Who are these modern day gypsies who spend their lives on the road? What prompted them to leave their former homes and communities for a life on wheels? Each week we will introduce you to some of the fulltime RVers we meet in our travels and those who read this blog.
Like many people who spent a career moving from assignment to assignment in the military, Jim Walter and his wife are now spending their retirement exploring the country he served for 26 years. And after five years on the road in their Carriage Cameo fifth wheel, they are still having a great time.
Jim and Dee started their fulltime journey in Raleigh, North Carolina, where they lived for 16 years after he retired from the Air Force and spent 14 years working in workforce management for an electric utility. Meanwhile Dee worked in computer programming and office management.
Their life in the Air Force was one of moving every few years so they both became gypsies at heart. They became interested in fulltiming after meting a fulltiming couple and hearing about their lifestyle. They were hooked, and four years later, after much research and downsizing, they had a new fifth wheel and truck were on the road.
When asked what they like best about fulltiming, Jim and Dee said seeing new sights and living in new places. “Most people see the sights of our great country during short visits. We get to spend as much time as we want wherever we want. Also, when we visit our kids and grandkids, we’re able to stay longer and sleep in our own beds. We don’t have to impose on their home life.”
And what do they dislike most about fulltiming? The stress of breakdowns, repairs, and other things that always go wrong when on the road.
From April through October the Walters travel around the country, with stops to see their kids in Illinois and Jim’s family in North Carolina. They spend November thru March in Florida at their favorite park; Adelaide Shores RV Resort in Avon Park. They have completed at least one overnight stay in all of the lower 48 states, the last being North Dakota this past summer.
The RV lifestyle is very accommodating to all kinds of hobbies and special interests. Jim enjoys reading and listening to his digital music collection on headphones, and also dabbles in photography. Dee likes to crochet and do other crafts. She also likes to spend time on her laptop in the RV-Dreams chatroom most nights, and plays internet games with friends. They both enjoy going to the movies a couple of times a month.
Members of the Good Sam Club, they have you attended several RV-Dreams rallies, one Good Sam Samboree, and one Escapees Escapade. They attended many classes and seminars to learn about the RV lifestyle while they were preparing to go fulltime, but as they gained experience they have been going to fewer classes.
Both Jim and Dee have bucket list items. The main one was to visit all lower 48 states, which they accomplished last summer. Dee wanted to see all five Great Lakes, which they did a few years ago when they traveled through the Midwest and eastern Canada. Jim has a goal of visiting all of the Presidential libraries, and all the major league ballparks. So far they have visited well over half the libraries, and 21 of the 30 major league ballparks. Interestingly, he hasn’t been to a Tampa Rays or Miami Marlins game in their home state of Florida because they’re not there during baseball season.
Some of the favorite places Jim and Dee have visited include southern Utah, Colorado, the Pacific Northwest, and New England. They spent about a month in Ontario, Canada a few years ago.
As many fulltimers do, Jim and Dee said it’s very hard to pick one best day when they consider all the great splendors they’ve seen in this beautiful country.
Jim said it was a lot easier to determine their worst day fulltiming: “Two weeks after taking delivery of our brand new fifth wheel, while leaving our campground for our very first trip, I took a corner too sharply and dropped the right side of the rig in a culvert. It tore our steps off and did a couple thousand dollars worth of damage to the bottom edge of the rig. We were pretty devastated at the time, but it’s amazing how trivial it seems now, after five years. The first thing we did after getting the repairs done was schedule a session at the RV Driving School, which was one of the best investments of time and money we’ve made.
When asked what was the hardest part of leaving their old life, they said they miss having fast, reliable, and unlimited internet. Other than that they can’t really think of any part of their old life they really miss. “We missed some of our “stuff” at first,” Jim said, “but that didn’t last long. Our family is very supportive of our lifestyle, and we always lived apart from them (us in North Carolina and them in the Midwest). We get to see them more now than we did before we started traveling.
And what was the best thing about leaving their old life? The downsizing and disposing of all the “stuff” they had accumulated over the years. Now all they need is a Kindle, a TV, a couple of laptops, and some skeins of yarn to be happy.
What advice would Jim and Dee give to a newbie? Do your research before buying an RV. Milk the internet for all its worth. There are hundreds of sites, including fulltimers’ blogs to use as resources. Make sure you BOTH want to do it. This lifestyle just doesn’t work if one of you is unhappy. Be sure you both can get along living in 350 square feet of living space. And don’t wait any longer than you have to. Get on the road before age and health issues prevent it.
Summing up their feelings on living and traveling fulltime in an RV, they said, “We love the lifestyle and don’t regret our decision one bit. How many people can say they’ve actually lived in every state?
You can follow Jim and Dee’s travels in their blog at http://tumbleweed-jimdee.blogspot.com
Be sure to enter this week’s Free Drawing for an audiobook of Big Lake Lynching, the second book in my Big Lake mystery series. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.
Thought For The Day – The measure of a man’s life isn’t his wealth or his possessions, but the number and value of his friends.