I’m not one to “keep up with the Joneses” or in this case, the Rexes, but my neighbor, Howard, is an engineer and he offered me his precisely drawn plans for siting a park model.
The idea of a “grounded” home smacked of a lifestyle I hadn’t lived for two decades. While the Sprinter was on the market, I actually owned three RVs. For the winters I resided in the fifth wheel, with the Sprinter or the Georgetown at the ready for adventure and mayhem, and I still felt like a “full-time RVer.” Would a house without wheels draw me into a permanent “groove?”
Roots were important in my first life. Only Jack’s death convinced me I needed a change. I had no idea twenty years would pass before I nested again, nor did I, in any stretch of the imagination, think this “died-in-the-feathers” Michigoose, would settle in Arizona. Humans plan, God laughs, and so I went through a new door.
Shopping for Models
Park models have enough room to actually entertain once in a while but are small enough to demand only a couple of nose-twitching hours to reach nearly total purification. My Virginia daughter, a landscape architect with a smidgen of real estate training, visited the models with me, pointing out the good points and in the case of my wanting a loft model, the bad points.
I loved that loft looking out over the living room. I couldn’t stand in it, but mentally it grew a big easy chair, a lamp, a comprehensive library, and a stand-alone flickering fire. She pointed out that with the loft I would lose one of two skylights and knowing how much I wanted those, she was right. She made an even better point when she said the first time I stood up and hit my head, I would ruin the filtering system with blue smoke.
By June, I ordered the Cavco Desert Rose. The path led through the living room, the kitchen with its “real” stove and refrigerator, past the bathroom tucked around the corner, and continued into the bedroom. I chose all interior and exterior colors, none of which I remembered at delivery time. Great surprises!
Permits from North Ranch and Yavapai County, thanks to Howard’s precise plans, were accepted and approved in one day (Amazing!).
Then came that “moving” I said I would never do again. Friend Gene tore down the shed built under the fifth wheel overhang and removed all skirting. With Gene and friend Charlotte, we very creatively stacked “stuff” in my shed/office for the summer and moved everything else into the Georgetown for Northwest traveling.
On October 25, my little dollhouse was anchored to the cement and the hitch was removed. Sewer and water lines were put in the next day.
Neighbors arrived with chairs to watch the proceedings. They did a walk-through approval while I cleared up paperwork. One of them even brought mini cinnamon rolls over that morning, but Gene and I and another visitor demolished them before anyone else arrived. Over the next few weeks, I gave tours several times a day. If I had only thought, I could have charged enough to pay for it! The tours kept my house-straightening skills sharpened.
A birthday present to myself was an 18-inch dishwasher, tiny by most standards, but as efficient as the ones that left me and went off to college so many years before. I went with an all-electric system so I could remove the huge propane tank off the lot. After buying a bed, davenport (that’s a couch in Western terms), and a big reclining chair, I once more nested and my status went to “extended time RVer.”
Cavco required that I report anything wrong with the carpet, floor, and countertops within five days. Almost everything had warranties for a year. They suggested I make a list of problems whenever I found something they needed to change.
Danny, Resort Homes’ “Jack of all trades,” came a week later to walk me through the unit. By that time, I had figured it out for myself. He checked everything and for an extra fee, installed fans onto the fan-ready living room and bedroom ceilings. The added skirting made quite a difference in the overall look of the park model.
The plans were “reversed,” putting the hitch on the bedroom end and the living/dining area with all its windows looking into Saguaro Park toward the mountains. It was “mirrored” so that the sliding door and back door were facing the biggest share of the lot and my gardens. An Arizona room—an enclosed patio room—is still part of the plan but it will take spring to happen.
I am really no more grounded than when I lived in the fifth wheel; it just seems that way. When the sun comes through all those windows and skylights in this airy terra firma house, even with the drapes closed, it gives me a true burst of joy. Wow! It’s a great way to start the day. If it pulls me back sooner from wherever I am RVing, that’s OK. After 20 years of RVing full time, I have given myself permission to nest a major portion of the year.
Would I recommend a park model for others? You bet. If you find that perfect place and have a desire to establish part or full-time roots, a park model is just the right size so you can relax and not spend all your time cleaning.
However, this endorsement carries a warning. Make no mistake; responsibilities lurk within property ownership. When inevitable maintenance requires your personal attention, you may wish you were still RVing full time, leaving the work to someone else.
Another phrase comes to mind, “Be careful what you wish for!” God Bless.
Autographed copies of Revised RVing Alaska and Canada ($16.95); Adventures with the Silver Gypsy ($14.95); Full-Time RVing: How to Make it Happen $14.95); In Pursuit of a Dream ($8), and Freedom Unlimited, The Fun and Facts of Full-timing ($9) are available through author Sharlene Minshall, Box 1040, Congress, AZ 85332-1040, www.full-time-rver.com or Amazon.com. Postage and handling are $4 for one book and $1 for each additional book.