Here We Go!

Standard

“Write a blog they said, it will be fun, it will be easy….” however, I’ve managed to procrastinate so long that you’d have to think that I’m a Libra (which I am SO not) and I’m simply out of time to share any more background material right now. We have to get this baby rolling since we left today on OurRVenture! I’m thinking we’ll try to do some flashbacks on other fun stuff that we encountered between FLA and now, and haven’t covered yet, as we go along. Please remember to remind me later, for I tend to forget A LOT of things!

Well, it’s official, Dan’s now retired. He’s been home for a week and almost lost his life only once, so far (but it’s still early)!  Just because we weren’t feeling challenged enough with everything going on, we made a rather hasty decision to just throw our house up on the market to see if it might be appealing to anyone (besides us) once we get back from our trip.  So on top of everything else, we’ve been “making ready” to show the house while we are away.  This is surely to be further complicated because we’ve promised a couple of folks that they could “visit” the house while we’re traveling.  Fun times to be sure.

Last week was Retirement Party Central for us. A very nice party with co-workers and business associates one evening, another, more rowdy, with his motorcycle riding buddies the next night, followed by a great time with friends from our favorite local hangout on the third night. Lucky for me, I was the designated driver for all three events; so my next-day perspective was much, much brighter and much less painful than Dan’s was. I have to give credit where it’s due – he’s a trooper, all the way – he even survived the MC’s clubs attempts to leave him bed-bound for days! To all them, I say: “He came, he saw and he conquered!

As if there wasn’t enough to drink at these events, everyone was so very kind to ensure that our RV liquor cabinet fully stocked as we headed out on trip. Kudos also to our neighbors, who gifted us with a movie night gift bag, staring the movie RV(what a perfect movie choice) along with movie-sized popcorn and candy treats! Some of our other great friends, who are already “living the dream” also came up with the OH-SO VERY practical gift of a fuel card for the trip! Everyone has been amazing and we love and will miss you all.

Last Monday was our first trial day of me actually working while Dan “retired” around the place. I noticed early in the day that he seemingly was lacking focus, so I thought I’d was being “helpful” by texting him the list of stuff that we needed to get done before we leave to “help him” get motivated for the day. HUGE FAIL on my part! Apparently these “pesky and now cranky” recently-retired folks do not feel that any motivation or reminders are necessary for how THEY choose to spend their days in retirement. So I relented and went back to my office to work while he decided how his day would be spent. Later that afternoon, I was greeted with a public service announcement “shout-out” (from downstairs) advising me that “it’s 5 o’clock in the Bahamas!” The true secret to a long and happy marriage is the ability to ALWAYS rally for happy hour!

For the last three weeks, I have been waking up in the middle of the night with thoughts of what else I do or don’t need and wondering if that thing that woke me up is already on the list or if it needs to be added. It could be that my constant state of “needing a nap” during the day that was reeking havoc on my ability to actually pack real things into the coach for the trip.

Our neighbors held a wonderful send-off dinner and fire pit party for us on Friday night and somehow convinced an old golfing buddy of Dan’s who now lives in Ohio to make the quick 8 hours drive down for dinner! What a great surprise for us to see him again and what a trooper he is for being willing to humor us! Did I mention what an amazing group of friends and neighbors we are SO lucky to have?

Hooked up and ready to go!

Hooked up and ready to go!

This morning, we finally had everything loaded and hitched “Toad” to the back bumper of the coach and we waived good-bye to our neighbors, who oh-so graciously allowed us to keep the coach at their business near our house for the last six weeks. We are so grateful for all the kindness of everyone as we embark on OurRVenture!

We are both looking forward to hopefully sleeping all night now that we’re here, in Marion, NC at the American Coach Association ACA National Spring Rally. Yes, I do realize that it wasn’t really a “big drive”; but we’re on the road, none the less! The speculation here is that the severe weather will hit between midnight and 4am tonight, so everyone here is battened down and ready to take on what’s left of the storm that ravaged Arkansas last night.

Editor’s note:  This is Dan now.  I wasn’t cranky, I was merely trying to set the expectations for life as it’s gonna be for a retired person!  But that didn’t work for long…between the setting up the house for viewing, preparing and loading the RV, and partying ’til the wee hours of the morning with an abundance of food, alcohol, and laughter, it’s been pretty tough on the newly retired guy’s time and energy levels.  I think it’s going to be a couple of weeks before I’m fully recovered.

The coach did well on the short hop to Marion, NC.  I was a bit worried about parking the RV somewhere amidst the other 193 coaches, but we had some good guidance from a couple of guys in a golf cart and viola! we’re parked, got the hookups hooked up, and we’re livin’ the RV life!  And then, guess what?  That’s right, another party…free beer, wine, and food – just what we need!  Looks like I picked a bad day to go on a diet and give up drinking.  Maybe tomorrow.

How It All Began …..

Standard

Summer 2013:

After perhaps days, months, even years of “research” (a task largely done over morning coffee each day) my husband Dan FINALLY found the perfect motor home for us to purchase! It’s not that we were looking for one, but none the less, one has been located!

After more than several conversations with our recently acquired new BFF, Tony (the salesman, who simply must – most definitely – be working in our best interest, right?), dozens of swapped emails, photos, and questions between Dan, Tony and the service department at Lazy Days in Florida – it is that we begin “OuRVenture”, (pronounced Our RV Adventure).

This is our first toe-dip into the world of Class A motor coaches. Prior to this, if we went camping, we utilized a tent, a couple of sleeping bags and a fire. I must say the “step-up” seems very glamorous to me! After all, there’s carpet, a queen size bed, hot running water AND a microwave! What’s not for a girl to love about those accommodations?

Our first challenge is how do we get down to dealership to “make the deal” on the buy of century. “Wait, I know!” Let’s take the car that our daughter has entrusted to us to sell for her, drive it down to Florida and sell it there! And our newly acquired BFF, Tony knows just the guy who can take it off our hands when we get there. So, it’s settled, we load up, call in sick to work and head south on I-95 with “South Cac-a-lakie” in our rear-view mirror.

The Lazydays RV Park and Dealership is a sight to behold, for sure. It must be Mecca for those who own RVs. It comes complete with a HUGE sales center, perhaps even larger repair center (HINT) and a quaint RV park that holds just 300 units, one swimming pool, two restaurants and everything that any RV enthusiast could want for in their imaginations.

We arrived promptly (WAY out of standard for the Ritchie’s) at the sales center to meet Tony and our newest acquisition at the appointed hour, only to find that the latter is now (inconveniently for us) indisposed in the repair center receiving some new tires and last-minute prep work for us, the new owner. So, our attention is diverted to touring the Lazydays property and attending some complementary seminars until we can get inside the unit for our first look. By the way, I highly recommend the Lazydays Driver’s Confidence course if you are a first time RV owner – sign up early and take it twice if at all possible.

Proud new owners!

Proud new owners!

By Saturday night we’re finally shown to our new home and given a 5 minute “what you need to know to spend the night in the coach” mini-lesson. Exhaustion and excitement were at odds and we toss and turn while we wait for our early morning 1-hour “10,001 things you need to know about how to own and operate an RV” lesson (but never will remember) before we will be able head back out (minus our daughter’s car) in our new (to us) 40-foot coach. Helpful Hint – If you are a first-timer, you’re going to need to hear the information in this briefing at least a few times before you’ll be able to remember any of it, but we (experts that we are) simply don’t have time to ask any more questions, so we assure the representative that “we’ve got it” and we begin the process of heading out on the open road. After the fact, we wish we remembered that we had a video camera in our phone, and that we had used it to record the helpful information spewing forth from the technician’s (at auctioneer-speed) mouth.

Dan at the wheel - Carol is starting to worry now.

Dan at the wheel – Carol is starting to worry now.

Dan’s in charge of the driving and I’m in charge of the worrying as we head back across the state of Florida; when Mother Nature decides that a good test for us would be a torrential down pour, (not your nice summer rain shower), but more the ‘Noah, I want you to build me a boat, now!‘ kind of summer shower. Visibility is about to our front bumper but least that deter us, we are determined to make the Georgia state line by night fall.

Once home, being responsible new first time parents of the coach, the first thing we do is to get the coach a “check-up”. It is here that we both fully come to understand that NOTHING in the RV lifestyle either moves quickly or is inexpensive. In fact it is here that we realize that the pleasure of owning such a “fine vehicle” requires both the patience of Job and the cash reserves of Bill Gates!

It goes on and on, but Dan assures me that no one cares, so being the great “team player” that I am, I say – enough of history – let’s move on to current events – we leave in 6 days! Uh oh, it’s only 5 Days!!! Are we prepared? – What do YOU think?


Editor’s note: this is Dan, now. I want to tell you, this whole buying experience was a shit-show from the word GO! Once we committed to taking down our daughter’s Ford Escape and knowing we weren’t going to bring it home, we were unknowingly committed to buying an RV – First sinking feeling… Second sinking feeling came when we discovered (after a week-long lead time to get the coach ready) that the coach wasn’t ready. Briefly buoyed by the inspection of the interior of the coach and loving what we saw, we then went into “Wait here until it’s done” mode (right, another sinking feeling).

Waiting...waiting...waiting...

Waiting…waiting…waiting…

It seemed the time we had allotted to pick up the RV was getting shorter and shorter, while the list of things that needed to happen before we could drive it off the lot was getting longer and longer. Finally, after having spent the 1st night in the coach following a shopping venture at the nearest Wal-Mart to pick up bedding, towels, and whatever else might be needed for an over-nighter, the technician showed up bright and early at around 10am to go over the details of the coach’s operation. Not the one assigned to us to make sure we understood all the ins and outs of a home on wheels, but a “substitute” technician whose first visit to our coach was right then. And she was supposed to instruct us on all the systems? (last sinking feeling). Now, though, looking back on it, she did a good job and proved to be very knowledgeable – who knew it would entail so much? After 2-3 hours of her rattling off how to do this and you must do that and DON’T EVER do WHAT?, she left us alone to ponder taking the beast on the road. Finally, we were ready to go. By the way, having never driven an RV before in my life, it is quite an experience to make that first wide, sweeping turn onto the road (wide and sweeping are key words here – more on that later). First stop? The Dump Station. What did I tell you up front? – a shit-show from the word GO!