As we enter our sixth year of retirement and RV'ing it was time for a review of life.
It is always good to look backwards in time to review how plans, goals and reality match up. We continue to evolve in our RV lifestyle. My advise to anyone just entering or planning on RV'ing is to be flexible and open to change. Our original plans when we first began in 2013 have grown, evolved and today our lives look much different than our first plan.
We began with a 13 year old motorhome because we had no idea if the vagabond life style would suit us. We knew that Mexico would be part of our plan, but we were not sure we would love being in a third world country. We had no plans to travel internationally, but we have now visited 19 countries. The financial advantage of RV living for us was that it opened up possibilities we had never considered. We can park the RV and suspend almost all our costs while we try different things in life.
Life in Mexico is working great for us. The financial savings each year finance our travels the rest of the year. For us it is impossible to spend an American retirement while living in Mazatlan. Each month we have "left over" money.
After seeing how our first five years have gone it was time to up our commitment to RV'ing. So we purchased a new-to-us diesel motorhome and a four wheel drive Honda CRV. These vehicles should take us through the next many years until we hang up our traveling shoes.
I went back to what I had written 12 months ago to see how our plans have worked out. We seem to be on track.
Here's what I was thinking last year:
Thursday, October 19, 2017
Why Did We Change Motorhomes?
Our new-to-us Holiday Rambler Endeavor 40 PDT - 3 Slides
330 HP Cummins Diesel with an Allison Transmission
So the question to answer today is, "Why did we buy another motorhome?" Was it "RV envy"? Did we need a bigger motorhome? Was the LaPalma giving us problems? Was it just time for a change after owning the gasser for 6 years? Was I tired of owning a sea foam green RV? Was it because my brother-in-law bought a 40' diesel pusher? Was it because I had done all the improvements that I could do to the LaPalma?
There was no one answer to why I wanted to change. I thought that it was time to own a big boy coach. Here's how my thought process worked.
Our faithful old Monaco LaPalma 34 SBD
It sold a couple days after we traded it in on the Endeavor.
Six years ago we bought the Monaco LaPalma 34' SBD with two slides and a Ford V-10 gas engine. It had 48,000 miles on it. This year we passed 78,000 miles. That's 5,000 mile per year during the time we owned it. It was a great RV and we spent close to $16,000.00 repairing, improving and maintaining it during those 6 years. The depreciation on the motorhome during that time was another $16,000.00.
Our cost of ownership was $32,000.00. That comes down to $444.44 per month over those 6 years.
Now 32 grand sounds like a lot of money but compared to owning the home on Raft Island it's a bargain. My property taxes and insurance on that house were higher than my monthly cost of owning and maintaining an RV.
The LaPalma was a starter RV for us. We didn't know if our dreams of traveling and being vagabonds was really something we would like and want to do for many years. As we start our fifth Winter we are nearing the midway point of our 10 year plan. We still love our traveling lifestyle.
A question I asked myself was, "Is the LaPalma going to last another 5-6 years and would we still be happy with it after 100,000 miles? Was it time to start over with another low mileage motorhome?
The new-to-us Endeavor has 28,400 miles on it and it should be our last RV up until we are too old to travel this way. I didn't want to get down the road 2 or 3 years and be faced with the decision whether it was worth changing RV's for the last few years of our travels. I don't want the RV dictating that it is time to retire from our planned 10 year goal.
The most important feature is my 'old man recliner'.
So for me it was a long range plan to get an RV that would get us through those coming years.
We loved owning the LaPalma. It was a part of our successful plan. Hopefully the Endeavor will take us into our 70's when it will be time to hang up our traveling shoes.
Life is good
Russ & Terri Ranger
Travel since July 2013
5 months - Winters in sunny Mazatlan, Mexico
6 months - Wandering the USA in our Holiday Rambler Endeavor 40' PDT Motorhome
1 month - International Travel -19 countries, so far
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Devils Tower - Wyoming
This is how we spent our time before our first ever FMCA Convention. We needed to fill a few weeks before we got to Gillette, Wyoming. We visited 3 states, one of which was North Dakota, our 49th state visited. That leaves only Alaska, which will be our destination for 3 months in the Summer of 2019.
Needles Highway through Custer State Park in South Dakota.
We dry camped in Wind Cave National Park for a week. The wild life was abundant and every day we added to our list. Custer State Park which is 70,000 acres borders Wind Cave NP became our favorite state park in the USA. We hiked and drove for days to take in the amazing sights.
Next up was a week exploring Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. We stayed in Cottonwood Campground in the South unit of the park and drove on a day trip to include the North unit. Seeing herds of Bison was great.
We also enjoyed the burros and wild horses.
Our next stop was at Devils Tower in Wyoming. The campground at this National Monument is right under the shadow of the Tower. An amazing night sky and a great hike around the Tower were the highlights for us.
The view from our campground.
The view back down to our camp site from up on the Tower hike.
Not my friend.
Fortunately this guy did not visit our campsite. As a Ranger I would have been obligated to beat him with a stick. I hate snakes.
We are enjoying a very slow pace as we work our way West. Our plans change every few days as we find new things to see,.
We will spend six days in Gillette, Wyoming at a Family Motor Coach Convention. It's just us and 1,600 other RV's. We'll be attending great seminars on the RV'ing life. It's hard to choose from the 150 classes, but we both look forward a good week of learning.
Eva is loving life on the road. She has learned to sit up like a Prairie Dog. She would sit with her head out the window and listen to them talk. Every time we would see a colony we would have to pull over so that she could listen.
Eva's new BFF.
Life is good for the wandering Ranger's.
We don't seem to be able to leave Wyoming. After being here for two weeks we still have a week or two of sites to see. We both agree that Wyoming is beautiful and we are nowhere near Yellowstone yet. There are still great things to be seen and done.
Ten Sleep Falls near our boondocking spot in the Big Horn Mountains.
We have spent the last 7 nights boondocking or dry camping at 3 different spots in the Big Horn National Forest in north central Wyoming. Each day has been spent hiking and four wheeling through very amazing canyons. The new Honda CRV is four wheel drive and we could not have done the dirt roads we traveled in our old Honda Fit.
It's hard to pick a favorite day, but the day spent in Crazy Woman Canyon may be it. The dirt road/path was a challenge. The river running through the canyon was beautiful. And Eve loved it all.
One of our campsites was on this beautiful lake.
The view out our front window.
One morning a moose walked about 50' in front of us. I was so excited I forgot to take a picture. We've seen lots of different wildlife, but my favorites have been the various moose (or is that mice).
Another windshield shot as we squeezed between boulders.
Our last three nights were spent boondocking off a dirt road between Bear Lake and the Ten Sleep River. We could listen to the water cascading down the river from our RV.
Ten Sleep Lake
We enjoyed our warm 3 mile hike beside this lake.
The next day we decided to change our scenery so we drove out of the mountains to see Castle Garden. Again it was many miles of dirt road but well worth the effort.
Time to climb a Hoodoo.
We needed to do laundry after two weeks so we headed into the town of Ten Sleep (population 250). We'll spend the day here getting water, dumping tanks and getting ready for another week in the northern portion of the Big Horn National Forest. Next stop will be Lovell, Wyoming.
The reason we came to Wyoming was to attend the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) convention. We both enjoyed picking our favorite seminars from a list of 150 classes. There were over 1,600 motorhomes in attendance. It was alot like a big county fair for RV'ers.
Great concerts every night.
We're loving life on the road this year. The new-to-us motorhome is a pleasure to drive and we are getting to know all the different systems. It has kept us cool on 100 degree days and warm through chilly nights. This was the hail from a few nights ago up in the mountains.
Not snow, just large hail stones.
Life is good....driving down the road to somewhere unknown.
Fifty years ago someone rolled up this barbed wire fence and hung it up on an old fence post. In 1968 the federal government purchased 35,000 acres of ranch land in the Pryor Mountains to protect the wild horses that roam this area.
Today we went hiking and once again found out how beautiful Wyoming is. We began on an old ranch and drove 3 miles up a canyon on an old rutted path. When we ran out of road we began hiking the winding path up a canyon between two mountain ranges.
After about a quarter of a mile we forded a small stream and had a constant sound of falling and tumbling water for the rest of the hike . The canyon narrowed and I thought in was time to test for an echo. I whistled loudly and was rewarded with 3 or 4 return whistles. Cool!
Eva "the wonder dog" led the way up the trail.
Eva and Terri pose on a rock.
I think when the arrow points up they really mean it. The elevation here is well over a mile high so I wheeze as I go. It was a great hike, Eva loves her job as leader.
One side of the boundaries is the Big Horn Canyon. The road follow the rim of the canyon as much as it can, but hiking a mile to the very edge was worth it.
This canyon led us into Montana. The water/canyon is 56 miles long. We only saw a hand full of other cars all day. We felt like we owned a private canyon. We Rangers must be rich (in experiences at least).
A big bend panorama.
If you climb high enough this is the reward.
It's named Big Horn Canyon for a reason. We also saw wild horses, but at a great distance.
There were 9 Big Horn in this group. I couldn't get them to cooperate and stand facing me in a nice line. No group picture for these stubborn animals.
It was another warm day topping out at 91 degrees. We had gotten up early and had our hiking done by noon, so we missed the hottest part of the day.
We are staying in a small town park in Lovell, Wyoming. The town built a new park with 5 RV spaces and we can stay for three days FREE.
We hadn't climbed to the top of the canyon yet.
We were still smiling.
Life is good in Lovell.
We didn't want to wear out our welcome in the beautiful state of Wyoming, so after 3 wonderful weeks we are headed home. Slowly. We passed through Yellowstone quickly. Drove all day to get out of Montana. And tonight we are on the shore of Moses Lake, in warm Eastern Washington.
Our plan is to go south around Mt Rainier and then work our way back north to Tacoma next week.
We haven't traveled Hwy 12 in a few years and we haven't camped there in years. It's time to go look around.
Here are a few photos from this last week. Most are from the area around Shoshone National Forest. We had a wonderful campsite right on the Shoshone River.
The view out our front window.
One afternoon we could feel a sudden storm blowing in. We picked up our chairs and secured everything knowing what was coming over the ridge in front of us. First wind, next lightening, than thunder and last sheets of rain. Mind you all of this time it was still brightly shining on our campsite. Here's a photo out our front windshield.
It came down in buckets a few minutes later. There was enough rain that it turned the crystal clear river to brown in a few hours with all the run off from the mountains.
Bright sunshine and rain?
We stopped and looked at Buffalo Bill Dam. They had a vast collection of driftwood piled against the dam.
When it was built it was the tallest dam in the world.
As usual we were able to find many falls and a few great hikes along our way. The only drawback to hiking in these areas is oxygen. The air gets pretty thin above 8,000 or 9,000 feet. I just keep climbing and wheezing my way up.
Five Springs Falls
Here's my high climbing buddy.
Sunset at our last campsite in Wyoming.
Life is good..... we're heading home to see Grandkids. Thus ends a 7,000+ mile trip that has taken 125 days. It will be good to be back.