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.

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.

 

The News is Out! Full Steam Ahead!

For the past few months we’ve been a little vague about our future plans here on the blog, but as of today we can share what’s going on and where we’re headed.

Yes, we are on our way to becoming full-time RVers, living in our 24′ Class C Thor Chateau 22E and driving our Toyota Tacoma with camper shell as our chase vehicle. We plan to spend the foreseeable future traveling and exploring the United States (and maybe Canada and Mexico as well) for as long as we’re healthy, happy and enjoying the experience. Our plan is to be on the road by the time I turn 60 in mid-October.

And those plans took a HUGE leap ahead today!

This morning I submitted my resignation at my job with Humana. I gave them four weeks notice, and my last day of work will be Friday, July 27. These remaining four weeks will be extremely busy as I do a lot of traveling around the northern third of the state for work, but fortunately most of it will be day trips with only one, maybe two, overnight trips. And by the end of the day on July 27, I will officially be retired!

I didn’t want to say too much in a public forum about our specific plans until I had formally announced my resignation at work. The timing was driven by my becoming fully vested in my company 401(k) plan. Humana matches the first 6% that employees contribute to their plans at a rate of 125%, but you have to work two years to be vested in the matching funds. My two year anniversary was this past Tuesday, and that was the date that we were waiting for to put all this plan into motion.

So now that I’ve turned in my notice at work, what’s next?

We have an appointment with a Realtor next Thursday evening for him to come look over our house and property so he can give us an idea of what we might expect to sell it for. This is the same Realtor that we used when we bought this house, so he’s familiar with the property and the area. We hope to have the house on the market by the third week of July.

Because I still have four weeks of employment left, Andy has to shoulder most of the burden of getting the house ready to sell. We’ve done a lot of decluttering, I’ve digitized hundreds of photos, we’ve already had one big yard sale, we’ve sold some furniture and my piano–but there’s so much more to do. I’ll help out as much as I can in the evenings and on the weekends, but until I’m free from my job, Andy will be tackling most of this stuff on his own.

As far as the furnishings and other possessions go, we’ll be having at least one more yard sale, and we’ll be listing larger items for sale in all the usual places. If you’re in the Tupelo area and you’re looking for a dining room set, a large entertainment center, a big screen TV, a leather sofa, blah, blah, blah…..hit us up!

We will be selling my beloved 2007 Toyota Prius as soon as we get a contract on the house. It’s a wonderful vehicle, has about 139,000 miles on it, runs like a top, and still gets around 46 MPG. Make us an offer!!

Andy will have a lot of tools to sell, and he’s liquidating a lot of his jewelry-making inventory. He does plan to keep some tools and materials so that he can continue to do some filigree work on the road, but doesn’t plan to continue the lapidary work (stone cutting and polishing).

We’ve had these plans for about a year now, and it’s hard to believe that we’re almost at the point where we’re totally committed. Quitting my job, selling our house and almost all our possessions–those are serious decisions. But every time we let something go, we feel lighter and less burdened by all the “stuff” that we’ve accumulated. We look forward to having the bare minimum in terms of material possessions so that we can have the maximum number of hours together accumulating experiences and memories.

Instead of having a lawn to be mowed and tended, our front yard can be anything from the Grand Canyon to the Pacific Ocean to the Rocky Mountains to the Sonoran Desert–it will just depend on where we decide to park the RV that week. Instead of being stuck in the same location through a hot, humid Southern summer, we will chase the good weather, moving to the warm Southwest in the winter and to the cooler mountains and Pacific Northwest in the summer. And of course we will be free to travel to where we can visit family members at any time without having to wait until I have enough vacation days accrued on somebody’s payroll.

Making that phone call this morning to my boss, setting these wheels in motion, it’s been a very exciting day. Just the first of many, many more to come, so stay tuned! We’ll be posting much more regularly from now on since we don’t have to keep things on the down-low anymore, so be sure to subscribe! It’s gonna get CrAzY!! 🙂

 

Must a TOAD be Towed?

One of the most important decisions we’ve had to make as we prepare to enter full-time RV life has to do with what auxiliary vehicle we’re going to use while we’re on the road. Those vehicles are commonly referred to as “toads” because they are typically towed behind the RV, usually Class A and Class C motorhomes.

While there are many RVers in smaller rigs who don’t use a tow vehicle, most of those with rigs of our size or larger do have a toad. It just makes sense to have a vehicle that can be used for running errands or sight-seeing while the large motorhome is parked at a campsite, possibly connected to electric, water, cable and sewer service. Nobody wants to disconnect all that just to run to the grocery store!

We’ve considered several different scenarios as we’ve made our plans for full-timing. We actually did consider not using a toad–but only for a few minutes, and then moved on. Last year on most of our trips, including our week-long trip to Tennessee for the RV Rally, Andy drove the RV and I followed behind in our Prius. We did not want to invest any money in a tow dolly for the Prius since we had no plans to use the Prius as our toad in the future. The only drawback to using a separate vehicle is that we did get separated once or twice when driving in heavy traffic around Chattanooga, and the walkie-talkies were no help at all once we got over a mile or so apart.

After doing a lot of research we decided that we definitely wanted a vehicle that could be towed flat, also known as “four down”, since it seems to be less hassle and less expensive than using a dolly or a trailer. We found out that not every vehicle can be towed flat (neither our Prius or our Tacoma pickup qualify), so we started looking into the possibility of buying a used Jeep and selling our current vehicles.

Jeeps are well-known for being reliable, easy-to-handle toads. Both the manual and automatic transmission models can be easily put into tow mode, unlike most other vehicles. We originally decided on the Jeep Compass, but later became more interested in the Jeep Wrangler Sport. Andy even visited a Jeep dealership to check out a few, and we found one on CarMax that looked very interesting. We were just about ready to pull the trigger.

But part of our transition to this new lifestyle is learning to look at our spending and purchasing decisions much more critically, especially when it involves thousands of dollars. While we would be able to pay cash for a Jeep and the towing setup, it would be a big chunk of change. We have to remember that my retirement income stream will not start for several more years, and while we have enough savings to be comfortable until that time, we don’t want to burden ourselves unnecessarily.

So after we discussed it further, we changed direction again, and this time it’s our final answer (unless something totally unforeseen happens!). We are going to use our Toyota Tacoma Pre-runner as our toad, but we’re not going to tow it. One of us will drive the RV, the other will drive the truck.

Our un-towed TOAD will be our Tacoma pickup with camper shell.

Here are some of the advantages that we see in this decision:

  • The Tacoma is a 2004 model with less than 100,000 miles on it. It has always been very reliable.
  • It has a camper shell on the back which will provide us with more storage space while we’re on the road.
  • It has the off-road package which will allow us to do some of the back-country exploring that we were planning to do with the Jeep.
  • The cost of insurance and registration will be lower for an older vehicle.
  • It already has a tow hitch on it in case we ever need it for anything.
  • When looking for boon-docking sites in the desert or on forest roads, the Tacoma can go ahead as a scout vehicle to make sure it’s safe for the RV to follow.
  • There will be less stress on the RV engine when climbing mountains, and less weight on the brakes when descending.
  • RV will get better gas mileage if it doesn’t have to tow anything. And the Tacoma will get better mileage traveling in the slip-stream from the RV.

The downsides to this solution are:

  • We don’t get to ride together when moving from location to location–but we’ll be together every other minute of the day, and we don’t plan to make many long drives anyway, probably a max of 250 miles in a day. Most days we won’t be moving at all.
  • If one of us gets too sick or injured to drive, we could be stuck in a location for longer than anticipated if we can’t figure out how to move both vehicles with one driver.

The only thing that needs to be upgraded in the Tacoma is the audio system. It currently has a radio/CD player, but we’ll be replacing it with a system that includes Bluetooth connectivity so we can connect our iPhones for music, audiobooks, navigation and hands-free phone conversations.

We’re not the first couple to decide to use an un-towed toad. Here’s a link to a great video from Duet Justus that explores all the options for toads.

So, it’s nice to finally have that decision made so we can move on to the other 999 decisions that we still have to consider this year! We’re so antsy to get on the road!

 

 

Our First RV Rally – Sevierville, TN

Greetings from the River Plantation RV Park in Sevierville, Tennessee, at the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains. Andy and I have been here since early Monday afternoon, attending the RV-Dreams Fall Educational Rally. So far it has been a wonderful experience, giving us the perfect opportunity to learn more about the fulltime RV lifestyle from those who are currently living it. It has also been a chance to learn more about our own RV by using it in ways we have not until this point.

We left Tupelo last Sunday afternoon just after 3PM, timing our departure so that we would arrive in Chattanooga, Tennessee just after sundown because we wanted to get our first boondocking experience under our belts. We parked the rig (and our Prius which I was driving as a chase vehicle) in the Walmart parking lot and settled in for the night. While it wasn’t the best night’s sleep I’ve ever gotten (we were near a train track), it was not bad at all. We ate our dinner in the rig, baking potatoes in the microwave while we ran the generator. The following morning we had overnight refrigerator oats that I prepared before we went to bed. We took our time and pulled out of Walmart just after 10am since we couldn’t check in at the RV park until noon.

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Settled in at Camp Walmart.

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The River Plantation RV park is also a new experience, it’s our first private park (as opposed to the state parks we’ve been using). They provide full hookups, including electricity, water, sewer, and cable TV. They have two swimming pools and a hot tub, a lazy river, pickleball courts, a video game arcade, an onsite RV/Bus wash facility, and other amenities, including the conference center.

We’ve had a couple of issues with the hookups:

  • The breaker on the hookup pedestal has tripped three times so far. One of those times was when we were away from the campground, and when we returned the power was off to the RV. Wouldn’t be a huge issue except that the kitties were in here and without A/C it was starting to get a little stuffy.
  • The park advertises that they have free wi-fi, but it was not working all week until just this afternoon (hopefully it continues to work).
  • The sewer connection is on a PVC pipe that sticks up out of the ground. Our RV’s outlet is pretty low, so there’s not much downhill slant between our outlet and the sewer drain. We would prefer a lower-to-the-ground outlet.

But overall, we are enjoying our stay here at River Plantation. We had our RV washed yesterday (they charge $2/foot, so it was $44 for our rig).

We’ve met so many interesting, helpful people, many of whom are just like us, in the early stages of getting their rigs and their lives ready for fulltiming.

Interestingly, we are the only ones at this conference who are in a Class C rig. Everyone else is in a Class A, a fifth wheel or a travel trailer. That just makes us feel special, not weird.

The cats have done well on this trip, with the exception of one little scare. When we were getting ready to move the rig to the RV wash facility yesterday, Andy opened the drivers side door and Molly fell out of the RV. She had been hiding on the floor between the door and the drivers seat, sensing that we were about to start moving. As soon as she hit the ground, she ran up under the RV and would not come out. I had to belly-crawl on the gravel, under the RV, to get hold of her so I could pass her out to Andy, who put her back in the RV. She immediately hid under the laundry bag on the bed and stayed there the entire time the RV was being washed (I stayed inside with the kitties while Andy stayed outside watching them complete the wash). But as soon as we got back to our campsite and settle back in, she was fine.

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#Molly says it’s bedtime. #forliz #rvcats

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Tonight we’re having a potluck at the rally, so I’m cooking spaghetti (vegan, of course). We have two more days of seminars and rig tours, and then we’ll head home on Sunday, driving straight through to Tupelo.

We’re having a blast this week!