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Couple squeezing big life into an RV

Seven pets and two people in a 33’ trailer

By PATTY HARDIN

For the Observer

Published on August 15, 2018 12:40PM

Vicki and Fred Carter have given up their conventional homes, but not their pets, to live a less formal life in a fifth wheel trailer.

PATTY HARDIN PHOTOS

Vicki and Fred Carter have given up their conventional homes, but not their pets, to live a less formal life in a fifth wheel trailer.

An illustrated U.S. map shows the extent of the Carters’ RV travels so far.

An illustrated U.S. map shows the extent of the Carters’ RV travels so far.

The Carters’ fifth wheel RV has a pop-out, awning and other features that makes it a comfortable place to live.

The Carters’ fifth wheel RV has a pop-out, awning and other features that makes it a comfortable place to live.


Peninsula couple Fred and Vicki Carter have taken downsizing to a whole new level. They recently rented out their house and purchased a 33-foot fifth wheel, moving into it on April 1.

The Carters added another twist to this move. It isn’t just them living in the smaller quarters. They have four dogs and three cats. Fortunately, the animals get along with each other.

“Our smallest dog, a Chihuahua, weights less than two and a half pounds,” says Vicki. “She acts like a Rottweiler.”

Even for a couple married as long as the Carters — 28 years — too much togetherness can be a bit trying. Living in a fifth-wheel magnifies this togetherness. (A fifth wheel is a type of travel trailer on which the hitch is a pivoting bracket mounted near the center of the truck bed.)


Managing close quarters


OK, so how do the Carters manage?

“I play golf,” says Fred. “That’s what saves me. I can be gone for two to three hours at a time.”

The Carters have moved eight times since they were married.

“I guess it’s in our blood to move,” says Fred, his eyes twinkling, “so we bought a house we could move in.”

Their fifth-wheel has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a fireplace, and an outdoor kitchen. This might sound like a lot of room until you consider Fred’s musical instruments, Vicki’s art supplies, and the animals.

Fred, who plays music at different venues on the Peninsula, wants to play music on the road also, but hasn’t so far.

Vicki is a master gardener and she also has an art degree in printmaking.


Downsizing


What has it been like to transition to “life on the road”?

“The hardest part we’ve done so far is downsizing,” says Vicki.

“We had a Victorian house (dating back to 1900) in Longview,” says Fred. “When we bought it, it was pretty much full of belongings from the previous owners.”

That means the Carters had to downsize two households of belongings.


8,600 miles to start


“Our first trip took us to Sedalia, Missouri,” says Vicki. They covered 14 states and 8,600 miles in a month and a half.

“Before we took any trips, we attended a three-day academy,” says Fred. “We learned how to drive our rig, maintain it, and make necessary repairs.“I’m still learning to back up the fifth-wheel.”

Their learning process hasn’t been without problems, however. “The first time I backed up into our spot, I cut it a little too close and hit a pole,” says Fred. The result? A scrape on the side of the fifth-wheel and a ruined awning that needed to be replaced.

Fred and Vicki aren’t the only ones who had mishaps with an RV. “We heard many stories of things that have gone wrong,” says Fred.

Socializing is a big part of this life on wheels. “We’ve met a lot of people,” says Fred. “They just come up and knock on our door. That doesn’t happen in houses.”

Something Vicki finds strange is the fact there have been no fire pits anywhere they’ve gone. “I used to go camping as a kid, and there were always fire pits,” she said.

The spirit of adventure is a big part of the Carter’s lives, and they will surely add to their stories of life on the road.



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