Thinking About Full-Time RV’ing?

Are you an RV’er? Maybe you’re a Weekend Warrior? – does your RV spend more time in storage or parked in the driveway than on the road? Maybe you’ve dreamed of the time when you can “get outta Dodge” and hit the open road full-time?

As we’ve traveled and worked in RV parks, campgrounds, and museums around the country we’ve made many new friends with other full time RV’ers. We’ve had the opportunity to sit around the campfire or share a dinner together after work. We’ve all shared our experiences with each other and now we we want to share some tips that you might find helpful.

Is the full-time RV lifestyle really for me? If you have a partner, keep in mind that you’ll be spending a LOT of time with each other in close proximity. If you’re not already good with each other, getting rid of the house and changing your lifestyle so drastically might not be for you. Maybe you should just rent a rig and try a long trip away .. maybe a couple months or so to see how things go.

And while you are on this “Trial Run”, don’t chase down every destination you can – slow way down. Remember .. the purpose of this test run is to simulate what your life might be like when (and if) you do make the change to full time RV’ing. Running from location to location to “see everything we can” will more closely simulate a vacation than a lifestyle.

Most full timers stay one or more weeks in any one location .. sometimes even months. This gives one plenty of time to be able to become immersed in the surrounding area seeing lots of new sights and very often developing new lasting friendships that just wouldn’t happen if you’re only in a location for a couple days at a time.

If your trial run goes well then the next step might be to find an RV that fits your needs, likes, and pocketbook.

Again, renting a rig might be a good idea although most folks just find what they THINK they will like the first time. Studies show that RV’ers typically own three RV’s before settling down on one type or brand vs another.

There are just so many choices out there; travel trailer or fifth wheel or motorhome? What length? Gas or diesel engine? New or used? What floor plan suits you? Oh, and yes, what does the pocketbook allow? I’m not going to pretend to think I can tell you what type RV is the best, that’s a decision you’ll have to investigate further and decide on your own.

Read RV blogs written by actual RV’ers, not by professional writers. Follow RV’ing You Tube videos. Join Facebook RV groups. I especially recommend Chuck Woodbury’s “RV HORROR STORIES” on Facebook, you’ll learn a lot about what brands (and dealers) to stay away from.

Our personal experience has been that buying a good used rig is favorable to purchasing new. We had never done any camping of any sort in our 40+ years of marriage. Our first rig was a used 30′ Dutchman 5th wheel, followed a year later by a 34′ Monaco gas motorhome and then after another year we finally settled on our current 36′ Airstream diesel motorhome.

The fifth wheel was parked at a nearby lake adjacent to our pontoon boat, then we bought the gas Monaco after selling the 5’er and the boat. We made a few short trips with the Monaco gasser, but decided to buy the Airstream diesel pusher once we knew that we were going to “take the plunge” and go full-time.

All of these rigs had some problems, but none that convinced us we shouldn’t have made the purchase of a previously owned RV. Even though we had to pay to have some of the repairs made (I made many of the repairs myself), the cost was still FAR BELOW the cost of buying new. And further, we didn’t have the aggravation of trying to get warranty work taken care of. As you’ll learn soon enough, so many dealers use stall tactics to delay completion of your warranty work because they have a higher profit margin doing non-warranty work that’s paid by the customer rather than warranty work paid by the manufacturer. Again .. check out Chuck Woodbury’s “RV Horror Stories” page on Facebook to see what I’m talking about.

What about joining clubs? Our advice is don’t get caught up in subscribing to every magazine and joining every club out there. Many of the magazines are nothing more than corporate-owned platforms for advertising their (or their affiliates) products.

There are lots of clubs out there that cater to those who own a specific BRAND (Monaco, Arctic Fox, Airstream, etc.) of RV, others that attract owners of TYPES of RV’s (Pickup Campers, Fiberglass “egg” style campers, etc.)

Our advice is to look seriously at Escapees RV Club. This club was founded by a husband and wife full-time RV couple in 1978 who saw the need to come up with a way to support other full-time RV’ers. This club offers all the perks the other clubs offer (product discounts, caravans, rallies, training, etc.) but we’ve found it’s so much more than that. It’s truly like a family – our family out on the road. We encourage you to find out more at Escapees.com – at only $39.95 a year it’s a great bargain. If you DO decide to join, please mention our names as those who referred you – we get a little something. It all helps!

Have you thought about how you’re going to finance this new lifestyle? If you sell your sticks ‘n bricks home, you can use that money. Maybe you have an income stream that can work for you on the road. That’s one of the great things about technology today – many of us can work from just about anywhere provided we have a good internet connection. Or maybe your savings and investments you’ve developed can carry you a long way down the road.

Personally we decided we were going to live on our Social Security income and Kathy’s small pension from the school system she retired from while keeping our savings and investment nest egg intact.

In order to be able to do this we sold our modest home and paid off all our outstanding debt so that we were debt-free. We also determined that it would be less stressful (on our emotional well being and our pocketbook) if we were to Workamp and volunteer. We found that by volunteering 10-12 hours each week in exchange for our site and utilities we could live, in essence “rent free” and not receive any taxable income. To find out more about one of our Workamping experiences you can visit this link. You can also just use the search box here on our blog and enter the word “Workamp” or “Volunteer” to learn more about the types of opportunities that we’ve had.

What about an “Exit Plan”? After all, nothing lasts forever. If you DO decide to go all-in and sell the sticks-n-bricks home to hit the road full-time, what might you do when the time comes to get off the road? As we age, we tend to develop health issues that require more attention by medical professionals and could very well cause us to suspend travel – either for some extended period of time (while we recuperate) or permanently. So what might you do should that happen to you?

We’re getting close to 4 years full-time and much of that time we’ve been Workamping and volunteering and you can read more about some of those gigs here. But we have begun to think more and more about when that time comes for us.

Many RV’ers buy or lease an RV lot in a park or campground that they can use to “lay low” for extended periods of time. For us, we have a lifetime lease on an RV lot at Rover’s Roost in Casa Grande, AZ. This lot is ours for as long as we want and when we are not there, the lot is in the rental pool so we receive some income from the rental.

Do we miss our friends and family? Absolutely! We try to make a pass through Ohio once a year to visit. We realize that we don’t t need to be there all the time. With all the technology available to us today to visit online, our once a year visit in person gives us the recharge to head out again.

There are other more boring considerations too like; what to do about mail and packages, how and where do I get health care, what state do I claim as my “residence”, and figuring out what cell phone and internet plan might work best for you on the road.

I’ll talk about each if these issues in upcoming posts, but for now I think I probably have given you a bit to chew on.

So yes, there’s a lot to consider when thinking about making the move to full-time RV life.

I wish you well in this uncertain time and trust you will stay safe wherever you happen to be. Be good to yourself and to each other and “this too shall pass” in time – let’s just hope not too long.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Home Safe In Ohio

The first image at the top of this post is of Sara and Kathy out on the side porch working on cutting material to be used in making masks.

It was a whirlwind February and March with our traveling in the coach from Arizona to Mexico for a couple weeks then back to Arizona by the end of February and by the first of March on over to Florida and ultimately up to Ohio (4800 miles total).

The Covid-19 virus put a screw in the works. When we left Arizona for Florida on March 2nd and traveled through New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama there were no precautions taken by us or anyone else that we knew for that matter … but that all changed shortly after we arrived at the Escapee RV Club Sumter Oaks RV Park in Bushnell, Florida.

Our home base for 2 weeks in February (Bushnell, FL)

From then on we were still able to take the car to visit friends and family but hand-shakes and hugs were strictly a no-no. As time went on we were hearing rumblings of “stay-at-home” orders and the possibility of closing state borders to keep residents safe.

Our original plan included a 3 month “layover” in Sylva, North Carolina where we were scheduled to Workamp at Moonshine Creek Campground starting April 1st and running through the July 4th weekend.

Kathy was going to be working in the office greeting new arrivals, handling check-ins and taking reservations in addition to working in the camp store. This would mean she would be face-to-face with customers every day. I would be mostly outside taking care of the grounds, helping arriving RV’ers get parked along with being responsible for the daily cleaning of the bathrooms in addition to the new added task of 3x/day disinfecting of same.

As we started hearing reports of the virus and the precautions that different states were taking, we started to use Social Distancing as well. We did not go anywhere that there might have been a large crowd – Ooops – I just remembered. We DID go to Weeki-Wachee near Brooksville Florida to see the mermaid show. We went with our good friends Matt and Sherry on March 13th. They had just checked into the same park we were at in Bushnell while traveling from Tampa Florida to their newly acquired RV lot in Hondo Texas. Matt and Sherry had plans of a trip to Ireland in April but by now they knew that wasn’t going to happen.

You can click on any of the thumbnails below to see a larger image

From that point on however we were only with our friends or family and at all times with only 1 other couple at a time. We always kept our distance and washed our hands regularly.

We have always fulfilled our Workamping commitments in the past and felt badly that we needed to back out on this North Carolina job, but under the circumstances felt it best for us to cancel. With all the uncertainty, we didn’t want to get stuck anywhere if they did decide to try to limit travel and close any state lines.

After visiting my sister Marilynn and brother-in-law Rick in Jacksonville, we left Florida and as we traveled northward we stayed overnight at Elks lodges two nights along with one night in an RV park. In all cases, we never saw or interacted with anyone in person. The arrangements for our stay were made either by phone or online.

We are back in Ohio. Although we claim Texas as our domicile now, Ohio is home in our hearts. Our children and their families are here along with so many good friends we’ve made over the last 30+ years living in Mount Gilead. We’ve missed them all so much and now we’ll have (hopefully) plenty of opportunity later this summer to make up for lost time.

The coach is at our son and daughter-in-law’s home about a mile down the road while we are living up in the bunkhouse above the garage at our daughter and son-in-laws home just north of Mount Gilead, Ohio. We made it here late March and spent the first few days getting the bunkhouse organized for us to live in for the next few months. We took some of Sara & Stu’s belongings over to the coach (for storage) and brought other things from the coach over here.

It was kinda funny actually and a good thing that our home on wheels is parked only a mile away. We’d make a list of things to bring over here and drive over to David and Lisa’s place to get those items. Later that day we were already making another list of things we forgot to bring. This went on for at least 3 or 4 days! We’re blaming that on old age …

The Bunkhouse above the garage

In addition to working on the bunkhouse, we’re keeping busy here helping Stu and Sara with the annual spring chores. There’s always springtime tasks like; raking out the flower beds, picking up fallen sticks and branches from the many trees around the house, cutting the grass, and cutting and splitting firewood for the next winter season.

I enjoy doing these chores … I need the exercise and enjoy working outside (provided it’s over 50 degrees and sunny) and the kids can use the help.

Moving firewood over to the splitter
Kathy, grandson Garret, and Herb splitting and stacking firewood
One of my favorite pastimes

The first image at the top of this post is of Sara and Kathy out on the side porch working on cutting material to be used in making masks.

Stu is (thankfully) still working during this time. His physical rehab work at the nursing home is considered essential and so he is still working. Sara, who was driving a mini-bus for the county’s transit system has taken a lay-off. Their normal crew of 18 drivers has been cut down to only five for the remaining runs to medical needs that include dialysis and other essential services.

For years before we left Ohio and hit the road full time, we made a regular Friday night ritual of having dinner with 3 other couples of very close friends. Often we went out to a restaurant and occasionally we enjoyed each other’s company and dinner at one of our homes.

We were certainly looking forward to meeting up with our “Friday Night Gang” again when we eventually got back to Ohio after our North Carolina gig. This would have happened right after the July 4th weekend.

But in the meantime, we’re using ZOOM to meet virtually. We tried it Saturday night and it worked great! There are four couples and each of us had a corner of the screen and we could all see each other during the whole 40 minute meet-up. It was great and so much better than emailing, texting, or even talking individually on the phone. What made it so special and fun was that we could all see each other’s expression and body language just as it would be if we were around the dinner table from each other. And when any one of us said something funny, we could all laugh together! Although we couldn’t give and get hugs, it was wonderful to have that personal connection again. We’re making a date for 7:00 p.m. every Friday night from here on out until we can once again meet in person.

Here’s an example of what the ZOOM app looks like on your computer

So we are doing very well under the circumstances. We miss seeing our friends, we miss being able to come and go as we please. We are staying on the grounds here at Stu and Sara’s home as Sara is doing the grocery shopping. There are plenty of projects to keep me busy, although Stu is the one to stop at Home Depot or Lowes on his way home from work to pick up any materials or supplies we might need.

I was saying to Kathy just this morning … I want to go out for breakfast again … but that’ll have to wait.

What about you? How are you handling the situation we find ourselves in? What are you doing to occupy your time if you’re quarantined? Are you still able to work either from home or at your work location? If you’re working away from home what are you doing to stay safe?

That’s the main thing – stay safe by staying home if you can. Use a mask if you go out in public while maintaining the 6′ distance from others and then wash your hands as soon as you get home. Use hand sanitizer as soon as you get back in the car so you are not transferring anything from your hands to your steering wheel and ultimately back to your face.

We look forward to hearing from you.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Our time in Florida and Covid-19

Things have changed dramatically over the past couple weeks. The virus has seemed to have exploded and as a result we’ve had to carefully consider our travel and visitation plans.

We are now in Wauchula Florida where as of yesterday all restaurants are closed except for take-out.

Social distancing and self-quarantine are the norm. The streets and sidewalks, although not barren, are considerably less crowded.

Before arriving here, we were able to enjoy visits with Dave and Robyn in Crestview, Matt & Sherry along with Larry & Darlene in Bushnell, Ed & Sandy in Orlando, Mike & Deb along with Chuck & Joanne in Wildwood, and Dane & Shiela in Bushnell.

Dave and Robyn. Dave and I have been good friends since grade school
RV’er friends Larry & Darlene, Matt & Sherry along with Kathy and me. We’ve known these folks since we started RV’ing and Workamping in 2016
Ed and Sandy. Ed lived across the street from me starting in 2nd grade
We’ve known Chuck & Joanne since 2017. (Sorry I missed getting a pix of Mike & Deb)
Shiela and Dane (who I’ve known since grade school)

But now things are different. We have to be super conscious of who we spend time with, and from what distance we socialize.

Although some might say we’re being reckless, the fact is .. we take our home with us, we meet and spend time with only one other couple at a time, and we’re careful to wash our hands often and be cognoscent of what surfaces we touch.

We moved the rig from Bushnell to Wauchula on Thursday because our RV friends Paul and Chris have been here a couple months and since we wanted to head to Fort Myers to visit Dave & Judy, Wauchula was a good overnight spot along the way and we could catch up on things with Paul and Chris.

We’re parked in Overflow. The shop and a unit in storage are behind us, otherwise we are alone.
Here’s another shot of the beautiful Florida SKP RESORT in Wauchula Florida

Unfortunately, the park instituted a new rule the day we arrived. Since we were coming from (who knows where) we are to self-quarantine and have no access to any amenities like the park clubhouse, laundry, or swimming pool. Think maybe we should get a credit against our 3 night rent?

We also couldn’t visit with Paul and Chris while we were here because of the new rule. Bummer.

So we stayed Thursday night, got up Friday morning and leaving the coach at the park, we drove our car down to Ft. Myers to spend the night at Dave & Judy’s home.

We’ve known Dave & Judy since high school

We had a wonderful visit with Dave and Judy. They took us for a drive Friday night down to Old Town Ft Myers where we were planning on having a nice dinner .. unfortunately the restaurants got the order from the governor at 4pm that afternoon that ALL restaurants in the state were to close their dining rooms. Fr Myers was like a ghost town as we walked the streets.

Almost NOBODY downtown Ft Myers Friday night

Tomorrow we will leave Wauchula and head up to Jacksonville where we’ll spend a couple days visiting with my sister Marilyn and her husband Rick.

After that we’ll move on up to Jekyll Island Georgia where we’ll spend a couple days with friends that we attended church with in Mt Gilead over 30 years ago. They live in Iowa now but usually winter at Jekyll Island.

From there we are scheduled to move on up to North Carolina for a Workamping gig in April, May, June and through the July 4th holiday weekend. We’re having 2nd thoughts about whether that’s a wise move or not. More on that later as the time gets closer. Actually … the decision may be made for us by others (government)

More later .. in the meantime if you’re traveling then safe travels to you. If you’re staying put, then our best wishes for your good health through this difficult time.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Only a Couple Hiccups

We’ll, after a few 400+ mile days we finally made it to our destination of Holt, Florida. We left Casa Grande AZ Monday about noon after my medical appointment and wanted to get to Holt by Friday morning since my friend Dave has every other Friday off work.

We got settled in to a great little State Park just west of Holt, Florida and only about 25 miles from Dave and Robyn’s house.

Our site at Blackwater River State Park

Once we got settled in we drove on over to Crestview and spent the rest of the day with our good friends who we hadn’t seen in just about two years.

Dave and I left the girls at the house and ran over to the local hardware to get some cable and clamps to replace one of the broken safety cables on our tow bar. I must’ve not connected it fully when we left Arizona and it dragged on the highway 1700 miles and just chewed off the end. Imagine that!

So we started back to the house and something just didn’t feel right. It felt as though the car was sluggish. I had to give it more gas to go and it didn’t want to coast when I took my foot off the accelerator. I suspected one of the brake calipers had locked up .. unfortunately I was correct.

But Dave knew a shop just down the street and we drove it right over.

Our little Saturn up on the rack

Within an hour he had the rotor and all the front brake pads replaced. Great service!

We went back and picked up the girls and went to a great little fresh seafood restaurant right around the corner from their house. We had eaten here two years ago with Dave and Robyn and got free meals from a total stranger that night. We were kinda hoping for the same this year,😁 but it didn’t work that way. But nonetheless we had great meals with great friends.

Emerald Isle Seafood @ Crestview FL

Today they came to the campground and picked us up and we all visited a great little Arts & Music Festival in the river town of Milton west of Crestview heading toward Pensacola. We enjoyed the sunshine, the ice cream, and our time together.

They’re having a duck race on the river to raise money for some good cause (I don’t remember what)
Kathy thought they were cute .. she bought a Zebra Duck

Kathy bought a 🦆 for $5 .. she could win $1500! We won’t know until the race happens on July 4th. They have our phone number to call when we win.

After dinner, Dave and Robyn dropped us off back at the campground. We had just walked into the coach and taken our jackets off and there was a knock at the door. Kathy answered and the fella outside introduced himself as Dave Butzky who we went to high school with back in the early 70’s!!!!!

We invited them in and had a great time together. Thanks to Facebook (we have been FB Friends for about a year now) Dave saw that we were close by so they drive over for a visit!

Dave and Pam

Dave and Pam have been full-timing for about two years now and so we have a lot in common and enjoyed our time together. We look forward to the next time we can meet up!

Lots more to come. We’ll be in Florida for the next two weeks and there’s a lot more to see and do, so we’ll be sharing that as the days roll on.

See ya’ next time! Till then .. be good to yourself and those around you.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Mexico Day 4 – More Zoo & Wine

This might be getting a bit repetitive, but it’s not getting old for us! This is so wonderful being able to get such a close-up interaction with the zoo animals and their caregivers.

Today we spent time with the Yellow Parrots, Pumas, Spider Monkeys, and Macaws. We helped to feed them and helped to clean their habitat — things that the keepers do every day. We also gave them enrichment toys – things that help to keep them curious and stimulated – not just bored & locked in a cage.

See the cart that Arturo (picture above) is pulling along the trail as we walk from exhibit to exhibit? They use carts (usually pulled by bicycles) to move tools and supplies around the zoo as they need them. In the states we would have the luxury of being supplied with motorized carts/trucks of some sort.

One of the groundskeepers emptying the trash receptacles in the morning

Arturo got one of the staff here at the zoo to take our wheel off and get the flat tire fixed and reinstalled. Service on-the-spot and only $300 pesos ($15 US) – Hooray!

Our flat tire got fixed by one of the staff

Later in the day we got to share some time with a new (3 month old) lion cub “Carlotta”. She’s very playful so she had to be watched very closely by both Stephanie and Antonio (keepers) because the wooden fence isn’t that tall and she can jump easily and quickly.

Keeper Carlos talked to us about the 4 different types of reptiles and introduced us to a few of the residents of the habitat he manages. Some were so uncomfortable they left the room or refused to come in to begin with, but most of us stayed and enjoyed Carlos’ informative presentation.

Late afternoon we all carpooled to L.A. Cetto Winery. We got a great tour of the operation led by our tour guide Adrian. He shared with us that this winery was started in 1928 here in Guadalupe Valley and it is the largest winery in all of Mexico. They manage and harvest about 3000 acres, having about 250 seasonal employees in the fields. The grapes are all hand picked and they produce over 1 million cases of wine annually. The (2) rooms of stainless steel fermenting tanks hold over 3 million liters of wine at a time. After fermentation the wine is transferred to the oak barrels where it stays for just a few and up to 65 years!

After the tour we all went up to the outdoor patio for the wine tasting and Tapas made by our own crew. Our caravan leader Ed Dennis graduated in culinary art from a Paris school years ago so he asked for volunteers from our group that could help him prepare our afternoon feast – It was fabulous!

There’s more to come …. we’re all heading out to a local Mexican restaurant tonight and tomorrow morning we will all say goodbye to our new friends at Zoologico Parque del Nino Guadalupe Valley and head further south on the Baja Penninsula to La Jolla Beach Campground.

C’Mon Along!

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Mexico Day Three

Day three (Saturday February 15th) started out another beautiful sunny wonderful day in paradise. After breakfast in the coach – Kathy with her oatmeal and me with my scrambled eggs with mushrooms, onion, and a little potato mixed in – we headed on over with the others to the pavilion in the center of the zoo. Here we met with zoo biologists and keepers where we divided into four groups of 12 and then headed out for our “up close and personal” tours of the Zoologico Parque del Nino Guadalupe.

Our tour group leaders (biologists, keepers, veterinarian, director)

This zoo was started dozens of years ago by the owner of the Jersey Dairy Company. He and his family created, managed, and funded the zoo. In recent times, this man passed away and as a result just this year the zoo no longer gets any funding from him or his family. The zoo is now a not-for-profit organization and relies on admission prices and donations to stay afloat. It became very clear to us during our tours that the employees of the zoo (11 employees total) are working here because of their love for the animals. This .. in many ways is their family.

The Escapees RV Club Chapter 8 “Mexican Connection” came here last year and again this year to not only be entertained but also to help out both physically and financially through our admission fees and our auction that will be held here later this week.

Antonio – Our tour guide for the day – 32 year old Zoo Biologist

Remember, you can click on any of the thumbnails below to see a larger image.