"New Posts to The RV Sabbatical Journal are published punctually, precisely on-time, whenever I get around to it... unless something comes up."
"Ahhh... something just came up..."
"Ahhh... something just came up..."
What drives seemingly normal people to abandon a comfortable suburban life in exchange for the nomadic lifestyle of explorers and vagabonds? Are they nuts?
Shun convention. Question authority. Think for yourself.
Don't let anyone tell you what to think. Live Fearlessly.
(October 2014 update added at bottom....)
We are Dar and Thom. Our adult lives have been relatively conventional by most people's standards... professional careers, two kids, house in the suburbs, etc. We've lived all around the USA during my (Thom's) working days, which may be somewhat responsible for our wanderlust and for raising our awareness that every place has a story, a history, and interesting people... if you only look deep enough. We both love history and use travel as the vehicle to go out and experience it.
The one key thing we did throughout our life together was to live below our means -- never owned a BMW or Mercedes, always had a less expensive home than we could have qualified for, didn't have many "toys" or expensive hobbies, and kept our kid's expectations in check too. As a result, we were able to save what we didn't spend and found ourselves debt-free while still in our 40's. Once we didn't own anybody anything, the savings grew even faster.
By our mid 50's, both kids were grown, had finished college (yes, with degrees), were gainfully employed, and, most importantly, living on their own. At the same time, both of us were feeling restless... sensing the passage of time and that there's more to life than what we were experiencing in our rut in suburbia. On a whim one snowy February weekend day, we attended a boat and RV show and learned (to our great surprise) that there are people that live fulltime in boats and RV's... and do so for many years while they're traveling around and experiencing life in all the corners of the world. The notion hit us like a ton of bricks... the possibility of being modern-day explorers... living simple and uncomplicated lives... needing little and wanting less... well, it just felt right to both of us. We were primed for something unconventional, something crazy, and this might just be it.
We're referring to this adventure as a "sabbatical", as we fully expect to eventually settle down again and get back to some kind of work or business, hopefully in a warmer and less congested environment. But this settling down is still a long way off and, in the meantime, we're, quite simply, having a blast. (Update September 2011: I know... a sabbatical is usually one year and we're into our fifth year. Please forgive our our misuse of the term, and let's just say it's an "extended sabbatical".) (Update April 2015: OK, it's looking doubtful that we'll ever get back to working again. Of course, we might find that after settling down somewhere, one or both of us will find some diversion with the purpose of getting out of the house once in a while.)
Dar: A Registered Nurse, she's held various positions in hospitals, nursing homes, and clinics. A few years ago she moved her career in a new direction by transitioning from traditional nursing to industrial nursing and occupational health care. This involved working with businesses in industrial plant settings to develop health programs, administer on-going health initiatives, and training employees in first-aid, CPR, and other health-related skills. Later, she developed her own occupational health and safety consulting business. Most recently, she was a safety and health manager with an S&P 200 corporation.
Thom: A Business Manager by profession, he spent over 25 years with Duo-Fast Corporation. You may know Duo-Fast as a leading manufacturer of pneumatic nailing and stapling systems used mostly in home construction as well as some industrial applications. During the course of his career he held a number of positions including sales, marketing, information systems, sales management, division manager, and corporate staff.
About our Home:
After a lot of research, attending two Life On Wheels conferences, reading blogs of other fulltimers, and visiting RV shows, manufacturers, and dealers, we settled on a 39 foot Newmar Kountry Star motorhome. It's a "diesel pusher" (rear mounted diesel engine) which has the capability to move us, our stuff, and our car down the road with reasonable alacrity. Over the life of the rig (more than 4 years as of this writing) we've averaged just under 8mpg, which we consider reasonable for our total weight of more than 32,000 lbs. We worked with Newmar personnel at the plant to spec the unit and build it the way we thought we wanted it. After four years, we can say we're still happy with most of our choices and would only change a few things if we had to do it over again. We do tow a car (at this writing it's a Ford Focus) that we use for local transportation and exploring.
Thoughts for the Future:
This is our first motorhome and it will probably be our last too. At some point in the future we want to establish a home-base (or two)... perhaps one in Texas or Arizona and the other in the Northwest near our kids and grand-kids. The home-base may just be a leased lot in an RV community as we're really NOT into owning anything at this point. It will serve the function of housing us during our longer stays, be a place to keep extra clothes, stuff, memorabilia, records.... whatever, and satisfy our need for a little more space during the resting periods between our continued explorations. We'll then downsize the exploring rig to something much smaller than a motorhome in order to be more nimble and spontaneous in our travels. I'd like to get away from towing anything and see the new rig as a way to explore in a linear fashion (point A to point B to point C, etc) instead of the hub and spoke method we must use today (park motorhome at point A and drive car out to point B and back, then point C and back, etc.). We also enjoy smaller, more primitive and out of the way camping venues, and enjoy desert boondocking in the Southwest... and a smaller rig will give us much more capability in that regard.
Update October 2014:
Our lifestyle is evolving. This past May we became members in the SKP Timber Valley Coop community in Sutherlin Oregon. We're finding it very much to our liking and now consider it our home-base for the next few years (don't want to plan too far into the future). We still have the bushouse... our Newmar motorhome. It's been our home for the past 7 years and it really feels like home to us, wherever it is.
We also have a truck and truck camper. During the past few months we've spent about 50 nights in it, much of it on a month long shake-down "cruise" between the Pacific Northwest and Wisconsin. It took some getting used to as it's very small and requires some adjustments to routines... what we call "camper choreography". But the trade-off (and it's all about trade-offs... compromises... isn't it?) is a very nimble, go-almost-anywhere rig that makes traveling, touring, excursion-ing a pleasure that involves no thoughts about rig-size, clearances, parking space, etc. There are plans for many more excursions involving this new rig, including Alaska in the next year or two.
During the next year we'd like to replace the bushouse (I know, it's gonna be hard) with a trailer (5th wheel, travel trailer, or "destination trailer"). Our more or less permanent homebase and our much smaller travel rig, together, mean we can keep our home rig right here on the lot in Sutherlin year 'round. Don't want to do that to the bushouse... because motorhomes need to be driven, to be on the road, to be used the way they are intended to be used. A trailer can sit, a motorhome wants to be driven.
Neither of us, at this point, have any desire for a lot or property that we own. Ownership has it's pro's and con's, and the con's, for us at this point, more than offset the pro's. For the next few years we still want to travel and explore as much as we can.