|Wednesday, October 27, 2010--Outlet Melvern, Melvern Kansas
The wind is back. A steady speed of 15 to 20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph. Our awning is now rolled up again and the outside furniture is stored away. Debbie is really sick of the wind. We have not had our outside “patio” area set up since leaving Texas last May. No matter what state we have been in since, we have had pretty windy conditions. We enjoy the outside area so much that this area is sorely missed. I guess that is what we get for spending the summer on the “plains” area of the U.S.
The winds have also affected our travel plans for next summer. Instead of making another north/south “loop” through the far western states, we plan on a loop through the center of the U.S. and then back to the northeast. When we made that trip in 2006, we used the awning everywhere we went. Also, the summer temperatures in the northeast seem to suit us best. Not too hot or too cold. Next winter we are returning to Florida for the first time in two years. During October and November we will most likely be Campground Hosts at Myakka River State park near Sarasota again. We have hosted there three of four times in the past for a few months each and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The rest of the winter we will find other host opportunities or stay from December through March in north Florida at a private park. We have dropped a note to Stephen Foster Cultural center in White Springs and inquired about openings. Our very first Camp Hosting position was there and it also is a very pretty park.
You are probably wondering why we are semi-planning the winter of 2011 in the fall of 2010. We found out in our first year on the road that host positions in Florida fill up fast and you must plan far in advance to get any spot. Myakka River has a very stable group of volunteers, and these folks return year after year. We are on the “totem pole” for the months of October and November. Other volunteers have the “prime” spots of December through March. One couple that volunteers at Myakka have been doing so each winter for over 30 years! We have co-hosted with them in the past and they are a great couple. They are both in their 80’s and have more energy than I do at 58!
The other item with hosting is keeping busy. I can sit around all day, no problem. Debbie tends to get bored and wants to do something. Hosting at Myakka is actually a fun job! She has a tentative work-camping position in Texas this winter at the same private park that we stayed in last year. But overall, hosting at state parks is more fun than private parks. In state parks you have many more “campers” as opposed to people that live in their RV.
I have to admit that I am also looking forward to the winter of 2011. The campground road at Myakka is dirt but fairly smooth. If my cart can run on that road, (It has low ground clearance), I will be all set and can continue my usual job of cleaning campsites, fire pits, picking up trash, and chatting with people. That is the most fun of all! I may even build a rack to carry my cleaning bucket, rake, etc.
After four years we have learned NOT to try and plan a detailed trip map for the entire summer. Debbie spent hours and hours last winter planning our summer trip and those plans went up in smoke. There are too many variables to plan every stop, every campground, etc. We certainly did not expect to spend seven weeks this past summer in Bayard Nebraska, but after hitting that bus bumper with the trailer door in Colorado, we had to wait for the insurance company and then for the parts to arrive. The actual door repair only took about 3 hours. In the future we are only planning general direction, and our northern turn around to head south should be no later than Labor Day. The only time commitments we are going to make will be for campground hosting.
As I mentioned before, I follow the travel blogs of about ten other full timing couples as they travel through the country. I have realized that we are certainly not as unique as we thought. Many other couples travel as we do. The interesting thing is that they also have their own “bumps in the road“, need repairs, get sick, etc. Does this mean I am unhappy with our lifestyle? Absolutely not! As Debbie says, compared with maintaining a house and working: “This is better.” It is not only better, but MUCH better!
A majority of full time folks travel in a 5th wheel trailer or a motor home. I do believe that we are in a minority using a pull behind travel trailer, although I read the blogs of two or three that do. The RV industry estimates that there are between 500,000 up to 2 million people living the full time lifestyle. With the downturn of the economy, I think our numbers are growing. Some people are forced to give up their homes and hit the road. When I read the RV travel forums, there are more and more people thinking about going full time.
Another trend I have noticed is that people are not trading in their units and getting new ones as frequently. Either money or total happiness with what they presently own is slowing down new sales. We agree. We are so happy with our trailer that unless some “super deal” comes along, we will be staying with our trailer. We have made many modifications and now have it set up just as we want it. We don’t want to start that process all over again. Also, our unit is paid for! NO MONTHLY PAYMENTS! In other words, we are content.
As is with case of many new RV’s, all the little “bugs” have been worked out and fixed. The state of quality control in the RV world is low, even when you buy new, as we did. There are always a number of little things that need to be fixed and or re-engineered to make the unit acceptable. For example, our fresh water intake coupling would loosen and leak inside the camper. It has happened three of four times now in four years. We finally realized that the connection was unscrewing itself from constant hooking and un-hooking of the fresh water hose, even though it has a swivel. The fix? Put an elbow on it once, leave it, and screw and unscrew the fresh water hose to the elbow. No more leaks. This is just an example of the little things that must be worked out with every RV. Every camper has its own personality and quirks and it takes some time to learn them.
So for now, we will keep on doing what we are doing, seeing this beautiful country, moving on, and meeting wonderful people.