Sunday, June 19, 2011

Roadrunner Reflections: Fulltiming 2 Years

It has gone by very quickly but at the same time it feels like we have been doing this for 20 years.  We still look forward to seeing more and meeting more people and trying new things.  We get to go places that are fantastic and sleep in our own beds every night.  So far full-timing has been one of the best choices we have ever made.

Our second year began the end of May 2010 and ended the first part of June 2011.
In May 2010 we were at Haas Lake RV Park in Novi, Michigan.
Later, we spent time in Ontario, Canada
And in July were near the Niagara Falls
In late summer we were on the white beaches of Florida
And Virginia Beach,
And in the snow of Virginia Beach (in December!)
And then we saw canyons of Big Bend in March
And the streets of Old Tombstone in April
And here we are in Spokane, WA.
We are still loving the life style and are learning lots.
  • Recently we have learned how much we like the beauty and countryside of Utah and Montana.  Both are completely diffent but we love it.   
  • Another thing I have learned recently is how to drive through mountains with using the foot brakes.  By downshifting and using the the 'jake brake', I am able to save the brakes going through 6% down grades.
Over the last year, we recognize that the RV spot where we stay is not as important as we thought it was going to be.  For example, we stayed in Tucson at the Davis-Monthan AFB where the campsites are pretty close together.  But we spend most of our time inside.  The only thing that ruins it for me are noisy neighbors or yapping dogs.  So far, we have had very little of either.

We like the way the inside of our motorhome is set up and it is not a big deal if we are in a crowded campsite or in a 'basic' campground.  I would rate the Santa Fe Rodeo grounds and the Kirtland AFB FamCamp as 'basic' yet we had a great time in both places.

When we dreamed about our future days of full-timing, we thought we would overnight more at WalMart and truckstops ~ but we usually pull into a decent RV camp instead.  Something about 50 amp hookup for heat and air conditioning.  We also thought we would do more dry camping (boondocking) with no hookups, but we haven't.  We didn't do any of that in Year 2.  We don't mind being without for a few days, but it is not something we are driven to do.

We have found our niche in volunteering with Habitat for Humanity and NOMADS.
- Habitat for Humanity at each city (affiliate) varies.  Each is run by there own board of directors and volunteer help.  Our favorites so far
  • South Hampton Roads (Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Virginia Area)
  • Tucson, Arizona
  • Santa Fe, NM
  • Our next gig is a Habitat (Care-A-Vanner) stay in Brookings, SD (Aug 2011)
- NOMADS has regular projects and 'Disaster Relief' projects.  Over the last year we enjoyed the work in Mississippi at a Disaster Relief project.  We had a month of mostly putting up sheet rock and painting a house with some odd jobs thrown in like repairing laminate flooring, putting up plywood on a porch ceiling and some painting.

The financials are working out.  I keep all our receipts and log it all onto a spreadsheet.  My goal is to post a monthly status of where we are.  I am way behind on that, but I have high hopes I can finish it up in the next few weeks? for Year 2. 
It is basically costing us about $4,000/month to do this RV thing.  That is a little more than what we take in from retirement.  But I have recently gotten more hours to work online and that is making up the shortfall.  

Our approach is to keep our savings at a certain level and not let it dip below that.  We have been successful so far.  And we have kept our 401Ks at a distance and never touch it.  When I turn 59 1/2 I'll have to withdraw some, but we have time to figure that out.  If we continue to be frugal, we can do this for quite a while.

The Roadrunner (motorhome) costs more than we figured it would.   Medical bills are expensive too. 
- The major RV expenses so far have been upgrades and remodeling.  The biggest repair has been a new toilet last year and a solenoid replacement for the air bags recently.  (both over $1,000)
- Other regular maintenance costs include things like diesel fuel filter replacements ($164); repairing windshield chips (free or <$30); replacing a clear tank water pump ($110).  
- The next biggest repair will be installing a new residential refrigerator.  About the time we decided to do that, I got more hours of online work.  We now have been able to save up enough money for the estimated $6850 it will take to replace our refrigerator.
- After that, our next biggest expense probably will be new tires (at ~$600 each), but we have about a year to save for that.
- Diesel fuel is way up again, but before we started full-timing we planned on the worst -- like $5.00/gal. As one full-timer said, "I worked for 40 years, I can find a way to pay for the fuel…".
- We have not had any major medical bills this year but we need to do something about dental.  Last month I heard that Progresso, Mexico is still a good alternative (e.g. safe) but we will not be there any time soon.
- After being in the hospital last year and getting some tests and physicals done, I took out a medical supplement insurance plan for hundreds ($764/yr) to save thousands $ if we need it.  

So here we are in the NorthWest.  We still love seeing the country.  We spent New Years Eve listening to a blue grass family group in Georgia, spent a great and warm winter/spring in Arizona and are loving the scenic Rockies, stark canyonlands of Utah and the beautiful mountains and mountain ranges of Montana.  Now we are going to explore Eastern Washington State where my mom grew up and where my folks got married in 1942.  Then on to the ocean cliffs of Oregon before we head east back through South Dakota.

I have learned I love the history of our country in the 1800's.  I have learned the impact the Catholic Church and the Railroad have had on the development and growth of our country.  You throw in a gold rush or two and a lot of folks moved west and settled this wonderful country.  And I find it interesting how they 'made do' back in those days.

I have learned to appreciate Pam more.  She is more than a great companion and friend and wife.  She likes this stuff as much as I do. She understands more of the mechanical/technical aspects of the motorhome than I do so that is a big plus.  She is also a great cook and likes to do that.  And she drives the motorhome.  

And we have gotten to see Adam and Kelly.  We spent Thanksgiving and Christmas with them so that was good.  We miss them, but they are doing good and each have come through a tough times grieving the loss of Meghan last year. 

And in the last year, we continue to meet wonderful people who are doing the same thing we are ~ living in an RV.  We get to see so much and meet many great folks.  And we get to catch up with old friends and see them again after many many years.  (Like yesterday we met up with Dick and Julie whom we first met in 1983 when we all lived in Hawaii.) We could not do that if we weren't full timing.

So in year two ~ I'd say it is a little different than year one, and we are still loving it.  We feel blessed to be able to do this.  It is different than year one because we feel a lot more comfortable and the learning curve is not so steep.  We can always learn more but we are not as leery of 'what might go wrong' and how we would deal with it.

So there is my recap of Year 2 on the Road.  We are looking forward to Year 3.  Hope you are having a wonderful summer and Happy Father's Day.

Thanks for your interest and comments on the Roadrunner Chronicles.  We enjoy and appreciate them.
Until next time...


  1. Happy Father's day, Randy.

    I enjoyed your post and your reflections on the last 2 years. We are finding some of the same things true, although have not made it to year one yet!

    Enjoy year 3!

  2. great reflective post, Randy!..congrats on being on the road for two years..onwards to year three!!..we wish you safe travels and great views out the windshield!!

  3. What a wonderful recap of the past couple of years. I really enjoyed this, Randy, and wish you and Pam well in the year to come. I am so heartened by your commitment to volunteering. I am still much to selfish to figure out how to give away my time, and I admire it so much in others. Love your blog, as always.

  4. Great reflection & wonderful info. Your volunteerism is an inspiration for all of us living this lifestyle. God bless you in your travels & keep you safe!

  5. That was a great post Randy. Not only nice to read about your fulltiming travels but nice to read about your thoughts & feelings about the last two years on the road. Good recap, precise & to the point. I would be on the road fulltime in a heartbeat but as you know, it takes two to make that idea work. Good for you guys:))

  6. Randy, just an outstanding post! Thanks so much for your annual report, I think you honesty, thoughts, reflections, and volunteerism is both inspirational and extremely helpful to all of us. Happy Father’s Day to you!


  7. Enjoyed your recap of the last 2 years. I'll probably be doing the same in a few weeks for my 5 year anniversary.

    I would think that estimate for the frig is a little high. I just had that done in Feb., and it wasn't that much...

  8. Great re-capping post!! The adventure of a lifetime! Thanks for taking us along too!! (At least I can dream...)

  9. Very nice review following two years of full-timing. It sure seems that you two have relished your adventure. That is very nice indeed. Wishing you all the best in the third and subsequent years ahead.

  10. Good summary, Randy. I always enjoy reading your recap blogs. Happy Father's Day and welcome to Washington!

  11. Great recap of your first two years, Randy. Thoughtful, interesting and informative.

    Congrats, now on to year 3.

  12. Wonderful post. You and Eldy have very similar thoughts on driving, maintenance, and boondocking as we come up on our first year anniversary in a few days. Hope we get to meet you some time. We'll be in Washington soon. You'll LOVE the Oregon coast!

  13. Love your recap.. You have seen alot for sure.. I sure hope we are in the same spot at some point. I'm sure we will be.
    Continue to have safe, beautiful travels..
    P.S. We are loving the Oregon Coast!

  14. Hi Randy and Pam,

    Thank you for sharing your reflections on your first 2 years and for inspiring us as we took the plunge into our own uncharted territory this year. We still appreciate that you guys took the time to stop Lafayette to meet Ross and let him see your rig before we got ours.

    I needed to read your post just now. Our first 100 days on the road have been ~ well ~ challenging, but I expect any change like this would be! That said, we are both REALLY glad we made this decision.

    Thank you for paving the way, so to speak!

    Safe Travels!


  15. Good recap of the first two years. Getting close to completing our fifth year on the road and we have found some of the same things to be true that you note. Very little dry camping, have never stayed in a parking lot, and we track all of our expenses.

    We also still enjoy the lifestyle and the great places we have been and still hope to see.

    Hope the next years are as good as the first two.

  16. Really great summary of your 2nd year on the road, and your thought on fulltiming. It makes me even more anxious for our home to sell so we can join you out there on the road!

    Tom & Marci

  17. Well, Randy, it seems you and Pam are having a grand time in your moveable home. Sounds a bit expensive, but you seem to make up for that with the pleasure of seeing your country, and parts of Canada, too.
    Hope this next year is a good one.