Saturday, February 04, 2017

Marcus and Agata and the American RV

We are still going back over our recent US holiday.  Today in blogpost land it is January 4th, 2017.  We are going to pick up an American RV.  It's part of a larger life plan

Touring America
Marcus and Agata have already expressed a desire to spend upwards of a year touring America.  We'd like to see more of the country, and also to do as many Running and Cycling races there as we travel.

I'd like to emphasise that we don't have access to nor can we claim any sort of US state benefit,  we will self finance this from our savings.  

And ideally we'd spec up and buy our perfect Motorhome,  do the travelling and racing, then sell it at the end of our adventure.

As a micro test we want to see what it is like living in an American RV. And this is what we will experiment with this holiday

Some Complications
(on the full plan)

- I'm pretty sure that to get RV insurance you need a fixed address, and then there is an American Driving license.  So it seems from Marcus' analysis that to do things legally you need to rent an apartment to get the address etc.  Now that's ridiculous

- Lastly as Europeans we can only spend a maximum of 6 months in the USA and there is no 'extended tourist visa' for people who promise not to leach of American benefits,   which we would not qualify for anyway

If anybody can help us with the snafu's then do let us know!  I mean we're offering to spend our own money in the USA, you might have thought America would have welcomed that. Right?

This Rental
We plan to hire a modest RV and see how practical RV living is. But first, we have to get from LA to Las Vegas

On the Bus
We have to get to Las Vegas.  We've driven from LA to Vegas before. It is really boring.  There are so few attractions you wouldn't believe it.  All our Americans friends agree.

So we elected instead to take a Coach, in fact Bolt Bus.  This leaves from Union Station.  We had done our research previously and there are a bzillion bus services from LA to Vegas.  A popular route it seems

We got to Union Station early because we had heard it was quite lovely inside.

RV Time
 Using this new technology called Uber we managed to get a ride from where Bolt Bus finished ... in the middle of bloody nowhere, to Road Bear RV Rental in Las Vegas.

We had previously researched many companies and vehicles and deals and for the short hire of a smallish RV,  we chose Motorhome Republic booking and selected Road Bear as the provider.

The staff were very helpful at Road Bear though it is necessary to do a lot of form filling and have an extended tour from somebody showing you the vehicle.

Being extremely particular people though, I think Road Bear had met their match on 'we see a scratch here'  and 'what does this knob do'.   Our guide did not get away until we understood everything!

Some Key Differences
European and US RV's have some key differences.  We'll discuss these in later days coverage.  But a summary is

US:  It is common to have a propane furnace for heating attached to a refillable tank.  Unlike Europe where it's normally cylinders that must be swapped out.

US: A diesel engine powered electric generator is commonplace and this generates US mains i.e 110V 60Hz.  In Europe generators are unheard of, you might get a battery powered DC to AC inverter at best in upmarket configurations

 Electric hookups are standard in Europe and the US

US: There is a second water input connection to accommodate mains water.  When connected the RV pump and freshwater tank is disconnected and you rely on the 'mains' water pressure and feed directly.

 US: There is a Black tank for toilet waste and a Grey water tank for everything else.  They empty via a single pipe.  In Europe the toilet waste goes into a portable cassette that you need to take out and dump separately.

By the end of the first night we were feeling quite pleased with ourselves.

Some Technology Enablers
Without our Smartphones and a <practically> unlimited Internet Connection, courtesy of our Pay as You Go Three UK phone SIM  things would have been between difficult and impossible ....

- Able to use Uber Internet Taxi service to get us from point to point
- Google Maps for all our Navigation and Route Planning
- Google for Opening hours, locations and information about our surroundings and stores.
- Google Calendar with our Itinerary and links to reservations
- Google Gmail for actual booking
- Phone as necessary

Yes, without that Internet connected Smartphone (and our backup of course) we would have been screwed.

And finally ... Walmart
It's time to head to the infamous Walmart to stock up on the essentials that we will need to live in our RV for the next week.  Including mundane things like sheets and pillows and quilt.   We will be making a careful expenditure spreadsheet  (you expected that right!) of the initial setup costs and of day to day running.  So we can more accurately project what it will cost us to live this way over 1 year, well assuming Donald will let us in, in the future.  (Special relationship Donald. Don't forget).

Backward: LA Walkabout
Forward: CES Day 1