Sunday, May 2, 2021

Our Story

After a year and half of full-time RVing, we still get the question why?  Or are you tired and ready to live in a house?  Why do you live in a camper?  And so on and so on.

Well let me tell you our story on why we decided to live full-time in our RV and travel… In June of 2016, Mike’s Dad moved from Buffalo, NY to Montana (their home state) and in October of that year he passed away suddenly of a torn aorta at the age of 67.  The odd thing is that before moving “Papa Ray” (Mike’s Dad) would tell us that he didn’t want to die in New York, almost like he knew.  This made us think how short life is and you don’t know how much time you have.

"Moma" Yvonne & "Papa" Ray

In August of 2017 we purchased our first RV, a Grand Design 2600RB Imagine.  We have always been campers, but tent campers or overnights on our 1989 Bayliner Trophy cuddy boat, but never RV people.  Mike use to say (jokingly) why bother camping, RVing is taking your home with us.  And he is right.  “Papa Ray” and “Momma Yvonne” (Mike’s step-mom) had tent camped, then got a pop-up, then a hybrid and finally an RV, so we saw their transformation into the RV community so we went straight for an RV.

Summer of 2018 we took our Imagine from Buffalo to Montana for a two week vacation and this was another eye opening experience that showed us how nice it is to sleep in your clean comfy bed every night while traveling, a kitchen to make meals and save money, etc.

January 2019 we traded in our Imagine for a 2017 Grand Design Reflection 315rlts, since it had more room, storage and capacity for a washer and dryer for full time living.  Our plan was to go full-time in 2021, until my Dad had some heart issues due to his COPD in March of 2019 and Mike’s Mom, Mary, was diagnosed with cancer in May of 2019.  We believe these were the final nudges from God to move up our timeline and go full time in 2019.  Mike flew out to Montana to visit his mom and step-dad at the end of June and when he returned in mid-July we were full steam ahead to get the house, the boat, the cars and the rest of our belongings sold.

By the end of September 2019 everything was gone and we were off, first stop Montana to visit with Mike’s family before heading south for the winter and to visit my parents in Florida.

That was the start of why, now the question we get is… Are you tired of full-time rving?  Or are you ready to live in a house and “settle down”?  Umm… No.  Mike’s philosophy is never say never or forever; so we can’t say we’ll do this forever but at this time we don’t see a change in our lifestyle in the near future, if it is up to us.  As our savings dwindles, we are currently looking for remote work that we can do on the road as we travel.  But if we have to be stationary for six months, that might be an option.  We just want the flexibility to be able to travel to care for our family across the country.  If you know of an opportunity, please let us know in the comments below or email us.

My niece, Samantha, asked me “why I live in a camper?”  I replied, “So I can see you and your family, grandma and grandpa and all of Uncle Mike’s family every year sometimes a few times a year.  Plus I like my camper, don’t you?  Wouldn’t you like to live in it if you were me?”  She said, “Yep.”

I hope this helps explain our why and our story.  Thank you and God bless.

In memory of “Moma Yvonne”, who passed away from cancer on Thursday; we will miss you.

Monday, April 26, 2021

When It’s Cold Outside

Here are a few ideas to stay warm while camping in the cold… 

·         Skirt your camper


·         Fill your fresh water tank
·         Tape AC vents


·         Reflectix in the windows, skylights and MaxxAir fans
·         We have 50 AMPS so we can run the fireplace and a space heater
            along with the furnace
·         Electric blanket to warm up the bed
·         Flannel sheets with thick blankets
·         Blankets for sitting on the couch
     ·         Layer your clothing

How do you stay warm in the cold weather while camping, if you can’t travel to warm weather?

Thank you and God bless.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

We Went West

Since Mike’s Mom and Step-Dad were diagnosed with cancer this winter we decided to travel west from Florida.  From Vero Beach Florida we stopped at Crestview Florida to visit Mike’s cousin, Ryan, and his family for a few days.  From there we stopped in Texas to visit our friends, Rob and Marie, and Tammy and Alan.  Then we traveled to Mesa Arizona to visit with our friends Victoria and Keith.  Visited sothern California for a week, since we were close (about 6 hours – 8 hours with traffic), to get another sticker on our map.  From there we stayed in Las Vegas to wait out the weather to travel north to Montana (should have stayed there for another month or two, Montana is cold in the spring).  Finally we traveled up interstate 15 to Butte Montana, our home base for the next four months. 

Thank you and God bless.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Las Vegas, NV

Red Rock Canyon

About 45 minutes from the Las Vegas Thousand Trails campground is Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.  The visitor center is off of route 159.  It cost $17 per car to get in and drive the scenic loop.  (Side note: the website said $10 per car and the sign outside the gate had $15 per car, but when we got to the window it was $17.)  On the drive you will witness the amazing calico landscape of red, white and beige, snow dusted mountain peaks and a possible siting of burro or wild horse.  There are various hikes, petroglyph walls, dirt roads for four-wheeling and if you are adventurous enough rock climbing. 

Mike, Abby and I just did the scenic drive which took about an hour to drive through and occasional stop for pictures.  Dogs were welcome on hikes.

We decided to extend our tour of the Red Rock Canyon by going north on route 95 to route 157 to Mount Charleston, then backtracked 157 to route 158 to 156 and finally back to 95.  This route takes you up to over 8,000 feet in elevation so there was snow covered grounds, but the roads were cleared.  It was about an hour and half drive.

What amazing vistas of the high desert and mountains of the Mojave Desert area, worth your time and drive.

Shelby American and Count Kustoms

Mike and I went to the Shelby American museum for a 10:30 guided tour on the history of Carroll Hall Shelby and the Ford racing team of the 1960’s.  What an amazing guide.  The museum and tour are free.  The tour was about an hour long.  Be sure to tip your tour guide.  When you go look for “Devine Life 2021” on the wall of signatures.  Now Mike and I need to rent the movie Ford vs Ferrari.

After the Shelby museum we went to Count Kustoms for a free self-guided tour of their cars and bikes.  Seeing some of the cars reminds us of the episode of the TV show on History channel.  The tour took about a half hour. 

Thank you and God bless.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Departure Check List

As I use with our set-up check list, we use Multi List app on my cell phone to list our departure tasks.  This way on one trip I can check them off and the next trip uncheck.

Here is my list…

A1a – Fuel Up (done day before leaving)
A1b – Dishes
A1c – Clean windshield
A2 – Clean the camper and Vacuum the floors (done day before leaving)
A3a – Close Awning
A3b – Loosen awning nuts
A3c – Put Exterior stuff away
A4a – Check lug nut tork and tread depth
A4b – Check security of spare tire
A5 – setup RV Trip Wizard on phone with all stops
B1a – Put interior stuff away
B1b – Put bathroom stuff away
B1c – shake out rugs
B2 – Open blinds and close windows
B3 – Secure all drawers and doors
B4 – Lower TV antenna
B5 – Turn off water to washer machine
B6 – Turn off water heater
B7 – Turn off AC or Furnace or Fireplace
B8 – Secure Shower Door
C1 – Empty garbage & secure can
C2 – Drinks for the road
C3 – Snacks and dog treats for the truck & setup lunch for easy access
C4 – Turn off lights and fans
C5 – Close slides and doors
C6a – Pull out Truck mirrors
C6b – Check air bags
D1 – Hook up and add sway bars
D2 – Remove Stabilizing Bricks and straps
D3 – Unplug electric, water & cable  put away
D4  - Remove Chalks & Levelers
D5a – Turn off inverter
D5b – Make sure fridge turns to gas
D5c – Close water vent (boondocking)
D6a – Fold stairs, close & lock door & hold handle
D6b – Close & lock cubbies
D6c – Check rig lights
D7a – Empty tanks & close covers
D7b – Turn off water pump

I used numbers to group and small letter to keep in order.  We modify as needed or if things change or we don’t want to forget to do something.  I hope this was helpful. 

Thank you and God bless.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Set-up Check List

We use Multi List app on my cell phone to list our set-up tasks.  This way on one visit I can check them off and then after they are all checked I can uncheck them so I am ready for the next trip.

Here is my list…

                1a – Fill up on water (if our spot does not have hook-ups)
                1b – Open water vent if boondocking
                2a – Level and chalk
                2b – Plug into electric
                3a – Stabilizers and straps
                3b – Turn on Inverter (if not at 50amp hookup)
                3c – Connect to water
                4a – Unhook truck
                4b – Push mirrors in
                5a – Jack cover
                5b – Tongue lock
                5c – Turn off level mate
                6a – Slides out
                6b – Make sure Slide flaps are folded out
                7 – Turn on AC or Furnace or open windows
                8a – Turn on water pump if no water hook-ups
                8c – Turn on water heater
                9a – Alarm clock
                9b – Nick-knacks
                9c – Setup garbage can
                9d – check roof (every 2 months) or if trees scrapped roof

I used numbers to group and small letter to keep in order.

Next week I will post our departure list.  I hope this was helpful. 

Thank you and God bless.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Annual Christmas Letter / Year in Review

Merry Christmas,

Other than “the virus”, 2020 was AMAZING!  This full-time RV lifestyle is life changing.  We were blessed to spend Christmas in Florida with my parents and Florida family.  Mom, Dad, Mike and I explored the Lion Country Safari.  The giraffes make you feel minuscule as you drive pass them and they are enormous as you have to climb a story or two (OK not two but it felt it) to hand feed them.

Mike and I stood on a beach in Cocoa Beach, at night, to watch SpaceX Falcon Starlink Mission launch from Cape Canaveral, a once in a lifetime experience.  We took my parents to Kennedy Space Center to explore the history of space exploration and see a glimpse into future space adventures.  Also in Florida, we had our good friends, Keith and Susan visit and stay with us in Tampa and went to the RV show.

As we traveled north, we stopped at Jekyll Island in Georgia to see the driftwood beach and toured Mosaic Jekyll Island community of the 1920’s.  This was an exclusive community of summer cottages for the wealthy of their time, like Rockefeller, Morgan, and Vanderbilt.  While on the island we stopped at the Georgia Sea Turtle center and saw them examine an injured turtle and witnessed a feeding.  Also in Georgia, we went to Savannah, a MUST for me.  Stood in the spot where Forest Gump sat on the bench telling his story.  Took a trolley ride and learned the history of the city.  It was amazing and I can’t wait to go back.

We stopped at Paris Island (USMC base museum) in South Carolina and Hilton Head.  My parents met us in Charleston South Carolina on their way home from for my Uncle Chuck’s funeral in Buffalo.  We took a car tour of the city.  After my parents made it home, Mike and I went to Fort Sumter and went to President Trump’s rally.  We were in Myrtle Beach (MB) for a Grand Design rally, when Covid-19 concerns started.  Had our living room slide rubber flaps replaces and slide adjusted at the MB non-rally.  We quarantined for 14-days in North Carolina before heading to Buffalo for my birthday.

Mike, Abby and I stayed in my brother’s driveway (mooch-docking) for 2 weeks in April before moving to our friend’s Keith and Susan’s driveway for a few weeks.  Mike and I had tickets for the Indy 500, but due to “the virus” we have a raincheck for the 2021 race.

We stopped in the Badlands in South Dakota on our way to Montana for the summer.  While in Montana, we visited with family.  Mike and I joined Jerry and Mary in a cowboy action shoot.  My cowgirl name is Buffalo Girl and Mike’s cowboy name is Mike Hammer (fitting for both, don’t you think?).  We also explored the Copper King Manson, Ringing Rocks and Philipsburg.  Montana wasn’t as lock-downed as other states.  Mary had to have more cancer tumors removed in early August, so we wanted to limited any exposure to the virus for her.

On our way back to Buffalo for our fall visit, we made a stop at North Dakota’s Theodore Roosevelt National Park (south unit) and traveled through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the west coast of Michigan’s main land.  Michigan is like WNY, we love the landscape and people but their governed politics does not match our beliefs.  We plan to visit again.

On our way south for the winter, we traveled through Kentucky and visited the Creation Museum, the Ark Encounter, Mammoth Cave and the Corvette Museum.  The next stop was Tennessee, were we visited our friends, David and Carol, who live outside of Nashville.  While there we visited the Hermitage (President Andrew Jackson’s home) and took a trolley tour of Nashville.  Our next stop was Pigeon Forge / Gatlinburg area and WOW!  The fall color of the Smokey Mountains was amazing!  We spent a week in Chattanooga and took a ride on the Incline Railroad at Lookout Mountain.  We have to return since we have so much more to do in Tennessee.

This fall, we learned that Mary’s (Mike’s Mom) cancer returned.  She is currently doing Chemo until her next scan in January.  Please keep her in your prayers.

While back in our residential city of Crestview Florida, we visited with Mike’s cousin Ryan and his family for a week.  Isn’t it funny that both of them are from Montana and now call their home Florida and the same city?  Keith, Susan, and Susan’s son, Matt, came out to visit us for Thanksgiving.

We are currently traveling down Florida to spend Christmas with my parents and Florida family.

Mike, Abby and I have a blog…  We are also on Facebook and Instagram (both Enjoying Our Devine Life), so please be sure to like and follow our blog and pages.   

Merry Christmas and Blessed New Year,
Mike, Abby and Melissa