We’ve been asked numerous times to share our story of how our dream began over lunches, dinners, campfires, happy hours and small talk. Though our story resonates with other full-time RVers our age, it still piques interest of those who may think we’re crazy. 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.
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?
Our Pre-RV Life
We’ve always been nomads. Its in our blood. Being a 30-year career military family, we always were on the go. Though the majority of Captain Dan’s tours of duty in the Coast Guard kept us planted in New England, we still PCS’d (Permanent Change of Station). But each tour required us to uproot, rent or buy a home, quit my job, change our son’s schools, etc. This was our life every two, three or even four years.
We also love road trips! Once our son, Dana, reached high school age, we bought two Harley Davidson motorcycles and started taking day trips. Those day trips turned into weekend trips. And once Dana graduated high school and went to college and in the military, we were expanding our maps and following our compass all over the country.
Dan’s last tour of duty found us planting our roots and finally setting up what we thought was the American Dream. We bought a beautiful five bedroom home situated beautifully on a semi-wooded lot in a pristine HOA development.
Finally, Dan retired from the Coast Guard in 2010. keeping us in our beautiful Kentucky home for four more years. Totaling seven years, its the most we’ve ever been planted in one place. By then, we called Kentucky ‘home’. In the mean time, Dan took a job with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife. However, then we were itching to go somewhere because that’s all we knew.
Wanderlust started ringing our bell. We were going on more motorcycle trips and for longer stretches of time as also, the highways that called us. Dan was asking for more time off to turn those weekends into two and three week motorcycle adventures. And between those trips, I would go on solo motorcycle trips to Key West, Colorado and Virginia…while he worked.
Yeah, you read that right. He worked while I played!
In January 2014, I drove down to St. Petersburg, Florida to visit some girlfriends. While planning the trip, I had mentioned that the Tampa RV Super Show was precisely the same time as my visit. We both laughed at my candid off-the-wall blurt as if I really wasn’t serious.
OH! But I was!
Like I mentioned earlier, we had briefly entertained the idea of hitting the road in an RV. It was a dream. Obtainable? Who knew? We both knew that we weren’t getting any younger and if we were going to do something crazy like this, then was the time.
So, I went to the Tampa RV Super Show. It as like going to a big kid’s candy store! But talk about overwhelming! Having absolutely no idea what I was doing, I just went with it. I learned the difference between Class A’s, Class B’s, Class C’s, 5th Wheels, Toyhaulers, Pop-Ups, etc. After much discussion on the phone, we honed our interest into the toyhauler market so we could take our Harleys with us.
And, we found one!
Buying our first RV was a miserable fail!
We had negotiated and were about to finalize our fifth wheel toyhauler (it was a Raptor) purchase from a large RV store in the Tampa area. However the sale fell through because of their ineptness. Two things happened. First, the dealer couldn’t deliver to our time and date as promised. And, to boot, they LOST our $70,000 check!!
Blessing in disguise?
I admit, the deal wasn’t the only thing broken; so our spirits. Dan knew it. However, while I was nearing the end of my trip, he was home in Kentucky pounding keys looking online for Toyhaulers that were closer to home.
While I was enroute Kentucky, Dan told me to stop at an RV dealership in London, Kentucky on my way home to look at a Heartland Cyclone 4100. Since I was already with different floor plans of fifth wheel toyhaulers, it didn’t take me long to do a walk through to see if this one was the one. Needless to say, I instantly fell in love with the Cyclone! It was actually nicer inside with it’s amenities and way better than the deal that fell through in Florida.
Three hours later, I arrived home and excitedly 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 the RV dealer to order our Toyhauler.
We bought an RV!
We were slated for delivery toward late March to early April of 2014. Timing couldn’t be more perfect because that was precisely when we planned on putting our home on the market.
Our walk-through was March 30th and by dinner time, Dan was white-knuckled clutching the steering wheel while pulling our new 44′ home on wheels. We had previously made reservations at Taylorsville Lake State Park Campground to park our new behemoth of an RV.
Process of Elimination…
Once our home was on the market, we started our master plan of downsizing from 3600 square foot to a mear 400. Let me say this. You have no idea how much SHIT you have until you have to sell it all. ‘Emotional’ doesn’t even come close to best fit our feelings. Piece by piece, we were slowly making strides.
You can read more about how we downsized in 8 Tips for Getting Rid of Your Stuff.
I had to do this slowly as we had to keep our home staged until we went under contract. All the money we made from selling everything, we banked for things we’d need to outfit our RV (ie. new tires, new wares, motorcycle tire chocks, new grill, camp chairs, households, portable fire pit, etc.)
Six months later…
Spring soon turned to summer and summer turned to fall. Our first realtor showed our home six times. UGH! We hired the wrong realtor.
So, through guidance and advice from a dear friend who is a realtor in California (thank you Gwen!!), we fired our realtor (surprisingly, she didn’t fight us) and took the house off the market for three weeks. After which, we hired a new realtor who was known for his relocation services for big companies in the Louisville area (UPS, Ford, University of Louisville, hospitals, etc.).
Two weeks later (mid October), we were under contract! We were set to close in approximately 30 days! By this time, Dan had given his termination notice of employment.
Shit’s 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 we just couldn’t let go of. We sent our most treasured heirlooms and momentos to Dan’s parents in Pennsylvania.
But the joke was on us…
November knocked on our door quickly. We were eagerly waiting for our realtor to call us with the closing date. Temperatures suddenly plummeted. And, it snowed. An early Kentucky winter has pathed its way to us which we were totally not prepared for this kind of RV’ing. And, do you think we ordered the Yeti Cold Weather Package for our RV? Oh, hell now! Because we never envisioned ourselves being where we would have to worry about freezing hoses, plumbing, etc.
Needless to say, our toyhauler froze. In fact, everything froze. Dan worked through all hours of the day and night keeping our pipes and tanks from freezing. We were growing frustrated, angry and depressed. We learned how much propane we needed to heat Liberty. And poor Dan lost much sleep babysitting small heaters in the basement of the RV.
We learned patience and about the things RVers before us didn’t tell us. Or, perhaps we should have been paying more attention. But I digress.
At this point, we contemplated hiring an attorney to attend the closing to sign papers in our absence. But then, we got the much awaited phone call. Our closing was scheduled for 5:00 pm on the eve before Thanksgiving.
That night, we signed and passed papers. After, we went out to dinner to celebrate and just sat there staring at each other. I guess you can say that we were in a state of shock. We were at the point of no return.
Our RV Journey began…
Thanksgiving Day, we spent quietly in our RV tying up loose ends. The temperatures rose a few degrees. Liberty was thawing. and the snow was melting quickly. We were utterly exhausted; mentally and physically. But, we had to dredge forward the next day because the state park where we were parked told us there was no longer any room at the inn. We set our compass to point south…anywhere south…where it was warmer…where there were palm trees…and umbrella drinks!
We packed it all up and locked the gate behind our toyhauler. This was it. We waited to do this all of our lives! We are finally ‘living the dream’.
So, any bets on how long we’ll stay on the road?
UPDATE: In December 2016, we sold our Harley Davidson motorcycles and traded our toyhauler in for a Heartland Landmark 365 luxury fifth wheel.