Learning From Other RVers’

Learning From Other RVers’

The original title I cam up with for this post was “Ask questions, Shut up and listen”.  Its was a pretty crude title, intended more as a reminder to myself than a message to others.  On the other hand, if you are anything like me and feel inclined to add your 2 cents to a story, then that title might be ok for you as well.

Being full time in an RV, one of the greatest benefits I have recognized is the access to new people who are living incredible lives.  Being around so many experienced full-timers benefits me in that that they have “been there and done that”.  This is a huge advantage to us as newbies in that we can learn from their mistakes and successes, if we take the time to listen and learn!

I consider anyone who is retired and traveling the country in a safe and comfortable RV a winner at the game of life.  These people figured out the receipt to achieve a beautiful, simple and fulfilling existence.  And guess what, they will tell you how they did it if you ask!   Whether in their 20’s or 70’s, if they have been at it for a while they know things you don’t and are willing to share their knowledge.

The Campground that we have been at for the past several months is a 55 and over community.  We were granted a waiver to be campers here and I believe are the only couple below 55.  The folks here are retired.  We have met several people who have side hustles for extra pocket money but for the most part everyone wakes up and entertains themselves all day.  The boss and I are still working and will be for a few more months so we have a bit less time to settle into our new fulltime day to day.

The access to information on successful fulltime work and travel is all around us if we take the time and effort to tap into it.

ASK your neighbors and those you meet questions.

These folks have experience that I have yet to acquire.  They are willing to share their adventures, trials and tribulations, They will brag on their successes and reminisce on their failures. I have yet to meet a person in our campground who doesn’t jump at the chance to tell the story of selling it all and hitting the road full time. As a relatively young couple on the road, I find that my elders are quick to offer solicited advice on any topic I ask about.  They seem to do this in a mentoring way, never preachy or all-knowing.  It’s usually in the format of “this is what we did and this is how it turned out”.  What wonderful wells of knowledge are all around you in an RV park or campground!

 

Image from http://www.incidentalcomics.com/

LISTENING:

Effective listening is a skill. Listening is not the same as hearing!

My biggest obstacle in soaking in all of this information is shutting up.  After all, the boss and I now have a story to tell (and it’s getting more interesting by the day).  The problem is: we can’t hear if we are talking.  We don’t process information well if we are trying to figure out what we are going to say next.  A huge secret to learning new things from others is to not be in a hurry to share your opinion or experience.  You already know what you know and think, take in what others have to offer.  You don’t have to accept it as fact or even as being correct.  Take in the stories of others, you just might hear something that saves you much pain in your future travels.

Another realization I have had is that some folks just don’t care to hear your story.  You asked them a question, now simply listen to what they have to tell you.  Not to imply that everyone is inconsiderate or uncaring but if you have asked someone a question or solicit their advice, they are put in a teacher’s’ role, when they begin to teach you must become a student.  In order to do that you need to be seen and not heard.  Less talk more about listening.

 

The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen.  Just listen.  Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention.

 –Rachel Naomi Remen-

 

Look at issues from their perspective.  Let go of preconceived ideas.  By having an open mind we can more fully empathize with the speaker.  If the speaker says something that you disagree with then wait and construct an argument to counter what is said but keep an open mind to the views and opinions of others.

The stories that I have been told…..  Camphosting mishaps, guiding four-wheelers in Alaska, a tour guide on a train, driving tour buses, receiving guests from cruise ships, ranch hands, arts and crafts sellers, antiquers, roadside breakdowns, getting stuck on forest roads, nearly freezing to death in an RV, animal encounters….. On and on.

Look at issues from their perspective.  Let go of preconceived ideas.  By having an open mind we can more fully empathise with the speaker.  If the speaker says something that you disagree with then wait and construct an argument to counter what is said but keep an open mind to the views and opinions of others.

The stories that I have been told…..  Camphosting mishaps, guiding fourwheelers in Alaska, a tour guide on a train, driving tour buses, receiving guests from cruise ships, ranch hands, arts and crafts sellers, antiquers, roadside breakdowns, getting stuck on forest roads, nearly freezing to death in an RV, animal encounters….. On and on.

Our goal in setting out on our RV adventure to was to live life well and experience more of what the world has to offer.  The folks around us here at the campground set out on this same path.  Many of them have traveled that path for years and are full of tales of adventure and excitement.  I feel very grateful that they are willing to share some of these with me.  

Ask questions, Stop Talking, Listen.

Safe Travels!!

Reach out to us and say hello!

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Mediocre Life?

Mediocre Life?

How we decided to pull the trigger and move into an RV

This post is not a declaration that everyone need run away in a camper to live an extraordinary life.  This is simply an account of us waking up and realizing that the world is full of options.  

To not explore options and chase dreams seems a bit sad to me.

We are going to start exploring and chasing, Win or Lose.

First, the “back story”:

Life was/is good!  The boss (wife) and I are healthy and secure.  We had decent jobs, a comfortable home, a month of vacation each year and our finances were looking good.  Our 2 children were out to the house and doing well for themselves.  We were empty-nesters having conversations about vacations, hobbies and what to do next weekend.

I was a firefighter and the wife worked management for a large corporate business. We had captured our version of the “American Dream”.  Another 10 – 15 years of years of work and then retire comfortably.  Maybe travel a bit more and spoil grand-kids.  Our jobs were no longer fun but the pay was what we were trading our time for and the money took care of our needs and then some.

It was boring but it was working.  

Then came our visit to our daughter in Idaho:  (May 2015)

Our daughter had taken a job managing a horse stable at a fly-in ranch in the remote mountains of Idaho.  She is a young adventurous soul with a passion for horses getting paid to live in an amazing place.  When the opportunity presented itself to visit her we were all over it!

We flew out to Salt Lake city from Orlando, drove through amazing country to arrive in Salmon Idaho  (Didn’t see a single potato).  Idaho is a beautiful place!  From the town of Salmon we hopped on a single prop charter plane and flew into the mountains to visit our daughter.  There are no roads to get to this ranch. 

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After snow covered mountains, breathtaking scenery and flying through cloud banks, we landed on a grass strip on the edge of a river in a valley surrounded by mountains.  We spent 5 days there with our daughter and every moment was wonderful.

Having made friends with the managers at the ranch while we visited and telling them how impressed we were with the place they offered us JOBS!  I’m not talking Fortune 500 employment or pay, it was a modest but fair offer for seasonal employment in an amazing location.

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The wife and I considered it.  We wanted to say yes but our life was such that we had too many obligations and stuff to manage.  Besides, our retirement savings were not set up for us to take pay cuts and run away at this point in our lives.  After a day of deliberation, we had to decline the offer.

I was crushed to pass on such an amazing life experience and opportunity.  

We vowed that we would structure our lives in such a way to never have to pass on living a dream again.  But how?

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We analyzed our priorities and found that experiences, not “things” were what made us happy.  Both of us are in our 40’s and in good health but we are aware that doesn’t last forever.  If we are planning to live life chasing experiences It will probably be more fun to do it in strong healthy bodies rather than in our bodies 15 years from now.

We also recognized that we don’t want to HAVE to work until we die.  How can we build a nest egg or parachute to ensure we could live our later years with comfort and dignity?  The stock market scared us.  Small business is an option but not much of a sure thing. Our solution was to invest all of our cash savings and disposable income into rental real estate.

I had a friend who was very successful in business and invested in residential rental properties.  He introduced me to the key concepts and how it worked.  I read books, listened to podcasts and scoured the web for practical information.  Over the course of the next 12-months we purchased and renovated 3 properties and put renters into them.  It damn near killed us but we made it happen.  We wanted it that bad!

Our nest egg now consisted of 4 properties (3 rentals plus our home), a partial pension from my job (starting at age 55) and a 401K from 17 years at my wife’s job.   We had no consumer debt and our incomes far exceeded our monthly expenses.  Our options increased dramatically.

Exploring our options we asked…..how much is enough?  We were working jobs we no longer found fulfilling just to make more money. To what end?  Our parachute was in place.  Now it was time to do what we wanted!  

Then the crazy idea came.  What if we convert the house we live in to a rental and move into an RV?  WE could live locally for a while, get our bearings and then hit the road. We could stop and work seasonally to cover expenses and then move on to another adventure.  The boss said she wants to sell ice cream, I want to be a whitewater river guide.  Let’s do it!

And here we are.  We sold 98% of our possessions, rented out the house we built 18 years ago and raised our kids in, bought an RV and a truck to tow it.  Currently we are living in a campground and saving every penny we can to build a cash emergency fund for the road.

Our life now is simpler and significantly more interesting.  Our current big challenges are, figuring out the nuances of living in an RV and figuring out where we are going when we hook up our home on wheels and hit the road.

We intend to hit our savings goal in Early 2017.  

When that number is reached we will hook up and pull out of Florida.  The plan is to point the truck West.  I’m not yet sure of the destination but i’m looking forward to the journey.  We aren’t sure what will happen but we are certain that it will not be ordinary.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay tuned for updates!  

Please let us know you thoughts in the comment section below!

This is Why

This is Why

Who would sell all of their belongings and move into an RV on purpose?   WHY?

I found this Theodore Roosevelt quote on a sign at the docks at “Bud and Mary’s”  in Islamorada (Florida Keys).  After a bit of research I found that it came from a speech he given in Chicago on April 10 1899. (the full excerpt from the speech is at the bottom of the post)

Bud and Mary’s is a marina that houses a large charter fishing fleet.  Bordered by turquoise waters, and palm trees it is located on a cut between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic ocean.

This sign seems appropriate in a place where men and women are living very full lives and pursuing their passions.  The hard working / hard playing folks at the docks who cater to the tourists are living the vacation that other people save up all year to experience.

 

It may not bring financial riches but having met many of these folks, it is quite obvious that the majority of them live fulfilled lives of adventure and share their passion with those they come in contact with.

Is this statement overly romantic?  

Maybe.

Is it possible that these folks are grinding out a living and just getting by?  Maybe.

How many of these people are there because they chased a dream?  I will venture to say a good many of them.

These folks smile and laugh more than most people I know.  Their language is colorful and they walk and talk with enthusiasm.

These men and women live passionate lives.  

I want to do the same.

My wife and I have spent the last 20 years raising our 2 kids.  They were our priority.  Providing for them was our goal in life.  A safe home, stability, food on the table, enjoyable experiences and teachable moments.  We took the road most traveled, we got jobs, built a house and worked day to day looking forward to the weekends and vacations.  The wife and I have no complaints, it was a fun 20 years and our children grew into healthy and happy adults who will add value to this world.

Now what?

We have decided that it’s time to get outside of our comfort zone and go take chances on living a life that will create great stories and memories worth sharing.  It’s time to dare mighty things.

 

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.”

Overly dramatic again?……maybe.  But we are going for it nonetheless.

Is moving into an RV in our mid 40’s and traveling the US working seasonal employment daring?  Maybe not by Mr Roosevelt’s definition but I think we are entering “the arena”.

What will we discover?

Who will we meet?

What will we get good at through necessity?

What lessons will we learn as a result of trying?

What doors will open as a result of us just showing up?

How will he handle the adversities?

These are all unknown but we welcome the process of finding out.

Win or lose, intelligent or folly we are going for it.  We have done the planning, put the pieces in place and welcome the challenges ahead.

That is why.

Please let us know you thoughts in the comment section below!

We bought an RV

We bought an RV

Video tour of the “New House” on purchase day

And the adventure begins

This was a pretty crazy day for the boss and I.  

We were committed to moving into an RV but had no idea it would happen this quick. The story of how we decided to make this purchase is posted below the video.   Events before and after the purchase can be found in our Jounal.

 

This is the account of us buying our RV as recorded in our journal…

6/22/2016  The Plot Thickens

Yesterday the Boss and I sat down to figure out some of financial goals.  We figured out out emergency funds goals for our invest properties and What we wanted on hand for emergency cash.  We also figured out our expected monthly travel budget!   The numbers are estimates based on our current cost of living but I believe we are pretty accurate knowing our spending habits.  

The big unknown is HEALTH INSURANCE…..this will be the next hurdle.

Today we spend the day driving central Florida looking at RV’s.  WE started last night on craigslist and a few RV sales sites and there are sooo many options we set out to educate ourselves a bit.

We managed to decide on what we want and don’t want, approximate size to meet our needs and have an idea what we will need to spend.  Too are lots of options, brands, and configurations.  Decisions need to be made.

6/25/2016

Sitting at home in the early afternoon today, engaged in the same conversation as usual (working out details of our escape)  the boss stated that if living in an RV for the last months here in Florida would shorten our time until freedom she was in.

We worked out the math and found that if we put a renter into our primary residence and moved into our camper we could increase our savings rate by $570 a month.  In 9 months that +5130 extra = over 2  months on the road worth of emergency fund!  It will require we find a place to park with utilities for $650 a month.

I was surprised as hell by her ambition and at the same time a bit frightened that the reality of it happening was in front of me.

Looking around at RV’s (specifically 5th wheels) the other day we ran into a very impressive deal.  A 31’ fifth wheel in like new condition for 5k under retail price.  It met all of our needs and the boss found it very comfortable. Long story short we agreed to return and take a look at it, arrived, made a lowball offer and THE DEALER ACCEPTED THE OFFER!

We now own a 5th wheel camper.  We don’t have a truck to pull it yet but we own a camper!

The dealer agreed to deliver it when we were ready so now we need a place to put it.

This week will be “find a place to put our new home” week.  More to come soon!

Add-on (written 7/17/2016)

While reading back through my journal I realized that this short paragraph stating we found an RV and then bought it sounds a bit rash (it was a bit rash, but none the less) The longer version of the story is as follows:

The boss and I had no idea of what we were looking for in a camper/new home with wheels.  Our search started with local used RV lots.  We looked at:

  1. Pop-ups and small tow-behinds (way to small and no bathrooms)  –I have to admit I liked the prices and the idea of towing behind a smaller vehicle!
  2. Small motor coaches (Class C).  Although they had bathrooms (sort of) the boss and I decided that the space was a bit too intimate.
  3. WE RULED OUT Class B and C coaches.  WE didn’t like the idea that if our vehicle broke down our house would be in the shop as well.  The prices of these units were a bit intimidating as well.
  4. Larger tow-behind campers were nice but the small roofs and low ground clearance were turnoffs.  (I am 6’4”)
  5. WE DISCOVERED 5th-Wheels!

What drew us to fifth wheels was:  1)  Bang for the buck! (ignoring the price of the truck to pull it)  2)  The ceiling height!  What a spacious living space (if you can consider 300ft spacious) 3) The bathrooms and bedrooms would fit the needs of a large adult and his mate.

Once we discovered that we were shopping for a fifth wheel we focused our search.  The boss wanted comfort, storage and utility.  My focus was a bed that would fit me, a size that would be manageable to tow and park and a price tag that would allow us to purchase without debt!

We found it a bit too quickly as mentioned above.  Great price, met all of our needs and the deal was closed.

The purchase was as follows.  I called the salesman a day after showing us the rig asking him to explain why the price was $6000 under any price I could find online by any other seller.  His reply appeared honest (I am distrustful of salesmen) when he said they got a good deal on it through trade-in and they just wanted to move it off the lot.  He suggested that if I was interested I come in and make an offer.

Our intention was to remain debt-free through this process so we were hesitant to go back and make the offer on something we did not have the cash for.  We debated dipping into our cash reserve and making a low-ball offer and then financing the balance with the intent of paying it off in full before hitting the road.  That was our plan.

We arrived at the dealership and made an offer.  We told the salesman we would pay the sticker price “Out the Door”  after tax, title, license.  Our salesman took the offer into his manager’s office (the typical sales maneuver), then returned and congratulated us on the purchase of our new 5th wheel.  We in-house financed the balance for a ridiculously long  term with an insignificant monthly payment.  

We intend to pay the balance in full within the next few months.

Its pretty frightening how simple it is to purchase a RV!

That’s it! We own a 2006, 31′ Chaparral by Coachman.  NOW WHAT?

Did I mention we dont have a truck to pull it yet?

Stay tuned for updates!

Please let us know you thoughts in the comment section below!