Our 9th Year on the Road began in Virginia Beach and here we are again in Virginia Beach. I still remember that back-porch conversation Pam and I had when we were considering full-timing. I said, "If we are really going to do this, sell the house, buy and RV and all that, we should at least plan on doing it for 5 years." Pam thought otherwise. She said, "I was thinking more like 10."
And here we are. Living the RV dream in year 10. It has been quite an adventure.
The adventure has had so many facets to it, it is a little hard to explain. But I am going to do my best. I'm writing a book. Writing a book almost like running a marathon. I've run four of those. It took me a few years to decide I was actually going to run one and then commit to all the miles and hours preparing to go 26.2 miles. Writing a book is a bit daunting. Especially if you want to do a credible job. I have the first draft under my belt and will probably have drafts two and three before I am ready to take the next step. The halfway point of a marathon is about mile 20. Seems as if the last 6.2 miles were as hard as the first 20. I think the halfway point of writing a book is somewhere beyond draft two. 10 chapters, 50,000+ words, it is coming together. We will see. Stay tuned. I'm shooting for a fall release.
So that is one major aspect of year nine - I became a 'writer'. I have been a blogger for over 10 years now and have taken it seriously as various times. Sometimes it seems like a lot of work to be a hobby. Other times, the words and motivation are there and it comes fairly easy. Somewhere along the line last year, I was reviewing a friend's manuscript (Wes), who had a collection of short stories he formed into a very readable book. He has a masterful grip of storytelling. Me, not so much.
Somewhere along the line he suggested I write a book. I don't even remember the conversation to well. It reminded me of running a marathon. It took me years, literally years to wrap my head around the idea and then actually take steps to get it accomplished. About that time I enjoyed running and remember it being a fad. Lots of people were 'jogging'. For some reason the idea of 'jogging' never resonated with me. I decided I was always going to be a 'runner'. Pace or speed had nothing to do with it. It was a mind set. I was a runner.
Other personal challenges included getting my Master's degree. I remember thinking about it, dabbling in it with a few night classes and then finally one day decided, "I'm going to get this done." It took me over two years and lots of studying on Sunday afternoons, but it paid off.
And I think becoming a writer and changing the mindset from dabbling it in putting together a credible effort will be rewarding as well. I haven't got the interest in a novel and writing engaging stories, but I do have 10 years of thinking about RV living and writing about it. I have thousands of pictures and memories to fill up 10 volumes. (At this point I have plans for 10 volumes.) Why not? I like doing it, it is a challenge and we will see. There is one change in Year 9. I became a writer.
We have plenty of other reflections about that last nine years and the last year in particular. The biggest events over the last couple of years are the arrival of our two grandsons: Brooks and Harrison. These two little guys are game changers! Being away from them four or five months is a special kind of tug that we want to figure out. Maybe the better way to travel and come back to Virginia Beach is to go on two or three month trips and come back to see them for a couple of months at a time. They grow up quickly.
We are very fortunate to have a daughter and son-in-law that are insistent we be involved in the grandkids lives. We are glad to do so and are figuring all that out. It's been a real joy to be around them and help out and we surely will do more of that in the days and years ahead. Their presence on the scene has caused us to reflect and consider the next step in our RV living...
We cannot say how long we will be full-timing. But our thinking has definitely changed to where we are actively discussing other arrangements. We have no timeline in mind and we have one more year before we hit the 10 year mark. I remember asking the question on an RV forum before we hit the road, "What is your exit plan?". Most people responded as if I was nuts and if I was already thinking about an exit plan, maybe full-timing was not for me. What??
I think I wanted to see if there is something worth considering before we started, that would make it better when we moved to part-timing or some-timing. The bottom line is that I decided just like we figured out how to transition to full-timing, we could figure it out when the time for us to change and 'settle' down.
Not sure what to call where we are now, but we are definitely in a different phase of RV Living - "No Man's Land".
It reminds me of deciding to leave my current job for another one and not telling anyone yet. I was in that situation after I retired from the military. I had decided to leave, was actively pursuing new employment, but I wasn't in a position yet to discuss it with anyone but Pam. I continued to work hard at my current position and I determined the date I needed to offer my resignation. It was "No Man's Land".
That term may be a bit overly dramatic but we are in a different phase of Living the Dream. After 9 years of living this life, we know that our life is probably going to change in the next year or two. We're not sure exactly what that is going to look like but it will probably be settling down here in Virginia Beach. Our son and daughter in law live in Fairfax VA and work in the Northern VA/Washington DC area. Our daughter and son in law and two grandkids live here in Virginia Beach. It makes sense for us to be in Virginia if we want to be near them.
This phase is almost like starting out all over again. At this stage, I want to do all I can to avoid a big financial mistake. We are now at Social Security retirement age and on a fixed income. Unless my book(s) are wildly successful and we come financially independent. 😳 Like playing the lottery, I don't think that is a very sound financial retirement plan.
Thinking about getting off the road and brainstorming sets off a whole set of uncertainty, curiosity, changes, risks and research. While we enjoy our time on the road, we will be working the next phase in the background/behind the scenes. We will see what happens. Meanwhile, part of reflecting on our ninth year is a recap of some of the travels we've had over the last 12 months.
We started out going to Ohio and up to Michigan before returning to Virginia Beach for the holidays. After the first of the year, we drove south on I-95 to Florida and then headed west on I-10 and into California. We saw friends in the San Bernardino are and landed in Arizona for the winter. It was mostly warm and a great time. We love Arizona!
We found ourselves doing a lot of things this last year that we did in Year 1 of our adventures.
We saw museums and state capitols, worked for Habitat for Humanity on a couple of gigs, went to Canada, went to Mexico and spent a lot of time in the Tucson area:
- Virginia Zoo (Norfolk)
- National Historical Site at Kitty Hawk (Wright Brothers)
- Columbus Zoo (Ohio)
- Jack Nicklaus Museum (Ohio State campus)
- Noah's Ark (full size display and museum near Cincinnati)
- Creation Museum (Petersburg, KY not far from Cincinnati)
- Red Bay Museum (Red Bay, AL)
- Kentucky Horse Park (Lexington)
- Cultural Heritage Center (Pierre, SD)
- Pony Express Museum (Marysville, KS)
- Loretto Memorial Chapel (Santa Fe)
- National Museum of the American Indian (Washington DC)
- Ford Theater (Washington DC)
- Dodge City (KS)
- Natural Bridge (Virginia)
- Columbus, Ohio
- Lexington, KY
- Pierre, South Dakota
- Gold Manor (major renovations at daughter and son-in-law's/Virginia Beach
- Habitat for Humanity/Care-A-Vanner, East Lansing, MI
- Habitat for Humanity/Care-A-Vanner, Sioux Falls, SD
- Solar Eclipse (An event Pam put on the calendar many months in advance so we could see a 100% coverage in Nebraska)
- Golf in Arizona (Played more this year than I have in many years)
- Hiking (Sabino Canyon and Catalina State Park - Tucson)
- 100,000 miles - we passed the 100,000 miles in the Roadrunner a few weeks ago.
As we look back on our 9th year, a number of things have changed since we first got interested in RV living Full-Time:
- Facebook - It seems to me Facebook is exploding with RV groups and information. It is so easy to ask a question about RVing and one only has to wait minutes before a multitude of responses flash on the screen.
- YouTube - A close second to Facebook is YouTube that has about every kind of video you would want to see on the lifestyle, RVs and "How To" on all kinds of RV subjects.
- Kindle - this device was fairly new 9 years ago and it was not nearly as common as it is today. Most people (me included) read books on Kindle or the Kindle app on smartphones.
- Travel Trailers - There seems to be a lot more travel trailers on the road. New RVers are getting the less expensive models and it seem to be much more common to see them in the campgrounds.
- Gas vs diesel Class A's - I would guess that the gas engine Class A is gaining
- Price of fuel - Not nearly what I thought it would be after 9 years of RVing. Diesel seems to be hovering around the $3.00/gal and I thought it would be over $5.00/gal. Back in 2008/2009 it was making a steady climb and I expected it to stay at the high cost. We paid over $4.00/gal years ago, but thankfully that did not last long.
Maintenance on The Roadrunner and tow car (Honda CRV)
- New headlights
- Replaced pitted/corroding air horns on top with aluminum air horns
- New carpeting throughout
- Repainted all bay doors
- New tires
- Replaced Driver Side (DS) front window that took a rock
- Alternator in car
I am surprised we have not had to replace our front windshield. It had a number of chips and small cracks that were repair after they occurred but I thought that it would only last a couple of years. Not so. Here we are, many years down the road and the windshield is still doing good.
Each year I pause and reflect and try to note where we are in the RV Living adventure. We are still loving the lifestyle and yet know it is going to change in the next few years. We will see what it looks like and embrace that stage of Living the Dream.
Meanwhile, you all, our loyal, frequent and interested readers. Interaction with you has been one of the huge bonuses of this journey and I thank you. It has been amazing!
Thanks for checking in on this edition on the Roadrunner Chronicles.