Full-Timing

Yesterday morning, I went for a bike ride. I rode the Sea World Bike Path, then crossed the West Mission Bay Drive bridge. I followed the bay walk around Mission Bay through Crown Point.

Along the way, at Crown Point Shores, I came upon a large heron standing in the grass between the parking lot and beach. I haven’t seen a heron this close to people before.

Heron at Crown Point Shores

Heron at Crown Point Shores

A little further along, at the Rose Creek inlet, I saw a pelican in the water. I stopped to take a photo. Before I could compose the shot, he suddenly leaped from the water, flapped his wings a couple of times and dived back into the water. He was fishing and just caught a fish! I watched him repeat this performance a couple more times.

Later in the day, on a walk around the RV park with Donna just before dinner, I spotted a kingfisher that looked like he was looking for dinner. Lots of bird watching here in San Diego!

A few people have asked us why we chose to live full-time in our RV and how we chose our motorhome. I think our transition to full-timing was a little different than most. I’ve shared bits and pieces of the story in previous posts. I’ll try to condense the story here.

Last fall, Donna and I made a trip to California. We visited my daughters and grandchildren in San Diego. When we returned to Michigan, we talked about the idea of getting an RV to enable us to visit and spend time with family across the country when I retired. At that point in time, my plan was to retire in May 2014.

We thought about keeping our home in Michigan and becoming snowbirds in the winter. I started researching types of RVs. Neither of us had any RV experience. In the evenings I would go online and read various RV forums such as RV.net and iRV2.com. I also read blogs for more information. Some of the blogs I follow are; Wheeling It, Technomadia, Our Odyssey and Our Newell Adventure.

I didn’t want to spend too much money on an RV as we didn’t even know if we would like it. I decided to buy a class A motorhome with a gasoline engine. These tend to cost less than the diesel pusher models. Our intention was to buy the motorhome, take a few trips and see how we liked RVing.

I started looking at RVs for sale and took a few for a test drive. We all think we’re great drivers, so what’s the big deal about driving an RV, right? Well, it isn’t like driving a car. There are many aspects that you need to consider. I searched online and found articles and video tutorials for RV driving before I got behind the wheel.

A few months later, we found a used motorhome we both liked. Donna liked the floorplan (and so did I). I liked the way it handled. So we bought it. Our home is a Gulfstream Sun Voyager. It’s 37′ long, built on a Workhorse chassis and powered by a GM Vortec 8.1 liter engine. The transmission is an Allison MH1000. Although the sofa folds out for additional sleeping, the floorplan is really ideal for two people.

We brought it home in December and parked it in the driveway in front of our second garage. In late winter, we started sleeping out there most weekend nights, playing house and learning how everything works. It was winterized, so we couldn’t use the toilet or sinks, but we could eat dinner out there and watch TV. One of my first projects was to install a new flat screen TV up front, replacing the outdated TV that was there.

The pressure and level of stress at work was high. I was at a point where I dreaded getting up and going to work. After discussion with Donna, I decided to move up my retirement date. I was eligible for unreduced early retirement in May of 2013. I filed the paperwork for retirement, commencing on August 1, 2013. This changed everything.

With the decision to retire earlier came discussion about full-timing. We did a little more research and decided we wanted to do it. Once I retired, there wasn’t anything tying us to Michigan. We had been there for four years. We relocated there from Arizona when I took a job promotion. So we decided to sell our home.

With the house sold, we hit the road on July 23, 2013. I took the last week of July as vacation time before my official retirement date. Donna posted about downsizing our belongings here. I’ve posted about selecting and establishing a domicile here.

In hindsight, I wish we had begun planning to go full time earlier. Most people spend a year or two planning before they decide to go full time. The layout of our coach is not ideal for Donna to do her work. She’s used to having an office and large desk. We thought working at the dinette booth would be fine. As I said, it’s not ideal. If you are going to work in your coach, make sure you have adequate office space and a comfortable arrangement.

That, in a nutshell is how we got here. Now, we are considering upgrading to a diesel pusher with dedicated office space. I’ll take my time finding the right coach. Maybe we’ll find something by next spring.

Meanwhile I can dream about some of the coaches we see in the RV parks. Last week a 45′ Marathon Coach built on a Prevost (say pre-vo) chassis arrived here. It’s a double slideout model. I found a used 2008 double slide Marathon advertised online for $785,000. These coaches are usually made to order, however I found a new one for sale on Marathon’s web site for $2.1 million. I’ll need to win something bigger than the football pool before I can do anything but dream about one of these.

Marathon Coach

Marathon Coach

Marathon Coach with slides out

Marathon Coach with slides out

A couple of days ago, a 47′ Newell arrived in the RV park. It’s an older model, 1991. This one had a golf cart mounted on the rear and a Fiat 500 towed behind that. Unlike most coaches, Newells are built from the ground up at their factory in Oklahoma. They design and build their own chassis, then complete the coach. These are generally made to order and have a long standing reputation for high quality. This particular coach is a giant with a gross vehicle weight rating of 75,000 lbs!

47' 1991 Newell

47′ 1991 Newell

Golf cart mounted on rear of Newell coach

Golf cart mounted on rear of Newell coach

We’ll be looking for an affordable, used coach in the 40′ range.

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