Early on Sunday, September 15, 1,070 rigs descended on the Elkhart fairgrounds in Goshen, Indiana. All were parked easily in various parts of the grounds. This was no small feat considering the many sizes and types of RVs. Some campers wanted to boondock---others wanted to be able to use generators while still others had reserved sites with electricity.
The scheduled activities began at one p.m., and continued throughout the five day rally. Each day began with coffee and donuts. Seminars on all types of subjects were presented during each day with such titles as Self Containment, Solar Power, Alaska, Annuities, Good Mental Health, Generator Maintenance, Satellite Systems, Hanging up the Keys, Stuff Your Stuff, Customizing your RV and much more. Sometimes as many as seven different programs were going on at once and it was hard to pick which to attend.
Besides the seminars, each day was filled with opportunities to do crafts or learn line dancing and at 4 p.m., Birds of a Feather (BOF) groups gathered for socialization. BOF groups are just what the name implies—groups of people with a common interest. There are BOF groups consisting of singles, ham radio operators, birders, genealogy buffs, computer buffs, quilters, cancer survivors, and many, many others.
Since this was our first Escapade we didn’t think to officially create a Movin’ On BOF group, but we got together anyway. We put a notice on the bulletin board and all who knew about the happy hour came and got to meet each other. Everyone seemed to enjoy meeting others in our family. We had each of them introduce themselves and share their plans for the future. A few were just beginning their full-timing lifestyle and that was exciting. Sadly some (about six couples) did not know about the meeting until it was over. Next time we will make an official BOF group and meet several times like other BOFs do.
At 7 o’clock each evening most of the 2, 235 attendees gathered for door prize drawings which lasted about 45 minutes. They gave away a lot of nice things, but we weren’t lucky enough to win anything. After the drawings one could choose to play bingo, square dance, play games (cards, dominoes and such) or stay in the auditorium for special entertainment. One evening we were entertained by a couple who played harmonicas. They were good. Another evening the talent was a couple who sang country songs. Sadly the sound system was really bad for their performance and many did not stay. We missed the magic show one evening, because we were having a wonderful visit with a charming couple we just met; we simply lost track of time. The final evening was billed as prom night with a big band to dance to. But the best treat of all was the Wednesday evening talent show. The professional talent hired to entertain us was good, but no match for those who sang, danced, played instruments, and told jokes in Ham-O-Rama. Several suggested that instead of hiring entertainers members could do it all next time.
We have been to several other big rallies and can attest to the fact that SKPs are the friendliest bunch of people anywhere. We expected that; we didn’t expect this rally which depends so much on volunteers to be so professional. There are a lot of talented people in the Escapee organization (SKPs).
Kay Peterson, who along with her husband Joe, founded SKPs presented two talks and listening to her was one of the highlights of my Escapade. Living in a Sardine Can was humorous and informative. She related the charming story of how she got Joe to go on the road long before it was fashionable. She also gave some ideas on how to determine what to take and where to put it. Her comment on RV closets was something like---the large one is for the woman because everyone knows she has more clothes.
Don’t forget the Tartar Sauce dealt with attitude. She started by asking all of us if we would take the tartar sauce with us when we went fishing. If you expected to catch fish you would. As she related her experience of being hospitalized with TB at the young age of 19, you could hear a pin drop. Through her story she introduced us to the people she met in the TB sanitarium and of the one who helped her the most. From this experience she learned not to judge people and what goal setting and determination are about. She wrote this same story (not long ago) in her column in the Escapee magazine. I was spellbound when I read it too.
Kay went on to tell of another important experience in her life. It was about her grandmother who had a locked cedar chest full of her treasures. Kay always wanted to see what was in that chest but it was off limits. Upon the grandmother’s death, Kay opened the chest to find brand new linens still in the original wrappings even though her grandmother had been sleeping on old potato sack sheets. And in the bottom of the chest was a brand new waffle iron still in the original box. Kay sat and cried when she saw that because she had remembered how her parents had scrimped and saved to buy that very special gift for the grandmother. Those treasures were never used and the chest didn’t get to go with her when she died. Were they really treasures? How important are things? Kay said that these two experiences helped direct her life.
If you ever get a chance to go to an Escapade, we think you would really enjoy yourself. If nothing else, you will meet a bunch of wonderful people who are enjoying life to the fullest.
The historical part of town is along the river; the newer part of town (complete with Wal-Mart and other such stores) is on the high ground (route 62).
Clifty Falls state park is a park of 1,360 acres. It runs north and south between route 62 and route 56. From the lip of Clifty Falls, Clifty creek falls 70 feet then in nearly three miles of canyon, the creek descends another 250 feet to the Ohio River. This beautifully wooded park has miles of hiking trails (some pretty rugged), an Inn, swimming pool, many picnic shelters and a lovely campground. We enjoy riding our bikes around the perimeter of the park. Most of the ride (nearly 10 miles on our odometer but that includes doing some parts of the road twice) is on a roller coaster road which is surrounded by woods. As we ride (especially at this time of year) I can’t get enough of the wonderful fragrance of the woods. The leaves are just turning brilliant shades of orange, yellow, gold and red and as they fall gently they seem to make a carpet for our wheels. We can hear the waterfalls as we get close and often have to stop for deer that cross our paths.
I’m sorry that I don’t have pictures for you; the film
is still in the camera on a half used roll. You will definitely need to
see and experience this area for yourself. They have fun festivals on many
weekends. It can easily be on your way south or north and is close to both
Louisville and Cincinnati.
There is so much going on at the festival that the printed guide is handy. There are about 12 stages where performers do their thing. Sir Ryosus, is a comic magician dressed like a court jester. He puts on a good show as does Thom Sellectomy the sword swallower. There are mud wrestlers and jugglers and Johnathon the jester’s joke-on-a-rope-show combines juggling, jokes and tight rope walking. Everyone is expected to participate by oohing and aahing (loudly) or gasping when something horrible happens. Sometimes the performers are serious like the Scottish Country Dancers or the Namenlos—recorder players. We had heard that Ann Slowins, one of our readers from Lake Odessa, Michigan, played in that group so made a special effort to listen to one of their performances. Listening to the old style music added to the festivity.
One of the more popular events is jousting. Expert horsemen and women, dressed in chainmail etc., put on a good show. Fencing, fortune telling, a maze, face painting and much more can add to the day’s activities. We were there when it opened, didn’t leave until closing and still missed a lot. We have been several different years and noticed that it has grown—both in area and crowds. If you are ever in this part of Michigan in the fall, please make an effort to go. Every weekend they have a different theme, but you are always guaranteed a fantastic time—revelry and merriment abound.
There really is only one campground to report on this month unless you want to include the Elkhart County Fairgrounds, a service center on the Ohio Turnpike and an expensive night in New Jersey.
Clifty Falls State Park, State Route 62, Madison, Indiana.
Clifty Falls places high on our top ten list of state parks and was a favorite
long before we started full-timing. This beautiful park has great hiking
trails and is good for biking. The wooded roads follow a long gorge that
has numerous waterfalls---the largest being Clifty Falls. The park is perched
on a bluff overlooking historic Madison nestled along the Ohio River. Across
the river is Kentucky. There are 106 wide level grassy sites with electric
and enough trees to provide shade. The daily rate of $11 is reduced for
seniors (62 or older) 25% during the week. On week-ends and during the
summer there may be a small one time entrance fee.
While working I was used to being misquoted on telephone interviews, but after submitting a written piece to Money Magazine writer, Tony Cook, I was surprised at the result. He asked me to list five items one should do in preparation for full-timing. Half of what I had written was left out including comments about the advantages of certain memberships. If you still have the article, you might be interested in comparing what I submitted (see page 9) and what they wrote. They did not actually quote me but attribute such statements as "a cellular or car phone is a must" as our recommendation.
Regarding the computer, they say we suggest that "a PC
can let you tap into online services to see how your stocks are doing;
you can even invest online." That again could require a cellular phone
to hook up a modem. Most of us modest investors are content to buy a Wall
Street Journal once a week for 75 cents. Such is life in the fast lane.
(Remember that this report was written many years ago and the restaurants may or may not be in business or as they were.)
Broadway Hotel & Tavern, 313 Broadway. This historic hotel serves good hamburgs and steak fries along with a full menu and specials. Although my favorite, lasagna, was offered as a special, we all opted for the hamburgs which were big and tasty. They have a picturesque courtyard complete with wrought iron chairs and umbrella tables or you may eat in the dining room.
Madison Wine and Cheese, 104 E Main St. This place looked romantic. The lights were dim and each table was adorned with linen table cloth and napkins. Candle lights added a soft touch, but when we sat down on folding wooden chairs, we wondered what we were getting into. This looked like a cheese shop with dining added as an afterthought. We were slow getting waited on because there was only one waitress for the six or seven tables. But once the food started arriving, our worries were over. Ron ordered blackened salmon which he said was magnificent. Barb ordered chicken cordon blu expecting the prepackaged (frozen) variety. The surprise was that it was freshly prepared, huge and very tasty. We would definitely go back, but hope that next time they will have replaced the folding chairs.
Cinnamon Tea Room, 302 West St. This adorable place
is furnished in antiques; we were fascinated that nothing matched—not one
chair, table, tablecloth, napkin, cup or anything. But the food was excellent.
We went for lunch and chose soup and salad. Ron’s French onion soup was
very good and Barb raved about the southwest vegetable soup she ordered.
Sandwiches came with a nice dressing and potato salad. Dessert was a scrumptious
bread pudding. YUMMY!
Take a break. Get a cup of coffee and let's
Don and Dee Mc Caleb, full-timers since 1993 responded to the Tonagel’s questions on membership campgrounds (Sept-96). "In response to the controversy on membership campgrounds we are multi campground members and several reciprocals, also SKPs, Good Sams and our Travel Supreme Club to name a few and already, in only three years feel that we have regained 100% of initial investments. We are on the move every two or three weeks and still have a lot of this great country to see, so we use a lot of our campgrounds plus state and national parks. I suppose the old adage of use it or lose it would be proper."
Chelle and Jerry Gilstrap, full-timers from Texas (I think) sent out an SOS. "Help! Discover stops it’s message service October one. Anyone know of a similar low cost message service? I can use FMCA, but I can’t leave a notice to each incoming caller as to my travel plans. Cell phones are too expensive and I don’t know much about your voice mail system. I love full-timing. We conquered mail; we shall survive phones, too. I think."
Barb responds. We agree that FMCA’s message service does not really meet our needs and lately one can spend many frustrating minutes trying to get into it. There are so many numbers to enter and one does not get to hear a greeting. It is like leaving a message in outer space.
Ours (Voice Tel of Colorado) is not inexpensive, ($16.00 per month), but we love it primarily because we have our own individual phone number. It is a regular seven digit number without extensions. I can change the greeting anytime and we can check for messages as often as we like. If we are expecting a message and want to check it every ten minutes we can, and because it has a toll saver feature, we are only charged for calls when we actually have a message. Many full-timers and future full-timers think that they must have an 800 number for messages. Why? If you moved from a house (on a foundation) in one city to a house in another city, would you get an 800 number so your friends and family could call you? We said, "Pretend we moved and call us anytime; leave a message and we will call back." Since we will be billed for calling them back, we think that the least they can do is call and leave a message at their cost (usually no more than a one minute call).
There are other message services out there in different price ranges. Escapees has a message service without an 800 number but every time you want to check for messages, you must pay for a completed phone call because you do get connected before you enter your extension number. Good Sam has an 800 number and charges per minute for messages when left and again when retrieved. If interested in Voice Tel Of Colorado, call them at ***-***-****. Does anyone else have a good message service that they would like to share?
John & Virginia Smith of Idaho Falls, Idaho, need some help with a technical question about their Bounder. "We have a 90½ Bounder, 32', Class A on a Ford chassis. This vehicle tends to rock back and forth a lot while driving. Do you know any solutions to this problem? What about air bags, shocks, springs etc?
Since we have so many Bounder owners in our midst we
are counting on someone to help the Smiths.
What a Switch!
...I retired on June 7th and moved with the motorhome to Acadia National Park. I’m working as a volunteer and having a wonderful time doing many things---in fact, I burst into pleasant laughter when I was on my knees in jeans and tee shirt painting site numbers on the pavement just two weeks after leaving the formal business attire of a bank manager.
Jeannine is not yet able to retire so we get together on weekends. Hopefully she will be out soon and then we can do this together. In fact, the house will go on the market next spring. Then we are looking for thoughts on national parks to use for our winter volunteering; we want out of the cold and snow. Someday we will meet up with you.
Jim and Jeannine Paterson
Today is our one year anniversary on the road! I guess that makes us official full-timers. The year has gone quickly and without many hiccups...a lot of the credit for things going so well we give to you and your book.... Thanks for your help!! ...Dee is now driving more often as a result of your recent encouragement in Movin’ On and she is doing great! Even in tight construction areas.
Joe and Dee Jones
Money Magazine story distorted
We read the article about full-timers in the September issue of Money Magazine. Frankly, we were disappointed. We believe this article for the most part is misleading, distorted and not typical of the every day full-timers lifestyle. In our opinion, it seems that this article was directed to the very wealthy and reckless drivers. Let’s be real. When have we seen a 40-foot motorhome with a good sized tow-car driving down the highways 85 miles per hour? We all know full-timers are not in a hurry and are responsible drivers.
For the past three years, we have traveled with our motorhome (Bounder) extensively in the East Coast’s of U.S. and Canada including Nova Scotia and PEI. We have met dozens of full-timers but yet we still have to meet any full-timers as described in this article.
If we were just contemplating to start the full-timer lifestyle this article would have turned us off. We are very pleased with your book and your newsletters and proud to show them off to our relatives and friends, but we are reluctant to do so with this article. We believe, this article would make them think that the only way one can become a full-timer is by being extremely wealthy not to mention the embarrassment of the RVers driving in high speeds. On the other hand, we know that Money Magazine is specialized in financial matters and guess they were trying to convey the message that the wealthy can take up this lifestyle also.
Nick and Marge Koutroulis
Editor’s comment: Ditto! See our comments about this subject on page 2 and 7.
Getting back on their feet
...We are both working at Alpine Ski Center [N Carolina] to get back on our feet. Our intent in full-timing was never to stay in one place for a length of time, but then, full-timing is whatever you make it. We have our motorhome, our strength, and our optimistic outlook. We can do whatever we want to do!
Our newsletter will be on the road again, even though we won’t be, at least until next March. By then, we’ll have a stash built up, have plans for the future, and a semi-itinerary.
I think the hardest part of full-timing is the thought of being without health insurance. We were in that predicament for 15 days, April 1-15. Our COBRA coverage expired 2 days after I got my clean bill of health for my abdominal surgery, and our new policy started 7 days before I broke my ankle. The real downside, is that I had to take a full-time job to get reasonable, reliable health insurance. At least for the near future we are protected....
Carol and Charles Christensen
Golfing their way south and east
Just a note to let you know how much we have enjoyed your newsletters---so full of good ideas (especially from the coffee break columns)....upon retirement decided going full-time---sold our large home---stuff etc---left a storage room full of maybe’s---shopped and learned for three months before deciding on "Kistes Folly" a ‘94 Pace Arrow—35 Ft---then a hitch for our 87 Toyota Celica and are now about ready to head east and south! Plan to try as many golf courses as possible along the way and maybe some scuba diving in Florida. Scary but exciting---we’re looking forward to our adventure!
Sally and Tom Kiste
Will be volunteering this winter
...We are starting our traveling slow. One reason, in case the house doesn’t sell before we leave, we plan to keep expenses down and be easier to find by volunteering in Florida State Parks this winter. I do have it arranged with the realtor and lawyer so we do not have to come back for the sale.... We will spend Oct., Nov., and Dec., at Koreshan State Historical Site, Estero, Fl. Then go to Suwannee River State Park and Little Talbet State Park. We may regret three in a row but it gives us a chance to look Florida over well and be assured of a place to stay while we are there. I found a lot of the parks have regular volunteers who come back year after year and other popular ones booked even two years in advance....
Betty and Bernie Piper
We had several really good prospects, but either they were not willing to detail their finances (who could blame them) or they weren’t on the road yet or there was no investment income. So Tony kept looking. We suggested that he contact the Escapee organization and that is what he did. We had heard that he found someone, but they had been on the road for 10 years so he wouldn’t need our input on full-timing. But he said that he would like to include a side bar in the story. He wanted Ron to list five things one should do before taking off. He did and you can read (on page 2) what Ron thinks about the changes to his submittal.
When I was doing the last newsletter, we tried to find a copy of the magazine so I could comment on it before going to press; the small towns we were in didn’t carry that magazine. We took the newsletter to the printer in Traverse City then went to the mall and got the magazine. When we looked at that article we were very upset and wanted to rush over to the printer’s in order to stop the press, but that was not possible. We wanted to divorce ourselves from the article because, in our opinion, it detracts from the lifestyle and doesn’t depict the average full-timer. There seemed to be a lot of inconsistencies in the story as reported. It’s hard to imagine the high income levels reported being associated with a boondocking lifestyle using a ¼ cup of water for hand washing and dumping the holding tanks every three weeks. In addition, the full-timers we know are safety conscious and try to conserve natural resources, so we didn’t appreciate the part about traveling at high speeds either. We regretted suggesting in our last newsletter that you go out and buy a copy of the magazine.
About two weeks after the magazine came out, we got a
call from Money Magazine’s TV Production department. They wanted
to know if we happened to be in New York; they wanted to film full-timers
for a spot on Cable One (a New York station) and CNN/fn. They had a definite
deadline and needed to film in just a couple of days for airing towards
the end of September. We had to decide how we could fit in a quick trip
to New York and be back in Indiana for the Escapade. After talking it over,
we decided that we could make the trip; we hoped that allowing them to
tape us would give a different side of full-timing than the article portrayed.
On Tuesday, September 10, we jumped on the Ohio turnpike which led to the Pennsylvania turnpike which led to the New Jersey turnpike. Because we got a late start on Tuesday we did spend the night somewhere in Pennsylvania but we were up early the next day and didn’t stop until we were in Freehold, New Jersey. We had used our campground directory to locate a campground no more than one hour from New York City which was what they asked us to do. Thursday the crew came and filmed us living our normal life in a full-hook-up spot in a nice campground. They even had us go out on the road for a ride while they filmed us inside and out. Friday morning we were back on the turnpikes early and didn’t stop until we were at a turnpike service center in Ohio (almost to the Indiana border). It was not the kind of trip we like to make, but felt that that article had to be counteracted somehow, and we did our part. We know the piece has aired already and only hope that they didn’t mess it up.
The day we picked up the bikes we took a spin around our old riding grounds. There is a wonderful bike path all around Lake Lansing. It was a fun ride especially with such wonderful bikes. Look for those perched upon our Toyota. It has something new too. When the back end got bumped out (that is another story—some other time) we left off the Toyota decal and Ron’s son-in-law had a friend letter in Movin’ On. Watch for us as we travel south to Florida with new bikes and a distinctive tail gate.
The very weekend that the Money Magazine came out, The Detroit News/Free Press ran their story on full-timing and it was great. The photos of us were every bit as good as we thought they might be. The story was primarily about Jim & Marilyn Kimmens, full-timers and readers of Movin’ On and it was well done. The Kimmens belong to our home Coast to Coast park, Smoke Rise. As I was finishing the September newsletter I checked with the newspaper for the date the article would run and printed the date they gave me—September 7. But it came out while the newsletter was being printed—August 24. Oh well!!!
There was another bad mistake in the last newsletter. This one was my fault and caused some poor man a lot of irritation. The number for American Travel Network should be 1-888 ***-****. This is a toll free number. You may remember that recently the phone companies ran out of 800 numbers so are now using 888 for many toll free numbers. Please make a special note of this.
Speaking of different phone numbers, our fulfillment service (where you order our book) has moved and therefore has a new address and phone number. It is correct on page nine of this issue. If you are thinking of sharing some old issue with a friend, please change the address and phone number on the book order form. This does not affect our address.
Another communication note. We now have a page on a Web Site. If you’d like to see our ad type: http://*************************
RVing with Tim and Deanna is a web site I discovered while browsing on my friend’s computer. I asked the Lees if they would include us in their ad and they did. Check it out! They have a pretty good web site.
My son Robert has also made a web page and has it set up so that you can see the entire Detroit News story that I spoke about earlier. He says it comes up nice and even includes the photos. Check it out by typing: (it is no longer available but we have that article on our web site)
Let us know what you think about it. One of these days we will get a new laptop and it will have a modem and we can finally get online. We can send each other e-mail then.
While I am dealing with business details, if you never got your free decal please let us know. We sent them out to all of our readers last April and know some probably fell out of the newsletter. Also if you are a new subscriber and never got one, please let us know.
There is also some confusion about our publication dates. We promise six per year, but I can’t remember when we ever did so few. But we don’t do one every month so if you are going through your old newsletters and see that a certain month is missing, do not assume that you are missing a newsletter. Go by the volume and issue numbers. This is Volume 7—Number 8. We did not publish a newsletter in March or August.
Our bikes are wonderful. It has made me want to do a big bike trip again. I am remembering our bike trips in England and maybe it is time to arrange one again. Or there’s always the trip I have dreamed of—Washington state to Florida. We once talked of biking in Scotland too. We’ll be checking into various adventures and let you know.
We should be in Florida by this time next month and know that many of you are heading in the same direction. We want to invite you to come to our full-timing seminars at the new Lazydays RV Center near Tampa. So far we are scheduled for November 2 at 9:30 a.m., and again on December 7 at the same time. We will also be presenting the same seminar sometime in January but have not set a date yet. The seminars are free.
It was fun to meet so many of our readers at the seminar we presented at the Barnes and Noble store in Okemos, Michigan, on September 5. They had a great turn out and store manager, Lynn Vidlund, wrote, "I can’t think of a time when a presentation has been attended with such enthusiasm!" She added, "I was personally enthralled from start to finish and only wish that I could retire a little early!" Many of those attending the seminar came from quite a distance too. We appreciate their support.
The Escapade was another time for us to meet many of you. What a great time we had at our happy hour and we really enjoyed all of the conversations we had with each of you. Now we can put faces to names.
I know you will like the recipe this month. Dick Vogt and his wife Susan (Movin’ On readers and future full-timers) run what sounds like a charming bed and breakfast (Windyledge) in Hopkinton, New Hampshire. This past February Dick sent us a copy of his delightful cookbook. It is a collection of breakfast recipes and I just know you would love all of them. I am sorry that it took me so long to print one, but we had a real back-log of recipes to print. If you like this one, write to Dick at ****. His phone is ***-***-****. Although the book is marketed for his B & B guests, I’m sure he would be willing to sell to our readers. This recipe is large (not all are) but it can be halved or baked and frozen.
Editors note 2004: I lost track of the Vogts after
they went full-time. If anyone runs across them (not physically) please
ask them to contact me. Last I knew they were biking across the U.S.
These are the recommendations that Ron sent to Tony Cook of Money Magazine.
1. Establish a communication network that will assure family and friends that you are not deserting them and that you want to be a part of their lives. Top priority is establishing a voice mail connection so that you can be reached during emergencies or just to talk. These services are very affordable. Also obtain a long distance calling card. Pay phones may become a way of life since cellular phones are still expensive for everyday use. We advise them for emergency use only.
2. Get established with a good professional mail forwarding service. Receiving mail on the road is easy, but it can be frustrating if handled sloppily. The lifestyle should be viewed as a permanent one; therefore it should not be left to family. Charges are nominal and are worth the independence.
3. Since you will be banking by mail or automatic teller machine, make sure your banking institution has a national ATM network with transfer capabilities between accounts. Direct deposits of income such as pension and social security should be arranged. Telephone transfers, ATM's, credit cards and debit cards make financial life easy for modern day full-timers.
4. Plan to take a computer. Lap tops work fine, but today's large RV's can easily accommodate a personal computer. There is outstanding software available today that will be helpful including route planning (alternates provided) and selected pinpoint mapping. Our favorite is a national phone directory including yellow pages and zip codes. The computer will also be handy for keeping in touch with family and friends. Perhaps a small newsletter will work or you can insert your travelogue paragraphs into different personal letters.
5. Consider a membership campground as a means
of cutting campground costs and improved standard of living. Most have
all the amenities (pools, hot tubs etc) and full hook-ups (water, electricity
and sewer). Shop for your membership. Many secondary memberships can be
obtained for a few hundred dollars. You can recoup the annual maintenance
fee ($200-$300) in less than a month of camping at these networks.
recipe section where all of our newsletter recipes are posted.
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