Sunday, September 6, 2015

In the beginning (and why we want to travel in retirement)

Many years ago, my family joined several others in a group vacation to Unicoi State Park in Helen, GA.  Five families made the trip, and we reserved all of our camp sites so that we would be together.  Two of the families brought tents, but the remaining three didn’t want to “rough it” as much and so we rented pop-up campers to pull behind our cars.

We had a great time that summer at Unicoi.  Hiking, running in the fields with the kids, chasing lightning bugs, and just hanging around a campfire and singing were things we did just about every day.  Each evening as we walked down the hill to the showers, I remember passing a few sites that had motorhomes.  You could see through the windows that they had TVs, and the sounds of their rooftop air conditioners made us jealous as we returned to our tents and open-air pop-ups. 

That was the first time I had seen RVs in a campground, and was certainly the first time I had seen any of them “up close” where you could get a real sense of everything they offered.  How nice it must be to enjoy the outdoors all day, but retreat into a comfortable house on wheels whenever you wanted to.  It was like being home and being on vacation at the same time!

A few years later, we were talking about a vacation in North Carolina and I mentioned that it would probably be fun to do it in an RV.  My parents, sister and her small family, and my wife and children (11 of us) piled into a 24 foot Class C motorhome and hit the road.  It was fun, but it was crowded.

That wasn’t enough though.  We took most of our vacations without an RV, but I could never forget how much fun it was to travel and use a motorhome.  Quite a few years and another marriage after that first experience, our family rented a 29' Class C for a weekend trip to St. Augustine.  And in later years, rented twice more – each time in a Class A (a 34' Bounder and a 36' Winnebago Adventurer), each one larger than the one before it.

A long time passed between that last rental and the rekindling of my interest in RVs.  Sometime around 2006, I started thinking about them again after hearing about a large RV show that took place every year in Tampa.  Between 2006 and 2015, my brother-in-law and I went to six shows in Tampa, sometimes dragging our wives along.  In the earlier visits, it was fun to just look at the RVs.  But as time passed, I began to meet RVers and spend time talking to them at the shows.  The lifestyle was intriguing, and the people who lived “the dream” seemed to enjoy it immensely.'

In was around 2010 that we first started talking about traveling more in an RV of our own.  Retirement was about seven years away, but it was fun to talk about all of the things we could do as we traveled around the country – and maybe even Canada and Alaska!

As I have spent the past couple of years thinking about retiring and traveling in an RV, it has made even more sense to me.  I don’t want to sell my big house, move into something smaller, and wake up to the same thing every day.  One porch, one view.  Yes, volunteer work or something could keep us busy, but it would still be basically the same thing day in and day out.  I imagine waking up one morning about six months after retirement and thinking that it is like the movie Groundhog Day:  get up and do what you did yesterday.  Go to bed.  Get up and repeat.
If I’m lucky to live into my seventies and beyond, there will be plenty of time for that.  But while we’re able, it makes sense to travel this great country, see the sights, meet a lot of new people, experience national parks and monuments, see festivals in small towns, eat in unique restaurants and do much more.  It’s exciting to think that we can look out our windows one day and see a lake, but get up a few days later to the woods, a beach, or even a resort campground with planned activities.  Not only are there interesting campgrounds, but there are hundreds of rallies every year where you can camp for a week with people who have similar interests (the lifestyle, type of RV you have, and more).  There are also caravans, where groups of RVers travel together to interesting places for sightseeing and nightly camping with new friends.
Fortunately, my wife wholeheartedly agrees that this is what we should do when we retire.  We plan to travel 6-8 months each year and spend the rest of the time in a home we own in the small town of Brevard in the North Carolina mountains.

With that decision being made, and made “for sure” in 2013, it was time to start getting serious about finding our future home on wheels.  This blog will describe that search, the ordering process, the delivery, and our travels.  It's almost time to leave the rat race and start our Life in the Slow Lane.

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