As long-time RV owners, my wife Susan and I often heard this comment from non-RVers: “You could stay in a lot of nice hotels for the cost of that motorhome.” Yes, while that’s true, we’d be staying in a hotel most likely not within a nature preserve. A hotel where our pets may not be welcomed, where rooms are not always equipped with full kitchens, and most of all; it’s where many people have stayed before us. Plus, we would still have to drive or fly, rent a car if the latter, sometimes pay to park and be around way more people (not that we’re anti-social)! The RV lifestyle for us makes traveling our way affordable and comfortable. We get to travel with our somewhat spoiled pets and sleep soundly in our own bed.
How it Started
Our RV journey started in 1999. I needed to tow my race car/trailer to various track events in California or more specifically to the infamous Virginia City Hill Climb in Nevada that the car club we belonged to organized annually. The Hill Climb allowed car enthusiasts to drive as fast as possible up a dangerous, winding road with the sheriff’s blessing.
Our first RV was a gas-powered 32′ Class A motorhome. It was a bit slow up the steep mountain grades driving to Nevada, so we decided to test drive a diesel pusher. Susan felt much safer in it and I had 1,050 ft. lbs. of torque to get up Donner Pass. So, 8 months after buying the first RV, we traded for a new 39′ diesel pusher. With the trailer in tow, the rig was a daunting 65′ long! I often traveled with my nephew/unpaid crew chief to the track events. He could sleep on the RV sofa bed for free, so who needs a hotel?
By 2002, much to Susan’s relief, I sold the race car and trailer but kept the diesel pusher. RVing was now in our bloodstream. In our motorhome, we felt we were in a different world even if not far from home. Once again, non-RVers could not understand why we sold our race car and kept the RV (our dogs understood and approved). The RV lifestyle is hard to explain as it is more a feeling–a sense of freedom and wonder. We enjoy the open road and passing by as many hotels as possible.
Susan and I have traveled extensively abroad staying in many lovely hotels. However, nothing beats traveling in a self-contained home on wheels! We are looking forward to exploring more of these United States now that Susan is fully retired and I’m semi-retired. Ironically, we have visited more countries than U.S. states. Our home base is the small, coastal town of Moss Beach, California. Prior to moving to Moss Beach, we spent 18 years going “over the hill” (not a metaphor) often to stay at the Half Moon Bay State Beach in our RV. It was a 30-minute drive from our previous home and where we enjoyed spectacular ocean views for less than $50 per night. Those views motivated our move to the coast as I particularly enjoy shooting dramatic seascapes and sunsets over the Pacific Ocean.
Pre-semi-retirement, I was a video director of photography and owned my own camera rental facility. Sometimes I would combine RVing with business shoots to make marketing videos for clients. A memorable shoot was documenting a land speed record attempt at the Utah Salt Flats. Talk about other-worldly. Having a motorhome to stay in near the salt flats was the envy of the crew staying at the not-so-nice nearest hotel. As for Susan, she worked in high-tech marketing for 20 years. We couldn’t take as much time off as truly needed, but our RV provided regular respites from the stress of endless deadlines. Though she could work remotely, my business renting camera equipment meant being at the shop or on location for my clients. So, our two or three-day RV trips often on a whim kept us recharged and somewhat sane.
A New Focus
After a trip to the Galapagos Islands in 2013, I rekindled my love for still photography. I enjoy photographing wildlife and landscapes as a hobby. The limitation of a 39′ motorhome is the inability to stay at many County, State, and National Parks due to length restrictions. We bought our Unity Murphy Bed in 2018 to get into more parks as we prefer being as close to nature as possible.
We looked at Class B vans which felt too cramped for us and our dogs. The Unity’s perfect size and brilliant use of space afford us the interior livability we want with better exterior storage and a spacious dry bath. Without these LTV amenities, Susan would have vetoed trading in the pusher. Often we tow a two-door Jeep Wrangler, but sometimes we just take our bikes, and other times not. It’s so easy to just get up and go in our Unity named “ChowBella” after our female Chow Chows. We also love our Maltipoos. All great RVers.
Even more memorable than the places we’ve explored are the RVers we’ve met along the way. Some are characters with travel stories to tell. The people connections and the freedom are the driving forces behind our LTV lifestyle. We love traveling in our Unity which provides style and comfort and allows us to meet up with other RV enthusiasts, all while not having to tip a bellman!
Favorite RV Travel Destinations
We’ve been visiting Paso Robles since there were around 50 wineries, now there are 300. This means we have to step up our pace for staying at Harvest Host wineries. Wine tasting, going on tours, and trying new restaurants on the square are all part of the fun. It’s been great seeing this beautiful area gain a world-class reputation in the wine world. We love visiting in our Unity and staying in the vineyard!
The entire California coast is picturesque, but Big Sur is special. It’s so green with majestic Redwoods and the ocean coves have a turquoise color. There is art, good food, hiking, waterfalls, and beaches. Close to Carmel, but seemingly a different world. We honeymooned here in 1996 and have been coming back ever since!