Thursday, July 17, 2014

Roadrunner Reflections: 5 Years Full-timing, Take 1

I remember wondering what it would feel like to 'be out there' on the road.  It took over two years for us to really decide to do this.
But the 'fulltiming' mindset began back then--way before we sold the house and bought the motorhome.  The planning and talking and imagining what it would be like has been part of the journey.
The perspective of a fulltimer is something that took us a while to grasp and figure out.  The thing I thought about when I actually got the picture of someone living in an RV was wondering how people afforded a second home.  How did they pay for these things?  

Then once we decided we were going to give it a shot, we had to figure out how to live with less and embrace the idea downsizing.  And at the same time we wondered if we were crazy to pull up roots and leave it all behind.

Now, after five years of this the verdict is out:  Its been great!

Even with all the planning and research and thinking through things -- it still is not quite how we think it might be.  One big notion was all the wonderful campsites and campgrounds.  The beautiful scenery, never ending mountain ranges or beaches or whatever.  Truth is, we have been to some good campgrounds but they have been few and far between.  Most are adequate but often times are not anything special.  The special part is how close we have to beautiful places or parks or beaches.  But the actual campsite?

Another notion we had was that we would gravitate toward State Parks and National Parks.  Instead, the bulk of our time has been at military campgrounds.

We had friends over last night who knew us before we launched and left Fairfax, VA.  We moved into the motorhome (subsequently named The Roadrunner) in mid-May 2009 after our home sold.  We were then able to rent back from the new owner for a couple of weeks and complete my time at work.  One question they asked was, "How long are you going to do this?"  

We set out thinking at least five years. Now that we are at that point - we don't have any other plans or desires to do something else. The thought of 'hanging up our keys' does not appeal to us.

We still love it. Seeing people and new places and new things is great. It is like reading an adventure travel book only we are living it and enjoying it with each other.

Along the way here are some thoughts/reflections/stream-of-consciousness take aways:
  • If you think you'd like to do this - give it a try. We have met many folks who lament they wish they had done it sooner.
  • A good sign would be if you and or you mate is excited about it. If one of you has to be convinced, it probably won't work. Or work very well for long...
  • Some people do it for a year or two, and then sell the RV and do something else. Some get on the road and travel south in the wintertime. Others travel only in the summer. There are many ways to do this.
  • Some folks travel from rally to rally or on caravans. Others plan and travel around on their own and basically travel alone.  We gravitate toward traveling alone.
  • We are more comfortable now with the change in scenery.  We no longer feel like 100 things are coming at us from 100 different directions.  When we first started sight seeing, it was too much to absorb and process.  Now we feel like we have an approach to sight-seeing that works for us.
  • Learning about how to operate and maintain the RV was a bit overwhelming at first.  The learning curve was steep for about 18 months.  It is normal.  We learned to 'not panic' as a first reaction when things come up that we do not understand.
  • Learning to drive this big thing was better than I expected and not too difficult.  I only remember laying awake at night a couple of times thinking about driving it.  The key is to use the side mirrors, not drive too fast, learn where the exhaust brake is and take wide slow turns.
  • We love volunteering and helping friends and family with house projects.  We volunteered with NOMADs for a while, then found we really liked Habitat for Humanity.  Then we do Habitat for _____ (insert family member name here) which we name our family relations projects.
  • Without good TV, Internet and cell phone service, we feel disconnected.  Even if we don't use it, we still like to be able to have the option.  We have DirecTV, an HD Traveler satellite and use Verizon MiFi for our internet.  Our phone service is with AT&T.
  • We love national parks, state parks and out of the way stops, but we are not drawn to being out in the boonies with no services for more than a few days.
  • Boon docking is fine as long as we plan for it and it is not in the middle of extreme heat or cold.  We need our a/c and heaters.
  • The Roadrunner does not do well on uneven or unlevel or steep sites.  I hate it when the wheels are off the ground after we get it level. The only time we sheered a bolt on a slideout was pulling the slides in and had the back wheels jacked up pretty high.  
  • RV rallies are not our cup of tee.  We have been to a few (RV-Dreams, NOMADS annual meeting) and enjoyed them but have never been to Escapees, FMCA or Good Sam rallys.
  • Military campgrounds work well for us.  We never intended to use military campgrounds but they are mostly adequate and usually cost less than commercial or National Park Campgrounds.
  • Despite downsizing to go full-time, we (I) still have a lot of stuff.  Especially T-shirts, baseball caps and books.  I have the Kindle app on my iPhone, then I got a Kindle and yet I am still drawn to the free exchange book racks at campgrounds and the $1 books at flea markets.  Some  times you can't get away from yourself.  No matter where you go, there you are.  I just need to read faster and read more...
  • We are lucky to be doing this.  I don't believe in luck, but you catch my drift.  We are very fortunate to have each other and to be able to share our experiences and love for travel.  
  • $4100 is a good number for us to live on.  While I know that is a lot of money to some folks and less than what others spend each month, after 5 years, that number is pretty much what it has cost us to live.  All things considered: regular expenses, repairs, gifts, unplanned for maintenance, pop up trips, insurance, books, gas and diesel gas, big items, little items--all of it) 
  • Enjoy the days.  Probably won't get the chance to do this again once we get off the road.  Meanwhile, joy, purpose, fulfillment--are worthy goals.
  • This lifestyle is not a panacea.  So take the bad days with the good.  Life continues and hard things happen--as the death and or sickness of family and friends.  Can't avoid it. Some friends and family are in the midst of tough times.  We do what we can but this life style does not prevent us from hurting along with those folks that are hurting.  But if you can't have a good outlook on life while doing something you love (like full-timing) in spite of the ups and downs, when can you?  Now is the time to enjoy life.
  • We've been coast-to-coast, border-to-border a couple of times and we need to do it again - especially the northern border of Montana and Wyoming in the summer time.  And New England in the summer. And beaches - we are drawn to the beach and love to sit and just enjoy it. 
  • Some favorite places:  Glacier NP, Zion NP, Acadia NP, Key West, Grand Canyon, Oregon Coast down highway 101, Monterrey, CA, Virginia Beach, Fort Myers
  • I have a lot to learn about blogging and picture taking and photography.  These are two hobbies I have picked up since we started this adventure.  Both can be a lot of work and can seem more like work than fun if I let them.  And it has been fun. I have met and corresponded with a whole lot of great new friends 'out there'.  One of the big benefits of doing this.
There are lots more bullets rattling around in but enough for now.  Maybe I'll start putting together Reflections on Year 6...

I intended to get this out shortly after our 5 Year Anniversary on June 1, but I couldn't decide how I wanted to organize it.  I drafted a couple of different versions and this is Take 1.  My next post will be Take 2.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  And to all you loyal readers, viewers, followers, commenters and the like - a big THANK YOU! over the last 5 Years!

44 comments:

  1. Congratulations on 5 years. What a wonderful post. Keep the wheels turning as long as you both enjoy what is down the road.

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  2. I think you did an excellent job in summing up your 5 years.

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    1. Thanks Al - nice of you to say so. Thanks for leaving a comment!

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  3. Thanks for he update and real perspective on being full time with you your best friend /wife. You are the most helpful, well adjusted, strait shooter I have met in a camp ground. I have passed on your budget to several friends getting close to retirement, very nice of you. Congrats on five years, seems like we met at Camp Pendleton only a couple years ago. Our spending is very close to yours, and works for us so far. Wish you guys the best in life.

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    1. Glad the budget is helpful. Wonderful memories of our first year out in California. Great to meet up with you way back then and again this year in Tucson!

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  4. This is a great wrap up of life on the road. I especially liked the one about books - I, too, just cannot give up the actual book even though I have a kindle app and a Nook. Have another fantastic five years.

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  5. Thanks for the great post for someone that has just retired and is in limbo. Great bullet points.

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    1. Good luck with your 'next steps'! And thanks for the comment!

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  6. Randy and Pam, congratulations on the first 5 years of FTing. I still can't believe the tine has passed by this quickly. We still recall seeing you guys up in the Fairfax County Park that afternoon before you truly "hit the road".
    Be safe.

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    1. Yes - I still remember our 'Going Away Open House' -- nice of you guys coming by. Still remember meeting you all for the first time at the LOW conference when we were checking out rigs one evening. Lots of miles since then...

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  7. Congratulations on 5 years! Isn't it absolutely the nicest lifestyle?
    Here's to 5 more,

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    1. Thanks! Yes - it is a great lifestyle! And thanks for leaving a comment. Best Regards to you and Jo!

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  8. This is a GREAT blog post! Congratulations on 5 years.

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  9. I really enjoyed reading your retrospective on your full time life, Randy. You two made a great choice it seems.

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    1. Thanks Sue - So far its working for us! Thanks for leaving a comment!

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  10. I could do it for a couple years...MacGyver needs his home base...As you say, if one person has to be convinced, it won't work...

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    1. Yes - but there are so many ways to RV . Thanks for your comment!

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  11. Nice post, we're with you on military campgrounds, love 'em. Plus they let you wash your RV, unlike most campgrounds. :c)

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    1. This one was an anomaly and wouldn't bet on being able to do it next time.

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  12. Congrats on your 5 year anniversary! This was a really nice post -- great information from a realistic perspective!

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  13. Very well said!! We are considering going fulltime--our place is on the market here in Montana--time will tell.

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  14. Excellent summary. Our thoughts are similar to yours, we are now beginning our 9th year fulltime and still love the lifestyle.
    We are so lucky to be able to do this and cannot imagine a better way to live.

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    1. Thanks! Wow - 9 years! And thanks for the comment!

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  15. Five years seems like a long time unless you are living the dream... we have entered our fourth year and like you can see nothing better to do out there that what we are currently doing...

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    1. Thanks for the comment! And congrats on 4 years!

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  16. This was a really good read. Although we are not on the road yet, I agree with you that the journey begins when the planning starts :-). I look forward to reading Take 2.

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    1. Thanks Jodee - Appreciate the comments!

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  17. Great thoughts on FT'ing ... congratulations on 5 years on the road. Since we're frequently "going on vacation" I think we'll be living this lifestyle longer than originally planned ... but we love it!

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    1. Thanks Erin. Yes ~ and we are glad to be able to adjust a little and continue on. What a wonderful lifestyle. Appreciate the comments!

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  18. Great wrap up! We are in our third year and still have so much to learn! Love following your blog.

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    1. Thanks Nan! Appreciate your kind words. Congrats on 3+ years!

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  19. Happy Anniversary. I have recently started going to National Forest Service campgrounds, large spacious sites with beautiful scenery. Drawbacks are that there is usually no cell or wifi service and limited hookups. I was at one yesterday and there were several large class A RVs there.

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    1. Thanks Teri - sounds like a good option except for the wifi. But we need to do that more and get out in the forest more! Appreciate the comment!

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  20. Very nice recap. We've been fulltime for just three years and so far haven't been able to do much traveling due to family issues, but we've been pretty happy wintering in the Keys and spending summers in the N. GA mountains. I hope you have many more years.

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    1. Thanks Karen. I enjoy your blog and following your travels. Thanks for the comments. Maybe we'll meet up with you guys again one day!

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  21. Congratulations on hitting the five year mark. We are starting our 12th and time seems to have flown by. Such wonderful memories.
    kathi
    arlonHboozer.com

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    1. Thanks Kathi! Congrats on your 12+ years!

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