Happy Holidays, everyone! We hope you are all doing well, staying healthy and happy, and enjoying this holiday season as best you can in this time of challenge and uncertainty.
Year-end is always a good time to reflect on our lives–what is working, what needs to change, what we hope to accomplish in the next year and beyond. Of course, 2020 has been completely off the charts in terms of the roadblocks, inconveniences, heartbreak, sickness, discord, and other-ness that has been introduced into our lives, not just here in the USA, but all around the globe.
But at the same time, these challenges have in many ways forced us to examine the way we live and re-discover the things that can make life more meaningful–spending more time with our families, cooking our own food, spending less on frivolous items, and exploring our own backyards (while socially-distanced, of course).
And we are no different.
At the beginning of 2020, we were happily living the full-time RV lifestyle. We had just sold our starter RV in December 2018, a 24-foot 2014 Thor Chateau Class C motorhome in which we had spent the first 16 months of our full-time journey. In its place, we had purchased a beautiful 2017 Grand Design Reflection fifth-wheel 303RLS, and we were reveling in all the additional living space offered by the three slideouts. We had traded our faithful little Tacoma pickup for a monstrous Ford F-250 XLT Crew Cab long-bed truck to pull the fifth-wheel, and we were going through the process of learning to handle the larger rig.
We spent the first three months of 2020 finalizing all the paperwork while we were in Livingston, Texas, and then we hit the road, traveling to Yuma, Arizona where we spent the winter dry-camping at the Pilot Knob BLM LTVA just west of Yuma in Winterhaven, California. While there, we made plans to do some work-camping over the summer in Colorado, and got a gig lined up that was due to begin in May.
In March, we left Yuma and headed back to New Mexico. Our plan was to use our annual camping permit to hopscotch our way north across NM, staying in state parks throughout March and April as we made our way to Colorado. Our first stop was Pancho Villa State Park in Columbus, NM, right on the USA/Mexico border.
And that’s where we were when things began to fall apart and become surreal.
We had, of course, heard news reports of a new virus that was making the rounds. But on March 13, New Mexico closed all their state parks to overnight camping and we were forced to leave. We moved to an RV park in nearby Deming, NM to get our bearings; and while we were there, seeing the writing on the wall, we made the decision to purchase a small property to use as a homebase.
So, that’s where we’ve been since we closed on the property in May. Except for one week in October when the state parks were temporarily reopened for overnight camping (NM residents only) and we were able to take the rig back down to Pancho Villa State Park, we have not been on the road at all.
I know a lot of (A LOT) of people have continued to travel in their rigs throughout this year. We have chosen not to for several reasons. First of all, we needed to spend time getting our home base furnished and set up the way we wanted it. It took several months to get through all the legalities of vehicle registrations, drivers licenses, address changes, etc., because so many of the state offices were closed (we officially changed our residence from Texas to New Mexico). That whole process took most of the summer.
We were, of course, concerned about possibly getting sick while on the road, as Andy is in a higher-risk category, and my health insurance had a very high deductible. We also didn’t want to find ourselves getting sick while camped hundreds of miles from home in an area with overwhelmed healthcare facilities.
Finally, it just didn’t seem like it would be fun to travel with so many things closed to the public–parks, museums, restaurants–the whole point of traveling in an RV, at least for us, is to be able to experience these things, and it just didn’t seem to be worth the trouble.
Like everyone else, we held out hope that this thing would subside before the fall, and that we could get back on the road, at least to travel back to Mississippi for Thanksgiving. Instead, things got worse, and we canceled our plans to see family for the holidays.
As the year passed and we settled in to our stationary life at our homebase, it became more obvious that our days of full-timing in an RV had come to an end. While we do still plan to do a lot of RV travel in the future, we will definitely be “recreational” campers, and not full-timers.
What does that mean?
One huge difference will be the amount of stuff that we carry around with us when we travel. In the Before Times, we were carrying all our worldly possessions with us in the fifth-wheel and the truck. Everything we owned was with us at all times. That’s why it was so nice to have the larger rig, although we were right at the limit, weight-wise, of what the truck could handle.
But now that we have the home base, we have a place to store things that we don’t need while we’re on the road. When we were able to take the rig out for a week in October, we were amazed at how much empty space we had left over inside the rig and the truck, and we still had everything we needed for cooking, cleaning, maintenance, entertainment, etc. It was obvious that we didn’t need that much space for a week or even months on the road.
The other thing we needed to change was our mode of transportation. The big F-250 truck definitely does its job pulling the trailer, but it’s a royal pain in the butt to drive in any kind of tight situation. We’ve had challenges in small parking lots, and we can’t even take it through the Wells Fargo bank drive-through here in Deming as the turn is so tight after you pass the transaction kiosk. Getting into a slot at the Sonic is super-tricky as well–we usually have to pull in at least one mirror to keep from hitting the menu board on the next-door parking space.
The truck gets about 13 MPG when we’re not towing. That’s not really an issue for us since we’re not really going anywhere right now. But it just doesn’t make sense to have this huge truck when it’s not being used for its intended purpose, which is pulling the fifth wheel.
So, after plenty of thought and discussion, we came to some decisions about our way forward in our RVing future. We have decided to sell the fifth wheel and the truck, buy a small car, and eventually buy a small RV (probably a Class C motorhome similar to Lizzy, our original RV) to use for our travels. We plan to hit the road for weeks or possibly a few months at a time, but will always have our home base to return to for doctors appointments, maintenance issues, or just to stay put for awhile.
We’ve been watching the market for used RVs, and this seems like the optimum time to try to sell our rig. The demand is high, and prices are holding up well, so we want to take advantage of this opportunity. We plan to list Lizzy Too for sale right after the first of the year. Unless someone wants to also buy the truck as part of a package deal, we will wait to list the truck for sale after the RV is gone.
In the meantime, we have already purchased our new (to us) vehicle for daily driving. This week we bought a 2020 Toyota Prius XLE. It has less than 8,000 miles on it, and it is in near-pristine condition. It was originally purchased from a dealership in Silver City, NM back in January of this year, but the owner returned it after just a few months because it didn’t have Sirius XM radio (I know, right??). The dealership kept the car for a few months and used it as a fleet car, but then put it up for sale. I found the listing on Facebook Marketplace last week, we checked it out on Monday and were able to make a deal that we were happy with.
We’ve owned a Prius before–a 2007 model that we kept until we sold everything in August 2018 to go on the road fulltime. I loved that little car, and hated to let it go. This new model has so much more in terms of technology, but driving it feels so familiar to me. It is already my baby!
So that’s where we stand on our RV adventures. We haven’t exactly flamed out–if it weren’t for COVID-19, then as far as we know we would have still been on the road as full-timers. But with things being as they are, and at this stage of our lives, we’ve embraced the idea of having occasional RV adventures but also having a safe space to call home when we need it.
So our goals for 2021 are:
- Sell Lizzy Too
- Sell the truck
- Buy a smaller rig that’s suitable for long RV trips and is easier to handle
- Make a few more improvements to the home base property
- Stay healthy
- Get to see our families again!
If you know anyone who is looking for a great fifth-wheel and truck combo, tell them to get in touch with us! 🙂
Have a safe and happy holiday season, and best wishes to all of you in the new year!
So long, 2020, and don’t let the door hit you in the rear on the way out!!