Preparing to Head South!

C’mon baby, drive south…with the one you love…

Suzy Bogguss

Before we go any further in this post, Diana and I want to thank all of you who sent your thoughts and wishes our way after her mom’s passing.  Our family is very appreciative of the outpouring of love and good will that was wrapped around us. We are fortunate to be surrounded by such wonderful friends and family. Again, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

So here we are, well prepared to face another winter in Michigan.  The fifth wheel is skirted and El Niño is keeping Michigan’s temperatures in the low 40’s and snow free.  Should we just stay here or should we find our way south?  That question can be swiftly answered with a statement Diana’s mom used to use on me:  “Boy, you are nuts in the head.”  Time to open the tool box, grab my utility knife and get that skirting off the rig!

When Diana’s parents retired, and they were able to spend winters in Florida, her dad called and advised us not to wait until we retired but rather to move to Florida right then. We responded that we had jobs and were working toward retirement. He still thought we should just pull up roots and not spend one more winter in the cold. We are sure he is very pleased that he gets to be with mom again, and we are finally escaping the snow!

The time since returning to Grand Rapids from the funeral has been spent wrapping up loose ends and preparing to make the trip south.  While we have technically been fulltime RVers for over a year now, this is really our official launch of being able to head out and see where the wind takes us.  That prospect still hasn’t totally sunk into our minds yet.  As one can well imagine, this is a bittersweet time for the two of us…as we grieve losing Mom.  Fortunately she had a stellar sense of humor, and we don’t have to dig too deep to bring a smile to our faces with one of her quips.  🙂

Part of our preparation for heading out has been to get both vehicles ready to go.  Yes, we’ve decided to keep our Ford Escape.  That vehicle was the biggest item on our ‘pros and cons’ list.  This very subject came up at the RV-Dreams rally in September, 2014.  Howard and Linda travel this way, with Howard driving the truck/fifth wheel and Linda in their Jeep Liberty.  One would think that the economics of having two vehicles would be cost prohibitive.  That actually is not the case, as the fuel and maintenance savings of driving a much smaller vehicle at our destinations makes the money aspect a ‘wash’.  Howard has crunched those numbers for 10 years now and has proven that to be a fact.  Fulltime RVers travel an average of 5000 miles a year between destinations. If we limit the truck travel to that and some short travel to lakes and bicycle trails (the kayaks and trikes ride on the truck), we will save a bunch on gas and maintenance, while extending the useful life of our much more expensive truck.  Plus, the Escape is much easier to park.  This makes it more fun in resort towns, beaches, and even going to the grocery store. Our biggest con is not getting to ride together between destinations.  Some might see that as a pro, but we really do like riding together. :).  Part of the fulltime lifestyle is limiting our travel to about 200 miles a day, so we won’t be having the long driving days of past vacations. When we went to dinner with Howard and Linda in October, they reminded us that they use walkie talkies to stay in touch.  As a result, we have purchased a set of Midland two-way radios to accomplish that.  We will see how it works out.  The one point that Linda made that struck home was this:  We own the Escape.  She suggested to try traveling with two vehicles and see if we like it.  If not, we can sell the Escape at a later date.  Linda has a knack for seeing the forest through the trees.  🙂

So the past week for me has been oil changes, new Goodyear Wranglers for the Escape, new RV compatible Garmin GPS units, and finishing up our drawer and door lock projects.  Diana has been busy with wrapping up her mom’s personal business.  We hope to pull out of Grand Rapids by the middle of next week.  We are donating our skirting to our next door neighbor in the campground.  In a rare moment of regret….something I just don’t do very often… I lamented to Peter at Life Unscripted that I should have waited on skirting the trailer.  He reminded me that I made the best decision with the information available to me at the time.  That meant a lot, Peter…thanks!  Although Mom was having a rough go of it, her track record of fortitude gave us every reason to believe that she was going to be with us for awhile.  Quite frankly, I wish we still needed the skirting.

So there you have it.  We will reveal our destinations as we reach them, as fulltime RVers have a motto : Our plans are set in Jello.  For now, all we are saying is: stay tuned and…..
C’mon baby, drive south!


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29 thoughts on “Preparing to Head South!”

  1. We just set out too on our no plan at all full time adventure having had several commitments up to Thanksgiving. Since then we have been zigzagging across California from the Sierras to the Central Coast and now to the desert. It’s a little weird not really knowing where we’ll be but it’s an adventure to say the least! Hope to meet you two somewhere between here and there!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Let the adventure begin! We kept my Toyota Tacoma and I’m so glad we did. This past summer however we stored it in our son’s garage since we were doing a lot of traveling. Now that we’re stationary for a few months, it’s great having the little vehicle. You’ll find what works for YOU once you have a few months of those wheels rolling behind you. We love using the walkie talkies.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m so happy for you guys to finally find your freedom. I know you did what was important for you to do, but now you get a chance to live for yourselves for a while.
    It took us a year to decide that walkie-talkies were a good idea. Peg still hates using them but they were a good investment for the times we DO need them.
    Pretty soon you’ll be old hands at setting your own course and deciding where to go and when. Use the time well. None of us gets to do as we wish forever so the time is precious.
    We hope to catch up with you in FL someplace — and between here and there be careful and enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Peter. Your friendship is cherished. The advice to use the time well” is wise. I remember all too well when Diana’s parents were our current age. It seems like yesterday.

      We will make it a point to meet up with you and Peg on this trip! Safe travels!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I am sure this is a bittersweet trip heading to Florida, but one I am sure Diana’s mother would have wanted you to make the move:) My parents did the same thing to us about moving to FL. My mother was telling us cheap it was to live down there. We actually got applicaitons and info from two different school systems down there. What a joke! We would have taken a 50% pay cut to leave PA and move to FL. Needless to say, we stayed in PA, another 15 years, until we retired. A very smart decision!

    Good luck with your southern prep! Hope the weather continues to hold until you can get out of there. Looks like another warm week:) Smart idea to at least try out traveling with two vehicles. I agree that having the car for day to day errands and touring sure would be nice.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You know we’ve kept my CRV and it’s worked well for us so far! However, we are about 90% sure we are leaving it in FL when we head west at the end of Jan. We will be doing a HUGE loop and decided we didn’t want to take it to AK, we won’t be anywhere else long enough for it to matter. Maybe we will like traveling together so much we will sell it – or not!

    Also – not sure I’ve expressed our sympathy before, so please accept our condolences now. It is so hard losing someone you love. Next week is a year since my nephew was killed – and it still hurts every day. I hope for you both that your happy memories will help comfort you now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is great to hear that both you and Ingrid both like having the second vehicle, Kelly. It worked very well for us this summer up in Leelanau, so I’m sure we will do fine. Do you use walkie talkies? That is probably a wise decision not to take the CRV io Alaska, as the fuel costs through Canada are usually pretty steep.

      Thanks for the condolences. Even though we knew it was coming, it is still so final. Diana’s mom was one of the strongest people I have ever known. She was an amazing example for our family. I remember how hard it was for you to lose Andrew. I’m sure his spirit lives on with you and your family. Here’s hoping for peace in your hearts on your upcoming day of remembrance, Kelly.


  6. I think it’s a good idea to keep both. When I was in some US national parks a few years ago I’ve seen a lot of RVs struggling in some very tiny and windy roads. And some roads are even forbidden for RVs ! For me it makes sense.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Our original plan was 200 miles a travel day, but since then have modified it to 150 miles or less – usually less. So much to see “along the way” and we’re in no hurry! It sounds like H&L don’t regret their decision to add the Liberty and like you said, you can always change the plan. Looking forward to seeing where your new travels take you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know there has been many times we have gotten to a one-night stopover and not wanted to hook, so we would forego venturing out to see the location we were in. That will be possible now with the Escape, Jodee.

      Skirting came off the rig today. We should be good to go in a couple of days, after we wrap up a few more details.


  8. Totally agree with Linda…why not give it a go and see how you like it. We started with a second vehicle and now just have the truck. Both methods have pros and cons because we like riding together also. And so glad you are launching now and not waiting. It’s a big wide world out there plus how will we ever get to meet if you stay in Michigan 😄

    Liked by 1 person

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