Another month has gone by since I found time to create another post. Between working and traveling back and forth between the campground and Pittsburgh, the time just disappears. We are officially living in the camper and staying at Katie’s in Pittsburgh during the week while I work. The Fifth wheel is starting to feel like home and we are getting it set up the way that we want. I have the kitchen and bathroom cabinets organized and found room for everything that I want to take. I wish it always looked as neat as the picture. Right now, it is a bit cluttered as we are still working on the bedroom and organizing the closet. Have stuff scattered in the living and dining area as that work is underway. The picture below is the bedroom before we emptied the closet. It is definitely coming along and we should be ready to leave by October 1.
I have been working from the campground on Mondays and we discovered that the cellphone booster we had in our apartment doesn’t give the poor cell signal here enough of a boost. Tim has been spending time and money on Amazon, acquiring more items to make this easier. He purchased an external antenna and still needs to install it. We are hoping that will improve our ability to stay connected as we travel. We also switched his phone to AT&T and got another phone on T-Mobile. With mine on Verizon, and with a mobile hotspot, we will have multiple options to stay connected.
When I get a connection, I tend to spend time researching and planning the first part of our trip. I am sure that I am not doing it the most efficient way and I am still learning about the tools that exist to help with this effort. So as you read this post, recognize that I am an amateur and still learning the best ways to do this. My planning so far has been online researching places that we know we want to visit. I can get lost in blogs, Youtube videos and podcasts for hours on travel and full time RV sites. Now you know where my time is going!
Our planning is somewhat backwards in that we booked the winter months first. We knew that we wanted to spend the first winter in Florida and heard that you have to book early as the campgrounds and camping resorts there fill up quickly. Initially I thought we would try out a few different parts of the state, perhaps spending a month each in 3 different places. Then I started looking at prices and realized it was way too expensive to do that. So the first place we booked was for January through March at the camping resort in Florida that we visited last year. We had that booked by early March, so almost a year in advance and booking for 3 months is a less costly option. Luckily it is a fairly central location so we should be able to take day trips to many different areas.
As we talked about travel plans, we determined that we want to go slow and spend time in each area as well as find time to visit family and friends along the way. Our youngest daughter is in Ohio and we have friends there so we want to start out going that way and visiting them before we go further south. Kentucky and Tennessee are on our lists of places to visit so the path to Florida was easily mapped out. We will leave in October and go through Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama then into Florida.
I thought we should book December just in case it is hard to find places to stay. I have always wanted to spend some time on the Gulf Coast so I started researching beach areas in Alabama. Once I find the places that I want to visit, I then search for campgrounds in that area. We were able to find a place that looks fantastic in Gulf Shores, Alabama for the first 2 weeks of December and then a place in Homossasa Springs, Florida for the last 2 weeks of the month. I am excited to go there and hopefully see manatees. That looks really promising.
I was just using Google searches to find campgrounds. We recently met Kelly and Bill, bkamericanodyssey.com, full time RVer’s whose blog I follow. They are spending the summer season in Pennsylvania, so we were able to visit them. Kelly shared information on apps that she uses for planning and highly recommended Allstays. I started to use it and already can tell it is going to be a great tool for finding campgrounds. Years ago we stayed at Corps of Engineers campgrounds and found them to be nice campgrounds for lower costs. I was having difficulty finding their campgrounds using just google searches. The Allstays app makes it easy to do and it has filters to help you narrow down the search. I am now starting to use it to find places near where we want to be in each state. I haven’t booked anything else yet but have picked out a few campgrounds for Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky. As soon as we know the exact date we are leaving, I will get those booked. Then I just have to plan November for Tennessee and Alabama.
Another thing that I am researching is clubs and organizations to join. So far, we joined Harvest Hosts. This is an organization that for an annual fee, you have a list of many places like farms, orchards and wineries that offer a free spot to boondock for an overnight stay. They look like beautiful places with views that are much better than Walmart parking lots for travel day stays. I found one in Ohio that looks promising and may be the first stop on our journey. I think we will also join Escapees, Passport America and KOA. I haven’t done that yet but they will give us some discounts for campgrounds and should pay for themselves with just a few stays.
I had one more week to work then I was asked to stay and help transition to my replacement for another 2 weeks. My official last day is now 9/20 but after next Friday, 9/6, I will be fully remote. I guess at that point, we will officially be full time RVers! Once we get started, I plan to create a blog entry at least weekly to cover what we are doing and have gotten to see along the way. I am really looking forward to this adventure!