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Monday, September 7, 2020

Reflections of the RV life

Cullman,   AL

As I sit here reflecting on our 7 years on the road, I am wondering about folks like us that lived their dream of traveling the country in an RV and are now settled down to a house or apartment.    Many of those people we met starting in 2010 have settled down in the last couple of years.

Our story:     We purchased a used 1988 motorhome back in 2005.  We did this to see if we would really enjoy vacations "camping".   One of the first places we traveled to was  Charlottesville VA.   We met a delightful couple ( Ursula and Carl) who were work camping there and living in their fifth wheel trailer.   We had never heard of people who actually lived in an RV.  We were horrified and went away laughing and shaking our heads.      Their story got me thinking.  And researching.

I was told to follow a couple who had a "blog" called RV-Dreams.  I had no idea what a blog was at that time.   It was 2006, remember.    I was intrigued.

We decided if we were to camp more often we would buy a fifthwheel trailer.  Our first was a 2002 Cedar Creek that we bought used in 2007.    By 2009 we had decided that when we retired within the next year we would travel fulltime.    We sold our house and property to my daughter and husband.

We moved into the Cedar Creek at a small nearby year round RV park.   Then came winter.   The winds whipped through the rig.   We practically froze.   We needed something better insulated.

So, came our 2009 Montana.

We loved that Montana.   Warm, cozy, nothing ever broke.   Wish we realized what a gem we had.  We traveled the country.   We started our full time life on the road and volunteering as a Nomad.   NOMADSUMC.ORG

But time moved on.   In 2014 we were parked at our daughters house in NJ.  We were bored.  Let's go LOOK at RVs.   Not buying.  Definitely not buying.

Moving from Montana to 2014 Cedar Creek

There were definite improvements.   Self leveling jacks.   Much larger bedroom closet and a residential fridge with ice maker.   Luxury.    Now the cons:     It set an inch and half unlevel.   Tires were getting ate up.  We talked to the manufacturer.  They told us to move things around.   WHAT????  Perhaps all the cabinets, the stove, the fridge, the water heater, the entertainment unit??  Had they never been in an RV?  Didn't they design this one?   We ended up changing out the axles at a cost of over $5,000.

Two years later we decided to look again.  We thought we found the perfect unit.  We loved the floor plan.   So much room.

The living area provided privacy when we had guests by closing the doors.   The storage was unbelievable.   There was a TV in the living room, over the fridge in the kitchen and the bedroom.  There were sofa beds in living room and kitchen.  That island is on wheels so we moved it to an open wall by the door giving so much more kitchen space.

Trading in the Cedar Creek for the Open Range.

We were in heaven.   For a while.  Then heaven turned to hell.

On three occasions a spring hanger broke, the first time shredding two tires.

A crack appeared on the slide near the bedroom window.   It was taken to the shop 3 times and "repaired" only to crack again.

The refrigerator was to run off the inverter when not plugged into shore power.  Sometimes it did, often it did not.

Finally the last straw.   The floor rotten out from the dining area and progressed into the living room.

Highland Ridge came to an Alabama dealer and picked up to rig in November 2017 to perform the repairs.    We had to pick it up and inspect the rig.   Finally in March of 2018 when the weather broke we drove up to Indiana.    We were thrilled.   It looked beautiful.  They even fixed damage we had done to it when Leonard backed up into our carport.   The thrill was short lived.

We drove 200 miles and were in Indianapolis when a SPRING HANGER BROKE.   We called Highland Ridge.  They sent out mechanics the next day.  Yeah one had broke and we were told another one was about to break.     The hangers were fixed and we held our breath all the way to the dealer in Alabama and traded the beautiful Open Range for a travel trailer. 

We were no longer fulltimers having bought our home in December 2016.   We just wanted an RV for vacations and short trips.

Comfortable but no self leveling jacks, no counter space, no huge closets, no residential fridge.  But it was suitable for how we planned to use it.   It had a  nice bunk room which our granddaughters loved.   On one side were the bunks and the other side had a sofa which could be folded out and another bunk bed overhead that was folded up when not needed.  Also a TV.   And the unit had an outside kitchen with small fridge, microwave and two burner stove and good amount of storage.

We traveled a few times in it before it became evident that we could no longer RV and a better option would be to get a car.   We only had the F350 dually.  The addition of a small car would be nice.  No, we did not get rid of the truck.   We sold the trailer and got a Ford Escape. 

Our decision was really made for us.   Len has both heart and lung disease and two torn shoulders.  He can no longer easily set up and tear down the RV.   It was time.

Do we miss it?   Sometimes.   Are we sorry we spent our time on the road?  No way.   But our greatest regret is not keeping the Montana.   Looking back we could have changed out the RV fridge to a residential and had self leveling jacks installed.   And have a unit that we could depend on.  And lots more money in investments.    Can't look back, only forward.

Our RVing friends, what is your story?

Until next time.


  1. Oh, the memories. We talked the other day how we miss the travel, or the sights, not necessarily the travel part.

  2. We were luckier than you in that we stuck with our first fifth wheel and we never had any major structural issues with it. However the repairs we did have were costlier than we expected. We ended up not being able to really travel as we had envisioned. As you know, we ended up buying a small place in Florida and we have been really happy that we did that. We sold our rv and truck about a year ago now, and, while we don't regret our years on the road, we haven't missed fulltiming at all. We still want to get back to rv'ing part time in a few years, but we are looking much smaller this time. We plan to do a small travel trailer, maybe 20 to 25 ft, that we can pull with a car. We aren't even planning to get a slide this time. We figure less mechanics, less that can break. haha We'll see how that works out. But at the very least, the cost will be a lot less so hopefully we will be able to enjoy getting out and seeing the sights that we weren't able to get to on our first go around.

  3. I remember all your travels as I followed you from the begining. You did so many wonderful things through your Nomad travels and summer jobs. You have been to many wonderful places.

  4. We had such adventures in our 7 years as full-timers, the majority of that time working as an on-site security team. Our years in NJ were truly some of the best of my life, and we both agree the time there was the highlight of our RV years. Part of that was having you and Len as guests at the site. Sold our Montana 5th-wheel in early 2017, and relocated to a 55+ community in northern MN. Traded our beloved F-350 for a Ford Edge shortly on arrival. Enjoy having those memories but we are grateful for the way our "escape plan" worked out, and that we landed in a comfortable environment. Yep, even with the Winters up here! Grateful too, Phyllis, for our continuing friendship over the years.

  5. Great synopsis! I started out as a solo 60 year old in a Class C pulling a small utility trailer for my motorcycle. Six months in, I sold the trailer & bike and bought a car. Three months after that I met my now husband who was also widowed and pulling a 42' toy hauler 5th wheel with his medium-duty Freightliner, Harley trike in the back. A year later I sold my Class C and that's pretty much been it until 2013-2015 when we lived in Ecuador for two years, storing our rig the 5 acres where we had planned to build a cabin. Fast forward to 2017 and we bought our current home and added a HUGE pole barn for hubby's hobbies. Our RV is stored inside and we plan to snowbird for a couple more winters.

  6. When we get our Trailer back from the factory we plan on doing more traveling. Don't know if we'll return to Fulltiming yet. The sooner this Virus is history the better for all of us.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.