Thursday, January 27, 2011

How We RV - Jim & Judy MacLeod

We bought our first MH in 1976 and now we own a 2006 Monaco Dynasty (42' DP) We were fortunate to be able to retire early and travel around the country. Taking care of a house and yard soon proved to be a hindrance, so we sold everything that wouldn't fit into our rig and became full-timers six years ago. Now we have the freedom to move from place to place and use our energies to help others.

We joined SOWERS (Servants On Wheels Ever Ready to Serve), a volunteer ministry that supports 180 Christian service projects in 44 states and Canadian Provinces. Our non-profit hosts provide the requisite RV hookups, equipment and materials while SOWERS contribute free labor. Each project lasts for three weeks with four scheduled work days per week. The rest of the time we're free to see the local sights, visit with friends and relatives or socialize with our working partners. Having worked on 25 projects in six different states, our favorite projects are those foster homes, schools and campgrounds where we can interact with the kids.

While we don't travel with our own pets, we've been fortunate to work on projects where there were a variety of animals to enjoy. Last winter Judy worked with Emus, Llamas and an Alpaca to prepare them for petting encounters with summer campers.

Our favorite places depend on the season. We love  cool summer nights in Michigan, warm winter days in Florida, springtime storms in Texas and Arizona, breathtaking mountain and coastal views in northern California. It's all good. Along the way we look for campgrounds that are well-maintained and honor Passport America discounts. Even spending a few nights in a dealer's parking lot is all part of the lifestyle.

Judy loves her convection microwave and washer and dryer while Jim appreciates the convenience of automatic air-leveling. Storage is primary for full-timers, so "doing without" certain features (like a second furnace and aqua-hot) actually gives us more space in cupboards and in "the basement". We need the extra space for our hobbies and provisions. Judy cans and freezes produce from our summer garden, tucking fresh squash and pumpkins into every nook and cranny in her storage bays. She also needs space for her jigsaw puzzles, canvases and other painting supplies. Jim has a collection of tools for SOWER projects plus a carry-out satellite dish and long coax cables he uses when parked under the trees. We both have our own workspaces and extensive book collections (including three that Jim wrote).

Judy does a great job of cooking bacon and broiling steaks and pork chops in the convection oven, but the fumes invariably set off the smoke alarm whenever she opens the door. The first time it happened Jim responded by frantically waving a dish towel at the alarm to dissipate the fumes and quiet the racket. The next time Jim was already flailing the towel before she opened the door and quickly removed the offending meat. This strategy worked pretty well until it occurred to Jim that the battery-powered smoke alarm is secured to the ceiling with two common screws. A simple quarter-turn is all that's required to remove it and carry it into the bedroom before Judy opens the oven door. An ounce of prevention is better than a ton of towel waving!

We've never been sorry that we sold our house and went on the road. We're only sorry that we didn't do it sooner. Travel does broaden your perspectives. And doing something for someone else keeps us active and more fit than if we'd stayed at home. We also see our far-flung family members more often and make new friends on every project. Camping can be so much more than potluck dinners, bingo and shuffleboard.         

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