We held on as long as we could, but it was just too cold to stay in Iowa any longer without fortifying the RV for extremely cold weather. So the week of Thanksgiving, 2016 we packed up everything, said goodbyes and headed south. We prolonged our stay as long as we reasonably could, but the weather was not going to cooperate to allow us to stay through Thanksgiving day.
Since getting the RV, the 3 weeks in Wisconsin in September was longest we had been gone to date, so this was a big step for us. I know, its not like we are going to a foreign country, but kind of had built up that kind of excitement. THIS IS IT – we are going to be on our own.
We planned our trip 6-8 weeks ahead of time and planned on traveling no more than 3-4 hours per day. More road time than 4 hours is just too hard on everyone (driver and passengers). We also limit ourselves to traveling during the week and not on holidays so in the event we do run into trouble, we can find help (repair services, etc.) more easily.
Things we would miss:
- Kum & Go convenience stores
- Hy-Vee grocery stores
- 200 acres mostly to ourselves (our home base)
- In person access to family and friends
Things we would not miss:
- Ice and snow
- Freezing cold
- Months without sun
- Snowpants and parkas
- In person access to family*
*Sometimes you don't get dragged into the day to day drama if you aren't there in person. Also, as our parents get older, sometimes we worry less with a little bit of distance.
We had several months of camping booked at Thousand Trails resorts in Texas. Our plan was to start in Northern Texas and work our way South and east over the winter and eventually make our way back north starting in April. Boyd would come back every couple of weeks to visit Kaylee, check on the house, get mail and attend to any in-person business as needed. He would stay with his parents when in Des Moines. He would fly or drive back depending on our location in Texas and the cost of flights. CJ would stay with the RV, Bailey and Maya, continuing to work remotely throughout the winter.
Most of the resorts we planned to stay at would allow us to receive packages via UPS, FedEx and USPS for a small fee, so I would carefully monitor staples like dog and cat food and use Amazon Subscribe & Save to get those delivered to our current location as needed. For everything else, we became reacquainted with shopping at Walmart over the summer. Say what you want, but Walmart is all over the US, they have reliable, consistent products and pricing. I can count on Walmart to have what I need when I am away from my home base.
We showed our parents how to use FaceTime prior to leaving so now they can see and talk to us while we are away. Text and phone are also acceptable.
I call my parents when I am out walking Bailey so they can see how nice the weather is and/or how different the landscape down here is. We also try to text a picture of some unique part of our day – whether it's a pretty sunrise, historical marker or just a weird plant, etc. on the trail.
Walmart has been very useful. We try to shop local when possible, but sometimes it is just quicker and easier to get things at Walmart. And Walmart seems to be everywhere we are. We actually have not used Amazon as much as we planned because Walmart has been so convenient.
Traveling back and forth has been harder on Boyd than we anticipated, so we will likely look at Florida or Arizona for next year as Allegiant Airlines has direct flights into Des Moines for under $200.
Otherwise everything is going according to the plan with the exception of a pitstop in Alabama on the way back to home base now.