Monday, January 14, 2013

Should we? Would you?

I came across this advertisement yesterday:

A major Cable TV network is seeking full-time RV travelers for an upcoming pilot called "Home Sweet Roam." If you live in any type of home-on-wheels and love the open road, producers would like to hear from you. Maybe you have a unique story to tell, or have an RV like no other. They are seeking all personalities and lifestyles. Interested? Send an e-mail, with a little backgorund about yourelf, to:
I think I might contact them and see what happens.  Who knows?  Maybe we'll become the nation's next reality show sensation!  (Look out, Kardashians! LOL!)

Added on 1/16/12:  We got a response back from the cable TV network.  It seems we're not destined to be world-famous RV'ers after all.  What a pity.

Hi Stephen and Karen,

Thanks so much for your interest in our show! We'll be filming this
Feb., so it sounds like you won't be on the road yet :-( However, if
we get picked up for future episodes filming later this year, we'll be
in touch!


Home Sweet Roam Team

Friday, January 4, 2013

So, how is this going to work?

My friend Jean suggested that I make a blog post that answers a lot of common questions that I've been getting from folks.  First of all, let me start off my saying that I DO NOT know all the answers to how this is going to work.  But Steve and I spend a lot of time researching the way full-time RV'ers live, and we've learned a few tricks.

Q:  How will you receive mail?

A:  This is a two-part answer.  First, I have to explain the Escapees RV Club. 

There is an organization based here in Texas that many full-time RV'ers join called Escapees, or SKP's for short.  When you join SKP's, your legal domicile becomes Livingston, Texas.  There is a humongous RV park in Livingston where a lot of full-timers live, and it becomes their permanent residence.  This has actually gone all the way through the Texas Supreme Court, and it is completely legal to live on the road full-time and claim Livingston as your permanent address.

As such, once we join Escapees, we will have a unique mailing address.  Escapees offers a mail service whereby they will collect our mail, sort it, and forward it to any place that we want, at any time that we want.  All it takes is a phone call.

For more information, here is a link to the Escapees RV Club and information about their mail forwarding service.

Q:  What about voting?

A:  Well, that's something I haven't completely figured out yet.  Since we still own the rental property, I would like to be able to vote in that district.  However, my legal address will be Livingston, Texas, for the year we're on the road.  So I'll still be able to vote in federal and statewide elections, but only locally in Livingston and Polk County.  That's a bummer, because if they're going to raise my property taxes on our rental house, we should have some say in the matter! Someone on the SKP discussion forum suggest that we talk with the voter registrar in our present county to see if they'll still allow us on the voter roll.  That's something to consider.  Regardless of where our voting address will be, we will still be voting by absentee ballot.  Since we've been a military family for all these years, this is something we are already familiar with.

Q:  How will you educate your kids on the road?

A:  Again, we already have a foot in the door on this issue since we have always homeschooled our kids.  By law, you have to follow the compulsory attendance laws of the state you are physically IN, but only if you are in that state for more than "X" number of days.  Since we plan to be on the go most of the time, we are fairly certain that this isn't something we'll have to be concerned with.  We plan to follow the homeschooling laws for the state of Texas, just as we always have (with the exception of the two years we lived in North Dakota).

Now, as to whether or not we'll actually have TIME to get the book work done?  That's another issue altogether!  I'm honestly not sure how we'll get it all done while traveling so much.  Luckily, the twins are going to be seniors, and they have already nearly reached all graduation requirements anyhow.  I'm not too worried about them.  My next child will  be in 10th grade, and that's the one that has me concerned.  (More about him later.)  After him, I will have an 8th grader.  Since that isn't yet officially "high school", I'm not too concerned about him, either.  He'll have lots of time to "catch up".  Same thing with my 2nd grader.  My child who will be 10 years old is a special-needs child, so his educational path is completely at his own pace.  His focus is on the three R's only, so as long as he gets those, he'll be okay.  NOW, all that said, it will be my 10th grader that will be my biggest concern.  I'm not sure how we'll make sure he gets what he will need.  I'm going to create coursework based on the trip itself that will (hopefully) satisfy requirements for American history.  I might try to do something like "American Cultures" or something like that.  I dunno.  I haven't thought that completely through yet.  We'll figure it out eventually.  For interest's sake, this type of education is referred to as "roadschooling".  (Yes, there's actually a name for it!)

Q:  What about medical/dental/vision issues?

A:  Since Steve is a military retiree, our family has coverage through Tricare insurance.  This is mobile and can be used nearly anywhere, plus we can be seen at military installations if needed.  (Of course, in the case of a true emergency, we will just go to the closest facility.)  Luckily, none of us has any ongoing medical issues that require constant attention.  One of my middle kids uses a daily inhaler to control asthma, but we receive his medications through the mail-order pharmacy.  We just have to make sure his prescription is renewed right before we leave.  My special needs child has speech and occupational therapy twice each week, and that will have to be discontinued.  I do have home instruction books for speech therapy as well as a few things for occupational therapy, but my hope is that I will be able to work with his current therapists and they will be able to give me resources for the year we're gone.  Again, I don't know exactly how we're going to work this out, but I'm not too worried about it.  And just overall, we're going to have to make sure everyone has a good, thorough physical check-up before we leave, as well as dental and vision exams.

Q:  What are you going to do with the dog?

A:  Ah, Cocoa the Dog.  We so wish we could bring her with us, but six kids and two adults are enough for any RV.  I just can't fathom having a 50-pound labrador/retriever mix along with us.  My niece in Colorado Springs has agreed to foster Cocoa for the year in case I can't find anyone local to do it. And if I can't find anyone local to do it, then I have to figure out how to get the dog out to Colorado Springs.

Q:  What tow vehicle did you find that holds that many people???

A:  We didn't find one that holds eight people!  When we RV'ed with our long travel trailer, we pulled it with a suped-up 15 passenger van.  We actually still own that van, but it won't pull our fifth wheel RV.  As you can see from the first post in this blog, we have the typical pick-up truck tow vehicle which Steve will drive.  I'll have to follow along separately in the van.  Kinda stinks, but that's the reality that is our life.

I'm sure there are a lot of other questions that I haven't thought about.  If you have any others, let me know!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Are We Crazy?

Yes, I think we must be...

The year 2012 proved to be a difficult year for our family with many hard setbacks and emotional trauma.  As a result, my husband and I considered running away.  Well, not really.  But the idea did come to us to sell everything, buy a coach RV, and hit the open road with our six boys for as long as our finances would allow.  So we threw caution to the wind and started putting our plan into motion. 

Crazy, huh?

First, we bought this 2012 Ford F-350 diesel "dually" 4x4 with enough power to pull nearly anything:

Then, we bought this 2011 Open Range H396RGR which has enough dedicated sleeping space for all eight of us:

As you can see from the floorplan, it is a "toy hauler" fifth wheel coach. The "garage" has elevating/lowering queen bunk beds, which is where the four older boys will sleep. There is also a half-bath in the garage.

Above the garage (but in the main cabin) is a queen loft bed, which is where the younger two boys will sleep.

There is a double-refrigerator which will (hopefully) hold enough food for our family for a few days. In addition, there is a side-by-side washer and dryer upstairs in the hallway of the main bedroom where my husband and I will sleep.

I think this might work!

The next thing on our to-do list is to sell this:

We have lived in this house only since 2010, but we bought it for a steal and put in several improvements.  Hopefully we will make some money from the sale, but it's not going to be easy to sell.  This house is the lynch-pin in our plan; as soon as this house sells, we can hit the road. 

We have already been thinning out our excess.  (It's amazing how much JUNK we own!)  What remains will go into storage while we are gone.  We are considering using Cool Box storage (like PODS).

At this point, I'm sure most folks are wondering about finances.  Without going into a lot of detail, I'll just say that my husband is an expert number-cruncher.  He has the budget all laid out.  We will have some income while on the road due to his military retirement and his veteran disability, plus we have been putting money aside for a while for this trip.  We figure we can make this happen for at least a year.  When we come back, we plan to move our renters out of our rental property and reclaim it as our own.

Our oldest boys are going to be graduating in 2014, so our time is limited.  It's now or never!  If all goes well, we will be on the road for the 2013-2014 school year.

See you on the road!