Reflections…. Part 1

Almost a year has passed since we started RV’ing and we are about to move from our first RV, a travel trailer,  to our new mode of travel, a motor coach.  I thought it would be appropriate to reflect on our experience over this past year – how we got here and what lies ahead (at least what we think lies ahead).

The Ole Funfinder
The Ole Funfinder

Back in late September of 2014,  I mentioned RV’ing to Liz and said that I thought it was a great way to travel and see the country.   I was totally unprepared for her to say that she thought it was a good idea and maybe we should give it a try.  For so many years I had heard her say that she hated camping and that her idea of “roughing” it was a Holiday Inn Express.   What I didn’t take into account is that she separated staying in a tent type camping from RV type camping where you can have more of the comforts of home available to you.  She certainly doesn’t like sitting

First Camp Fire
First Camp Fire

around a fire swatting mosquitoes and using the campground facilities, but then, I guess, neither do I (don’t think that we don’t enjoy the occasional campfire, because we do).  Another factor may have been that Liz was diagnosed with bladder cancer in March and although her treatment was successful it makes you think about your own mortality and you start considering how much time is left to do the things that you want to do.  Liz has always wanted to travel and I think that she thought this might be a way to get me out there.  She was right.  Within a month we had our first RV – The Ole Funfinder.  It has turned out to be a gem.  We have had very few issues with it having only returned it once to the dealer for warranty work.  In the past year (actually a little over 10 months) we have stayed in 13 different states, traveled over 9000 miles and stayed in it 87 days.  I think we were fortunate as we really bought this thing blind.  We knew absolutely nothing about RV’ing or name brands, and only went to two dealers before we bought.  The only criteria we had was not to spend too much money until we tried it out and it had to be something that I could tow with my current truck.  Knowing what I know now, our first experience could have easily turned out to be a disaster.

We would have probably continued with the travel trailer for a while before considering any other type of unit, but then on December 1st I had a transient ischemic attack (TIA) in a mall parking lot in Jacksonville, FL.  I lost control of my entire left side and my speech was slurred – not a good situation.  As luck would have it by the time I got to the hospital I had totally recovered.  They kept me overnight and did a multitude of tests and found that I did not have an actual stroke and had suffered no ill effects from the episode.  The good and bad news is that they found no arterial problems and nothing that they could point to as the cause.  So they are guessing somewhat as to the best treatment.  I’m now on a blood thinner and “knock on wood” have had no recurrences in 9 months.  I tell you all this because, my health issue along with Liz’s earlier in the year put us into “high gear” as far as our travel and RV plans.  Both incidents were eye openers to us and life changing.  No one knows what the future holds with regard to our health.  Something catastrophic can happen at any time and the older we get the more the odds are against us staying totally healthy.

That leads me to my first two recommendations.

  1. This first one is about life in general.  Don’t keep putting things off that you want to do in life.  There is no time like the present and none of us can predict the future.  Plus don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and try something new or different.  I’ve found that it is
    Florida Super Show
    Florida Super Show

    exciting and rejuvenates your spirit.  I’ll never forget my father always talking about doing this and that once he retired and then always finding an excuse not to do it.  He would always say there will be another day, maybe next year.  Unfortunately, he got a brain tumor and didn’t get to do most of the things he talked about.

  2. Before you buy that first RV do some research.  Talk to current and previous RV owners and go to a large RV show so that you can really see what is out there.  There are so many different floor plans, makes and models that it is mind boggling.   We went to the Tampa Super Show in January of this year and we spent two days there and really didn’t see everything.  By the time we were finished our heads were swimming with information and we felt a little overwhelmed, however, it gave us an appreciation for what was available and eventually we worked through all the options and came to a decision that we felt was best for us.

Sometime in the early part of this year, after the Tampa show we made the decision to start extended travel with the possibility of selling the house and living full time in the motor home.   We decided that if we like the extended trips and was gone six months or more anyway it is foolish to pay for the upkeep of the house.  We also decided that  if we make the move to full time RV living we would leave the amount of time we wanted to do it open ended.  When we decided that we have had enough, or other life factors decide it for us, we plan to rent a condo somewhere we would like to live.  No more owning single family homes with the maintenance, insurance, real estate market fluctuations, etc.  I don’t ever want to walk behind a lawn mower again!  Home ownership may be a winning proposition earlier in life, but we aren’t looking to build equity on a home at this point in our life and after downsizing for the RV we don’t want to buy more stuff again!!

We have spent the majority of the first half of this year customizing and ordering our Newmar coach.  You can read the details of that process in earlier posts, but I have to say that this experience has been one of the most rewarding and fun things that I have done in my lifetime.  The planning, iRV2 forum members with advise, Newmar owners who have helped us work through the process, Newmar employees, Dick Gore’s RV sales people, and our family for giving us support all have contributed to the fun and success of this adventure.  We weren’t sure what the kids would say, but they were genuinely excited for us (See earlier post – Got The Thumbs Up) which made things easier.  We now have to start really concentrating on the not so fun part of downsizing.  We have been avoiding it except for a few items, but if we want to list our house in the Spring, we need to start the process now.  The kids are coming this Labor Day weekend to lay claim to anything that they might be interested in and then we need to start working on the rest.

Since this post is getting to be lengthy, I will stop at this point and publish Part 2 later.  Part 2 will go into some of the practical things we learned through our 87 days of RV’ing in the travel trailer.


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