4 years in: RV there yet?

Still no.

We were originally thinking it would be a one-year thing. Maybe two? We certainly didn’t imagine it would be a two-RV thing. But we were quite happily wrong, and we’ve now got enough events planned for Year 5 that there’s no way we’re giving this up yet!

We’re a retired military family. Moving every 2-4 years is in our blood.
We’ve even moved from one RV into another (not as many cardboard boxes; just as tricky).

To celebrate our nomad-versary, I shall regale you with an Amusing Tally of Miscellaneous Statistics.

In four years, we’ve used, purchased, worn through, or replaced for any number of reasons ranging from the mundane, to the catastrophic, to just not getting the right thing the first time around (or second, or third…):

~ the new BFT’s baby picture ~
There were 12 miles on the odometer when we drove it off the lot in May of 2017.
As of August 1, 2019: 57,894

We’ve also held memberships/accounts with:

  • 3 RV insurance companies
  • 3 cellular service providers
  • 2 RV owners’ clubs
  • 4 RV travel/social organizations
  • 2 mail forwarding services

And in addition, we’ve experienced:

Our preferred types of workamping jobs offer visible results.
Here’s how & why we use these opportunities to supplement Tim’s retirement pension.

I’ll spare you a full reprint of last year’s annual review, which included answers to the 13 Questions We Hear All The Time, but I’ll update the three that need it.

How many states have you visited in the RV, I mean like, for more than just a rest stop?

By my count, 37: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

My criteria for counting a state as visited are a bit fluid, which I know will drive some people a little nuts. Did we stay overnight? Long enough to do the weekly laundry? Go on a hike or visit a national park? All of those are valid to me. Just driving through on the way to elsewhere, with a potty break at a gas station? Not so much — otherwise, we’d have counted Mississippi about 8 times by now, instead of zero.

Map created at amcharts.com

Are you thinking about getting a new RV still?

Response in August of 2018: No. We’ve decided to keep upgrading and modifying this one until… well, until we feel like we’re done. (The rest of the lengthy answer is here.)

October of 2018: We uhhh… well, we felt like we were done, so three months after saying we weren’t thinking about getting a new RV, we drove a new one off the lot.

Go ahead. We’re still shaking our heads too.

This sign hangs in our entryway.
Pretty much sums it up!

What’s next?

We’re going to Maine, we’re adding a solar power system, and we’re taking on some seasonal work in San Diego this fall. You’ll find us in the pumpkin patch, and you can follow us on Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter for updates as we go!

So that’s it for the end of Year 4. If there’s a topic I didn’t cover, you are welcome to ask your question in the comments section below, but keep it clean. My parents read this.


Other updates: We started full-timing in August of 2015, but I didn’t think to do an annual review until the end of 2016, and it was just a listing on Facebook of places we’d visited. After that, I started using a quarterly format for the where-we’ve-beens and what-we’ve-dones.

WheRVe we been? Our travels, 2nd quarter 2019

We peeped at prairie dogs and petted a puppy cousin, marked major milestones and made memories, and I’ve now got a rock solid reason to drink more wine in order to save money. Or at least get our money’s worth. You’ll see.

Here’s the summary of our 2nd quarter travels, mapped with a little help from Google.

RV miles traveled this quarter: about 2213

We started in Kerrville, and went back and forth to San Antonio for three brief stays for our spring round of medical appointments (which explains why my mileage count is more than that shown on the map).
From Kerrville, we headed toward Wichita Falls TX, St. Louis MO, Elkhart IN, and finally, Erie PA.

Kerrville & San Antonio, TX, April: April in Texas meant lots of things: Lots of bluebonnets, lots of waiting rooms, lots of special moments, and lots of hail.

After a very rainy fall and winter, Texas reaped the reward of a spectacular wildflower season.
I spent a fair amount of time in gappy hospital gowns, with no fewer than 5 check-ups, and my first colonoscopy (I liked my other 50th birthday present way better.) But I got the 5-year all-clear from my cancer docs, and without their care, I would not have been able to take up running and cross that finish line holding my daddy’s hand.
Yes, I cherish every. special. moment.
And that marble sized hail is the main reason we extended our stay in Texas. The BFT took a few dings, and we had them repaired before we hit the road.
(Race photo credit: UT Health Creative Media Services).

Kerrville TX, May: We ended up working as camp hosts again (surprise!), watched our youngest nephew graduate from high school, and our younger son graduate from UT-Austin. Yay yay yay!

Another thing we did in May was ride behind a boat on an inflatable hot dog, and I wasn’t sure where to put that, but I thought it should be reported.
Many thanks to our friends and co-camphosts, Jay & Kris, for the fun and the photo!

On the road, June 15-30: Outbound at last! We made some fun stops.

Giddy with the sight of our home in the passenger side mirror, we stopped at Lake Arrowhead State Park in Wichita Falls, TX, to hang out with the prairie dogs.
After that, I did some touristy exploring in historic St. Charles, MO, while Tim met with his business partner in nearby St. Louis.
We then stayed for almost a week in Elkhart, for our RV owners’ club international rally (see below), and hit our first Harvest Hosts location on our way east from there.

If you are interested in widening your overnight options to locations other than big box store parking lots — places like wineries, breweries, farms, golf courses, and museums — we recommend investing in a Harvest Hosts membership. If you use the link here in my post, you get 15% off, and we receive a little extra wine money. Thank you!

We cannot say enough good things about our first DRV owners‘ rally. Not only did we enjoy informative seminars, organized tours, a lot of catered meals, and personal interactions with members of DRV’s corporate team and other RV industry suppliers, we also spent invaluable time with new lifelong friends — and two of those couples have been following our adventures since before we traded in our old RV for this one!

Right now: We’re in Erie, PA, spending 4th of July week with 5 cousins, an auntie, and a new puppy (!) on Tim’s side of the family. So generous of one of them to offer up his nice big driveway for our moochdocking enjoyment, yes?

You didn’t think I was going to leave you without a picture of the puppy, did you?
Wook at her widdle faaaaaace.
She is a 3-month-old chocolate lab, and borrowing her is perfect.
(Photo credit: Cousin Katie)

Where to next? We’re going right back to Indiana for our second round of warranty service at the DRV facility in Howe. Then we’ll head to the top right corner of the country, to check a few New England states off our list, including Maine for an Escapees Hangout in August. From there, we’ll be driving the diagonal alllllll the way southwest to San Diego for our autumn workamping gig. Crazy much?

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter for updates as we go!


We started full-timing in August of 2015, but I didn’t think to do an annual review until the end of 2016, and it was just a listing on Facebook of places we’d visited. After that, I started using a quarterly format.

WheRVe we been? Our travels, 1st quarter 2019

My Valentine’s Day surprise was the joyous discovery that we’d finally caught the rat that had been vexing us for 3 weeks and nearly 1000 miles. That story appears below, with pictures, but not of the actual corpse. I have my standards.

My birthday surprise was even better, and also involved rodents I did not get pictures of. We saw lots of mongooses in their natural habitat — in Hawaii.

That story’s here, and you’ll learn just how I found myself saying to a hotel clerk in Honolulu, “Well, I didn’t even know I was going to be here today…”
And yeah, I did laundry there too.

Here’s the summary of our 1st quarter travels, mapped with a little help from Google.

RV miles traveled this quarter: about 4230

We started the new year in Pensacola, and then headed back to Palestine for the final round of work on the ranch (see 4Q2018). From there we went to Shreveport, then clockwise to Indiana, the DC area, the Atlanta area, the RVE Summit in Alabama, and back to Texas again, ending the quarter in Corpus Christi.
(Not all stops are shown, hence the discrepancy between my mileage count and Google’s.)

I covered Pensacola and Palestine in my 4th quarter 2018 post, so I’ll start with…

Shreveport, LA, Jan. 15 – Feb. 11: After a frenetic 4 months in Texas, we needed a place to hide out and just be us, before our scheduled RV service appointments in Indiana. We didn’t want to be too cold. We didn’t want to go too far out of the way. And we didn’t want to be in Texas anymore. Barksdale AFB Famcamp for the win! We’d spent a couple of quick overnights there in years past, and knew our stay would be quiet, safe, convenient and economical.

So much for that whole “not too cold” thing.
We tried, but Mary Jo still ended up developing a case of the frosties.
Did our level best to try all the foods Louisiana is famous for.
We went to Ralph & Kacoo’s for seafood po’ boys and gumbo, to Strawn’s for pie, and to Julie Anne’s Bakery for king cake.
I made my own Cajun 10-Bean & Sausage Soup with locally made products, and wow, was it tasty!
And since we were eating a lot of calories, we tried to burn some off too, while also supporting a local non-profit.
So yes, I’m still running! I haven’t made it to 10 miles, but I can run a 10K, and I’ve added FL, LA, IN, VA, AL and two Hawaiian islands to my list of “running states.”
Yay me!
Because I am like a moth to a flame when it comes to Peculiar Things and Random Goofballery, I had to have my picture taken here, at the corner of Highland & Stoner.
I’m still giggling.
Shreveport. Who knew?

Northern Indiana, Feb. 13-22: Service Appointment 1 was at MORryde in Elkhart, to have 4″ risers installed on the RV so that it would sit levelly while towing. Tim can give you the long, detailed explanation. I thought until we actually arrived that we were having something done to the truck, so I am really not a reliable source of information. Service Appointment 2 was at DRV in Howe, for our first round of warranty repairs on the new RV.

It was while parked for two nights in the MORryde garage that we finally caught The Stowaway Rat that had helped itself onboard in Shreveport.
We’re pretty sure it came up through that opening in the floor beneath our kitchen sink, where it left that tremendous mess.
It laughed in the face of every trap we set, even moving one of them to the base of the stairs one night to trap us.
It pushed aside widely touted deterrents like steel wool and fabric softener sheets, pooped in my kitchen, scritched around in the walls all night, and turned up its nose at several popular types of bait, but it ate my avocado.
That thing had to die.
And the next day, it did.
Hard.
The peanut butter it had been ignoring for weeks finally became tempting enough to taste.
SNAP!
Best. Valentine’s Day gift. Ever.
So yeah, you’d better believe that hole in the floor was on the list of fixits we supplied to our service team at DRV!

DC Area, Feb. 23 – March 3: Still cold. But worth it to witness the bat mitzvah of a dear friend’s daughter. Her mom and I have been friends since she was 13, so it was a full circle, full heart kind of milestone, and one I probably would have missed if Tim and I didn’t have the freedom to take our home with us wherever we want to go.

We’ve really got to get better at abiding by that “Follow 70 degrees” rule that most full-time RVers recommend.

Marietta, GA, but really Hawaii, March 4-17: You’ve probably already seen one of my social media posts or read my full length blog post about it, plus the little blurb above, so I’ll spare you yet another recap. Except for a few seconds of this guy.

Alohaaaaaaaaaa

Lake Guntersville State Park, AL, March 17-25: My own Tim the Tech Guy has teamed up with a Savvy Woman With An Idea to create a new RV navigation platform, and together they attended workshops at the 3rd annual RV Entrepreneur Summit to get the proverbial ball rolling.

You can watch for details and launch updates at Wanders!

NAS Corpus Christi, March 26 – April 1: Some RVing friends were parked in the area, so we hung out with them, and also got to spend time with our younger son and his girlfriend, who drove down from Austin; and have lunch with my brother and his kids, who drove over from Port Aransas.

Life is good …
… and we are grateful.
(Thanks for this sweet pic, Mark!)

Right now: We’re back at Kerrville-Schriener Park, one of our favorite places to stay when we need to run around central Texas for a while. We’ll also spend time in San Antonio, where we’ve got family, friends, and Fiesta to enjoy, and a round of medical and dental appointments to endure. I turned 50, and you know what that means. I’ll also be checking in with all my breast cancer docs, and hoping for the 5-Year All-Clear.

Plus, we’ll be celebrating two family graduations, Mother’s Day, and lots of birthdays, and those will keep us here until the end of May.

Where to next? By mid-June, we’ll head back to Indiana for our RV manufacturer’s club rally. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter for updates as we go!


We started full-timing in August of 2015, but I didn’t think to do an annual review until the end of 2016, and it was just a listing on Facebook of places we’d visited. After that, I started using a quarterly format.

Born to run? You’d have thought so, but no. It was harder than that.

I yanked up my big-girl leggings and learned how to do not one, but two exciting new things this year — things I have said out loud, and multiple times, that I’d never do.

Backpacking was one of them, and that one’s my husband’s fault.

The other? At age 49, I’m a runner now too! Which means I am my father’s daughter after all.

I like my big-girl leggings loud.
These literally give me rosy cheeks.

And it wasn’t easy. When I started back in January of this year, I struggled to run for even 5 minutes at a time, then I’d have to walk for 10-15.

It was oh, probably my gazillionth attempt at running since my teen years. I’d rarely stick with it long enough to build endurance for any more than a 2-mile slog, because I’d…

  • feel every single step
  • dread the hills, and running into the wind, and running uphill into the wind
  • occasionally reactivate an old hip injury
  • panic when I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath
  • stay in when the weather was bad, or when I felt icky
  • find plenty of other forms of physical fitness that came way, way easier

So I’d wrap myself in my blanket of excuses, and then give up for another year or so before trying it again.

Paradoxically, my father’s been an avid runner for as long as I can remember. Boston Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, other full and half marathons, and all the K’s — dozens, if not hundreds of road races.

Quite honestly, I thought running ability was my birthright, so another piece in my Puzzle of Frustration was that it did not come naturally to me. At all. My brother can do it, and so can his kids. But clearly, I didn’t get the gene.

Yet I’d hear Dad’s voice in my head with every attempt, with advice he gave me when I was still a teenager: If you can just get to three miles, then you can run six. And if you can run six miles, you can run ten.*

So I tried again this year, and y’all? I got it to stick this time. Longer than ever! Nine months later, I’m running 3-6 miles, about 3 times/week.

Yay me!

What’s different this go-round?

Weight. I started 10-20 lbs lighter than any other time I’d tried to take up running, and that made it much less stressful on my joints. Less pain, more gain.

Goals. All I wanted was to be able to make running a regular and enjoyable part of my fitness regimen, at distances and durations that did not leave me feeling like I might die before noon. In other words, I really don’t need to act like I’m training for a marathon.

Motivation. Since my breast cancer diagnosis in December of 2013, I’ve been a bit more stubborn than usual about finishing what I’ve started — or at least giving an effort my all until I realize that stopping might be a better option.

Method: I chose not to follow a published training plan, but rather to follow my own body’s cues.

I had two rules:

  1. Improve in some way with each running session. (More than once it was, “Well, at least I swore less this time.”)
  2. Forgive myself and try again in two more days if I don’t achieve Item 1.

Progress was slow, but I stayed with it, and after using my unconventional method for about two months, I could run 3 miles without stopping to walk. That’s when I signed up for my first race!

It was just a 2.5 mile fun run, here in San Antonio back in March, but my daddy ran it with me, and we doubled back to finish the course with my mom, who’d walked it.
Cancer has messed with our family more than once, so participating in Give Cancer The Boot felt pretty damn right.

About that time, Tim started running with me. He’s been a runner before, and has a couple of half marathons under his belt, but his 2013 3-month hike on the Pacific Crest Trail did a number on his knees, and he’s been reluctant to run again. Luckily, my pace is slow enough that it rarely causes him any issues.

We ran our first 5K together in April, in Mount Vernon, WA.
(Photo source: Community Action of Skagit County)

And here’s how I know I am really a runner this time. I have:

  • experienced chafing, nausea, dehydration, cuboid bone stress, the usual leg aches & pains, and a lost toenail
  • reactivated and successfully repressed my SI joint injury several times
  • found a treasure or two

    Road shoulder reward

  • swallowed a bug
  • run into brutal winds that mysteriously disappeared or blew in my face yet again after I turned around to complete the second half of my run, expecting to have them push me back home
  • encountered countless animals, domestic and wild, alive and dead

    Cute baby bunny

    Slug? Not nearly as cute.

  • logged miles in TX, OK, UT, WA, ID, ND, SD, and MT, and rarely the same route twice

    Hey, Utah. Your running trails are pretty.

  • tried and rejected two pairs of shoes before finding the pair (Brooks Ghost 10)
  • learned that I am a neutral pronator
  • been caught in unexpected downpours

    Can’t run under a rainbow without rain.

  • noticed leg muscle definition I’ve never had before, not even during the 6 years I was a Jazzercise instructor
  • participated in one fun run with Dad, two timed races with Tim, and a 10K with both of ’em

    The 40th Annual Rhody Run, in Port Townsend, WA, came with beer at the end!
    We ran the 6K (yes, six), and did not disgrace the family name.

    My first 10K was the Project Brave Pajama Run in San Antonio last month.
    Dad and Tim placed first in their age groups. (They were the only runners in their age groups. Shhhh.) And we got super hero cape cookies at the end!
    (Photo credits: my mama)

  • decreased my pace from a 14:30 mile to about 11:20. If I’m only running a 5K, I can “sprint” at about 10:45
  • had to dodge only one vehicle 

But I have not run so far or so long that I’ve had to duck behind a tree, dumpster, or other structure for a potty break, and I consider that a plus.

It’s an exhilarating feeling to cross a finish line, no matter what my statistics say about my performance.
(Photo source: Mays Cancer Center)


*I’ve made it to 8. Once. Still working my way up to 10.

WheRVe we been? Our travels, 3rd quarter 2018

It was summertime, and the living was busy, and holy hell did we put on some miles. We really need to stop saying things like, “Sure! We can be there by Tuesday.” Somebody please slap the truck keys out of our hands next time we do.

Here’s a summary of our 3rd quarter travels, mapped with a little help from Google.

RV miles traveled this quarter: about 5711.

Our starting point in July was Coeur d’Alene, ID.
From there, we headed east across MT and ND to MN, then back to Coeur d’Alene via SD.
After that, we spent a little over a month traveling around western WA, and concluded with a cannonball run back to Texas.
(Actual route varied. Source: maps.google.com)

Coeur d’Alene, ID, June 22 – July 7, and July 22-31: The third quarter began where the second ended, and was interrupted by a two-week jaunt to Minnesota and back (coming up next). While in CDA, which is where Tim’s family lived for a few years in the 1980’s, we spent a lot of time doing outdoorsy stuff with family and friends, to take advantage of the area’s lakes, mountains and rivers. One of Tim’s old high school buddies owns all the best toys, and he treated us to both 4-wheeling and kayaking!

– Biking the 15-mile Route of the Hiawatha
– That day one 4-wheeler, 1 dune buggy, and 3 adults got covered in what felt like all the dirt in Idaho
– A much cleaner day, renting a pontoon on Lake CDA (photo by Tim’s dad)
– And another day on the lake, this time in kayaks

Montana, the Dakotas, Minnesota & Wisconsin, July 7-22: Tim’s got a cousin in the Minneapolis area. We’d made tentative plans to visit last year, but for one reason or another, we didn’t follow through. So this year, we committed to making it happen. Granted, MN isn’t really right around the corner from ID, but at 1300 miles, it was as close as we were going to get in 2018, so off we went on Mad Dash 1. Cousin David made it well worth the time and expense by taking a few days off from work to serve as our tour guide, and even helped Tim fix… ugh, I’ve already forgotten, so… whatever the hell was broken on the RV or truck that week.

We covered a lot of ground.
– Went down the WI side of the Mississippi River, and back up the MN side, stopping to explore along the way
– Visited another one of Tim’s old hometowns, the charming Prescott, WI
– Drove up to Duluth and took in Gooseberry Falls and the historic Split Rock Light House

On the way to MN and back, we
– Ran under a rainbow in North Dakota
– Dropped in on the cabin Tim built as a teenager in Montana
– Paid our respects at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in MT
– Spent our 26th anniversary hiking at Custer State Park in SD, including a trail that offered a distant view of the backside of Mt. Rushmore. (No butts. I was disappointed.)

Western WA, Aug. 1 – Sept. 1: Despite having spent most of April, May and June in Washington, there were still more things we wanted to do and people we wanted to see there, so we went back! Ahhh, freedom. We started with a show of Tim’s father’s photography at the Skagit Valley Food Co-op in Mount Vernon, then skipped from fairgrounds parking in Enumclaw, to golf course parking in Chehalis, to a private RV park in Hoquiam, and managed to squeeze in not one, not two, but three backpacking trips — one from each location. Wild blackberries were at their peak, and I could not turn down all that free dessert, so do not judge the amount I’ve still got stashed in my freezer. Come on over, and I’ll make you a cobbler. Maybe two.

– The work of Doug Rohrer, photographer, and co-op artist of the month for August 2018
– I only picked 7 or 8 quarts, but only because our freezer is so damn small
– Stared in awe at Mount Saint Helens, and we highly recommend a trip through the exhibits at the Johnston Ridge Observatory (photo by kind stranger who said we looked very picturesque sitting there)

One of the reasons I decided to give backpacking a try was to be able to see places that can be accessed only by long-distance hiking.
We hiked 13.5 miles to get to this scene: the Enchanted Valley Chalet in Olympic National Park.
Worth it.

Port Townsend, WA, Sept. 1-8: A big draw for Tim, the annual wooden boat festival, opened on Sept. 7. But we needed to be in Austin, TX — 2200 miles away — by Sept. 13. Our older son and his girl live in Port Townsend, so we’d get to hug them again, and we’d also gain the chance to see some Navy friends who’d just moved back from Germany, if we could just. make it. work. To make a long story very short: where there are wheels, there’s a way. We just had to spend some really long days on the road.

– The Steamer Virginia V, photographed because we once lived in VA, and because our son, who is a licensed captain and festival volunteer, got to drive her!
– Father, son, and sailboat bonding
– Please note that my headband, by Tavel Designs, has little sailboats on it. I’m so nauti!
– Our boy and his girl
– Military family friendships endure through miles and years of separation. The last time all of us were together, the three “kids” in front were a second grader, a preschooler, and a toddler.
Heart: full

And then we made Mad Dash 2, from WA to TX in four days.
Although I don’t recommend it, and I hope we never again make choices that would cause us to repeat it, I will say that we prepared well, and that enabled us to handle the trip well.
And by prepared, I mean we stocked up on healthy, easy-to-grab road foods; we were honest about when we needed to stop for breaks; we treated ourselves to one restaurant meal per day; we shared the driving, and set reasonable limits; and we steeled ourselves mentally and emotionally beforehand for 4 days that just wouldn’t be much fun.
(Source: Apple Maps)

But we’ve had a lot of fun since our arrival!
– Snarfed more than the recommended daily allowance of breakfast tacos.
– Made a trip to the beach, where we met my brother’s family‘s newest kitten
– Put our arms around our younger son and took the “starving” college student out to dinner
– enjoyed a happy hour that turned into six hours of food and fun with our friends, Marc & Julie of RV Love (photo by my mom)
Also, we’ve both been poked, prodded and prescribed during our twice annual round of medical visits here in San Antonio. All is well, and we are grateful.

We just don’t get views like this here, though. Washington’s waterways win.

Where to next? Ummmm, not sure yet! The roads are as wide open as our calendar, from late October until next spring, when we’ll return to Texas for more family time, more medical appointments, and two big graduations. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter for updates as we go!


We started full-timing in August of 2015, but I didn’t think to do an annual review until the end of 2016, and it was just a listing on Facebook of places we’d visited. After that, I started using a quarterly format.

2Q 2018     1Q 2018      4Q 2017        3Q 2017        2Q 2017        1Q2017        2016