Observations After Six Months of RV Full Time Living 2021

            Having only gone “RVing” once before for a weekend with the boys several years ago, some people might have thought Frank and I were crazy to sell everything, buy a motorhome and RV fulltime. However, Frank and I knew we could spend time alone together since we had been together 24hrs a day for the last couple of years without any problems.  So, we sold the house, bought the RV and set out on our fulltime adventure on June 10, 2021.  We love fulltime RVing and have no regrets.  There are some things we have learned along the way in the past six months.

            We bought a used, older diesel 45’ motorhome (2008) because it was a layout we loved, was in our price range, and had lots of storage.  Of course, the first few days (in our driveway), Frank had to start fixing some issues, which gave him time to figure out a lot of the systems.  Still, when we headed out there were some items still not working, including our leveling jacks.  Eventually he would replace the right parts and get them working. There are still some items that need to be worked on, but Frank keeps researching before starting on some of them.  For example, our dishwasher still isn’t working correctly.  Hopefully, that will be fixed soon – HINT HINT Frank! 😊

            On travel days we have developed a routine in which Frank takes care of the outside stuff: water, sewer hose, loading the bikes, car hookup, etc… while I take care of the inside: picking some items off the floor for the slides to come in, bringing in the slides, retracting the leveling jacks, etc… After the car is hooked up, I do the blinkers so Frank can check the lights.  There have been a couple of hiccups like forgetting to bring in the small awning over the door.  We just recently found out the engine must be turned off for the awning to work.  Who knew? 😊

            How do we decide where to travel and what to do?  That falls to me.  I ask Frank, but he just tells me wherever I want to go is fine and he says he likes what I’ve picked and what we’ve done.  I use the free app / website RV Parky to plot the general route for the year and to select possible campgrounds.  Based on people’s comments and suggestions, I make modifications. Due to RVing being so popular now, we must try to get reservations in advance as much as possible, so we can’t be as spontaneous as we might like.  State and national campgrounds must be paid for at the time of the reservations and many places require a deposit that varies from one night’s rent up to ½ of the total price. In some very popular areas, we have had to pay for those totally in advance, too.  Some campgrounds do have on-line booking, but there are still a lot that require a phone call to book a site. A few books are kept handy for me to refer to find some unique places or scenic drives, but I also use the internet. Before we arrive at a new place, I refer to Trip Advisor for the top sites / attractions to determine what would interest us.  If there are a lot of options, I usually ask Frank if he would like to do ….. or —- and he’ll give me his feedback. Recommendations for restaurants on Trip Advisor and Yelp are helpful and I also refer to the Diners, Drive-Thrus, and Dives App to see if there is anything in or near where we will be visiting. We have visited historic homes and museums, taken tours and hikes, sampled area specialties, and really enjoyed ourselves.

            We have determined there are three different types of groups in most campgrounds: permanent, stationary residents, travelers, and campers.  The permanent, stationary people chose to live in an RV for various reasons ranging from saving money, traveling for work assignments, and temporary situations that turned more permanent. They can usually be identified by the permanent steps, decks, and various outside items around their home. We are travelers since we like visiting places, trying new things, and learning about the area. However, at night, we like to be inside our home (the motorhome) on our comfy couch and recliner and watch TV together, read, etc… Campers are those that set up an entire outside living area. They tend to spend the first ½ hour to hour at the site hauling out chairs, rugs, grills, hammocks, firewood, lights, outdoor games, etc… The evenings and many times most of the days are spent outside and they usually have a fire going in the evening. While staying at Lake Livingston State Park for Christmas there were even people who put out Christmas blowups and Christmas lights for just a two-night stay.  Great that they have the spirit of the season, but that’s a lot of stuff to haul around and set up.  We are more minimalist in that area.  We did have a tiny tree inside, but that was the extent of our decorations this year since we spent Christmas day at our oldest son’s house. So, permanent, stationary residents, travelers, or campers – each is great and to each their own!  We will remain travelers and kudos to the permanent residents and campers!

            When we tell people that we fulltime RV, most people are fascinated and ask questions about it.  Many have expressed they want to do it, too or have friends and family that are fulltime.  The popularity has led to numerous Facebook groups, which are very helpful for those thinking of starting fulltime or those starting out.  People ask questions from how to fix something on their RV to what to do in various areas.  One thing I would recommend when joining any new group on Facebook is to use the search bar at the top of the group and search for what you want.  Trust me, 99% of the time the question has been previously addressed. It becomes rather tedious for those of us in these groups to keep seeing the same questions.  Only after going through the comments and posts that turn up after your search, should you pose your question.  I belong to an Instant Pot group, and it was so tedious to see the numerous posts: “I just got an Instant Pot, what should I do first?”  Please do some research before posing questions.  There are groups for everyone.  There are National Park groups in general and groups for specific national parks like Big Bend and Guadalupe Mts.  Also remember, that some people with no expertise do chime in because they “think” they know the answer.  I’ve asked Frank numerous times about some responses about electrical, etc… and he has shaken his head and told me the correct answer. As has been pointed out in these groups, do your research rather than just trusting total strangers.

            One of the big questions and decisions that must be made involves internet access.  Some parks offer free wi-fi and a few of them are really great.  Some of them buffer quite a bit but are useable for streaming TV shows.  Some are a total no-go.  State parks and National Parks do not offer Wi-Fi services, so while it saves money to camp there, we end up using more data from our plan.  We have a hot spot for Direct TV Stream which we use when there are no other options.  When we use that up, we start on the 40 gigs on Frank’s phone’s hot spot.   If we use all that, then we start using the 40 gigs on my phone’s hot spot.  Most of the time, it’s not a problem.  However, there have been a couple of places where we could not access any internet with our hotspots. It’s a good thing that Frank and I like reading, too. We try to always have a book or two downloaded on our personal digital devices.  This year’s adventure to the Rockies and more remote areas will probably test our internet access even more.  We have purchased a booster system, so we will see how that works out.  Who knows, we may end up like Robin Williams in the movie “RV” where he was on top of the RV with his arm stretched out trying to catch a signal. lol

            E-bikes intrigued us from the beginning, but we didn’t know if we were “bike people”; therefore, we bought a couple of used standard bikes in Cincinnati along with one for Bo for his visit.  They were okay, but I couldn’t do the hills and I really didn’t like my bike.  We determined we would have to go ahead and purchase the e-bikes. After reading a lot, we went to a few places to check some out.  Bike Lane in the Woodlands had a very helpful man that let us try out the Aventon Pace 350 and 500. While there we saw a big comfy looking seat on a bike, and I knew I needed that for my comfort. 😊 Aventon Pace 500 Step-Thru turned out to be the winners for us.  Pedago is a well known e-bike brand and highly thought of, especially by themselves.  For the price of one Pedago, we were able to buy our two Aventon’s on Cyber Monday with a $300 discount for buying two.  They arrived within a few days and were super easy to assemble.  A return trip to Bike Lane allowed us to purchase a heavy-duty hitch bike carrier and the large comfy seat.  E-bikes are heavy and require a heavy-duty bike carrier.  After a couple of days of riding them, Frank ordered him a slightly smaller version of my big comfy bike seat. On our very first day of riding the bikes, I took a tumble.  The road in the park had been repaved in the past year and there was a steep drop off. Of course, I found it when I turned to talk to Frank and got too close to the edge going about 11 miles an hour. (It’s a good thing I slowed down from 20 miles an hour.)  Frank says I bounced a few times and that it was a good thing I was wearing a helmet.  I skinned my left forearm up really bad, had three separate spots on my left knee, one on my right knee, one spot on each palm of my hands, a bruise on my left cheek and a goose egg on my left hip. Yikes!  I definitely left skin on that road! If you know about RV beds, you will know that we “climb” into them.  (Yes, we can walk around our king size bed, but we still have to climb in a little.) With scrapes on my left knee, forearm, etc… it was interesting to figure out a new way to climb in and out of the bed. I ended up climbing in by putting my right knee down (not on the scrape side) and flopping over into bed.  I had to climb out carefully so as not to hurt the scrapes on my palms since I place my hands on the side wall and pull.  It’s always an adventure. 😊  I did get back on the horse / bike and love it.  The kids gave us backpacks, fenders for my bike, and a rack for Frank’s bike for Christmas, so we are looking forward to more bike riding in our adventures this year. 

            Go West Texas RV Couple, Go West!  We will heed that advice and go west to Arizona before heading north.  Lots of national and state parks are on the agenda for this year.  It will be a matter of if the weather cooperates with us as to how much we will be able to see and do. On the list are: Big Bend, Davis Mts, Guadalupe Mts, Carlsbad Caverns, White Sands, Saguaro, Organ Pipe Cactus Monument, Petrified Forest / Painted Desert, Grand Canyon, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, Arches, Rocky Mountain National Park, Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Glacier, and more……  We hope you will follow along on our adventures on our Facebook Page – The Texas RV Couple and we’ll try to do some more YouTube videos!

Till Next Time,

Beth Cervenka

Come Explore with Us!

Beth Cervenka

Website: https://thetexasrvcouple.com/dir/

We are Beth and Frank Cervenka, the Texas RV Couple. We sold our dream home, bought a used Class A motor home and set out to explore the US full time. We hope you'll come explore with us! We appreciate recommendations of places to visit, of course, we also love food, so those recommendations are also welcomed! We are a blended family with five "children" between us, but they are all adults now, so we can confidently leave and explore on our own. Three grandchildren bring joy to our lives. We will miss them. Beth, a retired teacher, taught English and history for 31 years before retiring in 2017. Frank worked in the oil and gas business for 34 years in Quality Assurance. They started their own remodeling company in 2016, but now just focus on selling high quality cabinets for clients in the US. Check out www.cqrcustomcabinets.com to see the Conestoga line of cabinets. Frank works with clients to design their kitchen or other spaces. We hope you will enjoy our adventures and misadventures and come explore with us. We appreciate your support and suggestions. Thanks, Beth and Frank


JC Webber III

Enjoyed your 6 month full-timing post. We’ve been at it for 14+ years, and are getting off the road next week. But I wanted to suggest that you investigate boondocking. We really enjoy doing it and have setup our rig for it with 1110 watts of solar and 500AH of LI batteries. So much freedom!

    Beth Cervenka

    Thank You! We did try boondocking for the first time at Guadalupe Mts National Park. It was a parking lot camp site and cost us $10 a night, but we made it! We had to replace our house batteries to make it work, but we could make it through the night with heat and my husband’s CPap working. We are trying our first boondocking without a camp site on Friday in Tucson. It’s the uncertainty of not finding a spot and if we will fit that makes me a little nervous. Hopefully, we will be able to find some places along the way where I haven’t made reservations. We have a maintenance/upgrade budget for each month and at some point might try solar, but as of right now, my husband wants to hold off. Thanks again!

Cheryl Clark

As I read your story today I commented to hubby how similar our story is. We are just 8 months in after retiring in June, 2021. We sold our dream home in Salida, Co., everyone thought we had lost our minds. But it was a dream we’d had for a long time. Right about the time Covid was really coming on strong Hubby had a complete knee replacement. We had already moved out of our home and moved into our 32 ft. Travel trailer. We had decided on what rig we wanted and we’re ready to place an order with the dealer but all of a sudden we are getting calls about the lack of parts. Things like no generators for at least 6 months. Probably not matching air conditioners, etc. also we would need to upgrade to a 1 ton dually from our 3/4 ton. And there wasn’t a truck to be had used or new.
Hmm, it’s starting to get complicated. It’s already April and we are slated to leave right after the 4th of July.
Well things changed very quickly one morning! I’m sitting on the couch, grab my iPad look at a Facebook page for the brand 5th wheel we wanted and there it was. Not only the 2020 Fifth wheel but a beautiful 2019 1 ton dually to go along with it , and for a price we couldn’t believe. It was a sign for sure. We jumped on it and made arrangements to purchase it.
Now hubby is a bit incapacitated due to the surgery so I get a friend to agree to fly to OKC to pick everything up. The night before our flight I get a call from the wife and she tells me that a hail storm blew thru and got the truck. Mostly just the driver side. So we cancelled our flights. Talked it out and decided it was repairable so just wait it out. They took it to the Ford Collision center and it looks like brand new.
In the meantime we are trying to figure out how to unload our beautiful TT and 3/4 Ton Diesel. We had a generator for sale on Marketplace and a couple came and bought it. Two weeks later they also bought the truck and the trailer. Wow!
So when we were ready to head to OKC to pick up the new rig and truck, they came to the RV park and handed us the cash and we all drove off. We were headed to OKC with our small Ford Escape, and two dogs. Technically we were homeless.
We got it back to Colorado, only to find out everything we thought we would take and had in storage was literally not going to happen. But our friend who owned the storage said just take what we could and he would deal with the rest. It was some good stuff, but again we had to downsize. It was time to leave. We loaded up said our see ya laters and hit the road. We haven’t looked back.

    Beth Cervenka

    Oh, I’m so glad it worked out. As I was reading it, I started to wonder if the truck and trailer in OKC was a scam. I’m so glad it wasn’t and you are on your way! We are really loving the RV life and the ability to see so many places. Of course, the inflation that is going on is not good and giving us a run for our money. I hope we can run into each other at some point in our travels. We are in Tombstone, AZ right now and will be going to Tucson tomorrow. I hope you will follow along on our Facebook page and keep in touch! Happy Travels!