Everything Has Changed – Trading Myrtle

As I was sitting across the table from Joe – my salesman from General RV – he said, “your deal is approved, but you need to bring your RV here.”  I had a moment of silent panic as I quickly considered all the moving parts involved with getting Myrtle to Florida – let alone the 831 mile drive I would need to take in an RV I really did not like driving.  I looked over at Tim (my brother) he was smiling and happy his idea of coming to General RV had resulted in my new RV. He had no clue what conversations would ensue on the way home.

Leaving the RV dealership, I was a bundle of nerves. nervous wreckInstead of taking a few moments to celebrate the new RV purchase – I was deep in thought trying to figure out the next steps for getting mom home, the RV to Florida in less than 7 days and getting my truck back to Florida because I would be driving the RV.  Tim looked over at me as I was driving back to Sarasota and said, “you seem awful deep in thought there Manny – what is up?” For the next hour we talked about all the planning and things that needed to happen over the next few days. Worst of all, my poor mother would need to cut her vacation short because we needed to leave to head back to Louisiana the very next day.

 

Tim and I had a million iterations of what I needed to do. At one point he said he would drive back with mom and me and would drive the RV to Florida; which would allow me to drive the truck back … but none of these plans seemed to settle with me.planning Once we arrived back to my brother’s house – I called mom (she was visiting with a dear friend) and I told her we needed to leave early the next morning. She was not happy, but understood the reasons and readily accepted the end to her vacation. I felt so bad about this, but there was simply no choice unless she decided to stay and fly back to Louisiana – which would definitely cost more money.

The next morning came very quickly – mom and I strapped into the truck and made the journey back to Louisiana. driving homeWe arrived at mom’s house late – around 1AM … quickly went to bed and woke early the next morning. I headed off to Myrtle to get her ready to travel and let the RV Park know I was leaving.  I was staying with Bayou Wilderness RV Park in Carencro. The owners were friends of my mother and were great people. As I was driving back to the RV park, Tim called me and told me he had arranged for a transport company to pick up my truck later that morning …. the cost was reasonable and they would deliver my truck to Florida is 2 days.

It seemed like the initial plan was working – the truck was headed to Florida, mom was home, and I was getting Myrtle ready for a long drive!  Looked like things were working out. As I finished up preparing Myrtle to travel and sat in the driver’s seat getting ready to start the engine – I noticed the battery was dead.Snapshot 1 (5-14-2016 12-19 AM) I had just purchased a brand new ignition battery less than a year ago. I knew my old house batteries were draining the new battery so I went to Walmart and purchased a battery charger and proceeded to charge the battery. After a few hours – Myrtle started right now. With the slide powered in and the outside maintenance done, all I had to do was finish some odds and ends inside and would be ready to leave for Florida in the morning.

I remember talking with my brother the night before I left and said, “I am ready for all this to be done – have a few weeks pass and sit around the pool talking about how crazy this experience was.”  He laughed and said it will be all done soon enough.

The morning of my departure came very early – Myrtle was ready to go and so was I. She started right up and we were on the road. I am sure if you have been reading my blog you know how much I have complained about the roads in Louisiana … well driving a large RV on these roads is 100 times worse than driving a car or truck.pot holes It seemed like we bounced and swerved all the way out of Louisiana.  Of course – as we were crossing the state line into Mississippi – a big storm started brewing and it was not long before the rain was so heavy – I had to pull over at a rest area and wait out the storm. My windshield wipers were not working very well and it was difficult to see with the volume of water. At the rest stop, I dried off the windshield and applied Rainex. What a great product … I was able to drive in the pouring rain without even using my wipers – and that was nice.

I arrived in Robertsdale, Alabama late in the evening around 9PM at the Hilltop RV Park. I had stayed at the Hilltop before and it was nice to be back – even though it was only for a night. The park looked the same and many of the same long term people were still there. I did not have time to visit as I was on a mission to get to Florida. Woke up early the next morning to the typical Summer storm … pouring the rain. I wondered if I should wait to leave until the storm was over … looking at my weather app on my iPhone – the storm cell was large and would be situated over Alabama for the rest of the day – I needed to get out of dodge and head to Florida.

Back on the road – pouring the rain – but the Rainex  is still working. I am a nervous wreck the windshield arms are going to break because they are old and needed to be replaced when I purchased Myrtle. I could see and was safe driving on the road because of the intermittent use of the wipers and the Rainex. duskGetting into Florida, my initial plan was to overnight in Ocala … and then make the rest of the trip the following day … I would arrive in more than enough time, but I wanted this trip over with! I drove past Lake City and then Ocala. By this time – it was getting to be dusk … the clouds had cleared and there was a beautiful sunset off to the west.

The orange, pink, and blue colors of the clouds as the sun set over the horizon helped me realize how free I was … to travel the country, see amazing things and not be beholden to anything but exploration. For the first time since I had been full time on the road, that spirit of discovery had re-emerged.Happiness All of my fears from driving Myrtle were gone. She had performed flawlessly – driving through terrible roads, torrential rain, and other challenges without so much as a skipped beat. Myrtle was really a great running beast and I would definitely miss her.

As my mind wonders in thought … I realized it was 11:00PM, driving in the dark with patches of rain, and I was almost to my destination. What a crazy few days it has been I thought to myself. Despite all the challenges, despite all the fears of driving Myrtle so far – it had all worked out. I arrived at the RV dealership at 12:10PM.  Parking in the RV section at General RV in Plant City, Florida, I turned off the ignition key and gave Myrtle and myself a little rest. We had made it and Myrtle would be traded in the next day.

The night flew past and before I knew it, the technicians from General RV were at my door and ready to do the trade-in inspection of Myrtle. They were impressed she made it 831 miles in two days without any mechanical issues … quietly, I was impressed too. As the inspection came to a conclusion – my new travel trailer was moved from the lot and transported to where Myrtle and I were parked.saying goodbyeThe technicians placed General RV stickers on Myrtle and asked me for the keys … leaving me one so I could move out and then lock her up. It was time to say goodbye to Myrtle and thank her for always having my back and getting me safely to my destinations over the last 2 years.

My ownership of this wonderful RV was over … what a ride for the last two years … I will miss Myrtle!Transition And now my new adventure starts. You see from this point – everything had changed! I will leave you with this parting picture. It represents the ending of the old and the starting of the new. If a picture paints a thousand words than this picture tells the whole story. Thank you for spending the time reading my adventure and I hope you subscribe to my You Tube Channel – The Paddy Wagon and this blog and join me for more fun to come.

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Everything has Changed! The Deal

Driving around in Lafayette, Louisiana in my new Ford F-150 Eco-boost pick-up truck I felt right at home with the southern rednecks and their big trucks. trucknutsYou really have to know me to know how ridiculous this sounds. Aside from the fact that I am a well-educated university professor, the idea of trolling around in my pick-up truck is not something I would ever do. However, I did enjoy the occasional show of testosterone and gunning my engine and squealing out from the stop light – but that only happened once. Once again – I digress from my main topic. Time to get back to business!

I knew Myrtle was aging and while I had reduced the number of things that needed to be repaired considerably, I knew my maintenance list was going to continue to grow. This is simply a fact of life when you own an RV.  The Paddy WagonI read that 90% of the RV works 100% of the time. I am sure I read this on one of my RV forums, but can’t remember who said it. Regardless – this statement is certainly true. And, an older RV can develop quite an impressive maintenance list very fast. I knew I needed to get a newer RV and it was time to trade in Myrtle.

Remember – by this point, I had been living in my Class A for close to two years. I was ready to have certain modern conveniences that I had given up to live in the RV. I wanted a fresh water tank that worked, a black tank clean out that did not require me to drag a hose into the RV and stick it in the toilet bowl. I wanted sensors that worked correctly and most notably – I no longer wanted my engine in my house.  You see, owning a Class A RV meant I had three engines to take care of. The engine in the RV is one, the engine in my car is another, and the engine in the generator is the last one. All three of these engines need attention and maintenance. Interestingly enough, they seemed to need maintenance attention at the same time; which cost a lot of money! It was time to change my paradigm and get into a newer RV.

During this time, I am hanging out in Lafayette, Louisiana. Great city northwest of New Orleans – very religious and spiritual people – but they were terrible drivers. The Cajun food was awesome and the craw fish were hard to eat … but a great little place to hang out and stay for a piece.  My mother once ate close to 7 pounds of craw fish (finishing mine because I could not figure out how to eat them properly). The community has a number of RV dealers and I knew I would need to go to an RV dealer because I was not going to sell Myrtle outright through a private transaction.

I visited a few of the RV dealers in Lafayette, but I am not going to name names only because the experience was less than favorable. One dealer wanted to give me just shy of $5,000 trade on Myrtle. Now remember, the market value of my RV retail was at least $21k … I was pretty offended and just left that dealership. The other few dealerships did not even bother to come out of their offices when I was on the show room floor or in the lot looking at their models. I will readily admit there was one young salesman from Camping World in Carencro, LA that was very helpful. I think this might have been his first sale’s job but he spent close to an hour showing me their inventory. While I would have happily bought an RV from him, Camping World prices were simply too high and their selection at this location was very limited.  Never the less – he was probably the most helpful salesperson I worked with during my ventures around Lafayette.

By this point I was pretty discouraged and thought I might just keep Myrtle and get a flat tow hitch for the new truck. After all – the truck could be flat towed so there was no reason why this was not an reasonable alternative. It was just about that time when I received a call from my brother. We talked about my RV dilemma and he suggested I come down to Florida and talk to the dealerships by his work place in Plant City. Gen RVPlant City, Florida is the first city heading east on I-4 from Tampa. This area is home to one of the largest Camping World Dealerships as well as General RV Dealership. But I told my brother the idea was crazy, but I would think about it.

My mother and I had talked about taking time and going to Florida to visit my brothers during her scheduled time off where she was supposed to go to Italy. Due to a health scare, she was not able to go and was sitting around the house with little to so. My schedule was free – so we packed up the truck and headed to Florida for a little R&R and for me to look at some RVs.  We arrived in Sarasota on a Saturday in the evening and decided to take the weekend and relax. My brother was off from work the following Monday and we decided we would take a trip to visit the dealerships in Plant City. I was not hopeful and thought what a sincere waste of time. But there was something calling me to go – so we hopped in my brother’s car and headed to the dealership.

It was a hot and terribly muggy day – temperatures reaching at least 95 degrees (F) with the “feels like” temperature around 101 degrees (F). TempBig black storm clouds were on the horizon; which I thought to be an ominous sign for retreat. I told my brother Tim, “this is going to be a waste of time and it s going to start raining – we should probably just go.” Tim said, “let’s press on and see what they have here … you never know, you might find something that will work for you.” So we pressed on ….

The salesmen at General RV was named Joe … an older and rather distinguished gentleman that was incredibly polite and knowledgeable. This is a fresh change from the salespeople I dealt with in Lafayette, I thought. We met in his office and it was very cool and comfortable. He offered us some water and started to ask me a number of questions about what I was looking for in my new RV. I laughed and said “Look Joe, you are a great guy, but I have been through this more than enough and here is the deal … this is what I want, for this price, this is what I want for my trade, and this is the style of RV I want.” “If you can’t do it – that is fine – no need to waste my time or your time and I will be going.”  Joe looked at me as if he was sizing me up, got a smile on his face and said “I like that you know exactly what you want and I am going to do my best to met your expectations – come on out to the lot with me.”

Gulf CartBefore I knew it, my brother and I were riding along in a gulf cart zig zagging across a waste land of recreational vehicles. Large, small, medium, and sizes in between … 5th wheels, travel trailers, towables,  Class As, Class Cs, anything you wanted – they had it. “Wow- my brother was right – this place is amazing”, I thought to myself! It was not long before Tim and I were in an out of a number of travel trailers. Each one had an issue that was not appealing to me. I was determined I was going to get what I wanted!  After all, I was going to be living in this trailer and needed it to meet my needs. Myrtle had been very comfortable to live in and it was going to be hard to replace that comfy feeling. However, after the time has passed – we had not found anything that peaked my interest.

By this point I was done …. we had been in an out of what seemed like 10 travel trailers. For one reason or another I did not like the model, the manufacturer, or some other reason I probably made up.  Several months before I had toured a Jayco Jay Feather and I fell in love with the floor plan and the design. The kitchen counter top was a huge selling feature on this model. In my mind I was hoping to find a design like this but none of the models Joe showed me even compared. storm cloudsBy this time, the ominous black storm clouds had made its way over to us and the rain started to come down. We were riding around in the gulf cart and my poor brother, riding in the unprotected rear of the cart, was getting soaked. Joe kept looking at his inventory paper and I had enough of all this happiness and was ready to go. I told Joe to take us back to the office and thanked him for his efforts. He pleasantly asked me if I would look at one more RV … “what the heck I thought – Tim is already soaked – might as well just look.”

Heritage GlenJoe pulled up to this Wildwood by Heritage Glen … very pretty – modern design – looked edgy and trendy. We quick ran to get into the RV to get out of the monsoonal rain. The minute I stepped into this RV, I knew this was the one. Immediately I was greeted by an open and spacious floor plan and better than that – the designed I wanted in the Jayco was the same in this model. The kitchen counter top was the same as the Jayco, the layout the same as the Jayco and the overall feel of the RV exactly the same as the Jayco. I told Joe – “you did it” we left the RV and went back to the office to talk deal!

After some significant negotiating, Joe came through as he said he would. The deal was acceptable and I signed the paperwork. LouisianaHowever, there were two big issues that in all the excitement about buying the new RV I had almost completely forgotten about – my mother and Myrtle. Mother was in Florida (with me on vacation – remember) and Myrtle was in Louisiana.

Stay tuned for Everything has changed – Trading Myrtle!

Everything Has Changed – The Story!

Armed with the understanding that my mobile lifestyle was supposed to be mobile – I found myself traveling very little for fear I would experience a break down that would be very costly. I was paralyzed by some of the stories I had read/watched on Facebook, blogs, and YouTube about RVers stuck on the side of the road.  However, we have to face our fears. Fear can paralyze a person. I had faced so many fears in this new lifestyle, but I knew I needed a change if I ever hoped to travel and live the life that I believe I was called to live.

When I originally planned my RV life, I wanted to get a truck and a trailer. I felt this would best meet my needs for travel and living. But I had just purchased a new car and was unable to trade the car without a significant loss. After months and months of looking for an acceptable RV, I found Myrtle. I will readily admit when I found Myrtle, I was caught up in the fantasy of traveling and Myrtle would make this new lifestyle possible … or so I thought. From the first day I picked up this Class A RV, I knew I would have to get use to driving a big rig. Right out of the gate, I had some rather large repair bills … from engine work to having to replace all the brakes … I was losing money with each trip to the service center. After a lot of outgoing cash … Myrtle was finally sound and travel worthy, but I still had nightmares of not being able to stop (brake issues) and engine failures despite the fact that I had repaired the brakes and repaired the engine.

As I began my travel adventure, I soon discovered Myrtle and I were not a match. While I loved living in the Class A and was able to get on the road quickly, I found myself delaying travel plans to go to the places I wanted to see. I had made it as far as Foley, 14724617_1803343729882145_9201580656783493577_n (1)Alabama and setup up house in a small country RV park. Little did I know, but this would be where I would sit for the next year! I remember a conversation I had with my brother where I told him … this life is not going to work for me because I do not see myself driving this big Class A all over the country. I told him “I am grounded” and stuck in lower Alabama. Being the true motivator, he told me to start thinking about what I would need to get on the road. At this point, I was totally discouraged and ready to call it quits.

Adding to this conundrum – my savings account was Moneydecreasing each month because my online income was not as promising as it appeared it would be before I left Florida. My world was a mess and so was I.  As I wondered about how I would manage all this craziness, I was offered an opportunity to teach under contract in North Carolina. While I was not crazy about the idea of leaving Myrtle stored at the RV park to go up north, I knew I needed to take a break from RV life and gather myself in order to make a plan. And – that is exactly what I did.

I completed my teaching assignment and returned to Alabama and to Myrtle. She had been in storage at the RV park for close to 6 monthsIMG_1780 and I was concerned she might not start or she would need more expensive repairs. However, much to my happiness – she started up and ran beautifully. Aside from some general clean up and maintenance related issues – Myrtle was good to go. You can watch the video here by clicking the link.  During my time away – I had made up my mind I was going to face my fears and was leaving Alabama headed out to Louisiana to see my mother and spend sometime out there with her. Operationalizing these plans would be a little more of a challenge.

You see I did not have a tow dolly – yet another part of my travel dilemma. Add to this issue with the fact that I had never towed anything in my life and my dislike to driving Myrtle and … well … you get the idea. It was going to take a lot of courage on my end to get on the road with a 29 foot Class A RV towing my car.  Back on the phone with my brother … sharing my feelings about all this and he was quiet on the other end. If you know my brother …. he is never quiet about anything. Finally – he said … for a guy that has faced so many challenges in his life … I cannot believe you are going to let something like towing your car keep you from getting on the road. There are very few people in my life that can get me moving … but he is one of them. After the call … I thought long and hard about our conversation and decided I would rent a tow dolly and get out of Alabama. Trust me, by this point – I was ready to go!

I went to U-haul and rented a tow dolly, hooked up and stated down I-10 West. Driving the Class A RV with a tow dolly was really not a big deal. RV towing carIt seemed the tow dolly weighed the back end of the coach nicely and made driving a little more comfortable. Driving down the road – it seemed all the fears and hesitations I had disappeared. Yes – it was challenging to drive – but I was doing it like hundreds of other RVers out there. I was on the road towing my car – heading to Louisiana. “I got this!” I thought as the miles passed. No worries – this is not too bad.  Haha … ok – the truth – I was done. I knew driving my Class A with a tow dolly was not going to be for me. This trip basically confirmed that my goal was to get a new setup and soon! Watch the video of me getting the tow-dolly and hitting the road.

Arriving in Louisiana I found a sweet RV park called Bayou Wilderness RV Park.  Donna and ButchButch and Donna were wonderful people as the owners of the park and they provided me with a great site. The park as much larger than I had expected. You see, I had been in contact with Donna since I left Florida. She had been expecting me for a while and when I finally arrived, I think she was a little surprised (actually – I was surprised I actually had made it there too!).  The park was gated and the people were very friendly. Louisiana hospitality was what I needed after my 300 mile trip from Alabama. I began to settle in and started thinking about my plans for change. My first course of action was to trade in m car for a new truck. I began researching the type of truck I would need to pull the RV I was going to get.

So a few months have gone by since I arrived in Louisiana. It was nice to send time with my mom and her friend Shirley. We would plan dinners, go out to eat and we started playing a card game called Skip-bo. Shirley was the champion ofMom and SHirely this game as she never could seem to beat mom. But, it was not long before I was beating both of them and enjoying the spoils of being the Skip-bo champion in Louisiana. But, I digress …. I seem to do this when I am writing a blog post that is this long. In any event, I knew my time was drawing short and I needed to get moving on finding a truck. I had visited several dealerships, but the prices on the trucks were outrageous and I began to wonder if would be possible to trade my car. After many weeks of looking, I came across Courtesy Ford in Breaux Bridge – just down the road from where I was staying. The salesman Johnny was very nice and before I knew it, he had made me a deal I could not refuse.

Sitting in the finance office of the Ford dealership, I began to see my change plan start to happen. The dealership had made a great trade offer on my car in exchange for a new 2017 Ford F-150 Ecoboost.  After a great deal of research on my part, I knew the truck was perfect for my needs and I signed the papers. Ford F-150Driving away from the dealership in my new truck was awesome. I felt like my plan was starting to come together …. now all I needed was to trade in Myrtle!

I started driving my new truck around town. Now – the pot holes in Louisiana are very real. In case you did not believe the other RVers that have reported this in their blogs or videos … make no mistake – the roads are terrible. This becomes increasingly more problematic when you are driving a new truck. Right out of the gate, I wondered if I would need a new alignment before leaving this great state.

Stay tuned for part three of this crazy story!

Everything has Changed!

It has been a while since I written my blog … many reasons. But, suffice to say I am back and will be writing far more than I had before. For those of you that have stuck around – a word of thanks and appreciation. For those that left – perhaps you will come back. No way to really know. The reason I write this blog is really more therapeutic than anything else, but I am highly inspired to write by some of my blogger friends like xsyntriknomad 

Devan

and Random Bits of Trial and Error. They are both amazing bloDawnggers that offer stories of adventure, imagination, experiences, and total inspiration. I love positivity in my life and both of these great bloggers provide me with a dose of positivity whenever it seems I need it. I have been following Devan’s blog for the last two years and love her writing style. We have develop such an amazing friendship and I feel honored to have someone as special as Devan in my life! She recently left her sticks and bricks life and headed on the road in a van … talk about brave – wow – impressive. She is doing great too!  So proud of you gurl! Look forward to actually meeting you in person one day.

I met Dawn and her husband Mike back in January of this year. Well – actually – Mike sent me a message on Facebook that he and his wife Dawn were long time subscribers to my YouTube Channel The Paddy Wagon back in 2016. In his message, Mike shared he and Dawn was inspired by my RV story (among other YouTubers they watch) and decided they were ready to take their life on the road. This is a brave decision for many people that chose this lifestyle and Mike and Dawn are no different. Fortunately, Mike has a career that is mobile and allows him to work from the road. Dawn recently retired from the Mayo Clinic after 30 years of service.  Wow – these are pretty amazing people.

You see – for me – I thrive on the value of the human experience where people live their lives making great personal choices for freedom, autonomy, and self expression. Devan and Dawn chronicle these human experiences in their respective blogs and their writing inspires me to face fears, be more than I thought I could be, but most importantly, they both give me strength and courage to develop my own resolve to do amazing things in my life. For that – I say thank you ladies – you are changing people’s lives through your writing. Please keep it up! But, I digress from the main point of this blog post …. everything has truly changed for me.

When we last left off, I was taking Myrtle to the RV repair shop and blogging about my house being steps away, but feeling a terrible sense of vulnerability. As I was writing that blog post I made the decision it was time to change!  Myrtle was NOT helping me achieve my travel goals and it was absolutely time to get serious about being more mobile Transition

Stay tuned for the rest of the story. If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen the rest of the story .. but if not, you will have to wait for part II of everything has changed!  Trust me – it will be exciting to read.

Building Our RV Community – Thanks to The Paddy Wagon

Random Bits of Trial and Error

One of my concerns before getting on the road was wondering about a sense of community.  Living in the same place for 30 years afforded lifelong friendships.  Even though I didn’t have daily conversations with my friends, we would always pick up where we took off the last time we talked.  There was someone nearby in case we needed something and vice versa.  Would we have friendships like that on the road?  Could we form meaningful friendships  in such as short time?  Our first week answered those questions with a resounding yes.

img_8916 Patrick filming Mike

As I mentioned in a previous post, we had watched Patrick of The Paddy Wagon and many other YouTube channels before embarking on our trip.  Vloggers like Patrick have a way of bringing viewers into their lives and forging a sense of a personal connection.   He was interested in the same dreams we…

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Living in the RV and Repairs

The day seems long sitting in the stark waiting room of my RV service station. I have read all the Reader’s Digest versions on the table and the smell of Glade is fresh on my nose as it fills the small room. 

Waiting provides time to think. My home is in the garage not far away from me and yet … I feel vulnerable. I wonder … how many full time RVers feel like me when they are getting their rig serviced?  In the days before leaving on the road – I was not as concerned about service issues. I could drop off the rig and then go home and wait to be called when the rig was ready. Not the case today. 

But I would not trade this life for anything and this is all part of the adventure and journey. While I feel strangely vulnerable … I know I am not and my home is only steps away from me. I may be bored while I wait but the adventures that await me make it tolerable.

So the next time you find yourself sitting in the waiting room of an RV service center … strike up a conversation with the guy waiting next to you or consider the exciting adventures you are sure to have because you are taking good care of your home.

Life on the Road

Hello all my dear readers!  I have missed you and I am sure you have been wondering where I have been for the last few weeks. Well … I have been living my life on the road! I want to share with you some of the things that have been on my mind over the last few weeks. And – thank you for hanging in there with me.

When I was driving to my current location I spent a great deal of time white knuckling the driveThe Road and having a great deal of anxiety. You see, I worry about everything and I guess I was anticipating a break down or something terrible to happen as I began my journey. No new RVer wants to be stranded on the side of the road waiting for help – worse yet, have some mechanical failure while passing through a busy city with limited access to pull over to the side of the highway. Fortunately, I did not experience any of this and the coach did very well traveling over 600 miles.
Now that I am parked, I need to get over this feeling of impending doom when I get back on the road. I have thought of many strategies to relax and just enjoy the ride, but for one reason or another, it is hard to think about anything else when I am driving.enjoy the trip As I reflect on my life – I realized I have always purchased new vehicles …. as a single father raising three kids … I needed reliable transportation. I never wanted to risk a breakdown that would prevent me from picking up my children from school, not being able to get to work, or simply not having access to transportation. As the years evolved – so did my idea that a new vehicle is more trust worthy than a used one.

Enter the RV world … and I am beginning to discover a used RV is much better than a new RV because most of the troubles have been worked out and the vehicle should provide many miles of enjoyable tripping.  With my rig (Myrtle) – we have been through many challenges together and I have put a great deal of work into her repairs to be road worthy. Yet, I am still thinking maybe a newer RV is a better idea for me. Will Myrtle ever be able to earn my trust?  Listen – the RV is a machine … and at tno worrieshe end of the day – if taken care of properly – the machine will continue to run for a long time. Why would I ever want to get a new RV and work through the challenges of repairs and warranty issues?
Not interested – so for now … Myrtle and I will continue to move forward on the road together. I have my roadside assistance plan and extended warranty – let the worries leave the enjoyment start.

See – writing is therapeutic for me. It gives me an outlet to work through what is on my mind … so thanks!  Appreciate you listening.

A week on the road

I left my sticks and brick house on February 18, 2016 for my new life on the road. After being on the road a week, I have so many lessons learned and things running through my mind.  The first and probably most prevalent thought is “did I do the right thing?” I figure this is normal for people that totally change their life and do something different. And – to be sure everyone knows … the answer to the question in my mind is “yes, you totally did the right thing.”

Change can be difficult – especially for someone in his early 50’s (that would be me). We get situated in our comfortable life, comfortable On the roadroutine, and we forget to live. I do not want to be one of those people and dare I say that my actions on February 18th demonstrated my resolve to keeping life interesting and on edge.  My brother calls me courageous. I call myself simply “crazy.” I have never been a person of routine and you know from my previous blog posts – the word stable is a cuss word to me. Moreover … I want to experience life, meet new people, see new places, and do what I have never had the opportunity to do. Being on the road affords me this level of freedom.

Let’s talk about freedom for a minute. The idea of freedom must be defined by the individual. Some consider financial freedom the end all be all. Some want freedom from a particular situation or life event. For me, freedom is defined as having the ability to come and go as I please without having to change my whole life every time I make the decision to leave. Freedom for me is being connected with people that I enjoy being around. I can visit my mom, see my kids, and visit with friends from around the country. That is true freedom for me. How do you define freedom and are you living a life that allows you to be free?

As I reflect on my newly found freedom from the last week, I have discovered a certain resolve within myself that I never knew I had. For one, driving a Class A motorhome is not something I ever imagined I would be doing. The driving part caused me the most stress. Traffic, road construction, figuring out where to stop and rest, finding a place to park over night, and most importantly, the fear of a mechanical breakdown. Fortunately, my coach did very well and I was able to travel to where I wanted to be without any problems. I attribute this to the work that my father and I did on the coach prior to leaving. I will readily admit – I miss pops!

Managing a budget on the road can also be a challenge. As a new RVer I had to remember that I was not on vacation, rather, this is my new life. Aside from gas money, managing where the money must go and sticking to the budget is paramountThe Roadt to surviving out here on the road. So far I have done well with this concept. Managing the budget also plays an important role in how much or how little you travel. With the price of gas at an all time low, most RVer have the financial freedom to travel farther than in the past. I spent an average of $1.71 a gallon on gas during my travels. This is an amazing cost savings from what I originally planned.  But, that savings can quickly evaporate if you do not have a travel  plan.

Travel plans change and that is ok. This is one of the perks of freedom. If I want to make a decision (at the spur of the moment if necessary) to stay or go – I can do that! On my travels I came across this lovely RV Park in Alabama. My original travel plan was to head to Lafayette, Louisiana to visit with my mom for a few weeks. But I was so drawn to this location and the RV park that I decided I would stay!  There are many reasons why I decided to stay, but one of the most important reasons is,  I can!  With my work responsibilities beginning (online of course), I decided to stay for one month in an effort to acclimate more to my new life. The extra time at the RV park will allow me the opportunity to adjust to my new life and my new online work responsibilities. I can save a few dollars and meet some really great people.

As I reflect on my first week, I am pleased with my decision to change my life. I miss my family terribly, but I am in contact with them almost daily. This is very nice and I have met some wonderful new friends here at the RV park. This lifestyle suits me well. As I grow more comfortable driving my Class A … that will make the experience even more pleasurable for sure!

The road ahead is filled with so much life and the freedom to experience this life on my terms.

 

Transition – A New Life

There are so many transitions that people make in life. Transition to a new job, transition relationships, transition to a new house, and even transition gender identity. I am not talking about any of these, rather, my transition is about the closure of the way I use to live while preparing

Whats the plan

for a new life path! The transition between the two can be scary, filled with anticipation, excitement, and fear. There have been times during this transition where I have thought “what the hell am I doing?”  And times when I have thought “this is going to be amazing.” The place where I live right now is in the middle – jubilant about the prospect of change and fearful that I will fall flat on my face and receive the ridicule of everyone I know.

But you see –  I am more fearful of my own regret than I am of being told by people “told you not to risk everything.” Quite frankly – these are the same people that help me feel inferior to them because I was nomadic and enjoyed variety in my life. These are the same people that never stretched their own imagination to consider the beauty of uniqueness and difference.

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But, I digress … what we are really talking about is my own regret. I cannot imagine laying on my death bed with my kids in the room and the last words out of my mouth saying “I wish I had gotten on the road with the RV – I wish I had been free.”

 

Most normal people do not make the kind of life changes I am making because they do not possess the courage! Wait … did I just write normal??  Yes, I guess I did. Perhaps I have fallen into the social trap that defines normal as everybody doing the same thing. Hell with that!  I am not, nor have I ever been your definition of normal. Never have been … never will be …. and could care less what that all means. I am finally marching to my own beat – should have done it years ago, but I did not have the courage. The courage to be me, to do what I was called to do and to be free.  Wow – this is cathartic.  Maybe I should write like this more often.Transition

We are talking about transition – right?  Yes – that is exactly what we are talking about. You see transition does not just involve the physical aspects of moving all of your stuff into an RV and getting on the road. Transitions really speaks to the changes you undergo as a person when you make the decision to change your life!  The RV is just the vehicle that allows one to go from place to place. True freedom comes when you finally put away the requirements of society and begin to understand your own truth, to be authentic to who you are and what your purpose is on this earth.

The word transition implies changing directions, making a new plan, doing something different. For me – this has been a personal journey of rediscovery of who I am as a human being … not just as a father, friend, nurse, brother, but as a bonafide human being with thoughts and feelings. Too much of my life has been spent giving away myself to others that neither appreciated me or really truly cared about me as a human being. A sad reality as I reflect, but oh so truthful!  Am I being selfish?  Really???  Or can we call this individually focused on what I need today?  Probably means the same thing. In any case – it means doing what is right for me and making a transition to a life where I can finally feel and experience joy and happiness.  A place where who I am is valued and welcomed.

Dear Tom

Dear Tom,

I wanted to write this letter to let you know I purchased your coach. I am sure you are asking, why write a letter to me?  Because I wanted to share the story of how I acquired your coach, but more importantly, I wanted to share with you the connection I feel toward you and your wife through your notes, writings, and other small signs of your previous ownership. If you will be kind enough to indulge me, I would appreciate it.

I am sure you will never see this blog post, but if by some incredible stretch in faith – the universe brings this message to you, know that your coach is now in good hands. However, this was not the case previously. I know you loved this coach from the moment you purchased it new. Your hand written notes on the owner’s manual and throughout the information spoke volumes to me. It is for this reason I feel compelled to share my story with you and to let you know – all is well today.

Having always been a free spirit and nomad – the idea of traveling the country in an RV has been something I have thought about for years. However, family and work commitments kept me close to one location – leaving my mind to wonder about being nomadic one day. After a while I forgot about my dream to travel and became wrapped up in life, work, family, and all the things that “normal” people do in their lives. As my children grew into adults and began to live their own lives and with no romantic partner in my life, I began to wonder what my future held. I will readily admit that as a single father, I did have empty nest feelings (even though I denied this to anyone who would dare say it).

I found The Paddy Wagonmyself fulfilling a regular routine of working and then coming home to nothing. Pretty soon depression set in and at 51 years old, I wondered what the rest of life would be? I had little passion, little interest in most anything, and really was kind of hopeless. It was at this lowest moment where I began to discover I had the ability to change my life – redefine it if you will, and do something exciting, engaging, and wonderful. It was at this moment when I began to rekindle my interest in traveling. Years before I was unable to follow this passion – but I thought perhaps this was the time that I could finally get on the road and live a nomadic life.

Of course – people are confused when you share this news … they ask questions like “how will you earn money.” “What will you do with all of your personal belongings, or why would you want to live in an RV?”  These were the questions that my family and friends asked me when I told them of these ideas. Of course – for the most part, I kept it to myself for fear of rejection. The one person in my life (and someone very important to me) is my brother. One day on the phone, the topic of traveling came up and I shared my idea with him of getting on the road. I was shocked with his level of support. He said “Manny – this may be your next big thing!  Go for it.” While I never needed his approval, I have always looked to him for his opinion and his wisdom. No one else in my life is as honest with me as he is!

“My next big thing” I thought to myself – “yes, he is right – this can be my next big thing.” I have the tools I need to earn income on the road, I have no major obligations, and I want to do this. All of the sudden the passion and excitement that was missing from  my life and from my spirit returned. And – it returned ten fold. I was actually excited about doing this – I was embracing life again with the anticipation of something new, different and engaging. I was, once again, alive!

You see Tom – people get so wrapped up in their lives – they forget to live. People become so entrenched with the expectations of society – they forget to embrace the uniqueness of life – one that provides us with the opportunity to live authentically and to be true to our own nature. Some people go through life never remembering the passion they had when they were young. I refused to be one of those people.

Being reengaged in my own life, I began my quest to find an RV that would suit my needs. I did not have a lot of money and I had absolutely no experience buying an RV.

Passion
Courtesy: thesundayroutine.wordpress.com

I turned to YouTube and began watching videos of people who also embraced my new found love of life on the road. I was shocked and surprised at the numbers of people living this life. Traveling the country in an RV was no longer something strictly held for the retired couples living out their dreams after years of hard work and saving. Younger, working age people were actually do this and their numbers were increasing. I found channel after channel of amazing people like the Mobile Hobos, Rob and Lisa with Life in Serenity,  Chico from Rufus and Dufus, Jon from YarrVee and bloggers like Xsyntriknomad that helped me to understand this lifestyle is actually a cultural phenomena.

Over the next few months, I watched and learned. I read blogs, searched websites to help me understand the ins and outs of RV life – what to look for when purchasing an RV and the pitfalls of life on the road. I saw drama on YouTube within the RV community that easily could have dissuaded me from continuing forward. But through all of this, I knew, in the deepest regions of my heart that I was committed to living this life and nothing would change that in my mind or in my soul.

I know Tom – you are asking yourself, why tell me all of this?  It is important for you to understand my story as it relates to purchasing your RV. I want you to understand by the time I came across your RV at a dealership here in my area in Florida, I had already investigated 20 or more coaches. I had originally gone to this dealership (which was some distance from my house) to see another listed coach – a Class C. The coach was in terrible shape and the salesman was a wheeler and dealer – nothing was important to him other than closing the deal and making a few bucks!

I learned over the time I was searching for an RV that salesmen in this industry did not care about you or your needs. They only wanted to make the sale. Buying an RV is not easy – there are multiple systems you need to be knowledgeable of and salesmen know this … from leaks in the roof, to appliances that don’t work, to the engine and brakes of a rig. Many, many things to learn. In my search for an RV is did discover one guy that was honest – his name was Paul. He is a full-timer and understands the needs of those living full-time in an RV.  He and I have become great friends and I am thankful for his honesty and guidance as I learned my way to become a full-timer myself.

Back at the dealership, the shyster salesman trying to sell me a badly cared for Class C realized he was about to lose out on a sale and quickly gathered himself and told me about a Class A Winnebago he had for sale. I told him I was only interested in a Class C as a Winnebago would simply be too big for my needs. As salesmen often do, he convinced me to take a look at the coach.

The moment I stepped into the rig – I felt this connection to her. I cannot explain why – but I knew this was the one for me. She was dirty, needed work, but for some reason I knew she would be perfect for me. Even after a rough test drive, I knew, somehow that her and I would have a lasting relationship. I purchased your coach Tom!  Me, an inexperienced guy with a dream, purchased your Winnebago Sightseer from a shyster salesman wanting to make a deal.  Don’t ask me why or how, or anything else. Just know, this coach and I developed a relationship from that moment.

Full-timers say you need to get to know your rig … once you know your rig – you are in tuned with the noises, feelings, and operational changes. I was looking forward to getting to know this new rig and asked the salesman for the manuals and other information that was supposed to come with the rig. Of course- his response was – “I know nothing more about this rig other than what I told you.” “There are no owners manuals or maintenance records.” I should have walked away at that point, but I did not. Instead, I drove my new rig 75 miles home.

As I walked around the rig and began to look into every nook and cranny of the coach, I discovered a gold mind Tom. I discovered your owner information. I found your notes, maintenance records, after market upgrades and repair records. I saw that you purchased the rig new in 2003 and you painstakingly kept amazing notes about everything. I found receipts for repairs, oil changes and dates when you upgraded the toilet and put in the fantastic fan. I saw records where you installed after market air shocks and new tires all around – everything meticulously recorded with love. I know you loved this rig because I felt it.

I believe my connection to your rig is truly an extension of the love you had for the coach. Some people are not sensitive to this level of interconnectedness – I am. Unfortunately, after you sold the rig, she was poorly cared for and I believe lived in by people that used her resource and never gave her anything in return. And – when they were done with her – they simply discarded her in a RV yard hoping to get a buck from what was left of her.

I want you to know Tom, since my purchase of your coach, I have restored her to a better place. It has cost me … in many ways, and there were times when I wondered why I was doing this. But, for some reason, I kept moving forward – repair after repair, and challenge after challenge. I believe your love of this rig now lives on in me. I believe in this rig and while I know she is a machine, I do believe your passion for life on the road is now going to live on cropped-google-banner.pngthrough me. I know you are at an advanced age today and perhaps this is the reason you sold her, but please know she is in good hands and I will take good care of her for you, and for me. If by some strange hand of destiny you see this blog – I invite you to see her today on my YouTube Channel entitled The Paddy Wagon.

Thank you Tom for the connection – I will cherish your 2003 Winnebago as I enter my new life on the road and will ask the universe to watch over me and you through my travels and so we might retain the connection that has brought us together whether in spirit or in mind. But more importantly, I want to say thank you Tom for doing such a great job and taking such good care of our rig.

Sincerely,

Patrick (aka Paddy)