The Full-Timer Itch, an RV owners disease
Old Campers and a normal day
My wife and I are sitting here, at home, sipping on our coffee and catching up on the morning news. It's part of our regular morning ritual.
And as usual, I have my PC in my lap and my wife has her iPad in hers, as we check our emails and Facebook friends, just trying to keep up with the goings on in this world of ours.
Oh, and we have been lovers of the camping lifestyle, on and off, for most of our married life.
Our first camper was a 1950-something Shasta (56?), 16-foot trailer. It was an adventure just getting it to a campground without something going wrong or falling off of that thing.
But we camped a lot then and we were doing it with two children in diapers? Well, that’ another story in itself.
Tiki Bars and Sunsets are waiting
Retirement in a community sucks
OK, first of all, I should let you know that over the years we have loved and still do love, camping in an RV.
There’s no question of this fact, but as happens with all of us, we have grown older as our bodies aged, we've developed medical complications that keep us grounded in our house in Florida.
Oh, we still get our every other month for a two or there week stay at a campground somewhere.
We have to! It's in our blood, as they say, and camping is how we keep our sanity, getting away.
You see, I retired early, ten years ago, when my wife had a number of serious back operations each of which had failed. The doctors, were nice enough, but after the third surgery failed, they essentially cast her and her back problem aside by declaring her disabled.
That’s one of the things Surgeons do, when they have no clue how to fix your problem, turn their heads and go play a round of golf, or something.
So, being smart people, we looked at our situation, analyzed our finances, and made a life-decision that many retirees make.
I took my own retirement early and we moved to a better climate and settled into our retired/disabled lifestyle in a community populated with other retirees.
Great huh? Retirement living? Bull ..... it only took us a few years of this lifestyle before we realized that we HATED IT!
Guide to Camping in State Parks
Vegetate or change things?
After our third year of being “retired”, sitting in the same house all day, watching the TV for hours on end, playing adult retiree games at the community’s clubhouse, playing golf, constantly eating out, and other such common retiree lifestyle entertainments, we were ready to kill somebody, even if it was each other.
We had both held high-pressure jobs for our whole careers and we had always been required to travel a lot, around the country, and the world, so we had seen our share of hotels, planes, trains, rental cars and tight travel schedules.
We worked hard and we played hard, and sitting in a chair, waiting for our brains to vegetate, wasn’t on our good-life agenda.
We tried hard to fit in with those others who had “settled down” but we realized that this lifestyle was not for us.
We were people who had to see new things, meet new people and be active both physically and mentally.
Getting the RV that fit our health needs
So, having been part-time campers for years when we were younger, I shopped around and bought an old used motorhome, a 36-foot, 1996 Pace-Arrow Vision.
The motorhome itself was a piece of crap, loaded with problems I had to fix, but we loaded up and we started traveling in it.
It was as if we had been released from a strange kind of society-approved form of prison.
You see, I also have health problems, like; a transplant, Diabetes, DVT, Afib, among other things.
But I get around pretty good. On the other hand, my wife, with her bad back cannot sit in one position for very long at all without pain.
She has to at least stand up and walk around every hour (or less) for relief.
But, we found out that, traveling in a motorhome, and with me driving and her being my Navigator, she could change seats from her Navigator's seat up front, to the Sofa, or recliner, or even the bed and get her back into a new position that eased the pains, without disrupting our travels.
It only took a few camping trips before we discovered that we were motorhome people and that we could both travel this way and enjoy our new RV lifestyle.
Motorhome and RV Retirement
Full Timers, for a while.
And, of course, because we loved this new way to live, we did all of the stupid things RV owners do, like purchasing several newer and bigger motorhome that matched our growing camper’s lifestyle over the next few years.
Eventually we ended up with a very nice 43-foot, 4-slide Monaco Camelot pusher motorhome, loaded with all of the insane luxuries that we thought we needed, but really didn’t.
We rented our house in Myrtle Beach, to someone and hit the road.
We were going to be Full-timers and we were going to travel the USA in style. And honestly, we did just that for a while.
We crossed the country twice in our motorhome and hopped on and off of the Interstate highways at will. We camped in great and interesting places and saw many spectacular natural sights around the country.
We traveled on a schedule that we managed outselves, with no end dates to worry about and no real locked down destinations or solid travel expectations. we were just having fun!
Well, what is it they say about expectations? Something about, “….. the best laid plans of Mice and Men …..”.?
As Forrest Gump said in the movie "It Happens!"
Anyway, after a little over a year and a half of traveling bliss, I started having some serious health complications, and we realized that we had to come back to the East Coast where all of my specialist Doctors were waiting for me.
Once we had gotten back to the East Coast, and i was the hands of my Doctors, they poked, prodded and eventually started me on newer and better treatments for my problems.
My progress was slow enough to concern us and we saw that we wouldn’t be camping for a while and maybe even never; so we reluctantly got rid of our motorhome,
I'm not stupid, only stubborn, and I jumped onto my Doctor's suggestions for change. It was tough at first, and I did go through some adjustments to my lifestyle and medications. Luckily, over time, my health came under control once again and I was even losing some weight.
But, again, by this time, we had made some changes and moved to Florida. We were living in one of the many retirement communities sprinkled around the state, and once again, we were …. BORED!
Moving back into traveling in an RV
Knowing what we really loved, and having had a nice taste of the RV lifestyle, our next lifestyle decision was inevitable.
We fought it for a while, but, we eventually decided to get back into camping.
But we decided to only be Part-Timers. Our reasoning was that we were now older, we both had health problems, and we were a little scared about whether we could handle being an owner of a big RV again.
But, again, we felt that there was any way possible, we wanted to operate and live in a motorhome once again.
So, we sat down, did a clear-headed analysis of our needs and wants and finances just to se if we could afford to get back into the RV world, like we wanted.
We decided we would not spend what we had left of our savings on some Big Rig, which we now knew was more for show than for the added comforts and luxuries it provides. We would find a nice used RV that we could afford.
We shopped the RV’s on the market for months. We viewed hundreds of listings on the web, and we walked through dozens of units on different dealer's lots.
Finally though, we ended up with a very nice 10-year-old Fleetwood Bounder motorhome.
It’s a 35-footer, with two slides, has very low mileage on it and had been well cared for. This unit was perfect for a Part-Timer, but having been Full-Timers for several years, we knew that it would work well for a Full-Timer couple also.
So, over the past year, we have been hopping around Florida as Most-Timers, driving a little further each trip and staying at campgrounds a little longer each time.
I started using this term. Most-Timers, in my blogs and on my web site, over a decade ago when I realized that everyone knew what a Full-Timer was, and everyone else was grouped into the category of Part-Time campers.
A Most-Timer is defined (by me) as someone who spends half or more of their year traveling or just living, in their camper, but still have their home (often called a HomeBase) to go back to when necessary. In this respect, they are essentially a Full-Timer with a Home Base.
Well that’s us, Most-Timers.
Because of our health, and the need for regular visits to our doctors and to labs for tests, it’s just too complicated for us to travel Full-Time.
But, this way, we have a HomeBase that we can run back to and see our health professionals as necessary. And while at our HomeBase we can socialize a little with the neighbors, and we can still stay on the road in our RV most of the time.
Full-Time Fever Symptoms
Here’s one of the problems for strange people like us; we still think we're young, we still have things to do, and we still want to “just go”, over that next hill, or across that next river.
You know what I mean, we have to get out there and hop from campground to campground, as we see fit, chasing the seasons and looking for new things to do, and people to meet.
Sitting here, mulling these thoughts over, with my wife, and we drink our morning coffee, I am realizing that we are developing a bad case of the Full-Timer Itch.
This a horrible disease for someone to catch. I know, I have had it and there really is no cure.
Some, a lucky few can go into remission, but they are never cured of the desire to get out there, on the road, and just GO!
Full-Time Fever makes you want to sell everything, get a camper, forward your mail to a relative or friend who will take care of it for you, pull out your map of the USA and hit the road.
Full-Time Fever's similar to a festering sore that needs the scab pulled off, even if it does bleed! You just have to do it!
Full-Timer Fever Symptoms:
- It’s a need for sitting in a lawn chair under your awning, talking to someone from another part of America, while sipping on a Beer, or glass of wine.
- It’s a need to cook a simple meal, inside on the stove, or outside on your grill, and eat it at a picnic table, if the weather is nice.
- It’s a need to be able to make hot cocoa to drink under your awning one week, and to put on your swimming trunks for a swim at some beach, a week or so later, and several states away.
- It’s a need to sleep in your RV bed and occasionally just getting up, out of curiosity, to check out new sounds of winds blowing through different trees and animals that make night sounds you have never heard before.
- It’s a need to be able to just walk over and open your front door, coffee in hand, to stare at new and interesting sights, every morning.
- It’s a need to know that next week, you’ll be in a campground, somewhere else, in an area of the country where you have never been, but always wanted to see.
- It’s a need to stop driving whenever you are tired because you have no end dates to meet or you just want to stop.
- It’s a need to have a travel plan, but change it whenever you want, just to go to that other interesting place someone at the last campground told you about, as you hop from one to another place, along the highways of America.
- It’s a need to just sit, with your spouse, in a different Tiki Bar, or on a different beach, or on a different desert plain, and share a couple of glasses of wine as you talk about nothing, while you watch another great sunset.
- It’s a need to be driving down a highway and realize that all those years of working and raising your family really are over and you are on one of the great adventures of your life.
What a horrible/wonderful disease to catch!
Once you own an RV, you only need to do three things to ease the pain of this disease; 1-look at your checkbook for funds, 2-pack your RV, and 3-pull out your list of your favorite campgrounds for planning your next stop.
I look at what I have just written and I believe I may have sealed my own doom.
I now want to hit the road agian, and I want to do it very soon.
Whether it’s as a Full-Timer or a Most-Timer, I really feel the itch!
I wonder how much I have in our checking account?
by Don Bobbitt, October, 2015
Living Full=Time on a Budget
Full Time RV Living Costs
RV Camping Clubs to join
© 2015 Don Bobbitt