How much time during a life span does the average person spend waiting? One of the statistics googled said we spend five years waiting in lines and queues. Roughly six months of that is waiting in traffic! Perhaps for RVers’ that statistic may be higher! Some things we wait for as a child may be summertime and Christmas, as adults we wait for vacations and retirement! Waiting involves both positives and negatives in life. We have been blessed to spend this last year waiting and working at Cypress Trail RV Resort. A beautiful resort in Southwest Florida where we have had the pleasure of getting to know a great group of owners and lifelong friends. In addition, workamping has given us the opportunity to meet wonderful friends from all over the country. Check out Workamper News for more information. Next week we begin a new chapter in our life we have been waiting for RETIREMENT (sort of, we will continue workamping). This past year while waiting, we have been preparing for a life on the road. Saying “See you later” to friends and family is never easy, but with cell phones, texting, Facebook and Face-timing we can stay in touch and wait until we meet again. The average of five years waiting leaves time for life to happen, what are you waiting for?
We have found living in an RV requires some diligence in weather watching! Hurricane season in Florida is from June through November. We keep a close eye on what is going on in the Tropics by following Tropical Tidbits, National Hurricane Center, and local news websites. Hurricane Irma classified as a Category 5, and a monstrous storm that was nearly 400 miles wide, twice the size as Hurricane Andrew. The Keys and Collier County had begun their evacuations and we knew traffic and fuel was going to become an issue. The developer of Cypress Trail graciously gave everyone residing in Cypress Trail an offer of 1 week free stay at our sister resort, Crossing Creeks RV Resort in Blairsville GA. So, after work on Tuesday evening September 5th we decided to pack up and try to get above Tampa that night. This will be only the second time we ever drove the rig down the road. The first time was to go to the Pilot gas station less than a half mile from our RV Resort to weigh the truck and RV! It was 10:00 p.m. when we finally had our checklist done and were pulling out. Robin will be tagging along in the RAV4 following behind the rig. The adrenaline rush kept us going until around 1:00 a.m. We were above Tampa and ready to experience our first night at a rest stop near Ocala, FL. Needless to say, not much sleep with no air conditioning and truck engines running all night, but it was nice to have our home with us!
The next day, Wednesday, September 6th, we decided to drive to Paradise Lakes RV Park in Enigma GA, which had several 4-star reviews. Upon arrival, we decided we have been very spoiled by Cypress Trail RV Resort, and we’ll leave it at that!
Friends of ours called us and wanted to make sure we were not relying on our GPS directions to Crossing Creeks. The GPS would take us over a section called “Blood Mountain” probably rightly named with all the switch backs, curves and steep inclines, not for the faint of heart! The suggestion was made to stay on I-75 North directly through downtown Atlanta and pick up I-575. Fuel was also becoming an issue and it was wise to stay on I-75 for that reason. A drive that should have taken about 4 ½ hours took twice as long, but we arrived Thursday, September 7th, safely at the beautiful resort of Crossing Creeks nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia.
It was good to be with our friends from Cypress Trail. Friday night we hosted a chili potluck and of course everyone brought delicious additions to the menu! It was great to unwind and listen to all the stories, including someone’s adventure riding in a 45’ Class A coach towing a pick-up truck across “Blood Mountain!” Saturday, we decided to do a short hike to Desoto Falls. It was beautiful and so relaxing listening to the water flowing down the falls.
We love to eat out! This will probably be one of our biggest challenges when on a tighter budget. A great place to eat close to Blairsville was Brothers at Willow Ranch in Young Harris, GA. After dinner, we had a discussion with our fellow travelers on the path of Irma. Flash flooding, tornado watch, and tropical force winds were forecast for Blairsville. Some decided to stay put, but we decided along with two other couples to head West of the storm leaving in the morning, while others decided to head in different directions.
Sunday, September 9th, we departed Crossing Creeks and headed to Meridian Mississippi. Our first stay in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Wal-Mart had opened their parking lot to several evacuees from Florida. We had a nice evening meeting new neighbors, watching the track of Irma on the outside RV TV, and just sitting on lawn chairs in the parking lot, eating McDonalds burgers!
Monday September 10th one couple headed to Texas and we arrived at Anchors Aweigh RV Resort in Foley, Alabama. Exhausted, we headed out to eat at Lambert’s Cafe, known for throwing hot rolls to their customers! What a great café! They have delicious southern food, huge portions, and plenty of choices! Each meal comes with at least 2 sides and then servers come around with “pass arounds” of macaroni and stewed tomatoes, fried onions and potatoes, fried okra, boiled cabbage and apple butter and molasses for the hot rolls, delicious sweet tea in a quart size mug! Tuesday and Wednesday were days for sightseeing in the area. The white sand beaches of Gulf Shores Alabama are beautiful, the quaint town of Fairhope was great to stretch our legs and the Pensacola Lighthouse, unfortunately was under renovations, but historic and lovely none the less, and a first for us the cotton fields!
Thursday we were up early and departed at 7:00 A.M. CST heading home to Cypress Trail in Fort Myers. There were concerns about I-75 closing due to the Sante Fe River overflowing its banks and coming across I-75. We monitored the situation, and the river stayed just below the bridge. It was crazy to see it that high! We decided to continue traveling I-75 because of the availability of fuel and the most direct route. Eleven hours later at 7:00 P.M. EST., 1,876 miles of driving experience later, we were back at Cypress Trail. We guess home is where you park it, but that’s gonna take some getting used to! Being thrown into this experience, we have learned a lot about planning, packing up, and moving our home, but we are looking forward to learning more at a slower pace! God heard the many prayers of his people and Hurricane Irma is history.
“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” Psalm 126:3
Okay, RV purchased, check! Truck purchased, check! Hitch installed, check! Time for the “Damsel Drive” that’s what we are calling it in RV lingo! We decided the first trip would be right down the street to the weigh station at the Pilot Gas Station. Checklist in hand, Robin made the provisions on the inside while Bruce worked on the outside. Slides in, everything disconnected, RV hitched, ready to go! Only took us about an hour and half (people say they are ready to go in 20 minutes) we’re newbies! All went well at the weigh station and we made it back safe and sound. Bruce did great backing it in for the first time and we were still smiling! Bruce is now trying to calculate our weight, oh boy, hope we don’t have to remove too much stuff!
The good news is we are fine as far as trailer axle weights, at 15,680 lbs. on our (2) 8,000 lb. MORryde IS, with 4 Goodyear H Rated tires. Each tire is rated for 4800 lbs. The truck rear axle weight at 8420 lbs. is good too. The GCVWR is within ratings for our truck too at 29,020 lbs. The most accurate weighing of your rig should be by weighing the load on each tire, but that will have to happen later. Now the bad news! I calculated our trailer weight at 20,300 lbs. and our trailer GVWR is 19,000 lbs.
How can we be 1300 lbs. over-weight???!!!!
Back in August 2016, we booked our spot for the RV Dreams Educational Rally to be held May 8-14, 2017 in Sevierville, TN. We had no idea at that time that come May we would own a DRV Mobile Suites and already be full-timing! It was just a dream! This rally was supposed to be a time of research, learning, getting READY to make the BIG decision. Instead the dream had already become a reality! The rally was held at River Plantation RV Resort with around 175 people in attendance, a sold-out rally! And no, we didn’t bring our rig as we had booked a hotel room for the rally and 2 quaint cabins for a mini vacation well before we bought our rig. The rally began with an evening of getting to know each other with an icebreaker game. Howard and Linda Payne of RV-Dreams did a fantastic job at hosting and leading educational seminars throughout the week. A favorite evening was a dinner followed by “bring your favorite gadget” night. The last day, many attendees graciously opened their rigs for everyone to enjoy. The Hillbilly Hoedown took place in the evening with delicious food, lots of laughs and great music! A farewell breakfast on Sunday morning with new friends, lots of hugs, great memories and loads of information. One thing you begin to realize about the RV lifestyle, the people you meet can be the most fun-loving, down to earth, always willing to help kinda folk!
The weekends before and after the rally we explored the beautiful Great Smokey Mountain’s National Park. We absolutely loved Cades Cove. It was perfect at this particular time of year to see Mama black bear and her four cubs! The antics of these babies can capture your attention for hours! We drove around the Cades Cove Loop on many different days, both morning and evening, and every time we saw several bear.
We also scored a few new birds for our list, like the male and female Orchard Oriole.
The Seven Islands State Birding Park is 416 acres along the French Broad River in Knox County, TN. It is a premier birding destination and only 30 minutes from Sevierville. We were able to photograph another new bird for us, the Yellow Breasted Chat.
The first weekend we were there, on a very clear Sunday morning, we ventured up to Clingmans Dome. The views were breathtaking, along with the 4” of fresh snow.
Our other hikes included Laurel Falls, and Grotto Falls which was on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. So much beauty for the eyes to see in our State and National Parks.
2013 GMC 3500HD DRW Duramax Diesel, Allison Transmission, Crew Cab, Long Bed, only 21,000 miles, one owner. Clean Carfax! The price is right! Where the heck is Delaware, Ohio? Google maps says, “30 miles North of Columbus, Ohio”. Ok, I know where that is, it’s a long way from Fort Myers, FL. Actually 1165 miles away! Only 17-hour drive, non-stop.
Here is my other concern. I wanted to trade in my car in the process. It’s a 2007 Toyota Highlander with 230,000 miles on it! Runs great commuting back and forth to work 20 miles a day, but that is a lot different than a constant 17-hour haul. Oh well, here goes nothing.
I left at 2:30 A.M. Thursday morning and hit the road in my Toyota. The plan was, timing my trip around Atlanta. I do not like driving or flying there. It is one of the biggest airline hubs and interstate intersections in the country, and it is a mess. I figured that would get me through Atlanta a little past noon. I like it when a plan comes together. Just glad I wasn’t traveling South on I-75, it was backed up for miles. You just never know. I pulled into Delaware, Ohio around 11:30 P.M. and got a room at the local Hampton Inn.
Up Friday morning, not too early, knowing I had a long trip back to Florida. The folks at Chesrown Chevrolet were great! I looked it over good, took it for a test drive while they looked over my car for trade value. We struck a deal and we had ourselves a tow vehicle!
The ride home started off rocky because my GPS was telling me on the route I was taking there was an accident and it wanted to re-route me. I was a little unsure since I did not know that area, but decided what the heck, anything to save some time. I knew I had a very long drive ahead of me, and didn’t want it to be any longer. That turned out to be a bad idea. It diverted me so far East, before I knew it I was not heading down I-75 but East on I-70. I was just driving along, trying to learn all these new buttons and gadgets, and saying to myself, “Wow this truck rides nice and I’m not towing anything”. The next thing I saw were signs for West Virginia, and I know I didn’t come up through that way. I pulled over and checked things out and I knew I was not getting back over to I-75 now. How I missed I-77 I do not know other than more accidents due to the bad weather, but that stupid GPS took me all the way to I-79. I finally got over to I-77 South heading towards Charlotte, NC when this warning came on under the speedometer. It said “Exhaust Fluid 989 miles till empty”. What the heck is that, and why didn’t the dealer fill that during the 300 point, pre-certified inspection I received? It’s been 25 years since I had a diesel vehicle and that was a Chevy 6.2L Blazer, a long time ago. I tried calling the dealer but no answer. I called the salesman’s cell, (prior to purchasing he said call anytime) well I guess that didn’t mean after purchase. He texted me back after not answering and said he was busy. I called my son Josh, since I knew he had a fairly new Ford F-250 diesel. He tells me all about the new diesels and the Blue DEF. On my next fuel stop I pulled into a Pilot station and sure enough there it is inside near the antifreeze. It had a nice spout which is good since GMC has their DEF fill port in the worse place possible. It is under the hood, left front corner almost to the windshield. Why in the world they cannot place it by the fuel fill cap where the other OEM’s place them is beyond me.
I made it to Savannah, GA around 1 A.M. and had to pull into a rest area and take a nap. I slept for a few hours and then was back on the road. I finally pulled into the driveway to show Robin our new truck at 11:30 A.M. Saturday morning. Wow, what a trip! It was worth it!
Now that the condo was sold, it opened a bunch of questions like “Where in the world are we going to call home until retirement Spring of 2018?” and “What are we going to pull this thing with?” The dealership where we bought our RV were gracious enough to allow us to keep the RV there while they fixed a few items, and until we sorted a few things out. We need to find someplace close to Bruce’s work. Our new home was bought in Zephyrhills, Florida, which is 120 miles from Fort Myers. Oh yeah, how do we get it to the RV park since we don’t have a tow vehicle! Buying a truck will have to happen a little later.
Where to live was first on the agenda because we needed to vacate the condo by the end of March. A list was made of various RV parks we wanted to check out for the day. Some were good and some not so good. Our final stop of the day was at a newer resort called Cypress Trail RV Resort in Fort Myers. At the front desk was a friendly “workamper.” We were familiar with that term and struck up a conversation. Interestingly enough, they needed a full-time office assistant. Immediately we connected with the person in charge of the workampers. In a few short weeks the rig was delivered, Robin was hired, and we were setting up roots in our new home.
Keep in mind, this all took place in a time span of 6 weeks. Each piece fell into place perfectly! God’s timing is always “right on time”! He is always faithful, and as His plan for our lives continues to unfold, we are graciously amazed.
We had already downsized from living in two single dwelling homes to condominium living, a good first step! Selling our condo with the furniture included, was another great step in the process.
Since we decided not to buy a toy hauler, Bruce sold his motorcycle. He had a Harley Davidson Ultra Classic for 11 years and it was not easy just letting it go and watching someone else drive off. Sometimes as you go through different stages of life, your interests change. We found we were not riding as much and we just enjoyed other things more. The other part is, the dangers on the road these days, especially in Florida, has increased dramatically!
The two kayaks were sold in hopes of eventually purchasing a Sea Eagle blow-up tandem kayak. Robin quickly realized the 15 very large photo albums of family and friends, spanning 35 years, would not fit in our RV! She began digitizing all the photos to hard drives which she gave to her children. We did the piles, Trash, Thrift Store, Sell and Keep. We certainly struggled parting with our stuff! Robin’s meltdown day came when she was sorting through a multitude of flower vases and came across the old green Musselman’s glass applesauce jar. One might say either Trash or Thrift Store pile. With much anguish, it found its place in the Thrift Store pile, only to be snatched back again after the tears. Her father brought flowers (wild sweet pea flowers to be exact) to her in that little old jar many years ago. Everyone has that “stuff” that we just can’t part with, collections, tools, grandmother’s dishes, handmade items. Simplify, sometimes isn’t so simple!