Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Roadrunner Reflections - Getting the Roadrunner Sold - Part 3 of 3

It was about a year ago that we were in final preparations to sell the Roadrunner.  We had numerous texts and emails with Mike and had things lined up to make the sale when he arrived in Jacksonville.
We were busy getting things ready for him.
We had spent December in the Keys and then traveled north to MacDill AFB/Tampa to finish final cleanup and enjoy a few more days of the RV life.  We attended the large Tampa RV show and had a good time in the area.

We saw some friends in the area and we worked on the coach.  The last couple of days I decided to replace the gasket on the toilet because the toilet bowl was not holding water.  That is a good indicator the gasket is failing.

It always is little hard to do because we have to cut the wires, disconnect the water, remove the toilet, turn it upside down then put the gasket in reverse sequence, turn it back over, reconnect the wires and hook everything back up.  Its a 20 minute job if everything goes well.  Ha!

It did not.

The water in the toilet was leaking out.  I got the gasket upside down.  Next, we disconnected everything, turned it over again, put the gasket in, tightened everything down and POP!
The ceramic toilet broke!  Yikes!

It was Friday and we were leaving Sunday for Jacksonville.  Now the pressure was really on!  We ended up replacing our ceramic electric toilet with a foot pedal model that worked great.  We didn’t know if it was going to work but it performed magnificently and we wished we’d have swapped it out
many years ago!

On to Jacksonville.  We spent a couple of days at the Jacksonville Navy RV campground and then parked the Roadrunner at Mayport Naval Station at Pelican Roost Campground.  Its one of the military’s best RV campgrounds (in my opinion.)

While there, we rented a small U-Haul Trailer, packed up almost everything remaining in the
Roadrunner, and then drove to Virginia Beach where we put all our stuff in temporary storage at our daughter and son-in-law’s place.

We returned in time to meet Mike at the airport hotel in Jacksonville.  Then we drove over to the campsite, did a walk-around and we answered all his questions.
He and I went for a short test drive and then got the paperwork together to finish the deal.

The bill-of-sale had to be signed and witnessed and he handed over a check. Then we packed up and left the camp ground with the Roadrunner and our CRV in tow.

Pam and I agreed to help Mike deliver the coach to an RV storage facility and thought it would be good to have him drive the Roadrunner while we were onboard.  We also answered more questions as he thought of them.
All three of us were going to Cordele, GA to the KOA where we had overnight reservations.

Mike got some time behind the wheel as we went up I-75 so it was a useful few hours.  We arrived at the KOA and then I showed Mike how we set up and get plugged into the electric and water and sewer.
We went out to eat together and then dropped Mike back off at the Roadrunner while Pam and I got a motel room in town.

The next morning, we drove back over to the campground, hooked up the CRV and then we drove to the Atlanta airport where Mike rented a car.  We later joined up at the National Indoor Storage facility in Lawrenceville, GA about 20 miles away.

Then we unhooked the CRV for the last time, shook hands and departed while Mike checked the Roadrunner into the storage facility for the next three months.

He was working as a civilian in Germany and would be back in May to pick up Roadrunner with his wife Joan.  They were then going to drive it to Alaska which was his next duty station.

Later we heard from them on their way to Alaska and they said the coach was driving ‘flawlessly’.  They did need to get some fuel filters changed out (which we discussed as a possibility after sitting in the storage facility for three months), but all in all it all went well.

It truly was a win-win.  We were thrilled to be getting the price we wanted and they were happy to get the Roadrunner.  Hopefully it will have another 10 years of happy camping left in it.

So, those are some of the high points in the story, “How We Sold the Roadrunner.”  It unbelievably happened almost a year ago.  It doesn’t seem possible.  I captured some of the sale here.

The last 12 months have flown by.

We remember our days on the road as Wonderful Times!  It was a magical time and we love reminiscing about it. Hopefully there will be more in store for us, but it will be different.  And that is OK.

Do we miss it?  Do we have regrets?

Sometimes I think about it and miss our time on the road but quickly remember it was perfect timing for us.  It was the right time to move on.  We are so glad to be here in Norfolk/Virginia Beach and have a wonderful “Post RV life.” We are very blessed to have our kids (son and daughter-in-law in DC, and our daughter and son-in-law and two grandsons 12 minutes away) near us.

Our house, neighborhood, church and new friends are a real blessing and we are so thankful!

Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Monday, January 20, 2020

Checking Out the Tidewater RV Show

I’ve been looking forward to the Tidewater RV Show for some time.  A few months ago a friend said he envied the lifestyle we used to have in the Roadrunner and said he wanted to go with me next time it came to town.
It didn’t work out for him and me, and the Brooks and Harrison were coming over for a few minutes to check out Pam’s garden.  I thought about having them join me but Harry was getting over a cold, so I knew his stamina would not be able to withstand the rigors of traipsing around the RV show.  The option with grandma and her garden was better so they did that while I ventured down to the Virginia Beach Convention Center on my own.

It was a short but memorable time!  Amazing what can happen in a couple of hours.  Would you believe I bought an RV.....?

Naw -- didn’t think so.  I know better than that.  Actually I wasn’t really tempted, but one of the of the things I wanted to do was to see what was new and maybe find something that might fit our needs down the road.  I think we are currently looking at a trailer to pull behind our F-150.
They had some overflow RVs parked outside near where I was parked so I wander over there first.  I like the feature of this trailer that had a small door on each side of the bed.  I am an early riser, so I like the idea of getting up and closing off the bedroom so I don’t wake Pam.

I took a quick look at a couple of other ones but was anxious to see what was going on inside.

Next I went inside paid my $9.00 ($1 off for a military discount) and set out looking around.  I’ve done this more times than I can count and wandered up and down a few aisles looking at things.  Nothing in particular sparked any excitement.

I see more and more tiny RVs that are very small which have a basic double bed and that is about it.  I don’t quite get it.  Looks to me like an expensive hard shell / tent type of a deal.  But I guess they must be selling or they would not be making them.  There are all kinds of ways to do the RV thing.

RV shows are also great places to see the unusual and find some interesting items.  I signed up for a chance to win $100 and $500 at a few places knowing I can ‘Unsubscribe’ pretty quickly.  I passed a tent arrangement on the back bed of a Ford  F-150 and had a nice chat with the sales person there.  Plus I picked up a nice roll-up throw blanket I can put in my truck.

After about an hour or so I made my way along the back wall and talked with some more vendors.  One handed me some personal products and talked about reducing chemicals on the planet. Reminded me of Norwex products.  Our daughter Kelly and good friend Hillary sells those products.

The booth belonged to Dana McKee with whom I talked for a few minutes.  Turns out she is
advocating for safer laws in DC to get safer personal care products on the market.  Her website is 

As we talked, I found out she is also a John Maxwell certified speaker. 

Another thing I found out was that she plays a key role in the RV show and is the contact person for vendors to get space at the show.  The more we talked, I decided I very well may have a table at next year’s show to promote one or two volumes of my upcoming book
I was telling Dana how much we like Dodd RV and have been to their stores many times over the years.  I think last year when we were talking of downsizing while we were in Williamsburg, we found their store in Yorktown and visited there looking at Class C’s.
I said we are fans of Dodd’s RV (who sponsored the RV show for the 39th consecutive year) and Dana suggested I talk with with Susie Dodd, who is the manager of the entire show.  I met her and learned more.

After that, I found some items for the boys and headed home.  I scored pretty well with the boys who tried on some sunglasses I picked up.
They fit perfectly!

It was fun to go to the RV show and I met some interesting people and got some good ideas for our next RV.  It was time well spent!

Thanks for joining u on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  In the next edition, we’ll finished up with Part 3 on how we sold the Roadrunner...

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Roadrunner Reflections - How We Sold it - Part 2 - The German Connection

This is the second of three parts describing Pam and I came to the decision to sell our motorhome - The Roadrunner:
Today we discuss how we agreed to sell it to Mike who was in Germany.
From July and into the fall, we continued our travels.  We left Williamsburg, VA and headed to  the Northeast.  We had stops at West Point, NY (it's a great place to visit and they have a terrific museum and Visitor Center), then made our way over to the Hudson River Valley before continuing on to Bar Harbor, ME/Acadia National Park and the state capitols of New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine.

After we left the Northeast, we continued planning for the sale of the Roadrunner and decided on another trip to Key West.  We were thinking we’d stay there for a few weeks before working our way up through Florida. Then, we were planning on putting it up for sale in the same town as the Tiffin Motorhome factory - Red Bay.  Red Bay is in the very northwest corner of Alabama.

We were targeting April to have it cleaned up and ready to go.
But things began happening sooner than we expected...

Initial contact with a buyer.
I looked back and it was December 31, 2018 when I got an email from our friends Dave and Pattie.  They had a Tiffin motorhome that was the same year, make, and model as ours and had just sold it.  Dave indicated a couple more folks had been interested in his and he asked if I wanted their contact information.

I said sure and and then I emailed both interested parties.

One (Mike) was definitely interested.   The other fellow was looking for a fire sale which didn't pan out.  Our back and forth emailing was happening over the course of the first few weeks in January when we were enjoying time in Key West.

Knowing this might be our last winter in the Roadrunner, we planned on being there in December and stayed a few weeks.  We concentrated on splitting our time between hanging out with friends, seeing favorite places again,  and cleaning the coach.  It was a relatively stress-free game plan.

Our time in Key West was another memorable one because we met up with three other couples and had special times with each of them.  That year was a little warmer than our three previous visits to Key West. That meant the weather really great, and we had time to play tourist, hang out and do the things we like to do there.  One of my favorites is a daily bike ride around the island which is 13.1 miles from our campground.  I remember we also saw the Hemingway House again, the Key West Lighthouse, the Harry S. Truman’s Little White House, and participated in the annual Key West Open House Tour, seeing some $$$ homes.  Not for us, but very interesting nonetheless.

And we systematically started cleaning the coach again. We took off all the screens and hosed them down and washed them.  I did some touch up painting on the front steps and the Blue Ox tow bar, plus washed and waxed it good. Then I washed and waxed the Roadrunner inch-by-inch.  I never minded the washing and waxing.  It was good exercise and the price was right.  It usually took 3-4 days to get it done and this time was no different.

I have very fond memories of that specific visit to Key West as we were fielding questions and sending pictures of the Roadrunner to Mike.

It is always interesting when these possibilities happen when you are trying to sell your “house."  You don’t want to get ahead of yourself and I'm more likely to fight the feeling and daily remind myself, “Selling this motorhome is a long shot. It may may take a long time to get the price we want and to find the right buyer.  Patience. Be patient.”

As I was saying, Mike and I immediately developed a good dialogue and were in contact 2-3 times a week with texts and then emails.  I think I sent about 75 photos so he could get a good idea of the layout and what we had going on inside, outside, and on top of the Roadrunner.

I found out that Mike had previously owned a Class C and had lived in Alaska.  Both those events were coming in to play again.  In our emails back and forth I could tell he knew what he was looking for.  He had questions about how the unit drove and was doing some research on sway bars to see if they were needed in the Roadrunner.  He also asked if we had washer/dryer set up.  We did not, opting instead to have the storage space.  But we had the plumbing in place and I sent him pictures of where it was located and how it was set up.

After about half a dozen emails going back and forth Pam and I could quickly tell Mike was a serious possibility.  We began discussing how to make this happen.  Mike had an interesting situation that unfolded over the following month.

An out of country phone number.
As we corresponded, I noticed a different area code and country code from his text messages.  Bells went off and I became a little cautious so I asked him why the out of country number.  (One can't be too careful about such things and it pays off to ask questions early.)  He explained that he retired from the military and was working as a civilian overseas in Germany. We were relieved it all made sense and we continued to engage with Mike.

Since he was in Germany, he would have to fly to Florida and complete the transaction of buying the coach there,  if everything panned out.  He worked out a plan to store it until May and then he and his wife Joan were going to drive it to Alaska where they would be living.  Finding a place to store it proved to be a bit nerve wracking for a few days.  At first he was was thinking of buying it in Florida and then driving it to Georgia and leave it parked for a for a few months where his family could keep it for him.

We looked at the weather and knew that it could get pretty cold in Georgia in the early spring and even dip into freezing temperatures.  Also, we wondered if he was going to keep in plugged in or if he was going to winterize it and leave it parked.

Leaving the Roadrunner for a long period of time (months) and storing it, were two items Pam and I didn't know anything about.  The more we all talked, Mike decided to find an RV storage facility where it could be stored and plugged in to 50 amp power.

By the middle of January, we had left Key West and had made or way up to MacDill AFB FamCamp in Tampa. We were doing what we normally do at that time of year there and went to the Tampa RV show.  I remember we were there and got a text from Mike who basically said, "Yikes! I've looked for an indoor storage place for the past couple of days and 15 places along I-95 are full!"  Whoops.

My first thought was -- maybe this deal would not work out after all?  (Getting a little ahead of myself!) We both made a few phone calls and learned he still had options.  He could store it on a lot near Jacksonville near the base but it would basically be in the open with other boats and RVs.  It was still out in the open, but the weather was not likely to get down into freezing temperatures.  He could also winterize it (drain the tanks and water lines etc) if he wanted to go that route.

As we were looking into other options, he called back and said he had found a storage facility place east of Atlanta.  It turned out to be a good one.  It was a large indoor facility, and the folks there would regularly start the engine (once a week?  a month? -- can't remember) and it could be plugged in 100% of the time.

Another obstacle overcome.

This sale possibility was moving along swimmingly, but we hadn’t really gotten down to the actual specifics.

Time to talk turkey.
We'd only been talking a few weeks and we were getting into specifics.  I thought that this is great --- but things could still go sideways, we need to talk about the money.  We were asking $105K. ($100K was our bottom line - so to speak.)  We knew we had a couple of things going against us, namely the fact the Roadrunner was 10 years old and it had 133,000 miles on it.  133,000 miles isn't that much on a car or truck, but for a motorhome, I'd said it was a lot.

Good friends Bruce and Melody offered to let us put the Roadrunner on their lot in Red Bay and we talked to an RV broker friend of theirs. He said he didn't mess with any motorhomes over 5 years old or ones that had over 50,000 miles.  Hmmm.

Nice to know -- but we were outside of both those parameters by a long shot.  He noted Blue Book said our unit was worth about $85,000 - $88,000 and that the only thing dealers/brokers look at is age and miles on RVs. Whoa.

But what about all the upgrades, and modifications, and maintenance and upkeep?? "Only age and miles".   He said everyone says there's has been well taken care of, runs great, yada yada yada.
A couple of things were in our favor and I think justified our asking price.  We had in fact taken care of the Roadrunner and had a residential refrigerator, new MCD and RollEZE shades vs curtains, $700
x 6 RV tires 1 year old, and all our maintenance records.  Our friend with the same make and model as ours had sold his for more than what we were asking.  So we decided to stick to our price and see what happens.  His had significantly less miles than ours, but we felt it still was worth about the same price.

Gladly, when I we had the "purchase price conversation" we ended up at $100,000 and he said he was OK with that!  He asked if we could install a washer/dryer.  I said we couldn't do that, but we could help him with transportation and delivery of the motorhome to his storage place near Atlanta after the purchase.

Older motorhomes come in various states of operational maintenance and my guess is that Mike had seen a lot of different older vehicles and he had a pretty good idea of what he was looking for.  We were asking more than Blue Book value which was about $85K.  But Blue Book value is a guide and not the only metric to use.

We thought we had put a lot of money into the Roadrunner over the years so it remained in a high operational state.  We didn't shy away from spending a few more dollars to keep the maintenance up and we thought it was a good idea to update the rig with lots of operational and living enhancements.  So we felt we could make the case it was worth at least $100K.

The two biggest things that were going against that were the age (10 years old) and the high mileage (133,000).  133,000 doesn't seem like a lot of miles on a car, but for an RV it is getting up there.  I spoke with a broker that did not deal in units that were over 5 years old and had over 50,000 miles.  But we stayed with it and Mike agreed to the price.

As we progressed in our discussions we were more excited about the possibility.  But we knew it was  still that -- only a possibility until we signed the paperwork and transferred the money.

We will talk more about that next time in Part 3 - How it all came together.

Thanks for joining us together on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Friday, January 10, 2020

Roadrunner Reflections: How We Sold It - Part 1

This is the first of three parts describing how we came to the decision and went through the process of selling our motorhome - The Roadrunner:

Here’s how we broached the subject in the first place:

We sold the Roadrunner in February and I wanted to remember as much as I could about it all.  We started talking about the possibility over the 4th of July weekend about seven months before we sold it.  And it kind of happened...I don’t think we intended to end up there that evening but we did.  We are glad we was the right time for us...and now we have some fantastic memories and stories to tell.  Like this one.

Since the time when we handed over the keys, we’ve been in touch with the new owners (Mike and Joan)  a few times. Apparently it is still running great.  We will keep our fingers crossed. We are thankful for what we’ve heard so far.  I asked if we could tell the story of how it all happened with the new buyer(s) and have their permission to do so.

If you'd have told me that we'd find a buyer in Germany, who wanted to put the Roadrunner in storage for three months, and then drive it to Alaska, I'd say that scenario was a little far fetched.
Read on.

It all started with a conversation.
We opened the door of possibility one evening during 4th of July (2018) weekend.  That is the first time that Pam and I remember seriously mentioning getting off the road. I suspect we had both been thinking about it for some time before we actually talked.  It is one thing to wonder about a possibility and quite another to say it out loud.  Part of me was questioning whether I was alone in thinking about it and another part was I was guessing Pam was ready to consider it.

I will never forget that evening. We were enjoying our time at a campground near Williamsburg, VA when we pulled out the camp chairs after dinner and just talked.  And then it kind of crept out and one of us asked if it was getting near the time to start thinking about getting a place in Virginia Beach.

Once those words seeped out, I knew things were going to change.We both basically said, "I think so... but maybe not just yet."  We then brainstormed about what it might look like for us to do that.  I remember saying,  "I would be sad if we sold the Roadrunner and completely quit RVing.”

We both agreed the wonder (see what I did there?) of this 10 year adventure has been a highlight in our lives and we'd hate to completely close the book on RV camping.  We love it too much.  We look forward to the day when we can take our grandkids and their folks with us on camping trips.

We talked about getting a smaller, used RV and continuing to travel.  We talked about the pros and cons and thought perhaps we’d sell the big unit and get a much smaller RV.  Maybe a Class C or a travel trailer could be our next RV.

Then I thought about how much money we could save if we tent camped again instead of getting an RV.  The possibilities were growing and it was fun to just dream and brainstorm and talk for a while. It was reminiscent of what we’d done the couple of years before we started full-timing.

After going down the path of tent camping fees and all the new amenities and camping gear available today for tent campers, we came to the realization our aging bodies might not comfortable with that.  "What about the middle of the night when we get up and have to pee?"  Hmm.  No problem for me...but I knew we didn't want to set ourselves up to be trotting off to the bathhouse a few times in the middle of the night.  So that idea went to the back burner.

We realized we didn’t have to solidify any plans then but I think we settled on the notion of the Class C.  We weren't ready for a travel trailer and liked the idea of learning about Class C's.  At any rate, this was a major milestone and the horse was now out of the barn.  Our time together that night gave us a new direction and some thoughts to ponder about our future.

Our last summer on the road.
After Williamsburg, we were headed off to for another adventure to the Northeast for the rest of the summer.  Our destination was Acadia National Park by way of Pennsylvania, Vermont, Connecticut. We had been once before, but it's one of those places you can visit many times and never get tired of. This time, we wanted to see as many state capitols (New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine) as possible and also to reconnect with friends along the way.
We did that plus got to know New York a little bit better. We especially liked seeing West Point again, the Hudson River Valley and western New York. I remember how much I loved the sights in the Hudson River Valley.  It was new to us and there are all kinds of things to see in the way of National Parks (FDR) and museums.  We also loved our time in the Finger Lakes area seeing Watkins Glen and Seneca Lake. We loved the scenery and learning about a state we knew little about.

Throughout the late summer we had more conversations about selling the motorhome and thought it would be good timing to sell in the spring.

More about that, in the next edition, but for now I want to wrap it up. Stay tuned in the days ahead for  Part 2 -“The German Connection”, as we continue telling the story of how we sold the Roadrunner.

Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!