The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” -Lao Tzu
It began when we started talking about retiring and what we wanted to do in retirement for at least the first 10 years. We tossed around different scenarios of where do we live, do we travel, and do we want to spend any time in Europe?
We have two homes right now, a house in Scottsdale and one in Utah. For the last 10 years, while we both were still working, we have been able to spend time in both places enjoying what we love to do, skiing, mountain biking and hiking. Our plan when we retired was to sell one of the homes and travel. I didn't like the Arizona summers, they seem to be getting longer and hotter, and we still love to ski. We also found we were doing so much more when we were in Utah that the right choice was to sell the Scottsdale home and make Utah our primary residence. We would be able to continue to ski, mountain bike and hike and travel during the less desirable times in Utah. We call them the shoulder months, which are from mid-April until June and October until December. We looked at our options for those months; renting a San Diego property near the beach or staying at VRBO’s in various places in Europe. We had taken some recent trips to Europe, and the notion of spending a month traveling Europe visiting museums, castles and churches didn’t seem to be the answer, especially having to put the dogs in kennels for months at a time. Mike thought, hey, there are a lot of places in the United States and Canada that we have not been to or would visit again and how better then to travel with the dogs in a self-contained vehicle with all the amenities of a home, an RV. He began researching RVs as Mike the engineer, compiling spreadsheets with the exact type of RV, safety features and amenities that we would want for our condo on wheels and then he had to sell the idea to me.
Now he will tell you that it was my idea and bring up the trip I planned in 1999. We took a trip with our mountain bikes with a company called Adventure Bus. We traveled from Vegas to Moab visiting Bryce and Zion parks in a specially outfitted bus with a small group of travelers and 2 guides. We slept in the bus or camped out with tents. The guides provided food and cooked meals for us, camp style.
Out of the blue, Mike told me he had been researching owning an RV. I thought, Wow where did that come from? I wasn't against the idea, we did do the Adventure Bus, but it would be the 2 of us and 2 dogs in a small space for a much longer period of time, and staying in RV parks. He said "It's just a thought, let’s go to an RV show and look at some RV’s". So on a Friday night instead of dinner and a movie we went to dinner and the local RV show. I was amazed how large and nice the RV could be. They have everything, even dishwashers. I starting thinking this could work. I then did my own research on places we would go and the surrounding RV parks and found most are really nice and, if needed, we had everything to comfortably camp off the grid, the RV term is boondocking. I also started reading some RV Blogs and although we would not be doing this full-time it seemed like a lifestyle we could make work and enjoy. I told Mike let's do this and the search began.
Mike knew to get a nice one at our target price we would have to purchase a used RV. Size was the next dilemma, do you go small to practice and then upgrade in a year or two, or just jump in and get the biggest one you can afford and have it last for the entire, potentially, 10 year plan. He spent a lot of hours reviewing and watching different used RVs for sale, we went and looked at some and we waited. Six months before we were going to really get serious on buying the RV, an RV came up that looked perfect and at the right price. It was a 2006 Newmar Essex, a 45 foot motor coach. The kicker was we needed to look at this quick. So we drove to Vegas, which is where this RV was parked. If we liked it we would buy it. Well, it was the perfect one not to mention well taken care of, so the deal closed in April of 2015. I had to go home, the work thing, so Mike stayed in Vegas until the sale could be completed and drove it back to Phoenix by himself. Imagine his first time driving a 45 foot motor home, he was nervous but took it slow and made it in one piece.
So our timeline moved up 6 months. The RV idea became part of our next 10 year plan, travel to parts of U.S., Canada and Nova Scotia with bucket list trips to Alaska and Newfoundland. We have targeted the trip to Alaska for the summer of 2018. After that we just go with it until we run out of places and things to see or our interests change. We can always liquidate the RV and easily move on to something else. That is the beauty of having the freedom and desire to live life to its fullest, one day at a time. We are planning our permanent move to Salt Lake in December 2015. Our retirement date is set for April 1st 2016.
Meanwhile, we will be taking some small trips around Arizona so we can get to know our coach, make any modifications and work out any kinks. I will post these trips and our experiences. I expect them to be the learning ones and am prepared to embrace them as part of the journey. We will also be busy getting the Arizona home sold, going through and getting rid of a lot of accumulated stuff, and figuring out what we need and have room for in the coach. It is going to be a difficult but healthy, cleansing process.