Should I Continue Full Time: Are these wheels going to make it?

Another Drizzly Morning – Introspection of a Retired Vagabond

Jagger seems lethargic, not his normal perky self. Maybe it’s because of another wet morning. I can relate, feeling stiff and sore as my feet hit the floor. This dreary weather can get depressing, “we’ve gotta snap out of it, Jagger”. Our guest, my friend Sydney, who arrived a day ago was waking as I started the coffee. Living in such a small area the privacy can be short. It could be worse, at least I have a separate bedroom in the Coach.


20170423 SantaCruz (35)With only a few exceptions, Jagger and I have been traveling “full time” for over three years now. Usually staying a week at each camp and then moving on to another area to explore. This adventurous lifestyle has become routine for Jagger and me. The newness has faded whereas my “Bucket List” is still thriving. As Jagger hops up in his chair next to mine, I soak in the aroma of my morning coffee. The first sip is always so soothing, extending an invitation to get lost in thought. I quickly find myself in a spot I wander too often, questioning life. A place many of you probably find yourself, asking the same questions over and over throughout your life, only to find a temporary answer for the season you are in.

20170428_133401Finding myself in new places, with time on my hands, I contemplate my thoughts:

(1) Am I truly content with my unique lifestyle?

(2) Do I still find enthusiasm in visiting new places?

(3) Why do I doubt God will provide when time and time again he has throughout my life?

I’ve had these questions floating around in my head since I retired, which was over three years ago. The first question is answered pretty easily. I can’t afford to travel and explore on my limited retirement income with the cost of a “sticks and bricks” home. I feel I would be more sedentary in an “S & B” home. Traveling allows me something to look forward to and keeps me moving, staying engaged. I try to exercise often and challenge my mind by reading and writing, like here on my blog. In summary to question one, yes I believe so today.

To answer the second question, yes I enjoy the travel and most often meet new people who share my lifestyle. Getting on the road and seeing new things, even little things like a new horizon or formations of mountains and trees inspire me. Creation, in general, inspires me, lets me know I am not alone, ever.

This brings me to question three, by far the hardest one of all, not just now but throughout my life. How will I continue to travel with an aging Coach and Workhorse, now needing repairs more frequently? This is an area, I’m sorry to say, that I didn’t plan as well for, nor expect!

So far my unexpected repairs are hitting $1500 to $3000 per year. Most of this is due to my unfamiliarity with diesel engines. I was unaware that the maintenance was so much higher than a gas engine. While in itself, this isn’t a deal breaker, it adds up especially on my fixed income. I guess the answer ultimately is back to find some additional income. I thought at one time sharing my travels on this blog may bring in some additional income, but the cost of publishing with the proper protections and format is costly. If you remember, I retired from the Information Technology field and know what evils lurk on the Internet. I try to protect the website from hacking, filter thousands of spam comments and protect the readers (you). My friend Sydney suggested selling my photography which I am looking into now. Also, I think I may be interested in Camp Hosting for limited times, but this option ties me down for periods of time.


This leaves a huge unnumbered question. Actually for all of us at any age. What should I do for my future? I am still thinking on this one in my short term depression today. There isn’t a perfect answer, it seems it will linger on my mind for days to come. I really think I’m doing the best I can for myself at this time in my life. Not perfect, but is it ever? Thanks for indulging me to vent here. I believe there are some out there, maybe many that have the same questions about their direction in life. Feel free to share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below. I would love to hear them!


Acquiring Transportation

Sydney, our guest, is very familiar with the area we now call home, at least for the next few days. Following her directions, we take a ride in the Workhorse to look at a used bike she found on Craig’s list. Arriving at the seller’s home we are greeted by a couple who had the bike out for display. It was a little rough around the edges, but exactly what Sydney was looking for. Her goal was to find a cheap ride to last a month during our travels.  She didn’t have an inexpensive way to get it home, so the plan was to donate it to a second-hand store in Washington, where she will then fly back home. After a short ride around, she made her purchase, then we loaded it in the back of the Workhorse. There it would live when not being ridden for the next month while we travel another thousand miles.

I’m afraid I have again rambled on and must end this post abruptly. I will publish the continuation of our Santa Cruz adventure in the next post early next week. Thanks

Safe Travels…Gary and Jagger

More Photos: New Brighton State Beach

 

20 replies

  1. All legit questions and some valuable information for those just staring their research on full-timing. I guess you probably have an exit plan in back of your head and from what little traveling I have done I am sure it is very hard trying to decide if/when to hang up the keys. Don’t worry, these type of questions you write about I have found to be very similar to what I ask as a retiree after just 3+ years retired and living in the same house the last 20 years with my 3 hounds. I enjoy your blog and your openness in your writing. The hounds and I back blogging again with a new url and all the old pics and posts of the last 6 years. They like the attention I guess.

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    • Thanks Steve, I do have an exit plan, but there way I’m burning through money on repairs and daily inflated RV site fees I may not have enough money left ? I’m sure it will work out. I have a tendency to over analyze.

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  2. Ran across this post – glad I did. I’m full timing as well – and blogging. Currently waiting on a new 5th wheel after selling the 5th wheel I had since 2011. Enjoy your travels.

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  3. I just talked to a fellow today who is selling a very nice small camper. He described the many wonderful trips he’d had in it, and when I asked him why he was selling it, his reply really hit home. He said he was 67 and didn’t want to travel that much anymore, and when he did go, he could just camp out in a tent for a weekend or two in campgrounds that weren’t all that far from home. He lived in an apartment in a really nice area.
    I have spent many years RVing, and I’m happy to get back into a house. I no longer own my own home, so I rent. I travel light and will usually stay in a place for six months maximum, then I move on. Sometimes it’s a royal pain, but I like having a solid home base from which I can explore. I’ve camped enough that I really enjoy sitting in a comfy chair watching it rain or snow, knowing I’m not trying to deal with the elements while camping or RVing. I also like the element of security it gives me. I have never had any trouble finding a place to rent, even though I have pets, and often I can get a place furnished. Sometimes it is hard, and I end up in a place that’s not so nice, but I know it’s short term and I just grin and bear it. I only go to places that I want to live in and explore.
    If and when I get tired of moving, I’ll just stay in one place in a rental that I like. I live on a very meager income, but I’m frugal and I’m able to get out and do what I enjoy most, which is exploring and hiking. I spend most of my time in the Intermountain West, and spent part of last summer in Hamilton, which I know is your home base or close to it.
    I guess what I’m trying to say is that you can still explore and see new things without living in an RV, nor do you need a high income. Sometimes I’ll even rent a little resort cabin, the secret being to go off-season. Montana is great for inexpensive rentals in expensive places, if you don’t mind snow, because a lot of people leave for the winter and wants someone to take care of their place. You have to be a bit of a contrarian to make this work, in my opinion, but it’s actually a good way to live without breaking the bank. If you sold your rig, you would have enough to settle down in a place you like and even find some kind of part-time work, then move on when the rambling bug hits you. Best of luck and I really enjoy your blog. BTW, I am 66 myself.

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    • Great perspective Johnny, I didn’t think about selling the RV and renting with the idea of moving often. So that’s another option, should I decide to settle down again. I do love Montana, even the snow. My sister is nearby there, but most of my family has moved to Arizona. I only have one son left in California. Moving around does give me a chance to spend time with family in different areas. Thanks for your input.

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    • I forgot to add that I have a small pickup, a Toyota Tacoma, with a very plain Jane popup camper on it that I use between rentals. That way, if I can’t find a place to rent or I feel like traveling a bit, I can, though it’s not anywhere on the comfort level as a trailer or fifth wheel. But it’s cheaper to operate and very easy to go wherever I want, no need to stay in RV parks, as I can find back roads to boondock on. This helps my budget immensely. So, often I’ll rent for a few months, take off and camp for a month or two, then when I get tired of it, find another rental in another place I would like to explore. It kind of feels like the best of both worlds, and if my budget gets a little bit low, I can just camp out for a while or even camp host, which I’ve done before. I never get bored, that’s for sure.

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  4. I am a brand new reader, and your answer to your first questions rings so true to me. I’ll retire next year, and frankly cannot live in my condo on a fixed income without giving up everything and hunkering down inside, and that horrifies me. Going full time in a gas camper van will let me see so many things I’ve never had a chance to. Even If I could afford my S&B, travelling is expensive, and flying isn’t fun anymore. So few people understand my hankering to get out and wander. Yes, finances are part of the decision, but I don’t want to rot in my house.

    I do think God will let me know when it’s time to do different, but this is what I’m being guided toward now, I think.

    Very best wished for your decisions!

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    • Great to have you along for the adventure Ann. I can remember being in your shoes like it was yesterday. It was very exciting once I decided to do it and I still don’t regret it. It’s been one of the most fun things I’ve done in my life. Having the decision to do over again I wouldn’t change much. Maybe a more affordable truck or van. The same for the fifth wheel. While the Coach is nice, very comfortable and like home to me, the maintenance hasn’t been fun. A smaller trailer has less moving parts.

      I forgot to add, I have some posts in the beginning that may help you with your decision. My about page is a recap of my life and the process of retiring: https://retiredvagabond.com/about-me/ Also, on any of the post pages there are links to many of the blogs I followed during the process and after. They have some good information to help you decide. Wish you the best on your decision, keep me posted, please.

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  5. I too have many thoughts about traveling full time –I do not care to share these thoughts with the world at this time, however, I will answer in a private conversation. I admire you and your travels and look forward to each and every installment. Maintaining your own You Tube Channel might be a viable option.

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    • Hi Jenny, I’m hesitant to share some of my thoughts too, but I figure maybe there are others who could benefit. Especially those in a similar situation. I’ve learned some from those who posted comments here and I have felt some affirmation that my thinking is solid. You Tube is a great suggestion, I’ve actually been thinking about trying my hand at videos. For several years I volunteered at a larger church in California as a cameraman and I enjoyed the experience. It’s always good hearing from you.

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  6. Hi, Gary – since we’ve been full-timing now for three+ years, I figured I could share some thoughts with you that might be of value. Like you, we’ve been questioning our lifestyle of late and have come to some good answers – for us.

    Our rig is starting to show some wear and tear, of course. Fortunately, most everything so far has been minor. We were aware of the diesel maintenance challenges before we took off, so we have enjoyed our gas powered Ford a lot. At least that is one aspect, so far, that has not been a challenge. Our fiver – not built to live in, I don’t believe any of them really are – has parts breaking/wearing out. Nothing expensive so far, thank the heavens, but it is annoying to have to replace basic things like a bathroom faucet whose handles simply disintegrated. Minor inconvenience, but much less so that a regular house with all of its ongoing maintenance challenges. We have taken this in stride and deal with it when we winter, not while traveling.

    Being on fixed income like you, we roll with the punches and sometimes have to dip into the “asset fund” which is pretty small to being with. We just replaced the tires on our rig – a nice $450 hit – and that cannot be covered with our monthly stipend. So we consider options for some income. We had signed up for the Beet Harvest which generates $2500 each person for two weeks+ work, and that more than covers our winter basic expenses. Had to change those plans and now feel we are too long in the tooth to attempt it again. Like you, camp hosting can be pretty cool, and many states will let you do that for as little as a month at a time. When thinking of income it helps to think outside of the box a bit. I landed a photography gig for Oregon State Parks – they gave us a free site with full hook-ups for almost six weeks, plus 55 cents a mile for our mileage. We really came out ahead that month, and all we were doing was shooting photos for their use in promotion material. Happened across that looking on their volunteer website.

    Selling photos? Ha, what a joke. I’ve been trying to sell photos for the last four years. Good luck with that. It is a monster undertaking – really a full-time job – and the return on investment is poor indeed. Sorry to be a wet blanket, but there are a gazillion talented folks out there busting their collective butts to sell images. The competition is incredibly fierce and pricing is pathetic since good photography these days is ubiquitous.

    If you need/want income, I’d get past the “being tied down” concerns, and just suck it up for a month at a time doing something you like. Plenty of short term gigs out there. And a month is not much time to stay put when balanced against the income/reduced expenses. Like most everything about being full-time involves trade-offs.

    Having followed your adventures I’d encourage you to keep on keeping on as long as you possibly can physically. We are pretty well coming off the road since our kids moved to North Carolina this year, and we are fed up with the national parks and the roads. But if I was single, I’d still be out there, searching for adventure and fun in less traveled places as long as I could manage to hike and had the mental acumen to take great photos. But for us, family connections and a wife whose physical limitations make staying out here a serious challenge, we are done other than short trips in the east. (Short being a month at a crack.)

    My impression is you are doing exactly what you ought to be doing, and God is on your side in this. We’ve started considering the longer term future and have figured out that the best place to engage in community is in an RV park – one that has a blend of park homes and RV sites. Something for you to chew on, as it took us awhile to discover this on our own. It really hit home with us while wintering in Phoenix, even more so in our current Florida location for this winter. The activities, the fact that everyone looks out for and helps each other – well, it reminds me of the neighborhood in which I grew up. Those kinds of places have pretty well disappeared, but they are alive and well in larger RV/park home places.

    Keep having fun, keep your eyes on God’s creation which you described so well. And keep on blogging and photographing your adventures! It’s a legacy for your family, and keeps your mind sharp. Your photography has improved a lot since you hit the road, keep in up, pal!!!

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    • Great advice Rob. We think alike and I have come to the same conclusions.

      I still worry about my health being on the road at times. Funny story, I’m still seeing the same doctor in Irvine, California, and dentist in Huntington Beach, California. Traveling I’ve found several doctors in Arizona and even one in Tennessee that worked out fine. I have a dentist in Montana I’ve been to several times and even one in Georgia. All of them were very good and caring.

      I do have a question about your gasser. What did you buy? and why? My youngest son said maybe it was time to trade in my Ram Diesel for a newer one. But with all the problems revolving around the new DEF systems after 2013, I don’t want to jump back into a newer model unless it has been resolved. It appears all manufacturers are just letting us ginny pigs test it for them and in the process charge to fix their problem 😦 I really do like my truck, especially the engine brake when coming down the steep grades.

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  7. We are in our 5th year full-time in a 2000 Holiday Rambler DP. I understand the maintenance concerns, but these costs have to be compared to an alternative, such as S &B or rental of an apt. Also buying a couple of used Park models.
    Our RV is closing in on 18 years old. Preventative maintenance is your only course.
    Looking at your setup, the only thing cheaper in maintenance would be a van and a ultralite trailer.

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    • Hey Dave and thanks for chiming in here. I agree with all of your statements above. If I had it to do over again there is little I would change. It’s a great way to see our beautiful country. I’m praying the costs will settle down soon, if not I will be making a van purchase and downsizing the trailer.

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  8. Although not a full-timer but a snow birder I too have similar thought patterns to yours. I’m always thinking and wondering about things and often question my decisions. As bothersome and depressing as it is sometimes I think it’s probably a good thing we do try to reason things out and share our thoughts, doubts and fears with others. By being honest with our thoughts I think it helps others to be honest with theirs. All the best to you in your thoughts and full-time travels.

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    • I can see that in your writings Al. I’m trying to be honest and open too, sharing my thinking and travels. Going full time was a huge leap for me when I retired. I’m one to find a spot and stay there for years. The last place I lived over ten years. I’ve learned from those bloggers like yourself and many others. My blog is an attempt to pass on my experience too. Thanks for stopping by.

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  9. Poor Jagger, he looks as if he is saying “ho hum, another day…eat, play, sleep..repeat….where is my buddy John at?”

    As for the questions, I think ALL full time RVers have them at times! I know I have, even recently wondering if I should just go home to Illinois and stay put, living out my days in the four seasons of the Midwest…..then I quickly snap out of it when I realize that would mean cold weather and SNOW!! YUCK……….So the answers to #1 and 2 are for me at least YES! I love to travel, make new friends, see new places, and in reality I have NO reason to stop travelling, no reason to go “home”….I AM “home”!! Whether in the mountains around Flagstaff, or the desert in SW Arizona, I AM HOME!

    As for #3, God always provides! I always seem able to come up with cash to fix any repairs needed. And yes, our situations are very different as my tow vehicle is gas and my “coach” is much smaller and simpler, with less systems to break down. But that was by design, by choice. I pretty much knew ahead of time what I wanted to tow around the country, and live out of while doing so…as well as knew there really would be limited needed repairs.

    I really don’t have the final answer for you…..rather, I think you’re going to have to come to that on your own. Come to Ehrenberg in January and set a while. Save your money, and enjoy the sunsets! Go for walks and contemplate the next steps to take.

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    • Thanks for your input John, I know this is a learning process, just like life and it’s been a wild ride. I’ll feel better when it cools down here and I can get a handle on a few repairs. Especially the Bedroom slide on the Coach and the Turbocharger on the Workhorse. I kind of feel stuck! Looking forward to the sunsets at Ehrenburg and our visits. (I think Jagger is too!)

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