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.

Answering the call of doodie

Military duty ended with Tim’s retirement in 2013. Service to others did not. And that is how we ended up scrubbing a lot of public toilets this season, even though it definitely wasn’t on our list. Semper Gumby!

As mentioned, we’ve served as park hosts here before, early in 2018, and although some of the maintenance team at Kerrville-Schreiner Park has changed since then, our reputation as reliable workers has endured. There was a need, we were here, they asked, we said yes.

Last year, we worked mainly on what can best be described as special projects, and only cleaned restrooms occasionally. This year? The opposite of that.

And that’s OK — not a favorite, but also not unreasonable. And like last year, we are compensated by getting to live rent-free in a site with full hook-ups for the duration.

Mere steps from our site, we enjoy this view of the Guadalupe River, and the Kerrville VA Medical Center.
I get unlimited use of this riverside “yoga studio” as part of the bargain.
It once served as an ampitheater.
Now it helps me forget that we clean public bathrooms.
Another perk? We’re at one end of the Kerrville River Trail, so we’ve got a traffic-free place to go running and biking.
And speaking of free, we’ve got a key to the park host laundry facility.
This is it.
It’s a single washer and dryer shoved into a closet on the backside of one of the bath houses, but it gets the job done.
No quarters required.

It hasn’t all been swabbing decks, though. We also empty trash.

Oh, and Tim has done a fair amount of assisting with grass cutting and tree trimming — between hail and thunder storms, that is. It’s been a rather violent springtime.

Last time he did this was 2015. when we still had a yard.
Hail storm 1
Hail storm 2. We had to wait it out before unloading our groceries!

Some things at the park haven’t changed: we’re still visited by the resident deer and feral cats, and since we got our start a little later this year, we were here for Texas wildflower season, and the bluebonnets were stunning.

Our workamping gigs have become not just a source of income/savings for us, but a valuable and rewarding part of our RVing adventure. Heck, even though we won’t repeat working for Amazon, we consider it an experience worth the time and effort we put into it.

I wrote a (paid!) post for Escapees about how and why we take on jobs like this from time to time, and we’ve in fact signed up for another while doing our thing here in Kerrville.

This fall, we’re taking on seasonal positions that are entirely new and different for us, and we’ll be compensated with both a wage and an RV site.

In San Diego.

Stay tuned, my friends. All will be revealed. We’ve got a few thousand miles to go before then!

3 years in: RV there yet?

No!

Today marks the start of our 4th year of living full time in The Toad, and I’ll celebrate the occasion by updating last year’s post, which included answers to the 12 Questions We Hear All The Time. Bonus: I’ve added a 13th question to make it a baker’s dozen.

Many answers are still the same; updates are written in this nice shade of purple, and I’ve replaced most of the photos too.

1. Sounds like a lot of things go wrong with the RV. Don’t you miss living in a house?

Yes they do, and no we don’t. Things go wrong in everyone’s RV, from the newest to the oldest, from the high-end to the low — just like in a house. They never happen at a good time, they’re expensive to fix, and although Tim can handle most repairs on his own, sometimes we have to pay someone else to do it — just like in a house.

2. You don’t miss anything about having a house? Really?

Fine. We miss having a bathtub. And I’m not crazy about living without my photo albums and other prior-to-digitization mementos, all of which are in our storage unit in San Antonio. I feel like a big chunk of my history is missing.

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

By my count, 25: Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Virginia, West Virginia, Utah, Wyoming, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, North Carolina, Alabama, Washington, and Oregon, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota. Without really even trying, we’re more than halfway through the Lower 48!

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. 

This map represents our travels from March through June of 2018. It’s not exact, but it’ll do.
I deliberately left out one-nighters, and some of our stops in WA lack labels because I had to zoom out so far to show our path from end to end.
(source: maps.google.com)

4. Have you found a place in any of those that feels like home? That’s what you set out to do, right? Find home?

Yeah… about that. No. We are no closer to finding home than we were when we started this crazy adventure, and that is because we’ve spent most of our time going from one “Hey, come join us for this” occurrence to another, and occasionally finding spots to explore and play between those events. But we’ve spent time with more friends and family in these last three years than we had in the prior 20, so we have no regrets!

Flagstaff, AZ, was a contender for a while, because we liked the size, the landscape, the people, and the vibe, but when a friend posted a few months later that it was 28 degrees on the morning of Memorial Day? Gone. Dead to us. Off the list. No.

And now, Coeur d’Alene, ID, is a contender. Tim spent his high school years there, and still feels a connection to the place. I like it too, and we’d have a built-in network of friends. The city itself is way too crowded for us, but 10-15 acres several miles outside the city limits sounds appealing. And yes, we’d keep an RV so that we could easily winter elsewhere. I don’t see us pulling the trigger on a land purchase any time soon, but the bug is buzzing about our brains.

5. You sold two houses in 2016, so are you just rolling in dough? Must be nice to be so rich that life is a permanent vacation.

Come closer.

I want you to hear me say this: We lost money on both houses.

I won’t tell you how much, because there is not a big enough margarita on the planet to make me feel better about it, but for a total of 13 months between 2015 and 2016? We were paying the mortgage on a house we weren’t living in, waiting for it to sell.

It hurt, I don’t recommend it, and we should probably not be allowed to buy property ever again because we are terrible at market timing. We are relieved to have the homeownership burden lifted, and we are now rebuilding our savings, thankyouverymuch.

House 1, in San Antonio TX, sold in March of 2016.

House 2, in Norfolk VA, sold in November of 2016

6. So… are you poor? Is that why you’re living in an RV?

No. We’re not poor. We are living on Tim’s military retirement pension, and had in fact been doing so for two years before we downsized to the RV, so we already knew that if we maximized use of his retirement benefits while simultaneously reducing expenses, we could make it work. The RV is simply the means by which we are Owning Less to Do More. It could just as easily have been a tiny home or a boat or a yurt.

We’ve also done a little work camping since last year: the stint in Texas paid us in free rent, and our gig with Amazon Camperforce in Tennessee paid us in both free rent and an hourly wage. With those savings/earnings, we were able to pay off the loan for the new BFT, and we are now living debt free!

7. Are you thinking about getting a new RV still?

No. We’ve decided to keep upgrading and modifying this one until… well, until we feel like we’re done. We’ve painted, replaced some furniture and fixtures, upgraded the power system, added disc brakes and a bit of insulation, and I forgot what the hell all else, but we talked a lot about it in this video by Heartland RVs. We’d still like to add solar power, and get an exterior paint job.

In 2018, the biggest upgrade that I wrote about was our flooring replacement. The biggest modification that I didn’t write about was having our undercarriage stuff upgraded to 8,000-pound axles and H-rated tires by our friends at Performance Trailer Braking (and the fact that I used the term “undercarriage stuff” should explain why I didn’t write about it). 

We also replaced our manual awning with an automatic one, helped my brother’s family with some post- Hurricane Harvey work at his house, and went from not-exactly-legal to clearly-and-absolutely legal with our Texas driver’s licenses. I behaved abominably over it. Here’s why.

Practice makes perfect, and I had to practice a lot to pass the driving test required for our license upgrades.
I crushed a few safety cones.
Sorry, safety cones.

8. How about a new dog?

No. We miss Lola, but this just isn’t the right time for us to add four paws to the mix. Besides, we really don’t look good on paper (no yard, no fence, no vet, no permanent address), so I’m not sure a shelter would deem us a proper adoptive family anyway. Now if a dog finds us? All bets might be off.

– Lola –
Oil on canvas by Tim’s sister, Whitney

9. About that “no permanent address” thing. How do you get mail? Or vote? Or go to the doctor?

OK, we do have a permanent address; we just don’t live in the UPS Store where it’s located. We’d already been renting a mailbox in San Antonio for a while before we started traveling, so we just kept it. It’s the address we use for our driver’s licenses, voter’s registrations, vehicle registrations, banking, etc. Every 2-3 weeks, we call them to have our accumulated mail forwarded to wherever we are.

Our medical “home” is also San Antonio, and we return every 6 months for my cancer follow-ups, and anything else that needs attention. While traveling, we are able to make use of military treatment facilities and VA hospitals, thanks to Tim’s 25 years of Navy service.

10. Do you like the new truck?

Yes! Wow, do we love the new BFT (2017 Dodge RAM 3500 dually). We actually rather liked the old BFT too (2012 Chevy Silverado 3500 dually), and would have kept it until death did us part, but… oh wait. It did die. We just chose not to live with it after the major organ transplant.

But anyway, the advances in comfort, maneuverability, and electronic features between those model years are noticeable even to me, and I don’t really pay much attention to that kind of thing. (“Does it start when I turn the key? Yes? Good. That’s all I need.”)

2017 RAM 3500 Laramie Crew Cab 4X4 8′ Box
6.7-Liter I6 Cummins® Turbo Diesel Engine
AISIN 6-Speed Automatic Transmission
Dual Rear Wheels / 17-Inch x 6-Inch Wheels
Black interior
True Blue Pearl exterior

11. How long ya gonna keep doing this?

We have no exit strategy. When we started, we thought it would take a year or two to get all our exploring done and find The Place, but now we’ve decided to play this hand for as long as we can comfortably hold the cards.

Tim is 52, I’m 49, we’re frequently the youngsters of the RV park, and I’m OK with that. If you’ve read our “How we met” story, and are now trying to do the math, let me help you out. Yes, we were young. We married at 26 and 23, had our sons right quick, and that is how we ended up with an empty nest by the ages of 49 and 46.

The way I like to characterize it is that we are living our twenties now. I even got up to a little mischief during a recent stay in an age-restricted RV park.

12. What’s next?

We’ve traveled from Idaho back to Washington for the month of August. We want to do some hiking in the Cascades and/or Olympics, and we want to see our older son and his girlfriend again before we head back to Texas for our autumn round of family visits and medical appointments. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter for updates as we go!

After the first week of October, both the calendar and the roads are wide open.

Oh, the places we’ve seen…
… and the places we’ve yet to go!

13. Do you make money from this blog?

Nope. The only payment we receive is your attention, and so far that’s enough for us.

We have not monetized our blog or any of our social media accounts by accepting advertising, by promoting products for manufacturers, or by using affiliate links. If we mention a product (or restaurant, campground, RV park, etc.) that we really liked (or didn’t like), we do so without the owner’s prior knowledge and without compensation.

We have lots of RV blogging friends who make use of some or all of those income streams, and we encourage you to support them. It helps fund their travels, or at the very least, the expense of purchasing and maintaining their web site. We’ve not felt the need to take this step, but we’re not ruling it out as an option should we begin attracting a (much, much) wider audience.

Oh, and on a related topic, we do not have a YouTube channel. Appearing in and editing video is absolutely unappealing to us, so you’ll just have to put up with our “old-fashioned” ways.

So that’s it for the end of Year 3! 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.

WheRVe we been? Our travels, 1st quarter 2018

Everything’s bigger in Texas and it’s our home base and lots of people we love either visited or were already there — and that kind of explains why we spent the first three months of 2018 in the Lone Star State.

Here’s a summary of our time there, mapped with a little help from Google. Links to prior updates appear at bottom of page.

RV miles traveled this quarter: about 970, all in Texas.

We went from San Antonio to Port Aransas, back to San Antonio, up to the Fort Worth area, and back down to Kerrville.
(source: maps.google.com)

San Antonio, December 26, 2017 – Jan 6, 2018: Still recovering from our stint as Amazon Camperforce Associates, we arrived at home base San Antonio after Santa Claus did, but we were just in time for a quick meet-up with new friends, Marc & Julie Bennett of RV Love, before ringing in the new year with old friends from our older son’s years in Boy Scouts. We took a walk through the South Texas RV Super Sale, introduced some of our own family to our Heartland Family, and then our sons arrived for…

Yes, our sons are very tall, and we are very not.
I’m not sure how it happened.
Fed ’em well, I guess.

Port Aransas, January 6-10: Family work party! The two of us, my parents, our younger son from Austin, and our older son & his girlfriend from WA caravanned in three vehicles from San Antonio to Port Aransas to help my brother’s family do some building after Hurricane Harvey. Then it was back to San Antonio to clean up and prepare for…

Fort Worth area, January 14-25: New flooring for the RV! I wrote a detailed post about that whole adventure here. In summary: The first round of vinyl planking looked good until it didn’t (the next day), so we had to extend our visit for a do-over. It was one of only a few RV repairs/upgrades for which we wrote a check instead of doing the work ourselves, and I think we’re still getting over it.

Before: worn, stained, smelly carpeting and cheap linoleum
After: fresh, cushiony, odor-free carpeting and chocolaty vinyl planks

Kerrville, January 25 – March 31: We did a little more work camping, this time alongside friends at Kerrville-Schreiner Park; upgraded from a cranky and complicated manual awning to an automatic one that works with the push of a single button; met fellow RV nomad, Peter, of Faith: the Final Frontier for a couple of beers; and reconnected with Lisa of Always on Liberty for an afternoon of shopping with my mom, her sister, and a bonus giant chicken. One of the best things I did was take a goat yoga class, and I’m pretty sure it offset the worst, which was going through the hassle of upgrading our driver’s licenses to show we’re qualified to drive this much rig. But both of us are official and legal now, and I only cried a few times.

Sorry. There’s no photo of me throwing a hissy fit over having to take an actual driving test at the age of 49.
But you can read about my unattractive meltdown here.

Where are we now? We’re parked for a few days in Salt Lake City, on our journey from Texas (home of our younger son and my side of the family) to Washington (home of our older son and Tim’s side of the family). 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.

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