Fulltiming and the Coronavirus

2019 – Airport Park CoE, Waco, TX

The coronavirus outbreak is a fluid situation.  Today’s guidance from officials may be outdated by this evening.  To some extent we are all just waiting for the next domino to fall.  Fulltime RVers aren’t exempt from all the uncertainty.  The other day I saw a meme on Facebook picturing a class C parked alone on a peninsula overlooking a pretty lake.  The caption, meant to bring a smile, said that they were practicing social distancing.  Then, in less than a day I saw a news article that New Mexico was closing its campgrounds.  I couldn’t help but wonder if that RV was being evicted from that isolated spot.

I see that FMCA and Escapees have announced changes in their rally schedules.  No doubt that leaves some fulltimers looking for a place to land now that they won’t be attending their rally as planned.

In our case, we’re still at our winter campground.  In fact, we had already planned on a longer than usual stay while I serve as interim pastor at a local church during their pastoral search.  A few days ago I mentioned to the campground management that we just might be staying into the summer – not because of the church assignment but because our summer plans might be disrupted by the pandemic.

At this point I think fulltimers might be wise to find a campground they like that will allow longer stays.  Many of us are in the higher risk group and it makes sense to take advantage of our more unstructured lifestyle to land in an acceptable spot and wait for the storm to blow over. Of course, everyone has their own particular concerns: family needs, events, appointments and the like. If possible, though, I’d be looking into suitable long term parking.

And, while I’m writing, I’ll switch to my pastoral identity for a moment.  From a health point of view, we’re urged to wash our hands to protect against a virus infection.  From a spiritual point of view, I urge you to spend time with the Lord – maybe whispering a 20 second prayer each time you wash your hands – pray for our world and for ourselves and those we love.  Ask the Lord to protect you against the infection of fear and anxiety that is sweeping across the world. Also, you might include a prayer of thanksgiving for running water and soap. Oh yeah, also pray for our President and other national leaders; maybe health care providers and medical researchers too.

Come to think of it, you might need more than 20 seconds for those prayers.

2020 – Plans written in Jello


The phrase “our plans are written in jello” didn’t originate with us. However, we think it’s a great way to describe not only our touring RV lifestyle but our general approach to living. Twice before we adjusted our plans to serve as interim pastor. This year we’ve been asked to serve the Houston Southwest Church of the Nazarene in Richmond, TX during their pastoral transition. We’re enjoying getting to know the good folks of the church – they’ve made us feel right at home.

Hopefully, our presence will smooth the transition between pastors. Once we finish at Southwest we plan on yet another type of RV adventure, but that plan is also written in jello at this point.

2019 – Adventure Map

Other travel maps: 2013201420152016 – 2017 – 20182019

1. Green Caye RV Park, Dickinson, Texas – Review
2. Lake Conroe Thousand Trails, Willis, TX – Our Ford C-Max Towed Review
3. Southern Living RV Park, Greenwood, LA – Review
4. Ameristar RV Park, Vicksburg, MS – SightseeingReview
5. Wendy Oaks RV Resort, Florence, MS – Review
6. Roosevelt State Park, Moran, MS – Review
7. Little Tallapoosa Park, Carrollton, GA – Review
8. Pine Ridge Campground, Roebuck, SC – Review
9. Forest Lake Thousand Trails, Advance, NC – Billy Graham LibrarySightseeingReview
10. Holly Point Campground, Wake Forest, NC Review
11. Williamsburg Thousand Trails, VA – Jamestown SettlementBerkeley PlantationReview
12. Chesapeake Bay Thousand Trails, Gloucester, VA – Battleship WisconsinRevolution MuseumReview
13. Harbor View Thousand Trails, Colonial Beach, VA – Museum of the Bible – Washington, DCGeorge Washington Birthplace – Colonial Beach, VALots to see in the Northern Neck of VirginiaReview
14. Gettysburg Farm Thousand Trails, Dover, PA – SightseeingReview
15. Circle M Thousand Trails, Lancaster, PA – SightseeingReview
16. Hershey, PA Thousand Trails – SightseeingReview
17. Back to Gettysburg Farm Thousand Trails, Dover, PA – Review
18. Thompkins CoE Campground, Lawrenceville, PA – Sightseeing Watkins Glen, NY State ParkReview
19. Daisy Barn Campground, Wilson, NY – SightseeingReview
20. Kenisee Lake Thousand Trails, Jefferson, OH – SightseeingReview
21. Overnight on the Road – SE Michigan
22. In for repairs at Elkhart, IN
23. Horseshoe Lakes Thousand Trails, Clinton, IN – SightseeingReview
24. Bo Wood CoE, Sullivan, IL – Review
25. Stanton / Meramec KOA, MO – Review
26. Beagle Bay RV Haven & Campground, Sarcoxie, MO – Review
27. Belle Starr CoE, Eafaula, OK – Review
28. Lake Texoma Thousand Trails, Gordonville, TX Review
29. Airport Park CoE, Waco, TX Review
30. Lake Conroe Thousand Trails, Willis, TX Review
31. Green Caye RV Park, Dickinson, Texas

2018 – Adventure Map

Other travel maps: 2013201420152016 – 2017 – 20182019

1. San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Park, La Porte, TX (review)
2. Lake Conroe Thousand Trails, Willis, TX (review)
3. Midway Park CoE – Waco, TX (reviewsightseeing)
4. Lake Whitney Thousand Trails – Whitney, TX (review)
5. Lake Texoma Thousand Trails – Gordonville, TX (review)
6. Warrior RV Park, Tulsa, OK (review)
7. Santa Fe Safari RV Campground, Chanute, KS (review – (Service on 5th Wheel)
8. Bucksaw CoE Campground, Clinton, MO (reviewsightseeing)
9. Indian Creek CoE Campground, Perry, MO (reviewsightseeing)
10. Clinton Lake State Recreation Area, De Witt, IL (review)
11. Cedar Lake, IN Ministries RV Park (reviewsightseeing)
12. Bear Cave Thousand Trails, Buchanan, MI (reviewsightseeing)
13. Twin Mills Campground, Howe, IN (reviewsightseeing)
14. Kenisee Lakes Thousand Trails, Jefferson, OH (reviewsightseeing)
15. Woodland, PA Campground (reviewsightseeing)
16. Timothy Lake South Thousand Trails, East Stroudsburg, PA (reviewsightseeing)
17. Rondout Valley Thousand Trails, Accord, NY (reviewsightseeing)
18. Quinebaug Cove Campground, Brimfield, MA (reviewsightseeingSturbridge, MA Thousand Trails Bonus Review)
19. Homestead By The River Family Campground, Biddeford, Maine (reviewsightseeing)
20. Mt Desert Narrows Campground, Bar Harbor, ME (reviewsightseeing)
21. Schoodic Woods Campground, NPS – Winter Harbor, Maine (reviewsightseeing)
22. Moody Beach Thousand Trails, Wells, Maine (reviewsightseeing)
23. Bear Creek Campground, Bristol, CT (review)
24. Timothy Lake South Thousand Trails, East Stroudsburg, PA (Bonus review of Timothy Lake North)
25. Hershey, PA Thousand Trails (reviewsightseeing)
26. Gettysburg Farm Thousand Trails, Dover, PA (reviewsightseeing)
27. Shenandoah Valley Campground, Verona, VA (review)
28. Fort Chiswell, VA RV Park (reviewsightseeing)
29. Douglas Dam Headwater Campground, Sevierville, TN (reviewsightseeing)
30. Seven Points CoE Campground, Hermitage, TN (review)
31. Agricenter International Campground, Memphis, TN (review)
32. Maumelle CoE Campground, Little Rock, AR (reviewsightseeing)
33. Rocky Point CoE, Queen City, TX (review)
34. Lake Conroe Thousand Trails, Willis, TX (review)
35. Green Caye RV Park, Dickinson, TX

2018 – Counting down to D-Day (Departure Day)

 Our 4 1/2 month stay at San Jacinto Battleground where we have been volunteering on Battleship Texas is drawing to an end.  This has been our 4th season here.  It is nice feeling we are helping out and the staff always makes us feel appreciated.  We also like being close to family and friends during these winter stays.  We had more winter this year than we wanted with several cold, icy days.  All in all though, we have few complaints; enjoying meeting people and getting to know our fellow camp hosts.

This year, in addition to our hours volunteering, we have filled in as interim pastor at Baytown Nazarene.  The church isn’t far from us and we’ve helped out there the entire time we’ve been at our “winter quarters.”  The church family has treated us very well and it has been good getting to know them better.  If you add our time filling in at Denison prior to arriving at San Jacinto, I’ve ministered nearly every Sunday over the past 5-6 months.  No complaints, but it hasn’t felt very much like retirement to me!  Lord willing, I’ll enjoy some down time now that we’re beginning our 2018 Adventure.

The closer we get to D-Day the more time I spend looking at potential travel routes and campgrounds.  Several reservations have already been made; especially at popular campgrounds during the busiest times of the year.   Our ultimate destination this year is the coast of Maine, but we won’t make it that far till mid- to late summer.  As a planner, I enjoy putting the trip together and then refining it. That process will continue all through the Adventure.

So, it won’t be long before we blast off.  We’ll keep posting sightseeing and campground reviews here to the blog.  Stay tuned!

Click this for full screen photos
See individual photos with captions here.

Reflecting on our 2017 Adventure

Our 2017 Adventure had both ups and downs.  It was a year with several unexpected expenses that included a broken windshield and various camper repair projects.  Later on we decided it was time to put new tires on the camper.  At four and a half years they still looked good but camper tires are notorious for failing at about that age.  We also ended up putting new tires on the truck, but, sorry to say, that came after a major tire failure that did damage to the truck.  Not long after that the truck ended up in the shop for a bigger repair.  After working through the issue with the warranty company, the repair ended up costing us hundreds rather than thousands of dollars.  Still, it was an expense that hit the bank account pretty hard.  The lesson learned wasn’t a new one, but still hit us in the wallet: when it rains it pours.

2017 also brought some medical issues our way, some are still ongoing.  That reminds us of another old lesson made new: life happens, even when you are living the RV dream.

During the year we tried a bit different approach to travel.  Rather than moving every 1-2 weeks during the months when we aren’t volunteering we decided to slow down in the early spring while we waited for warmer temperatures up north.  We spent a month on the Alabama coast, then another month near Knoxville, TN.    The result was mixed.  The month in Alabama wasn’t bad at all.  We were in a park that had lots of winter people and lots of interesting activities.  The month in Tennessee, so close to the month in Alabama, seemed longer.  The campground was crowded and the weather was wet.  All this added up to a less than enjoyable stay for us.  Lesson learned: be careful when scheduling longer stays to be sure the campground/area is worth the lengthy stop and don’t schedule longer stops too close together.

While we were in Indianapolis we were joined by our son and family for a few nights.  The camper was really crowded.  Still, it was fun seeing our loved ones and accommodating our “guests.”  None of us would have enjoyed this set up for a longer stay, but for a few nights it was great and we would happily do it again.   The lesson learned is that changing things up for a special occasion can be fun even if it is inconvenient.

We enjoyed family a couple of other times during the Adventure, spending a week near Jackie’s brother and his wife, Jim and Phyllis. This was followed by a couple of stays near Jackie’s family in Iowa.  Then in the fall, my sister Susan joined us and traveled with us for a couple of weeks.  These family times are a real bonus and make traveling even more fun.  Same lesson: it’s a real bonus being with family and friends.

We always enjoy worshiping with the various congregations we visit in our travels.  This year we especially enjoyed the Church of the Nazarene in Summerdale, AL.  Being that this was one of our longer stays we got to know the folks a bit rather than just being one or two Sunday visitors.  Then, we finished the year by filling in for a month for a pastor friend of ours in Denison, TX and then accepting an interim assignment (still ongoing) at Baytown, TX.  A good lesson is that while being a perpetual church visitor is always interesting, nothing takes the place of being part of a worshiping community.

During 2017 we towed the camper nearly 5000 miles, visited 17 states, and stayed in 34 different places.  This year, when we arrived in South Dakota we completed visiting all 50 states (although not all in the RV).  We started and finished the year volunteering on Battleship Texas.  This marks our fourth season of wintering in this unique location on the Houston Ship Channel.   We are still working on our 2018 Adventure and expect to continue our journeys in this New Year.

2017 – Adventure Map


We nicknamed 2017 “The Year of the Dog” – can you guess why?

Other travel maps: 2013201420152016 – 2017 – 20182019

1. San Jacinto Battlefield/Battleship Texas State Historic Park, La Porte, TX (review)
2.Poche’s RV Park, Breaux Bridge, LA (review)
3. Davis Bayou Campground, Ocean Springs, MS (review)
4. Escapees Rainbow Plantation, Summerdale, AL (review) – (Naval Air Museum – Pensecola) (Battleship Alabama – Mobile) (Southeastern Alabama and Vicinity)
5. Gunter Hill Park, Montgomery, AL (review)
6. Camping World, Chattanooga, TN (review) – ( sightseeing)
7. Escapees Raccoon Valley, Heiskell, TN (review) – ( sightseeing)
8. Fort Boonesborough State Park, KY (review)
9. Indian Lakes Thousand Trails, Batesville, IN (review) – ( sightseeing)
10. Wilmington, OH Thousand Trails (review) – ( sightseeing)
11. Johnny Appleseed Campground, Ft. Wayne, IN (review)
12. Quadra Manufacturing, Big Foot Leveling System (review)
13. Pla-More Campground, Bremen, IN (review) – ( sightseeing)
14. Lake Haven Retreat, Indianapolis, IN (review)
15. Horseshoe Lakes Thousand Trails, Clinton, IN (review)
16. Clinton Lake State Recreation Area, DeWitt, IL(review)
17. West Lake Park, Terrace Campground, Davenport, IA (review) – ( touring the John Deere Plant in Moline, IL)
18. Cherry Glen Campground, CoE, Ankeny, IA (review)
19. Beed’s Lake State Park, Hampton, IA (review)
20. Lebanon Hills Regional Park, Apple Valley, MN (review) – ( sightseeing)
21. Lake Geneva Christian Center, Alexandria, MN (review)
22. Kidder Recreation Area, Wahpeton, ND (review)
23. Memorial Park, Watertown, SD (review) – ( Visiting the real “Little House on the Prairie”)
24. Farm Island Recreation Area, Pierre, SD (review) – ( Sightseeing)
25. Arrow Campground, Wall, SD (review) – ( Sightseeing)
26. Heartland RV Park, Hermosa, SD (review) – ( Sightseeing the National Parks Caves of the Black Hills) – (Scenic Drives of the Black Hills – (Memorial Sites of the Black Hills
27. Robidoux RV Park, Gering, NE (review) – ( Sightseeing)
28. Holiday RV Park, North Platte, NE (review)
29. Wilson State Park, Sylvan Grove, KS (review)
30. Coon Creek Cove – CoE, Kaw City, OK (review)
31. Roadrunner RV Park, Oklahoma City, OK (review)
32. Lake Texoma Thousand Trails, Gordonville, TX (review)
33. Eisenhower State Park, Denison, TX (review)
34. Lake Conroe Thousand Trails, Willis, TX (review)

2017 – Volunteering at San Jacinto Battlefield and Battleship Texas

We’re just concluding our third winter of volunteering at San Jacinto Battlefield and Battleship Texas.  Honestly, my previous reviews pretty much say it all.  Once again we’ve enjoyed spending most of our volunteer time talking to people about the Texas – the only remaining battleship that served in both WWI and WWII.  We’ve also enjoyed working with other volunteers who, like us, fulltime in RVs.  Some are have come here year after year, so when we return it is a bit of a homecoming.  Others are new friends and it has been fun getting to know them.  The park staff are a pleasure to work with too.  If you haven’t gotten the message: we like doing this and plan on returning next fall for another winter of volunteering.

As has already been described, 2016 was a non-traveling year for us.  Because of that, we’re looking forward to a return to our touring fulltime RV life.  Our stationary circumstances left me with even more time to plan our 2017 Adventure than I would have had otherwise.  We have a potential route planned and several reservations have already been made.  No doubt, we will end up making adjustments, but if you don’t have a plan it’s impossible to change your plans!  Also, we’re headed for some popular areas in the coming months and without reservations we’d end up struggling to find a suitable spot or end up paying premium prices somewhere.

One change we’re making this year is adding a couple of extended, one month stays.  The idea is to spend extra time in interesting areas, save a bit of money by paying monthly rather than weekly or daily rates, and stay in southern states till warmer temperatures arrive in northern states later in the spring.  Time will tell if we like this strategy and will include it in future planning.

We’ve had a good stay at our winter quarters of San Jacinto Battleground and Battleship Texas and we’re looking forward to great days on our 2017 Adventure.

Click this for full screen photos

2016 – End of the Year Expense Report

doing-the-budgetEvery year since we became fulltime RVers I’ve posted an expense sheet, but 2016 wasn’t a typical year. As I’ve written in previous entries to this blog we took an unexpected break from traveling to serve as interim pastor. That assignment lasted six months. Add to that around five months (January-March and then November-December) volunteering at San Jacinto Battlefield/Battleship Texas and there’s not much of the year left!

Our campground costs this year, as you can guess, have no connection to what anyone else would pay. Also, our F350 pickup has been mostly parked. We have a small car that doesn’t travel with us when we are on the road, but this year we ran the wheels off of it. In other words, our camping and travel costs in 2016 wouldn’t be of much help to anyone.

Basically, our expenditures are just living costs and don’t have anything to do with fulltiming. Because of that I’m not publishing an expense sheet for 2016.

A few months ago I did a blog entry on Second Wave Expenses. This was a terrific year for us to take on several replacements and do some upgrades. We also had a couple of major unwelcome expenses: a new air conditioner for the 5th wheel and a major repair on the car. These two items amounted to several thousand dollars. The fact that we weren’t traveling enabled us to absorb these biggies.

And, as I said, we had some other, more voluntary, expenses. They included stuff like:
• A new backup sewer hose
• Two-Way Radios
• Wilson WeBoost and antenna to replace our worn out Wilson Sleek
• Replaced all incandescents with LED Lights
• Two new Recliners
• Heated Mattress Pad (nice on winter nights)

All said and done, even with the major repairs plus all the voluntary purchases we came out on the positive side of the spreadsheet. Had we traveled as planned, I think we would have been about on budget but maybe a bit behind on the year.

Our plans are to return to touring in the early spring and to make our 2017 Adventure a good one. Stay tuned!

Reflections on our 2016 Adventure

Things didn’t go for us as planned in 2016. Our intention was to head west to Moab, Utah and then north to Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, and then east to the Black Hills of South Dakota before turning south again in the late fall.

Instead, we left our winter volunteering position at San Jacinto Battlefield and Battleship Texas and drove less than 100 miles to Conroe – and then right back to the Houston area, having accepted an interim pastor position at our home church, Clear Lake Church of the Nazarene in Webster, Texas. Our stay was an enjoyable and blessed six months of ministry during the pastoral transition. We also were glad to be close to family through some challenging days. Once our time of ministry at the church was finished it was back to San Jacinto to begin another winter of helping out on Battleship Texas.

As you can guess our 2016 travel map isn’t very impressive and our expense sheets wouldn’t be especially helpful to anyone who is looking into the fulltime RV lifestyle.

One of the neat things about this life is that we have wonderful flexibility. In small ways it is seen when we decide to change our travel plans to stay an extra day or two in a spot while we wait for better travel weather. In a big way it showed up as we scrapped an entire year’s worth of travel plans to do what we felt the Lord wanted us to do.

Moving on to a less lofty discussion, I’ll mention that not having campground fees or big diesel costs this year allowed us to spend money on several extras. Some were unwelcome, like a major repair to the car; and some were purely an extravagance, like the cruise we booked. We spent money on the 5th wheel, taking on projects both large and small, including buying two small recliners.

We’re looking forward to a return to our touring RV lifestyle in 2017. In the early spring we plan on heading to the southeastern part of the country, then we’ll head north looking for cooler summer temperatures, and then we may try for the Black Hills again in the fall.

Those are our plans. That is, unless the phone rings.