

Noe’s turn to try out this home schooling thing.

Being a big fan of Bob Marley, Poppi thought Noe might like to see the new biopic out in movie theaters. A pretty good flick. And popcorn!

Grampy was nice enough to lend his workshop (and craftsmanship) to the boys’ divider wall project in the RV. It’s been a few years since I’ve gotten my hands dirty with a woodworking project, so it was nice to get a bit of a refresher (and learn some new things, as well).

Look who showed up for lunch! They took about a week to get here, but the important thing is that we’re moving forward. Tomorrow, more projects.

One of the more time consuming projects has been installing a backup camera. I could have gone easy on myself and gone with one of those new fangled wireless ones. But what’s the fun in that. Plus, I didn’t like the reviews of any, so wired camera it is.

At the same time, I thought it was worth replacing the stock stereo, which is just a generic old CD player and radio. Lori and I would like to be able to easily charge devices. So while we’re at it, why not add bluetooth and USB connections for playing music, charging and navigating from our phones? And since we’ve already got a screen, why not get a unit you can connect a backup camera to.

Seemed simple enough at first, even having done a few fairly complex stereo installs in my day. But of course it wasn’t. The most challenging aspect of the whole project was routing the camera cable from the stereo head unit 20 feet away to the rear of the RV without making too many unnecessary holes.

Ultimately, the solution I came up with was running the cable underneath along the tow cluster, then up a PVC conduit mounted to the rear. Just waiting on a few sunny days forecast for the weekend to mount the exterior hardware and finish it all up.

In terms of my off-grid projects like adding solar and an inverter, I think I’ll wait to see what our power needs are once we get to Mexico. Besides, I’d rather be drilling holes into the roof and laying sealant in a dry desert in early spring than up here in Oregon in the middle of winter.

Noe couldn’t let Riley have all the fun.

The result of our joint efforts on the boys’ wall. The idea is for it to be removable and stowable on driving days, so I hinged it in the middle with a latch. It fits perfectly behind the passenger seat while driving and wedges up here when we need it. Hopefully it will be enough to keep the two crazy brothers from bothering (or hatching schemes with) each other at night.

And here it is with the sheets on, all ready to get rolling.

The boys seem to have taken to their new rooms. Noe can’t wait to decorate.

Riley can’t wait to populate his cubbies with his toys and animals.

Here we are in late February, so we thought it might be time to give the boys their big Christmas gifts. Each boy got a small mp3 player with headphones and a headlamp. We ordered them days before we left La Paz, so they arrived here just under a month ago. They’re mostly for their bunks in the RV and travel days (and neither had asked about them), so we weren’t exactly in a hurry to pass them off. However, the closing Amazon return window forced our hand, so Merry Christmas Part II, boys!

Riley got to go on a brand new adventure with Grammy and Grampy in Grampy’s pickup. Times have changed a bit since I was Riley’s age, so Riley’s never had the privilege of sitting up front in a car. A trip to haul some boxes of books for charity in Grampy’s pickup, which happens to be a big ol’ single cab, presented the perfect opportunity for all of Riley’s front seat dreams to finally become reality.

Meanwhile, Noe got to help us with the latest RV project on the list. Sanitizing and flushing the freshwater tank.


We’ve had a wonderful string of warm and dry days lately, and I’m happy to report, nearly all of our projects are complete and we’re just days away from being ready to head south to Mexico.

Only issue now is the weather. Two big winter systems are headed our way (one to the north and an even bigger one to the south and east, which is the direction we need to go). Even if we’re able to get out of town in a day or two, we might not have many directions we can go without hitting snow. Hard to believe as the sun sets on a brilliant day in the low 70s.

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