Our First RV Adventure

We have been RVers for almost 4 years but, until we retired last October, our camping experiences were limited to weekends and the ocassional week of vacation. We started out with a 27' travel trailer with no slide-outs, which was great for the weekend trips. After retirement, we knew that we would be taking longer trips and that we needed a larger, more comfortable RV.

We originally towed the travel trailer with a Ford Expedition and the short wheelbase of the Expedition was responsible for some serious sway. When we switched over to a 3/4 ton pickup, the sway went away but I was afraid that if we bought a larger, longer travel trailer, the sway problem would return. So we bought a fifthwheel.

As soon as we took delivery, we headed to Florida for a month during March and discovered that we could live in our new RV comfortably for an extended period of time. We gained confidence in the use of our new RV and got a good feel for the things we would need to take on an even longer trip.

For several years, we had been planning a long trip out west. We read camping magazines, RV Internet forums, and the travelogues of fulltime RVers. I hung a map of the U.S on my wall and it soon became covered with stick pins as we marked all the things we wanted to see.

I got many of my ideas from Mark Nemeth. I found his website just as he was completing a 4 year fulltime adventure. At that time, the website contained his travel logs accompanied by many interesting photos. I also found many interesting areas on the website of Dave and Helen Damouth. Country Discoveries magazine was a good source of information about places to visit.

The main points of interest for us were the National Parks on the west coast, such as Yosemite, Crater Lake, and Olympic. We also wanted to see Mt. St. Helens, Grand Coulee Dam, and the Oregon coast. So, our initial route connected these points. Many of the other stick pins were along this route or a short diversion away. We are members of the Escapee's RV Club and our route allowed us to visit many of the Escapee's RV parks. I also wanted to follow the Oregon Trail so we joined it at Scott's Bluff, NE and followed it (in reverse) back to Independence, MO.

As we planned our trip, we decided not to make reservations unless it was absolutely necessary. We wanted the flexibility to modify our route or extend our stay in an area we really liked. This strategy worked out pretty well. On two occasions, we arrived at full campgrounds but were able to find available alternatives without too much trouble. We were able to spend holiday weekends at Escapees RV parks which always seemed to have a spot available.

We are not fulltimers - we still have our house. But the duration of this trip was long enough to get a feel for the fulltime experience. So, for you fulltime wannabes, here is one more person's experience that may help you decide to get an RV and "hit the road."

My wife and I felt very comfortable living for 4 months in our 33' fifthwheel. Click here to see our rig. A larger RV with a third slideout for the entertainment center and a computer desk would have been nice. But we barely squeezed into some of our campsites and one state park campground near Mt. St. Helens did not have sites big enough for us.

In addition to all the things one might expect to carry on a trip like this, we also had two generators, a Honda EU1000 and a Honda EM3000c. We rarely used the Honda EM3000c and used the Honda EU1000 only when there were no hookups (13 days of camping). If I had it to do all over again, I would get two Honda EU2000s and a parallel hookup cable. I also carried my toolbox. These three items added about 200 lbs. to my load.

We paid most of our bills via the Internet using credit cards and electronic funds transfers from our checking account. Since we are not fulltimers, we did not use the traditional mail forwarding that organizations like Escapees offer. We had our mail forwarded by the Post Office to relatives and they paid those bills that we unable to pay via the Internet. They also screened our mail and, during phone conversations, would open pieces at out request. We never had any mail forwarded except for some prescription medicines.

I am retired military and we have Tricare Standard medical coverage. We don't have dental coverage, so those expenses must be paid out-of-pocket. Fortunately, neither of us required any medical or dental care during this trip. Some of my prescriptions were with the Wal-Mart pharmacy and these were easily refilled at the local Wal-Marts. Other prescriptions were with the Tricare mail order pharmacy and refills were ordered via the Internet and sent to my home. Relatives then forwarded the medicine to me via UPS or FedEx.

If you interested in a more detailed description of our trip, click on the links below. I did not include photos for several reasons. Web pages with a lot of photos take a long time to load. I also felt that asking someone to look at a bunch of trip photos was like forcing them to watch my home movies. Someone like Mark Nemeth can use photos because he is a much better photographer than I am and he uses thumbnail photos for the initial display. The viewer then has the option of clicking on the photos they find interesting for a better look. I'm too lazy to learn and implement his techniques.

Where Did We Go?

How Much Did It Cost?

Detailed Trip Description