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THE FIRST LEG OF THE JOURNEY


At the end of November I got rid of most of what I owned, packed my RV with the essentials that remained and set out for my trip across America.   I lived in Chicago for 7 years, the longest I have lived in any one place,  so closing that chapter of my life was bitter sweet. Chicago taught me how to watch, to appreciate and to become part of the vibrant current of energy that brings the city to life. It taught me to be tough,  to endure discomfort and that there is always light at the end of dark tunnels.  Chicago lead me to beautiful life long friendships and opened doors in my career I never imagined existed.  I will forever be grateful for that chapter in my life, especially because it is Chicago that gave me the courage to embark on my current great adventure!


The first stop on our tour was Sheridan, IL where I visited my friendly mechanics Dave & Floyd, we had a few last projects to take care of before I took to the road. Dave has three of his own GMC's and usually has multiple friends over who also own GMC's helping around the shop.

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 The first order of business was modifying my motorcycle hitch to be shorter in an  effort to prevent the bike from sagging and putting stress on the bumper.  After we cut the hitch down we realized that we were going to need to install additional steel under the vehicle for more support.  Luckily Dave is great at welding and his friend Ron had the perfect size steel piece, together we made short work of the task.  

Motorcycle hitch modification in progress.

Motorcycle hitch modification in progress.

After cutting the square hitch down by 8 in.

After cutting the square hitch down by 8 in.

I stayed with Dave for two days and slept in the RV while it was in his shop both nights.  It was a relief to have this opportunity to breath after moving out of my apartment in Chicago and before I took on my first 1,000 miles to Folly Beach,  SC. It also provided a good adjustment period for my cats and dogs who all had to get used to the idea of living in our scary, loud and moving new home. 

In all, we fixed my back bumper that was bent out, got my generator working again and repaired a roof leak over my bed.  It was wonderful to spend my last few days in the Midwest with my GMC Motorhome friends and to get my vehsel ready for the first leg of the journey!


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Getting Echo Ready for the Road


THE BEGINNING STAGES

When I purchased my GMC Motorohome, Echo, the interior was already changed significantly from it's original design.  Here is an idea of what these motorhomes looked like fresh off of the production line in the 1970s...

I knew at the start of renovating the interior of my new home I was going to have to learn things for the first time, call in favors and stay on a budget. Fortunately, my experience in construction management helped me with all three components of the plan.


INSTALLING NEW MILLWORK

First order of business was to get the new structures of the living area in place.  I asked a couple of superintendents, and surrogate uncles's, I met on my first construction job to help me to build the millwork.  We built a drop down table dinette and an extended top on the cabinet that would later become a jewelry bench.

Progress: Billy and Mike, kindly helping me out with their excellent carpentry skills

Progress: Billy and Mike, kindly helping me out with their excellent carpentry skills

Progress: Carpentry millwork complete

Progress: Carpentry millwork complete


PAINTING THE DASHBOARD

The next intimidating project on the list was to paint the dashboard grey. I have spray painted many things in my day but never the interior of a vehicle.  I researched for products and methods that would be the most successful and I discovered that prep work is the most crucial element! The surface that is going to be painted needs to be cleaned thoroughly and lightly sanded to ensure perfect lasting coats.  I found a vinyl paint made for cars that had highley rated reviews, watched some tutorials on YouTube and got to work.

Before: Poopy brown dashboard cleaned and taped off.

Before: Poopy brown dashboard cleaned and taped off.

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INSTALLING THE FLOORING

The original green shag rug that ran the length of the vehicle was replaced prior to my ownership with a bamboo vinyl plank flooring product.  The bamboo finish did not hide dirt well and was scratched up from years of use, as you can see in images above.  I decided to replace the flooring for a similar product that has a darker wood look for better wear-ability. 


MORE PROJECTS TO COME

Surprisingly, there is more interior work to be done.  Stay tuned for more blog posts of works in progress and checkout lifefullyembraced.com for finished shots of the interior.

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