Getting ready Friday morning to leave Campers Cove at Alpena and move a little west to Eckert Park at Hamlin, I received an email from Leonard at the lighthouse that we could just come ahead now rather than have to wait until Monday due to one of the couples working here had to leave due to a medical issue.
It was only a 45 minute drive and we were here and settled by about noon. There are three other rigs here (all motorhomes) and as the volunteers each came and went to/from their lunch break they all stopped to introduce themselves and welcome us.
We continued to set up camp. We connected our electric, water, and sewer lines, took our e-bikes off the back of the car, set up our little Weber propane grill, brought out the bungee chairs and side tables, and rolled out the side awning. All this takes about a half hour and now we can sit and relax a bit! There was a nice breeze off the lake, but it was pretty warm and humid.
All four sites are nestled in the woods (lots of shade) and there’s a community fire pit with plenty of firewood, two large picnic tables, and a large propane BBQ grill.
Just beyond the fire pit there’s a trail going down to Lake Huron. Kathy and I took off our socks and shoes, put on other more appropriate footwear for trudging through the sand, and headed down to the water to check it out. Surprisingly, the water is warmer than I had imagined it would be this far north!
Our supervisors Leonard and Carrie came by on their bicycles to greet us, they live just down U.S. 23 a bit and there’s a nice paved bike path alongside the road and the lake that goes all the way to Rogers City about 7 miles south.
Kathy and I ran into town for a bit to pick up a couple things. Shortly after we returned, the crew had finished their day (4:00pm) and we all settled at the picnic tables. Each of us had our favorite drink and we had the opportunity to get to know each other.
All of a sudden an instant pot showed up and we all shared a great time enjoying homemade vegetable beef soup and Texas toast. Ok, one side was a “little” overdone on the grill, but the other side was great 😃
Our first night backed up a couple hundred feet from the waves of Lake Huron was cool, breezy and SO comfortable we were lulled to sleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow.
Although we had visited the lighthouse last year, the next day we visited each venue to hear how the “pros” tell the story to visitors. Leonard had emailed us lots of info for us to study about the history, but it’s always good to see and hear how other docents share the story.
That’s the report for now. Today we’ll take a drive into town to get some groceries, stop at one of the local produce stands, hit the laundromat and then when we get back we’ll visit the venues again to hear how others tell the story. The volunteers rotate assignments each day so that each gets an opportunity to work everywhere.
Although we’ve hit a lot of our beautiful country over the last six years on the road, it seems that our hearts often lead us back to northern Michigan.
Michigan (the Detroit area) is where Kathy and I were raised, married, bought our first home, and saw our children through their early years in grade school.
Our early vacations often involved throwing the kids and the dog in the van and driving up to Kalkaska where Grandma and Grandpa Baldwin had retired to. It was a low cost trip away from work and the hectic city downstate and provided my mom and dad with a handyman (me) to take care of the list of tasks that dad kept adding to that he could no longer take care of himself.
But when we have the opportunity to revisit the memories in Michigan, we always choose to do so. We have a lot of fond memories of great times with family and friends.
You might remember that we got off the road in early 2022 to head back to Mt Gilead Ohio from Arizona to help our daughter Sara heal from her sudden serious illness.
That took us through September of ’22 when we could have returned to Arizona for the winter, but we decided we’d stay in Ohio for the winter and get our hip surgeries completed.
In October of ’22 our son in law Stu wanted to make a fishing trip to northern Michigan so we naturally tagged along in our motorhome and made a family trip of it. You can read the post on that trip here. Norm and Alice, our old friends from my Xerox days came along and camped with us. We all had a great time catching up and telling stories.
Then in December of ’22 Kathy and I both had our hip surgeries. Mine was a new total right hip with a pretty quick recovery and hers was a torn left hip tendon repair which required nearly two full months of healing and rehab taking us through February of ’23. By that time we were well into winter and decided we would stay in OH through the summer and into fall ’23 when we would head back to Arizona for the winter.
To keep from getting bored and to give me a little spending money, during our time in Ohio I work part time for the county transporting patients to medical appointments.
Mid June of ’23 we decided to get the coach out of storage and make a trip up to see my sister Betsy and brother in law Bob in Owosso, Michigan. It’s about a 5 hour trip. Since the coach had been in storage for more than a year at this point, we thought it wise to take it on a short shake-down cruise. And we’re so glad we did!
On our way back from Owosso the last 50 miles or so found us in “limp mode” barely doing 30 mph. Ugh!
So into the shop she went. We drove the car back to Mt Gilead and waited (me not so patiently). Two more shops and three weeks later we finally had a resolution. Turns out the fuel tank (95 gallons) had a lot of rust and algae in it. Both are caused by excess moisture sitting in the tank during extended periods of storage. The rust and algae plugged up not only the fuel filter but the lines as well. The solution to this problem is to always top off the tank just before placing your rig in storage.
But by mid-July and thanks to Great Lakes Truck Center in Monroeville, Ohio where we were in the shop for about four days waiting on parts. New fuel tank and associated parts. We finally got back on the road headed to Ludington Michigan.
We then moved on to Ludington to attend an RV rally sponsored by our Escapees RV Club Great Lakes Chapter. There were about 30 rigs there from all over the tri-state. We had the opportunity to meet some new friends and visit with “old” friends we’ve met across the country too.
After the Ludington rally we moved 4 hours over to the east side of the state. We settled in at Alpena where we could stay until Friday morning when the “weekend warriors” descend on the campground. This is a very common occurrence as most folks have only the weekends to take a break with the family and head to the local camp or lake cottage.
This was a stop to give us time to catch up on our grocery shopping (we have a small 9 cu ft fridge) and find the local laundromat. We did take a drive over to the Thunder Bay Marina and enjoyed looking at all the yachts along with a large cruise ship in the distance heading south on Lake Huron.
As we walked the downtown streets of Alpena we came across a nice little park in between a couple businesses. I wanted to share this picture of the wall mural. Note the large 3D fish in the mural! Pretty cool, eh?
We got a really special and pleasant surprise after we arrived here at Alpena. I had posted on my Facebook page that we were here and almost immediately I received a message from an “old” friend of ours when we lived in Redford Twp MI pre-1984. What a blast from the past! Tim reached out to us to let us know that he and his wife Nancy now have a home near Harrisville, MI about 40 miles south of here. We made arrangements to enjoy a beautiful evening re-kindling our friendship over a wonderful dinner at an upscale Italian restaurant in Alpena. It was great to spend time with them both and we look forward to seeing them again when we will very likely be back up here in a few years.
I’m usually pretty good about taking pictures, but we were so busy talking that I totally forgot – my bad.
We were intending to move tomorrow morning over to Emerick Park Campground at Hillman MI while we wait until we can get into our spot at the lighthouse, but I just got an email from our supervisor at the lighthouse and he has an empty spot now so we are going to head on up to 40 Mile Point Lighthouse tomorrow.
This is a post I wrote back in late October and THOUGHT I had published, but just found it in my DRAFTS folder. Better late than never.
When our daughter Sara became seriously ill in early 2022, we made a bee-line trip back to Ohio from Arizona to help her through the recovery process.
It’s now summer and Sara is doing so much better. She’s the best and happiest we’ve seen her in 20 years.
Since Stu and Sara sold their Mt Gilead home in April, we’ve all been living together in one of our small two bedroom rental homes in the village. It’s “cozy” but it’s got a great attached garage for the guys to play in and a fenced yard for the dogs w/a concrete patio so the girls can sun themselves while keeping an eye on the little 4 legged mischief makers.
As our lives got more and more back to normal, we yearned for more “normal” activities. One of these was Stu’s desire to go fishing in northern Michigan again as he had the year before.
Sara wanted to go along, but the idea of being out on the lake all day really wasn’t her idea of fun – nor was waiting in the motel room all day for Stu to come back with the car towing the boat. Quite the conundrum.
Kathy and I proposed the idea of us tagging along and setting up camp in a local campground that could also provide a rental camper for the two of them and the dogs. We found a great little campground called Campers Cove RV Park & Canoe Livery where we got sites just a few hundred feet apart. As an added bonus Stu’s mom Barb came along as well!
We set our camping trip for October and when I mentioned that to a Facebook friend, another one of our “old friends” (not THAT kind of “old” really but friends we’ve been since the early 70’s) suggested they might come along since we hadn’t seen each other in a few years. Great idea!
What a great time we had camping in northern Michigan enjoying the fall colors, the cool weather, the nearly empty campground, the crackling of the campfire every day and night, along with great food provided and cooked by our friends Norm and Alice. What a treat!
Our relationship with Norm & Alice started when Norm and I hired in at Xerox as copier service reps in 1973 (I think). We soon became fast friends as we both worked covering the downtown Detroit big office buildings servicing copiers in law firms, government offices, stock brokerages, banks, and others. Back in those days it was only Xerox, Kodak, and IBM in the copier business. It would be a few more years before the influx of the Toshibas, Minoltas, Canons and other Japanese brands into the market.
As our friendship grew, the four of us partied together, got married about the same time, went on some trips together, each brought our children into the world (each with a boy and a girl) about the same time. We bought our first homes the same year. They, however have done the smart thing and stayed in that home for nearly 50 years while we’ve moved in and out of nine homes before finally selling the last one and hitting the road in our motorhome in 2016.
We didn’t just sit around the campfire and feed our faces for three days however. While Stu went off fishing, we made a couple day trips to see the Mackinac Bridge and visit a couple lighthouses too.
Kathy and I are going to be volunteering late summer of ’23 as guest lighthouse keepers at 40 Mile Point Light near Rogers City, MI. Since we were pretty darn close, we decided to swing on by and scope out the place!
We couldn’t have asked for better weather. The sunny warm days faded to cooler afternoons and evenings. Time together with wonderful old friends and our family really was a special time telling stories of times past and just enjoying each other’s company.
As we prepare to stay in Mt Gilead for the winter so that I can get my second hip replacement, we reminisce about our six years on the road workamping and camp hosting.
We’re so glad that we made the decision to quit working early (at 62), sell the house and hit the road. The places we’ve gone and especially the wonderful lasting friendships we’ve made along the way would never have happened if we stayed home – working or retired.
But for now we will be content to stay in Ohio to get some medical issues taken care of, spend the summer of ’23 in/near here and then head to Arizona and spend next winter with our “other” family there.
Normally HH stays are one night only, but we were going to be coming through Pine Bluffs Wyoming on Monday and that is the one day of the week they are closed. We asked if we could stay both Monday and Tuesday and they replied “Absolutely, c’mon ahead”.
We pulled in late Monday afternoon, enjoyed an early evening dinner “on the veranda” with David and Susan, and let the hum of the fast moving every-thrity-minutes trains lull us to sleep.
On Tuesday – after our trip into Cheyenne to visit Messenger’s Old West Museum, we came back to the distillery to enjoy some product samples and take a tour of the operation.
KeeLee our Mixologist/Bartender was fantastic. She is so talented and loves to share her knowledge with the customers. Their whiskeys are all made from grain that’s grown ONLY on local farms by local farmers – they are truly a Farm to Table operation. They have seven different whiskeys and one vodka and they use; wheat, rye, barley, oat, (and I can’t remember the fifth grain!). Click this link to see all seven beautiful bottles.
KeeLee gave us all samples of their different whiskeys as she explained the differences and what we would notice about them and then took our orders. Kathy and I both had cocktails and we have to say they were “the best we’ve ever had” although if you know us at all you know we are not big drinkers. But indeed they were good!
Then Aaron took us on a tour of the operation and explained how everything worked.
They’ve been in business about 3 years. The owner (Chad) was a conservation officer in Nevada, newly married and ready to start a family. He knew that he didn’t want to stay in that career line. He moved to Wyoming to work with his cousin farming the land.
Although he had no experience as a distiller or brewmaster, he knew what he wanted to do. He did his research, developed agreements with local farmers for the grain as well as suppliers of other needed materials and equipment, developed a business and marketing plan, procured a few investors, bought the land, had the building built and started production. It was about a $3 million dollar investment.
We said goodnight to our hosts and retired to our rigs for the evening. Even though there is a Union Pacific train going through town every 30 minutes, (seriously!) we still managed to have a great night.
Thanks again for riding along. Stay safe and be good to yourselves and each other.
Our stay at Angostura gave us the opportunity to spend some time in Hot Springs visiting the local grocery store, the post office, one of the local barbers, the Pioneer Museum, the ACE hardware store, and at least three of the local restaurants more than once each during our stay.
We enjoyed visiting with the locals while we patronized their businesses and sought out opportunities to visit with other “travelers” along the way.
Fall River (also the name of the county) runs right down through downtown from north to south along the main drag. There are very few “new” buildings in town with most having been built in the early 1900’s and many including City Hall, the County Courthouse, the old Evans Hotel, the town school, the old hospital and a host of others were built in the late 1800’s.
These buildings are not only old, but beautiful as well for they are made of the brown-pink colored sandstone mined from one of the local quarries back in the day.
As always, click on any of the thumbnails below to see a larger picture.
Here below are some pictures of the inside of the former Hot Springs School (used until 1963). It is now the home of the Fall River Pioneer History Museum. It’s three stories of classrooms plus a fourth floor attic that they are currently working to rehab into an art studio and gallery for community use. This school is up on the hill overlooking the town and the students had to climb up a couple hundreds steps (I’m guessing) to make it to class.
And today we see Moms and Dads all over the country driving their kids down a hundred foot driveway to sit in temperature controlled comfort while waiting for a school bus to come and pick them up! Remember when our parents would say “Quit complaining, when I was your age we had to walk 5 miles uphill both ways to and from school!” We were led to believe that we had it lucky, but now these kids today got it lucky even more so!
There are a lot more buildings to marvel at in Hot Springs as well as some nice neighborhoods to drive through as well.
With regard to any of the springs in town, we did not take advantage of a visit personally. The Evans Plunge is the largest, oldest, and most popular boasting a 70′ x 200′ indoor hot mineral spring fed pool that is tempered by cool fresh water from the Fall River. Another newer spring and Spa called Moccasin Spring caters to those that desire spa type treatments in addition to their outdoor multi-level soaking pools.
“The biggest development in baths was the Plunge, built by Fred Evans in 1891. The building was constructed of wood, iron, and glass, and covered a pool approximately seventy by two hundred feet. Various slides, diving boards, rafts, and other accessories were provided for the enjoyment of the guests. Evans Plunge is still operating at the same site. In 1893, our sandstone City Hall (still used today), and an impressive sandstone public school building (now the Fall River County Museum) were built. By the end of 1893 the population of Hot Springs was estimated at 3350, and the city had laid more than five miles of sidewalk and graded more than three miles of streets in the preceding three years.”
And what’s traveling across the country without experiencing the local “Mom’n Pop” diners and cafes? I mean “Ya Gotta Eat” right?
We enjoyed our stay at Angostura Recreation Area and our frequent visits into Hot Springs (only about 4 miles away) but it’s time to move on down the road and meet up with our friends David and Susan. We will be traveling tandem for about the next month as we make our way back to Arizona for the winter.
So long for now, thanks for riding along and please feel free to leave a comment down below. If you’re not already getting automatic email notification of our new posts, you can look over in the right margin (sidebar) and enter your email address. Then you’ll get a brief email anytime we post an update.
Be good, take care of each other and if you’re on the road … safe travels to you. See you next time.
It was a long drive (335 miles) down US-35 from Miles City Iowa to Kansas City Missouri. Normally we don’t push it this hard (we are retired after all) so we usually take our time.
We were on a schedule to get to Spearfish (South Dakota) before the Labor Day holiday weekend to make sure we could get a spot in the city campground and spend a few days with our friends Matt and Sherry before they were to leave Spearfish for points south.
But we wanted to stop and visit our friends Ron and Judy who live at Lee’s Summit (a Kansas City suburb) They had put us on to a great little city park just a few miles from their home. Once we were in the park and settled, Ron came and picked us up at the campground and took us back to their home where Judy had prepared a wonderful dinner for us.
We had first met Ron and Judy when we all worked as volunteers at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta in fall of 2019. We met up with them again when we were all at “The Big Tent” RV Show in Quartzsite Arizona in January of 2020. It was great to hook up with them again.
Kathy and I had also planned to meet up and visit with Carl who we had met in February of 2020 when we traveled with about 50 other members of our Escapees RV Club down into Mexico. While in Mexico, Carl had told us about his family’s mausoleum in Holden Missouri (near Kansas City). I was intrigued and wanted to see it if we were ever in that part of the country. Now was my chance!
We had told Ron and Judy about this over dinner and invited them to come with us the next day. They jumped at the chance as well. After all, how often do you get an invite to tour a mausoleum?
The next day the four of us jumped in their car and headed to Holden Missouri, about 30 minutes from the campground.
Carl was expecting us and gave us the “Grand Tour”. His Great-Grandfather built the mauseleum in the early 1800’s for his family, both those who had pre-deceased the construction and those that were to come in the future.
Carl aquuired the mauseleum from the family trust. He didn’t set out to own it, he was doing some family genealogy work and as a result of his research, he came across the mauseleum as part of the family history.
The more he looked at it and saw what a state of disrepair it was in, the more he was drawn to do something about it.
The roof has been replaced to stop any further water damage. Electric has been installed as well as a security system. Carl has opened the building and the surrounding grounds to the community for public events like craft fairs, scout campouts, church picnics and such.
There were 23 occupied crypts when Carl took possession and he has taken all the legal and ethical steps necessary to move the occupants to other locations. All the remaining caskets are now empty.
In looking at the pictures below (click on any thumbnail to open a larger view) you’ll notice that the entire structure is made of concrete. The walls, floors, stairways, and ceilings are all concrete. The crypts are also concrete with ornamental marble fronts that have the deceased name and dates engraved.
Now it was time to continue our trek west. We said our goodbyes to Carl and Ron and Judy and headed back to the campground for the night before starting our travels to Spearfish South Dakota the next day.
More to come in Installment #4 in the next few days.
It’s been a great 3 months at Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park. We’ve been Camp Hosts here. Not only is the park laid out beautifully with eighteen camp site loops of 8 spaces each (laid out in a wagon wheel fashion), but the work has been easy with plenty of unscheduled time available to us.
And the people – all the staff here have been just fantastic to get to know and to work with. We’ve been invited to come back in the future and who knows? It just might happen!
Some special people in our lives made our visit here really special. In early May our daughter and son-in-law (Sara and Stu) came down for a visit. They rented a camper right across from us. It was a great week! Stu got a lot of fishing in while we visited with Sara and as you can see from the pictures, we enjoyed some great meals together too!
In early June, good friends from Ohio and Arizona came for a visit. We shared a few meals together, we visited the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, we rented a deck boat and spent time out on Dale Hollow Lake, and we enjoyed each other’s company around the camp fire in the evenings.
We want to acknowledge some of the folks at the park that made our time there so enjoyable.
Jenny (in the first picture below) is the General Manager of the entire park. She and her staff of about 45 are responsible for the campground, the lodge and dining room, the golf course, the picnic areas, and all the 3400 acres within the boundaries if the park. Jenny’s a super hard worker, great at multi-tasking and utilizes a great management style that has earned the respect of her staff. It’s a well-oiled smooth run operation that everyone at the park can be proud of.
Our next special person is Bobbi. Bobbi has responsibility to run the Country Store at the entrance to the campground. This entails registration of all new campers as well as keeping the store well stocked with all the goodies – food, ice, and souvenirs that travelers are looking for when they check in to a new place.
Robert, along with his work partner Jeff play a super important role in the campground. They do a super job of keeping the bathouses spotless. As we talked with campers, they always told us what a beautiful campground we had and what a fine job we did keeping the bathrooms so clean. We were always quick to tell them about and give credit to Robert and Jeff.
Another special person that helped make our time at Dale Hollow (although I neglected to get a picture) was Gary, or “Speck” as he’s known at the park. Speck is the maintenance manager and he helped us countless times by getting us any tools or supplies we needed to do our jobs. He was also just a great guy to sit and talk with a bit. As he told us “just a country boy”. We always enjoyed talking with Speck.
You might recall that our arrival here was delayed from mid-March to mid-April because of my scheduled left shoulder rotater cuff repair surgery. I had the operation in Ohio on March 16th and the doc wouldn’t release me to drive the coach until early April.
Still, even though I could drive, my shoulder was still very stiff (and weak) and we knew I’d need some rehabilitation therapy in order to get me to as close to full range of motion as possible.
Once we got to Dale Hollow, I registered with Cumberland County Hospital and received twice weekly physical therapy through May and June. We went first thing in the morning Mondays and Thursdays. Sonya, Melissa, and Veronica did a wonderful job, the hospital is lucky to have such a great team running their PT department.
Not only did I get shoulder therapy, but both Kathy and I were able to receive traction (spinal decompression) for lower back pain. We’ve found over the past few years that we try to take advantage of this therapy whenever we find it exists in an area that we are in.
We were originally scheduled to stay at the park through the July 4th weekend and depart on the 6th of July. We found out the week before the 4th that due to an administrative error our site was reserved for the July 4th weekend. Due to the fact that the park was reserved fully for the holiday weekend, we had no choice but to depart early.
That was fine for us since I had this upcoming hip replacement surgery with pre-op testing, it actually worked out great for us to head on out.
All in all, it was a great experience at Dale Hollow and we will miss our new friends. Maybe sometime in the future, we’ll be able to come on down for a visit. As a matter of fact we are already talking with our “gang of eight” about renting one of those big houseboats for a few days next summer!
Thanks for riding along with us, now to head on up to Ohio for a month or so to get this hip surgery and some rehab taken care of before we head west to Oregon. More on that to follow.
Although we wanted to try another Harvest Hosts location tonight, there weren’t any close enough to our route. We were deliberately taking local and state routes and staying off the internet. The trip, although a little longer, was far more beautiful winding our way on down into Kentucky’s horse country. The huge horse farms with their rolling green pastures were contained by what seemed to be endless black board fencing. The roads along the way are peppered with trees filled with lots of white and pink blossoms (crabapple / pear / dogwood)? It was a great escape from the boredom of the interstate although I’ll admit it did take a lot more concentration and energy to drive this route due to the hills and curves coupled with the traffic entering and exiting the roadway.
We could’ve stayed at any number of commercial RV parks, but we decided to opt for the Cabela’s right off I-75 on the east side of Lexington. Here’s the route we took today.
We used one of our favorite RV apps ALLSTAYS.com. The reviews from other RV’ers indicated it’s pretty quiet and safe with 24 hour security.
Usually there are 5or 6 spots available for RV’s, but about three of them are taken up by large shipping containers, presumably filled with new fixtures for some planned store remodeling. We grabbed the spot closest to the store entrance. There is also a dump station here with fresh water as well, but it’s out of order right now. We’re OK, we have a 70 gallon fresh water tank that I filled up when we left Ohio.
We went on inside, gave the lady at the service desk our card, and told them we were parked outside for the night and thanked them for letting us stay.
We each took a little nap this afternoon. We opened the windows that were not in direct sunlight, turned on the ceiling (exhaust) fans and soon fell asleep for an hour or so. The fans brought in fresh cool air and the whirr of the fans drowned out any parking lot sounds. It was nice.
Late afternoon came and we unhooked the car and went for a little drive around the area. Boy was that a mistake!!! As I should have realized, Cabela’s is in a developed area filled with lots of shopping, office complexes, and apartments and subdivisions. Those are places we don’t like to go to – especially during RUSH HOUR!
We did stop at Lowes to get a couple small springs for a fixit project I’ve got, then finally found our way back to peace and quiet at Cabela’s. We made our dinner of tossed salad with mushrooms, blueberries, salami, cheddar cheese, and hard-boiled egg. Kathy added crab meat to her salad.
Look what we found!
After supper and a walk around the large Cabela’s parking lot, Kathy found this Freddy’s store at the outside perimeter of the lot. We agreed we would go there after our walk to get a little treat!
Tomorrow will find us moving further south and arriving at Dale Hollow Lake State Park, our home for the next 3 months. We’ll leave the coach there and drive the car back up to Ohio to visit the doctor for a follow-up to my shoulder rotator cuff surgery. Hopefully he’ll tell me all is good and I can start physical therapy. There’s a hospital in Burkesville – about 30 minutes from the campground, where I can get started and hopefully soon after finish up on my own at the campground.
That’s all for now. I’ll follow up with another post once we get settled at Dale Hollow and have the opportunity to take a look around.
Wow .. it’s been a year. How time flies. After having been on the road as RV Nomads for 4+ years, we finally came back to Ohio last March (2020) because of the Covid 19 virus.
And now a year later, were ready to move on – well, almost.
When we decided to go rv’ing full time in 2016 we sold our home in Ohio to our daughter Sara and son-in-law Stu.
When covid hit us all February of 2020 we were on our way to North Carolina to work in a campground for 3 months. At that point we didn’t know what was going to happen as many of the roadside truck stops and even highway rest areas were closing.
Restaurants were closing and some governors were even talking about closing the state lines. We were concerned that we were less and less safe with every passing day and every passing mile. Would we be able to move on if we felt unsafe in any particular location? We decided to head home to Ohio while we still could and where we knew what to expect.
We have been blessed in that the kids (Sara and Stu) have an apartment up above the garage so Kathy and I have been able to live there the last year.
I haven’t written much the last year as it’s been pretty uneventful … trips to the grocery store were sometimes the highlight of the week!
I eventually took a part-time job working for the county transportation agency. This kept me busy about 30 hours a week while Kathy had taken on the responsibility of dog-sitting Stu & Sara’s 3 dogs, helping out with their laundry and keeping us all fed each evening.
Occasionally we’ve been meeting our small “group of eight” dear friends that we’ve known for years. We are “Brothers (and sisters) from another mother). We’d meet at one of our homes for a wonderful home cooked meal or, once we’ve felt more adventurous, met at a restaurant (mid-day when it’s less crowded)
We actually all went camping together last fall where we could enjoy our extended family while still being safe.
I got my Covid test last week in preparation for my shoulder surgery Tuesday. Ohio Health has an easy drive-up testing site.
Now that I’m well on my way to a complete recovery, we decided to pull the coach out of storage, test all the systems to make sure all is well, and head on out to our camp hosting job in Kentucky.
After that, we’ll come back up to Ohio for a week or so to visit our doctors and get new prescriptions for the next year along with picking up anything we might have forgot to load into the motorhome this week.
Mid-July will find us heading up to Michigan where we will visit friends and relatives for a few days before moving on up into the Upper Peninsula then on into Wisconsin and continuing to the west coast and on down into Arizona for the winter.
Thanks for following along and I’ll start posting more often now that we’re satisfying our “hitch-itch” and moving along.
Until next time, only our best wishes to you and yours for a warm and wonderful summer.
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.