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.
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.
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 …
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.
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.
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.
On Wednesday morning three rigs left our other RV friends at La Jolla Beach Camp and headed back to the good ‘ol U.S.A. The rest of the group (24 rigs) were moving on the same day but heading south further into Baja California. Some were going over to the Sea of Cortez at San Felipe while another group was heading further south to Playa Santispac to camp on the water front and do some whale-watching.
Thanks to those in the group that had experience crossing back over the border at Tecate, we made it to the wall just fine. Driving north from La Jolla Beach through Ensenada just after rush hour made the trip easier than leaving earlier, but still a lot of traffic, a lot of potholes, and very light painted lines showing separation of lines. You gotta keep both hands on the wheel!
While we waited in line to cross – all along the side of the road are vendors trying to sell you snacks, drinks, and trinkets. This is just one of them. Most just walk up and down the street trying to push their wares on you through the window.
After about 45 minutes we finally made it up to the U.S. Customs crossing inspection gate at Tecate. They came in our coach and looked in our fridge where they then took our eggs and a yellow pepper. They couldn’t tell where these were purchased and they don’t want Mexico meat, eggs, or veggies coming back across the border.
Then the 3 rigs drove on another 20 minutes back to Potrero County Park to camp for the night. We all went out to dinner together, said our goodbyes and heading to our respective destinations (ours to our lease lot at Casa Grande AZ) the next morning.
We made it back safely (6 hour trip) from CA to AZ stopping once for fuel along the way. And that’s another story – I gotta tell you about how we saved $.78 / gallon with our new truckers fuel card! – but that will be for another post.
When we got back the first thing I wanted to do was wash the rig. Here’s where I found a torn tire – oh no!
Turns out when we left La Jolla Beach I cut a corner a little too close and there was a jagged rock that cut into our drivers side rear tire. The hole is about the size of a quarter (or $10 peso coin) and at it’s deepest is about 3/8″ deep. The “flap” is attached at one end.
I called my local (Coolidge AZ) tire /auto repair shop. He services a lot of Border Patrol and prison buses and I thought he would have a tire in stock. No luck. Loren asked me if I could see the steel belts – my answer was no. He suggested that I trim off the “flap” and not worry about it. He’s had enough experience with heavy truck and construction vehicle tires that I trust his judgement.
But instead of cutting the flap off, I decided to use my Rubber Contact Cement to glue the flap closed so that the wind from being on the road won’t rip the hole any larger.
So we’re back at Rover’s Roost for the weekend and leaving Monday morning to head to Florida. This will be about a 1700 mile trip and will take a week or more to get there. We’ll spend the 2nd and 3rd week of March visiting friends and family in Florida and then the 4th week we will drive up to North Carolina where we will be working in a small privately owned campground right near the Blue Ridge Parkway starting April 1st and going through July 4th.
’til next time … take care and thanks for riding along.
We drove yesterday from the SKP Park in Yuma (where we spent Sunday night) on over West to Potrero County Park.
It was mostly a great drive, with a little rain and a LOT of wind .. it was definitely a two-handed drive! The scenery was fantastic, along westbound I-8 (I wish I had pulled over to take a picture) there were miles and miles of huge, smooth boulders as far as the eye could see. It’s so fascinating to see all the different types of landscape we see as we travel.
These were large hills (or small mountains) made of millions of huge (larger than a truck / some larger than a commercial building) smooth-surfaced stones mounded on top of one another.
The colors ranged from white to sand to deep browns and reds. No jagged edges here like so many other geologic formations we’ve seen, just big rocks smoothed over millions of years by what force? Did they all actually used to be in a huge ancient riverbed whose cool running water smoothed them?
Once we got off I-8, we traveled about 25 miles west to Potrero County Park where we met up with about 20 or so of our fellow Escapees who are going to be our travel partners to Mexico over the next couple weeks.
Last night we had a Happy Hour at the park shelter where those of us that are here early could get together and share some munchies and get to know one another. Seems about half the group so far are returning travelers while the others like us are “Newbies” to the Mexican Connection trip.
Today the group leaders and some of the board members are headed across the border to Tecate just to make sure all is in order for our excursion there tomorrow. While we are in Tecate tomorrow we’ll get our Mexico FMM card, exchange some U.S. dollars for pesos, and visit a local bakery and brewery.
Here’s our annual Jib-Jab Christmas greeting to you. We hope the link works for you. If you have any trouble viewing it, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you your very own copy! Click here to see the short video
And for those of you that might have any interest (and ample time) to see what we’ve been up to in 2019 …. You are welcome to read on. If you make it to the end, we congratulate you!
We’ve just finished our third full year on the road and want to wish you and all our family and friends (old and new) the very best Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Although we miss being with our children and grandchildren along with our very dear friends back in Mount Gilead, this last three years on the road has been a wonderful learning and growth experience for us. We’ve been to so many places, made so many new friends that we continue to stay in touch with and meet up with, and learned so much through new experiences and interacting with new people and as a result we are so thankful and consider ourselves very blessed to be able to experience this full-time RV’ing lifestyle.
When (and if) it comes time for us to come off the road, we’ll have tons of great memories (and thousands of pictures) to remind us of the good times that have also brought Kathy and I closer together – remember – we live in a 300 square foot rolling house so it’s mighty easy to stay “close”!
It’s about 45 degrees out and so foggy I can’t even see down to the clubhouse.
But most of our days here at Rover’s Roost in Casa Grande Arizona are bright sun in the high 60’s or 70’s.
We want this post to serve as another way to not only wish you the best in this holiday season, but also to bring you up to date on what we’ve been up to in 2019.
It’s a cold, damp, and dreary day as I sit here writing this post at my “computer desk” that sits on the steering wheel of our rig.
We know some of you are already subscribed to this blog and see our posts as they are published while others see our occasional Facebook posts, and yet others only connect with us through email or on the phone or through texting.
I’ve been remiss in not posting very much the last few months because we’ve been severely limited with available low-cost wifi. That should change now that we’ve discovered a $25 per month truly UNLIMITED plan that will allow us to publish photos and videos along with streaming some of our favorite Netflix shows without having to worry about a speed or data cap. But more on that later …
January 2019 started with us still at our lease lot at the Escapees RV Club “Rovers Roost” in Casa Grande, AZ. We arrived in mid-October and immediately became involved in the functions of the club. This is a co-op park so everyone is expected to take an active role in some way for the betterment of the park and the enjoyment of all. We have 119 RV sites and only 2 full time employees. This keeps the costs low. Kathy and I ran the weekly Card Bingo, the monthly Birthday/Anniversary Ice Cream Social, organized and put on the Christmas Eve Party at the clubhouse, helped with others to spread gravel on some of the sites that needed it, and participated in as many social functions as we could. This was a great way to get to know the others and develop some meaningful and close friendships.
We started off the year with a 10 day trip to Quartzsite AZ to work at “The Big Tent” RV Show for the Escapees RV Club where we worked with 4 other couples selling club memberships.
As always, clicking on any of the small thumbnail pictures will open them in a larger viewing window so you can see better.
In February we took our home on wheels down to Tucson where we joined a couple thousand other Escapees at the annual Escapade for fun, forums, food, and entertainment.
On our way back to Rovers Roost after Escapade we visited; Mission San Xavier Del Bac, Titan Missile Museum, Sonoran Desert Museum (with the Raptor display), and the Saguaro National Forest where we camped for 3 days at Gilbert Ray Campground.
We pulled out of Casa Grande on April 1st so we could get up to our spring camp hosting job at Fort Peck Montana by around April 15th. We were to serve as camp hosts at the Army Corp of Engineers Downstream Campground during the “shoulder season” up to and including Memorial Day weekend. After that we were free to move on (or stay as we liked)
Along the way we visited a lot of places on our bucket list and I’ll include a few pictures here in photo galleries (with captions so you know where it is).
We visited both Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks along with a short visit to Best Friends Animal Santuary in Kanab, Utah.
After leaving Bryce, we continued our venture north and stayed at our new friends (whom we hadn’t met yet) at Hinkley, Utah. They had purchased the once-upon-a-time Latter Day Saints Millard Academy. This family acts as a host family on boondockerswelcome.com They took us on a tour of their home and we enjoyed a quiet night with one other RV couple camping in the staff parking lot next to the gymnasium.
We visited Flaming Gorge Dam while we spent a few nights at the Rock Springs Wyoming Fairgrounds to get off the road during the first winter storm of the season. It was an extra treat because we met other RV’ers Mike and Judy (who we will see again in the spring in Alabama) along with attending a pool tournament and a special rodeo for the young’ns!
Up the road a piece we stopped for the night at Kaycee Wyoming. Kaycee is the home of world famous professional bronc rider and country singer songwriter Chris LeDoux. We learned about the “Hole In The Wall Gang” and got to watch a bronc riding school for the young boys and girls. Turns out they attend school only four days a week with Fridays off school so that they can practice their bronc riding skills. They don’t have a high school football team … they ride horses instead!
We arrived at Downstream Campground at Fort Peck where, unknown to us beforehand, due to some construction in the area, there was no electricity. That’s OK as we have an on-board diesel generator that we ran for a few hours each day to charge our house batteries.
As we finished up our stint at Ft Peck, we decided to celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary by taking the Amtrak from Glasgow to Glacier National Park. We stayed a couple days, rented a car and saw the sights near Whitefish and Kallispell driving in from east Glacier, around Flathead Lake and up to West Glacier.