Made in the Shade

MagneShade that is.

We’ve been thinking about this upgrade for quite some time, but the price made us think long and hard. The company is located in Mocksville, NC about 2 hours from Falls Lake State Park where we stay when visiting our younger daughter and her family.

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We opted for the brown material with a sort of khaki piping trim to match the coach

We were told we could spend the night in their parking lot and that they would have electric hook up for us. Well, a 110 outlet on the side of the building wasn’t going to do much for this behemoth all-electric motorhome, so we ran the generator a while and thankfully, it was cool overnight.

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Measuring and installing

It wasn’t exactly comfortable being in a sketchy part of town in a parking lot all alone. But hey, we lived to tell about it. Ha.

They got started about 9 am and had some of the shades already made. We had a special one made for the side window on the slide which they measured for and made while we were there.

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They stay in place with super strong magnets that are installed on the windows and in the pockets of the shades. You use an extendable pole inserted into the pockets to install. No mods to the motorhome (like snaps) and no ladders.

We received instructions on putting them on and off and a demo of how to store them. We were out of there by noon.

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Tom with the owner Roger Hunckler

Time will tell if it was worth the money and they cut down on the heat of the sun in the motorhome when it’s parked. We like that we can still see out when they are in place. The solution we were trying before involved a reflector shield, and two shades that totally blocked our view and made the inside cave-like.


What we’ve learned in one year on the road

Last week marked our one year anniversary of living full time in our motorhome. It’s been a learning process.learning

Stuff is just stuff, and we didn’t need all that stuff. We even probably still have more stuff than we actually need. Certainly, the big purge was not an easy process, but all that stuff can weigh you down. We made the decision to get rid of everything that didn’t fit in the motorhome (with the exception of one box of mementos and one box of really good bourbon at our daughter’s house) and not use any sort of storage facility.

 happyrvWeather is a big deal and shouldn’t be taken lightly. From high winds, snow, and heavy rains, we’ve been through it all. We’ve been in 8 degree weather and 90+ degree weather. The weather effects your mood and outlook. When you’re inside with the slides pulled in weathering out a storm, its difficult to be in a good mood. Conversely, beautiful sunny skies, a light breeze and a pleasant view can lift your spirits.


This country has an amazing national park system. And we’ve been taking advantage of our America the Beautiful Senior Pass (geezer pass) visiting over 25 sites in the National Park System.

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North Rim of the Grand Canyon at sunset

You meet a lot of nice people in campgrounds. You want to make friends? Ask them about their camper or their dogs, places they’ve been, or recommendations on a restaurant in the area.

When you have this lifestyle, you are not on permanent vacation. You have the opportunity to see a lot of things and go to a lot of places, but you still must clean, go to the grocery, pay bills, do laundry, and cook.

Plan ahead, but leave some room for serendipity. If we would have stuck strictly to plans, we would have missed the really cool Cumberland Gap National Park. We decided when we were 1 ½ miles from the entrance to check it out.

GPS is great, but double check with a good ole atlas. We have a RV specific Garmin, but it has suggested some scarey routes. We use the Google Maps app on our phones a lot too.

You’ll still have expenses. You are eliminating mortgage, property taxes, utilities but replacing them with campground fees and diesel. You still have satallite tv, cell phone bills, groceries. In our case, we spend less than we did in the sticks and bricks (not counting the expense of buying the motorhome) but some find it about even.

Quality is important. Buy the best RV you can afford and keep up on maintenance on it.

Safty is important too. We both always stay alert. No dozing co-pilot here. Drive defensively. Stay alert. Avoid scary situations. Stick together – don’t one of you wander off at a rest area.

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Things will break, you’ll get lost, that campground that sounded perfect online will turn out to be a pit. Don’t freak out. Make the best of it. Chock it up to experience.

WiFi is a luxury. It may be promised, but may only work next to the office when you hold your device over your head and stand on one foot. Definitely have another method of accessing the internet. We have an elaborate intranet with Wi-Fi and cell boosting.


You are living in a very small area. You are together 24/7. Try to always be kind to each other. Your partner is going to have a bad day once in a while, and so will you.


Being way from friends and family is the worst part of this lifestyle. Nothing will take the place of being there for the holidays, birthdays and get togethers, but stay in touch as much as possible and make room in the schedule for stops to see your loved ones. Email, facetime and video chat.

The Windshield Saga Continues

Way back in September we cracked our windshield. We aren’t certain, but we think it happened going through Kansas on our way to the Newmar Fulltimers Rally in Canon City, Colorado. We discovered the 4 foot crack at the Rally. We made it through the Grand Circle Caravan with only minor expansion of the crack, however, an addition crack appeared in the drivers side lower corner.

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The Crack

Our insurance company suggested we have Duncan glass handle the claim. And Newmar recommended them too. When Tom was in northern Indiana, he had the glass replaced at Duncan’s Elkhart facility. In the process of removing the old windshield and installing the new, they noticed a flaw in the glass and offered to replace it again. It would take 2-4 weeks to get another one in and since we live in the motorhome, that wasn’t an option. They installed the flawed glass and said we could have it taken care of later. Since it has to set for 12 – 24 hours after installation, Tom stayed in an hotel that night. We tried having it replaced at the Tampa RV Show, but the Duncan Glass in Lakeland said they couldn’t do it there. So we set up an appointment to have it done at their facility with the understanding we would have to sleep in their parking lot that night because of the whole can’t move it thing. Alrighty then, not a great idea, but what the heck we’ve stayed in strange places before. When we arrived for our appointment, after getting lost because they had two addressed listed (recently moved) we were informed that they had no record of our appointment and they were unable to do the work that day, they were just too busy. “But you see, we made a special trip here and we called multiple times to get this set up” Hmmm too bad!

We were informed that they COULD come to Tampa East where we would be staying and install it there. So we went on our way and made a few more calls to set up that appointment. Now, to their credit, they did show up at our site at Tampa East and these people seemed to know what they were doing.

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The old sealing compound had to be stripped away and we discovered that the install in Elkhart was a sloppy one as a lot of this goop is on the paint and some of the fiberglass is chipped.

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After about an hour and a half we had a new windshield, not the Newmar glass promised, but a windshield none the less, and with goop around it. It was quite strange having guys working on the front of the coach without any glass in place.

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Lessons learned

  • Avoid rocks to the windshield

  • Quality work is hard to come by

  • Always get appointment confirmations in writing

  • Carry a glass breakage rider on your insurance

Installing a SeeLevel Monitoring System

Sometimes you just need to know what’s happening in the tanks

The problem – the tank monitoring system that came on the coach – Digilevel – gave readings in 1/3 increments. Empty, 1/3 full, 2/3 full and full.

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You pushed the button and you got a reading for the fresh water, gray water and black tanks. The tricky part was knowing – if when you got a 2/3 reading on the gray tank – did it just reach 2/3 and you have 20 more gallons to go until full, or has it been on 2/3 for a while and you have a cup of liquid until its full. Can I take a shower or not? Not necessarily a big deal if you have water and sewer hookups, but if you can’t purge the tank or fill up readily, a big problem. We go to state parks and rallies where it would really be helpful to have a better idea what’s going on.

The solution – installing a system that gives more precise readings on the status of the tanks. After some research and recommendations we decided to purchase a SeeLevel system from Garnet Industries.

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Tom – mid install

First you must determine the correct readout unit for your RV. (Since we have an all electric coach we didn’t need a propane readout, for example.) We ordered the 709 P3 1003 from Amazon.

Installation involved finding the right wires going to the current system and connecting them to the new unit. Not an easy task. We did not want to run all new wires. And we wanted to do the installation in the bay with the tanks that is accessed behind a peg board. We got 3 strips that adhere to the fresh, gray and black tanks. They needed to be shortened, but all that is outlined in the instructions. Then it was a matter of connecting the wires and testing the system.


The new readout panel did not fit in the old space and was too small so we fashioned a piece of Plexiglas and painted it black to fill the space. This took several attempts to get it right.

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We needed to purchase wire nuts, wire, wire strippers, a coping saw, Plexiglas, black spray paint, acetone (to clean the outside of the tanks so the monitor strips would stick) and gorilla tape.

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Inside post install

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Outside bay post install

By the numbers

217 – the cost in dollars for the unit from Amazon

100 – approx. number of 4 letter words used in the installation

65 – the cost in dollars for the other things we needed to buy for installation

12 – the time in hours it took for the installation (much of this time involved finding the right wires)

3- number of trips to the hardware store to pick up miscellaneous items needed

2 – number of days it took for installation