Dolly and Gracie

I guess I shouldn’t have thought my adventure would be without roadblocks.


I checked out my RV before I even bought it. Ran a Carfax report. Asked all of the pertinent questions. I was still travelling from California when it was advertised for sale, so a couple of friends checked it out first.

My stepdad got on the phone with the seller (also an older Tennessee dude), and they did their secret handshake or whatever and my stepdad was assured the RV was in good shape and road-ready — with the exception of the tires, which needed to be replaced, and a new microwave, which he had already purchased and just needed to have installed. He even offered (my stepdad) to take half of the of new tires from the purchase price.

While all of this was happening, I was doing my own research into common problems for the make and model. I was mostly concerned about leaks and water damage in something so old. I was assured that there had never been any leaks or issues.

Trust is really important when you are purchasing something like this: you can inspect and you can research, but it all boils down to whether or not you trust the guy who is telling you how well he has maintained it.

When I was finally able to lay eyes on it myself, the seller immediately took me on a very long and detailed tour of how everything worked, no doubt convinced that my tiny female brain was not capable of research prior to purchase. It was a little overbearing but not unexpected, based on how I have been treated since I came up with this insane idea.

But everything checked out. So I made an offer. He accepted.

I bought it on Monday. I travelled four hours from my mom’s house to Cookeville, where I met the seller at a tire shop, so I could get new tires before I headed back to my mom’s. The plan was to take it home, take a few days to fix it up nice, then leave on the weekend. I have doctor’s appointments and scans scheduled in California.

I named her Dolly. Just like one of my idols, Dolly Parton, she is from Tennessee, she is old and classy, and she is getting a makeover. She also has a big, beautiful set of batteries.

I took all of the “before” photos. Bought sheet sets and curtains and decor and even a bath rug. I bought an Echo Dot so Dolly could have fancy lighting and personalized music that runs on voice-activated technology.

But then we started to clean it. Under the mattresses was dampness. Under the windows was water damage and rotting wallpaper. Fucking water damage. Just like I was afraid of. No wonder the guy took such a long time to give me a tour; he was showing me what he wanted me to see.

Obviously I wasn’t going to start tearing out the mattresses when I took it for a test drive. I fucking should have though.

Fortunately, the water damage isn’t irreversible.

I can still have Dolly on the road, but just not yet.

Instead of a few days to put on some new wallpaper and décor, I have to get everything re-sealed. I have to get the whole thing mega-cleaned.

I have to get the supposedly awesome engine checked out by several professionals, not just relying on the word of some loser who thought it would be fun to take a terminal cancer patient for her GoFundMe money.

He knew my situation, and he lied to my friends, he lied to me, he lied to my stepdad. I don’t know why anyone would want to bring that kind of bad karma upon themselves.

He said it was clean and ran well. It’s not clean, so there’s no reason to assume anything else he said was true. I can’t take her on the road yet. I am super angry about it. I bought the RV as-is, so I guess I can’t complain, but I think he intentionally didn’t tell me about the damage so I would buy it.

I am really pissed about it.

But I can also get it fixed. And I have another way to get to California in the meantime.


Let me just say about Gracie… she’s amazing. I bought her for $3,500 cash from a surfer dude in Pacific Beach who liked to fix trucks, and had removed the seats from the cargo van, then lost the bolts, so there was only a driver’s and passenger’s seat. At the time, I needed to move a bunch of stuff from San Diego to east Tennessee. It would have cost me $4k to rent the smallest moving truck from a U-Haul-type place, not counting gas and insurance and mileage. This saved me money, and I got a great van in the end, too.

She performed like a dream on a very difficult trip. We rode her hard, through the eastern California-Arizona-New Mexico-west Texas desert. Fully loaded. With the air conditioner blasting. She never overheated, she never complained. She’s a really, really good van.

Let me also say that if I had a year to mess around with it, I would convert Gracie into a really kickass camper van, and use her on my road trip. Since time is the one thing I do not have in abundance, I wanted an RV instead. Now that my RV trip is delayed — but I need to get back to Cali– it’s Gracie to the rescue.

We did a quick change… added a futon and a table, reloaded it with road trip goodies, and I am hitting the road this weekend.

It’s not the start I imagined, but I guess I should have expected that, right?

Thanks for following my adventures! I’ll update from the road!

(Donate to my GoFundMe here.)

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