Those who know John and Vicky Ferrari professionally would be surprised to see them traveling the highways of America in a motorhome. Truth is, this duo loves being road warriors.
FMCA membership number: F369332 (we joined in 2005)
Where we live:
Our “weekday” house in Leesburg is a townhouse overlooking the Potomac River, near the location of the Battle of Balls Bluff from the Civil War. We sit up on some cliffs that the soldiers no doubt used for cover during and after the battle. We have a lake house on Lake Anna in Mineral, just west of Richmond, Va., and about two hours from Leesburg. This is where we store our motorhome and is the starting point for our trips.
An FMCA chapter we belong to:
Coach House Owners Club. We have approximately 170 members, all who own Coach House motorhomes.
Our current motorhome:
A 2006 27-foot Coach House Platinum 272 with two slides. Since we still work, we wanted a small, nimble motorhome primarily for weekend trips and a few longer trips a year, but we were looking for quality and amenities like you would find in a larger, higher-end motorhome. We are very happy with the Platinum for our present situation. Many of our chapter members have downsized from much larger coaches. We will probably eventually move up to a larger size when we can be on the road more, after John retires. I (Vicky) will continue to work for several more years, but my work is such that I can do it from the road.
Other motorhomes we have owned:
We actually bought a 2005 23-foot Platinum as our first motorhome in September 2005, but traded it in within a year for the new 27-foot model, largely because of the queen-size bed in the back.
Three words that best describe our current motorhome:
Classy, happy, functional
The best thing about our motorhome:
It has extreme functionality in a small package.
We decided to buy a motorhome because:
We have both spent our professional lives traveling on airplanes, both in the U.S. and around the world. We lived in England in the late 1990s. My (Vicky’s) father worked for American Airlines, so even as a child, my trips tended to be on airplanes and often outside of the U.S. We have done several cruises, to just about everywhere we care to go (except the Galapagos and Antarctica). We decided it was time to look over the edge of the Grand Canyon, commune with the horses at Chincoteague, see the Lennon Sisters at Branson (yes, we both grew up watching Lawrence Welk with our mothers) and discover America from the ground.
I have an interesting story. I was raised in Niagara Falls and Buffalo, N.Y. I enlisted in the Army during the Vietnam War because I am a patriot, first and foremost. I was sent to Vietnam and was trained as a tank mechanic. One day, a general’s aide came by asking if anyone could type. As I was lying in the mud under a tank, I decided and said I COULD type. How hard could that be? To this day, I am still primarily a two-finger typer, but that got me out of the mud and indoors and started a lifetime career in data processing and computers.
When I got out of the army, I was hired by Ross Perot to work at the new Electronic Data Systems. Now, more than 37 years later, I am still working for a Ross Perot company but now at Perot Systems Corporation. I was the first employee (after the founders) at the company’s inception in 1988 when Ross left EDS, unhappy with the management of the company by General Motors.
Of our current 25,000-plus employees, only one person, the founder who recruited me to join Perot Systems, has a lower employee number than me. Currently, I work with Perot Systems Government Services as the account manager for our relationship with the U.S. Mint in Washington, DC.
I have been an attorney for Perot Systems Corporation since 1993. Primarily, I provide legal support to our large Information Technology outsourcing transactions. Our primary business is to take over and run the IT departments of large organizations. Most recently, I provided the legal support for a 10-year, $200 million deal with Jewish Hospital and St. Mary’s HealthCare, Inc. of Louisville, Ky. My work is all over the U.S., and when not in negotiations I can do my work from anywhere. So once John retires, I will likely continue to work and still be able to travel with him in our motorhome.
John and I met at Perot Systems in 1993. We worked on deals together. I always liked him and respected his business savvy, but I didn’t know anything about him personally. We often had lunch together while working. Then, one day he asked me to dinner. I told my secretary at the time that there was something different about this invitation. John denies it to this day — he says he just wanted company and a good steak. But, we did get married a couple of years after that. So, I guess there’s the proof.
The best thing about motorhoming:
We get to take our “home” with us — no checking into and out of hotels, no hassling with airports. We’re “home.”
We have three daughters, three sons, two sons-in-law, one daughter-in-law, and five grandchildren.
We travel in the motorhome approximately:
Four weeks per year. When we’re not motorhoming, we’re working or enjoying our lake house at Lake Anna.
Our favorite motorhoming destinations:
Orlando (Fort Wilderness) and Pigeon Forge, Tenn. We are really looking forward to our upcoming trip to Branson.
Our all-time favorite motorhome trip:
We just got back from four days at Fort Wilderness at Disney World with three of our grandchildren. It was heaven. We actually also rented a cabin. This was followed by four days at Skidaway Island State Park, near Savannah, Ga. This had to be our favorite trip ever.
Some of our other favorite trips:
We took back-to-back trips to Pigeon Forge last year. Our first trip was with the Coach House Owners Club and two weeks later we returned with some friends who also own a motorhome because they had always wanted to go. We loved the country and gospel shows. We love the patriotism of places like Pigeon Forge.
Another favorite trip was to the FMCA Convention in Perry, Ga., in March 2007. We organized a caravan from our chapter and we all set up together. This was a whole-new world to us and we had a blast. I’m sure that after awhile, the fun wears off, but we’re still in that new, loving-it-all stage. And, the people in our chapter are wonderful. We’re also born shoppers. We find something to buy for our motorhome at every convention.
Our “dream” motorhome trip:
Our dream trip is to go across country from Virginia to California, stopping anywhere and everywhere we want to stop. We want to see it all.
Our perfect day of motorhome travel:
Cheap gas, no road construction and blue skies. We like to start out early. We can’t wait for the days when we don’t have to be back for anything (like work) and can be leisurely in our travels.
Our worst motorhoming experience:
Last fall, we were traveling from northern Virginia to Chincoteague Island. That route took us across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel. We pulled up to the toll plaza and were told the winds were too high to cross the bridge in a high-elevation vehicle. So, we pulled into the parking lot of the bridge authority and waited it out with our Dinty Moore MREs and the bridge workers for about eight hours, rockin’ and a rollin’ with the high winds and rain.
The best additions we’ve made to our motorhome:
John added a central vac and a satellite dish. He did the work himself. John also added a torsion bar and trac bar to help with sway when pulling the car. He also added the GPS/satellite radio. He’s willing to do just about anything he thinks will be an improvement. He gets a little nervous cutting into our motorhome’s fiberglass shell, though, which is one-piece.
A unique feature of our motorhome:
Our license plate is “4RE RV.” Get it? Our towed vehicle is “4RE TOAD.”
If we could change one thing about our motorhome, it would be:
The size of the bathroom. With only 27 feet, they have to take space somewhere. But the shower is a great size.
Something about motorhoming that we know now but did not know when we started:
That a comfortable bed is everything. In our first coach we had a sofa in the slide that converted to a queen-size bed, but it wasn’t really full size and there was that seam down the middle That was a major part of the reason we got rid of it. We have an honest-to-goodness queen-size bed now, and we love that. This probably sounds silly to those with the 40-foot coaches, but I know there is a trend toward down-sizing. Our motorhome is a great option in that regard.
When driving the motorhome, the most important thing to remember is:
There’s an awful lot of coach behind you, and even more when you’re towing.
What we like best about FMCA:
We love the conventions, particularly the technical classes. But, the best part of all is that we have met many wonderful new and lifelong friends through our chapter and the conventions. I (Vicky) have learned that it’s important to have friends of all ages and from many different backgrounds. Our FMCA friends tend to be older than we are — that is a blessing to us. I love learning from the life experiences and perspectives of people of all ages. I have two “best” friends from our chapter who are both at least 20 years older than I am. John has also befriended both of their husbands, who are remarkable men and are both WWII veterans. We e-mail constantly (one lives in South Carolina and one in Texas). They have been to our lake house for a mini-rally and we see them whenever we can. My life is much richer because of them and I have FMCA to thank for that.
John is always building, or doing something with computers, electronics, mechanical things, etc. He is self-taught in everything. He loves “doing projects,” whether on his motorhome, boats or at home. I wish he liked wallpapering and painting a bit more so I could get some of those projects slated for 2010 moved up. John is happiest when on his boat at Lake Anna (a 25-foot C-Dory) or in his motorhome. Civil War battlefields are among his favorite destinations. We live among several of them.
I (Vicky) am a golfer (but there’s never any time) and enjoy water sports, particularly waterskiing.
Together, we love to wander and explore and see new sights. We love our motorhome. We love boating. We love to get up just after dawn, get into the boat with a thermos of coffee and wander around Lake Anna, stopping for breakfast biscuits at one of the stores on the lake.
Our favorite saying:
John — “I don’t make the rules, I just live by them.”
Our favorite holiday:
Vicky: Christmas. It’s such a wonderful family time. It’s gotten really out of control for me, though, with such a big family. This year, everyone gets cruise credits because we’re taking the entire family, including our mothers, on a Caribbean cruise in February. There will be 19 of us. I also love the decorating. We have three trees — one with all the family treasures, including all the ornaments the kids made at school. Another tree is patriotic and the third one is a real country tree, with lots of wood ornaments and fish, bird and bear ornaments. The third one is at our lake house.
The celebrity we admire most:
Ross Perot for both of us. His ideals and values are so pure. He always is motivated by doing the right thing for country, family, his employees and friends. He has always said, “Feed the troops before the officers.” To many in the military, he is a hero. Our Plano office contains a massive collection of gifts, awards and tributes from his lifetime.
We love anything local to where we are at the time, particularly for breakfast. But, if anyone ventures to Leesburg, Va., and wants a taste of France in America, try the Eiffel Tower. It is as genuine as if it were in the heart of Paris. At our recent Coach House Owners Club rally, we all went to Lady & Sons in Savannah, Ga. What a treat! For all the Paula Dean fans, this is a must!
If we were awarded a free shopping spree at any store:
John would pick Home Depot (he’s also a big Tony Stewart fan). Projects, projects, projects. I guess I would also choose Home Depot or Lowe’s, provided I could assure myself that my captive handyman would cooperate. If not, give me a good RV and boat store.
Fort Wilderness, Disney World. If Disney ran the world, we’d all be better off.
When motorhomers visit our state or hometown, they should be sure to see:
Natural Bridge, Chincoteague, the Civil War battlefields, Mount Vernon, the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, and other Washington, DC.-area attractions. The list is endless.
Items that we always keep in our motorhome’s refrigerator while traveling:
RC Cola and Diet Pepsi.
Advice for other motorhomers:
We are newbies, soaking it all in like sponges. We wouldn’t presume to know enough after only two years on the road to offer advice. But, remember surgical gloves for dumping. That is one smell that never goes away.
Behind our motorhome, we tow:
A 2005 Honda Element four wheels down using a Roadmaster tow bar and an Easy Brake.
Pets who travel with us:
Pudden and Muffin, 7-year-old Yorkshire terriers (5 pounds each) who aren’t related but most people can’t tell them apart. We are adopting another terrier pup this month. John has named him Smoky after a famous Yorky who was found by U.S. troops in the jungles of New Guinea in 1944.
When we’re online, we’re checking out these Web sites:
CHOC-talk (our chapter’s web site that John developed and is webmaster for), FMCA (of course), Camping World, Bank of America, AOL, Overton's. We are both internet shoppers since we have little time for in-store shopping.
Something others would be surprised to know about us is:
Those who know us professionally, and not through FMCA or motorhoming, would be surprised to see us in our motorhome traveling the highways of America. They wouldn’t believe that John and Vicky Ferrari would love being “road warriors.”
Other FMCA members may contact us via e-mail: