It's about time.

Many of you can relate to Working long hours at your career. Raising your families. Buying a home and paying all the bills related to being homeowners and parents. We're now retired and don't need all that work and expense. Now "It's about time" and what we do to follow our dreams.

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We were both married before and lost our spouses to cancer. We met at a Bereavement Self-Help group in 1998. We both have married children and grandchildren. This dream was made possible because we met, fell in love and became husband and wife.  We are definitely soul mates. We are not opposites, (they say opposites attract) we both love most of the same kind of things in life and we both find that pretty wonderful.
 We both love travelling, and exploring the small towns and secondary highways, but our late spouses didn’t. They tolerated short trips of 3 or 4 hours or camping trips where you could stay put for a few weeks. It was always from point A to point B, whether the distance was short or long, when they travelled.
 After we married we both decided to travel as much as we could, when we had vacation time or even for a long weekend. We were both still working fulltime, back then.  We love the travelling lifestyle and intend to pursue it more now that we are both retired. 
I retired due to health issues in December 2003 and had already worked full time for 30 yrs as an office manager & bookkeeper for several businesses owned by a family.  Rick retired March 2009 after 36 yrs of full time work as a welder by trade for Ford Motor Company.
Early in our relationship while we were still working we pursued real camping in a tent sleeping on the ground just like we had both done in our younger years with our spouses and young children.  After a time we decided that it was not for us anymore, we were older now and our tolerance of cooler nights and the hard ground was wearing thin.  Setting up and breaking camp was way too much work, that got in the way of our enjoyment.
We progressed to a pop up camper with a toilet inside.   That was a real comfort not to have to get up in the middle of the night to head for the bathroom or the nearest bush. The pop up was comfortable but also a lot of work to set up and break camp.   There was also a lot of hauling and storing involved just as there was with tent camping.
We bought a travel trailer which I never thought I would like, because I have this fear of tight spaces, but I fell in love with it.  It was an open concept style and felt really spacious. We didn’t have to sleep on the ground like in a tent and it had a full bathroom not just a toilet like in the pop-up trailer. This was easier setting up and breaking camp and we both liked that idea.  Well now I was really  enjoying this life style with all the comforts of having a small home with us everywhere we went, especially in bad weather.  Not as much hauling and storage, as everything that wouldn’t freeze stayed in the trailer. No more suitcases and duffle bags.
That led to us looking at more RV’s and we fell in love with a 2006 Keystone Cougar 5th wheel -290RK and pulled it with our 2006 Ford F250.  It felt like a cottage for two, and was cozier and had more of the comforts of home.
We took a lot of wonderful trips and one that especially made a terrific difference in our lives.  In 2008 we took a trip around the southwestern USA.  We travelled 7,000 miles, took 6 full weeks, it was a fantastic trip and all went well.  It opened our eyes to the beauty of the world around us and all the wonderful things we were missing by sitting in one spot.
We decided at that point when Rick retired we would definitely pursue our dream of travel.  We needed to downsize our home to an apartment to free up our time and money for our travels. We decided at that time we should start getting ready to sell our home so we could upgrade our trailer and really be part-time RV travelers.  We say part-time because in Ontario you must stay in the province for 6 months of a year in order to keep your health insurance.   That only allows us 6 months (or 181 days) of travel time outside of our province.
When Rick retired we bought our 2009 Ford F350 Dually with the thoughts of upgrading our 2006 Cougar in the near future.
We had garage sales to downsize, sold a lot of things on line, through newspaper ads, by word of mouth and, gave our kids some of our stuff as well. We continued with the downsizing process and it hasn’t stopped. You truly wonder how we collected so much stuff in our lifetime together.
2011 was a very busy year!
 Our home went on the market on the 7th of May, 2011 and sold on June 7th, 2011 exactly one month.  We had two more garage sales before we moved out.  Whatever didn’t sell was packed up and given to charity. Downsizing and such extreme changes in our lives was a very stressful process and filled with a roller coaster of feelings and a lot of anxiety, much like full timers experience, but we were intent on moving forward. 
 We looked for a two bedroom apartment and finally found one that we thought would suit our needs.  The day we moved into our new apartment on the 15th of July was very overwhelming.  All of our belongings were put in piled high and waiting for our unpacking and placing. We thank our kids for their help with our move as we wouldn’t have been able to do it without them.
We had a month long trip to Florida coming up and were leaving on July 25th, which would coincide with our homes closure, but we had made arrangements with our lawyer to get it done on the 22nd of July and turn in the keys.  There was so much pressure, to get somewhat settled and everything done, before we left. We were both very determined to proceed with this trip.
Our house closed while we were away on the 16th of August, and we returned on the 19th of August. On the 24th of August we picked up our brand new 2011 Keystone Avalanche 5th wheel.  We traded our 2006, 5th wheel in and it sold the day after we picked up our new one.
It was a very long tiring day as we transferred everything from one 5th wheel to the other. The dealer provided us with 2 young ladies to assist with the moving, and bottled water, hotdogs for lunch and coffee the next morning.  We spent the night in the dealer’s lot, connected to hydro and water as well. It had been a very hot day, but we were able to run the air conditioner as we straightened out the things that had been transferred, and showered after.
When we got home we took the Avalanche to our son’s home and started making adjustments to it before we left for some RV Rallies.  We increased the storage area inside by creating space beneath the bed and adding additional shelves to the pantry.  It sure made a difference.
The following week we went to Hershey Pennsylvania to the RV Dreams Rally put on by Howard and Linda Payne, with our RV friends Gerry and Sandy Bronstein, who are great travel buddies and we hope to be in their company again soon.
While in Pennsylvania we explored the area and took a quick trip to Washington DC.  We toured the capitol building and saw a glimpse of the White House and other historical places.  Because of the hectic time we had prior to this trip we did not allow ourselves enough time to see all the things we should have and have vowed to return to Washington DC another time and spend at least 5 days there.
We continued on to Celina Ohio to attend the Gypsy Rally.  We finally met Nick and Terry Russell.  They are a very nice couple.  Rick wanted to start this blog and didn’t know how to go about it so he got to meet Jim and Chris Guld when he took their classes.  They are such good people and very helpful.
We returned home, after being away for 3 weeks.  We were only home a short while when we left to have dinner and a nice visit with RV friends Al and Kelly Bossence in Bayfield.  Hope to see them again soon.
We then visited friends and relatives in London and the Welland area before coming home. We took a few days doing more changes to the Avalanche that we didn’t get finished before we left for the rallies.  After that we had it in for some warranty work and for winterizing. Winterizing is always a sad thing as it means that our “AVA” (our nick name for our 5th wheel Keystone Avalanche) won’t be going anywhere soon.
All things were happening just a little too fast in 2011. We have decided to get the rest of our lives unpacked, and in order before we head out again. We are hoping that 2012 will be a lot more relaxing, stress free and fun.
So for now, we are getting our lives in order, so that we can travel soon.
We will keep you posted as to what will come next.
It’s about time!