We left our new “Lighthouse friends” on Sunday and headed down U.S. 23 a couple hours to Tawas Point State Park where we camped for the next two nights alongside our long-time friends Norm and Alice.
We became good friends back in the mid 70’s when Norm and I began working for Xerox fixing copiers in downtown Detroit. We married our (now still) sweethearts the same year, bought our first homes the same year, and each helped to bring two beautiful babies (a boy and girl each) into this world.
During our time together at Tawas, we ate, we drank, we rode our bikes to the lighthouse and we drove into town for ice cream 🍨 of course!
We could’ve easily spent a couple more days with Norm and Alice at Tawas, but we had to continue toward home as we needed to get our house in Ohio ready for the traveling nurse who would be renting from us starting September 1st.
A few months ago when I had written about our upcoming volunteer gig at the lighthouse in Rogers City, I got a message from one of my grade school friends. Kevin told me that they now live on a lake at Oscoda, Michigan. We made plans to meet up for lunch as we would be passing through on our way home.
Although our visit was brief, it was great to meet up and renew our friendship. We committed to being up in their neck of the woods again and making a point of looking them up for a longer visit next time. Thanks for reaching out to us guys!
We tried to meet up with a couple other schoolmates from the Class of ’72, Tom who was actually camping at Tawas Point the week before we got there and Diane who is now living at Hubbard Lake. Unfortunately, although we messaged each other trying to make it work, it just didn’t work out. Thanks for reaching out to us guys … hope we can try again sometime.
Although we could’ve driven straight through from Oscoda Michigan to Mt Gilead Ohio in one stretch, we decided to boondock at one of our preferred dry camping locations.
Cabela’s at Dundee Michigan has HUGE parking lots and the one in the back of the store by the loading docks allows us to park alongside a very large retention pond that makes for a quiet and beautiful rest spot. Although there were a few trucks parked a few hundred feet away, they never kept us from a restful night.
Since we only had about ten days to get the house ready for Tara (the traveling health professional) and we needed to pack the coach for our upcoming trip to Arizona, we were going to park it at David and Lisa’s house. Turned out however they were having a big garage sale this weekend. So instead we were lucky enough to snag a site at Mt Gilead State Park, for the weekend. It’s a great little heavily shaded campground with both paved full hook-up sites and gravel electric only sites.
The next few days kept us busy between me going back to work M-W-Fridays, moving our personal items out of the house and into storage in preparation for our renter, and moving other “stuff” from the house to the coach in preparation for our 6 month stay at Rovers Roost in Arizona. The final day Kathy kept busy dusting, vacuuming, and mopping while I got a badly needed haircut, took a bunch of broken-down cardboard boxes to the recycling center, and dropped off a few things at the local Goodwill store.
After the garage sale we moved our home on wheels up to David and Lisa’s just outside of town (Mt Gilead) where up on the hill it’s always breezy and there’s a nice oak tree right outside our windshield that shades the morning sun from heating the coach too early in the day.
There’s always a little anxiety about change and moving down the road. But we make a plan and start working through it. So far things are working out nicely.
Thanks to David and Lisa’s hospitality, we’ll be here for a few weeks before heading to Arizona for the winter. We’re looking forward to a relaxing, enjoyable (and uneventful) trip west. Stayed tuned for more.
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.
We left our winter home at Rovers Roost on Saturday December 18th and met up with our friend Heidy at her home in Green Valley AZ for the night.
Sunday morning bright and early (still dark) we left her place about 6:30 and headed down I-10 and I-19 to the border crossing at Nogales.
Once we crossed the border onto MX15 we still had an inspection station, an immagration station, and 3 tolls booths to get through.
We stayed on MX15 (a four lane divided highway) down to Hermosillo where we then headed west about 60 more miles on MX100 to Bahia de Kino (Kino Bay) where we then pulled in to Islandia Marina and RV Park.
Our host Martita greeted us with a smile and pointed out two possible sites for us. We chose the one nestled under a big tree overlooking the Sea of Cortez.
The nights are cool, in the 40’s and 50’s and the days are breezy and in the low 80’s with lots of sunshine.
Our first full day found us keeping busy going about 20 minutes east to San Miguel Aleman to exchange our dollars for pesos, to pick up a few groceries, and to a local Telcel agent to get a 30 day MX sim card for my phone.
Just to give you an idea of how money works here, $100 American is about 2000 MX pesos.
Our groceries at a super market cost us $8.90, my 30 day unlimited talk and text (4.5gb data) sim card cost me $11.50, and our 30 amp full hookup site overlooking the beach at the Sea of Cortez costs $15/night.
While last night we cooked brats on the grill at our home by the beach, tonight we ate at Pulpo Loco (Crazy Octopus) in town. We got 3 combo plates of fried fish, bacon wrapped cheese stuffed shrimp, salad, fries, and fried shrimp. All 3 meals along with two bottles of Coke and a huge bottled water was 520 pesos (about $26)
Our first day here at Islandia RV Park we had the pleasure of meeting Julio, one of the regulars whose been spending winters here since 2007. A retired NYC firefighter, he’s quite a character. Although he doesn’t own or even manage the park, he loves to play host and invited us to join the gang at his place anytime we see anyone there.
Julio and others invited us down for Ray’s 89th birthday party complete with pizza and birthday cake
Thursday morning came too soon and it was time to say goodbye to our host Martita and head further south about 120 miles to Totonaka RV Park at San Carlos, also on the east side of the Sea of Cortez.
San Carlos is a much larger town that Kino Bay and is more a tourist area loaded with restaurants and curio shops.
The park is very nice with over 140 FHU RV sites and about 25 motel rooms. Heidy is in one of their rooms and we are in the coach. They have a pool, hot tub, pickleball courts and they run a clean tight ship here, they’re always cleaning, raking, and checking the property. At this park our FHU site cost $26/nite (tourist area pricing).
The day after Christmas, there is the annual lighted boat parade right off the beach and we walked down to watch as about twenty five or thirty large vessels dressed in hundreds of Christmas lights paraded by. It was a fun (and free) evening.
I’m sorry the pictures are blurry, it was dark and the camera had a hard time focusing.
Now the weather turned cool. Gray skies after Christmas and temps in the 50’s and 60’s so no beach time for now. But there ARE still PLENTY of places to eat that many of our neighbors here at Totonaka have told us that we need to check out.
The girls went shopping today, they were gone about 4 hours and came back all excited about what they stumbled across … a place where Heidy and/or Kathy and I could rent an RV spot either monthly or year-round and at a very attractive price!
We talked at some length about the possibilities and decided that all three of us would make a 2nd visit tomorrow. In the meantime … what else? It’s dinner time!
We went back to Daniel’s place the day after Christmas to “scope it out” a little more. He has four covered RV spots that are 60+ feet deep and about 30′ wide with an add’l 12’x60′ concrete patio. All sites are Full Hook-Up (water, electric, and sewer). The property is fenced and gated and Daniel and his wife live full-time on the property. He made Heidy a really sweet deal ($250/month) to park her rig there year round and stay in it full-time or for a few months at a time. Two of the four sites are occupied by folks who live there year-round. NOTE: Take a look at the supports for the roof. These are NOT trees but actually they are BRANCHES from giant eucalyptus trees. Eucalyptus is a very dense and heavy wood and makes for an excellent building material in this dry climate.
While visiting Daniel he drew a map for us to check out the “lookout” and one of the high-end new home developments on the bay.
To round out the afternoon (and our last day in Mexico) we decided to …. what else? Try out another restaurant of course!
The restaurant celebrates the “Day of the Dead” which is a Mexican holiday on November 1st and 2nd. It celebrates the lives of loved ones who have died over the last year.
From Google: “Ancient Mesoamericans believed that death was part of the journey of life. Rather than death ending life, they believed that new life came from death. This cycle is often associated with the cyclical nature of agriculture, whereby crops grow from the ground where the last crop lies buried.”
All in all, we had a great time visiting Mexico and making new friends. In a nutshell we have to say that;
The Mexican people are gracious, friendly, accommodating, and thankful that we were there spending our money in their communities.
The food cost is about one-half of what a meal (restaurant or grocery store) would cost in the states.
Fuel is about the same cost or even a little more than here in the states,
and the roads are generally terrible. Certainly not everywhere, but there are plenty of areas where you have to wonder if the RV is just going to shake apart right there on the spot.
And the poverty is nearly everywhere, at least it’s not at all hard to find. We say plenty of people living in tin and cardboard shacks with no electricity and no running water. It’s sad to see such distress.
We drove our last day straight through from San Carlos to Casa Grande AZ (395 miles) and we have to say it’s “good to be back”.
Until next time, we wish you and yours a Happy New Year. We hope it’s a safe and healthy one for all of us.
As I detailed in that post, I needed to hotwire around the transfer switch in order to get power to the coach while I waited to get the new one.
The transfer switch was made by Intellitec and I found that part number (the 300 model) is obsolete. But after talking with Chris at M&M RV Electronics (www.mmrvelectronics.com/) in Ohio I found that the new model 400 was available. Once we got to our winter RV site in Arizona I ordered the 400 from M&M.
This blog post along with the You Tube video (below) explains just what the transfer switch is and how it works (for those of you who might be interested!)
It’s really a very simple device consisting of (3) four post terminal strips, (2) double pole – double throw relays (with 110 vac coils), a small circuit board that is a 15-second delay circuit, and the enclosure.
Each of the three terminal strips have four screws. One for ground, the second for hot leg one, the third for neutral, and the fourth for hot leg two.
Terminal strip one (farthest to the left) is wired to the onboard diesel generator
Terminal strip two (in the center) is wired to the shore power and,
Terminal strip three (far right) is wired to the coach 110v power in.
The only purpose of the assembly is to automatically select EITHER shore power or generator power to supply 110 vac power to the coach.
When there is NO power applied from the shore power connection and the generator is NOT running, the two relays are both in the de-energized position and all four contacts (two on each relay) will pass power (when applied) from the shore power cord to the coach. The relays will stay in this position (de-energized) and each of the four relay contacts (GND, Line1, Neutral, Line2) will provide continuity from shore power to the coach.
If/when the generator is started the small circuit board in the upper left corner starts a 15 second countdown. The purpose of this delay is to give the generator time to come up to full operating speed. After the 15 second delay, the two relays on the board are then energized and power is switched (on all four contacts) from shore power to generator power.
As long as the generator is running these relays stay energized and power to the coach is supplied from the generator (even if shore power is still plugged in and energized).
When the generator is powered down, the relays once again move to the de-energized position and power is once again passed from shore power to the coach.
The video below gives a better visual of how things work.
I’m glad you stopped by to read this post and watch the video, I hope you found some value here.
Thanks again and be safe out there .. we hope to meet up with you down the road!
This is the second time we’ve replaced our motorhome windshield. The first was right after we bought it in 2016.
We had developed a stress crack in the upper right corner of the driver’s windshield the first time. But this time while we developed another stress crack (in the same location), we also had two large long cracks that had started as a result of rocks hitting the windshield.
When I first noticed one of the long cracks we were on our way from Missouri to South Dakota. It seemed to be getting longer, but I couldn’t be sure so I put a small piece of scotch tape at the end of the crack on the inside so I could monitor how fast it might be moving. And it was moving right along! You can see the tape in the picture above.
We put in a claim with our insurance company and they promptly ordered the correct glass from a company called Custom Glass Solutions in Ohio and placed the install order with Chris at Arizona RV Glass in Phoenix. When the glass arrived at Chris’ shop in Phoenix, I got the call to schedule installation.
This video shows the entire removal and install process from start to finish
Chris explained to me that stress cracks like the one we had in the upper right corner are pretty common. This is caused by too much flexing of the coach chassis. The flexing can be caused when trying to level the coach on an uneven site or when entering/exiting a fuel stop and driving diagonally across the bump at the curb … This causes the chassis to twist and as a result put too much strain on the windshield corners. He suggests to always try to turn in head on if possible.
We’ll try to be more careful from now on, but often it’s just not possible to miss all the potholes and bumps you come across on the open road.
In many older motorhomes like ours the windshield curves around the corners as compared with many of the newer motorhomes I’ve noticed the windshield seems to be more “flat” all across. I think maybe this curve around may be contributing to the problem.
I just hope this doesn’t happen too often … even with comprehensive coverage on our auto insurance policy, this can get pretty expensive over time between deductibles and premium increases. I called around before placing the claim and if I were to buy the windshield outright and pay for installation ourselves prices ranged from a low of $1700 to a high of $2300!
On another subject, we’re heading to Yuma tomorrow so that we can easily walk across the border into Los Algodones. My plan is to spend some time visiting the eye doctor and getting new eyeglasses along with picking up some prescription drugs at one of the pharmacies. We will also enjoy visiting our friends Paul and Chris who are spending the winter at the Escapees KOFA RV Park in Yuma. Our friends Jim and LuAnn left us here at the Roost this morning and we will meet up with them at KOFA as well. Looking forward to the six of us having a good time!
Until next time, take care of each other (and yourself) and we wish you well.
It’s been just 3 weeks since my total hip replacement surgery and the rehab is coming along great! I was able to set the walker aside after about 3 or 4 days and every day is better than the day before. If you’re really interested (maybe you’re considering having the surgery) you can read more about my recovery here.
So now we are set to head out from our daughter’s driveway here in Mt. Gilead, OH next Friday August 20th.
We’ve replaced the recliner in the coach with a new one. It takes less floor space, swivels, rocks, and reclines fully and is so much more comfortable than the leather one that came with the coach originally.
We also just had the entire coach washed and waxed. Normally this is a job that I do. I wash it about 5 or 6 times a year and wax it at least yearly. But this time since I am still recovering from my hip surgery, we were fortunate to find a mobile RV detailing service that came to the house and took care of the whole job in about 5 or 6 hours.
We had originally planned on leaving Ohio in early August and taking our time heading to Oregon visiting friends and family along the way and eventually ending up in Garibaldi Oregon to meet up with others from our Escapees RV Club at the Oregon Coast Hangout.
But a few things have changed. We are now going to our niece’s wedding in Michigan and that will not be until August 21st. This means that the rest of our trip will be delayed and if we were to still plan on getting to Oregon by Sept 6th we’d have to skip some of our other planned stops along the way.
Although we were looking forward to meeting up with about 30 other rigs at the Oregon Coast Hangout and seeing a part of the country we’ve never been to before and making new friends, we feel it’s more important to take the trip easy and instead stop along the way to renew old friendships.
We will start out on Friday August 20th and head up to Addison Oaks Campground in Michigan where we’ll stay for 2 nights while we attend our niece’s wedding and visit with family a bit.
We’ll next head a little west to spend a couple days with my sister and her husband. They live in Owosso, Michigan and while there we’ll be staying at the Shiawassee County Fairgrounds. Betsy and Bob have a beautiful home with plenty of room for us but if you’re a full-time RV’er you can appreciate how we might be more comfortable staying in our own “home on wheels” and then we can just take the car over to their place for the day.
Our third stop for the next two days will be in the Ludington Michigan area. We will be staying at another Harvest Hosts location. We will be in the driveway of a local woodworking artist shop nestled deep in the woods. During the day we will be visiting our friends at Pere Marquette Oaks RV Park near Baldwin Michigan. We worked at PMO during the summers of 2017 and 2018. While there we’ll also hook up with a fellow high school graduate from 1972. I found out recently (on Facebook) that he and his wife just purchased a cottage on a lake just down the street from PMO. We’re also planning on spending some time with Kathy’s cousin Sue and husband Loren who live in the Traverse City are and who we haven’t seen in probably 20 years or more.
The next day will find us boarding the S.S. Badger car ferry and taking the 4 hour ride across Lake Michigan to Manitowoc Wisconsin where we’ll then meet up with our good friends Forrest and Mary who we know as our neighbors when we stay in Arizona at Rovers Roost. They are currently in Wisconsin visiting friends and family as well. We will spend the night at the Elks Lodge in Manitowoc.
Our next stop will be Forest City, Iowa. Forest City is the home of Winnebago Industries. Winnebago is one of the oldest camping trailer and motorhome manufacturers in the U.S. Paul and Chris, who we met while workamping in Livingston Texas in 2016 and have met up elsewhere in the country several times since then. Paul and Chris are in the process of selling the family farm and transitioning to full-time RV living and they’ll be at Winnebago Customer Service getting a few things done to their 40′ motorhome, so what better time for us to stop for a visit. Maybe we’ll get a factory tour while we’re there!
After spending a couple nights at Forest City, we’ll take a little detour off our “head west” trip and move on down to Holden Missouri, just southeast of Kansas City. Holden is the home of our friend Carl who is also a full-time RV’er and who we met on our Mexico caravan trip last winter. The three of us spent a lot of time together during that trip and really enjoyed each other’s company. Carl told us about the Miller Mausoleum that his grandfather had built and he had now inherited. An interesting story so we’re going to visit Carl, tour the historic mausoleum, and while we’re in the area we will also drive to Kansas City and spend a little time with friends Ron and Judy who we worked with at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta in 2018.
After our time at Holden and KC, we’ll start heading back up through Omaha and Sioux Falls to get to Spearfish SD by about Sept 5th or so. Our good friends Matt and Sherry are working once again at DC Booth National Historic Fish Hatchery (where we worked with them in 2019) and we want to spend a couple days with them before they have to leave and head out to Louisiana and Florida for the winter where they’ll be volunteering at Barberville Pioneer Settlement.
That’ll get us through Labor Day at which point we will still have nearly two months before we want to get back to our RV lot at Rover’s Roost in Casa Grande Arizona by November 1st.
We have been in touch with our friends David and Sue (also neighbors at the Roost) who are currently volunteering at Custer State Park. Their gig will come to an end October 1st so it may be that we will caravan (only 2 rigs) around Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada before getting back to Arizona.
Who knows … we’ll just play it as we feel like it as time goes on. We don’t have to be anywhere before November 1st and if we get somewhere and decide we really like the area, then we’ll stay a while longer. If we don’t care for where we’re at, we can turn the key and head down the road a little further.
Until next time … take care of yourselves (and each other) – Be safe and we look forward to updating you a little later down the pike.
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.
While Kathy and I were working (volunteering) at the USACE Fort Peck Montana Downstream Campground, we took a few days to visit Glacier National Park. Although we could have driven to the park, we decided it would be fun to take the Amtrak train.
The Amtrak Empire Builder runs daily from Chicago to Seattle and back again. The number 7 train runs westbound through Glasgow Montana at about noon daily and delivers to Whitefish (W. Glacier area) about 9pm.
The return (number 8 train) runs eastbound daily and departs Whitefish at 7:30am arriving back in Glasgow around 3:30pm.
Round trip tickets are $108 each, a rental car (2019 Chevy Malibu) cost us $35/day and the room at a nice new Best Western (w/ king bed, fridge, microwave) was $94/day. Although the trip by train is more than driving in our own car, the trip was far more relaxing and enjoyable.
Riding on the train allows you the opportunity to move around at will from your car to either the lounge car, the panorama view sightseeing car, or the formal dining car. They have sleeping cars too, but we didn’t have an opportunity to see those.
Remember, you can click on any of the thumbnails below to see an enlarged image
Renting the car (with unlimited mileage) we were able to drive just under 600 miles in 2 days seeing both West Glacier and East Glacier. We were not, unfortunately able to take the “Going to The Sun Road” all the way across from west to east because 22 miles of the road were still closed due to not being cleared of snow yet (this was the end of May!). As a result (as you’ll see in the video below) we had to take Route 2 the long way around the bottom of the park from one side to the other.
Thanks for riding along with us on our adventures. Soon after our Amtrak ride to Glacier (celebrating our 45th anniversary) we packed up our coach at Fort Peck and moved on east to our next Workamping/Volunteer gig at Spearfish, SD. Post on our experiences there follows shortly.
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We were through this area a couple years ago and stayed at the Escapees “North Ranch” RV Park at Lakewood, NM and took the opportunity to visit Carlsbad Caverns, but our schedule at that time didn’t allow for a trip to Roswell.
So this time (after ABQ Balloon Fiesta and RV rallies at Wellington and Brownwood, TX) we decided to take in Roswell and it’s surroundings for a couple of days.
We “dry camped” just about 12 miles due east of Roswell at Bottomless Lakes State Park. Dry camping means there are no hook-ups for electricity or water (fresh or waste). We bring along our own electricity and water so dry camping for a week or so is not a problem for us.
When we pulled in and reviewed the sites available, we decided to camp at “The Devil’s Inkwell”. We backed the coach into a nice wide spot where we could take a walk up the hill and look down into the “inkwell” and over our site to the western setting sun. A beautiful and quiet spot.
The “Bottomless Lakes” are really giant sinkholes. There are a number of them in the park ranging from 17′ to about 90′ deep. The water is crystal clear and while some of the water is great for aquatic life, some of the other lakes are too high in saline (salt water) for anything to live there.
After our first night there, we moved our rig from Devil’s Inkwell over to Lea Lake Day Use area. This gave us a great view of the lake and although there were other campers in the area, no one was closer than a couple hundred feet.
And of course, who could visit the Roswell area without trying to connect with an alien or two?
We ended our 2nd evening with a “night out” to the Cattle Baron Restaurant. We split a Teriyaki Kabob and each enjoyed their salad bar. What a great meal!
We could’ve just driven on westward toward our final destination, but being this close we figured we just had to stop and see the sights at Roswell. It was worth the time to see not just the alien novelties, but the park was beautiful and restful.