If you have been following this site for any length of time, you probably know that the hubs and I have been traveling by motorcycle, since the late 1990s, and via RV and motorcycle, since 2015. From the time we first met, the one constant in our lives has been that we LOVE to travel. Well, we have taken that love to a new extent, and I am going to tell you all about it, finally. But first, a little history.
In 2015, we were able to retire, a couple of years sooner than we expected, thanks to our lovely and talented Financial Advisor, Laura LaTourette at North Georgia Wealth Management. We rented an RV a million years ago to tour Yellowstone and Glacier and knew that we wanted to purchase one when we retired. We had spent about a year and a half seriously researching all types of RVs, and in May of 2015, we finally took the plunge and purchased KokoMoto, our 2015 Newmar Ventana Class A motorcoach. You can go back and read about the process and the result here: That Next Big Step. We thought we might RV for a couple of years, and then sell and move on to something else. HA!
No. We REALLY enjoyed it and spent months happily touring the US with KokoMoto towing our Ironhorse Motorcycle trailer with our two BMW GSs in 2015. You can read about our first year RVing adventures in this series: About Last Summer…
In true curvyroads fashion, that series wasn’t written until 2016. 🙂 In 2016, both of our Mothers were suffering from health issues, so our travels were less extensive. We lost both Moms in early 2017, which was sad for us and our families, but a blessing for them.
In April 2017, we hit the road for an extensive road trip through the west, visiting Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado. It was such an amazing trip, that I only managed to blog about the trip through New Mexico. I vow to go back and document everything else one day, but I’m recommending that you not hold your breath. 😉 If you want to read about that trip, go to the main curvyroads page, and look for Blog Archives, on the right side of the page, and choose April or May 2017. I was actually quite timely with my posts…until they stopped altogether! 😀
While we were in Colorado in the late spring of 2017, we decided that we had an RV, what was to stop us from finding a place we liked, with low humidity and high elevation (picky much?), and make plans to stay there through the summer? Well, we figured it out, and in April of 2018 we hit the road again, stopping in Texas (of course), and New Mexico, on our way to Estes Park to begin The Next Chapter. We had researched the idea of work camping and found a summer job for 2018 at incredible Estes Park, Colorado. High elevation, no humidity, no bugs, and mountains as far as you can see! Plus Rocky Mountain National Park in our backyard. What is Work Camping, you say? Click What do work campers do? and find out!
We LOVED Estes Park! Our campground, Estes Park Campground at Mary’s Lake, was 3 miles from town, 3 miles from Rocky, and the management and fellow work campers were amazing! The work wasn’t really ‘work’, and the ability to enjoy such an incredible location every day was beyond perfect. A few photographic examples below.
While in Estes, we planned a long and meandering trip from Colorado back to Georgia, including an RV spot on the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta grounds, a stay in a luxury Motorcoach resort in Ruidoso, as well as one on Lake LBJ in Texas, and thoroughly enjoyed the slow lane!
Also while still in Estes last year, we committed to return as camp hosts at Mary’s Lake for 2019 but were able to split the full 4 month season with another returning couple, which left us open for another work camping opportunity starting around August 1st. We looked at many options and found a very interesting opportunity as Interpretive hosts at the Bonneville Lock and Dam on the Columbia River Gorge between Washington and Oregon. This position, as Interpretive hosts, will run from August 1st through November 15th, 2019. Instead of working as campground hosts, we will staff two visitor’s centers, provide information about the lock and dam operation and other areas of interest in the Gorge.
As we returned to Georgia in late October last year, we were already committed to volunteer jobs for a total of 7 months in 2019, plus a month (give or take) going west and another returning to Georgia. We began to wonder if it made sense to keep the house. We would have to pay someone to care for it, address any issues that might occur, and pay the bills, of course. We began to realize that while we missed our friends in Dahlonega and the kids and grandkids in Atlanta and Chattanooga, we hadn’t really missed the house or the many things in it. We discussed going mobile with the kids, and they were all on board, and looking forward to visiting us around the country!
Just over a month later, the house was staged and on the market. The purging of ‘stuff’ was well under way, and we were planning to become full-time RVrs. This term is common in the RVing community to refer to folks who live full time in their rigs, and we had several friends who had given up their homes and taken their ‘show on the road’, so to speak. A year before, when close friends sold everything to go full-time, we could not imagine it. All it took was 7 months in our 400 square foot motorcoach, and we were sold. Not only was it not a hardship, but the minimalism inherent in living in a small space is also tremendously liberating!
The hardest part was deciding on a state for declaring our residency. Three states are well known in the full-time community as being RV friendly: Texas, South Dakota, and Florida, for reasons ranging from lack of income tax, ease of renewing licenses and tags remotely, to absentee voting. Your mileage may vary, but our decision was primarily based on which state offered nationwide coverage on the Healthcare Exchange since I am several years away from Medicare and do not have coverage under a previous employer. Jerry was all set with Medicare and a nationwide supplemental plan.
I did a ton of research on various RVing blogs, as this topic has been covered in detail by several folks whose opinions I value. No reason to recreate the wheel here. A few of those resources for your reference, or curiosity:
Really, Florida was our only viable choice, for now, due to the healthcare situation. So, then, the most asked question: how to handle mail and what do you use for an address?
Well since we had chosen Florida, we only researched the mailing services there. You can also choose to have a friend or relative handle your mail, but we preferred the services of a company that does mail handling as a business. There are several, but we liked the location and the many services offered by St Brendan’s Isle, located in Green Cove Springs, just south of Jacksonville. They handle mail for full-time RVers, people who live on their boats, traveling nurses, and many other nomadic types, and have been in business over 20 years. SBI offers online access, scanning of your mail, forwarding, and even advice and pertinent links about becoming a resident of Florida, and Clay County, specifically. So, with a new Florida address established, it was game on!
While we managed house showings, before and after the Christmas holidays, we obtained insurance quotes, prepared for getting our fleet registered and drivers licenses issued in Florida, and the million details of preparing to shut down a household. Other than other RVers who have gone before, there is no roadmap for this process!
In January, with only a couple of crazy offers on the house thus far, we packed up KokoMoto and headed to the panhandle of Florida for an annual trip to the 30A Songwriters Festival. This was our 4th year volunteering as venue hosts for the festival, and a great time, as always.
After the festival, on our way from 30A to Crooked River State Park in St. Mary’s, Georgia, for a week of R&R, we got a great offer on the house! Well, now things are getting real!
After thoroughly enjoying Crooked River and the surrounding areas, and seeing friends from St. Simons Island, we cut short our stay a few days and headed home to pack up on January 28th, with a February 22nd closing date looming.
We had previously gotten serious about all our ‘stuff’, starting with a walkthrough of each room, and had decided what we wanted to keep. We rented a climate controlled storage unit and started moving things to it. We had offered all the furniture, with the few must-keep exceptions, to the buyers, and fortunately, they purchased a great deal of it, making the moving and selling much simpler and easier.
We parked Koko in the driveway, plugged into 50AMP power, which made the packing and deciding what to take so much easier. As a matter of fact, we stayed in the coach several days before departure since we packed our bed and a few other furnishings into the storage unit. Perfect!
Meanwhile, we saw the kids and grandkids to say ‘goodbye for now’ and were graced with a couple of wonderful get-togethers with dear friends in Dahlonega. Great times to counteract the pressure of selling and moving! ❤
The buyers requested early on to move the closing date to February 11th, which was just too much pressure, but we did agree to move it up to February 20th. There were a couple little hiccups inherent in the process of selling a house, but nothing show-stopping.
The morning of February 20th, we said a bittersweet farewell to our home of 11 years and drove our caravan to the closing. Since we are traveling with our two BMW motorcycles in a trailer pulled by the coach, we drive our Ford Explorer separately. We take turns driving the coach every other day, and communicate the whole drive via walkie-talkies. It’s not the same as being in the same vehicle, but it works for us.
We parked the coach and trailer in a Walmart parking lot, just behind the closing attorney’s office, and had a quick and smooth closing. One hour later, we were homeless and thrilled about it!
We had made a reservation at an RV resort in St. Augustine, where we would complete all our residency tasks, but due to the high snowbird population in Florida in the winter, we couldn’t go there directly after the closing. No problem, we were in no hurry now! We headed to the Savannah area for a few days, then Brunswick, and had the opportunity to visit with RVing and local friends in both places. Once in Florida, we had the pleasure of attending a family wedding with our dear friends Pam & Eric, and priceless time spent relaxing and enjoying the sunshine and water views.
We did have a small hiccup in that our wire transfer to the bank that had financed our coach was apparently lost in their system, so we lost 5 days in the timeline for getting our coach paid off and the RV title mailed to us in Florida. 😦 A bit of ‘urging’ on my part, and then diligence in contacting the GA Dept of Revenue, saved the day and the title arrived in time to get everything registered, drivers licenses obtained, domicile filed, and voila, on March 6th, 2019, we were Florida residents!
Since then, we have spent very happy days and weeks visiting friends in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas, and had many adventures in New Mexico and Colorado. I’m not sure what took me so long to complete this tale of evolution, but here we are. We are available for consultation should you desire to become homeless as well. 🙂
Next on the agenda is documenting some of the adventures in our recent past, but let’s face it, if you do it right, then every day is an adventure!