My beautiful wife and I are currently enjoying our second snow-less winter in central Florida. In September of this year we completed our first year as wandering nomads, traveling full time across the US without the ‘security’ of a traditional sticks&bricks house. We sold our home of 38 years in the Denver suburbs on July 3, 2018 and left the area a couple months later on September 1st.
I decided to share some of the details of our first year because a few of you have toyed with the idea of living in an RV full-time and might appreciate a little more info to help you make your decision. Or perhaps you are already living the RV life and enjoy hearing how others do it. Or maybe you would never even consider it and think those of us who do are plum crazy. This then might give you some things to laugh at – ha! Or maybe you just like pretty pictures. Why-ever you’re reading this, I hope you enjoy. And please, feel free to share your thoughts and your own adventures.
In the spring of 2018, just months before our house sold, and after over a year of research, we bought a two-year old Keystone Montana 5th wheel and a new Ford F-350 diesel dually to pull it. We were looking for a large, well-built trailer that we would be comfortable living in for several years and a truck big enough to pull it with a significant margin of safety. So far the combination has served us well.
So in September we left the familiar Colorado Rockies (the mountains, not the baseball team) and began our trek east toward Florida where we planned to spend our first ever snow-less winter. All told for the entire year-long round trip we pulled the 5th wheel 5,456 miles.
Our current travel style includes three important ideas. We hope to winter where it’s warm, summer where it’s cool, and wander back and forth in spring and fall. Second, as we travel we are trying to stay, though not always succeeding, in the 70-80 deg temperature range. And finally, we want to move slowly, driving 4-7 hrs on a midweek day, then usually staying for a week.
Of the 32 stops just over half were government campgrounds (state parks, COE and city) and the rest were commercial campgrounds. We paid a low of $6/night at a COE and a high of $61 at an overpriced “resort”. In terms of hookups we had 19 FHU, 8 water & electric, 4 water only, and only one boondocking site. Our shortest stay was 2 days, our longest 97 days in Florida.
As we moved eastward we discovered the world’s largest Czech egg, several not-so-exciting 7-man high school football games, the Eisenhower Presidential Museum, the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, Helen Keller’s home, a very large, beautifully decorated toilet (yeah, it was cool!), and some wonderfully small hometown after-church-on-Sunday restaurants.
We were part of a very large audience to enjoy three hours of wonderful Gospel music in east Tennessee, we were among about 30 in an intimate setting to hear an excellent two-man band up close and personal in central Florida, and we had dinner at a very cool blues joint partially owned by Morgan Freeman in northern Mississippi.
We kayaked with manatee, alligators and monkeys. And hiked along the Arkansas River in the Colorado high country and on the sandy beaches of western Florida and North Carolina. And especially enjoyed riding bikes with our grandkids into the Florida swamps.
In early spring as we began the trek back west we loved taking a walking tour of Savannah, Georgia. I was fascinated by the architecture, gardens, the gorgeous churches and the history all around us.
We attended the AKC World Dog Show Championship in Orlando, several classic car exibits across the country, the Kennedy Space Center (which was awesome!), the Cave of the Winds in Chattanooga, and perhaps the largest salt&pepper shaker collection in the world in Gatlinburg, TN. And a highlight for me was the opportunity to spend several hours wandering around The Ark Experience in Kentucky.
As in all of life’s journeys circumstances are not always pleasant. On our way back to Colorado we stopped for two weeks in northwest Indiana for my little brother’s funeral. Mick was about eight years younger than I and had fought cancer for three years before the Lord decided that was enough. I miss him, we all miss him. But I like to think that he is on an advanced scouting mission checking out heaven for those of us still here, preparing to give each of us the grand tour when it’s our time. I hope you’ll indulge me just a bit as I pause here briefly to offer up a small memorial to my brother, Mick.
Continuing on … all along our journey we enjoyed looking for the critters God has created. We saw black bear, tiny lizards, big (and little) scary alligators, deer, bison, monkeys, manatees, river otters, frogs, turtles, turkeys, armadillos, donkeys, llamas, and birds of every size and description.
And more …
But perhaps most encouraging, we met some of God’s people. We worshipped with the five remaining faithful in a tiny, worn out eastern Colorado town; a dedicated congregation in a small, crowded church of Mennonites somewhere in Kansas; multiple Baptist churches across the country – small, very large, independent, Southern, and all filled with worshipping saints singing (mostly) the old hymns we love. Along the way we also enjoyed worship with some of our more formal brethren, Presbyterians, Lutherans and Catholics.
A wonderful result of all that is that now on a Sunday morning, no matter where we are, my mind often wanders through cities and small towns, remembering the people and the speakers and the buildings – God’s people in small congregations and large, worshipping the same God, our God, each in their unique, local way.
The past year was not the most important of my life, but it was certainly the most unique. I have always enjoyed seeing and experiencing ‘new’ (hence they call me NewMan!). And this year the Lord allowed us to enjoy ‘new’ in many different ways.
We’re now in the early stages of year two – God willing the adventure will continue!
If you have questions or comments, please feel free. I would also love to hear about your adventures!