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Meet a Member | Family Motor Coach Association

Bill and Sharon Whitaker, full-timers from Sioux Falls, S.D.

FMCA membership number:Sharon and Bill Whitaker
F338479 (joined in 2003). We’ve been full-timers for 5½ years and don’t plan to stop soon. We've spent most of our 50 years of married life in San Diego, Calif.

Our current motorhome:
A 2003 Fleetwood Discovery 39S model which is 39 feet long

Three words that best describe our motorhome:
Welcoming, comfortable and uniquely ours

The best thing about our motorhome:
The kitchen. We both like to cook and it has the most counter space I have seen in a motorhome.

Other motorhomes we’ve owned:
We began motorhoming in a 21-foot Itasca Spirit on a Toyota chassis. When we decided to become full-timers, we bought a 34-foot Winnebago Itasca with one slideout. Then … we went to a rally, saw our current motorhome, which just called out “home” to us. You know the rest.

We decided to buy a motorhome because:
Even though Bill spent 20-plus years in the U.S. Navy, we weren’t able to travel a lot in the United States. There were a lot of places we knew we wanted to see and we knew there were many more beautiful spots we didn’t know about. We planned to travel four to five months a year, returning to our home in San Diego for the winter.

Our occupations:
Bill’s Navy career was in the medical field. He was a hospital corpsman with specialized training to serve with the Marine Corps. His final retirement was from Scripps Hospital in La Jolla, Calif., where he worked as a nurse. We chose to have me stay at home until our children were in junior high school, and then I went into outside sales. Over the next 23 years I sold contact lenses, industrial cleaning products and rental car services.

Children, grandchildren:
Our son has two daughters, Kelsey and Kara. Our daughter has one daughter, Heather, and a son, Christopher, who is serving in the U.S. Marine Corps. Of course, they are the smartest, most gorgeous, best behaved grandchildren in the world.

Our favorite motorhoming destinations:
We just love the Oregon and Washington coasts. We have been to Alaska and the Canadian Maritime Provinces as well as 48 of the lower 48 states and have yet to see its equal in sheer beauty.

Our all-time favorite motorhome trip:
It was a close call, but it had to be when we left San Diego, taking our time to get to Boston to meet up with a caravan heading for the Maritime Provinces. We planned our route to see as many historic places as we could. We spent 64 days in Canada before going down the East Coast to Atlanta. We then turned west, heading to San Antonia, where we attended a Discovery Owners rally before heading back to San Diego.

Our “dream” motorhome trip:
We would love to motorhome in New Zealand and Australia.

Our perfect day of motorhome travel:
Leaving a beautiful campground about 9 a.m., driving 250 miles to the next one, pulling in and setting up all without any hardships.

Our worst motorhoming experience:
It began with not being able to find an RV park with spaces available on the first day of summer in Wisconsin. At the last park we tried, the manager gave us directions to leave the park – they were wrong and put us on a narrow dirt road. There was no good place to turn around, only two possibilities with less-than-ideal room. We parked in the road and each scouted out one of our turn-around options. The one we chose was actually a circular driveway to a home at the end of the road. Well, we tried to make the very sharp turn and got too close to their center island, which was a natural mound. We plowed up a section of the mound and damaged four of our side compartments. The motorhome was less than 1 month old! About that time, the owners came home and invited us to stay the night on their property and even invited us in for a drink. You meet the nicest people when motorhoming!

Our motorhoming pet peeve:
People who don’t follow common campground etiquette. Things like speeding through the park, not picking up after their dogs, and walking through other people’s sites really bug us. Following closely behind that one is motorhomers who refuse to pull over when traffic builds up behind them. That is one reason people will take chances to avoid being caught behind a motorhome.

The best additions we’ve made to our motorhome:
Well, there are several good ones, all of which we did ourselves. The first was tearing out our booth and installing a credenza and freestanding table. The credenza was specially designed to house our printer, computer, cell phone chargers, etc. The second, which we just completed, is ripping out the carpet in our living room and replacing it with tile.

If we could change one thing about our motorhome, it would be:
That it got more than eight miles per gallon. Seriously, we would add a heater vent just behind the passenger seat and an electrical outlet on the dash. This is the only year Fleetwood left them off the Discovery.

Something about motorhoming that we know now but did NOT know when we started:
You could write a book on what we didn’t know. The one thing what would have saved us a lot of irritation was not trying absolutely everything on this coach when we took delivery. For example, we took delivery in the summer and didn’t try the dash heat. Of course, it didn’t work when we needed it.

When driving a motorhome, the most important thing to remember is:
Your destination for the day is no more important than yesterday’s was. Slow done and enjoy the scenery — save fuel as a bonus.

Our hobbies:
Bill’s passions are skiing and do-it-yourself projects. He also likes kayaking. Sharon enjoys needlework of all kinds, writing articles for a variety of uses and meeting new people.

Favorite restaurant:
We both like to cook, so we eat out less than once a week, usually for lunch. We like Olive Garden and Applebee’s. In the San Diego area, we like Miguel’s Cocina.

Celebrities we admire:
We aren’t really impressed by celebrity, but we appreciate any person who uses their fame to try to make the world a better place.

Something others would be surprised to know about us:
Our lives are typical for our generation, so we don’t know of anything that someone would be surprised to know.

If we were awarded a shopping spree at the store of our choice, the store we’d choose is:
Costco

Favorite campground:
A small campground just outside Troy, Mont. All grass spaces, no real amenities, but a gorgeous location on the Kootenay River and the most wonderful hosts we have found. When they found out that we love trout, but weren’t going to go fishing while there, they sent their son down with some -- caught and cleaned only hours before!

When motorhomers visit our state or hometown, they should be sure to see:
The California Redwoods, Yosemite National Park and sunset almost anyplace along the coast. In South Dakota, it is Custer State Park, where we saw the most wildlife of any park we have visited.

Items that we always keep in our motorhome’s refrigerator while traveling:
As full-timers, our refrigerator is always well stocked, but we manage to make room for some wine, fruit and cheese for those “happy hours.

Our advice to new motorhomers:
Join their manufacturer’s owners club and FMCA and not to panic when things go wrong as they surely will. It is important not to play the blame game when something does go wrong. To help control costs, we recommend they join one of the half price camping clubs and sign up for Flying J’s RV discount card. For a couple who are considering full-timing, we usually ask the woman how many shoes she has. Then, we tell her she will have to pare that down to four or five pairs. For the guys, they question is how many tools does he need to travel with.

Behind our motorhome, we tow:
A 2005 Honda CRV with a tow bar

Pets that travel with us:
We are always protected by Radar, our toy Manchester terrier that we rescued from a shelter in Elkhart, Ind.

When we’re online, Web sites we like to visit:
FMCA.com, financial sites, travel sites, Discovery Owners International, rv-dreams-lifestyles.com, and friends’ blogs. We also use the Web to make campground reservations, and we use e-mail to keep in touch with family and friends.

A technical or travel tip we’d like to share with other motorhome owners:
We always advise them to take it easy on the gas pedal and when the traffic piles up behind you, pull over and let it pass. One thing we have learned by experience is the importance of checking the water levels in your battery.

We joined FMCA because:
We love the rallies, the club benefits and the magazine. Also, because it’s strictly for motorhome owners.

Other comments:
We love the freedom of the full-timer’s lifestyle. Even the things most people look upon as challenges -- mail delivery, handling finances, maintaining close relationships with family — are easy to overcome. It is so wonderful to pull into a campground and find that old friends are there also, or to arrange your travel plans to meet up with friends “somewhere in the middle.”

The freedom of the RV full-timer’s lifestyle has been hard for us to put into words, but today on the Oprah Winfrey Show, the quote Oprah made about freedom in general certainly put it into a few words. The quote went something like this: “Freedom is the ability to wake up in the morning and decide for yourself what to do with the day.”

Other FMCA members may contact use via e-mail:

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