North Port Florida

Now in North Port, Florida

We are now in Del Rio Texas

We are now in Del Rio Texas

Our full time RV adventure is over

October 22 – December 16, 2018:  

A lot has happened since the last post.  This is the first time since leaving NJ and heading back down to Florida that I have had a chance to write.  In the past 6 weeks we sold the 5th wheel and truck and purchased a Nissan Armada and a used 32 foot travel trailer.  We are also fully moved into our North Port Florida house.  So, we have fully transitioned to part time RV use now, well sort of.  We have not yet picked up the travel trailer, next week, and used it.  To say the least, it has been sort of a whirlwind of a time for us.

To start off where the last post left off we were heading back to Florida from north New Jersey.  It was already getting cold up north so we wanted to move pretty quick back south.  And quick we did, we arrived back in Florida to store the rig just 5 days (4 nights) after leaving NJ.  We left North NJ on Monday and we were pulling into North Port Florida on the following Friday afternoon. For us that was almost a record move of 1200 miles.  

The thing was it really didn’t get warm until we actually crossed the border into Florida our last day.  Two of our night stays we didn’t have water after dark because it was too cold and just about freezing!  We have been doing this for over 6 years so we knew what to do before we even left NJ.  We partially filled our fresh water tank so we would have water for essentials if the weather got too cold.  We also made sure we have full tanks of propane for heat.  The thing is, in the north the campgrounds that are still open start to shut off their water this time of year.  We didn’t really need the propane as our electric fireplace kept us warm enough.  

Our last night to sleep in our 5th wheel was Thursday October 25th in Jacksonville Florida.  We didn’t talk about it as we didn’t know yet what was going to happen as we stopped moving the 5th wheel around.  I got up from bed on Friday morning and just said out loud “well that’s it, last time in that bed!” It’s a little sad now to reflect on it but for the past 7 weeks we have been so busy that we have not really thought about it very much.  We have been mainly just focused on making the transition as quick as possible.

Our last overnight in our RV home for the past 6+ years in Jacksonville Florida

Patty found this campground just 8 miles from our new home in North Port called the Myakka River RV Resort.  As one would figure out, it is located on the Myakka River.  Anyway they had a place for us to park the 5th wheel so we could unload it.  They also have very cheap storage rates of just $40 a month!  

Our unload and storage place just 8 miles from our house in North Port

On Friday the 26th of October we set up our 5th wheel for the last time at the Myakka River RV Park.  We will have the RV parked here for 3 nights to unload it.  It was a bit weird but it felt like we were just setting up and then off to explore the area.  Well yeah, that is what we are doing but we are also moving into a house!

I had originally thought that we could move everything out of the RV in a day and then have the next day to clean.  Well hahahahahahahahaha!  Dragging all of our stuff out of the RV through the small RV door and down the steps and then on to the truck, driving 8 miles, and then unloading was very tiring and time-consuming.  Basically, we could just do one load a day and that took us about 4 hours each time.

On Monday, the last day we were to be on the site, we arrived early at 7:30am.  We still had stuff to get out of the RV before moving it to storage.  We also needed to do some cleaning after we got all of the stuff out.  11am was the move time and we were still not done!  We realized that we could not load up the truck completely because we still needed space to hitch up the RV for the move to storage.

By 10:30am we were putting stuff on the ground as the truck was full already.  At 11am we had everything out and we started to clean up the RV.  We did the best we could but we didn’t do as good as we would have liked.  Then at noon we hitched up and moved the RV across the park to storage.  I think it is sadder now than it was then.  It was a very tight spot to get turned around in and then to back the unit into the space but we got it done!  After spotting it in its space we sprayed a lot of insect spray around all of the items that touched the ground as well as spraying the perimeter of the inside for ants.  We were finally ready to leave around 1pm.

OK, it's now stored!

Over the next week we got around 20 hits on the RV and truck for sale.  Most were people who didn’t have any money!  On the second week we had a woman and a guy on Facebook ask about them who seemed like they were for real.  Both wanted to see the RV and truck on the same day!  The woman was first at 10am and she really wanted the RV and truck so shee gave us a 10% deposit!  We called the other interested party and told him it was sold.

Interesting thing here was that the deposit was on a check and we needed to wait until she had the money in the bank before we could cash it.  The money was to be available next week.  The woman seemed credible to us so we took the deal as we still had possession of the RV and truck so we really were not out anything except that they were off the market now.

A week went by and no money, but excuses and promises.  We decided to wait until the end of the month, November, before getting too excited about the deposit. 

Then on Monday of the start of the second week the woman said she would have all of the money tomorrow, Tuesday.  We were a bit excited but also a bit apprehensive.  I had told the woman that I was getting an oil change on the truck before she got it so now I needed to get it done tomorrow. 

On Tuesday morning I had an appointment to get the oil changed at Ford at 10am.  While I was in the waiting room the full sale money was wire transferred into our checking account!  Now it was real!

After the oil change I went home and picked up Patty and we went to a local Enterprise to get a rental car.  Then we both went to the RV storage site to meet up with the new owner.  The new owner is new to 5th wheels so I agreed to move it to where she has a space for it.

We ended up moving it about 50 miles south to North Fort Myers.  I backed it into a residential front yard and that was that, I unhitched the truck and parked it just in front of the RV.  Patty leveled the RV and we were done!  Full time RVing was history for us.  Yeah - sad a bit!

Our rig and truck's new home in Fort Myers

OK, no time to be too sad about anything. We needed to get a new vehicle and a smaller travel trailer.  We had the rental car leased for a week and we really didn’t want to extend that too much.  We originally thought we would get the trailer squared away first and then get the tow vehicle.  Getting what we want in a travel trailer was much harder than we thought.  There are many RV dealers within a 50-mile radius.  We were just not finding what we wanted.  So we decided to concentrate more on the tow vehicle so we could get rid of the rental.

We wanted a large SUV with a tow range up to at least 8500 lbs.  This would allow us to tow a travel trailer in the 7500 GVWR range.  This would be a dry weight around 5500 lbs.  Originally we were looking at a Dodge Durango until we saw that it had the lowest fuel economy.  It actually had a fuel usage the same as our Ford 450!  It was not diesel but took premium gas! 

So we moved to looking for a late model Ford Expedition or maybe a new 2018 left over.  However, we just couldn’t find one with what we wanted.  Not all of the Expeditions had a tow package and we wanted one that was not black, including the interior.  After a few days looking and calling dealers we began to look at other vehicles with high tow ratings.  There are just a few in that tow range; Tahoe, Yukon, and the Armada by Nissan.  

After just a day of looking and having way too many dealers’ texting, emailing, and calling we settled on a new 2018 Nissan Armada.  Whew!

We picked up the Armada this last Monday, the 10th, and then 2 days later we traveled across the state to Titusville, 200 miles away, to look at a used travel trailer we saw online.  We didn’t like the one we went to see but purchased another one we had not even considered.  It is a 32 foot Coachman Freedom Express.  We pick it up next week on Friday just before Christmas.  We are planning to spend one or 2 nights in the trailer on the way back to our house after picking it up.  We are not familiar with travel trailers at all.  So this is a new learning curve for us.

Our new SUV and part-time rig
The hitch is much more complicated than the 5th wheel!  We are learning new things like a weight distribution hitch and anti-sway bars.  

During our first week at our new house in Florida my daughter Jennifer and her husband Christian visited for a few days.  That was really nice to have them here!  We took a couple day trips to see the area.  One day we went to see the Edison & Ford homes in Fort Myers about 50 miles south.  On another day we rented a pontoon boat on the Myakka River.  We toured the intercoastal area between Venice and Boca Grande Island.  That was a great day on the water!

Out for lunch in Punta Gorda with Jennifer and Christian

Edison's Fort Myers house

Hard to believe this is just one Banyon tree!

We rented the pontoon here in Englewood FL

Our pontoon for the day.  It was a little scary as I had not captained one of these since our days living on Lake Hopatcong NJ.  It had been about 10 years since taking a boat out on the water.  It came back pretty quick!

Patty enjoying the breeze and sun.

We stopped for lunch on an island that was only accessible by boat

Jennifer, my daughter

We spent a large amount of time getting the house the way we want it for us.  Since living in an RV for so long we didn't have any furniture or interior decor at all.  So we bought all new stuff!  This was the first time for both of us to furnish a house from scratch with stuff we wanted instead of using stuff acquired over time.  It was fun and still is!

Our house in North Port FL

Back Yard


Cool cactus garden in front

Constant parade of delivery trucks.  Once we had one waiting on another to move!

Our dining room furniture

A teak table in front of the aquarium window

This was so cool!  Patty found these stick on decals online

We added these nice ceiling fans to the lanai 

As for the future, we are taking a Caribbean cruise in a couple weeks and then heading to our RV site in the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas a couple days after we get back from the cruise.  We are planning to be at our site in Texas for about 2 months.  Our plan is to sell the lot in Texas either during our time there or just after.  This will be our last time wintering in south Texas.  Yes, that is sad too!  

OK, a bit of Christmas here in North Port Florida.  

No politics, but I had to take a picture of this booth selling Trump stuff

The parade route

Unusual toilet float by a plumber

Of course there was Santa!

Tree in Punta Gorda 15 miles south of us

Our tree.  A little bigger than the 2 foot one in the RV!

Shopping center decked out in North Port

Just to reminisce a bit about where we are and where we started this chapter of our lives.  We retired in 2011 and started full time RVing in 2012.  At that time we had no idea what was ahead.  We planned to at least full time for 5 years.  That was really the only plan.  We originally thought we would winter a different place each winter.  Our first was south Florida and then we went to south Texas the following year.  

We originally planned to stay 2 winters in south Texas, one at the park where we are now and one at a nearby park.  That didn’t happen as we made friends at our current park so we eventually leased a site there with the idea that we may decide to live there in the 5th wheel if we decide to quit traveling.  

Last year we went on a very long trip from coast to coast and to Alaska.  We have now stayed in all 50 states and 5 provinces of Canada.  Patty has had a hard time medically with our constant traveling.  It’s not the travel but the non-consistent medical treatment that has been an issue.  We have also had issues with the lower level of medical care of the Rio Grande Valley.  So we decided last year around Christmas that we were going to purchase a house in Florida and move on to part-time RVing.

Anyway, this year, 2018, has been an unbelievable year for us!  We left our site in south Texas at the beginning of March and headed west to an RV rally in Nevada and then to visit friends in LA and San Diego.  From there we traveled along the southern border back to Florida in May.  We spent a month in Florida and bought a house in North Port.  We spent a week getting the house ready for us to leave it while we continue to travel.  We left the house without ever having slept in it!

We left Florida the first week of June and headed up to Indiana to visit with family for about a month.  We managed to take a short trip of about a week to an amusement park in Ohio with one of the granddaughters. 

Then in July we went to New Jersey to visit friends and more Family.  Here we took 3 weeks out of our 2 months here and moved Patty's son Chas to our house in Florida.  We left our 5th wheel parked in NJ while we did the round trip of 2400 miles to Florida.  We finally slept in the new house on the floor!

At the beginning of October we left NJ and went to a wedding in Ohio and then back to Indiana again to get work done on the RV in prep for selling.  We also took a little detour and visited with family again in Indiana.

We had a buyer showing some interest in the RV and truck in NJ so we went back there, but that fell through.  And then here we are back in Florida by the end of October!

The original premise of this BLOG was to inform about our transition to living in an RV and then living on the road in an RV.  Well, we just transitioned back to landed living in a house after a little over 6 years.  It really has been a GREAT run and a wonderful adventure!  I just don’t know if we can top this again!  

OK, as for the BLOG, I am thinking of this as the last post.  This will make the 367th BLOG post covering our 6+ years of full-time RV living. And yes that is a bit sad but our new life is going to be a bit more pedestrian in nature, not really BLOG material.  We are planning to travel more out of the country as well and a bit more in the RV, fun stuff but not the uniqueness that our life on the road was.

So, with that said, we are off on to the next chapter of our lives!  

Safe Travels to All!

Mark and Patty Hooley


Dianne and Steve said...

Sorry to see you guys go off the road but part time is still better than no time. Congrats on this next stage of your life’s...looks like you have a beautiful home. Hopefully our paths cross again.
Happy New Year!

Tom and Marci said...

All the best in your part-timing future!

IL Camper said...

Thank you such a detailed account of moving back to part time RV living and what you went through to buy a house and sell the RV and truck. I know one day we'll have that to go through too. We all have to make changes in our lives to deal with different concerns as they come around. Glad we got to see you in Pahrump last spring. Sounds like you have a wonderful plan for the future. Sad but something new too. Looks like you made a great purchase on the house in a nice area of the state. Enjoy your new life and safe travels. We may see you down the road.

Anonymous said...

Just checked blog after a long while to set his last post.

I have been saying the same thing to wife that at some point we are going to want real walls and a real toilet.

Most memorable usable thing Imread was your move to the MorRyde independent suspension. Do you still recommend it.