After a summer of fun following my retirement earlier in the spring, the weather has changed suddenly and Fall arrived one rainy weekend in the Pacific Northwest at the end of September. It was so sudden it caught many of us off-guard, including my husband and me.
With the cool, crisp days and leaves falling on our lawn, (just now starting to go from dead grass to lush green following a record hot and dry spring and summer,) we started revisiting our many conversations about winter plans.
Many of our international, already-booked trips have been canceled, a few getting full refunds, some not. Any of our other ideas for future trips have been shelved for now and into the foreseeable future. It is too hard to keep booking adventures that never come to pass. With the Delta variant taking its toll on friends and family, canceling our plans seems like a small price to pay.
As a couple, we are grateful for our health and the ability to retire earlier than many of our longtime but still working friends. However, we believe that life is short and for us, the time to travel is now. Every month we receive news that someone we love is suffering from a health event that will likely curtail their ability to enjoy the retirement lifestyle they have dreamed of. Or worse, classmates and even people younger than us are passing away before they are able to retire.
For the past thirteen months, we have weighed and considered what we should do this winter season. We have contacted property managers to find out about short-term rentals in warmer places, finding out we are “too late in the season” to be trying to book. Countless hours conducting searches on the internet for places to fly or drive to in the US has resulted in more frustration. It seems that travel is beginning to return to normal and the pent-up demand means that it is increasingly difficult to make arrangements.
We’ve looked at fifth-wheel trailers which require a new truck with more towing capacity. We considered a tiny trailer light enough that our existing pickup could tow but we don’t fit. A few weeks ago we spent an entire day evaluating Class C motorhomes, online. We even called some dealers but no one had 2021 on the lot and the 2022’s are experiencing supply chain issues and won’t be available until mid to late spring.
Tempted by the idea of just ordering one and flying somewhere in Texas to pick it up, a kind and honest salesman said, “Never buy a motorhome until you’ve sat in and driven it.” Great advice! We found a local dealer that had a few older used Class C motorhomes (they are on a truck chassis) and was shocked when I didn’t fit in the passenger seat. My legs were too long and it was uncomfortable. At 6’6”, my husband didn’t fit behind the wheel and his legs extended 6” past the end of the RV queen size bed.
We walked over to check out some used Class A motor homes (they look like a small bus) and it was an eye-opener. We both fit in the seats and behind the wheel. Armed with that information we went home a bit dejected because the difference in price between a Class C and a Class A is significant, especially if you choose diesel models. We continued to talk throughout the day and night. Analyzing, researching, watching YouTube videos, reading blogs. It is notable that in some states you could purchase an entire new home on a piece of property for the same price as a motorhome.
The entire rainy weekend we looked at brands, models, and floor plans online. We found an “Empty Nester” motorhome set up perfectly for two but also with the capacity to sleep our grandkids. We loved her on paper but sometimes reality is something entirely different.
We analyzed our finances, knowing that an RV is never an investment. Rather it is a luxury lifestyle choice that allows you to have your own bed, bathroom, and kitchen (essentially a second home on wheels) that you can drive to state and national parks and park for a day, a week, or a month. We still weren’t sure what to do.
We continued searching and came up with nothing. Over and over again we hit dead ends. Just when we nearly gave up, suddenly we found the make, model and year we wanted at a dealer about an hour north of our home. With the idea of just going to take a look and see if we fit, we called ahead to make sure we could walk through and maybe take a test drive.
Less than ten minutes after arriving, as we were sitting in the living/kitchen area listening to the salesman, we both looked at each other and nodded. After 41 years of marriage, we didn’t need words to communicate that we were “home.” We both got to drive her around the surrounding farmland on narrow country roads, the interstate, and the parking lot. My husband even fits in the king-size bed. We put our deposit down on our new home for the winter. When we returned home that day, we both had different reactions. My husband didn’t sleep for four nights. I slept great, dreaming of where we would go.
We have now officially joined the Snowbird migration south. We have so much to do to get ready to go but from after Christmas through the middle of April 2022 we’ll be in California, Arizona, and Utah. Let the RV adventure begin!
Barbara is the new star of the Rock Your Retirement show! For one year, she'll let Kathe Kline tag along as she goes through her retirement journey.