With my decision to retire (again, and probably the last retirement this time) came the decision of what to do next. When we made the decision to return to Pax River and NAVAIR back in 2015, we knew it was going to be a temporary stay. The house we bought was much larger than we needed, the property is very shaded, and Maryland is not an ideal state for retirees. I also have some grandiose plans for a “Gentleman’s Farm” to grow all sorts of fruit and nut trees, berries of various sorts, hops and grapes for fermentation uses, veggies, and a few chickens. And a woodworking shop to putz around in. Did I also mention facilities for sausage making/aging and cheesemaking? Oh, and maybe a few hundred honeybees to top it all off. And of course CA will need space for all of her hobbies as well, to include her long quilting machine. After all, retirement is all about having fun and puttering about.
I wasn’t expecting a quick move out of the house. Certainly in a year or so, after some location decisions. But then my dear wife (DW in RV lingo) reminded me in a not so subtle fashion that 36+ years ago I had promised her a road trip up the Alaskan Highway. Doh!
And so the planning has begun, with the hundreds of decisions to be made now weighing on us:
- What to do with the house? Sell Now? Rent it out? Leave it empty for several months? Get a house sitter?
- What will we do with all the stuff in our house? Donate it? Store it? Have a massive garage sale?
- If the house is sold, where will we register vehicles (domicile)? What about mail?
- How will we transport ourselves on this massive 10,000+ mile journey?
- When will we start? What will we take along?
- What will the route be?
- Where will we stay? How early can we make reservations?
- Tent camp? Hotels? VRBO/Airbnb? RV?
- What sort of supplies will we need?
- What will we do if the Canadian border is closed again?
- What if this happens … and then what if this … or possibly this …?
We had a brief discussion about doing it “on the cheap” in our existing minivan, with over 150,000 miles on it, and staying at hotels/B&Bs as we went. But I wanted a little more mechanical security than the 10 year old minivan would provide, and the possibility of having to spend the night in the minivan several times (due to late arrivals/lost rooms, or other issues) also made me hesitate. Checking in and checking out of various lodges and unpacking and repacking luggage each time also was not appealing. At all.
We eventually decided to re-enter the RV world and I started familiarizing myself again with trucks, payloads, towing capacities, axle ratios, and the endless “diesel vs. gas” arguments. I’m not a complete newbie in this arena, having towed a 25 foot travel trailer around Florida and Georgia for a couple years (2013-2015), but I had not thought of all of the technical factors that need to be considered for over 6 years. After a visit to the Maryland RV Show in mid-September, we were convinced that a 5th wheel trailer was the way to go. Neither of us were enamored of the massive models that can be seen on the roads. Not only are they difficult to maneuver around a parking area but many State and National Parks restrict RVs by length. Keeping the overall length in the 30ish foot size results in a tow vehicle with a payload capacity of at least 3000 lbs and a towing capability of at least 15,000 lbs.
And so the hunt for an appropriate tow vehicle begins. Some people pick the RV first, but I prefer to pick the truck first and size the RV to match.