Blast From Our Icy Past – Our Story of Becoming RVers

We’ve been asked numerous times to share our story of how our dream began over lunches, dinners, campfires, happy hours and small talk.  It seems to be a very interesting subject to most…well…because we’ve chosen a different lifestyle…a different path.  Though we’ve been doing this for over a year now, we thought a thorough explanation might help some appreciate the process we went through to get to where we are now.

Looking back…2014

We’ve always been inclined to travel.  Its in our blood.  We’re nomads and always have been.  We also love road trips!  Being a long-time military family, we always were looking for somewhere to go, however, the majority of Captain Dan’s tours in the Coast Guard kept him up in New England.  We still PCS’d (Permanent Change of Station) but only enough for me to quit my job, change schools for our son, etc.  We uprooted our lives and home every 3-4 years.  

Fast forward…

Dan retired with 30 years in 2010 which kept us in our beautiful Kentucky home for seven years; the most we’ve ever been in one place.  By our fourth year in Kentucky, we were itching to go ‘somewhere’ but to be honest, we hadn’t a clue where we would’ve gone.  It was after Dan took a couple jobs to sort of ‘settle down’, we still felt restless.  It was ingrained in our minds ‘we had to move…we had to go somewhere’.

In the past many years, we’ve always dreamed about getting a camper to tour the country but it was more like small talk; something to just pass the time.  It was merely a DREAM. 


Who would have thought, several years later, that we’d be sitting in our beautiful ‘home on wheels’ talking about it on our blog?

In January 2014, I drove down to St. Petersburg, Florida to visit two of my best friends. While planning the trip, I had learned that the Tampa RV Super Show was precisely the same time as my visit.  


Before leaving, we had briefly entertained the idea of hitting the road in an RV. After perusing the Tampa RV Super Show like a little girl in a candy store, I quickly learned the difference between Class A’s, Class B’s, Class C’s, 5th Wheels, Toyhaulers, Pop-Ups, etc. It was quite overwhelming with so many choices!  Being that we wanted to include our two Harley Davidson motorcycles, we honed our interest into the toyhauler market.  

Then, the RV Show was over…

We had negotiated and came close to finalizing a purchase from a large RV store in the Tampa area, however the sale fell through no fault of our own.  The dealer couldn’t deliver as promised. (Shall we say, ‘they lost our $70,000 check?‘)


Going home empty handed broke my spirit however, unbeknownst to me, Dan, was home in Kentucky pounding keys looking online for Toyhaulers that were closer to home. 


While enroute back home, Dan scheduled me to stop at Big Daddy RV in London, Kentucky on my way home to look at a Heartland Cyclone 4100. I did a quick walk through to look at the floor plan and instantly fell in love. It was actually better than the deal that fell through in Florida.


Three hours later, I arrived home and told him how pleased I was with the construction, floor plan, and other specifications that was suited for us.  A week later, we drove back to Big Daddy RV to order our Toyhauler.  We were slated for delivery toward late March to early April of 2014.  


Our walk-through was March 30th and by dinner time, we were gripping the steering wheel tight pulling our new coach home; wondering in the back of our minds, ‘are we nuts?’   We had previously made reservations at Taylorsville Lake State Park Campground to park our new rig.  

Immediately after, we put our home on the market and started the master plan of getting rid of everything.  Reality just slapped both of us in our faces!  Lots of stuff to do!

Once our home was listed, we started the daunting, VERY EMOTIONAL ‘process of elimination’; downsizing from our newly renovated 3800 square foot, five bedroom, three bath home to roughly 350 square foot RV 5th wheel. ‘Emotional’ doesn’t even come close to best fit our feelings.  I guess one could equate this to losing everything in a house fire. 

We had closets full of clothes, parkas and skis from Maine, boots from Massachusetts, fishing and hunting gear from Pennsylvania…oh, you get the idea.  


Its been seven years from our last military PCS’ but this purge was about to get real.  Most of the purging was done by me, as Dan was still employed full-time by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in Louisville. 


Painstakingly, I started selling small home decor items; knick-knacks, canisters, bedding ensembles, bathroom decor items, small furniture and chests, etc. on local Facebook ‘for sale’ groups; meeting buyers at public places to exchange our gently used wares for cash.  


I had to do this slowly as we had to keep our home staged until we went under contract.  It didn’t take long though that most of our closets were empty, rooms were looking larger and our piggy bank was filling up.  We organized a few yard sales to get rid of little stuff and my craft supplies.  Almost embarrassed to admit, I had enough to open my own Michael’s store.


Begrudgingly, I let pricey scrapbooking, rubber stamps, paper crafting, etc. supplies go for rock-bottom prices. However, it all had to go. The more I sold, the less we had to deal with for an estate sale.  This money was projected to buy things needed for our RV (ie. new tires, new wares, motorcycle tire chocks, new grill, portable fire pit, etc.)


Two seasons later…

Spring soon turned to summer and summer turned to fall.  Our first realtor only had six showings on our home from April 1st to October 1st; leaving us wondering ‘why’? Other homes were selling in less than 30 days.  Our home was no different than others; it was a beautiful family home. We painstakingly updated and renovated the kitchen, repainted, kept the manicured landscaping, etc.  Hindsight being what it was, we hired the wrong realtor. She simply was not ‘working for US’; she was more interested in real estate ventures with her son who was flipping houses (gee, the things you find out in a small town!).  


So, through guidance and advice from a dear friend who is a realtor in California (thank you Gwen!!), we terminated our contract with her (she surprisingly didn’t fight us) and took the house off the market for three weeks.  After which, we hired a new realtor, Eric Johnson of Keller Williams, notorious for relocation services for big companies in the Louisville area (UPS, Ford, University of Louisville, hospitals, etc.). Less than two weeks after listing with him (Mid October), we were under contract to close in approximately 30 days! (Hmmm, see how that works?) By this time, Dan had given his termination notice of employment.

Its about to get real…

Now, we were at flank speed.  We had thirty days to empty our house and get the rest of our affairs in order.  We rented a 10×10 storage area for things and small furniture items we just couldn’t let go of. We sent our most treasured heirlooms and momentos to Dan’s parents in Pennsylvania.


We had two more yard sales, sold bigger possessions on Facebook pages all while we were also trying to learn every facet of RV maintenance, upkeep, trip planning, etc.


We interviewed an Estate Sale Company for possible hire to do our Estate Sale. BUT, a day before making the call telling them we’d hire them, a miracle happened! 


The family whom was buying our home asked if we would consider selling everything (furniture, brand new beds, home decor, wall art, dishes, bedding, etc.) in our home. Well, didn’t this make this a whole heck of a lot easier?!  We agreed on a price to be paid separately at the closing.  


We packed up only a few more boxes of my favorite things and left everything else; the Christmas tree, holiday decorations, leftover craft supplies, pillows, blankets, bedding, towels, shower curtains, dishes…everything but our suitcases and toothbrushes!  We even left stuff up in the attic!  They wanted it all!  It was such a blessing to have this fall into our laps (and theirs!).  To this day, I still give a ‘nod to God’ for this.


Now, its November and were eagerly waiting for our realtor to call us with the closing date.  Its frigid cold and snowy.  Kentucky winter has pathed its way to us which we were totally not prepared for this kind of RV’ing.  Coincidentally, chose not to get the Yeti cold weather package for our RV because we never envisioned us being where we would have  to worry about freezing hoses, plumbing, etc. 


Needless to say, it happened.  Our coach froze. Dan worked through all hours of the day and night keeping our pipes from freezing. We were frustrated and growing depressed.

It was then we learned how much propane we needed to heat Liberty. Dan lost much sleep babysitting small heaters in the basement of the RV. We learned patience and about the things happy RVers don’t talk about.  


We were itching to leave Kentucky.  We had even contemplated hiring an attorney to attend the closing to sign papers in our absence. However, we got the much awaited phone call; our closing was scheduled for 5:00 pm on the eve before Thanksgiving.  


That night, we signed, shook hands, congratulated the new family and went on our way. We went out for a nice dinner and just sat there staring at each other. We were now ‘houseless’. 

Our RV Journey began…

Thanksgiving Day, we spent quietly in our RV tying up loose ends. The temperatures rose a few degrees and we were finally thawing.  We were utterly exhausted.  We were set to leave the following morning to head south…anywhere south…where it was warmer.

Today, we are enjoying our new life on the road.  No regrets!  Absolutely none!  We waited to do this all of our lives! We are now ‘living the dream’.




Family Day in San Antonio

 

 

In 2016, about a month after our son returned from his fourth and final Middle East deployment, he drove down from his home and duty station in Colorado to come check out our new digs and visit for a few days.  We bragged about how wonderful San Antonio was and that he just had to come check it out for himself.  Unfortunately, his fiance’ couldn’t get time off from work to come with him but we made the best of his visit.

Continue reading “Family Day in San Antonio”

Even RV’ers got to go to the Ball!!

Tuxedo….CHECK!


Ball gown….CHECK!


Spit polish shoes….CHECK!


Sparkly jewelry….CHECK!


Army Ball Tickets….CHECK!


Just because we live full-time in an RV doesn’t devoid us from partaking or attending formal events.  In early 2015, Dan bought himself a set of tails and myself, a ball gown…or two…or three…for a Mardi Gras Ball we attended with our wonderful friends in Mobile, Alabama.  This year, we dug them out of our tiny closet and took them to the cleaners, did a quick spit polish on Dan’s shoes, bought me some new jewelry and donned our formals again for the Medical Command Army Ball.  
















We were guests of our dear friends, Leon and Barb, who are stationed in San Antonio at Fort Sam Houston.  We were stationed with them back in Kentucky years ago at Fort Knox.




We were in good company of some great Medics and Officers! Great group picture…even if it IS a proof! LOL


We felt like fish out of the water as Dan was the only Coastie in attendance; as well though, he was in his tails and not his Coast Guard uniform.  But dang, we looked sharp!  It was a great evening of pomp and circumstance, honor and several happy hours!  


  
So, until next time, the ball gown and tails goes back in the garment bag and gets put back under the bed.  Even RVers get to go to the ball!

Happy 1st Anniversary to Always On Liberty!!






We did it!!!  We believed in our dream and now are living it!  We didn’t give up.  We didn’t throw in the towel when the worst storms hit us.  We were told if we can make it through our first year, we can do it for 20 more.  This was no easy feat.  We trusted our hearts and souls, held hands together and plunged into the unknown.  We left the rest up to God.



Looking back….. 











Two days before leaving Kentucky


 The eve before Thanksgiving 2014, we passed papers on our S&B (Sticks and Bricks…aka ‘house’) and that’s when we held our breath.  Coincidentally, our very first RV friends we’ve met, Kristin & Jason Snow aka the “Snowmads” who we’ve networked through the past months were attending a RV convention in Louisville, so who better to get the straight scoop before hookin’ up and hauling out.  They were fantastic!  They reassured us that it gets easier as each day passes. They were so helpful and encouraging.  They’ve been full-timing for some time; they were experts.  So we went with that and flew!  Thank you Kristin & Jason for pushing us off the edge.  Love you guys! Can’t wait to see you again!


So the day after Thanksgiving, we rose with the Kentucky sun once more; said our goodbyes to our terrific Kentucky peeps and neighbors, loaded up one last time (we did practice runs each month prior), and pulled out of Taylorsville. 

Captain Dan locking the gate before departing

Casting off

To say the least, being the sentimental type, I (Lisa) started crying happy tears and grabbed Dan’s hand.  Dan…well, not so much…he had that deer-in-the-headlights-look on his face as he gripped the wheel as we embarked on our maiden voyage.  I couldn’t tell if it was fright or overwhelming jubilation.  Either way, there were no more second thoughts; no going back.  This was it.  We were about to trip the light fantastic.  
Fast forward 365+ days…


OH WHAT A RIDE IT HAS BEEN!!!

Thanksgiving 2015 marked our 1st year RV’ing!  Happy Nomadiversary to US!  We survived the test of time.  Our marriage met challenges (who’s wouldn’t from downsizing from 3300 sq ft home to a 400 sq ft RV?)Doing this isn’t about only ‘loving each other’, its about ‘LIKING each other’.  It’s also about meeting in the middle and making sacrifices; one or both of us.  It’s taking both of us out of our comfort zones and taking a chance at a different lifestyle.  It was OUR TIME!  Time to throw off the bowlines and throw caution to the wind.


So, in a nutshell…

We got lost more times than we can count; not even hard sometimes!  We ducked under overpasses that were a mere inch taller than RV Liberty was.  We almost ran out of fuel three miles before one of our destinations.  We cursed at our GPS’s while at the same time, celebrated technology.  


We cried when we received phone calls of devastating news that took us miles away.  We slammed doors in anger or frustrations. We opened our hearts to new friendships.  We cheered at professional hockey games.  We watched Army Rangers jump out of big airplanes and boasted American pride each time we heard the sounds of freedom.  


 We caught tons of Mardi Gras beads and throws.  We dressed up and dressed down.  We danced barefoot on beaches in Alabama and Florida and two-stepped in Texas.  


We rode our motorcycles to honor our Nation’s MIA’s and Fallen Heroes and Segways through battlefields. We tossed nickels and dimes into fountains and humbly placed pennies on graves at Arlington.  


We’ve tried cuisine that we would have passed on before.  We had a tiny Christmas tree and handed out treats to ghosts and goblins from our RV door. We visited family members.  We kissed puppies and petted kittens.  


We dared to try something different….always.  We’ve watched the sun set, sun rise and stars twinkle.  We interrupt dinner to run out to see a rainbow.  We quietly watched thousands of fireflies in woods and fields on the darkest nights. We stop to smell roses and pretty flowers that we used to just walk by.  We take pictures of silly things.  


We went to two churches in one day!  We climbed up sand dunes and slid down a mountain.  We left breathless; by attitude and by altitude. 

Enjoying Jamestown, VA



We fit our RV in places that even professional drivers would scratch their heads at. We learned things not taught in school or read in history books. We saw things that others will never be able to see in their lifetime. 


  We passed on buying ‘things’ because they wouldn’t fit in our RV yet filled our minds with overflowing memories. 


Each day was not always a vacation yet, no two were the same.  There was always work to be done.  We’ve read books at the laundromats. We enjoyed coffee and donuts just because.  We’ve learned to lean on and learn from our RV’er Families.  


We learned patience.  We embraced our failures. We laughed at ourselves over silly and sometimes, costly mistakes. We each grew individually and together; spiritually, inwardly and outwardly too.  We are not rich but we are enriched. We are happy.  We love our life.  We are living our dream.
So far, each day, each hour, and each minute blessed us with a memory.  Have we done it all?  Oh heck no!  That’s why we’re going on year two!



Now that we have passed our inaugural year of successes and failures, we wanted to share our list of our first year RV’er WTF Moments:

  • We sold our beautiful Kentucky home
  • Two tornadoes
  • A hurricane
  • A snow storm and frozen waterlines
  • Both of us got pneumonia immediately after casting off
  • Our son deployed to the Middle East (4th time)
  • We attended our first Mardi Gras Ball (Ball gown and tux tails)
  • Met and chatted with a prominent NASCAR personality
  • Visited NASCAR Driver Ryan Newman and his wife Krissie’s Rescue Ranch
  • Wined and dined at Richard Childress’ Winery
  • Dined at Charlotte Motor Speedway upper deck
  • Hugged shipmates whom we’ve not seen in over 32 years 
  • Lisa was ‘patched’ (motorcycle club…a ‘good’ one LOL)
  • Rode Segways
  • We learned how to blog
  • Changed state residency
  • Left our broken down Harley in the middle of nowhere Virginia
  • Broken Campsite Reservations during the busiest season in Pennsylvania
  • Our first National Heartland Owners Club Rally
  • A major RV repair (went back on assembly line)
  • We became hikers and explorers 
  • Dan hiked up to the top of the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado
  • A very sick kitty crewmember (twice)
  • A sudden death in the family
  • Unforeseen Medical Emergency
  • Our son’s homecoming from the Middle East
  • Attended a formal Army Ball (ball gown & tails)
  • A difficult major family medical decision
Another RV couple, Eric & Brittany Highland of RV Wanderlust 
that we meet up with occasionally on the road

  • We each put on 15 pounds 
  • We succeeded at living in a 400 sq. foot RV (and we’re still married!)
  • We’ve made hundreds of lifelong RV friends
  • We’ve reunited with over FORTY of our former Coast Guard shipmates
  • We’ve reunited with our Rolling Thunder Brothers and Sisters
  • We visited Dan’s parents in Pennsylvania and brother’s family in Virginia and my brother in northern PA
  • We stayed in 18 states (1 night or more) 
  • We visited over 20 National Parks, Historic Monuments and Landmarks 
  • We visited 5 nationally known cemeteries.
  • We camped/parked at 7 military bases/posts
  • We’ve taken over 30,000 photos
  • We’ve traveled over 7,000 miles 

We’ve come to the point now where we don’t count; there are no more numbers.  We live one day at a time and enjoy the life God has blessed us with. 

Our First Anniversary with fellow RV’ers and our Army family

We hope you have enjoyed our blog thus so far.  So much more for us to share with you all.  

HOME IS WHERE WE ROAM!!