Chattahoochee, Florida – November 11, 2022 – written by Jim
If there is one thing that Diana and I are good at, it’s our ability to stay flexible with our plans. Having an RV throughout our married lives has allowed us to move about the country as needed. Our years as full-time RVers has fine tuned that ability. When conditions warrant moving, our wheels have granted us the freedom to do so.
Our original ‘rig’ was actually a three man pup tent that we carried in our diesel Chevette. Our first trip to Maine from Michigan was a two-week jaunt that included a couple meals out and a two-masted schooner ride. Total cost for the trip was a whopping $400, as that car got 51 miles per gallon. There were plenty of PB&J sandwiches out of the cooler on that trip. Nevertheless, we had an amazing time! That laid the foundation for many more trips to Maine, along with other unique destinations through the years. During that time, our lodging has gone from that pup tent, a pop-up, two travel trailers and all the way up to a fifth wheel. We’ve kept that tent the entire time and refer to it as “Plan B”. 😊
We bought our full-timing rig, a used 2007 Colorado, three years before we retired and went on the road. At that time in 2011, we weren’t even sure if that would be our full-time RVing home. When 2014 rolled around, we strapped on the saddle and rode the Colorado off into the sunset.
Along came 2022 and our push to finish our new home in Michigan. Throughout the summer, we lived in that fifth wheel as we worked on the cabin. While we are pretty gentle on our homes, the RV was showing plenty of signs that it was nearing the end of it’s travels. I had plans for new flooring and a few other maintenance issues that had cropped up, so that was put on the back burner for the upcoming summer of 2023. With that in mind, we headed south for our winter base in Melbourne Beach.
Pretty early on in the trip, the rig started resisting. Our converter…the gizmo that keeps our batteries charged…quit. Seeing that our refrigerator ran exclusively off of battery power, that was a big problem! I tried to locate a replacement, to no avail. I knew I could get one from Amazon once we were settled in Florida, so I hooked up a battery charger to the batteries and charged them when we were sitting still for the night. Then, when we pulled into a rest area 30 miles north of Bowling Green, Kentucky, Diana noticed a deep slice in one of our tires on the rig. We limped into our campground in Bowling Green and put on the 9 year old spare. Knowing a new set of Goodyear G614 were going to run us well over a grand, we questioned whether or not we wanted to put a new saddle on our old horse. As luck would have it, Bowling Green, Kentucky is headquarters for Camping World and the Good Sam Club! Off to Camping World we went. Before the sun set on that day, we had an agreement on a new, much more nimble fifth wheel!
Meet our new 2023 Cougar 25RES! Note that I mentioned that it is more nimble. It is 3000 pounds lighter than our old rig and five feet shorter. That’s a welcome change for us, as our previous fifth wheel was a bit tough to get into those cool little roadside attractions we see in our travels. This rig also came with 400 watts of solar on the roof, so that allows us to enjoy some stops away from traditional campgrounds. The challenge for us was related to those fewer 5 feet: we had 5 feet of extra stuff to deal with! Thankfully, my sister let us ship some boxes of clothing to her, plus we donated some things and jettisoned others in the campground dumpsters.
Back to flexibility: We made our way to Melbourne Beach and set up at our winter spot. A few days in, there was an “area of concern” in the Atlantic that was headed our way and was going to bring us some wind and rain. Monday morning, we woke up to find out that disturbance had a name: Nicole! It wasn’t long before Jim Cantore and Mike Seidel from The Weather Channel were spotted in the area and we had a decision to make…stay or go. We decided to retrace our steps and head back to the panhandle for a few days, which is where we are now. Our friends reported that it got pretty wild when Nicole came through, even those who moved inland. By the time the storm got to us in the panhandle, it was just moderate rain and wind. We start heading back tomorrow.
We feel good about our continued flexibility. We are just not ready to hang up the keys on the RVing lifestyle, as there is so much to see and do out there. Our new fifth wheel should give us several years of safe and happy travels, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise. As always, we wish the same for all of you.