That is the question we get asked most.
“Wait…you’re doing what?? How? Why?”
Our lives, Rachel and I, as well as our daughters have been upended by recent events. Because we are fairly private people, we don’t jump on social media and splash our lives across the internet. Because of that, the recent events in our lives come as a shock to many who know us, and more so to those who only casually know us.
How it started
For those few who are not aware, on October 1st, 2016 I suffered an Aortic Dissection brought on by an undiagnosed heart defect. I was cracked open like a walnut and factory parts were replaced with plastic valves. It nearly killed me and took a long time to recover. An event like that makes a person re-examine their life in many ways. It also impacts the people closest to them, causing them to reflect on their own lives. Rachel and I decided that we wanted to make changes in how we spent our time, and put together a 5 year plan to finish my life at AT&T, remove all debt from our lives and spend our lives traveling in an RV and seeing our country and any other locations we can get to.
One of the first steps in our plan was making travelling a priority last year. First, going to Miami and the Keys four months after my dissection. Rachel went to Alaska in June as part of her hiking group. In September of 2017 we went to Portland, Oregon and Seattle. This put a bug in our brains about our plans. We had made much progress reducing our debt but were not sure how we were going to afford an RV that would suit our needs. While we were making good money, the prices on new Class-C RV can be well over $120k. That was a debt we were not willing to incur. We had looked at many RVs and knew what features we wanted, but finding all of them, especially in a more economical used RV, was proving elusive.
On March 3rd, we decided to go to the Garage Sale and Swap Meet held at Six Flag Over Mid-America. We didn’t want to buy anything, we were just looking for something to do on a Saturday morning. Well, we got about 3 miles from the exit and traffic was at a standstill, so I asked Rachel to look up and see if there were any RV dealers in the area. She found a place called M.B. Thomas RV sales, so we decided to go check them out, instead of sitting in traffic.
They had a lot of travel trailers, which was not what we wanted, but sitting sort of out-of-the-way was a 2006 Winnibago Outlook Class-C. We went in and took a look around. It had a bed that was accessible from three sides (a requirement!), a shower door (not a curtain, another requirement!) and was in excellent condition. It was very clean inside and out (the microwave and oven looked like they had never been used). Had very low miles (in the mid-20k). We knew it has to be outside our budget, but we went in to ask Lonnie about it. To our shock it was both way under our budget but also way under Blue Book value. We bought it.
(Note: While we have had no significant issues with our RV since our purchase, we have had some questions. Lonnie was always happy to answer any questions and offer assistance. I highly recommend them.)
In April, we decided that we wanted easier and more fun transport to take with us on trips, rather than towing a car behind us. I convinced Rachel that we should get some 49cc scooters. While briefly reluctant, she warmed to the idea when we went to talk to John at Rock Road Scooter Company. We walked out with a blue Bintelli Sprint for her and a Charcoal Grey Bintelli Sprint for me. Since we bought them, we’ve put over 1000 miles on them. They are just stupid fun.
We have taken our RV out several times since then and love it. It is comfortable, spacious for the two of us, and relatively easy to drive (like driving a big moving truck). As of the time of this writing, Rachel has not sat behind the wheel, but I have every confidence that she will overcome her anxiety and be great at cruising down the road. The scooters have made our trips even more fun, as we have to find ways to local desinations that do not include highways. The scooters will go about 30 – 35 mph. That allows us to see parts of the area we may not otherwise get to see by taking the fastest or most common route.
The plan was to continue taking longer and farther trips in the RV, spending a few weeks and then up to a month in it. Eventually, we would go full time and travel to all corners of the country and anywhere else we point our bumpers. All was going well and our plans were on track. 3 more years and we would be set!
The best laid plans…
The company for which I have worked for the last 20 years, AT&T, decided to revise my time table. While they got a huge winfall in tax breaks and a very profitable merger of Time-Warner from the FCC, it was just not enough to afford both the massive stock buybacks AND keep thousands of employee’s jobs. That, combined with a steadfast push toward automation led to what they euphamistically call a “surplus”. Ironically, I was a member of the Automation Team, which was informed by senior management as responsible for eliminating other people’s jobs. While I personally did not take part in any projects like that I had a serious ethical issue with that philosophy.
When informed I would be losing my job we immediately put our house on the market. Since buying our house we have put a lot of work in it and we decided that our best option, rather than risk losing the house if I were unable to secure a job with a sufficient salary, was to sell the house, finish paying off our debt and advance our plans by 3 years. We listed the house on September 24th, 2018. We agreed on a contract on October 12th, 2018. We will close on November 12th.
Over the last two years, we had been downsizing our possessions considerably. However, we were still a long way from being ready to RV full time. Most of my musical gear, including my beloved drum set, were still here and no matter how much I would like to take them with me they still won’t fit in the RV. Couches, tables, chairs, desks, wall decor, TVs. It all had to go and we began posting it on Facebook Marketplace.
As of this writing, we have less than two weeks until we close on the house. We still have items we need to sell or otherwise find new homes for. The living room, dining room and entire second floor are empty. I’m confident we will succeed. We have to.
Our original plan was to leave right after the house sold. However, being so close to Thanksgiving we decided to stay so that I could spend a last dinner with my siblings before we head out. On Black Friday Rachel and I will leave St. Louis. We are going to spend the weekend in Springfield, MO with Sydney before heading to Lake Jackson, Texas.
Of the friends I have discussed this with all have proclaimed either good-natured jealousy or their desire to do something similar. I do not know what the outcome of this adventure will be, but Rachel and I are determined to make it work. If it is something that you have seriously considered I strongly recommend putting a plan together to work toward that goal. I believe that life is an adventure and there will be ups and downs but Rachel and I are hoping that the freedom and wonder we will have will be worth whatever difficulties we encounter.
See you out there!