We move frequently, by frequently I mean on average about every four days. This means we spend quite a bit of time looking for a new home (aka campsites). Before we started this adventure we did a lot of research about many aspects of traveling full time in an RV. We even did a mock up of what a month of travel might look like to give us an idea of the cost. Not having traveled in an RV before, however; we didn’t really know what to look for in a campsite (price was our main concern during research phase). When you find yourself constantly in unfamiliar territory it is difficult to know what an area will be like. After having stayed in many different campsites in many different states we have a much better idea of what to look for and how to find a site that suits our needs.
Traveling across the country a couple of times gives you perspective. America is made up of individual states and each state has it’s own style and idiosyncrasies. Although there are tons of similarities and people are basically the same whether you are in Washington of Florida, there are lots of differences. As we travel around this big country we have noticed these five things are drastically and can be hard for a full time traveler to deal with. If you are thinking of full timing and want to know what you might encounter, then this blog might help you. Just remember there are tons of things that stay the same (we will go over some of those on another blog post).
I think sometimes people wonder what we do for entertainment since we don’t watch television. We do watch some television shows and have several DVD sets that we put on and watch every few nights. Both Sarah and I are big movie buffs and have watched many a movie over the years, though now we only have a few movies with us. I don’t mind watching t.v. shows on DVD though since there are no commercials.
Being a gamer made me think the game situation was critical to our plans to go on an adventure. We brought along board games that replay over and over well. Plus I brought along some of my card games, which we play pretty often. I went ahead and brought two of the board games that we developed (Zoning and Ancient Tactics) and I still get a kick out of playing them even though we have played them hundreds of times. The kids have brought along several kids games too and we occasionally have a family game night. I think it is good for math and social skills for kids to play board games. If I couldn’t have brought some games along I don’t think I would have set out on this adventure.
Here is Journey in single take format with no rehearsal giving you a tour of our home.
After spending five days driving across the country we finally arrived in Ohio and were ready to pick up our new home. We were trying to be early to the walk through, but google maps sent us the wrong way. There was a moment of doubt on my part when we pulled up in front of a house instead of an RV service business. It raced through my mind, did we just get scammed by someone? Then I looked over everything again and realized that google maps had sent us to the north portion of the street instead of the south portion. We turned around and drove to the south side and there was the RV service business where we were to pick up the travel trailer!
The walk through was very thorough, but a lot to take in. We had a check list written down to make sure we had all our questions answered, however; in the excitement of seeing our new trailer we left it in the car. We had been in Rockwood’s before and had seen our unit online, but here we were in our actual travel trailer. Of course everything looks so new and clean, but we know that won’t last. We became acquainted with the travel trailer and then had to set up the hitch.
The hitch we purchased wasn’t too difficult to set up, but it did take a while to set up and it wasn’t what I pictured in my mind. I thought it would be level and I would have the proper tools in hand to make a quick easy job of it, but life doesn’t always work out the way you want. We were on a slight slope, it was raining out, and I didn’t have the proper tools in hand. We were supposed to stop at a store on the way to get the exact tools, but that didn’t happen. The shop guys helped out a little though and we made it work. We hooked up the hitch, bought the necessities to camp for the first night (sewer hose, surge protector, chemicals, toilet paper, water regulator and hose), and then we were off!
We were intending to camp right near where we purchased the travel trailer for the first few nights, but a storm system came in. We decided to head north a few hours to get out of its way, which gave me a chance to tow for the first time. When you get your new travel trailer, no one tells you a single thing about towing. Luckily I had researched online and already knew a little about it. The biggest problem I had with my first tow was my own fault, I didn’t mount the electronic brake controller for some strange reason and it had to sit on my knee. It made it much more difficult to tow, but we made it work. Towing a 29’ travel trailer is tricky, but the Armada did a good job of it. It is a little scary when you cross a bridge and the cross winds hit the trailer and there is a moment when it seems like disaster. But then you just squeeze the electronic brake a smidge and everything settles down and becomes manageable again. I wasn’t looking forward to backing into the first camp site, but I lucked out, and the first one was a pull through.
After spending several nights’ tent camping, the first time setting up camp with the travel trailer was a breeze! The site was almost all the way level, the connections were conveniently placed and everything on the travel trailer is electric making it super easy. Then we had to move into the travel trailer and unload the car. Everyone was happy to have a little space and now when we take the car somewhere stuff doesn’t fall out when you open the doors! Now where to next!?
I thought I would share a little with you about the adventure we had in getting to our new home. It turned out we could not get the travel trailer we preferred locally. They just did not have the floor plan, the brand, or the price we desired anywhere nearby, so we started to expand our search as the sale of our home grew nearer. To get exactly the one we wanted at a price we could live with we had to begin our journey by traveling to Ohio (without a home).
There had been a miscommunication with the power company about the disconnecting of our power, because they did it a day earlier than we had wanted them to, so we left the house a day earlier than we had originally intended. Luckily we had some really great friends that got us a room at the Silverland Hotel in Virginia City where we spent a great first night without a home, but with an indoor swimming pool. Our second night was spent with my Grandma which was also great. We got to spend some time with her and my Uncle before we left town. This is when the adventure really began.
We knew that we wanted to get to Ohio as soon as possible to get our travel trailer and start this new chapter of our lives. The destination was the easy part the getting there was slightly more challenging. We only made one reservation at a campground in Peoria Illinois, this was done because it was a holiday weekend and we knew campgrounds would be busy. Other than that we really had only planned out how far we wanted to try to make it each day and looked at a few places we might possibly eat during our travels. Our first destination was Salt Lake City, however; we didn’t quite make it. We drove as far as we could that first day, it was getting late, so we just pulled off the road, and set up the tent. The camping was free but nothing really ever is. The railroad tracks were so close that it shook the ground all three times it went by that night, the kids slept right on through, but obviously the adults were not so fortunate. We woke up in the morning basically in the middle of nowhere, packed up the tent and found a scorpion right under our tent! We got back on the road.
Our next day was another long one. We made it all the way to Cheyenne, Wyoming where we encountered rain, something us Nevadans are not very accustomed to. We had planned to camp all along the way to Ohio, but rain we had not planned on. So regardless to say we did not camp in Wyoming, and we almost didn’t get a hotel room either. We pulled into a rest stop/tourist information center (which was actually really cool and the kids were already asking to go back) to try to get some coupons and stuff for hotels in the area. When my husband started to look online for rooms they were all booked and I literally think he got us the last available room in the whole town. When we arrived the receptionist was on the phone to the online booking people telling them to stop letting people book rooms because they were full. It was really fortunate we got the room though because we were both very tired from the lack of sleep our previous night and from driving all that day.
In Nebraska we stopped off in Lincoln to eat and pick up a few supplies, but drove straight on into Iowa. There we got a really nice campsite near a river. The kids found an injured hummingbird that couldn’t fly and it kept their interest for quite some time. It had been raining still, and we were worried we wouldn’t be able to camp again, but luckily it let up just long enough for us to. Unfortunately, the rain made a campfire a lost cause although we did try. The kids were pretty disappointed. We made it up to them though by taking them to the park for a little while the next morning and it was pretty awesome because it had a merry go round! Now back in the car we go.
Peoria Illinois, was our next stop. It was nice to know we had a specific destination this time, but the rain followed us all the way. It barely let up for us to camp here, and it was cold and drizzly. They were going to shoot off fireworks across the Illinois river and we would be able to see them from the camp, but some people weren’t sure it was going to happen the weather was so bad. But luck was with us and we saw fireworks (even though it was the 3rd not the 4th) on the Illinois river. It was pretty cool because they were shooting them off from all over so we could see them all along the river. We had intended to stay at this site another night because they were having another firework display on the 4th, but the people at the travel trailer place had scheduled us for our pick up at 10:30 AM on the 5th, and not wanting to have to leave camp at 3 Am to get there on time we decided to try to get a little closer to our destination. Another day of driving.
When we looked at the map, after leaving Peoria, we thought we would make it to the border of Indiana and Ohio somewhere. We stopped in Indianapolis got gas, parked outside of McDonalds to tap into WiFi and decided we would just go all the way into Ohio, and ended up about half an hour from our new home. We stayed in a hotel room that was so awful we couldn’t wait to get our trailer, not to mention the days and days of seeming endless amounts of driving. We also had our car packed so full that things fell out pretty much any time a door was opened. We were all fairly tired of it by that day. Finally, we got to the lot and saw our new home and it was glorious!
We had decided to go on our adventure, but we still had to sell the house for the right price to make it happen. The first thing we did was have a yard sale to get rid of as much stuff as possible. Everything that didn’t sell was organized into the garage. Continue reading
Well as mentioned before we finally decided to go ahead with our plan to travel the country. The next step for us was research, research, research! First we had to figure out what sort of living arrangements we would prefer. A good friend of ours had two class A RV’s, so I immediately asked him for advice. He actually recommended against an RV and suggested a travel trailer. He thought the insurance and registration too much, plus you have to tow a vehicle to be able to explore the surrounding area. Our current car couldn’t be towed without a full tow trailer, so I thought his advice sage and we started looking at towables. Continue reading
My family and I are planning to soon embark on a grand adventure. To some our idea would be scary and uncertain, but to us not doing so seems the scarier choice. We bought our home 3 years ago today, and since then it has gone up in value a great deal. So we will sell it. This is when our adventure will begin. The plan: buy a travel trailer and explore the USA.
Experiences. That is what life is really about (to me anyway). What better way to do it than to see the country together as a family. My children are home schooled and I feel that this adventure will give them knowledge, experiences, and an education they could never receive sitting in a classroom or even in our living room. There are many reasons we want to do this, but that is a big one.
There has already been much planning and learning we have put into into this plan. We began to consider this idea when we realized how much money we could take away from the sale of our home. My husband has not been very content with his job for years and I have never loved the area we live in. We don’t hate it but we never loved it either. So why stick around? But there is also the question of where do we go from here? We have not been to many parts of the country, mostly the west coast and a short time in the south, so it is difficult to say for sure where we want to end up. So what better way to decide than to see it all. Our goal is to find somewhere we can really be happy and love living or maybe we like the nomad life so much we just keep going, who knows where life may take us.
The planning of this whole adventure has been important to us, we are not the type to just jump into things. So far we have been researching, researching, researching, and a little more researching! There is a lot to think of before we embark. Of course selling our home has been looked into, buying a new vehicle that can tow a trailer and comfortably fit our family of five, the trailer itself of course has been a major part, how much we might save versus how much it will cost, selling off our stuff, and many other odds and ends as well. The more we plan the better we feel our experience will be, and the more we get excited about this adventure as well.