A Year on the Road – How it Started

We had this brilliant idea. “Let’s REALLY travel the country,” we said. “Let’s buy an RV, and spend a year on the road,” we said. “Let’s REALLY see America.”

And so it began. A wild notion of travelling the open road, going wherever our fancy took us. Just the two of us and Ruthie. The whole 1971 Lobo hit single “Me and you and a dog named Boo” scenario.

And now, after almost five years of planning, preparation, rehearsals, setbacks, bills (and more bills), we’re less than a week away from our “launch” date. On May 14, 2023, we set our sights on all points north and west of Florida, and we’re not coming back until May 2024.

It’s a thrilling prospect. And utterly terrifying.

It’s thrilling for all the obvious reasons. If we get it right, we’ll get an up-close look at parts of the country we know very little about; the Dakotas, Wyoming, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and New Mexico, as well as some we do, like California, Arizona, and Michigan.

And it is totally scary because we are brand new to RV-ing, a complex and demanding way to travel that requires a whole new language of “inverters,” “slideouts,” “wheel cut,” “stinky slinky,” “off-tracking” and “overhang.”

These are massively complicated pieces of machinery (as well as just being massive) that include a generator, separate batteries for the coach and chassis, a propane tank, leveling jacks, parts of the coach that slide out when parked (hence “slideouts”), an electricity converter, electric systems, plumbing systems, water systems and, yes, an inverter (and Simon is still trying to figure out what it does).

Fortunately, Susan had put in several years’ worth of research on RVs and we knew we needed a Class A motorhome, one of the larger, self-propelled rigs built along the same lines as a coach, as opposed to the smaller Class C, which is more maneuverable but offers less interior space, or a “Fifth wheel,” which is basically a huge mobile home towed by a truck.

A typical Class A motorhome at the 2019 RV Supershow at Tampa


So we bought one (thank you Lazydays of Seffner near Tampa, the world’s largest RV superstore and a huge help in finding the right rig). We found what seems to be the ideal set-up for us and we brought it home (actually, we took it to a storage depot close to home because it’s too bloody big to fit on the driveway, which would also cause howls of disapproval from the Home Owners Association).

And, just like that, we have a 2014 Winnebago Sightseer 35G, with 23,000 miles on the clock and with most of the depreciation taken care of, because these things cost upwards of $150,000 brand new. It is 36ft long, 8.5ft wide and 12.5ft high. It weighs 11 tons. It does 0-60mph. Eventually. And it’s fun to drive, albeit we HAVE had lessons (which, amazingly are not compulsory for something that is the equivalent of riding stampeding elephants, at speed, down the highway).

We have been for two extended test-drives in the past few months, sampled two different RV campgrounds in Florida, and bought pickleball equipment (yes, really, as will become obvious in due course).

And, on May 14, we will leave Florida behind for 12 months, point our RV – we’ve named her “Indefatigable,” or “Fati” for short – north on I-75, and aim for Michigan. We’ll be towing our car – a recently-purchased second-hand Ford Fiesta we affectionately call “Nippy” – and we’ll have 16-year-old Ruthie The Rescue as our co-passenger.

Indefatigable


We aim to write about it, at length, here on our blog and on our Facebook page, as well as for several other publications along the way. It promises to be a true life’s adventure. If we don’t scare ourselves to death with piloting a 36ft motorhome for roughly 14,000 miles around a country that’s this big.

There’s more to it than that, of course, including an RV driving instructor who turned out to be a retired Royal Navy Commander (“The name’s Baker; Geoff Baker…”), putting a dent in it after only a few hours, having to sell our car for one that can be flat-towed behind an RV, finding a storage depot, discovering pickleball, and discovering, almost at the last minute, that our whole electric supply had gone bad on us due to “reversed polarity at the pole” and fried one of the major circuits that powers the whole damn thing.

We have quite a story for you in the coming months.

Stay tuned for more….

Author: A Year on the Road

International travel writers and book authors.

9 thoughts on “A Year on the Road – How it Started”

  1. We love a good road trip – let us know where your next stop is before you get there so we can share any must-do’s! All the very best.

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      1. The REAL fun will be driving it across The Mighty Mackinaw bridge! The first time I drove a 36 ft RV was crazy cool! Then driving it onto a ferry for Drummond Island 😳. I wish you three nothing but adventures and memories to be made!!

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  2. Good luck to you both. You must be both excited and a little apprehensive about the coming year but one thing for sure is that you are going to have the adventure of your lives.
    Looking forward to coming along on your trip through your blogs.

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  3. Good luck, looking forward to following you on your travels… we should have had Ellie give you some pointers on Pickleball, she’s been all over the country playing and now also teaching and playing some of the APP tour as a low ranked Pro. Paul will have a curry waiting for you, im sure you will need one when you return 🙂

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