Once I got down to the Sunshine state, I started our search a couple days before the RV show with that price range in mind. I went to the big dog RV stores; the ones that sell both, new and pre-owned. Boy, if I wasn’t flustered before I got there, I certainly was after I left. No…it was more like a reality slap-in-the-face wake up call! Now, I’m not saying they aren’t out there but certainly, not where I was looking! $35-40 for a pre-owned motorhome was completely unrealistic for our standards. After viewing approximately twenty-five coaches, I sadly called the Captain telling him of my disappointments…”smelled like dog piss, very worn and dated cabinetry and furniture, weather etched headlights, oxydized chrome, broken this, smelly that”…you get the picture. We agreed to sit on this a few days and to just go enjoy my vacation until the RV show in Tampa.
Let that sink in a moment…
|Mothership of RV’s Motorhome|
A couple days later, our friends Al and Kat accompanied me to the RV show. The first mistake I made was upon arrival was, which is I guess, by strategic marketing design, going inside the big MOTHERSHIPS of RV’s in the main entrance hangar. You know, the ones with perfectly laid red carpets leading to their doors, live mini palm trees with VIP bar height tables and signs at the doors ‘please remove your shoes before entering’. They’re the ones with the flashy million or more dollar price tags! Anyway, I went in only one; it was all I could take…marble tile floors, granite countertops, high end this and that with more lights than the Las Vegas strip. Our laughingly skinny budget just wasn’t going to do here; time to move on. All I kept thinking is ‘this is how the beautiful people play’. Al and Kat decided to split off to go on their own shopping venture; looking at 5th wheels (they were same age as us looking for weekend or week vacation RV’s with the grandkids) as I was more interested in looking at affordable Motorhomes.
In every marriage, each must meet in the middle to compromise. He raised the bar on understanding I wasn’t going to live in a yard-sale rig of unknowns (happy wife, happy life), so I guess I needed to knock myself down a notch or two. So, we collectively again, agreed a Toyhauler 5th wheel was the end-all answer. I get the ‘new RV smell’ and he gets the mechanics part that he was comfortable dealing with. Oh, and that he gets a big big truck to pull it with. Win win? I still didn’t get my big windshield but oh well. *shrugs shoulders*
|Class A Motorhome Toyhauler|
|Not quite our idea of our stateroom aka master bedroom.
Notice the floor to ceiling height
So, our new plan was to trade our car in for a new big truck to pull a 5th wheel toyhauler removed all of those issues and made more sense to us. Our decision was made. We ordered a 2014 Heartland Cyclone 4100, and weeks later, purchased our truck. NOTE: Taking advise from several BTDT’s on those Facebook groups, it’s important to buy your towable RV BEFORE your truck/pull vehicle. Your pull vehicle must be fully capable to do the job; weight, engine size, and pulling and stopping what it tows sufficiently. Our truck would double as the work horse as well as be our transportation after disconnecting (we call it ‘mooring’) so, we opted for a 2014 Ram 3500 Cummins Diesel DRW (dual rear wheel) aka a ‘Dually’. Upon selling our everything by Thanksgiving (11 months, from the first day of shopping for our RV until the day we rolled out of Kentucky), we finally hit the road looking like this:
|Captain America pulling our 2014 Heartland Cyclone 4100|
|Captain America pulling our 2016 Heartland Landmark 365 “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.
|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|
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.
We’ve been doing this ‘RV thing’ for almost a year now and looking back, all we can say is ‘we’ve come a long way, baby!’ Several months prior to us actually throwing off the bow lines and putting our wheels on the highway to destinations unknown, our 30 year old son ran into another RV couple while on one of his ‘hard core’ camping trips in Colorado (he ‘camps’, not ‘glamps’ like us!). Quite interested in what we were about to embark on, our son boldly went up to the couple ooooo-ing and awwww-ing their rig (they had one of those big. fancy, drive-able, movie star, bus-like RV’s…his words) and asked, “if there’s one thing or word of advice you could give to my parents who are about to be doing the same thing, what would it be?” The man a little older than our age pondered that question for a short moment and came back with a Captain Obvious…“don’t give up in your first year”, he said, “that’s all…don’t give up because your first year is a learning process in EVERYTHING; marriage, smaller living conditions, new type of home engineering, diesel instead of gas powered tow vehicle, medical issues, finances, OH, the list goes on.”
- Changed the globes on the pendant lights. (took a little bit of alteration)
- Installed stemware holders (a girl needs her wine glasses; even if they’re plastic)
- Ordered, modified and installed a pullout pantry in the galley
- Built and installed sewer hose housing underneath the steel frame
- Installed JT StrongArms on leveling jacks (for added stability)
- Individually replaced and changed out all 6 tires
- Installed television in berthing (bedroom)
- Installed rods inside laundry closet to keep my scarves, belts, small purses, etc.
- Installed his Flag Pole Buddy
- Hand-made a yard flag holder
- Built wood leveling blocks
- Researched and installed plugs to cover rivets on our deck patio railing
- Built and installed sewer hose housing underneath the steel frame
|Updated Light Globes and Installed Stemware Holders|
|Sewer Hose Storage
|Installed JT StrongArms
Made Leveling Blocks
|Dan’s reward after his outside RV chores|
Welcome to our blog! I guess this means we’re ‘big time’ now. We ask that you all be patient with us as we try out this blogging thing. Unless you’re a internet wizard (which we are not), this doesn’t come easy for us but we’re willing to give it a go.
We’ve read several other RVers blogs and figured we want to do the same.
As I write this entry, we are pleasantly parked at Cheatham Annex Naval Station “Kings Park” near Williamsburg, Virginia. Its a beautiful sunny day outside while I try my hand at blogging ‘inside’ while the Captain is doing outside chores.
So, please be patient as I chance this thing called ‘blogging’.