How long does it take to go from “what if” to “why not?” Our journey from dream to reality started with friends, Dow and Trini Cobb, who sold it all and packed up to travel and explore and see family. We followed them through their Facebook posts and thought it was an awesome idea. “What if,” we said, “we could do that too!” Mark retired from the Air Force in 2014, but it was 2016 when we started thinking seriously about our “2 year escape plan” and we began taking baby steps toward making this RV dream a reality.
Over the course of 2 years Mark followed blogs and vlogs on YouTube channels belonging to others who were living this dream. I started transferring all our family VHS tapes of the kids to DVD and sorting through the boxes of family pictures discarding duplicates and blurry “unknown” images. We donated large bags full of clothes and boxes of household goods to the Vietnam Veterans of America and had garage sales. And STILL there was so much more that we knew we couldn’t carry with us around the country in an RV. The savings account became the “Truck and RV Fund.” We were basically debt free other than our mortgage and every spare dollar went directly into that fund. We messaged Dow and Trini and picked their brains for all the details and any suggestions they had to share with us about starting on this journey.
As we continued planning for a 2018 target date, we went to RV lots and looked at all kinds of options from Class A motor-homes to fifth wheels. The final decision was made to go with a fifth wheel and truck. This set up would allow us to park in a campground, unhook the fifth wheel and drive our truck to go to the beach, sight-see or visit family. But what truck? How big is big enough? Diesel or gas? Dually or SRW (single rear wheel?) Short bed or long bed? After researching all our options, Mark came up with his dream tow vehicle: Ford F350, XLT, Single Rear Wheel, 4×4 Diesel, long bed. NOT the cheapest option but necessary for the towing capacity we needed and if we were going to do this, we knew we had to GO BIG or STAY HOME. In September of 2017 we purchased our 2017 Ford F350 and then went to the Hershey, PA RV show that next weekend! We were one HUGE step closer to making our dream a reality and now we were on a fact finding mission to find our perfect fifth wheel.
The Hershey show was BIG – the biggest RV show in America covering the area of 33 football fields. We attended many seminars on topics like: solar power, Workamping and properly matching your truck to your trailer. We spoke to people who make fifth wheel hitches and got opinions on the best hitch to put in our new truck. We went there looking for a fifth wheel floor plan that was around 35 feet long, had a rear kitchen and that had at least 2,000 pounds Cargo Carrying Capacity. What we discovered is that there aren’t many rear kitchen fifth wheels out there. We also realized that the rear kitchen set up would make it impossible to get to the fridge when the slides are pulled in. This would be inconvenient if we stopped while travelling to grab something to eat from the trailer. We scrapped the “rear kitchen” idea. Now we were looking for a floor plan with easy access to fridge while travelling AND the 2000 pound CCC (cargo carrying capacity.) We thought we needed a king size bed but then realized queen is the same length and we actually were very comfortable sleeping on our queen sized Aerobed for a couple of months after we got rid of our king size select comfort at the house. Closet space was important to us also and we wanted the option of adding a compact washer/dryer. We had our checklist with us as we looked at the show and then later on-line. I made a spreadsheet comparing the must-have items in each possibility. Every time we thought we found the perfect match, it was SOLD by the time we could get to see it or it had some major problem that we would have to invest in to make it livable. This was disappointing, but we knew our perfect new home on wheels was out there somewhere.
As we continued to downsize, we also made an appointment to speak to our friends at Castle Key Realty, Jim and Karen Beall in December 2017. They were our realtors when we purchased our home in 2004. The week that we were to meet with them, we found our RV – on-line- located in Shoemakersville, PA at Tom Schaeffer’s RV Superstore. It was a used 2016, Grand Design Reflection. It was 35.5 feet long had washer/dryer hook ups and easy access to the fridge when slides where pulled in. All the on-line pictures looked awesome. I emailed Tom Schaeffer’s RV Sales where it was located and asked several questions. We plugged all the specs into my spreadsheet and it looked great – the numbers looked great, the pictures looked great – Mark and I agreed, this was the ONE. We asked Tom Schaeffer’s if we could put a down payment on it for them to hold it for us till we could get there in January. They did and we were one more step closer to making our dream reality!
We brought “Old Glory” home mid-January 2018 and parked her in our driveway. We worked toward putting our house on the market March 1. On March 1 we moved “Old Glory” to Ft. Meade family camp and lived there while the house was being shown. Thanks to the Bealls we had multiple offers and they sold the house for us so that we were able to close April 11, 2018 and we became official RV Nomads! We quit our jobs in June and took off in our RV July 1, 2018… this blog is the record of our travels and experiences. Follow along as we live, learn, work and play while traveling the U.S. and Canada!