Full-timing and Nesting

You can click on "photos" to get directly to the first photo page, which has a connector to the second page (if there is one).

For the first time since we started full-timing nearly five years ago in May 2000 we have sat in one place for three months as we spent the winter at the Encore RV Resort in Clermont, Florida.  We did what most folks do when they come to Florida for the winter.  We visited with people we have known; met some new folks; played golf; saw lots of movies; ate out a lot; bought passes and spent several days in Disney World; worked on our house on wheels (clean, wash, wax, etc).  So this travelogue will mostly be a photo journal of folks we met and visited with during our stay.  Please know that if we visited with you and there is no photo on our photo page, it's because I didn't have the camera with me at the time.

Diane and I also had lots of time to chat about what we want to do in the future.  Naturally, that included discussions about whether we want to continue full-timing or get off the road.  The answer, for now, is that there are still lots of places we want to see so we'll stay on the road as full-timers.  Our checkpoint year has always been 2007, and it remains 2007.  As a result of our chats, I wanted to write something about full-timing and nesting because we are both feeling more of a desire to nest.

There are lots of definitions floating around about what makes a full-timer, and I have been part of discussions about that subject.  Diane and I agree with the definition that says a full-timer is one who lives AND TRAVELS full-time in an RV.  Some folks think that someone who lives in an RV all year, even if it doesn't move, is a full-timer.  We don't think those people are full-timers.  Some folks think that if someone lives in an RV all year, but moves it from one place for six months to another place for six months, is a full-timer.  We think of those people as snowbirds who happen to live in an RV.  Some real purists believe that if someone owns a house, even if they have rented it out, but live and travel in an RV, are not full-timers.  I guess we aren't purists in that sense because we know folks who own a house they've rented out, but live and travel full-time in an RV and we think of them as full-timers.  In any case, as I said, there are different definitions for what people think makes a full-timer, so we don't expect everyone who may read this to agree with what we think makes a full-timer.  I wrote this paragraph to set up the topics in the following paragraphs.

I think of nesting as staying in one place for three months or more, or even coming off the road to nest permanently in a house.  I don't think we are running out of steam or losing interest in travel, but maybe, just maybe, we may be feeling a need to nest a bit.  We seem to be talking more often about where we might want to buy or build a house.  Not that I think we'll be off the road anytime soon, but we seem to be talking about it more often, and I think it may be more me than Diane.  Now that we have been on the road for almost five years the plusses and minuses become clearer. 

Over the past five years we have met several people who were full-timers and came off the road.  It seems that the first threshold that folks reach for coming off the road is somewhere between two and three years.  In some cases it was the husband who wanted to come off the road, but the wife who wanted to continue.  In other cases, it was the wife who wanted to come off the road, but the husband wanted to continue.  The unwritten rule of thumb goes something like this:  "if one of a couple wants to come off the road, then the couple comes off the road".  Living in an RV full-time would not be a happy home if someone is doing it out of some sense of duty to their spouse rather than having a desire to full-time.  We have heard many reasons for coming off the road (I'll use "I", but it could be "We"):

"I need more space"

"I need to have roots"

"I miss my grandchildren and/or children"

"I miss having a house"

"I want to buy a house because the interest rates and price of houses are rapidly increasing"

These, and other reasons, are the ones we have heard most often whether it's two years or 15 years of full-time travel.  Everyone has a different threshold for living life as a nomad.  There are even some folks who start to full-time and come off the road in a year.  Those are the sad stories because they didn't really think it through before selling everything and buying an RV.  I remember my mom telling my brother: "I'll give them six months".  Well, we are nearing five years and still loving the travel part of full-timing.  But there are some downsides.

Diane talks about more space and the thrill of decorating one more new house, and I'm sure that someday that will happen.  For me, coming off the road would have more to do with a desire for a more regular dose of camaraderie.  We are all different, and we all have different wants and needs for companionship other than our spouse.  People who write RV books, and lots of full-timers, talk about the community or RVers.  It is a community, for sure, but it isn't the same as living in a housing community for all, or most, of the year.  There is a camaraderie in the RV community, but it's different.  It isn't steady but, rather, seems to be there mostly at RV rallies where there are lots of RVers.  The camaraderie in campgrounds is fleeting given that people are only there for a few days to a week or two.

I would say the snowbird may have more of a feeling of community and camaraderie than the full-timer.  The snowbird has a home and travels south for the winter months.  They have a community where they live, such as their neighborhood, or church, or clubs.  I think most snowbirds go to the same place every winter, so they see the same folks every year and have a sense of community in their winter habitat.  As such, it is much easier for them to make acquaintances and friendships than the full-timer.  On one of my golf outings from the campground we were in I played with three guys who all lived in the same town in Michigan.  They also winter in the same campground every winter.  The spouses are also friends, so they have have the regular dose of camaraderie I mentioned earlier.

For Diane and me, it is a constant stream of meeting strangers along the way.  I love meeting and talking to lots of folks, but I'm starting to feel a need for more regular companionship and the opportunity to make friends that I can share experiences with on a regular basis, even if it's just a regular foursome with whom I would play golf every week.  Except for about sixteen months when I worked at a desk job, I have been a 100% traveler since 1993.  That's 12 years.  All of my business travel was team travel, that is, there were always three to five colleagues, and sometimes spouses, along on those extended trips lasting up to eight weeks.  There were always people to eat with, travel with, and share experiences.  I find that I miss that, and Diane has indicated that she also misses travel with other people.  Now some folks might say that we should go on caravans, but we pretty much agree that we aren't caravan types.  The pace of those trips is much faster than we would like to travel.  Plus they are expensive.  When we did a lot of international traveling during my last six years of work, we rarely took tours.  We preferred to go off and see things at our own pace and without some of the frills of a tour that we wouldn't be interested in.

Our favorite time on the road was the summer of 2003 when we toured for 10 weeks with Norm and Linda Payne, including 8 weeks in the Maritimes.  We have run into several groups of folks who were traveling together.  In talking to them, we found out that they were almost always friends who lived in the same community and enjoyed traveling together every summer.  None that we met were full-timers, although I'm sure there are clusters of full-timers who are close to each other and travel a lot together.  Diane and I love to travel and aren't ready to give it up yet, but we both agree that we miss the camaraderie of traveling with other people.  I wrote a bit about this in the travelogue titled "Camaraderie".  Given that we haven't yet done Alaska, or Quartzite, or Mexico, we still have lots of places we want to see before coming off the road.  I guess we could sort of snowbird by coming back to the Encore RV Resort next year and seeing the same people that we've met this year, but that isn't in our plans.  We want to go out to the desert next winter and do Quartzite and Puerto Penasco (Mexico).  As of now, we are still planning to tour the Washington/Oregon coast this year after going to the Newmar Full-timers Rally and the Newmar International Rally, both in Oregon.  Barring any kind of emergency, we plan journey to Alaska in 2006.

It was nice to sit in one spot for a while this winter.  We got to meet lots of new folks while playing bunco and euchre a couple of nights a week.  I signed up to play golf every week and met Chuck Dombrow the first time out.  He and Linda were in the park for two months and we hung around a lot during that time frame.  They were snowbirds from Wisconsin and will be returning next winter.  We enjoyed playing games and the four of us playing the short golf course at Kings Ridge a couple of times.

Unfortunately, the winter didn't start off very good for Diane.  She became very ill in January and ended up spending six days in a hospital.  We had just gotten settled in at the RV park so we didn't know anyone yet.  That meant no visitors for Diane except yours truly, although Diane probably wasn't interested in visitors the first couple of days when they had her on morphine to deaden the pain she was having.  The doctors didn't know what was wrong with her, so they ended up doing several tests.  The final diagnosis was diverticulosis.  The night before she was going to be discharged her heart started palpitating.  She's had palpitations before, but has just lived with it.  It was probably fortunate that it happened in the hospital because they called in a cardiologist who said she suffers from atrial fibrillation.  It wasn't something to be overly concerned about, but should be watched.  It took Diane a few weeks to get back in form, so we spent almost all of February getting Diane back to good health.

There were lots of folks we got to visit with during our stay.

Another memorable day for me and Diane was a day we spent in Disney World when we met two young ladies from Japan.  We were standing on line for the Test Track attraction when we heard the two ladies behind us speaking in Japanese.  If you've looked at the international travelogues I have recently added to our website you know that Diane and I loved our trips to Tokyo.  Not being shy to talk to people, I struck up a conversation with the two ladies.  They were Yuko and Kasumi.  Yuko was fairly conversant with English, so we were able to chat.  They were both going to graduate from college in March and start new jobs.  Yuko said she was going to work as a flight attendant for Japan AirLines (JAL), and Kasumi was going to start a job at the insurance office of Nihon Seimei.  We had a great time talking about places we loved to visit in Japan.  It took a while to get them to understand the full-time lifestyle, but the photo on our social card got the point across that our house was on wheels and moved around the USA.  They both thought that would be a great lifestyle.  Subsequent to meeting Yuko and Kasumi, we got a note from Yuko after she got home.  She said she was planning a vacation to Las Vegas soon and had gone to our website to check it out.  She found the photos from our trip to Las Vegas and was very excited to visit the city.

The spring Newmar full-timer rally was being held at the Clerbrook RV Resort, which was about 25 miles north of where we were staying.  We already paid for our stay at the Encore park, so we went up to the rally for a couple of dinners to meet the folks and play some games.  Many of the folks who attended said they would also be out in Oregon for the rallies in June.

The three months went by very quickly and it was time to head north.  We stopped in Ocala for several days to visit with my mom and help her run errands, as well as go to the movies and out to eat.  Then it was up to Lake City for an overnight to visit with Diane's brother.  As I finish this travelogue we are parked in our daughter's (Jill) driveway for a couple of weeks to take care of doctor and dentist appointments and visit with some old friends during this short stay.

On almost every visit back to the Atlanta area we have the neighbors who lived next door to us in Marietta, Ron and Deanna Tarlton.  I guess because we used to live in the area we never remembered to take the camera with us when we went out.  As a result, I was never able to put a photo of them up on our website.  Well, this time we remembered. 

We also got to visit with an old friend, Dave Kukielski, who we knew from the church parish we belonged to in Marietta.

And then it was time to get on the road again.  I imagine the next travelogue will be from somewhere out in the Pacific Northwest.

Until next time, safe travels.....

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