Marsha Petry and Janet Shown of Buffalo Creek, Colorado are not completely new to RVing, but have recently upgraded and are about to embark on the next chapter of their lives with a new rig.
We have all been there at one time or another, and all had similar struggles with the learning curve, fears, and uncertainties, and what we are needing out of our rig. Sometimes we find that learning curve more than once!
Marsha and Janet recently agreed to share some of their newbie and not-so-newbie experiences, dreams, and trials that might help others considering taking the RVing plunge.
In the beginning, Marsha and Janet decided to get an RV as a way to extend the camping season and to be able to travel with their dogs—large Leonbergers—and gear.
“We both have always loved outdoors activities—backpacking, camping, hiking, skiing and snowshoeing,” Marsha says. “In the early years when we were dating, each of us took our dog(s) and cared for our own dog(s)—it was fairly simple… but then we started to share our backpacking tent, and that tiny tent got pretty cramped with dogs and people.
We got a bigger tent, which in turn lent itself to more car-camping because the tent was too heavy to pack. When we moved in together we decided to get more dogs! and car-camping with the large tent became the standard mode.”
Soon they were out camping every weekend, which involved loading and unloading the truck roof racks and setting up the large tent to accommodate their five giant dogs, who were more than happy to track in all sorts of dirt into the tent. Once September rolled around and snow descended on the mountains, camping trips had to stop. During one winter, they began to think about the benefits of using a trailer instead of tent camping.
Marsha outlined the benefits of a trailer as:
- We could have a bed to ourselves! (That didn’t last long but, seriously, that’s what we thought)
- There’d be a safe place to leave the older dogs who couldn’t hike as much,
- Our camping gear could be stored in the trailer so that we wouldn’t have to climb and pack/unpack the roof racks every weekend, and
- Bonus! We could extend our camping season into the fall.
After their first experiences with a trailer, she adds:
- Finding hotels that would take 3-5 big dogs is/was always a problem. The dogs ALWAYS go on any vacation.
- For long trips, don’t have to stay in who-knows-what-has-gone-on hotel rooms.
- The expense is less for many trips.
- Be able to go spur of the moment without reservations (assuming we stay in National Forest dispersed campground areas).
- Doubles as a 2nd home if some emergency happens (wildfire etc…). For example, they stayed at a park for a week during the evacuation of the Lower North Fork Fire in 2012.
They found a lightweight, hard-sided pop-up style Trail Manor 3023 trailer that their Ford Ranger truck could haul. They took the little trailer across the country between California and Maine, and joined the local Trail Manor club to participate in the club outings.
For many years, they used their trailer from spring through fall. And then, life happened (as it often does) and between family obligations and building a home, any time they had to go camping got consumed with other tasks.
Eventually, Marsha and Janet were able to think about the possibility of retirement ahead. They were able to reflect on how their lives had changed and came to realize how much they missed their camping trips. They had given away the first trailer and started looking for a rig that they could use year-round as much as possible.
In the fall of 2018, they found a trailer they wanted, an Outdoors RV Timber Ridge 21FQS, and a Ford F250 tow vehicle. Marsha and Janet’s “Must Have” features that made this the rig for their next chapter of adventure including a slide-out (must have more room for dogs), heated water storage and insulating for 4-season camping, room to walk on both sides of the bed to avoid crawling over one another and for ease of making the bed, power next to the bed, a large sink/prep area and counter, lots of windows in the sitting area, and a toilet far from the sleeping area.
They also considered some of the “Nice to Have” list items like a microwave, solid surface sink/counter, a toilet that uses main water (not a separate water storage), a cabinet by the back door to hold leashes, wet clothing, gear, and an extra large propane tank.
Marsha and Janet are now looking ahead to traveling with their new rig. They plan on taking a 3-month trip to Canada as one of their first adventures and spending quality time together with their dogs while traveling around the country catching up with friends they haven’t seen in years.
They would love to try to do extended boondocking with added solar to maybe go for a few weeks or months off-grid. They have a condo in Arizona and are hoping to snowbird south for the winter months while spending summers camping and possibly campground hosting. Full-time RVing is a definite maybe—Janet would be eager to try, but Marsha is more reserved about that prospect at the moment.
When asked about the concerns or “unknowns” for planning their RV trips, they shared several that are food for thought.
- Getting stuck in the snow (Happened with our old trailer, but we weren’t camping so it wasn’t a huge deal, still… made us think).
- The current political climate is increasingly hateful towards lesbians and gays. If that doesn’t change we could be back in danger for our lives camping in back road areas. We don’t plan on going back into the closet but will it be dangerous to be “out”? Certain regions of the country are scarier than others.
- Health issues—As we get older, it is scary to think about being in the backcountry without health resources.
- Medications—Currently, we need monthly medical visits which can’t be quickly swapped to a different doctor. Not sure how we’re going to deal with that… fly back to Colorado each month? How else to get medications?
- Right now we’ve done at most month-long trips—What if we need “alone time”? How will we get it?
- Exercising dogs—We’ve always had a big yard and we will need to find places where the dogs can run and get more exercise. Will that be possible?
In addition, Janet fears not having the technical knowledge and RV handling ability to run things if Marsha is hurt or there is an emergency. Marsha does most of the techie stuff and driving and Janet knows she needs to be comfortable doing those things but currently is not.
Marsha’s biggest fear is the increasing lack of remote boondocking locations that they enjoy exploring.
“We were always able to find out of the way places for backpacking and tent-camping but more people are now full time RVing, working/living out of cars, and even full-time boondocking. Twenty or thirty years ago it was rare to see people living in their cars and, when someone did, it was usually a rare, dire circumstance; nowadays, it’s a “thing” to RV full time or live & work out of a car.
Multiple National Forest primitive inexpensive campgrounds are being shut down or locked, and fewer, “suburban”, expensive, crowded campgrounds are being built. More public land “No Camping” signs go up, forcing campers into expensive private campgrounds. Will we find out-of-the-way places anymore? Or will every accessible camping area be full?”
There are so many resources out there (RV.net and irv2) as well as your own owner’s club. AND- there’s always Utube. As long as you’re connected there’s help close by. We rv’ers are a helpful bunch by nature. I carry lots of tools and spare parts….not just for us but for anyone who might need them.
Your health care/ prescriptions: We have Kaiser and I think you have that option in Colorado as well. I can always have my meds refilled on line and mailed. There are lots of sources for full timers like Escapees that can help with any concerns you may have.
I think the above were your two biggest worries but there are many choices sometimes alternatives. I hope you can get out there soon and discover all that there is to enjoy!
my wife and i live in illinois and get the few prescriptions we need through walgreen’s. they have a nationwide database and we have been able to pick up prescriptions while traveling wherever we may be. you might look into that.
best of luck with the new rig, sounds awesome.
Marsha don’t be fooled by media hype.The US is a much friendlier place to gays and lesbians then it was 20 years ago. Here in Virginia the men are walking around with their hair in buns and the girls are out rafting and camping together like never before!!! Wake-up !
Don’t be fooled by media hype. The United States is a much friendlier place for gays and lesbians than it was 20 years ago.
Blaming “political climate” on the homophobic reactions of some is nonsense. Not anymore prevalent now than any other time in our history . Homophobes will always be around just like racists and other ignorant people,imo.
The Story of an Older Couple Who Moved From 2,000 SF to 240 SF
My wife Teresa and I have been full time living in our 2014 Puma since November 2014. Prior to that, we’d never spent a night in a travel trailer, but had tent camped for years while our son was growing up. It was a hassle loading everything up in a Datsun mini pickup. We lived in California at the time. It was in the early ’80s. You could camp in state parks, but there were seasons, and you had to have your reservations made and paid for months before.
The fees for camping were almost out of our budget, but we felt it was worth it. The camps were always in beautiful areas, and my son and took some get hikes. The only bad thing was you only had about 6’between your campsite and the next one. Lots of these were loaded with younger people who would come and go all night, and play loud music, and drink and toke and whatever, and their general mood was somewhat belligerent.
Before long my son was into sports and tent camping was shoved to the back burner. Occasionally he and I would go to the real boonies (No showers or toilets) for a couple days of fishing.
Fast forward to Older Age. My wife was 61 and I was 66 when we were sitting around in a house we’d rented for ten years. We had no portfolio. No savings, although we’d both made very good money in the years between the tent camping days and where we were now. Her family was on the west coast, including our son, and mine were mostly passed on. We were trying to decide whether to build a Tiny House or a cabin. We wanted about a two-acre parcel, outside of city limits where there was countryside, yet we could be in town quickly if need be.
Teresa was surfing the net one night and ran across a sale on RV’s and Campers near us. The next day was Saturday and we went down to look. We were in awe. Teresa could have a nice kitchen, and a huge master bedroom, and a fairly good sized bath.
At this point I should mention that my working career included several years remodeling homes, being qualified in electrical and plumbing. I had bought and operated a Shell station for 5 years which was heavy on the mechanical rebuild and repair side. And also carpentry. I could see that the quality of construction wasn’t top notch, and some of the materials weren’t either. We spent an entire week going to different lots and looking at the models. At the end of that week, we went home, and got on the net and pulled up several of these dealers and looked at one- dimensional plans of the houses we liked most. Remember we planned to live in this travel trailer full time, and never have it on the road.
We determined that we’d have to cut back drastically on our belongs. Our planning there was weak. Too many items with sentimental value. Too many things we’ bought at a deal. We found a small storage center in the town where we planned to live. The owner built his house 1st, and the storage units after. He has a nice lake behind it. The units were spotless. I explained what I wanted to do. He rented me three 10×20 units for $60 each per month.
That done, we went to a camping center and spent a Saturday looking. Finally, we settled on a Puma 30-KKRS. (Had a great kitchen!) We negotiated a deal with the son of the owner. He was quite personable and eager to sell us. All the way through I kept asking him for a copy of the manual for this home. He looked and they were out or misplaced, but the gal in financing would give us one when we finished with her. I asked if we could get it now so I could begin determining what we would need to buy. But she only released her copies after the sale was complete. We agreed that one of his techs would tow it to the back yard of the house we still lived in. It was on 10 acres and we had plenty of room to get a feel for changes we might have to make. There, the tech would extend the slider and level everything up. We finished the deal and on the way home, Teresa opened the packet to see the manual. To our dismay, we learned that the gal in financing sold us duplicate coverages for several things that Forest River gave us with the contract.
We arrived home to find that the tech who hauled our trailer home had simply parked it, with the tongue on a piece of 2″x4″. We went back, only to have arguments of “He said/She said”. To make matters worse, we’d been promised a $1,000 Visa card to but things we needed for start-up expenses, and it was only for $400 when he gave it to us. We asked, “where’s the rest?” He said he never gave anyone over $400. He asked if we had some sort of paper with his signature on it promising us $1,000. We then showed him the items where the gal in financing sold us coverage that Forest River had given us when we bought the trailer.
They shuffled that blame back and forth to no resolution. We asked about the fact that the tech didn’t open the slider and install leveling blocks. We paid extra for that. He showed me a piece of paper that said Haul to customer’s residence and drop off. It was his handwriting. My point in all this, especially if you are first time buyers, is to take along a pad and pen and write down anything verbal that is an add on, a change, or even a possible freebie and have him sign and date it.
Peter & Judy Sauer says
If you write down all add on’s make sure the seller signs each and every spot or walk away, also make sure you get the info the trailer came with so you can find the wiring etc. When we buy our MH’s they come with a large Sachel full of information on the CHassis & the builder of the MH and his wiring program along with the plumbing and equipment they installed. We will not buy unless we get that info.
John Irvine says
Hate crimes are on the rise again, yes better than years ago but more hate is being fanned.
I’ve always had my ipad or cell phone on record when negotiating with dealers. never had to pull out the videos.