Building a RV Home Base
Part 1

Once it became apparent that I would be working here at Escapees for a while, I began to think about establishing a home base. I wanted a place where I could live inexpensively, and be able to start collecting stuff again! I knew what I wanted would involve some property, and with this in mind, I began looking around the local area to see what I could find.

The first possibility was a lot right here at Rainbow's End. There are many owned lots here within the park boundaries, and there are always some for sale. I thought it would be a great possibility until I looked at prices... Compared to the surrounding area, lots in the park are going for very high prices! My intention was to find a way to get on some land without going into debt, and the funds I had were too limited to allow me a space at Rainbow's End. Instead, I started looking in the paper and in real estate flyers, hoping to spot that perfect property.

Since I stopped traveling before I was completely broke, I still had a chunk of my original nest egg to work with. Ideally, I wanted to find property to buy, and be able to do it 'cash on the line'. I also hoped to have enough to be able to at least start to develop it. With this in mind, I set an arbitrary limit of $20K for the land. It quickly became apparent that I should be able to swing 5+ acres easily.

After spending a lot of time and energy looking on my own, I finally decided to go talk to some real estate agents. I had the good luck to hook up with Kimberly Butts at the local Remax office. She really worked hard for me and I spent several weekends driving all over the countryside before finally finding some property that looked ideal. It was a 7.5 acre lot, very heavily wooded, with lots of big hardwoods. Some clearing work had already been done and there was a temporary power pole on the site. No water or septic however, but it had great possibilities. Here's what I saw when I first inspected the land.

The road out into the area called Southland Plantation starts off paved, but turns into a county maintained dirt road about 1 mile in.

The land was on a dead end road, about a quarter mile off the main road, and I knew it was perfect the first time I saw it! There is only one other property on the road that is developed, and the dead end means no through traffic. The only sound was the birds chirping and the wind in the leaves. Yes!!

After the usual game of offer and counter offer, we settled on a price of $2200 an acre, and a couple of weeks later, I became a Texas land owner! When I went out to take down the for sale sign, I took some more pix of the cleared portion of the land and started planning how I would be laying things out.

The first thing was to get the property surveyed. My sister Gail wants to buy half of it and eventually move out here and build. With that in mind, the surveyor split the land into 2 equal parcels with equal road frontage. When they were done, this is what we had:
It wasn't until the survey was finished that I discovered which half currently had the power pole on it, or where the extents of the clearing were. It turns out that I got the top (or north) half. Now, it was time to figure out how to utilize the land! I had always had in mind a house that would incorporate the RV as part of the living space, and yet allow the RV to be used as a RV as well. After searching around a bit, I found a really neat set of plans for a RV Chalet. It's a structure that is designed to integrate the RV into the house. I ordered a set of plans and although I won't be implementing it exactly as designed, it has given me a lot of ideas! Currently, I'm visualizing a 14' X 40' cement pad for the RV, a 16' X 40' adjoining structure for the house portion, with a shared roof line. The house will be elevated to be the same height as the floor in the RV and the two will connect together. Haven't figured out how to do that yet, but I will! The RV Chalet, designed by G. Bunzer, can be seen, and plans ordered from

Working from approximate design and dimensions, I did a drawing to scale in order to see how everything would fit together. Plans include a 3 car carport and a 10' X 20' workshop behind the house. I also wanted a large open area in the back to be able to hide things like utility trailers and junk. I measured the existing clearing and ran stakes to define the property line between the 2 halves. Using that line as a reference, I laid it out using a CAD program. Here's what I came up with.

Using this drawing as a baseline, it was time to clear some more land! The land is heavily brushed and thick with trees of all sizes. In most places, it's impossible to walk through! To knock down some of this brush, I rented a bulldozer and talked Bud into driving it. He spent a couple of days smashing through the brush and making big piles to be burned. We also latched onto a big backhoe and used it to remove the large trees that were in the way. I tried to leave as many in place as possible, but one huge oak was right about where the bathroom is supposed to be, and that won't do.... The last day of the clearing effort, I cut an access road along the side of the property, graded the driveway a bit and tried to clean up some of the ragged edges. Driving a bulldozer isn't hard, but I'm sure not very good at it! Here are some pix of the clearing operation.

Once the weekend was over, there was a lot of scorched earth, lots of debris, and a huge pile of brush to be burned. However, I now had my open areas in which to develop, and even thought up some new ideas while tromping around after it was all done.

Currently, the well driller is scheduled to start next week, and by the weekend, I hope to have a working well and also power turned on to run it. Once I have water on the property, I can burn the slash and brush pile and start cleaning up the mess and smoothing out the ruts. Man, it looks like a long way to go before I have a house!!

In order to be able to deal with all this land stuff, and also because I've always wanted one anyway, I bought a tractor!! I picked up an older Japanese diesel 4WD tractor locally and fixed it up a bit, then bought a new Koyker loader for it. Also a trailer to haul it around. I have tracked down a box blade and some other implements as well. I'm dragging it off tomorrow to a local welder to get a ROPS built for it (that's a roll bar.. saves yer butt if the tractor rolls over) and then I will be starting the long slow task of cleaning out the roots and getting the whole area leveled out. Should be entertaining, and hopefully, not too difficult. I'm sure, by the time I have finished, that I may actually have this whole tractor thing figured out!

Folks in the park have been scratching their heads, wondering what the deal is with all the heavy equipment out front of my spot.... I just tell them that I always wanted to have a tractor, and I'll just hitch it up to the rig and take it along. I get some pretty strange looks, I can tell you! :-)

The next installment of my home base odyssey will be getting the land ready to park the RV on, and the prep for the actual construction. Also, I'll be making a trip out to California to get all my stuff. Getting it back here and unloaded should be an interesting experience! Look for a new installment after the first of the year. Until then, if you are in East Texas, be sure to stop by and say hello!

This page last updated on September 8, 2002