Are you a current RV’er? Do you travel pulling a travel trailer or 5th wheel trailer? Or do you drive a motorhome and pull a car or truck behind?
We’ve had a fifth wheel trailer in the past and this is our 2nd motorhome. We enjoy the freedom that the motorhome gives us, along with the ease of parking when it comes to our evening camping spot.
We’ve owned this Airstream motorhome for about two years now and although we’ve looked at other rigs out there – both newer and older along with bigger and smaller … we think this 2002 36′ coach is just right for the two of us and our full-time RV travels.
I made this video of the exterior of our coach to give others who might not be aware of some of the features of many class A motorhomes an idea of what to expect. For those of you who might currently own a motorhome, it might be interesting for you to see some of the differences between ours and what you currently own.
Although there are a lot of similarites from manufacturer to manufacturer and model to model, there are also a lot of differences and this video just points out some of the features of our 2002 Airstream 365 XC Diesel Pusher motorhome.
I hope you enjoy seeing our coach and what it has to offer. I’ll be publishing a companion video that will feature the interior and further explain some of the inside systems.
In the meantime, we just completed our interior remodel (paint, light & bath fixtures, etc) and you can see that video by following this link
Living full-time in an RV can be exciting, getting to travel across this great nation of ours, seeing all sorts of sights and meeting all kinds of great people.
If you’re a “full-timer” as those of us in this group like to call ourselves, there are things to consider when going full-time like;
Where will our “home” be? Where will we go back to (occassionally) ?
What do we do about getting our mail? (Next post will cover this)
What state are we going to be domiciled in for medical insurance?
What happens if one of us needs recuperation time after a surgery?
What happens when this life on the road just gets too hard for us?
What happens to us when we can’t travel anymore?????
This is the question we’re going to talk about in this post.
Some full-time RV’ers might go “back home” and maybe live in their RV for some time at their children’s property, that is, if they are fortunate enough;
1) to have children,
2) that have property large enough to accommodate the RV, and
3) that have the electric, water, and sewer hookups for the RV.
Other full-timers may have the resources available to buy a home or rent an apartment to allow them to move out of the RV (either temporarily or permanently) so they can get the help they need for daily living.
BUT … If you are an Escapee RV Club member you have another option.
The club founders, Kay and Joe Peterson saw the need for another option for full-time RV’ers. Joe and Kay were full-time RV’ers themselves and started the club in 1978. As I understand it, Joe was an electrician and they, along with their 5 children traveled the country following Joe’s work while Kay ran the household and raised the children.
Here’s 3 links to just some of Kay’s many books she wrote while on the road. Kathy and I had the honor of attending a convention where Kay (at 94) spoke and she was truly a remarkable woman and a wonderful story-teller. You really should give yourself a treat and read at least one of her books.
I apologize … I digress. Now back to the point of this post.
So Kay and Joe, being full-timers themselves must’ve pondered this same question .. “What happens when we just can’t travel full-time anymore?”
And as a result, and with the help of many club members and volunteers, the C.A.R.E. Center was born adjacent to Rainbow’s End RV Park and the Escapees National Headquarters office in Livingston, Texas.
Let me tell you about it and what a cool concept it is. I’m told there’s nothing else like it in the country.
When an Escapee RV Club member finds the need to get off the road, whether because of the need to recuperate from an illness or medical procedure, or maybe they just need a little help to live comfortably, they can move their RV to CARE.
You say “It looks like an RV park to me”. Yes, it’s an RV park and again … so much more.
When full-time RV’ers decide to come off the road, they really don’t want to move into an apartment or an assisted living facility – instead (just like anyone else) they want to stay in their own home. And remember, this travel trailer or motor home IS their own home and very often has been for many years. They’ve seen the sights, made hundreds of new friends and even now want to live in an area where they can still be around like-minded people.
CARE provides their residents with a site that will accommodate the size of their rig, they provide 3 home cooked meals each day along with weekly laundry service and lots of activities in the CARE Center building.
This is not an assisted living facility, but rather a program that assists those who can still live independently. Residents walk from their rig to the dining hall for meals and to the activity room for; church services, jam sessions, use of the computer WiFi, exercise equipment, and lots more.
There are CARE volunteers who typically (but not always) live in the park and help the residents with some of their chores like; swapping out propane tanks, repairing sewer hoses, sweeping off their deck, or any number of what we feel are small jobs but might be difficult for the CARE resident.
In addition, CARE provides FREE transportation to wherever a resident might want to go (within 30 miles). That might be a doctor appointment, a trip to the local grocery, beauty shop, attorney or bank.
So you’re thinking “Wow, this really seems like a great concept – I wonder what they charge?”
C.A.R.E. is a not-for-profit 501c3 tax exempt corporation. They have a small (but professional) staff and the Volunteer Coordinator (Crystal) does a fantastic job recruiting and utilizing volunteers so their abilities and talents are best utilized. As a result, the CARE Center fees (at the time of this writing) are $1000 per month for a single person and $500 additional for a spouse or partner. The only additional costs to the resident are; electricity, cable or wifi, propane gas (for heat or cooking). Water, sewer, and trash removal is included in the rent.
There is no contract, all they ask is the monthly fee up front. If the resident, for any reason, decides that it’s just not for them, they put the key in the ignition the next month and move on down the road.
All in all, CARE is a wonderful “other option” for those full-time RV’ers that have come to the point of needing a little extra help.
AND, it allows those that have come to love the lifestyle now stay with that lifestyle and live among other like-minded wanderers.
You know what they say … “Not all who wander are lost”
I thought it appropriate that I should give you an update on how we are doing since we left Ohio back on Labor Day 2016.
We didn’t really “sneak” out of town, but we didn’t talk a lot about our leaving beforehand either. Since I was then in a business partnership with Carol, I didn’t want to talk a lot around town about my retirement and have it affect the business for Carol immediately before or after I left. The business had nothing to do with why I retired when I did.
In fact, the business relationship with Carol was wonderful and made the decision all that much harder. But in the end, I/we had to do what we felt was best for us.
I’ve been posting our experiences regularly on this blog as we’ve traveled along. Some posts have been about things we’ve done and places we’ve been to, while others have detailed some of the technical or mechanical issues we’ve had along the way.
The purpose of the trip was two-fold. Not only to visit Judy & Bob, who we hadn’t seen in probably 10 years or so, but also to see how we might like to change our lifestyle … that is, to retire from our “jobs“, selling or giving away most of our possessions, and hit the road to become full-time nomads / rv’ers / workampers. We also wanted to get a sampling of how it might be for the two of us to live together in such small quarters – about 300 square feet!
While some thought we were crazy for “chucking it all” and hitting the road, many more wished they could join us and wished us well on this new phase in our life journey.
I’ve wanted to travel in an RV and go “camping” for years, but Kathy wanted nothing to do with it, as she felt that living even part-time in a small metal can with two young children would not be her idea of living in paradise, but rather some form of hell on wheels. But that was the past, the “kids” are now adults and have their own lives and dreams.
Our decision to change our lifestyle was not so much predicated on wanting to retire (stop working) but more to be able to enjoy each other with the time we have left in this world. We have come to realize, as a result of my heart attack back in 2003 and Kathy’s bought with cancer in 2013, that life is short …. and it’s getting shorter every day.
After some careful consideration and crunching the numbers, we realized that a change in our lifestyle was possible, so we decided to pull the plug as of the first of September, 2016.
But we also knew that if we were to just travel from place to place and see the sights, we could very probably go broke in short order between the cost of diesel fuel (@ 10 miles / gallon) and the average cost for an overnight stay in an RV park at about $35-$40/night. We studied sites online that talked about living on the road and how people do it and we became intrigued by this lifestyle called “Workamping”.
There are literally thousands of workamping or hosting positions out there that typically trade 10-15 hours per week of your work in exchange for your RV site, propane, electric, wifi, laundry and other perks. Some parks pay a small hourly wage for any hours worked over the minimum required to cover the cost of the site while others pay better wages and then charge for the site.
So you can get a better idea of the sorts of positions out there, check out some of these popular web sites that advertise for workamping and hosting positions.
We wrote our resume and posted it on some of these sites and “bang” right away got our first workamping position here at Rancho Verde RV Park at Camp Verde, AZ. Camp Verde, as it turns out is a great location, geographically about half way between Flagstaff to the north and Phoenix to the south. Not too cold in the winter (currently about 60 degrees) and not too hot in the summer.
Kathy and I have had four months now to “soak it in” and we’ve determined that we are very pleased with our new lifestyle. We are comfortable in our new 36′ home, we have great neighbors in our fellow workampers here and the residents, and the money part is working out too.
We work two days each week in exchange for our site and the other amenities, so we have plenty of time to make day trips to see much of what Arizona has to offer, and come March 15th our commitment here will be finished and we’ll move on down the road.
We’ll pull out and take probably about two weeks to meander back to Ohio to stop and visit family and friends, staying there a couple of weeks and then head on to southeastern Michigan where we’ll camp for another couple of weeks while we visit family and old friends we grew up with (we’re making a list of who to see) and then after that time we will move on up further north and west in Michigan to start our summer workamping job near Ludington.
Kathy and I have a lot of great memories of our time spent in northern Michigan back while we were dating, spending our honeymoon there, and then making many return trips after we had moved to Ohio back to see family and good friends.
I know this post is longer than most I have written, I know as a reader I get bored of the longer posts and often move on before the end, so I try to keep my own posts generally shorter and more to the point. I hope you’ll forgive me for rambling on.
But it’s rainy here today (New Years Day) and so we’re taking advantage of this time inside. We did however get out for our morning walk in between rain showers.
We are looking forward to a great 2017 filled with many new places and meeting many new friends. We wish all of you only the best in the new year and who knows, maybe we’ll be able to meet around a campfire somewhere and enjoy each other’s company. We’re looking forward to it!