The Outback – Our New Home


On August 24, 2016, Brian and I set out for our next adventure. After a couple years of talking about it, planning and making it happened. It was finally here.  The lease ended, our belongings were stored and we were off in our 27 foot Keystone Outback Toy Hauler to live life on the road.

Our friend Shawn mentioned a few years back,  he was playing with the idea of living full-time out of a van. I’ll be honest, I really wasn’t sure what to think. No kitchen, no bathroom, never being able to stand – humm? Not sure this was for me. But the idea behind living in the van was intriguing. Wandering from place to place, seeing and experiencing new things and having all your belongings with you – that doesn’t seem like a bad way to live. Now I won’t lie, it took a few conversations to get me here. Re-wiring all the years of “the norm” and seeing how this lifestyle could be possible. There was definitely lots to figure out and sometimes was a bit overwhelming. Our first goal was to figure out, when do we do this?

The right time to go.

In January 2016, we decided we wouldn’t renew our lease and would move into a travel trailer for a year. During the few years in between, we’d both been researching and “looking” at different options/setups. We set a budget, finalized on a length and weight (without upgrading the truck) and went searching for our new home on wheels. After multiple visits to Camping World and other RV dealers in the area, viewing RV Trader and Craigslist listings (Can I mention how overwhelming it was. It seems every year the models changed and it became impossible to remember all of them.) – we finally narrowed down the make, model and year that would be perfect. By February, we found it – a 2012 Keystone Cougar 21RBS for sale in Grand Rapids, MI. Road Trip!

Off to Grand Rapids we went. 2,345 miles in four days. Did you know there are casinos in Iowa? I had no idea. All you can eat crab legs with a side of slots! A fun stop to break up the drive. The next day we continued onto Michigan where we stopped at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore to see the shelf ice at Lake Michigan. I’d never seen shelf ice before. We arrived there just before sunset, which made for some pretty pictures.

The third day, we went to pick up our new home. The Cougar was perfect! The 2012 was in mint condition, hardly used and stored in a garage. It was basically brand new. The team at Midway RV Center were great. We got an extensive walk-thru explaining every part of our new camper. I wished I got video to help remember what did what. But we had time learn everything, it was only February (five month until the lease ended). On the return trip, we fit in a short hike through the sand dunes before starting the long drive back to Colorado.

Shelf Ice on Lake Michigan
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We have a problem. Wait…What?

Everything we read, everyone says you never buy the right RV first when going full-time. Well… as it turns out, they were right. Despite all our efforts, we didn’t buy right. We wanted to bring the motorcycle and the “idea” was to have it attach to the back off the camper. The construction of the RV trailer was not built for that kind of weight and basically it wasn’t an option. So, now what? Do we leave the motorcycle and keep the Cougar? Or go back to the find the right camper? A few days, maybe a week of back and fourth…

We decided to bring the motorcycle. And back to Camping World, RV Trader and Craigslist we went. We knew we needed a toy hauler, but finding one that was still homey inside was a challenge. Most of the toy haulers we had seen were huge (would need to upgrade the truck) and the smaller ones were to “weekend warrior” to call home. The Keystone Outback has a toy hauler model in our length, weight and featured a stylish inside. Now, to find one. They were out there. A couple in California, one in Pennsylvania and another in Georgia. All so close to home. Another road trip?? Long story short… none of those worked out. Some were sold, one had a sketchy past and one the pictures online didn’t exactly represent the RV as it actually was. All good things to find out before you drive 2,000 plus miles. And then, 30 minutes from our apartment in Colorado, a 2014 Keystone Outback 230rs popped up on Craigslist. Within two hours of contacting the owners, we were there looking over it, made an offer the next day and it was ours. Woo-hoo!

Then fun began! Modifying the Outback and making it our home.

When deciding how to modify the Outback, we looked long-term and determined what we might need for the future, in case this little adventure goes longer than a year. Brian did all the modifications and did an amazing job! I helped out where I could, mostly painting and cleaning. I don’t have the nerve to drilled holes and have no “undo” command.

Here are some of the modifications we did:
1. Replaced the one battery system to a four battery system
2. Added solar power
3. Upgraded the converter
4. Added many 12 volt plugs
5. Added a topper for the truck
6. Replaced the bunk beds in in the toy hauler with a desk made for two
7. Converted the space under the couch to be open (great for a laundry basket)
8. Covered the existing dinette cushions (thank you Gail!!)
9. Addded bedside tables
10. Added a two inch foam pad and feather-like bed to the king mattress
…And of course a few decorations to make it home

It’s almost here!!

Time was becoming an issue. Not getting everything ready, but things taking longer than we planned and it was a bit out of our control. We decided to extend our lease for one month to give us a bit of extra time and not stress ourselves out. Plus, I wasn’t going on the road with my braces still on! The month of August was crazy and a blur! We were packing and sorting all of our belongings in three piles: keep, pack and donate. The “keep” pile was sorted even further to only bring what was necessary, since space was limited. The apartment was a disaster for weeks, I think it got worse after the movers came. My biggest challenge was what clothes and shoes to bring. I couldn’t bring them all. I went through my clothes about three times narrowing it down to the must-haves and some just in case. Other than that, it went pretty well. Everything got put in bins and if the bin was full, we went back through it again. Seemed to work, until everything was piled inside the Outback with the question, “Where is this going to go?”

In the end, everything fit with room to spare. Not bad, right? We were pretty happy and adventure began! First stop – Flaming Gorge, Utah!


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