Planning Update – Our Final Year

The clock is ticking down quickly. We expect to be off on our future in an RV by October and spending vacation time on the road before then.  So what are we up to regarding planning this close to take off?

Regarding the Truck: I replaced the front floor mats with the Husky X-Act Contour rubber mats. I also considered the Weather Tech brand but went with the Husky’s which are more rubbery and pliable for removal to clean. The feel of these mats are nice against our shoes. I am seriously considering adding a truck bed cover and plan to report back on that is a future post. Within reason, getting the truck ready to travel is important. I know we can finish it up later on the road and once we learn how we are using the bed space.  I’ve also selected the B&W as our hitch. Might buy that and install it in a couple months.

Regarding the RV: We decided to order a new Vanleigh Vilano 320GK. We both have been members of their unofficial Facebook Group where others have provided advise.  Karen and I agreed to a list of options and I contacted three dealership via email. So far we have pricing from two and are waiting for a third bid. I’ve corresponded with the local Factory Representative and the National Representative who have been incredible to work with. Build time right now is 10 to 12 weeks for delivery. We are looking forward to trips while on vacation and getting to know the trailer. More on this in an upcoming post as well.

Regarding Domicile:  This is a big one and right now we are down to Florida and Texas, having considered what other’s said are important factors such as available healthcare, taxes, vehicle licensing and insurance. I had planned to setup a mail service a couple months before we take off in order to start mail forwarding.  Having contacted a longtime RVer it was suggested before we settle on a state to contact an insurance agent for healthcare. We had wondered if we could get away with visiting family beginning in October and then heading to our domicile state in December to finish up the transition. He suggested transitioning from our current healthcare provider to a new one might effect the timing of the domicile move.

Regarding Tools:  I’ve been seriously looking into what tools I want to pack for the road. I suppose much of the decision has to do with how much I want to work on the camper and truck compared to hiring it out.  More on this topic later in a blog post for sure.

Regarding Cooking on the Road:  Over the past few months I really have enjoyed cooking on our Weber Q 1200. Keeping odors and sometimes heat outside the trailer is a good idea. Plus, I enjoy cooking outside especially as it gives Karen and break.  I had been wondering how to expand the food types we can cook on a common grill. After getting with a friend I purchased a set of BBQ mats. I’ve cooked bacon, eggs and all types of vegetables on these mats which are designed to sit on top of the grill grates, blocking food from falling through. The Weber and these mats have my vote of confidence for sure. Karen also found a roasting pan that sits on the grates used roast a whole chicken or ribs.

Grill Mat

Eggs – Make sure the grill is level 🙂

Roasting pan I used to cook a whole chicken

5.5 pound chicken came out perfect!

Regarding Budget:  I had updated our financial plan the last time in March of 2018, having adjusted it annually for several years.  Now that we are close to leaving, having made the truck purchase, getting bids on the RV, selling major assets and more the budget is more realistic. I’m happy to report we are within budget so far. I’m glad there have been no major surprises so far.  I’ve always been big on keeping track of the numbers in case we have to adjust something. For example when we built our current home if we were over budget in one area then we cut another. That way you don’t wait to the end when there is no chance of making up a deficit.

Regarding Preparing the House for Sale:  This has been hard because we are so busy. And we know that everything we have left to do can actually be condensed into a month or so of great effort. I’m guessing the closer we come to wanting to leave the harder we will work on the house. But, one piece at a time we are making progress. Boxes from work are full of stuff going into a future garage sale, a 5×10 storage unit, our future fifth wheel and family. We finished cleaning out our basement storage area and are now using it for box sorting.  Several rooms in the house have boxes sitting out for trash, burning and more. I’m happy with the progress but have to say, downsizing is always on my mind and is a major source of stress that’s hard to avoid.

15 thoughts on “Planning Update – Our Final Year

  1. Exciting time; I always enjoy reading of your preparation achievements. Just a few personal opinions on Texas vs. Florida–things you probably already know. Florida parks are crowded and expensive, much more so than in Texas. Winter reservations are needed far in advance; not so in Texas. Texas is centrally located, with great variation in topography and climate. People are friendly to a fault. Escapees has handled our mail for us for years with flawless performance. Oh yes, and you guys would make great Texans.

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    • Not many may know that during the Civil War many Missourians fled to Texas. They used to paint GTT on their homes, meaning Gone to Texas. Bit of history…

      We have friends that winter there. I like the idea it is closer to much of our family as well.

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  2. We have used a Bestop tonneau cover for our truck, about 3 years one of the latches broke. We called them up and before we knew it we had a new cover coming our way. Great customer service. Since Dave can take care of most issues on the trailer we have a whole complement of tools in our 5th wheel toolbox. It has saved us a ton of money, but he was also a maintenance tech in his former life, fixed the machines that made computer chips, so he has a great understanding of how different systems work. Not too long before you’ll be on the road, the last few months will fly by with all that’s got to be done.

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    • I’ll check out that bed cover. Just seems to me if one is putting maybe $3,000 in the bed of the truck then it’s worth getting a cover. During my limited research I’ve been noting the pros and cons to include which style has rails that might interfere with sharp turns with the fifth wheel.

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  3. You’re getting closer! We chose FL for our domicile (nationwide coverage for health insurance) St. Brendan’s Isle as our mail forwarding company. Stellar customer service & you get a street address. You only need to go in person for drivers license. Green Cove Springs DMV was very helpful. Tools are important, Jeff can usually fix everything!! Hope to meet you on the road in the future!

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  4. Sounds like things/decisions are combing along. One thing I will say is NEVER underestimate how long emptying the house will take. We finished less than 24 hours prior to closing! It was so stressful!
    So excited for you guys! Can’t wait to catch up down the road!

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    • Thanks Kelly…. I look around the house at things that need to be fixed. Figure I’ll start on the items that are most on my mind. May hire a guy I know for a couple days work as well. Someday we will be able to join everyone is having only memories or all the preparation… Once we get the fifth wheel in maybe May or June we will take some vacation for a week or two at a time. That’s not very long from now.

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  5. Only “you” would consider things such as the cooking aspects! Lol..lol…
    I love it! I’m going to update my grill this year as well…and will get one of those mats. That’s a no brainer!
    I have weekends where I can come up and help you guys with house stuff…all you have to do is say when. I am more than willing to do so. 😊
    This is getting exciting!!! Can’t wait to see the camper!!!

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    • Have you taken a look at the Brookstone grills? A 17″ version is plenty of space. I keep watching for them to go on sale a Walmart but $75 to start is fine. Given they way you cook that I’ve seen on camping trips.

      May take you up on the offer someday regarding the house:) I know what is going to happen is a last minute push to get it ready for the market and then another to clean it out for the new owner…

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  6. Regarding the tonneau cover the rails do matter – at least they did for us. Our rails were about 1″ higher than the bed rails and that was just enough for them to contact the trailer on an awkward turn into the Springfield MO KOA just days after we picked up our unit. I knew we didn’t have enough extra clearance but I had hoped I could get home before adjusting the hitch. I have now done that but it was still less than recommended (6″?) so I eventually removed the cover. Our problem is that the hitch release lever is above the level of the rails so a flush rail or using a hard cover makes for problems. Right now I just have a cover for the hitch but someday I will readdress the cover.

    The mats have been a great addition for us. We got Weather Tech but I’d probably look for something else if I had it to do over again. Some of the reasons you listed would be why. It was difficult to remove the nice factory mats but after having them for a while it’s clear the original mats would be a horrible mess by now.

    On the truck 4 wheel drive has been helpful for us. We have used it in a couple of off road excursions without the trailer. We also have some pads we put the tires on when staying stationary for a while. Even though they aren’t that tall, they act like chocks and when trying to move onto them in a gravel site you can dig a nice deep rut without using 4WD.

    Tools are always an interesting topic particularly beyond the basics. It’s a balance between “needs” and weight. We thought we were good having several mostly empty cabinets. When we weighed at Escapees in Texas we were good except for one wheel which was about 200 pounds over weight. I had hoped we were under as it’s easy to add weight over time even when you are careful. The moral – tools get really heavy. Luckily most of mine are in a tool box in the bed of the truck. I did end up with a dremel tool and a sawzall I didn’t sell in our garage sales. I thought about throwing the dremel in the trash and giving the sawzall to my son. Fortunately I didn’t do either as I have used both a couple of times in the past year fixing things. You never know what you might need. I do try to do all of the maintenance on my rig myself – except for the truck.

    Your research will pay off. Ours did and we weren’t nearly as detailed as you are 🙂

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    • Thanks for the detailed comments Jerry. Everyone learns from them. Sounds like I might want to hold off getting the bed cover until I have the hitch with the fifth wheel on it to check clearances real time. We have a few months of vacationing to do before leaving fulltime so the decision can wait for sure.

      I may have posted something earlier but while researching trucks I came across a Ram production forecasts which I believe had something to do with the 2019 models. Anyway, there are less than 5% of trucks built in the 3500 models that don’t have 4×4. I’ve already used mine a half dozen times to back out of the driveway when it snows. I’d never own a truck without 4×4 and I’ve never been sorry I had it. Zero maintenance problems.

      I’ll be looking for your feedback after I get a post done regarding tools😊 I’ve started to consolidate what I own and guessing at what we might need the best I can. What, if anything did you keep to cut wood? I was thinking there could be opportunities to cut up dead fall or trim an occasional tree branch.

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  7. You have made a good choice with the B&W hitch. A little pricey, but from my research, I think the best option. Since last July when we purchased our truck and RV we have had no problems at all with it.
    Santa brought me a Weber Q1200 this year and I have yet to use it. Can’t wait.
    As far as a cover for the truck bed goes, I’ve been thinking about doing something like Howard Payne from RV Dreams did years ago when they first started out. He had a local guy fashion a custom made cover from vinyl and snaps which he could use even with his fifth wheel hooked up. He reported it kept things dry and lasted for quite a few years. If I recall correctly, it didn’t add any appreciable height concerns on the bed rails. Don’t know if you are familiar with RV Dreams or not, but Howard is very meticulous and forthcoming and his blog is loaded with good, relevant stuff for fulltime RVers.
    Tools are an interesting question which I have been giving lots of thought to. Obviously going to have to sell most all of my power stuff and downsize to a solid collection of the basics. I’ve also been thinking about a set up which has a handle/power pack which accepts things like a small circular saw, small recip saw and other attachments. I think something like that would fit the bill in versatility, size and weight very nicely, though the quality may not be what I have become accustomed to over the years.
    Like you, the time for the journey is rapidly approaching. We’re set to shove off in September. Though we have been prepping for the past three years, the “last-minute” details are a very real thing. We’re really hoping this brutal Iowa weather breaks soon so we can be mostly done with the “moving out” details in April to put the house up for sale in May. The “on the road” details like domicile, etc. etc. have yet to be settled, though we have done plenty of research so far. I’m thinking May-August will give us enough time to make our final decisions and get them all looked after.

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    • Peter, thanks for conformation that the B&W is a good selection. Friend has one and says when unhooking/hooking on unlevel ground they are great.

      You will like the Weber Q1200. I’m amazed with it. Never had a flair up when cooking with the lid down which is what it’s designed to do. The thermostat on the front has come in handy.

      I do know RV Dreams. It’s one of the forums I have followed since 2014. I think we have met at least four full time couples off that forum in person. I’m still thinking through the truck bed cover decision. Karen already told me what to do, which is buy the best option regardless of price. I know Howard eventually went to a hauler bed which is nice for storage compartments. I just got to think keeping stuff safe and secure in the bed of the truck is going to be way important. Especially since we are going with a 35’ trailer with slightly less basement space. We also skipped the generator prep on the fifth wheel order which takes out the box in the front basement, allowing for more space.

      So September for you guys with putting the house up for sale in May. Wow, it’s getting real for sure. Our goal is just to get out of here before next winter. Let me know how it’s going when you get a chance. The emotions of it all is not something we can necessarily plan for.

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