In my latest podcast, episode 4, if you haven’t listened to it by now, I would recommend listening to it and then reading this story. So folks, let’s pull up a chair, maybe a box of tissues and prepare to hear the true story of how I lost a 1999 Coachmen Royal and a 2003 Keystone Montana.
I decided to tell a story that would blow most of the RVer’s away. When you ask someone how do you lose one RV much less two RV’s, it’s rather an interesting and long story. It’s a journey that leaves you speechless as we never really think of the “negatives” with camping. We certainly don’t see social media blowing up with negative posts as then who’d really want to camp or RV after that? The reality is that life is unpredictable and anything can happen. We have seen RV’s destroyed by mother nature whether due to wildfires, flooding, hurricanes and even tornadoes.
My latest podcast was a challenging one for me to speak of. Sharing a personal story can sometimes be hard but also rewarding at the same time. When I sit back and think of all the memories it does seem like a fresh wound at times but I’m also glad that yes, I experienced it because I can share that today with you wonderful folks.
I remember the day I was on the lot at the dealership like it was yesterday. It was mid June, the sun was shining bright, a nice cool breeze went through my hair as I walked through the RV lot browsing campers. I remember opening the door to one RV and quickly shutting the door as animal urine was breathtaking. In the back row among many other used campers sat my future home. The Coachmen Royal was nothing exquisite like some of the campers back in 2013 but it sat on the lot almost as if it stood proudly among the used and it caught my attention. The dalmatian on the front and how the exterior glistened in the summer sun. Upon entering the camper, everything was beautiful. The light blue carpet laid there with no stains and the furniture sat as if no one had even sat on it. Never did I even think that the next seven months of RV ownership would leave me completely speechless. So let me forewarn you now, the pictures you will see are real and unedited. This is what was captured by yours truly.
Folks, we all have normal bowel movements at least I guess we do and when we have to go, we have to go! It was pretty well certain that the selling dealership never properly cleaned the blank tank much less even looked in it. We started having issues with the black tank not dumping properly. It would never go below 2/3 full on the “Test” and just about 80% of the time you could see your “bowel movement” at the opening of the toilet. From the time we bought it, we always dumped it at least once a week sometimes twice a week depending on usage. We used the proper chemicals in it and still we were having problems.
I’m pretty sure the previous owners never dumped the tanks regularly much less bothered using chemicals in it. The inner walls of the toilet drain pipe were caked if you catch my drift… poor maintenance will cause it to build up on the side of the walls. Granted this was something we raised concerns to at the selling dealership about having it replaced but was assured this wouldn’t be a problem with the way it was caked, now I kind of think that may have been incorrect but hey, it’s been a learning experience for sure! When we bought the camper in July of 2013 and it was getting its final cleaning we asked that the blank tank be cleaned as we could tell it was in bad shape. The dealership said they would do that and that it was part of their cleaning procedure for a used camper. So we thought okay that should make a huge difference. Well by the time the camper got to our RV park, they didn’t clean the tanks and of course they lied but what was I going to do? We lived nearly 3 hours away from the dealership and well lesson learned on that part of it.
So, after the chemicals and change of different brands of toilet paper still failed to fix the problem, I was able to research products related to our issue and found something called the Flush King. The Flush King wasn’t a new product, it had been on the market for quite some time. Now a days, most of your newer campers have a built in flush system like the Tornado for example. We hooked up the Flush King to our sewer hose and sewer connector and began the task of hopefully draining our black tank. As a side note, please do not use your regular drinking water hose, please make sure you at least have a back up hose for these situations! After several hours of sitting outside using the Flush King, it did indeed for the first time lower our black tank to our surprise. A requirement for this is definitely patience, face mask and disposable gloves! I’m pretty sure I don’t need to explain why you want those things. The flush king is a tedious process as you have to let your water hose run and fill up the line then shut your water hose off when you hear that “clicking” sound meaning it’s full. Then you pull the lever and slowly but surely you do get to witness an unpleasant sight but none the less it did do a great job of pulling the clogs down and getting our tank somewhat back to normal. Our “test” was finally reading empty! The first time I had seen that word light up in months!
By January 2014, we had been fighting with the black tank for several weeks. Well the night of January 28th, 2014 proved to be the ultimate final straw. I guess we were one of the lucky ones that has ever dealt with this as one guy told us that he only knew a handful of people it had happened to. From what we know and was told, apparently there was some huge clog in the black tank line. For whatever reason, one fateful flush with a bit of extra water was a wrong turn because the moment I flushed the toilet, you’d think a volcano erupted. Screaming from the top of my lungs and in all sorts of panic mode, I stared hopelessly as all the black tank water was running up the line out of the commode, all over the floor, down the steps to the living room, all into the walls of the bathroom and living room. Then came the toilet paper, pee and poop. The odor was worse than the camper that smelled of animal urine. Frantically grabbing things and tossing them onto the couch, grabbing every single paper towel, washcloth, kitchen towel trying to stop it failed.
When the tank finally decided to stop as I can only imagine it was empty, I stared at the poop on the ceiling, on the light bulbs inside of the plastic covering, on the walls, cabinets, seams of the tub and was seeping even further back into the tub walls. Looking at everything and not knowing whether to scream, throw up, cry or panic, it was like every emotion hit instantly. We filled up two trashcans we had outside full of our clothes, towels, paper towels, stuff contaminated and yet it didn’t seem to make a difference. Couldn’t access the bedroom as the bathroom was in the middle between the living room and bedroom. That folks, was a nightmare beyond belief.
Now I won’t go into the details of insurance as our claim was denied and that’s a story for another day. So here’s the actual photo’s from that horrific night.
So long story short and once again I recommend listening to the podcast to grasp the full story, while staying in the hotel after the Coachmen Royal had blew up I viewed a lot of different campers. I even viewed a toy hauler but it was in horrible shape! The 2003 Keystone Montana had been on the lot for a while and when I was browsing the website trying to find my next home I came across it and instantly fell in love. I looked at the pictures and the floral pattern couch, the light green carpet, the beautiful wood detail I knew this was the one. I felt on top of the world because this was 37 feet long versus my Coachmen being 31 feet. I went from having one slide out to three slide outs and just couldn’t believe how lucky I was to call this “my home”. Trust me, I took a flashlight and checked the toilet and made sure it wasn’t “caked” like the Montana. I definitely did not want to experience that ordeal again.
After accepting ownership of the Keystone Montana, the hardest struggle for 72 hours was moving everything I owned from the Coachmen to the Montana. I thought I had a ton of stuff when I moved from an apartment to the Coachmen but moving everything from the Coachmen to the Montana was even more challenging and tiresome when one person is doing it all. The Keystone Montana was set up in Semora, North Carolina in February of 2014 and right after it was delivered we had the craziest snow storms for what seemed like two months straight. I’ll give the Keystone Montana credit though. My tanks never froze not one time and we never had any leaks which was a concern for me with the all the ice and snow we’d been experiencing. In mid April, it was time to move. We moved from Semora, North Carolina to Richmond, Texas. A small city located in between Rosenberg and Sugarland. What a climate change that was! I went from freezing to sweating! Texas heat is no joke and it seems like it’s always summer and sunny in Texas, well for the most part.
Didn’t have many issues with the Keystone Montana while we lived in Texas for two years. We had water damage in one of our slide outs which is a story for another day. However, in February 2016 we ended up getting ready to leave Texas and head to Jupiter, Florida. Before we left for Florida, we stopped at a dealership and had the Keystone Montana inspected to be sure it was road ready. We had always kept tire covers on the Keystone Montana and the tires had just been replaced in 2014 when we took possession of it. It passed inspection so we were ready to roll out. Unfortunately, we were unable to haul the Keystone Montana as the truck we had bought was only powerful enough to transport the Coachmen so we used a third party to relocate the Keystone Montana for us. It was going to be at least a two day trip relocating from Texas to Florida.
I checked in with the driver hauling the Keystone Montana about every 4 hours to make sure things were okay and that there was no issues and he always informed us that everything was good. On the final day about 8 hours away from our destination, I received a phone call that I had no idea would turn my world upside down. The driver had just crossed into Florida and said he was on the side of the road as the Keystone Montana had a blow out. He said he was going to limp the camper to a dealership that was about 15 miles away to get the tire fixed as the rim was bent terribly. I begged him not to move forward from the interstate and that I had already called roadside assistance per my insurance to come out. All he had to do was wait and he didn’t. He ended up hauling the Keystone Montana about 15 miles down the road to a dealership and had the tire replaced and the rim fixed but the damage was already done.
When we finally met up at the location where the Keystone Montana was going, I remember clearly jumping out of the car and walking slowly to the Keystone Montana and breaking down into tears. My home, my life, my memories sat there broken, damaged, destroyed. The overwhelming surplus of feelings hit me like a train that was unable to stop in its tracks. I thought how could this happen to me again. I had just lost the Coachmen not even two years ago and now the Keystone Montana sat there damaged.
Insurance authorized the Keystone Montana to go to their “Preferred Repair Shop” and I had no idea that the damage could possibly become worse and a battle of six months would destroy a piece of me and my life. The details of how that occurred I will share for another day. Needless to say after six months my Keystone Montana was finally taken to a second dealership for a second opinion and it was too late. My home, a piece of my life was far too gone to be even be considered fixable. Where the water heater was hit during the blow out, water had leaked and the flooring in that cabinet had gotten into the wall and floor. The rear part of the RV where our two recliners used to sit at had to be approached as if you were stepping on eggshells as when you stepped down the floor would crunch and you could see the sun actually shining from the ground up. Cockroaches had made their way inside the coach and left their “mark” all over the counter tops, all over the cabinets, all over the floor. Some were the size of my thumb. I’ll never forget the day a $14,995 RV was only barely worth $2,000.
Losing two RV’s in a matter of three years was beyond difficult and hard. I won’t lie, the remaining months of 2016 and then 2017, it was hard to even look at RV’s as the memories and struggles were very hard. However, time heals everything right? So, it’s 2018 well almost 2019 and I’m ready to go camping! I’ve been shopping for a RV and as I mentioned in my podcast I’m more of a used than new kind of gal. I like the challenges with the used RV’s as it seems like you can always find ways to update the interior but also have to tackle those “negative” problems.
Looking back at least I can say I have a ton of knowledgeable questions when shopping for a RV and key things to definitely look for. So with every negative, truly there is a positive, a silver lining so to speak.