Monthly Archives: January 2012

Dogs Are Always on Vacation

Darby and Shadow relaxing while Timm & Theresa work on the hot water heater

It doesn’t quite feel like a vacation yet because we’re still doing a lot of work getting settled, fixing leaks and other problems with the RV, setting up our finances for life on the road, messing with insurance, mail, bills, and the other aspects of reality.  Hopefully once we get on top of all this, we’ll be able to relax more and enjoy our trip.  As it is now, we only have a few hours each day to hike, and the rest of the time is spent on these other things.  But don’t let me kid you, it’s awesome not having to work in a real job!  🙂

Sunrise at Grand Isle

Grand Isle State Park is the only inhabited barrier island in Louisiana. It is also the location of the only pier in Louisiana that reaches into the Gulf of Mexico. The pier is 900 feet long, as shown in this picture I took at sunrise.

Grand Isle Pier at Sunrise - Copyright © Theresa Martin

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Louisiana: Land of Big Oil

Having lived in Florida for 10 years, I was quite surprised when I first stepped onto the beach here in Grand Isle, Louisiana.  Whereas the view off the west coast of Florida reveals nothing but the pristine blue Gulf of Mexico, here we counted 34 giant oil rigs in the distance.  The same stark difference is true on land.  In Florida, the coast is lined with mostly homes, condos and hotels, whereas the coast here is packed with oil refineries and storage plants.

Our RV and an oil refinery in the distance

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RV Toad

When you tow a vehicle behind your RV, it’s known as a “toad” (nickname for “towed vehicle”).  Ideally you tow your vehicle with all four wheels down, so you don’t have to mess with a trailer and find a place to park it when camped.  Some vehicles – like a Jeep – don’t require any special modifications to tow it four-down.  But our Toyota RAV4 needs a special lube pump to keep the transmission lubricated while being towed in neutral and without the engine running.  This added another $1,000+ to the cost of the tow package, but it was worth it to not have to purchase another car.

RV & Toad

Theresa snapped the photo above as I drove the RV and toad home for the first time after having the tow package and lube pump installed.

Elvis: The Man and the Music

Whether or not you’re an Elvis fan, you will be after touring Graceland. We walked across the street from our RV campground to visit the King of Rock and Roll. The tour was very well done, with audio headsets to tell the story of Elvis’ life and describe the mansion, the car gallery and his private jet, as well as several museums. Elvis was an gifted singer, performer, innovator and a generous benefactor of many charities.

Elvis bought the Graceland mansion and 14 acres at age 22 for $102,000 in 1957. The most famous room is the Jungle Room, with shag carpet, strange animal carved chairs and fake fur covering even the lamp shades!

The Jungle Room at Graceland

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Do You Question Your Decision?

My mom asked me an interesting question a week before we started our adventure: “Do you question your decision to go on this trip?”  One might think that’s a backhanded criticism, but that’s not how my mom is with me.  She knew that we worked very hard for 9 months preparing for this trip, not to mention the three decades we worked and saved our money so we could afford it.  Plus we made many sacrifices in our life for this little adventure: leaving family and friends, missing two weddings, putting our careers on hold, moving out of a wonderful house and away from our nature preserve, and giving up the peace and tranquility we’ve enjoyed for the past decade.

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The Adventure Begins and So Does the Learning

Our adventure begins! And oh, what a day it was, filled with mishaps but in the end, we arrived safe and sound.

First, the best part. Climbing into bed at the end of the day in our RV with Timmy wrapped around me. His warmth and the flannel sheets and a down comforter were relaxing at the end of a rather difficult first day.  Darby and Shadow too, snuggled together asleep.  But leading up to this point was challenging.

Darby and Shadow - Copyright © Timm Martin

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Traditional Irish Blessing

This wonderful Facebook post was from my friend, Sean O’Shaughnessey, who by the way writes a terrific blog called Confident Investor.  Here is what he wrote:

My good friend Timm Martin is taking a many month vacation to explore the beauty of our national parks.  Sold the house, quit the jobs, and packed the RV for the open road and the hiking trails of America.  I offer this traditional Irish Blessing to him and his wife at the beginning of their journey:

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind always be at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
May the rain fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Slight Delay on Takeoff

It looks like there will be a 1-2 day delay on our departure.  There are a few last-minute details beyond our control that need to be resolved.

Fortunately our schedule is flexible.  We had to cancel our first two RV park reservations, but we should be able to reschedule them since this isn’t the busy season yet.  Luckily, there was just one small change fee.

It will be interesting to see how many times on this trip we set advance reservations, versus making last-minute decisions on where to stay.  We have the freedom of no set schedule, but that’s balanced by vacancy in our desired RV parks.  I expect we will have to make reservations more often as we get into the busy season (aka summer).

Occasionally we’ll want to leave a park sooner or stay longer than originally planned.  We may decide to skip some parks or add new parks to the list.  We also hope to boondock off the grid numerous times in national forests.  Since each RV park has its different change & cancel rules, we’ll have to analyze the situation carefully as it evolves so we don’t get hit with too many fees.  Is there an app for that?

Packing for an RV Trip is Stressful

Packing for an extended RV trip is stressful.  You have to make hundreds of little decisions each day: whether to bring something or whether to pack it away.  As Theresa’s friend jokingly reminded us, “You know, they have a store in every town.”  So sure, if we forget something, we can always buy it on the road.  But you hate to spend money buying something you already own.