It’s hard to believe it’s my second anniversary already. Two years ago today I started on my fulltime adventure. How did I get here? Why did I choose this lifestyle? Do I still want to continue? Do I even like this? It’s time for reflection. These are difficult questions and have different answers for a multitude of people living as vagabonds.Delivery Day February 10, 2014
In the Beginning
February 10, 2016
Being a single parent of three boys and a girl for over fifteen years was not easy, but THE most defining time in my life. As a family, we started the habit of tent camping during that time. A lot of wonderful memories. To this day we still meet up at campgrounds often to experience family time. Jagger and I in the Coach, the family, and friends in tents camped around us. It’s a wonderful experience.
Preparing to Retire
During those fifteen years I wasn’t able to save as much money as I would need to retire in my California lifestyle, so I needed another plan. The plan developing the last few years I was employed was to buy a home in Arizona. There I would be near one of my Sons’ family where it’s a little less expensive to live.
This was still the plan as late as 2012. As the plan started to finalize in my head I informed my family I would be leaving California when I retired in the next year or two. That after being born and raised there. I would miss family and friends, but I still could return and visit often.
The Fulltime Decision
In 2010, I started following a husband and wife team on Facebook. They were traveling to 50 National Parks all over the country in a year. Wow-what a trip, “The Sprinter Tour”. When I was visiting my Brother-in-law and Sister in Montana on a two-week vacation in 2013, the last year of my employment, the wheels started turning in my head. Could I do this in my retirement?
That was the beginning of the many blogs I started finding and following; RVSue and Her Crew, The Bayfield Bunch, Technomania, The Old Fat Man Adventures, Hound’s and RV’s, Wheelingit, and on and on. The list grew as my interest did and there are too many to mention here, but on my sidebar, you can see a list of many of their current posts. I was hooked on the idea.
Finding My Coach – My Fifth Wheel
I started researching online for what I didn’t actually believe I could accomplish. Late in 2013 after much research, I started visiting RV Dealers in Southern California.
September 30, 2013, was my last day of work. Walking out the door after twenty-six years at my last job and a total of fifty-three years of employment.
At the end of October 2013, I went to an RV Show in Pomona, California two days in a row. On the last day of the show, I drove back and put a down payment on my Coach that I would take delivery of in early spring the following year. It was perfect for the way I dreamed of traveling and had a great layout. This was a choice that pushed me forward and one I would not regret.
Establishing My Residence
After talking with my Sister, I decided to call Montana my “home base”. In December 2013, I went there to establish my residence and get my Montana driver’s license.
My Brother-In-Law had a major influence in the truck I was to later purchase, a Ram 2500 4X4 Diesel. My youngest Son “the Negotiator”, found the best deal for me in Oregon. I finished the deal over the phone and made arrangements to fly to Eugene, Oregon on January 18, 2014, to purchase it, then drive it back to Southern California.
My preparation to physically move into my fifth wheel started back in November 2013 by reducing my possessions. This was probably the hardest part for me because after I got rid of virtually all my furnishings, there would be no going back.
Many items I passed on to the “next” generation. Some of my furnishings were passed on and others sold with the help of friends and family. Finally, the remaining items were donated to churches and Goodwill, to be used by others. Very few things were actually trashed.
Since I lived most of my life working with computers, there were a lot of nice items to pass on too. I bought a new laptop for my adventure and several solid-state hard drives for backups. Lastly, I had a few old hard drives with sensitive information and some old tax papers that needed to be securely destroyed. I found a company not far from my home to do that.
As I packed and reduce my “stuff”, the days ticked by quickly. Finally, time was up! It was a little lonely and overwhelming as I closed and locked the door for the last time. I had a lot of memories there in my Costa Mesa home.
On the morning of February 10, 2014, I woke early. Then put the last few things in my new Workhorse and drove to Colton, California. There I met my friend Beth who helped me inspect my new fifth wheel and video as the tech went over instructions on how everything works with me.
A very exciting day. After the training/inspection or the “PDI” (Pre-Delivery Inspection), I signed on the dotted line. We then had a “Del Taco” lunch in the Coach while waiting for the transportation company to arrive.
The Coach was hitched up, I said good-bye to my friend and followed my new fifth wheel, as it was towed to Ehrenburg, Arizona. There we met a notary who officially documented my accepting delivery. I then towed the fifth wheel (my first time to tow a fifth wheel) in the dark and rain to my first ever camp.
After traveling a few months in Arizona I met Jagger. He continued on with me from that point. We have dealt with lots of issues, including his stomach, a surgery (the fix), and his aggression and training. We are still working on that.
As of this post we have traveled over 12,000 miles together and almost the full two years (April).
I’m still enjoying my choice of traveling. I have so many stories and experiences that I would have never had if I bought a house and settled down in Arizona. Jagger and I made it to the East Coast this last year. You can see the places we’ve stayed by clicking on this link. We saw the Atlantic Ocean, Kittyhawk, lighthouses, Williamsburg, Jamestown, Gettysburg, Mammoth Caves, National Corvette Museum, lakes, mountains, and many other places. That was just last Summer. Last year there were many more highlights.
We have been able to visit with friends and family all over the USA. We visited my family’s Homestead (1830) in Missouri, which was a life experience for me. Walked in my Great Grandfather’s footsteps along creeks and rivers, where he homesteaded 650 acres at thirty-five years old with his wife. I will write about this soon as I catch up on my adventures.
Not doing this at a younger age!
Yes, the journey continues. My lifestyle is a wonderful experience. It’s not for everyone, but I love it. I hope you enjoy the photos.
Until next time, Safe Travels…Gary and Jagger
More Photos: 2016 Anniversary (Over 100 photos I picked from 1,000’s taken both years)