Launch Day – We’re On the Road!

Today we officially launched as full-time RVers, living in our 24′ Class C Thor Chateau, accompanied by our Toyota Tacoma Pre-Runner as a chase vehicle.

We spent our last night at Tombigbee State Park near Tupelo where we had been camping out for the week while we closed on the sale of our house and took care of some last minute business. Our last evening in Tupelo included an intense thunderstorm that hit between 5:00 and 6:00 PM, and the huge claps of thunder definitely added to the anxiety level of the kitties, especially Molly. Fortunately, the storm cleared up after about 90 minutes, although we had a few more drizzles of rain overnight.

We got up a 6:00 AM this morning to start preparing for our road trip. We had plans to meet Mom and Dad at Cracker Barrel in Tupelo at 9:00 AM so we wanted to make sure we got everything done in time. As usual, Andy handled everything on the outside of the RV while I took care of securing everything on the inside. We pulled out of our campsite around 8:15 AM and pulled in to Cracker Barrel about 25 minutes later.

We had a very enjoyable breakfast with Mom and Dad. I told them I hoped they were ready to have breakfast with their hippie children! Andy and I both had pancakes and hashbrowns, with copious amounts of coffee, and Mom and Dad had the non-veggie breakfast (LOL). It was nice to be able to spend time with these very special people before hitting the road–they mean the world to me. We left them with some more tools, a wind chime, and a bowl–we’re still decluttering as we go. Mom took a photo of the two of us, and then we were on our way.

Mom and Dad’s hippie children! LOL

Our route for today took us from Tupelo, MS to West Monroe, LA. Since we were still so full from breakfast, we didn’t stop for lunch on the way, we just took a couple short breaks to stretch our legs and to fill up with gas once. It was about a five hour drive, plus time for stops. Maggie handled the drive pretty well, spending some time in Andy’s lap. Molly, on the other hand, got up into the “attic” in the overhead area and wedged herself between the Crock-pot and a storage bin and refused to come out. She rode up there the entire drive. We checked on her at each stop, and she seemed to be doing fine.

We arrived at our destination, Landry Vineyards in West Monroe, just before 5:00PM. One of the owners, Libby Landry, showed us where we could park our vehicles on a hill overlooking the vineyard with a gorgeous view and lots of shade.

Parked on a hill overlooking the vines at Landry Vineyards

Once we got the vehicles parked, the kitties came out of hiding and made themselves at home, especially since we were able to leave the doors and windows open with just the screens in place. We had just enough time to get back to the tasting room before they closed at 5:30 (they were gracious enough to keep the tasting room open for us even though they were busy setting up for a concert they’re hosting tomorrow night). Their tasting included every single vintage on their menu, at least 15, so we got a good variety.

This is a Harvest Hosts location, meaning they allow RVs to stay on their property for free if you’re a Harvest Hosts member. The annual fee is $49, but we got a 10% discount on our membership. The participants in the program include wineries, museums, breweries, local attractions, farms, etc., with almost 700 participants and growing. Although you don’t have to pay a nightly camping fee, it is customary to purchase something from the host to show appreciation for their hospitality, and we did purchase a couple of bottles from this host, as a commemoration of our launch day as full-timers.

We had a light dinner of hummus and raw veggies. Since there are no hook-ups at this location, we are boondocking which means we are running off our battery.

Light dinner of raw veggies and hummus

It’s less humid here and there’s a nice breeze blowing over the vineyards so we haven’t needed the air conditioner yet, but if we need it in order to sleep tonight we’ll crank up the generator to run the A/C. The generator burns about a half-gallon of gas per hour and we filled up right before we got here, so we’re in good shape. I’d like to avoid using the generator if possible since it is a little noisy, but we’ll see how it goes.

We have a view of the vineyard from the door of Lizzy

I wish we could hang around here for the concert tomorrow, it sounds like it’s going to be a blast! But we’ll probably break camp around 10:00 AM and head on toward Livingston, Texas where we’ll live for the month of September.

We’ve been so busy this past week trying to get the house ready for closing and then taking care of all those last minute business affairs. We’ve decided that when we get to Livingston, we’re going to spend the first week doing pretty much nothing but reading, hanging out at the pool, taking walks and just relaxing. After the first week we’ll get around to the business of getting our Texas domicile established, and also make arrangements to meet up with friends we haven’t seen in much too long.

But for the moment, we’re going to enjoy a beautiful evening in an idyllic location, where we’re able to see the stars and feel the breeze blowing over the grape vines.

Launch Day was a huge success, and we’re looking forward to seeing what this lifestyle has to offer as we make our way west.

House-less But Not Home-less

Sometime between 2:00 and 2:30 this afternoon, we officially became house-less. After two final exhausting days of disposing of the last of our belongings and then cleaning the house and workshop thoroughly, we closed on the sale of our house this afternoon.

Before heading to the attorney’s office to sign the paperwork, we drove by the house to test all the keys that we were planning to deliver to the buyer and to say good-bye to our wonderful next-door neighbors, Mary Ann and Ronnie (unfortunately they weren’t home at the time). Andy made one more visit to his workshop where he spent so much time creating his beautiful silver jewelry, and then we drove away for the last time.

We made one last trip to Goodwill to leave our Vitamix blender and our Cuisinart food processer. We’re still going through the downsizing process even after moving into the RV and truck, and these two items were taking up more space and weight than they were worth to us in the great scheme of things, so they had to go. Living a minimal lifestyle in a small space is all about letting go and examining our “stuff” to really determine its worth and utility. In our heavily consumerist society, we so often use the words “need” and “want” interchangeably, but living in a small space brings the meaning of these two terms into much sharper focus and teaches us just how little we actually “need” to live a full and interesting life.

After leaving Goodwill we drove to the closing attorney’s office and took care of signing all the closing paperwork. We were very pleased with the final amount that we received after the closing costs, commissions and loan payoff were deducted. These proceeds just add to the nest egg that will fund our travels until I finally decide to start drawing my pension and Social Security. We finally got to meet the buyer, and we hope that he enjoys the house and the neighborhood as much as we did. We left several things in the house that we either couldn’t or didn’t choose to sell–one recliner, one Sleep Number bed, surround-sound speakers and Pioneer receiver, kitchen hutch, full set of bathroom linens for the hall bath, as well as a lot of smaller odds and ends. The realtor had told us that the buyer was a veteran, just moving out of his Mom’s house, and that he didn’t have a lot of furnishings to get started with, so we were happy to leave a few things to get him started–less for us to have to fool with disposing of.

We left the Sleep Number bed for the buyer, along with bed linens

The closing process was handled quickly and efficiently, and as soon as we had the check in hand, we went right across the street to our bank and deposited the check. From there, we went directly to Starbucks to celebrate–and also to use their wi-fi so I could catch up on emails and the bookkeeping. This week we are staying at Tombigbee State Park which is just about fifteen minutes from downtown Tupelo, but the cell service out there is pretty weak, so we aren’t spending a lot of time on the Internet. After Starbucks, we made a stop at Walmart to pick up some groceries and other essentials, and then made our way “home” to the RV where the kitties were waiting for us.

So, we are now house-less, but we are far from home-less. We have a comfortable RV home that is air-conditioned and heated, has a full shower, convection microwave, three-burner propane stove, refrigerator and freezer. We live comfortably with our two cats, and now that we aren’t tied to a street address, we can travel the country to where the weather is more to our liking and the scenery is just as varied as the country is wide.

Our home on wheels, Lizzy

We love each other, we are best friends and we have a common dream that is finally coming to fruition after years of hard work, saving our money and living a lifestyle that some would consider frugal. Our home is wherever we are together, and right now it’s in an RV named Lizzy that is about to take us on a great adventure.

Smiling in the attorney’s office as we prepare to close on the sale of our sticks and bricks house

Tomorrow (Thursday) Andy will leave some more of his handmade jewelry with the shop in Tupelo that handles his work (The Main Attraction–check it out if you live in the Tupelo area!!). Then on Friday morning we will pull out of the park fairly early, meet my parents for breakfast and from there we will be on our way toward Texas in our home on wheels.

This is real!!

Move-In Day

The big day finally arrived! We moved out of our sticks-and-bricks home, and into our 24′ Class C RV where we will live and travel full time.
Of course, we aren’t totally free of the house just yet. The sale does not close until Wednesday (three days away), but almost all of our worldly possessions have been sold, donated, gifted or sent to the landfill. And I can’t tell you just how freeing that feels!
We got up around 5AM this morning to get started on the big day. My brother, Steve, came by around 6:30 when he got off his shift at the hospital. He picked up our television to replace his TV which got fried by a lightning strike a couple of weeks ago. We were so glad that we were able to help them out, especially since they have been so helpful to us in getting the workshop cleared out and ready for closing. He also brought over a dozen fresh doughnuts, which just sweetened the deal!
We picked up Lizzy (our RV) from the storage yard around 7:45, filled her up with gas (35 gallons @ $83.75), brought her home and parked her at the end of the driveway. Then we started the process of moving our stuff out of the house and into the RV.
While Andy was working on loading up the outside basement storage area, I started with clothes and wardrobe items since those went in the rear overhead bins above the bed. It’s hard to believe that all my clothes now fit into such a small space. We’re using packing cubes to help keep things organized, but it will still take some time to get used to finding specific t-shirts and shorts amongst all the different packing cubes.
Next I started loading the overhead/over-cab area at the front of the RV. This was fairly straight-forward since we had already planned out this storage arrangement on our dining room floor. It was just a matter of picking up bins, carrying them to the RV and placing them in the same arrangement that we had configured in the dining room.
Then it was time to start on the real challenge, loading the kitchen and dining area. This was especially challenging for a couple of reasons. First of all, Andy and I eat primarily a plant-based diet, and we eat very little processed food, sticking mainly to fresh fruits and vegetables, beans and grains. Because of that, we have a lot of kitchen utensils, spices and gadgets that we feel are essential to our diet. The RV has very limited storage space in the kitchen area, so we had to get very creative and put a lot of things in the overhead space.
Just to give you an idea, we have two Instant Pots (3 qt and 6 qt), a Crock Pot, a Vitamix blender, a full-size Cuisinart food processor, a mini Cuisinart food processor, and a Ninja blender. When we were considering what things were essential to our livestyle and what we needed to downsize, we both agreed that a healthy diet was of utmost importance to us, and was something that we were unwilling to compromise on. So our RV (and the truck) will be carrying a lot of kitchen equipment, along with a lot of fresh produce, beans and grains.
In the middle of loading up the RV, we had more people come by to pick up furniture items. One lady had reserved one of the recliners when she came to our yard sale several weeks ago, and she picked it up today. Our next door neighbors (the good ones!) got one of the beds, and our other neighbors up the street picked up a cabinet and a pair of sawhorses that they purchased at the yard sale. It was good to get more of the stuff moved out of the house even while we were loading up Lizzy.
And it was so HOT today! I think the high temperature was around 93°, and of course it was humid, so that made it just a litte more miserable. We opened all the windows in the RV and turned on all the fans, which was a great idea until wasps started flying around inside. They even started building a next on the awning supports, so Andy had to get out the wasp spray to get rid of them.
We worked ourselves pretty hard until around 2:45 when we decided it was time to start winding down. Andy started up the generator and turned on the A/C inside the RV to let it start cooling down while we loaded a few more items. Around 3:30 we were ready to start the drive over to Tombigbee State Park where we’re staying this week.
Of course, the cats, Maggie and Molly knew exactly what was going on and decided it was a good time to hide under the bed. I had to get the vacuum cleaner after them to chase them back out into the hallway where we were able to corral them and get them into their carriers for the trip.
We got to the campground a little after 4PM and got set up pretty quickly. Then we both got a good shower, had a cold brew and then relaxed for the evening. When it came time for dinner, we were too tired to really put too much effort into it. We had decided not to stock the refigerator and freezer today because the unit was not cold enough after sitting in the hot sun without air conditioning all day. The only food we had on board was some canned beans, canned tomatoes and lots of dried beans, rice and other grains. So we mixed a can of black beans with a can of diced tomatoes, threw in some Mrs. Dash Southwest Seasoning and some other spices, and enjoyed a quick bean soup.
Tomorrow we’ll go back to the house to continue cleaning out what’s left. We’ll have to take a load to Goodwill and possibly a load to the dump. I’m going to put a lot of stuff in the garage to see if the neighbors need any of it (toaster, printer, etc.) We’ll clear out the refrigerator and freezer and bring some of that stuff to the RV, and we’ll also hit the grocery store for some fresh produce. Our goal is to have the house empty by the end of the day tomorrow (Monday).
On Tuesday we’ll go back and concentrate on cleaning–sweeping, mopping, cleaning the shower, etc.
And then on Wednesday, we close on the sale!
Thursday we plan to just relax and maybe do a little more organizing.
And then on Friday, we’ll pull out of here and head west toward Texas.
But tonight is our first night in the RV as full-timers, and I am just giddy I’m so excited! This is a day we have dreamed of for so long and it’s finally here!
Life is good!!

Three Days and Counting

Only three days left until we move into Lizzy, our 24′ Class C RV!

We have been so busy for the past few weeks that I haven’t had the time or the energy to write a blog post, but here we go. We are right on the verge of having all our non-essential possessions liquidated in some form or fashion, and we’ll soon find out if we have downsized enough to fit into the RV and the truck.

One of our bigger storage areas will be the overhead space, or cab-over space, in the RV. This space measures a whopping 32.5 square feet, is 25″ high at the front and 10-1/2″ high in the back. Additionally, there is a weight limit of 500 pounds in the overhead.

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Our overhead, or cab-over, space in Lizzy

After we finally sold the dining room furniture, we used painter’s tape to mock up the overhead space on the dining room floor. Then we started filling in the space like a jigsaw puzzle, trying out different arrangements of storage bins and smaller items, always keeping in mind the height restrictions.

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Planning our organizational strategy for the overhead

We’re still playing around with the bins and small appliances, but I think we almost have it figured out.

The house is just about empty of furniture now. We still have our two recliners and the TV, so we eat our meals from TV trays while we watch other RVers on YouTube. All my office furniture is gone, so I use a plastic folding table and a folding chair to hold my laptop and scanner. All the bedroom furniture is gone except for the bed frames and mattresses, so we have what’s left of our wardrobes stored in the bins and packing cubes that we’ll be using in the RV.

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Our living room, which is also our dining room

One of the things that Andy was struggling with was how to purge his t-shirt collection. He had t-shirts from all our vacations, cruises, art festivals and interesting places that we’ve visited over the years. Since he had a birthday coming up, I suggested that we have a quilt made from some of his favorite shirts. I just happened to know someone who was a schoolmate of mine from Pine Grove, and she specializes in these t-shirt quilts. Long story short, she produced this beautiful quilt, preserving many of our favorite memories as well as providing a cozy wrap for those winter nights in the RV. Thanks, Pam!

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T-shirt quilt from Andy’s favorite shirts

Yesterday my brother Steve brought over his huge trailer, and he and Andy worked all day to empty out the workshop. We had planned to haul a lot of the stuff to the dump and then just leave most of the shelving in place, mainly because we didn’t have the time to try and liquidate it properly. But Steve said he wanted all of it and that he could re-home everything, so he wound up taking two trailer loads of “stuff” home with him where he has ample storage space to sort it all out. We were so grateful for his help in getting the workshop cleared out, and for making it possible to keep all that stuff out of the landfill.

While the guys were working in the shop, I was taking care of chores in the house. I made a trip to the laundromat to wash two large quilts that are going with us. I also spent some time brain-storming a solution for our spice and herb collection. The cabinet where they will be stored is 13″ deep and about 14-1/2″ high. This was my preliminary arrangement with the large Tone’s canisters stored lying down in back in two rows (I actually labeled the bottom of the canisters), and the smaller spice bottles in a wire rack in front that can easily be moved out of the way. The entire grouping was about 17″ wide.

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Preliminary organization idea for the spices

However, after thinking about it I realized that this would be a mess when everything moves around while we’re driving, so I got on Amazon and found a basket that measures 13″ by 17″ by 10″, the exact dimensions of this arrangement, and I’ll just put everything in that basket.

So, today is Thursday, and move-in day is Sunday. Still so much to do! It’s time to contact the utility companies and notify the post office of our forwarding address. We’ll do one final round of yard work (I like that word “final”!), and then deliver the lawn tools to my dad. I still have one piece of furniture and a few small things listed on Facebook Marketplace for sale, and I may list another item or two. We’ll need to make deliveries of donations to Goodwill, the local Gem and Mineral Society, and the Humane Society, as well as the landfill. I need to clean out the refrigerator and the pantry. We need to get the truck cleaned up and ready for loading.

And that’s just what I can think of off the top of my head, as I have not yet had my coffee this morning. So I guess I’d better get up and get to it.

Someone asked me yesterday if I was enjoying my retirement. Although this is my fourth week since I left the work force, it really hasn’t hit me yet. It has definitely been nice to be able to concentrate fully on this downsizing task, especially since the house sold so much faster than we anticipated, but I haven’t had any time to rest and relax. So as soon as we get to Livingston, Texas, I’m pretty sure we’re going to spend a few days just hanging out by the pool!

But for now, back to the grind, and that includes coffee!!

 

Bittersweet Good-Byes

Yesterday I said good-bye to my baby. I didn’t want to do it, but if we’re going to chase this dream, then it had to be done.

Yes, I found a buyer for my 2007 Toyota Prius, and after meeting in downtown Tupelo and going for a quick test drive, we stepped into the downtown BancorpSouth building where the buyer works, and took care of the transaction on the spot. From there, we drove a couple blocks to the county courthouse and turned in the license plate at the tax collector’s office, and the deal was done. The whole thing took less than an hour.

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That’s my baby, being driven by her new owner.

It seems so strange to step into the garage and only see one vehicle parked there. But I haven’t really had a lot of time to dwell on it, as the days are really starting to go by quickly now, and we still have so much to do.

After we got back from selling the car, I spent most of the rest of the day wiping my Dell computer to prepare it for sale. It has a 2TB hard drive and a 30″ monitor, along with a set of Bose speakers. I did a total reset, which completely wiped the drive and then reinstalled Windows 10, leaving it in an out-of-the-box condition for the next owner. I then listed it for sale on Facebook Marketplace for a screaming deal of a price, and immediately found a buyer–my brother! Yep, he knows a good deal when he sees it! Enjoy the the system, Mark!

We have (or had) a lot of Southwestern collectibles from when we lived in Arizona, and we’ve found that Southwestern art does not really appeal to folks here in the South, so we haven’t really been able to re-home any of it. I’ve posted a couple of pieces for sale on Ebay this week to see if they’ll sell, and if not, they’ll all go to Goodwill. That’s sad, but it’s just not practical to try to keep it all. A lot of the pieces were sitting on shelves in the entertainment center behind a glass door where we never really saw them anyway, so were they really that important to us? Probably not, and it just makes us realize how much money we’ve wasted on stuff that doesn’t really bring us joy.

Today I spent most of the day doing more scanning and shredding of old records and documents. We have a fireproof lock box to hold all our really important documents like passports, birth certificates, etc., and that will stay in the RV with us. I bought a little scanner several months ago, the ScanSnap S1300i, and it is doing an awesome job of scanning old records quickly and efficiently. I’m saving the scanned files to our Dropbox account so we can access them from anywhere. I should have done this long ago even if we weren’t planning to get rid of everything and live in an RV. So much paper, all shredded and out of my life.

I also cleaned out the drawers in my nightstand, and ran across this dress and shoes from when I was a baby. I thought about hanging on to it, but decided to just capture a photo of it and then let it go. Once again, it was something that was just hidden in a drawer anyway, and the photos that I took are just as meaningful to me as the actual items. Since we don’t have children, there’s no one to pass it along to anyway, so it was just time to let it go.

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My dress and shoes from when I was a little younger.

Andy measured the bed of the pickup under the camper shell and then picked up the new storage bins that we’re going to use in the truck. He’s already packed his off-season clothes in one of the bins, and I’ll work on mine this week. I spent about an hour this evening going through all my toiletries and make-up, purging and combining things to get down to the minimum number of lotions and potions that I want to take with us. We have a fair amount of toiletry items that we had stocked up on at Costco, like bar soap, makeup remover wipes, Breathe Right strips, etc., that we don’t want to just toss. So we’re storing them in a smaller bin that we’ll use until that stash is depleted, and after that, no more stock-piling at Costco!

We also got a couple of administrative type things taken care of today.

First of all, I finally received my COBRA information from my last employer, so I was able to get enrolled for continuation of my health insurance benefits, including dental and vision for both myself and Andy (he’s on Medicare so he wasn’t on my health insurance). It’s really good insurance, and it turned out to be less than what we had budgeted, although it’s still obscenely expensive. I’m enrolled in a high deductible plan because I don’t have any known health issues, I’m not on any medications, and rarely see the doctor. The monthly premiums are:

  • Medical – $554.76
  • Dental – $72.68
  • Vision – $14.90

Secondly, we have our new mailing address! No, I’m not going to publish it here on this blog, but it’s in Livingston, Texas. Now we can start the process of filling out all those change-of-address forms. That’s one of those things about moving that I always dreaded, but now that almost all our business is done online, it’s not nearly so bad.

So that’s what we’ve been up to for the past few days. Still have not sold the dining room furniture or the microwave hutch, although I’ve lowered the price a couple of times. The bad thing about Facebook Marketplace is that you have to wait a certain number of days (10?) before you can re-post something, even if you change the price. With only 20 days left until closing, we may have to get more aggressive.

 

Happily Exhausted

What an exhausting weekend! But it was super-productive, and we also got to spend time with family members that we don’t get to see often enough, so it was worth the long hours, sweat and heavy lifting.

We had our yard sale yesterday (Saturday), and of course people were lined up in our driveway a good half hour before our advertised start time. What was the biggest draw? TOOLS!! I actually had people texting me from outside the house at 6:30 AM asking about what kind of tools we had for sale.

Andy had just gotten out of the shower when I told him that we had a crowd waiting to get in. He wasn’t very happy  about it, especially since he hadn’t had his coffee yet, but once the money started rolling in, his good humor came back and he enjoyed the process.

When we opened the garage doors it was like Walmart on Black Friday. There was a mad rush that lasted almost an hour, and then things settled down into a nice steady flow. Yes, we sold things cheap, and we even put a “free pile” in the driveway of things like half-empty bottles of cleaning supplies and half-rolls of shelf paper. We just wanted the stuff to be gone.

By about noon it was pretty much over and we broke for lunch. Andy’s nephew, Mike, had driven over from South Carolina the night before to pick up some family heirlooms and to help with the sale. My mom and sister-in-law, Kathy, also came over to help out, and we were glad to load them up with some things to take home with them as well. It was a lot of fun to hang out with them during the day, and in Mike’s case, for the entire weekend.

After we had lunch, we started packing up the remaining items which we’ll be donating to charity this week.

Items remaining after the yard sale ended on Saturday.

As we were getting the garage cleaned up, another person showed up to meet with Andy about possibly buying some of his lapidary equipment and supplies. He wound up buying the cabbing machine, almost (if not all) the rocks and stones, and some other supplies. It was tough for Andy to see all that stuff go, but it was for a good cause.

This morning, we loaded up Mike’s truck with not only the family heirlooms that he had come to retrieve, but also most of our old camping gear that he and his son should enjoy using (and hopefully his wife as well!).  He headed back to South Carolina after we promised to stay in touch so that we can all get together and do some camping in the future.

Mike loading his truck with family stuff and camping gear.

After having lunch and resting up a little bit, I finally completed the task that I have been dreading–I posted my Prius for sale in Facebook Marketplace.

My 2007 Prius is officially for sale.

Almost immediately I started getting inquiries about it, and I already have appointments for showings tomorrow and Tuesday, with others asking to be notified if it doesn’t sell to either of those. I’ve really enjoyed this little car, it’s been a workhorse and has had very, very few problems. I hate to part with her, but it’s part of the process.

I did some laundry today, mopped the kitchen floor and made sure the bookkeeping was up to date, but otherwise we just relaxed a little bit today. We’ll hit the ground running again tomorrow after a good night’s sleep. The plans for this week include showing (and hopefully selling) the car, applying for our mail forwarding service through Escapees, delivering the leftover yard sale stuff to charity, making a run or two to the landfill, continuing to scan and shred documents from the files, and wiping the files on my desktop computer so it can be sold.

We’re still trying to sell the dining room set and the microwave hutch. I’ll have some other furniture pieces to list soon (desks, bookcases, file cabinet, breakfast table/chairs). The bedroom furniture and recliners are semi-promised to certain individuals, and the television will be among the last things to go.

Oh, and we went ahead and made our reservation for Tombigbee State Park for the move-in process. We had originally thought we would stay at Barnes Crossing RV Park here in Tupelo, but after comparing rates, we saved over $150 by choosing the state park due to Andy’s senior discount as well as a credit on our Reserve America account from where we had to cancel a trip earlier in the year. Tombigbee is only about 15 minutes away, and we’ve always enjoyed staying there. It will be our home base while we move everything in and get it organized, and while we go through the closing process on the house sale.

Only three weeks until we move into the RV.

Wow.

Things That Keep Me Awake At Night

It’s 4:00 AM on Friday, and I’ve been awake for over an hour. Why can’t I go back to sleep? Because I’m trying to figure out the best place to store those blasted rolls of aluminum foil, plastic wrap and parchment paper in our little RV. There’s no good place!!

Only 26 more days until we close on the sale of our house and hit the road, and there is so much to do. We got the results of the appraisal yesterday, and everything looks good for a successful closing. The fencing guys finally came by to repair the chain link fence behind the workshop where the huge branch fell on it several weeks ago, so that was our last major repair expenditure. On Wednesday we took our two kitties, Maggie and Molly, to the vet for their annual checkups and vaccinations, and we also had them do a blood workup to check for any organ issues that we should be aware of–still waiting to get those results, but the vet said that they seemed healthy otherwise, although Maggie could stand to lose some weight (couldn’t we all!).

Our big push at the moment is getting ready for tomorrow’s yard sale. We’ve already started setting things up in the garage, but there is just so much STUFF that needs to be sold that we won’t be able to put it all out there at once. One of our neighbors was kind enough to offer the use of some more folding tables, and that will help tremendously. We’re keeping our fingers crossed on the weather forecast, hoping that the rain will hold off so we can put some things out on the driveway as well.

On Wednesday I visited Lizzy at the storage lot and brought home all the dishes, cookware and kitchen utensils that we had been using on our camping trips. Yesterday I went through everything in our kitchen cabinets and drawers, pulled out anything breakable to put in the yard sale and replaced it with the non-breakable items from the RV that we’ll be using going forward.

All our camping kitchen-ware from the RV

For instance, my 43-piece set of Mikasa stoneware that we’ve had since we got married is now on the sale rack, replaced with a few non-breakable plates, saucers and bowls from the RV. All my glassware and stemware is gone, replaced by two clear plastic goblets from the RV. Making these changes now will give us several weeks to make sure we still have the items that we need to prepare and enjoy our food while still keeping our possessions to a minimum.

Andy’s nephew is driving over from South Carolina to pick up some family heirlooms that we’re passing along, so we’ll put Mike to work helping in the yard sale for as long as he’s here. 🙂

Yesterday we sold our wine rack and one of our Roku devices on Facebook Marketplace. We sold our patio furniture to the next door neighbor (same one who got our grill). We still haven’t sold the dining room set or the microwave hutch, but there’s been a lot of interest so we’re still hopeful. I’ve also already had a serious inquiry about my car, but I’m not planning to post it for sale until Sunday at the earliest.

Andy has been going through his wardrobe and has managed to weed it out pretty well. He was having a tough time trying to narrow down his t-shirt collection, so we decided to have a quilt made from some of his favorites. I have a friend from high school who specializes in making t-shirt quilts, so I’ve sent the shirts to her so she can work her magic. Can’t wait to see how it turns out!

Now that the appraisal is done and we’re 99.9% confident that the sale will go through, we’ll move forward with some important things like getting our new address set up in Texas, reserving a site in the RV park here in Tupelo for our move-in, and selling the car. We’ll have to deal with all the stuff that does not disappear in the yard sale, and we will have some final larger items to sell like the bedroom furniture and the television that we’re still using for the moment.

We follow a lot of full time RVers on YouTube and listen to their stories about how they made the transition from sticks-and-bricks to the RV, and they all talk about how hard it is to totally divest yourself of all your possessions–not necessarily because of the emotional attachment (although there’s a good bit of that when it comes to certain items), but just the sheer volume of “stuff” that we tend to accumulate when we live in one place for too long. We tell ourselves that our stuff is valuable (how else could we justify hanging on to it), but you find out just how worthless all this crap really is when you try to sell it to someone–anyone–else. And when you have a hard deadline, like a closing date, to meet, it becomes even more stressful.

But underneath that stress, there’s this feeling of freedom that’s starting to bubble up, knowing that there will be no more yard work, no more utility bills, no more being stuck with crazy neighbors fighting in the street.

I’ll have about 10 square feet to sweep and mop. That in itself makes me happy!

Now, I just need to figure out a good place to put those stupid rolls of aluminum foil and parchment paper.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

It’s been a little over four weeks since I turned in my notice at work and started going public with our plans to sell everything and travel full time in our RV.

Everyone is very supportive, a few admit they’re jealous, many say they plan to do the same thing in the future. So far no one has tried to convince us that we’re crazy (we’re not). But we do get some questions, although not really the questions that I expected.

Here are the top three questions that people are asking about our plans:

#3 – Are you going to tow your Prius behind the RV?

Answer: No, we are selling our Prius (sad face) and we are keeping our Tacoma instead. It would have been nice to have the fuel economy of the Prius when we go driving on sight-seeing expeditions, but unfortunately the Prius cannot be towed flat (a.k.a. four-down), and we don’t want to fool with putting it on a trailer. The Tacoma will be used as a chase vehicle which I will drive behind the RV. Since we have a camper shell on the Tacoma, it gives us some additional storage space that will come in very handy as our RV is only 24′ long. It’s all about compromises.

#2 – Do the cats like RVing?

Answer: We have two cats, Maggie Mae and Molly Ann, and yes, they do enjoy RVing AFTER we get to a stopping place and get settled in. They still aren’t that fond of riding in a moving vehicle. But once we get to a campsite, they get a lot more attention and lap-time than they ever get in our sticks-and-bricks home. They are both strictly indoor cats and are very lazy, so we will not be letting them roam around outside the RV. They each have their favorite hiding spots during the day, and at night they tend to pile up in the bed with us (mostly on top of me). In their short lives, they’ve lived in Arizona, Indiana and Mississippi, so they’re not surprised when we decide to shake things up a little.

And the most asked question of all is:

#1 – Do you know what your first destination is going to be?

Answer: Yes we do. As soon as we close on the sale of our house (currently scheduled for August 29), we will be headed for Livingston, Texas where we have reservations at the Escapees Rainbow’s End RV Park. Once we sell our house we won’t have a physical address, so our first few weeks in Livingston will be devoted to establishing our residency, or “domicile”, as citizens of Texas. We’ll get a new physical address through the Escapees organization, get our vehicles inspected and registered in Texas, get our Texas drivers licenses and insurance, set up new bank accounts, and do a few other things to indicate our intention to make Texas our new “home”. All full time RVers have to go through this process in order to meet legal requirements for the IRS and other government entities. Most choose Texas, South Dakota or Florida as their domicile state because these states  do not have a state income tax, and are generally friendlier to RVers who want to establish residency. We also chose Texas because it’s on the route between Arizona, where we’ll spend a lot of time, and Mississippi, where we’ll be coming back to for family visits.

So those are the answers to our top 3 most frequently asked questions.

Speaking of the sale of our house, the process is continuing along at light speed. The appraiser was here today to look things over and should submit his findings before the end of the week. After that, only the termite inspection will remain.

We’ve been posting furniture for sale on Facebook Marketplace with great success. Last Sunday we sold our huge entertainment center, our leather sofa, and our coffee table,  within hours after posting the ads on FB. Today I posted ads for our dining room furniture and our microwave hutch. It seems like the ads do better on the weekend, but we’ll see what happens (today is Tuesday).

The strange part of all of this is that we aren’t spending any time at all in the RV right now. Lizzy is parked in the storage lot, just biding her time. Andy visits her once or twice a week to fire up the generator and run the engine and the air conditioner for a little while, just to keep things in good operating order. But it seems like years since we made our last trip in April, and I’m getting really antsy to start the move-in process. We still have so much to do in the next few weeks, but we’re definitely seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

 

Officially Retired!

As of 4:30 PM this afternoon, I am officially retired!!

Today was my last day of work, and while I may someday decide to pick up an odd job here and there in exchange for a free camping spot, my “career” days are over. It’s been a good run–sixteen years as an accountant in the oil and gas industry, fourteen years in various positions in the Information Technology and software field, and then three years in a couple of specialist positions in the retail and health insurance industries. I got my MBA degree and passed the CPA exam while working. I picked up a second bachelor’s degree in IT after we moved to Phoenix from Houston. I met a lot of wonderful people, made some lifelong friends, traveled all over the country, and learned so much about so many different things through each of the various positions that I’ve held over the years.

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OFFICIALLY RETIRED!!!! #lifeisgood

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But I am SO ready to move on! I’m not going to miss having to be at an office or sitting at a computer on someone else’s schedule every weekday morning. I’m looking forward to being able to go for a long walk in the mornings without worrying about being late for work. Desk jobs are not healthy, and eating out while traveling for work is especially bad. I’m looking forward to being outside more, getting that solar Vitamin D, stepping on a hiking trail instead of a treadmill, waking and sleeping with my natural body rhythms, and exploring all the quirky, historic, jaw-droppingly beautiful places this amazing country has to offer.

Retiring early (I’m only 59) means that we’ll have to be very conscious of our spending for a few years until we decide it’s time to apply for my Social Security and pension benefits. But we’ve always been fairly frugal in our lifestyle, and we have a nest egg that should be sufficient for how we plan to live going forward. We don’t anticipate any major adjustments to our monthly budget, at least in total spending. Of course, there will be a change in the types of spending that make up that total, but it should even out or go down once we get on the road. We’ll be trading our spending on a mortgage, city utilities, home and lawn maintenance, and car insurance for spending on campground fees, RV maintenance, propane and my health insurance. I’ve always tracked our spending religiously in Quicken, so it will be very interesting to see how the numbers change once we’ve been on the road for a few months.

Now, the latest on the house sale:

We had the home inspection on Wednesday morning and held our breath while waiting to hear what all the buyer would want fixed. We felt like we had the house in pretty great shape, but we had agreed to pay up to $1000 in repairs based on the inspection. Today we heard from the Realtor that based on the inspection report, the only thing the buyer is asking that we repair is a broken window pane in the garage door. That’s it. Easy peasy. Yep, we can do that!!

Next week the appraiser will come in, and we’ll be holding our breath again, but we really don’t anticipate that there will be a problem in that area. The last thing will be the termite inspection, and since we have annual inspections under our Terminix contract and there have never been any problems, we aren’t worried about that either.

We’re planning our next yard sale for next weekend (August 3-4), and we’ll also be posting ads next week for the larger furniture items as well as my beloved Prius.

So unless something unforeseen happens, we’re still shooting to close the sale on or before August 29. Since we’re planning to have all the furniture gone before the close date, we’ll probably be moving into the RV full time before then, after we move Lizzy from the storage lot to a local campground. Then once the closing papers are signed, we’ll be ready to roll!

Which brings up the question that we get asked more than any other:

Have you decided where your first destination is going to be?

Yes, we have!

But I’ll answer that question in my next blog post, so stay tuned!

House is Under Contract In Less Than 24 Hours!

OMG, what a whirlwind! We just put our house on the market yesterday and we already have a full-price contract on it. How did that just happen?

Our house went to contract in less than 24 hours.

It certainly helps to hire the right Realtor. We used the same guy, Keith, that helped us buy this house in 2011, and now he has a partner, Blake, who works with him and primarily concentrates on buyers. They both disclosed that they were dual agents working for both buyers and sellers, and so we were fully aware of that situation.

It just happened that Blake was working with a buyer who was actively searching for a house in our size and price range, and who had just recently had a deal fall through when the house he was trying to buy did not appraise high enough. When our listing hit the MLS database around 5:30 or 6:00 PM yesterday, this buyer contacted Blake (who was working out at the gym) and asked for an immediate showing. We were contacted and told we had about 15 minutes to get out of the house, so Andy had to stop cooking dinner and we vacated the premises. We wound up doing some grocery shopping while we waited for the all-clear.

After what seemed like a short time, we got a text from Keith telling us we could go home, and so we thought that nothing would come of it since the guy wasn’t in the house that long. But as we were pulling in the driveway, Keith called and said he had an offer to present to us.

The offer was OK, at about 94% of our asking price, but the buyer also wanted us to pay for all of his closing costs, up to $5000. Since we had just gone on the market, we certainly weren’t going to allow ourselves to be low-balled. Since our Realtors are representing both the buyers and us, they really couldn’t advise us as much as they normally would, since they had to remain neutral in the negotiations. We were pretty much on our own in that regard.

So we countered.

Then the buyer countered.

Then we countered.

Then he accepted!!

So now, suddenly we have a contract for the sale of our house. The buyer is pre-approved, and due to his having tried to purchase another house recently, a lot of his paperwork was already in place. He was asking for a 30-day close, but Andy managed to negotiate a little more time since all this happened much faster than expected and we still have a lot to do to divest of our belongings.

Right now we’re shooting to close on or before August 29.

The big unknowns are the inspections and appraisal, since the buyer is using a VA loan, and that can sometimes result in a lot of nit-picky dings on the inspection report. We have confidence that we’ll get through it, though.

It’s so funny, we basically had the house sold before we even had the For Sale sign in the yard (it was placed there this morning).

It will be nice to not have to worry about having our lives disrupted with a lot of showings. Our lives are going to be disrupted enough as we rush to get rid of almost all our worldly possessions and get moved into our RV, Lizzy. We have to sell my beloved Prius, and Andy is trying to figure out how to re-home all of the artwork painted by his Mom that we have on our walls as well as stored in the workshop.

I have six more workdays before I’m officially retired, and that includes being out of town one night next week. Right now my job seems like a huge bother, even though it’s an income source–it’s just standing in the way of my being able to do what I really want to do, which is get things ready to move into Lizzy.

Things are about to get really crazy around here, and fast. Hang on!!