It’s Showtime!

“There is no such thing as a free RV show”. 🙂
Diana Belisle, 2003

We found that out in 2003 when we went to a show that had free admission, only to come home with a 24 foot Sunline travel trailer. :). That didn’t happen this year at the Grand Rapids RV show, but a life-changing accelerated ‘realization’ did happen to us at last year’s event. Last January, we decided to check out the seminars; something we didn’t normally do. There were two separate presenters: Jim DuFresne (travel videos) and Howard and Linda Payne of RV-Dreams. Howard and Linda were giving seminars on fulltime RVing, something they had been doing for nearly 10 years, after dropping out of corporate America in their early forties.

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Copyright 2014, RV-Dreams.com

Up to that point, I had pretty much decided I was going to retire sometime in 2014, but Diana was not sure if she would teach another year beyond June. We had been researching fulltime RVing for years, prior to the show. After listening to the Payne’s seminars, we came away focused that we were going to make a move sooner than later. This lifestyle was not only doable, but was something we felt we needed to do, so as to not miss our chance of being able to roam America in good health. We had seen enough people fall prey to illness, and I myself had survived prostate cancer (5 years…yea!!!) so, by the end of March, I had retired. I immediately began the process of finishing our basement, in order to sell our house.

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Above is the basement bathroom in process.

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Here is the basement bathroom complete.

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Above is the main room of basement in process.

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Here is the main room of basement complete.

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This is the great room with a fresh coat of paint, staged and ready to put on the market.

As we pushed through the purging and renovating, Diana made the decision that she was ready to put an exclamation point on her teaching career. We made the trek to Lansing and filed the necessary paperwork.

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Woo-hoo! That girl is indeed one happy camper!

After Diana’s retirement in July, it was an all out push to have the house listed before Labor Day weekend. We knew the housing market was red hot in Grand Rapids, and we also knew it would slow to a crawl, once school started. We contacted a realtor who got the ball rolling, and the open house was set for the Sunday, August 24. We had three offers the first day, and the buyers accepted our counter offer 44 hours after the agent opened the front door to lookers.

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In mid September, we attended RV-Dreams’ Fall Rally in Goshen, Indiana. The weeklong event focused on educating attendees on everything involved in being a fulltime RVer.

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Copyright 2014, RV-Dreams.com

We met a lot of great people at that rally. In the coming years, we will feature them as we go. Here is a photo of us at sign-up. The woman in the blue shirt is fellow blogger Debbie from Down the Road with Steve and Debbie and the woman in the pink sweater is Jo from This Moment in Time. Jo and her husband Craig hail from Texas, while Steve and Debbie are from California. Check out both of their blogs to see their recent rendezvous along the Gulf coast.

During the rally, we received news from our agent that our closing date on the house was set. When we announced it to our fellow rally attendees, a collective round of applause went up. 🙂

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By early October, we were pulling out of the driveway. Our first adventure was a grueling 2-1/2 mile trip to our current campground. To paraphrase Neil Armstrong, it was a small step…but in reality, it was a giant leap for us. We are wintering in Michigan this year to be by Diana’s mom.

Over the fall and winter, we lost our dear Jenny to cancer. She loved going for rides, and luckily had plenty of adventures during her 10-1/2 years. Her death was very hard on the two of us. Man, do we miss her.

So, our return to this year’s show was somewhat of a homecoming. Howard and Linda were off working the Dayton, Ohio show this year, and Grand Rapids had Shari Galiardi and her husband David Hutchison from Tales from a Mid-Lifeventure. They are traveling in their 1957 Sportcraft ‘canned ham’ trailer. Theirs is a totally different lifestyle than ours is in our 31 foot 5th wheel, but they are painting their portrait as they see fit, and that is what it is all about. They were delightful.

As you can see, this past year was a life-changing experience for us. The adventure of 2015 has begun, and we are excited to explore the vistas of this next chapter. The wonderful thing is our ability to move and adapt, so we are hoping to roll with the punches, rejoice in the victories, and savor the sweetness that our adventure brings us.

17 thoughts on “It’s Showtime!”

  1. Awesome recap on the year. Karen’s mom, and much of her family is up in Michigan. Hope to visit them more often once we retire.

    Just got back from a two day tour of our local RV show. And we did not buy anything. But, Karen wants to retire to an RV asap. The planner in me says, nope, wait for a better financial position which will be in as little as 3.5 years.

    For now, we are living the dream through blogs such as yours. I’m checking everywhere to find a rally closer to Kansas City. We want to attend some type of rally that includes classes on full-timing and driving instruction cause like many, I’ve not pulled a large fifth wheel before.

    Mark from Missouri

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    1. You do have some time, Mark. We can’t say enough good things about Howard and Linda, and we highly recommend their rallies. You don’t need an RV to go. Fly in and motel it for the week. Many people do.

      On a side note, check with RV Driving School. http://www.rvschool.com. They were working our rally, and a lot of folks recommended them. You will definitely want to take a course, especially if you haven’t driven one. They are not difficult to drive, but you can really get into trouble if you aren’t careful. I rarely go over 60 mph, as I get fabulous mileage at that speed, and I am hanging with the safe truckers.

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  2. Jim and Diana, ” It’s Showtime” for sure. I loved reading a recap of your progress to FT RVing. It’s a lot of work to get there but so worth it!!!! So happy for both of you. I enjoyed meeting you both and Jenny in Indiana . That was a good time. You both are troopers for facing a Michigan winter head on too. I hope our paths cross again someday soon.

    We are finishing out the winter in Florida, gradually heading north. We will be heading to Cape Cod the end of March to start a workamping stint for the summer!!! A new exciting adventure for us. We can’t wait!!!!!

    Safe travels and Hugs,

    Michele and Peg

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    1. It is so good to hear from you, Michele and Peg! Congratulations on the work camping job. Are you blogging? We loved being neighbors with you, and can’t wait to do that again! We toured a Heartland Landmark at the show and thought of you guys. We will be work camping this summer in Northern Michigan. We are very excited, indeed!

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  3. Enjoyed the story. Tears shed here just this past week for Jenny. May the wonderful memories you have of that little “golden” girl comfort you both in your travels.

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  4. So thrilled for you both. Hubby had prostate cancer six years ago, which was a stark reminder that it was time to start relaxing and enjoying life. Safe travels and grand adventures to you both. 🙂

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  5. Very nice remodel on you basement, looks very professional.
    Really enjoy your blog and all your insightful posts on RV Dreams, hope to meet up with you on the road some day.

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  6. Your remodel was beautiful! We are in the process of doing the same thing and hope to put the house on the market next spring. We are attending the RV-Dreams rally in April, we’re pretty excited about that! Hope to see you on the road someday.

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    1. Thanks! At the time, I was thinking that it took longer that I thought it should have. In reality, we got a tremendous amount of work done in five months! The goal of beating Labor Day helped, as did scheduling the open house.

      Best of luck on your plans, and see you on the trail!

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  7. Hi Jim & Diana! I guess my post did not go through last time. You guys did a great job on the house. No wonder it sold so fast. I remember them telling us at each Rally that someone’s house always sold at that time. Glad it was you two! It was great meeting you both at the rally! And thanks for the shout out I’m so impressed how your wintering in MI and that it’s going so well. Good for you on kicking cancers butt! We all never know what’s coming and that’s a big push for many of us to get out there now. Sorry to hear about your beloved dog passing. That’s a hard one too. Good memories though. Do you know where you’ll be heading after Spring?

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