My name is April, and my wife’s name is Jess. This is the story of how we became full-time RV’ers. Our life together has been fast and furious. We nurtured and raised one daughter and two businesses simultaneously while Jess worked full-time as an RN and later as a nurse manager. Our mutual goal was to travel and explore our country while we were both still young, healthy, and full of energy. I have longed for the simplicity of spending my time in nature. Through the years, I joked with my wife that I wished I could live in a tent.
Our work schedules were purposeful and unrelenting. We focused on our ability to afford an explorer lifestyle sooner rather than later. Both of our jobs required us always to be on-call, and we had to plan our time together strategically. As avid hikers, we spent much of our free time in the woods; it was a completely different universe. Escaping to the woods provided for us both the connection we needed to nature and to each other. This time, although limited, resulted in more clarity and purpose in our day-to-day lives.
A few hours in the woods would replenish our commitment to our goals and fuel our busy lives. At some point, we started researching RV’s and attending RV shows in large convention centers. Could this be the answer to our dreams of travel and exploration? At the time, there was only one brand that interested us, Airstream–the reliability, lifestyle, and finishes compared to our current life. We could easily see ourselves traveling this country and living in an RV.
Hardships to Better Days
We sold our primary business and were on the edge of realizing our dreams of travel just before COVID-19 took over the world. I felt disappointed and lost. Jess was busy working at the hospital, and I was unemployed. A patient transport position, an entry-level job, was available at the hospital where Jess worked. I decided to take the job–it was just what I needed.
I saw an entirely different perspective of what was being broadcast on the news. The hardships and loss were part of each day, as well as the smiles and stories we shared with our patients. I would have just a few minutes with each patient while I was pushing their stretcher or wheelchair to where they needed to go. In those few minutes, I had an opportunity to help that person have a better day. It was a rewarding job and helped me reset.
As in any previous setback in our life or business, we chose to pivot. The housing market was red hot, and during COVID-19, we transformed our backyard, creating decks and patios, making it an entertainer’s dream. After fifty years of living in Maine, we decided to sell our home and move to Denver, where Jess was hired to manage the NICU in the local hospital. We moved across the country and rented a fantastic apartment in the city, even though neither of us had ever visited Denver. Denver replenished our souls. The mountains and beauty were so different from the east. Our goal of living on the open road was rekindled.
More Questions Than Answers
We started to ask difficult questions. What do we want? A trailer we tow or an RV we drive. Would we want a tow vehicle? What will we do for income? How do we get mail? Where do we live? What do we do with our pets? How do we make this happen? More questions than answers. RVing full-time was in our conversations daily. Facebook was listening, and our news feeds were bombarded with ads for RVs.
Jess tirelessly researched RVs and all the things necessary for full-time living. What does domicile mean? What companies offer mail service? One day, she saw an ad for a Leisure Travel Van, and she loved it immediately. We found a local dealer only an hour from our home and scheduled a meeting to review their inventory.
It was love at first sight, and we were hooked. Every unit we looked at was better than the last (of course, these units were all sold). Through our research and this visit, we realized we had found our new home. We believed their quality exceeded what we had seen in the Airstream, and our only decision was what model would best suit our lifestyle.
Choosing Our New Home
We first narrowed our choices by deciding we did not want a diesel vehicle. Our business owned a Ford Transit, a reliable, smooth-driving, powerful vehicle. We decided we wanted a Wonder, but now which layout? We loved the Murphy Bed layout but were hesitant as new RV’ers to have a slide. We knew we would want to flat tow a car. The garage space of the Rear Twin Bed was appealing, but with limited towing capacity, it would not work for us.
Our choice was simple: the Wonder Rear Lounge fit all our needs–two separate living spaces and a well-organized layout. After all these years, we had chosen an RV, and we put down a deposit and placed the order. It was estimated we would have a two-year wait, and that time we thought would be beneficial in planning this next stage of our journey.
Life in Denver continued to be wonderful, hiking and exploring at every opportunity when two unexpected things happened. My wife was offered a full-time, fully remote job, which she accepted, and this meant we would no longer be tied to any one place. Then, as suddenly as her job had changed, we were given the opportunity to purchase a new Wonder Rear Lounge. The RV was identical to what we had ordered, aside from a few cosmetic differences. It was a canceled order located at a dealer in Sacramento, California.
We called the dealer immediately, verified that the unit was available, and asked for the spec sheet–it was perfect. We knew how quickly units were selling and felt we needed to decide immediately. We talked about the pros and cons and decided, like everything else in our lives, we would figure it out and make it happen. In just a few hours, we set the next stage of our life in motion. We called the dealer and gave them a deposit to hold the unit until we could fly there over the weekend. We scheduled flights and booked a hotel within walking distance of the dealer. Then, the fun began.
I arranged for storage in Denver as we had no parking at our apartment. We chose a tow vehicle and purchased it over the phone. The car was in production, and it would be a few weeks before we could pick it up. I scheduled a hitch company to install the Blue Ox system on the Subaru when it arrived.
I read so much great advice on the LTV website and Leisure Travel Vans Enthusiasts Facebook page that I made a list of upgrades. Before seeing “Voyager,” I had scheduled a ceramic coating wax for the RV and arranged for ceramic window tint, as well as ordered a Furrion all-time camera system and scheduled its installation. Jess ordered a Starlink for our on-the-road internet service and chose our mail service company. We gave our 30-day notice to our apartment complex, and I began downsizing our stuff, selling it on Marketplace and to friends. I would need a U-Haul to bring any remaining belongings to our daughters.
We also needed to find someplace warm to spend the winter coming quickly, so we decided on Las Vegas. It was central to many of the places we wanted to explore. After many calls and listening to “Sorry, we are full,” we finally found a resort with availability, and I booked it immediately. In less than a week, we had planned and implemented all the steps necessary to follow our dreams. We flew to Sacramento, gave them a big check, received our training, and began our new life as RVers. It was a quick trip back to Denver across Interstate 80. We boondocked two nights with no problems, and we already loved our new home.
Downsizing Fast and Furious
Once we were back in Denver, we had four weeks until we became full-time RVers. Just like in the restaurant days, our life was moving at a furious pace. I was selling our stuff at such a rate that we would have no place to sit before it was time to leave. Each day, I sold more of our belongings or found a new home for them in “Voyager.” Our dogs Brownie and Teddy even noticed the changes. They became very concerned any time I touched their stuff. They watched extra kennels and unused toys leave with other families. Our cat Cleo paid no attention until I started putting her in a harness daily–I wanted to familiarize her with the process so she would be comfortable on a leash if it were necessary.
Then, our final day in a stick and brick arrived. We loaded the last of our belongings, which did not cut the RV, into the U-Haul, hooked the U-Haul to Voyager, and slept in the RV for the first night as full-time RVers on the street beside our apartment building. In the morning, we would head east to deliver the U-Haul to our daughters. It was the end of October, and we were driving to Minnesota. Time was not on our side. Winter was coming, and the RV was not winterized. Jess drove the car “Alice,” and I drove Voyager, pulling the U-Haul.
Our first week as full-time RVers was spent mooch-docking in our daughter’s yard. Mooch-docking was a new term we learned, and it means camping in a friend’s or relative’s yard without services, similar to boondocking. Voyager performed flawlessly, and we learned more about each system every day. We survived a 28-degree night without problems, but our weeklong visit quickly ended.
It was time for us to get Voyager and Alice to Las Vegas. We said goodbye and began our journey westward. We planned to establish residency in Nevada, which was a good choice for many reasons. Becoming a resident was easy; the tax laws are favorable, and Las Vegas has warm weather year-round. Las Vegas is the world’s entertainment capital, with many diverse activities to do. Mountains and hiking also surround it. It’s good for us because we do not gamble. That was just a year ago. We did everything we needed in Las Vegas, including cataract surgery for me.
Loving the Full-Time RVers Life
Now, we are immersed in exploring full-time. A rhythm and routine have naturally developed, which works well for us. We combine boondocking, national recreation, and forest areas with state parks and commercial RV resorts. When Jess was working, it gave me time to research future areas and activities we would like to explore and all those necessary tasks and day-to-day chores. I said when Jess was working because we have had another recent change. After we reviewed our first year’s expenses, we decided Jess could take some extended time away from nursing. This will give us uninterrupted time to take advantage of this opportunity fully.
I have been able to slow down enough to let all the words piling up in my mind for years find their way to my computer. Writing has been one of the best parts of this journey, an unexpected icing on the cake. Jess has built us a website to chronicle our adventures and has also been indulging in her creative art side. In the future, we hope to have some finished projects to share.
Our Journey is Just Beginning
Voyager has surpassed our needs. Our pets have settled into the journey and seem to enjoy having their human parents around all the time. I think Cleo now enjoys moving days, which she was initially slightly unsettled by. The Wonder Rear Lounge has space for everyone, pets and humans included, and it is comfortable and logical to operate.
Our journey as full-time RV’ers is just beginning. What took a lifetime of work materialized in just a few short weeks and has already been an incredible journey. Leisure Travel Vans was our gateway to our new future, and I am thankful for the opportunity we have. We are excited to share our story and adventures with our friends and family.
Favorite Travel Destinations
We recently spent a month in the Sedona area. It has much to offer, as do the surrounding towns—hiking, biking, kayaking, dining, shopping, art galleries, museums, and rodeos. We spent much of our time hiking various breathtaking red rock trails. We found many through talking to locals and others who have spent time in the area. We found one of the best water holes to jump in that we have ever been to through our travels.
Maine is special to us as it is home to much of our family and was our home for most of our lives. We grew up there exploring the coastal towns, restaurants, and local breweries. There is a good reason Portland, Maine, is a top destination. Maine is heavily forested with beautiful mountains, and we spent much of our free time tent camping, hiking, and kayaking there. It is also where we raised our daughter and owned our restaurant, which immersed us in the small-town community.
Our visit here this year was a first. The scenery is awe-inspiring, with majestic mountains towering thousands of feet over grasslands, rivers, and lakes. The National Parks are teeming with wildlife, but only a few lucky visitors can see many of them. There is much hiking and back-country camping available for those who like to get deeper into nature, a reason that we will return in the future.