Our decision to go full timing was the culmination of several events in our life. Our kids graduated high school and left home, and shortly thereafter we moved to Austin, Texas for employment. As part of the move, we sold our house in Florida and rented a home in Austin. Not long after our move, the employment situation changed, and Jeff ended up with a job that involves working from home. At this point, Candace was already working part-time online and part-time in person. With both of us being mobile, we started to extend our trips a little bit longer. When we went to visit family, our trips went from a week or two to a month or so. We also regularly spent three to four weeks in Florida for part-time contract employment.
We finally decided that buying a house wasn’t right for us and that we would extend our lease….but in many of the discussions, we had talked about how we hated paying rent for a house that we were away from for 3-4 months the previous year. It was at that point that we had an epiphany – we had always discussed traveling the country at some point, why not now? Why not while we were younger and able to enjoy all the active things you can do all over the country? We have a huge country that most people never enjoy, and we love traveling and hiking. The idea took hold, and we were off!
New RV New Adventures
Once we agreed that this was what we wanted to do we went out and bought a 2013 Cedar Creek 36CKTS Custom Fifth Wheel, and a 2017 Ford F350 DRW. Why did we choose these? The short answer is for the room available in the fifth wheel, floor plan, and the towing capacity and reliability of the truck. We bought the fifth wheel used, with many upgrades, and got a huge discount compared to buying new.
The Transition To Working Mobile
Before traveling full time, Jeff worked for a tech company in network security, and he still does that Monday – Friday. I (Candace) am the owner of Beauty of Strength and have transited my health and wellness business into a fully online business. One of the steps that we took while planning out the move to full timing was to experiment with LTE modems and ensure that they provided the needed bandwidth to work online. As long as we have an LTE signal, we can work from the truck, trailer, or under the awning, enjoying the beautiful views that our travels have afforded. Most days, we spend our workday inside at the workstations that we have set up in the RV – complete with multiple monitors, sit to stand desks, and office chairs!
Our Many Amazing Experiences RVing
There have been so many great experiences on the road. In the last few years, we’ve boondocked all over Canada and Alaska, camped in the Redwoods, spent a crazy weekend on Pismo Beach in California, spent Christmas in the Grand Canyon, and New Year’s Eve back in Austin, Texas, where we had snow and ice for New Years!
The Start Of An Amazing Journey
We’ve had a few crazy moments – I’ll share two because they show some of the extremes you experience – the good and the bad.
When we started our journey, we hadn’t found an RV to purchase yet, so we rented a friends RV, a 44-foot Cyclone Toyhauler. Before this, we hadn’t so much as towed a travel trailer. We managed to get it to Austin without any issues, and got moved into it. Downsizing and moving into an RV is a huge job! Not only is it overwhelming at times, but it was work…lots of work. You don’t realize how much “stuff” you have until you’re moving into an RV!
We got it done, cleaned the rental house, and we were all set to hit the road. The morning of our official start to full timing, we headed to the house to check out….and locked our truck keys in the truck! Yep, it had keyless entry, nope, we didn’t know the code. So, we spent three extra hours there waiting for roadside assistance. We finally got on the road, far later than planned. We were headed to Florida and had to stop in Houston to finalize the purchase of our own fifth wheel. As with most things, that took longer than expected, and we finally left Houston in the late evening.
Disaster on Day One!
We had plans to stop at an RV park a couple hours down the road, and finally pulled in around midnight – tired, stressed, and worst of all – in the dark! The place wasn’t well lit, and we were pretty new to all of this. That newness led to a number of mistakes – we didn’t check out the route to the site, and didn’t use a spotter on the way. We found out the hard way that the place used big concrete poles at the corners to keep the RV’s on the road….set just far enough off the road to be out of the light….and the hard way involved hitting not one, but two of the posts – one for each side of the fifth wheel! Yep, that’s how we started our full-time journey!
Stumbling into Adventure
In another not so well planned adventure, we were headed down the coast of California, making things up as we went along. We had just finished a great stay at Six Sigma Winery, as Harvest Host location, and wanted to check out Pismo Beach. We had no other plan than that. We also knew very little about the area, or the craziness that happens there on Labor Day! We got there at about 5:30 PM, not knowing what lay ahead of us. We pulled down the narrow roadway to the beach, say people driving on it, looked at each other and said “What could go wrong, right” ?
We paid our fee and drove onto the beach. We skipped the whole let pressure out of your tires step, cause we were towing a heavy fifth wheel. So, we headed down the beach. There were so many people there, that we had to go over a mile down to find any camping spots. In fact, we went till the beach started to get treacherous, and got stuck…..Truck and fifth wheel on a sandy beach! We managed to get out of that spot, turned around and started to hunt for another spot. In the ensuring hours that followed, we got stuck again, had to unhook to turn around again, and we ended up stuck in our final resting spot – where we spent the night. When we finally left, we had to get a little help from our neighbors.
Would I change a thing about that trip? Nope, it was a great adventured, we ended up having a blast, and it’s left us with memories and laughs forever. Candace got up close and personal with a seal, we drove sand rails in the dunes, and just had a generally great time!
The crazy thing is – we met helpful people every place we had trouble – people that dropped what they were doing and gave a hand, without hesitation. That was the start of a great weekend – everyone was friendly, everyone was having a good time, and once we settled in, we had a blast. I got some great pictures, we hung out with a seal on the beach, rented a dune buggy and rode the dunes – it was a blast! Check out our YouTube channel where we share more of our adventures like this.
Our Adventures In The Coming Year
We started our full-time adventure with the idea of doing a couple years, seeing the country, and settling back down somewhere. We’ve been at it for a year and a half now, and have come to realize a couple things:
– Traveling in an RV takes time. Our first year, we put on over 30k miles – way too many to truly enjoy the trip! I do not recommend it.
– We like the lifestyle!
– We don’t like living in one place!
Really – what other lifestyle allows you to live in Alaska, Seattle, San Diego, and Florida, all in the same year? Not only that but take a vacation down the Oregon Coast, camp on Pismo Beach, hike Joshua Tree, Zion, Coyote Buttes, and spend Christmas in the Grand Canyon? Live on the beach in Florida, the hills of Tennessee, and Lake Michigan? We’ll probably keep at it for at least five more years, and we may never go back to “normal” life!
Unfortunately, we’ve been stationary for a little while and will be hitting the road again as the current crop of craziness in our country lets up. We’ll probably stay in the East of the country until after the holidays, then we’ll head out west. We plan on staying west of the Rockies most of the year and hitting as many of the national parks as possible. At some point, we want to take another trip to Alaska, and sometime in the distant future, we want spend the winter in Key West. That’s the rough plan, but…..well, it’s written in sand, not stone, subject to frequent change, which is why we love the lifestyle!
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