Saturday, May 22, 2010

Roadrunner Reflections - First Year in Review

A year ago today, we purchased our first ever 40' motor home in Virginia Beach, VA and became full-timers.  We drove it 30 miles away to Fort Monroe Army campground in Hampton, VA ~ and began the Roadrunner era.

Here are some thoughts on what we have learned during the past year.  Among them:

1.  We love this lifestyle.  After 12 months of this, we are not talking about, 'when we quit doing this' or 'I want to settle down somewhere.'  We have so much more to see and so much more to do.  Let's see what happens in year two!

2.  I am the luckiest man alive. I knew that already but Pam is really more and more amazing the older I get.  She really understands how this RV works - inside and out.  I would really be in more of a fog about things if it weren't for her.  She's special ~ I haven't met another full-timing lady out there yet has learned as much or that knows as much as her.   We haven't met everyone yet~ I'm just sayin'...

3.  I thought we would exercise more and get into better physical shape.  Hasn't really happened.  We don't walk and bike and exercise as much as I thought we would.  It still takes discipline.

4.  It is possible to live on a budget and lower our spending levels.  It took me a while to imagine how I would track every penny.  (Who does that?  What normal people really have the discipline to do it?)
Now I know it is really not that big of a deal and I have a fairly simple system that works well for us.

5.  Didn't realize I love sunsets and sunrises as much as I do, but I never tire of them.

6. We didn't plan on driving the Roadrunner almost 34,000 miles the first year.  That is almost 15,000 on the RV and another 19,000 miles on the Honda.

7.  I love driving this thing.  I thought I would like driving this 40' motor home,  but after about 12  months at it I feel very comfortable and it is better than that!  I REALLY love driving this RV.

8.  Pam loves to cook and is great at it.  I knew this before, but she really comes up with some great simple meals.  It is fun to 'camp' and see her use the microwave, convection oven and oven.

9. We have seen regular America from coast to coast and border to border.  We have seen regular people in south Texas, the Midwest, the prairies of South Dakota, deserts of Arizona, the sea coast of southern California, the rivers and lakes of Michigan and Ontario --- regular people living life.

10.  The opportunity to meet family and see old friends has been wonderful.  Some huge and wonderful and hard times in our life have played out this last year and living in the RV has afforded us the flexibility and opportunity to be at important places at important times.

11.  We have loved meeting new people.  In every part of the country and every place we have stayed more than a week, we have met wonderful folks and made many new friends.

12.  I thought it would be more important to us to have a great campsite every time.  But that has not been the case. I n fact, few have had the 'it' factor.  And we have been fine with it.  We have had irritating neighbors or a bad campground only a couple of times.  Most have been fine ~ or better!

13.  I find I infrequently look at forums or join RV chat sessions any more.  I don't know why that is, but I was on those things for hours before we started full-timing.  Now I seldom spend time there.

14.  I like the contemplative life.  I usually spend time thinking about things and where I fit into the universe.  I find this lifestyle helps reassess things and get centered, recalibrated on what I want to do next.  But I like doing things too.

15.  I feel completely blessed to be able to do the things we love to do in volunteering and building and/or remodeling homes.  That gives us a sense of purpose and worth and helps us feel like we are contributing.

16.  My favorite sports to participate in are golf and running.  Surprisingly we have done only a little of each in the last year.  When we first starting thinking about full-timing, I imagined we would play lots of golf.  It does not seem to be so important any more.

17.  My outlook on finding paying work has changed over the last year.  I am not sure I will pursue online project management positions or teaching with an online university like I was intending.  Both are areas that I seriously considered.  But neither is something I feel excited enough about to pursue.

18.  I think our finances will adjust significantly during year two.  We have spent money on 'one time only costs'.  At other times, I have missed the number entirely (no category or budget item for eating out) and I will readjust the budget based on actuals in different categories over the last 12 months.

19.  Blogs and Facebook have been a real BIG part of connecting with people.  I am surprised at how important both are to us.  We call folks from time to time but it has been very important for us to be in touch with friends (and new friends) via Facebook.  It has also been a big deal and reading other peoples' blogs or getting feedback (e.g. 'Comments')on our blog.

20.  We learned early to relax when things go mechanically wrong.  In fact, I think that is one of the biggest mindsets one has to cultivate as a full-timer.  We now take the approach, 'Everything is going to break sooner or later, don't panic'.  It helps greatly when you have a spouse who is mechanically minded as thinks logically.  She is the best!

21.  I take the premise that this is camping.  I have backpacked in the NM wilderness for days without a tent, with a tent in Europe and the Northeast, Midwest and Western United State.  Looking back, I know I can handle austere circumstances.  When I use the campground washroom or portajohns somewhere, I remind myself ~ 'this is camping'.  And then I think how ridiculously nice we have it with:   a heated, air conditioned coach; king sized bed; 3 burner stove with a micro wave; fully padded recliners and a fold out sofa bed; plus etc etc.

22.  Not to be crass, but having a shower every day (or sometimes two) is very over rated. We find that it saves water and unless we are outside doing a lot of exercising, it just isn't necessary.  I also found out I can't go more than a day or two without shaving.  Otherwise, I begin to feel undisciplined and a little ratty.

I am sure there are more, but here are some of the things we have thought about this week.  Thanks for viewing the Roadrunner Chronicles and more 'Reflections' to follow in the next few days.


  1. A totally excellent post about your first year as full timers. Although not fulltimers ourselves I could easily identify with pretty well everything you said & I feel you laid it all out very honestly & in a straightforward style. Your post will be of special interest to other fulltimers & folks who are new to fulltiming or are in the process of taking the plunge. People who are thinking about it will now have additional 'food for thought.' Well done:))

  2. Agreed, a great post about your first year experiences, Donna & I are trying to grasp what it will be like, and posts such as this are a great help, I totally agree that having a great spouse that works as a team is the best way to go. Enjoy year two and, be safe out there. Sam & Donna..

  3. This post is a great reminder to all of us that reality is often far different that our expectations - and that's not necessarily a bad thing! Often, the reality is better! :)

    You also show us that "full-timing" looks differently to everyone and that's okay, too. All of us find the rhythm in this lifestyle that fits how we live life. It's fabulous to have the freedom to do that, isn't it? :)

    Congrats on your first year!

  4. Very reflective and you learned all of that in one short year :-). We're closing in on four years - sure went by fast. This way of living certainly gives us a new prespective on life as well as freedom and flexibility. Hope your year two is just as fantastic.

  5. Great reflections on your first year. So much learned and experienced.... many things, I am sure, came unexpected. You are right, this lifestyle gives plenty of time to reflect and seek your role in this world and how to achieve that role. Our best wishes for your next year fulltime.
    Take care and safe travels

  6. GREAT post... and soooo true. We have been full timing for 6 years and really don't think about getting another home... LOVE it!!! and you are right about comments... they do make us happy! I love my bloggin buddies... Have fun & travel safe

  7. Randy - your lessons learned give us nice insight into you guys. Fun to read, and I enjoyed your comment that you really love driving the Roadrunner. You seem almost exuberant about it. Very cool.

  8. Like the others have already said, Randy, great reflective post on your first year of full-timing. Sounds like you and Pam have a great base on which to build for the coming year. And, congratulations on one year!!

  9. Congratulations on year one! We can learn a lot from your review, especially the parts about relaxing. I liked your point about not needed an "it" factor campground to make you happy. We have found that too. We have stayed in some very basic campgrounds, but it didn't really seem to matter. Of course, that was only for a few days. If we were looking for a place for months, I might be a bit more particular. Or maybe not. Like I said, we still have a lot to lear, but I appreciate all of your insights. Thanks for sharing and good luck on year 2!

  10. Great post, Randy. Thank you! We aren't full-timers but most of still applies to RVing in general. The only one I disagree with is #22, we still need our daily (or more) showers! LOL

  11. We are most happy that you have decided to take us along for this last year. Perhaps you have inspired us to be more passive about the mechanical mishaps. Like you said, this stuff is mechanical and it is going to fail, the only question is how and where.
    Keep up the good work, and most of all taking us along!

  12. I am happy for you guys and very thankful for your blog. I started a monthly expense chart based on yours after I met you last January. It is a great tool to see where it goes and where it can be reduced. You outdid me on the insurance BS. I just renewed the insurance on our townhouse in Cocoa Beach and it went from $ 912.00 to 1406.00. I called and was told just try and find a better rate. I did that and could not. Florida is a very hard place to insure at this time. My old RV insurance went from $ 486.00 to 392.00 a year. I have to keep it covered to store it on base and a big rock in the windshield every so often makes that a real bargain. This made me wonder what I would see my Alaska home go up to. I called to ask and the quick witty girl said " it will be a lot, we just have not come up with a good number yet"
    Congrats on year one down.

  13. Hello there, found you via Bayfield bunch, and am happy to read this post. You have no idea how much your words mean to me. We are currently selling the house and planning our adventure too, and just to see that a year later there is so much content and happiness, is really encouraging. I'm sure you had misgivings along the way as well, as we do, but this is our dream and we really want to "give it a try".

    I am going to post a link to today's post, this is good for my readers to see as well and for my future reference and inspiration.

    Thanks for the great post!

  14. Congratulations!! One thing I noticed in your post..there are NO regrets!! That is awesome.I am glad you are enjoying your life and putting your talents to good use for the Lord. I heard a preacher say once..a Christian never retires..if they do ..well they are gone. I'm sure leaving your town..neighbors and friends and church family was hard. But you did it..and it seems like you have never looked back and questioned it.This is appealing to us!!
    So Congratulations on your 1 yr!!

    Cindy and Walker

  15. great post Randy and thanks for sharing all the good and bad times with all of us..I too cherish all my blogging friends!..they are the ones who truly understand the need and desire to be on the road..with a new adventure around the next bend..Here's to you and Pam..and your second year!!! ..Cheers my 'blogging friends' day we will meet !!

  16. Great review of your first year. You guys have had an amazing first year - Congratulations. Thank you for exposing the good and bad times. Hope you keep enjoying the sunrise/sunsets. As we wind down our time as wage slaves (15 months) and plan for our journey we certainly will keep these things in mind.

  17. Sounds like the first year was very much to your liking. Congratulations! Randy, we just got back from the VA Samboree in Urbanna and I REALLY enjoy driving the rig also.
    (I'm still working on getting some pics to you :) )

  18. What a great year in review! And just perfect to whet the appetite of us soon-to-be-fulltimers---

    Karen and Steve
    (Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard

  19. Thank you, that was extremely valuable and interesting...I will be back again to read more on this topic.