August 31, 2016

Forge A New Path

"The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences" – Eleanor Roosevelt

Daryl and Mary are a couple that spend their winters in the Phoenix area. Betty and I have lunch with them a few times each season and enjoy their company. We swap RV stories and have a good time together. The last time we shared a meal, Daryl suggested I write a post using the title you see above. The idea has been on a back burner for several months, so I am past due in following up on his idea. After running across Eleanor Roosevelt's quote, I decided now is the time.

Regular readers know I am preparing to leave on a 2 month RV trip in a few days. We will be heading east to see family and add at least seven or eight states to our RV map. There will be an additional benefit: we will miss September, the last month of 100 degree Phoenix weather. When we return it should be in the 70's and perfect for the next 5 months.

The Forge a New Path thought was spurred by several conversations Betty and I have had about the future of our RVing. With over 133,000 miles on the speedometer and being 10 years old, our current rig is starting to show its age. Within the next two years we will have to spend at least $1,200 on six new tires. The refrigerator is probably nearing the end of its life. The water heater, water pump, and furnace aren't really designed to last much more than a decade. And, we spend almost  $2,000 a year to store, register, and insure the motor home. 

The interior wall paper is bland, the cabinets looking worn, the linoleum flooring should be replaced, the shower needs repairs,  the drapes are seriously sun-faded...in short our beloved rolling home is a lot like its owners: aging. So, the question we have been kicking around is do we buy a new RV, commit to an overhaul and redecoration of what we have, or close out the RV chapter of our life.

A newer RV would come with several benefits. The things listed above would not be problems. A slideout or two would give us much more interior room so we don't feel quite so cramped night after night. Some RV parks will not let rigs older than 10 years use their facilities - a stupid rule but a rule nevertheless.

Of course, that comes with a significant outlay. Brand new, the cost would be somewhere between $80-110,000. Gently used, maybe $45-60,000. No matter how we look at those numbers or justify the benefits, both of us question our sanity.

What about fixing, modifying, redecorating, and restoring the Class C we have now? If we did everything on our wish list, the cost would be a more reasonable $6-$7,000 and could be spread over a few years.  I have been told the Ford V-10 engine should easily survive 200,000 miles if I perform the regular maintenance. 

So, what does this have to do with forging a new path? Well, that has been at the center of our conversations: do we want to shake up and redesign the next several years of our life? What do we want to do with our time and money that will make memories based on shared experiences?

Spending much of our summers away from 110 degrees tops the list. Hawaii would probably be our first choice, but with a dog we love, that is not feasible (see the post about moving to Hawaii)  San Diego would be great, but being in a city with all the traffic and expenses seems counterproductive. That leaves us with the Pacific Northwest or maybe northern Michigan or even New England.  

Of course, an RV is not a requirement, though flying won't work because we won't submit Bailey to the cargo hold of an airplane. But, a car, motels, and a long term condo rental at our destination is an obvious alternative. The overall expenses would be higher than using an RV, but not so significantly to nix the idea completely. 

I guess the decision comes down to how committed we are to the RV lifestyle and for how many more years. Buying a new one would make a statement that this is our one and only vacation option for several years. Trips overseas would not be doable. Fixing up our current RV would still allow sufficient room in our budget for a trip back to Europe and Hawaii and a cruise or two.

Then, there is the option of selling the RV and moving in a different direction for vacations and getaways. The past 4 years have been a lot of fun. The experiences with our rolling home have been wonderful. We have brought back memories (and photos) galore. It is a very convenient way to travel with a dog.

There is no overlooking the fact, though, that an RV vacation is really a working vacation. There are meals to cook and clean up after, food shopping, laundry, sweeping, draining our own black and gray water, finding a gas station that is big enough to handle our rig, hooking and unhooking the car we tow behind us......there is work involved. If you have ever been camping you know.

So, we are likely to spend the upcoming trip as a time to reflect on the pros and cons of the RV choice and what we envision for the next 4-6 years. 

Forging a new path.....a great thought...with several choices of the path we want to forge.


RV travel



42 comments:

  1. So happy for you that you have so many options! None of your options are irreversible. There may be some financial consequences, but if your "new path" is not working for you, you can always forge another new path! Enjoy this time together as you travel and reflect on your future.

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    1. I think we will have a clearer picture of our desires after this trip.

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  2. Don't we all go thru these kinds of decisions at this point in our lives? I'm sure you'll make the right one for yourselves. One question, as a non-RVer. Is it really less expensive to travel by RV, compared to car and motels, when you amortize the $100K cost of the rig?

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    1. RV travel is cheaper if: you buy a used rig and keep it for many years, and if you park in one location for a few weeks at a time, thereby reducing the cost of fuel. Otherwise, it is like buying a very expensive car that depreciates 30% the second you leave the lot, gets 7 miles to the gallon, and needs constant maintenance.

      RVing is usually about gathering experiences and not saving money.

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  3. After looking hard at what having an RV and what that kind of travel means, we decided against it for ourselves. This summer we grabbed a very inexpensive flight to Medford,Oregon and rented a car. I found incredible rooms in gorgeous homes, on airbnb, and small motels that kept us on budget.We spent 10 days just roaming the Pacific coast, hiking into waterfalls on scenic trails, and checking out Crater Lake. I keep food costs low, as most days we stopped at a supermarket and packed picnic foods.We did splurge on a few good seafood meals. It's nice to come home and NOT have to worry about the maintenance and upkeep of a whole other vehicle.Ken is less and less inclined, as time goes on, to want to spend time repairing stuff! We will do the same sort of trip to Nashville next Spring,for a family wedding.Finding inexpensive airfares to where we want to go is always the challenge.. Allegiant Air out of Mesa goes to some small towns.. I'm going to explore more of what's out there. .yes! Mixing it up every few years keeps the Soul happy!!!After a lot of younger years of lots of travel,we are also considering keeping the mountain house for getaways, and changing our habits to include more Arizona adventures,hiking more, etc.. with maybe just one road trip per year.. Many things to consider!!
    things to consider!!

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    1. This has been a very expensive year for us, vacation-wise. Betty and I have talked about the car/fly options, but with a dog they are limited. My eldest daughter will watch Bailey for a week or so, but I don't want to put much more of a burden on her family.

      Several years ago, before Bailey, we took a 5,000 mile driving trip. It was fun but we couldn't do it again.

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  4. Doing something for a period of time, enjoying it as you do it, then looking ahead to doing something different is kind of what life is about, don't you think? Personally I much enjoy the process of shedding one skin in order to grow into a new one. It keeps life exciting!

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    1. Is it time to shred the RV skin? My best guess is we keep R.T. (Road Trip) for another year or two but sell it before it needs $1,400 worth of new tires.

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  5. In some ways I believe you and Betty have already decided, Bob. My guess is that you will be ending the RV portion of your life. The reason I say that is just the fact that you are questioning means you guys are probably not 100% committed to that lifestyle, which you really would need to be to justify the financial outlay. Nothing wrong with it at all if that is your decision. We looked at RVing very seriously and chose another direction for our travels, for many of the same reasons you guys are, particularly the financial outlay and ongoing costs for a quickly depreciating asset that made it unreasonable in our minds. But as other commenters have posted, isn't it great to live in a country that allows for it, and have the financial resources available to look at options?

    Travel safe, and we look forward to seeing you guys in our beautiful state of TN. Who knows, you might get some ideas for your future when you come through the South.

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    1. You are probably right about our decision. I have a very hard time seeing an outlay of that size for something that is only used a few months a year.

      Yes, we should be in your neck of the woods in about a month. I will text you as the dates firm up.

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  6. We never seriously considered the RV life. We have done extended road trips, staying in airbnbs (with kitchen facilities so we save $ on food) and occasionally with Evergreen Club hosts. We stay in one place a week or two, then move on. We have used our own car and done fly/drive. It works for us!

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    1. Betty and I played with the thought of fulltime RVing....for about a minute. We like being around family too much, having roots, and being part of a community to ever hit the road all the time. Besides, I don't care how nice the motorhome is, 200-300 square feet is small.

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  7. Wow, tough decisions ahead. Wouldn't it be possible to rent an RV when you want to take a trip? I would think that would give you the flexibility you are looking for.

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    1. Renting is a possibility. We just learned about RV re-positioning. Much like cruise ships, each season RV rental companies have to get their fleet from one part of the country to another. Rental rates drop substantially if you agree to drive from Phoenix to Minneapolis, for example.

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  8. Dogs make a huge difference in our plans but, I wouldn't trade them for a free wheeling lifestyle of any sort. The RV works for those with pets as long as the pets are comfortable spending time alone in the RV. Our dogs would probably not do well with that. But, they've surprised us before. We have a great dog sitter but wouldn't leave them for more than 10 days to 2 wks.
    b

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    1. Bailey is just fine for 5-6 hours alone in the RV, though I worry about the AC failing in the summertime.

      Like you, 10 days is probably our absolute maximum away from her in a kennel situation.

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  9. All paths lead to Oregon. Just sayin....

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  10. We faced a similar "opportunity" and decided to sell our old truck camper and buy a new one. Our travel lifestyle is similar because we don't have a "towed" and don't have bathroom facilities and popping the top and blowing up the air mattress is a 5 minute job. We prefer traveling the northern Rockies and like the agility a truck camper affords. We are now in our late 60s and hope to do our favorite form of travel for the next 10 years.

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  11. Bob, I hope things work out for you to continue RYing. You seem to really enjoy that life style.
    I looked into renting a new Class B Mercedes, at $450 a day we decided against that. I think we'll try driving our car and staying in a motel for starters. Maybe we should look into something from airbnb.

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    1. $450 a day? That would pay for a very nice resort and dinner!

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  12. Bob, an alternative might be a caravan. I think they might be called a travel trailer in the US? These are very popular in Australia with our "grey nomads". The advantage for you might be far less capital up front, lower depreciation and less maintenance i.e. no engine. However, your day to day car would have to have sufficient towing capacity (say 3 ton). This means being happy to drive a large vehicle down the shops every week. You also have to be comfortable towing/reversing.
    Are caravans a popular choice in the States?

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    1. Yes, Paul, they are. Either the travel trailer style or the larger 5th wheel variety give you a lot more bang for the buck. But, they do require a decent-sized truck to tow. Frankly, it is something we have never considered. A truck would probably cost at least $35,000. With the trailer at $15-20,000 we are right back where we started in terms of outlay. But, you have given me something to think about.

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  13. Northern Michigan is beautiful in the summer, but I must say, it's been getting hotter, too. If you ever decide on it, make sure you go far enough north. :-)
    --Hope

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    1. We made it to Menominee a few years ago on our trip to the upper Midwest, but not the U.P. It does look cool and pretty.

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    2. The Upper Peninsula is spectacular! It will continue to be our summer home after we move to Arizona!

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  14. I think you will "know" on your return trip...it will just be evident as you get closer to home what your hearts are telling you is next. I know you mentioned Asheville, NC as a destination and I had recommended getting a map of the waterfalls in the Highlands/Cashiers/Sapphire Valley region. Another suggestion is to go to Bryson City and take the train ride through the Smokies. Bryson City is a quaint little town with tons of shops. If Betty goes to the Lil Blue Boo website she will enjoy Ashley's artistic endeavors and see how her family recently relocated from Palm Springs to Bryson City and her husband set up a shop called Bryson City Outdoors.

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    1. All great info. We will make notes of all of these stops. Thanks!

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  15. I used to do a lot of tent camping, but as I've gotten older, I no longer find that quite as appealing. But one of the things I really valued about camping vacations (besides seeing a lot of great and beautiful places) was being able to cook my own meals. I'm still trying to sort out a vacation strategy that would allow me to do that. I'll be interested in hearing how you and Betty decide to proceed. -Jean

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    1. You can be sure our ultimate decision will be part of future posts!

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  16. A big decision! My parents sold their home, planning a retirement life entirely of traveling around the country with their truck and 27 foot travel trailer. They enjoyed it very much, but, like almost all decisions in life, it wasn't permanent. When it seemed to make them happier to stay put a little more and take shorter trips, they did so. Now that I'm retired myself, I find it interesting how life continues to morph post employment. Fancy that! Oh well, harder to hit a moving target. One thing to think about with the trailer option- some states require a different class of drivers' license to operate a 5th wheel and that license does have some medical qualifications. I'm not sure what the requirements are for motor homes, so you may have already run into this consideration.
    I also write a retirement lifestyle blog at www.terrilabonte.com if you'd like to compare notes.
    Terri

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    1. Yes, to everything there is a season. We will decide if our season has changed after this trip. I will certainly check out your blog, Terri.

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  17. SO many interesting replies..I'm enjoying reading them. We have found out that extended travel exhausts us! We probably don't want to be gone more than 10 days max. Like you and Betty, we enjoy "roots" and community and family.. our current trips include a 3 day jaunt to Sedona,staying in an AWESOME airbnb room in someone's mansion!! Hikes,swimming, and our favorite Indian restaurant,some meditation at airport mesa.. and we love watching planes come in at the Airport restaurant. New Mexico is a great do-able car trip from here.. looking at that. Airbnb rooms make it ultimately affordable.. We loved our Vegas drive a couple of years ago--0I splurge don some show tickets and a few nice meals and we enjoyed the conservatory at Bellagio, the fountains, and the decor in some of the lobbies..we took a bus to downtown to go to the Mob Museum. From Az. there are many many car trips to be had without breaking the bank.This leaves money for splurging on Hawaii and other places once in a while,too! Many options, as all these replies show!And I'll be listening to your experiences with this long trip--

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    1. Options is what makes retirement so satisfying. Not an Airbnb facility, but the B&B we stayed in a few weeks ago in Flagstaff was extra special.

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  18. Great post and comments Bob! We store a travel trailer at Pismo Coast Village in Pismo Beach Ca. It has been a satisfying low cost option for us and we trade the inland heat for our little place on the ocean. Storage fee is only $43 monthly, and when we make reservations they bring the trailer on-site for us. We do all the set-up and teardown but they do provide that service as well for an additional charge. Nightly site rates vary depending on season and prime times. We purchased a lovely two year old 30 foot trailer in like new condition back in 2007 for $12,500 and the enjoyment we have experienced has been priceless. All of the camping experience with no towing! Our children and grandchildren often join us and bring a tent to put on our site or in the case of some, their own trailers.....so many happy memories. We call it our version of a cabin at the ocean with no property tax! Pismo Beach is a central location for exploring...Solvang,Santa Inez,Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo, Los Olivos, Santa Barbara...We never run out of fun places to go on day trips.....but our favorite way to spend time is to walk on the beach,walk to town for casual restaurants serving good seafood, and toasting the spectacular sunsets with a glass of wine :). We feel blessed to have so many different options in our retirement years....We combine "trailer time", with the occasional cruise each year, trips to different areas of the country by plane, and short road trips.....I know you and Betty will have fun writing the next chapter...however you want it to look like :) Helen

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    1. I have not heard of the type of trailer setup and towing service you mention. That does eliminate several of the hassles of travel with a trailer.

      I have yet to visit Solvang. It was on our list during an RV trip last year that was cancelled due to my heart episode. I gather it is touristy but super cute.

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  19. Hi Bob,

    And Mary and I very much enjoy your company! We will get together when we get back from MN -- via RV.

    In the meantime, have a great time on your RV trip. After ten years, we still enjoy our trips, particularly since we travel with Sami the mixed Shih Tzu mutt. She is quite the RVer too. The first time we put her in the RV, she hopped right into the passenger seat and let us know she was ready to go.

    No plans to go full time here, but I always look forward to our annual trip north. We are usually on the road 10-20 days each way, plus we try to get in some short local trips too. Good luck on your decision as you (and we) continue to forge new paths. -- Daryl & Mary

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    1. See you guys for lunch in Mesa later this fall.

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    2. See you guys for lunch in Mesa later this fall.

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