A storm was coming. The weather people were promising a big one. It was December of 2006 and we had planned to spend Christmas in California, followed by the winter in Arizona. We already pretty much knew we would be going fulltime in our 2004 Fleetwood Bounder motor home, just not all the details of how and when we were going to make that transition. But meanwhile, we had signed up for the Good Sam Club’s annual Rose Parade Samboree in Pasadena, and my sister and brother in law also had signed up.
With the storm coming, we decided to try and beat it, so we left Colorado Springs a day earlier than originally planned, packed up the motor home, closed up the house, and hit the road on December 17, 2006, one day ahead of a massive storm that ended up causing Denver International Airport to close down for the first time. We beat the 3 feet of snow that hit Albuquerque the day after we drove through there.
We made it to Arizona in early January. We settled in to our RV site at the Meridian RV park in Apache Junction and planned our official launch to a life as full time RVers as we floated around in the heated swimming pool there. In March of 2007, we made our way back to Colorado Springs and parked the motor home next to our house. We never moved back into the house, however, choosing instead to live in the motor home parked next to it while we readied the house for sale. Once it was on the market, it sold to the first person who looked at the first morning it was listed.
So, what have we done, what have we learned, what would we do differently, and what are our future plans, now that we’re celebrating our 3rd anniversary as full timers?
We’ve never had a formal plan to our travels, choosing instead to take things as they come. Some people have a goal to visit all of our national parks, or to visit each state, or any number of objectives for their travel. We want to see and experience things as we learn about fascinating places and people to see. In our travels, we’ve visited 30 states, 28 of those in our new, 2008 Tiffin Phaeton, which we purchased in March of ‘08. We’ve made more friends than we ever dreamed we would, thanks to the wonder of the internet and blogging. That’s something we really didn’t expect, but are extremely happy about. As a result of some of our new friendships, we took a nearly spontaneous trip to Mexico early in 2008 with two other couples. We’ve spent many months traveling with other people, and some on our own too.
We’ve learned a lot about the various cultures within this amazing country. We love and appreciate each different area and culture for different reasons. The South is amazing, it’s people so open and friendly and welcoming! The West, with it’s wide open spaces and endless sky, provide a rugged individualistic perspective to life. The culture is definitely different from the South, but still the people we’ve met have been friendly and helpful.
We’ve learned to be a lot more relaxed in our approach to traveling, and we no longer have a tendency to panic at the least problem or challenge we encounter. We’ve learned to slow down and really take one day at a time. We have learned to be flexible. In our working days, our travel time was always pretty limited to a week or two of vacation, so we always wanted to drive as far as we could each day to make the most of our time once we got to our destination. Now, we can decide how slow or how fast we want to travel. We don’t have a rule about how far or how fast, it just depends.
The most important thing we’ve learned is to cherish every day, every experience. We know that life can and does change in an instant, so each moment of each day it’s so important to live to the fullest. The other most important thing we’ve learned is to appreciate our friends and our family. This lifestyle provides us an incredible opportunity to connect and reconnect with people who are precious to us. The flip side of that is we are not always within easy distance from those we love, and we often find ourselves missing them!
What would we do differently? I’m not sure there’s anything we would do differently. Sure, some things have been a little uncomfortable, like being in a chilly area at Christmas time, but if we’d done that differently, we wouldn’t have had the experiences we did. We might have stayed a little late in Oregon this year, but then again, we saw the most incredible and amazing waves during a late fall storm. So, to say that we would do anything differently seems to me to take away from the beauty and joy of what we have done.
Now, what are our plans for the future? We plan to continue to take things a day at a time, cherish each experience as it happens and keep on keeping on. Right now, our plan is to sit tight while Jim heals from his dental work. Once we’ve got the all clear from his dentist, we may still head to Arizona for whatever is left of the winter. We still hope to connect with friends and family there. As to plans for Spring, Summer, or beyond, that’s anyone’s guess at this point. We will, of course, be spending some time in Colorado Springs with family and friends there. We’ll get our usual medical matters taken care of at that time, and then be on our way, to – well, wherever!