We are full-time RVers with a domicile in Livingston, Texas. In April 2007 we sold our Whitehouse, Texas, home and moved into a Prevost bus conversion motorhome, our house on wheels. I claim my hometown to be Greensburg, Pa., and Ed is a Canadian originally from Ingersoll, Ontario.
FMCA membership number: F260756 (joined in 1999)
Our current motorhome:
A 1990 Prevost XL bus conversion 40-foot conversion by Angola Coach
Three words that best describe our motorhome:
Efficient, comfortable, sturdy
The best thing about our motorhome:
The ample, efficient storage areas both inside and outside. Deep closets, cabinets and numerous drawers in the bedroom and hallway give us plenty of room for clothes, books and all weather gear. Storage under the bed works wonderful for seasonal items and things needed only on occasion. The outside storage bays hold tool boxes, lawn chairs and everything else that is big and bulky.
Other motorhomes we’ve owned:
From 1999 to 2007 we owned a 1982 MCI-9 bus conversion moftorhome. It was our first motorhome, and it was a business investment. My husband, Ed, developed Private Motor Coach, Inc., a luxury travel company that took only two to 10 people on trips in the MCI. People lived aboard the motorhome for trips to places like Alaska, the Grand Canyon and other destinations. My husband provided this escorted travel service beginning in 1999 and continues to run the company today.
Our family benefited from his business investment — the MCI Bus conversion motorhome — because we could use the motorhome for family vacations, trips to FMCA rallies and weekend getaways.
We decided to buy a motorhome because:
There were several factors in our decision to buy the Prevost. First, both Ed and I have wanderlust in our hearts, so the desire to travel is strong. Second, we had reached a point in our lives when owning a home and being tethered to one place no longer seemed important. Also, as business travelers throughout our past corporate careers, we knew that air travel and hotels did not suit us. We wanted to hit the road and travel at our own pace, so a motorhome — house on wheels — was our unanimous choice.
Ed: president, Private Motor Coach, Inc. www.privatemotorcoach.com, founded 1999.
Patty: president, Global Tourism Solutions, Inc., www.glotours.com; formerly a senior consultant for the fund-raising firm Ketchum, Inc. based in Pittsburgh, Pa., and Dallas, Texas (2001 to 2007).
We are a blended family with five children and two grandchildren: Brianna, 5; and Brady, born in October 2008. Brianna is often challenged by pre-school teachers who seemed stunned by her comment that “My Grandma Patty lives in a bus.” Since we began our travels in September 2007, I have sent her a postcard from wherever we are each Monday. She collects these cards and we talk about the places I have visited when we are together.
When we’re not motorhoming we’re:
Visiting family in Greensburg, Pa., or Ingersoll, Ontario, or traveling internationally on business to travel trade shows like the World Travel Market in London, UK. We live full-time in our motorhome and have traveled over 20,000 since making the decision to hit the road beginning in September 2007.
Our favorite motorhoming destinations:
Florence, Ore.; Breaux Bridge, La.; and Gaspé Peninsula, Quebec
Our all-time favorite motorhome trip:
We call it our “Grand Tour.” Beginning in April 2008, we traveled from our winter haven in Pharr, Texas, over 15,000 miles through the USA and Canada. This past year can only be described as extraordinary!
The people we encountered, the experiences that came our way, and the places we visited truly have opened a new world to us. How else would we have met people like the commercial fisherman in Louisiana who let us spend a morning with him checking his nets for catfish? Would we have ever been guests at a Cajun birthday party in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana? Would we ever have rode the circus elephant greeting the crowd for the evening performance in Florence, Oregon? When would we ever have walked the Pacific coastal beaches of Oregon staying for nearly three months? Had it not been the journey that we embarked upon, none of this would have happened to us. Imagine what we would have missed!
Our “dream” motorhome trip:
Our dream is to travel through Mexico and Central America in our motorhome at a leisurely pace. When we run out of road in Panama, our dream is to continue the journey by placing the coach on a freighter and shipping it to South America. This “dream” motorhome trip would take three to five years.
Ideally, commercial sponsors to cover expenses for this trip would combine the business of promoting RV travel in an expanded market with our dream to travel the continent. Better yet, a camera crew to accompany us and chronicle this trip would be the ultimate dream come true!
Our perfect day of motorhome travel:
The sun at our backs, wide open lanes of scenic roadways, large pull-offs to stop and enjoy the view, a fresh cup of Starbucks coffee for Ed and a caramel Frappuccino for me. No hurry, no worry … these are the ingredients for a perfect day of motorhome travel.
Our motorhoming pet peeve:
Noise from folks who do not respect quiet hours in RV parks.
The best addition or alteration we’ve made to our motorhome:
We have sacrificed space in the kitchen for the creation of a home office where I can write and Ed can conduct business. We created a work station at the kitchen table. We have anchored a printer, pen holder, stamp dispenser and basket for miscellaneous things to the table. There’s more than enough room for the Dell Latitude laptop, camera cords, PDA and Verizon wireless device too. One large kitchen drawer (30” x 30” x 6”) is reserved for office supplies and stationary. An overhead cabinet holds a postage scale, files and business reference books. So where do we dine? We use an outside picnic table or lap trays for meals. I’d be lost without a designated workspace much like the office I had in our former home, so I consider this alteration to be the best adjustment we’ve made to our motorhome.
If we could change one thing about our motorhome:
I would change the wallpaper in the bedroom and bathroom. The pink stripped walls in the bedroom and the green design in the bathroom are the only features in the Prevost décor that I do not like. The designs might have been the top-of-the line in 1990, but over a decade later, the paper is dated. I actually submitted photos of the rooms online to Oprah, hoping her team would select our coach for a remake with one of the show’s designers. Perhaps they only accept real houses for interior design remakes.
Ed would make a change to the motorhome by adding solar panels to supplement our energy resources.
Something about motorhoming that we know now but did NOT know when we started:
I did not know what I would miss when Ed and I sold our Whitehouse, Texas, home to move into our Prevost — a motorhome/bus conversion. Nor did I know we’d have such wonderful experiences come our way. We did not know how “going full-time Rving,” would truly impact our lives.
I have given thought to what I miss:
I miss sitting around my oak kitchen table. My daughter Suzie, Ed and I shared our meals at this table in my kitchen window nook. We’d talk about the events of the day and resolve family issues seated around the table. We’d play competitive games of Rummikub or Canasta at the table. We’d use its surface to wrap birthday and Christmas gifts. When entertaining friends on the Fourth of July, the table held chips, pretzels and beverages. I miss sitting in my chair and watching hummingbirds sip from Ed’s feeders.
I miss the arrangements of fresh cut flowers from my seasonal gardens — bright yellow daffodils, white and peach-colored gladiolas, ruby red canailles, Texas roses.
I miss harvesting my herb garden. The oregano, basil, sage and rosemary that I dried in 2007 are long gone forcing me to use McCormick seasonings, not nearly as good as fresh.
I miss drinking my morning coffee on the back porch Saturday and Sunday mornings. The wooded acres gave me privacy, and the scents wafting from my herb garden awakened my senses.
I miss the squeak of the front porch swing and how its back-and-forth motion could lull me a restful state.
I do not miss my property taxes or mortgage, the ball-and-chain of a demanding career, or the learning that my flight home on a Friday night is delayed, or worse yet, cancelled.
I like being with my husband each day instead of my clients. I like what my best friend, Val, calls “fret free living.” I like feeling healthy and refreshed, not stressed. I like waking up every morning and wondering what new joy the day will bring our way.
If Ed and I had not made a decision to “go full-time Rving,” we would have missed boating on Lake George, waking to a lake-effect snow in Erie, riding the Los Ebanos hand-pulled ferry to Mexico, seeing alligators in a Louisiana swamp, experiencing the catch of 47.8-pound catfish at sunrise, and meeting all of the people who have made our road trip memorable.
When driving a motorhome, the most important thing to remember is:
Stay on the “red roads” or at least the roads where conditions make it possible to maneuver a big rig. Sometimes you will end up in a place where the road is full of switchbacks, the bridge is too low, or a weight restriction prohibits passing through. Occasionally, you’ll need the help and patience of other motorists to get you out of a tight space. It’s best to try to avoid those situations but sometimes it just happens, so stay cool.
Our advice for other motorhome owners:
Send thank-you notes to people who made your visit or destination experience pleasant. Let their supervisor know too.
I like to blog. I update “Did Someone Say RV Road Trip?” www.glotours.blogspot.com with great frequency chronicling our travels and our early decision to live and travel full-time in the RV. Another hobby is photography. I sometimes shoot up to 150 photos per outing to compliment my travel journals. I enjoy hiking, bicycling and fly fishing. I am an active Rotarian performing occasional remote service projects for the Rotary Club of Greensburg, Pa.
My husband, Ed, spends his time working on the coach, keeping everything in working operation so that when he turns the key, the coach is ready to roll safely and reliably down the highway. Ed also enjoys hiking and bicycling.
The Fruit Stand Market, Breaux Bridge, La., for crawfish and shrimp on the Cajun bayou.
While in Breaux Bridge, the Crawfish Capital of the World, we had directions to two local crawfish eateries. Ed and I headed out in our Toyota towed car to check out the menus. Neither of us felt hungry; we just wanted to know where to go for lunch the next day.
We picked up a menu at Crazy About Crawfish, but when we parked at The Fruit Stand, our greeting and reception by a man named Tee convinced us to return hungry on Wednesday.
Tee took us into The Fruit Stand Market to give us a guided tour. Opening each upright freezer door, he pointed out things no Louisiana kitchen should be without: “Here’s our frozen crawfish, alligator and okra for frying.” He led us to sacks of crawfish stacked on the cement floor and a display of Swamp Dust. “We use this stuff to boil our crawfish,” he explained.
Tee moved quickly to a small freezer. When he lifted the lid, we saw three freezer sections marked small, medium and jumbo. Each was filled with shrimp. “Now, I’ll warn you, these can be hard to peel, but they are delicious. I recommend the jumbo ones. Don’t waste your time peeling the other ones.”
“When you come back tomorrow, I won’t be here ‘cause it’s my day off,” Tee said, sounding apologetic. “You’ll see how good this food can be, yes you will.”
We returned to The Fruit Stand with a noontime appetite. Anne took over where Tee left off. She sized us up as if to measure what we could eat. She scribbled an order on a pad like a doctor writing a prescription — three pounds crawfish, one pound jumbo shrimp, four potatoes, two corn-on- the-cob, and two Cokes. Then she ripped the paper from the pad and taped it to the front of her shirt. “You’ll enjoy this,” she assured.
While she ran water on the jumbo shrimp to defrost them, she took us into the kitchen where crawfish scratched at the sides of four plastic buckets. Anne hoisted one of the buckets and dumped the creatures on a conveyer to demonstrate how they are washed. “They think they can get away,” she said as she picked up one of the crawfish trying to retreat back up the shoot to the washer, “but they can’t.” She dropped the wiggling fellow in with the rest.
She lifted a metal lid from to show us steaming mounds of red potatoes and corn. “I’m gonna fix you some dip for the potatoes, crawfish and shrimp. It’s mayonnaise and seasoning called Slap Ya Mama.”
“The Department of Health says we have to boil the crawfish 12 minutes,” Anne told us as she dumped our lunch into boiling water and set the kitchen timer. “Shrimp will take four minutes.”
Those 12 minutes passed quickly because Anne showed us the local cuisine Tee had missed … pickled okra, boxed batters, tobacco, and Slap Ya Mama in varying degrees of spiciness. Before the timer could bing, Anne headed to the kitchen. She returned with our feast!
Not a morsel remained. Anne had judged us well.
A celebrity we admire:
We both admire the late Charles Kuralt, an award winning American journalist known for his essays and "On the Road" TV segments featured by CBS about people, places and the national spirit found in America. His stories remain an inspiration to us as we travel in our RV.
Something others would be surprised to know about us:
When people see the Rotary International symbol of the window of our coach, most people assume that Ed is the Rotarian. The truth is that I am the long-time Rotarian and was among the first women invited for admission to the formerly all-male service club some 14 years ago.
If we were awarded a shopping spree at the store of our choice, the store we’d choose is:
Wal-Mart. The super stores have everything an RVer could possibly need — food, casual clothing, prescription refills, household products, automotive products and camping supplies. I would certainly enjoy an awarded shopping spree there that did not add to the balance on my monthly American Express.
Because we are often on the move, we tend to boondock often. We have found that some of the most welcoming places to stay are not just campgrounds. From the community center in Clover Bend, Ark., to the municipal park in Accord, N.Y., we have enjoyed the hospitality of folks who are proud of their hometowns and are willing to showcase bits of history, reveal their personal stories and put effort into making our stay most enjoyable.
That said, I would say Rogers Rock in New York stands out as our favorite campsite. Here’s why:
Imagine your own private beach cove, a place to more a fishing boat, a solitary campsite facing a lake with a backdrop of a rock cliff, and a full harvest moon shining each night. Sounds like something out of an exaggerated travel brochure, but I assure you it does exist. It’s the “Honeymoon Suite” at Roger’s Rock State Park in New York.
You won’t find it marked as such on the campground map. In fact, it wasn’t even our first choice for a site. We had selected a pull-through near the boat launch with a troublesome grouping of low hanging branches. Before settling into our campsite, Ed asked for permission to trim the branches. The camp ranger said he’d have his staff take care of the pruning but he’d like to show us a few more sites that might be a better choice.
Thinking we had already seen the best there was to offer, Ed and I obliged this friendly ranger and followed him in our towed car through the park. He stopped his green ranger car at the “Road Closed” sign, unlocked the metal gate, and rolled-up the plastic yellow caution tape.
The look on my face asked Ed, “Where is he taking us?” Ed shrugged and followed the ranger. After a short drive down the dirt road, we followed the ranger into a picnic area with two covered pavilions. The lot could easily accommodate our coach and there was a clear view of the lake.
“You’re offering us this site?” I quizzed the ranger in disbelief. “Yes, but don’t get too excited yet,” he said with a grin. “I have saved the best until last.”
We followed him farther down the dirt road, descending a steep grade that opened to the “Honeymoon Suite.”
Excitedly, he pointed out the features like a Hilton bellman. “You can pull your coach here facing Lake George. Over there’s a place for your fishing boat. And, you could swim in cove where there’s a little private beach. Do you see it through these trees?”
“Up there is Rogers Rock, where English Colonial fighter Robert Rogers escaped the Indians by climbing its surface then reversing his snow shoes and descending the other side. The Indians thought he was a spiritual being after accomplishing that feat. Now, don’t you folks try climbing up there, cause I sure don’t want to have to rescue you,” he cautioned. “You can have this spot if you want it.” He added without taking a breath and bursting with pride at what he had to offer us, “No one will bother you down here because you can keep the caution tape across the road. This part of the park is officially closed, but it’s open to you if you want it.”
And, that’s how we ended up for five days in the “Honeymoon Suite” of Roger’s Rock State Park on Lake George, N.Y., under the harvest moon.
When motorhomers visit our state or hometown, they should be sure to see:
If you travel to Pennsylvania, motorhomers should visit the state’s only seashore; they might be delightfully surprised. Presque Isle State Park is a 3,200-acre sandy peninsula that arches seven miles into Lake Erie. The 13 designated beaches were named one of the nation’s Top 100 Swimming Holes by Conde Nast’s Traveler Magazine. The Park is a National Natural Landmark, noted for providing habitat to the greatest number of state endangered, threatened and rare species — more than in any other area of comparable size in Pennsylvania. Some 635 species of plants can be found on Presque Isle.
Lake Erie is the second smallest of the Great Lakes and it is the shallowest with maximum depth of 240 feet and an average depth of 62 feet. Ice glaciers moved through the area over 14,000 years ago forming Lake Erie.
Swimming, hiking, bicycling, fishing, lake tours and more will keep visitors entertained. In the winter, spectacular ice dunes form on the beaches and ice fishermen huts dot the inner bay. Presque Isle is a great place to visit anytime of the year.
Items that we always keep in our motorhome’s refrigerator while traveling:
We keep foods that I call “hand-to-mouth” foods. Apples, oranges, grapefruits, cheese and chocolates — these are all items that we can grab in a moment and toss in a backpack. As we travel, we frequently find interesting places to stop. Whether it’s an attraction or a hiking trail, we like to have the option of having a snack with us because all too often what originally was a “quick stop” sometimes turns into a longer outing.
We also like to have Crock-Pot leftovers like chili or cabbage rolls in the refrigerator for a quick pop into the microwave. When we are moving down the highway or after a long day of sightseeing, these leftovers make for quick meals.
Our advice to new motorhomers:
Minimize your stuff. When you live in a small space there’s not room for more than the essentials, but be sure you have the following: maps, slow cooker, camera, cell phone, binoculars, collapsible laundry sack, batteries and flashlights. Also, slow down your pace. Allow time to immerse yourself in a destination. When you slow down you truly experience a community and its people.
Behind our motorhome, we tow:
We tow a white 2003 Toyota Corolla CE on a Demco SS460 dolly.
When we’re online, Web sites we like to visit:
CNN is our homepage for breaking news. I am a fan of the Web site's iReport and frequently respond to CNN’s request for photos or observations from the road. Likewise, I follow www.igougo.com for reviews and information on destinations.
As we travel, we also check out Web sites for the specific destinations and attractions in order to research admission fees, hours of operation and ideas for things to see and do.
A travel tip we’d like to share with other motorhome owners:
Explore places beyond the popular destinations. New Orleans can be fun but places such as the Louisiana towns of Breaux Bridge and Cut Off give you the true essence and authenticity of the people in Cajun Country.
Dare to show up. When the circus is in town, go! If we hadn’t shown up and engaged Pappa D the Clown in a conversation, we would have never experienced the circus in the way we did — riding on an elephant under the big top or Ed’s debut as a guest clown.
Ask questions over and over again. That’s how you find out where to go for the best beaches, fish-and-chips, and scenic routes.
Don’t say “no” when you could have said “yes.” Opportunities can be missed when you say “no.” “Yes” opens a world of possibilities.
We joined FMCA because:
There are several reasons why we joined FMCA. First, when we bought our first motorhome in 1999, Don and the late Margaret Hoffman of Hoffman Coach suggested we join. Also, we knew that FMCA would be a source of information and support for the RV lifestyle. And, we were eager to attend the international rallies like the ones in Perry, Georgia, knowing these would be sources of technical information about RV equipment and fun, too.
FMCA chapters that we belong to:
We are not members of any local FMCA chapter because of our full-time traveling. We are, however, members of the RV Fellowship — part of Rotary International. From 1999 to 2001 we were members of the Penn Coachmen group when we lived near Pittsburgh, Pa.
Some of the most beautiful fnds are free. I found a tattered, page-yellowed copy of the paperback book The Millionaire Next Door at the Florence Library Book Sale in October. It’s a book I intended to read when I worked as a fund-raising consultant but never had time to read. Back then, I would have been looking in the text for clues that would help me find those potential donors whose philanthropic gifts would advance a capital campaign toward the goal.
Today, as I read this somewhat dated book, the economy faces the challenges of plunging values in the housing market and on Wall Street. Now, a different message rises from the content of the book. It’s a message regarding consumption. In other words, spending. And my intent here is to take a very narrow view about spending in regard to travel and entertainment.
If it’s not expensive, if it’s not miles away, if it’s not high-end, it merits no value or bragging rights of been there, done that. That may be the attitude of many people. I propose that some of the best things going are available for little cost or free. We were recently in Oregon, so I’ll use it as an example.
We could watch the sea lions lounge on the coastal rocks. We could find agates in the gravel beds of creeks that cross the beach. We could follow trails past bright wildflowers and colorful mushrooms. We could watch the Pacific surf pound the beaches. All of this can be done without a dime in our pockets.
So as RVers all begin to more carefully monitor spending, I believe it is not necessary to do this at the expense of seeing new things or sacrificing a bit of fun. You might find that there are wonderful places you have overlooked nearby, many of which can be free. Who knows, if you curb your spending, you may be the new millionaire next door.
Other FMCA members may contact use via e-mail:
Patty and Ed go Off the Beaten Path in Winslow, Ark.