From: THE SUNDAY SUN, TRAVEL LIFE Section Sunday, Sept 17, 2006 By Joan T Hollier
Home's where the rubber meets the road
Couple transitions from weekend RVing to full-time
We experience our monthly weekend campouts with the Georgetown Rigs-A-Mortis RV Club as special treats, but for Elgin residents Dale and Paulette Olson, being in their RV is an everyday experience. For them, home is where the rubber meets the road, and on any given day the wheels may be turning.
After several years as weekend campers, the Olson's decided to go "full-timing."¯ First they traded in their "Class C,"¯ an RV built on a truck chassis, for a "Class A"¯ Newmar Mountain Aire, the ultimate in motor home elegance. They carved two acres off their property and built a 40'x75' RV garage for the motor home with storage for a few "must-keep"¯ possessions.
Natives of Minnesota, the Olson's moved to Central Texas in the early 1980s. In 1992, Mr. Olson officially retired from IBM, but went to work for Dell for another eight years. By 2000, there was no going back; the couple's daughters were firmly rooted in Texas and their grandchildren, native-born Texans. Summer RV trips to Minnesota open up vistas to explore, but Texas will always be home, they said.
As the next step toward full timing, they moved into the motor home to test the lifestyle. They spent monthly weekends with Rigs-A-Mortis and joined Texas Boomers for additional gatherings, plus impromptu trips on their own. Between outings, they lived in the motor home on the property in Elgin. After several months, they found that full timing suited them both, so the Olson's sold their home and the remaining 14 acres.
Reaching the point of no return, they opted for a 2006 road trip to a rally in Sevierville, Tennessee. They joined via IRV2.com, an Internet Web page where RV owners from all over the United States find others with like interests. For the summer rally they joined friends from previous Texas Boomers events. The Olson's had never visited the Smoky Mountains National Park or the resort area of Tennessee near Gatlinburg, gateway to the park. The rally would be an interesting side trip, sort of the long way around to check in with family Minnesota.
The Olson's summer a venture began July 14 when they moved their 37-foot motor home out of the garage and headed for Interstate 35. For the first social event, they joined two other rigs at the Little Czech Bakery in West for breakfast. From there, the rigs caravanned to Little Rock, Arkansas, where they joined five more rigs from Texas and continued the journey to Sevierville.
Rigs from all over the United States had registered for the rally on the IRV2.com Web page. Each paid a flat fee to cover stops along the way and seven days at the destina¬tion. The package included catered meals, plus the hallmark of RV camping, one large potluck with every rig furnishing a dish. Additional offerings included a breakfast, an ice cream social and a raffle.
"Boomers are an eating club with an RV disorder,"¯ said Ms. Olson.
Wherever RVs gather, rig upgrades dominate the conversation, so vendors offer sem¬inars with the latest information. Mr. Olson attended the rally expecting to offer some services. Using portable scales for weighing his own rig, he offered other rig owners the opportunity to determine corner weights to adjust tire pressures.
"It is important to know how much weight each wheel carries in order to prop¬erly inflate tires for each axle,"¯ Mr. Olson said. "Improper air pressure can cause blowouts, and properly distributing weight also reduces tire wear and gives a better ride."¯
He also helped other RV owners upgrade spark plug wires; install heavy-duty wires and re-gap spark plugs. Our RV club knows Dale Olson as our "computer guru."¯ A man of many talents, he travels with his laptop and a supply of CDs with updating patches for all Microsoft operating systems.
Planned activities at the rally left plenty of time for touring in the "toad,"¯ the little car "towed"¯ by the motor home. The Olson's cruised the mountain roads in the park, confirming that the scenery from the Blue Ridge Parkway is indeed blue and that the Smoky Mountains hide behind a haze that looks like smoke but isn't.
Our Rigs group knows Paulette Olson as the "dessert queen,"¯ a recipe collector who furnishes fan¬tastic desserts for our potluck din¬ners. Besides networking to swap recipes, she also keeps an eye out for arts and crafts that she and her daughters can duplicate. She found Cades Cove a treasure trove.
"No place better to look for ideas than in the tourist shops along the route to the Smoky Mountains,"¯ she said.
Public transportation now makes travel through the resort area easi¬er, more comfortable and less expensive. The City of Gatlinburg runs trolleys that link tourist accommodations with Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and major tourist attractions like Dollywood, as well as locations in the national park.
Teh couple averaged 7 miles per gallon.
From Tennessee, the Olson's went to Rochester, Minnesota, for the cooler climate and family visiting, before returning to Texas on August 13. In all, they traveled 3,300 miles, averaging seven miles to the gallon with prices between $2.59 and $319.
I talked to them soon after they returned from the big summer adventure, and just before they left for a Labor Day Texas Boomers rally in Burleson. We visited again in La Grange on the September Rigs cam-pout. Their next outing will be the Texas Renaissance Festival at Plantersville. They will be staying at Heavens, Landing RV Park in Conroe. In January they leave for Quartzsite, Arizona, and they have their names on a list at IRV2.com for a 2007 rally in Branson, Missouri. They consider themselves "semi-full-timers,"¯ but it looks like full timing to me.
Paulette and Dale Olson with their motor home, their home at home as well as away from home.
To join the monthly campout as a guest of Rigs-A -Mortis, a Georgetown Good Sam Club, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
To join an area Good Sam club, call 915-38&0433 or e-mail mick@thegateway. net