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The start of an adventure-Retirement

Posted 08-01-2014 at 06:17 PM by michealwhela

Last winter we came upon the sudden realization that we were within a couple years of retirement. Now to me that was a shock as I didn't think that I was that old. My best friend and wife reminded me that I had to file for Medicare in a few months. Now that was a shock. But,,,, taking all in stride we began the planning process to ease the pain of changing to a life style that we knew nothing about.

After talking to people that had retired it didn't take long to determine that those that had spent time planning were much more satisfied and enjoying life. Our financial planner had made sure that we were on schedule for over the past five years. But the type of planning that was most important was not the financial (sure that is important) but the psychological. Having the money set aside for your financial future is important but does not provide fulfillment and happiness. One poor sole that I had worked with years back had a singular plan for retirement. He was going fishing, and they did. A lot. Suddenly I noticed his boat for sale about two years after he had retired. I decided he would be a good one to ask about my future plan. His first comment, "don't go fishing"! As it happened he and his wife fished for everything, everywhere. That lasted about three months and soon became another "job" it lost it's luster. This was bad as it was the only thing in his life. Quite honestly he said, "we got bored".

OK that told us a lot. We began having long conversations about what all we wanted to do when the day comes. And yes that included fishing. It also included volunteer work, Archeology work, photography, disaster assistance. As you can see we had a hard time focusing. The one constant we have always planned on when we retired was to travel. Not the travel I did as part of a 35 year career but travel to meet people, see new places and help out when and where we could.

As part of my vocation I traveled, 50 to 80 percent of the time. I could tell you the name of most major airport and many local ones simply by hearing the 3 character airport code or seeing a picture of the inside of a terminal. I was not sure how we were going to travel but I was sure the word airport would not be part of the conversation. Yes I have hundreds of thousands of "frequent flier miles" and even more points for some very nice hotels. Enough that we could spend the first couple of years of travel and not spend much money. But for me, air travel has more than lost it's glimmer.

We next discussed doing the road trip mixed with a combination of free hotel stays and Bed and Breakfasts. That idea got some pretty high marks but I know all to well how old it gets living out of a backpack and a suit case. Still, we would get to have some great drives (and I love to drive) and get a chance to really visit the places that I had seen many times before but never had to the time to really see.

As this had some appeal the RV was the next logical thought process. Over the years we have had 4 or 5 different RV's and a pile of tents and backpack gear. The thing all of the popups, trailers, fivers and tents had in common was freedom. Go where you want, when you want. We began to analyze the different experiences we had had and the different RV's. All were great but each had their drawbacks. With the popup it was weather challenged on extended stays. (Still was our best memory maker.) The trailer was great but required a vehicle sufficient to pull it. Even the 28 footer when added to a vehicle was pushing 50 feet in total length. Now the fiver, that pulled great, easy to maneuver but still was long. It went off the list due to the amount of steps inside. When we were young we never even considered it. Now that the signs of abuse we put on our knees and hips began to show up. Steps had to be kept to a minimum. The trusty fiver was out.

We got to thinking about the times we had borrowed my parents Class A. Length, yes. Room yes. Mobility on a moments notice. It was the best for our style of travel as the only steps were getting in or out. We researched both the Class A and the Class C. We looked at coaches, talked to owners and soon came to a conclusion (right or wrong) that the C was more family oriented and the A seemed to fit what we were looking for. The search was on, but we really had no idea what we were searching for. This was a good late winter project. With four feet of snow in the back yard we really didn't anywhere to go anyway.

We started with the internet and books (you know the paper things that have information in them). We simply had a mission of determining what we wanted in a motorhome. Gas or diesel didn't care. New or used. Cared as soon as I saw the hit on depreciation the day we rolled off the lot. Used it would be.

As we dug deeper into the subject we concluded a diesel would be OK if the right one was found but our midterm travel plan didn't really require one. We were sure we wanted to stay around 30 foot in length and there are not a lot of mountains in Northern Michigan. Would we go west? Of course. We love the country. But once we cross the divide things leveled out for a while. Our focus became gas. The more we looked the more we had the feeling we had better try out one or two to help confirm our suspicions. In early spring we rented a 30 Winne. Turned out the night before we were scheduled to pick it up the transmission went out!
A few last minute phone calls hooked us up with a Winnebago 35 footer. Yes it was bigger than we were thinking but it gave us a chance to try a different size. The next morning we picked up the coach and were heading across Canada to New York state. Without getting into trip details the loss of a transmission on the other coach was one of the best things that could have happened to us.

The 35 worked. It was a fit. Easy to drive, room to stretch out and comfortable. Ten days later we returned the coach, thanked the owner and immediately headed to the RV dealer. There were hundreds of motorhomes on the lot. As we were novices the salesman gave a grand tour to all of the "bigger coaches" big DP's, big gas. The smallest we saw was a very nice 38 footer. The good news was, his up sell tour convinced we were looking for a 34 to 36 foot, gas used coach. Now the mission was to find quality, longevity and comfort. All for a price we would be willing to spend and could afford to dump if we were wrong. There are only a hand full of coaches that truly meet this criteria. While there are many fine coaches we were looking a happy owners of coaches from companies that had a good reputation for taking care of their customers. This criteria narrowed the field to a hand full. The Winnebago was one of them.
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