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Old 01-16-2013, 02:31 PM   #1
Montana Fan
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: on the road
Posts: 237
M.O.C. #12992
8 months now

It is hard to believe it has been six months already. We left Denver CO on June 9th. Before that, we had dreamed and planned for years. We are both drawing social security and have no other income. I joined the Moose and VFW before we left, and we have parked with them many times. All have been a pleasant experience. We have stayed at casinos, national forests, BLM land, and some state and local parks. Our average cost for overnight camping has been under $4. We have not stayed in a Wal-mart lot yet, but someday we may have to. We have a mobile hotspot for our internet access, which we use a lot in planning our next stop (place to stay, things to do, information about the area). We also use libraries, McDonald's, and other free wifi spots. I installed 4 150 watt solar panels, a charger, 4 6 volt batteries and an inverter to our 35 ft. fifth wheel before we left. We can use the microwave and coffee pot while dry camped, which is very nice. We also use a Tailgater satellite antenna for TV. To keep our fuel costs down, we usually go under 200 miles and then stay for 3 to 5 days exploring the area, or just being retired. We started with Glacier NP. We had not seen it. We spent 3 weeks around Butte MT looking at old buildings and ghost towns. We came across Idaho, into Washington, Oregon and California. As I write this, we are in San Luis Obispo CA at the Moose Lodge. Our plans now are to go south into San Diego, exploring along the way. Then, we will winter over in Arizona, maybe. Or go on into New Mexico and see relatives (and park in their yard). I had very high hopes for this lifestyle and all my expectations have been exceeded. I am an avid amateur photographer and have shot over 8000 pictures since we started. (and thankful that digital is so cheap.) If anyone that is hesitant about going full-time reads this, I can tell you that is is doable. And, I do not think you will ever regret it.

That is a cut and paste I put on a different RV forum 2 months ago. It has been 8 months now and we are still having fun,after some rough times. We had to make a quick trip at Thanksgiving to Illinois because my mother-in-law went into hospice care. We had made it as far south as Simi Valley. We stayed at the Moose Lodge in St. Charles IL and you could not find a nicer group of people if you looked for years. We were treated like long lost relatives. After the funeral, we headed south and west, seeing some sights along the way. We have been in New Mexico for almost a month now, staying in my sister's yard, waiting for warmer weather and the bank account to rebuild.
Since this is a Montana forum, my fifth wheel is a 2007 model 342PHT. I took the bunks out of the bunk room and we use it for storage, making sure to keep the heavier stuff (canned goods, mostly) out of the slide area. I put a closet rod across the slide out bunk area and we keep clothes, linen and light stuff (paper towels--TP) in that area. Other than modifications, the only work I have had to do is to replace the shaft and gears in the passenger side landing jack. We bought a New Mexico state park pass ($225) and will be staying in state parks ($4/night with water and electricity) in the southern part of the state, waiting on spring. Then, we plan to go up the east coast staying the longest at Washington DC in the Beltway Park and seeing ALL the Smithsonian Museum. I have also joined the Eagles now and have 3 organizations that have RV parking.
Even with the extra 2000 miles we had to travel to Illinois and the funeral expenses, we are just a little over budget. We are going to keep our expenditures down and we will be on budget by March. I would not change this new life style for anything.

Jim and Darlene Wright
plus Ryder, the Ethiopian monkeybeaver dog
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Old 01-16-2013, 02:46 PM   #2
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Im happy to hear its working for you. And i hope for the best in your future travels.
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Old 01-16-2013, 03:13 PM   #3
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Location: Billings
Posts: 698
M.O.C. #12641
WOW we really enjoyed reading that! Great job on the low cost parking. Just out of curiosity how do you become a member of those organizations? Sorry to hear about your MIL but it sounds like you made the best out of a bad situation.

Look forward to hearing more about your journies! Enjoy San Diego. I lived there for 34 years! If you can go to the gardens in Balboa Park. They are free and absolutely beautiful! The museum's also have a free day. I think it is the first Tuesday of the month. There is also a Aerospace Museum where you can see a replica of the Spirit of St. Louis. Feel free to PM me of you have any questions. Sage travels and enjoy your retirement!
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Old 01-16-2013, 03:35 PM   #4
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Jim and Darlene,
It is so great to hear you are enjoying your retired life so well. You have a plan and are adjusting as necessary. Keep in mind as you travel around this great country that there are MOC gatherings just about everywhere. If you are anywhere near one of them in your travels I encourage you to make plans to stop by and join some of your fellow MOCers. Good luck and keep enjoying. Dennis and Mary Kay
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Old 01-16-2013, 05:02 PM   #5
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Sounds like you are doing a great job planning your stops. You mention the state parks in NM for $4 per night after having the pass. Do you have to keep changing locations or do they let you stay in one spot for more than a week? I also didn't realize you had access to so many RV spots with the memberships in the organizations.

Would like to hear some more updates along the way, as I would like to gently nudge the DW towards full timing instead of just winter long timing. I need her to see that it can be done on a budget just like you are doing.

Glad you are enjoying. Keep us updated.
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Old 01-16-2013, 05:21 PM   #6
rubble express
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THAT IS AMAZING!!! We're so happy to hear that you are doing what you want the way you are. We, too, have planned and dreamed about full-timing for years. We always thought that if we could just get one night a week without camping fees while traveling at $30/night it would pay for our fuel for the whole year. $30 X 4 wks/mo = $120. That's a tank of diesel and gets you an extra 350 miles/mo, 4200 miles/yr. Not saying it's truly realistic, but with the cost of fuel it does put some adventure back into the equation. Sorta like a quest.

You guys are what the original "trailerites" had in mind. Seeing the country without breaking the bank. We'll try and take some cues from you and keep it an adventure in more ways than one.

Bless you both.
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Old 01-16-2013, 05:30 PM   #7
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One more way to save money and see the country is work camping. Currently we are tour guides at an arboretum, a place we would want to spend time anyway. Our site and utilities including propane are taken care of. Some jobs will even pay you and give you a site, but generally they require more time and aren't as much fun as the site only ones. There are a number of websites to both find and apply for work camping positions. If you are interested PM me and I'll give you some ideas.
Dick, Joyce, Diego, Picatso and Gustav
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Old 01-16-2013, 07:56 PM   #8
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M.O.C. #12992
That is a question I have. How do the MOC gatherings work? Are they in a commercial park?

As far as workamping, we have our resume on line with worrkampers and hope to find something next winter. We are also on the volunteer list for Colorado state parks.


New Mexico State Parks rules state: Campers may reside in a park for a maximum of 14 calendar days during any 20-calendar day period unless the director otherwise decreases or waives this limit. Campers shall completely remove camping equipment and gear from the park for six calendar days during the 20-calendar day period. Campers can go to another park for six days, then return.

The VFW has the fewest camp sites--about 90 nationwide. The Moose and Eagles both have over 200 nationwide. Most are donation. We always eat a meal and have a beer or two. Great bunch of people. I do not mind paying $5 a night for water and electric. Some have set rates, but all are reasonable. The most I have ever paid was $20 a night for full hookups in Fresno CA at a VFW. If there are no services, they do not expect pay.

As I said, the first part of my post was from 2 months ago. We did stay at a Walmart twice when we were making our mad dash to Illinois from California. We had no time to plan the trip and just drove till I felt unsafe, then would stop and sleep.

Part of the trick is to avoid really high priced touristy things or try to get a discounted rate by buying a single ticket to see more than one attraction. Many cities have this type of "multi-pass." I did have a problem getting out of the "vacation" mode and into the "retirement" mode. I do not have to go like a bat out of h--- and try to do everything as quickly as possible. I can just sit and be retired. We have been in my sister's yard in Las Cruces NM since the 21st of December. They are both older, so I have taken over the honey do list to pay my way. We had a great Christmas and New Year celebration together for the first time in 20 years.I have got to see old friends that I hadn't seen since high school.
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Old 01-17-2013, 03:14 AM   #9
Steve and Susie
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Great postings there, very good reading. You I am sure are the envy of many RV'ers, and sounds like your planning has panned out well for you. We at one time had many travel ideas in mind, then woke up one day with our 5 year old grand daughter to raise, and all our plans went down th tubes. However its a great experience and we are enjoying her very much. We have only been married since July 8th so we still have many plans to make and do. Our primary daily routine is our Country Band. If your ever in Michigan be sure and look us up. We are at the campground about 90% of the time, and only home to mow and do laundry it seems. Keep putting out the great blogs, really enjoyed the read. Happy Trails, Steve and Susie
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Old 01-17-2013, 06:43 AM   #10
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Very happy to hear things are going well for's wishing you all the best in your continuing travels.
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Old 01-17-2013, 07:04 AM   #11
Bob Perry
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Great to see you are living your dream. We are hoping that this year will be ours to hit the road and enjoy our retirement. I like you enjoy photography and also looking forward to getting at it on the road.
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Old 01-17-2013, 12:15 PM   #12
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you must not be staying at many campgrounds if you figure your cost is $4 a night.

as for saving money on gas costs, i hate to say it, but you are only spreading your costs out a little cost the same to go from point a to point b regardless of how many days it takes you.

i'm glad you are doing what you want....enjoy
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Old 01-17-2013, 03:17 PM   #13
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M.O.C. #12992
You are right on both counts.

I do not stay at many commercial campgrounds.

And, it will cost the same to go from point A to point B if done over 1 day or 3. But, doing over 3 spreads out the cost and allows me to stay in a budget.
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Old 01-19-2013, 02:22 AM   #14
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If you are around Mt. Airy, NC from 8/1 to 8/6, join our Mid-Atlantic Rally. Additionally, if you want to explore historic New Bern, NC, you can use our driveway with 50 amp power for a few days.
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Old 01-26-2013, 02:00 AM   #15
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Hi, I'm new here also, but we fulltimed for 10 years and one place to stay you did not mention was NFS and COE parks. Also if you have not done so, get a Federal Parks pass. It will let you camp for 1/2 price.

Another option is to look at fairgrounds, city parks, and rodeo grounds.

You did not mention if you have joined Escapees RV Club. They have a lot of support services for fulltimmers. We have used their mail service since '93.

I also echo the workcamping option. We did that for several seasons. One bit of advise if you do workcamp, ask the employer for the names of workers from the previous year and of any returning workcampers. If he has no returning workcampers, that should tell you something.

Enjoy the new life.

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Old 01-27-2013, 12:31 PM   #16
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We have been researching all we can about fulltiming and think we have a pretty good plan but it never hurts to hear more ideas so keep them coming! We have a 20 acre ranch in northwestern Il with horses and have sold it on contract to our daughter and her husband with the agreement to keep the horses here and park our rig with hookups to all utilities when we are here in the spring summer and fall! We also have a daughter with 9 acres in Mississippi that we will stay with during nov and dec before we go out to s ariz, s texas, possibly s flor with the latter from all info to be a little too exp! In the summer the plan is to take our kids with their families to great adventures that they would not be able to afford and use our rig to travel to and from at their expense! That way they would not have to pay for motels and the like and would make those trips affordable for them! No we wouldn't take all of them at the same time, we have 5 children with families of their own HAHA!!! Thanksgiving and Christmas we would leave the 5ver in Miss and stay the few days at the ranch in the exposed basement that will be ours until the contract is paid or they finance and pay us off. I can't wait to join you folks out there seeing the country and meeting new folks all the time!!!
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