We left part one as Mary and I had just gotten married in the community of Green Valley Arizona. To continue, we spent most of a year in Tucson. During that time I still wanted to do some traveling, so I left the RV dealership I was working for, and signed on with a Drive-Away company. Now I was delivering motor homes and travel trailers across the border into either New Mexico or California. This was a service offered by the RV dealer so customers could avoid Arizona’s 7% sales tax. It allowed me to be back on the road again, I always liked driving. I even flew to Atlanta Georgia a couple times to pick up luxury motor homes and bring them back to Tucson. That was a real charge, like being on vacation in someone else’s $350,000 rig.
We made a number of weekend trips while in Tucson, down to Tombstone to see the OK Corral, to New Mexico to see the Carlsbad Caverns. Through White Sands to the museum at Alamogordo, we even went through the Biosphere.
Driving through the desert we saw dust devils all the time. Dust devils are like miniature tornado’s, more neat to watch then dangerous. I did see one dust devil pick up a small tin shed and toss it over the top of a mobile home.
After about six months we decided to upgrade our living arrangement. We traded in the travel trailer on a 37′ fifth wheel trailer. More square footage, more comfort. It also had one major improvement we soon realized we couldn’t be without. A clothes washer/dryer unit, one piece that did both tasks. This new trailer was both big and heavy, I became concerned our ¾ ton pickup might be a little light for the trailer. I found a one and a half ton truck at a dealer and traded up for that as well, a choice I would later regret.
It’s surprising how hard it is for a person that has been living in a traditional house, for a substantial part of their life, to actually get it through their head that STUFF removes your mobility. In no time we found ourselves with a 5th wheel trailer, a large truck, and two cars as we both had to drive to work. As spring turned into summer and the temperature rose to well over 100 degrees, or ability to cope ran out. We decided to go back to Minnesota for the summer.
We headed out again, I driving the truck pulling our mobile apartment, and a friend of ours driving our larger car towing the smaller one. Larry wanted a ride to Missouri to visit his mother so he volunteered to drive the cars. We left Tucson headed east and in less then 50 miles it became painfully apparent I had made a huge mistake trading in the pickup on this big white elephant of a truck. Turns out the large truck actually had a smaller engine then the pickup. It had plenty of stopping power, but was pretty weak in the go department. 60mph was as fast as it would go with the pedal to the metal. Any kind of a hill dropped that down considerably. In fact, as we left Los Cruces headed for White Sands, there was a long, moderately steep hill. We just slowed down slower and slower, I was all the way down into 1st gear, and was very concerned I didn’t have enough power to clear the top of the hill. We did make it, but it was touch and go for a while. We made it to Missouri with no further problem, but at that point Mary took over driving the two cars. Let me state for the record, Mary hates to drive on freeways. She was a nervous wreck, she had never towed a simple trailer never mind tow another car, and on a freeway to boot. I give her a lot of credit for doing it, but she realized we really didn’t have any other alternative.
Summer in Duluth, milder temperatures and comfort. Mary took a part time job at Wal-Mart, and I took one at an RV dealer. Parts sales again, oh well, it was only for the summer. We enjoyed being near Lake Superior for the summer, but when the snow flakes threatened that fall, it was time to head south again. Most of the summer we worried what to do about the truck issue, our decision was made when the new 1997 Bounder motor homes arrived on the lot that fall. We traded both the 5th wheel and the big truck in on a new motor home. Once again we were down to a manageable amount of stuff. With the motor home towing our small car we headed south again. The larger car was put in storage as we assumed we would be back in the summer.
We headed for Albuquerque this time. We rented a spot in a park there for a week. That’s about how long it took for us to find out the cost of living was too high for our means and the jobs were to few. We headed back to Tucson. Back to our favorite park on Miracle Mile. We enjoyed a month of nice weather, but our luck at finding suitable work had faded. Our desire to be in the desert faded as well, so we decided to move on. East to Texas this time, we kept going east until we saw green grass. Denton Texas, our next stop over.
I guess stop over is pretty much an understatement, as we ended up staying for almost seven years. We arrived in November, setting up in a mobile home park that had RV spots as well. It was pricey, so we got to work finding jobs. Time went on, and nothing, we actually got down to $175 of readily available cash. We had my retirement to cash in, but as far as actual cash $175 was it. The reason for this fine how do you do was our trading up on RV’s and trucks. With more expensive rigs came payments, and with even more expensive rigs came higher payment. Now we had no choice, we had to work to stay afloat. Damn our good credit, it just got us in deeper and deeper.
Not to worry, Mary finally hit on a job, and shortly after, I did as well. We found ourselves needing the second car so over a three day weekend I drove back to Minnesota and retrieved the other car. We found a more reasonably priced park and moved in for most of the next year.
As time went on, and as we had good jobs, we decided to sell the motor home and buy a mobile home. Settling down for a while we were off the road. Well maybe Mary was, I got restless again and decided to go into hot shot trucking. I bought a new diesel dually pickup, and a 40′ goose neck trailer. I signed on with a trucking company, and started making my living driving over the road. Running about 100,000 miles a year, I did this twice, with a break for a year or so in the middle. Eventually we decided we had been in Texas long enough and wanted to return to Minnesota. To this end we sold the mobile home and moved into another second hand triple slide out 5th wheel trailer. We also bought a new 1 ton dually.
We decided after down sizing our life again that we wouldn’t leave until we had the truck paid off. It took us two years of making huge payments, but when it was done we were able to head back to Minnesota in better financial condition.
We’ve been back in Duluth Minnesota about 4 years. Life is quieter now, we still have a 24′ travel trailer for weekend outings and vacations. Once RV’ing is in your blood it never leaves. We dream of someday hitting the road again, maybe after we really do retire. Many people have asked us, do we regret giving up our careers and very good paying jobs when we decided to become full timers, as neither of us have been able to duplicate the jobs we had before we left? Our answer is a resounding absolutely not.
Life comes with no guarantees, other then you only get one chance to do it right. We left when we were in good health and young enough that the extreme risk of not having health insurance was an acceptable risk. Fortunately nothing happened during those times we had no insurance. Quite a bit did happen while we did thankfully have insurance. I had spinal fusion surgery, Mary had a hysterectomy, I’ve developed high blood pressure and diabetes, Mary has high cholesterol. For us to do the same thing 10 years later would be stupid. But 10 years ago when we did it, it was an adventure. One that has given us more memories then any of our friends who stayed in one place, put in their time, and led a normal life. Something money can’t buy.