How We Got to This Point

It’s weird to think that in a way, we’ve been full-time RVing for over five years now. I guess living full-time in an RV park doesn’t really count. We moved out of the park and stuck our toes into the water of full-timing a year ago, but we spent most of that time either holed up in the Thousand Trails Orlando preserve or traveling without the RV. Alaska FTW!!

I guess I should introduce myself. My name is Lisa and I’m a full-time RVer. I never wanted to live in an RV. I was quite happy in a French Quarter apartment in New Orleans. But my parents decided to chuck everything after a hellacious evacuation for Hurricane Ivan, give up their apartment, store their stuff and buy a travel trailer. They took delivery just before Thanksgiving 2004. Ten days later, three weeks to the day before Christmas, Mom passed away.

What else could we do? Dad, the now-ex husband and I had to go to Florida for a funeral with the relatives. So we packed up three people, two vans, three monitor lizards and a cat into my parents’ RV and took off. We ended up staying through the holidays, and were scheduled to go back to New Orleans in late January 2005.

Guess hubby didn’t like that idea too much. The night before the move, while Dad and I were asleep, he packed up the lizards and the cat into our van and took off to his ex-girlfriend’s house. I stayed with Dad.

Good thing I did, too, since Hurricane Katrina hit a few months later. We lost almost everything we owned, but it’s just stuff, right? Anyway, Dad and I stayed in Florida and moved into an annual site about 40 minutes from Disney. In the fall of 2006, I Forrest Gump’ed my way into becoming a writer.

By 2009 I had seriously itchy feet. I grew up in Central Florida, I escaped from Central Florida in 2001, and I never meant to go back permanently. I have a portable job, and Dad’s retired on disability. My writing career had gotten to the point of providing a decently stable income, and I was increasingly specializing in disability travel. Dad turned out to be an amazing photographer, so I put him to work as a volunteer. It was time to go! We ended our lease in May.

I did a bit of research and learned about Thousand Trails. It’s a membership camping system with parks all over the country, plus a few in Canada. Just days before we left for Alaska (a week-long Inside Passage cruise and about a month in hostels in Seward and Anchorage), we went to the Orlando preserve for a free weekend/sales pitch. The price was right, so we signed up.

For the past year, we’ve had a Basic Membership. We could stay for two weeks at any given preserve and then had to leave the system for a week before going back to that or any other preserve. Thanks to some other deals, we got great rates on other RV resorts, but it was kind of a hassle having to split our time into 2 week/1 week blocks. We also needed quite a bit of work done on the rig and the van, so we mostly stayed close to Orlando (with occasional jaunts like the Christmas tour of the Southeast).

Which brings us to today. We finally finished most of the work on the van and the rig (except for the awning, which we still haven’t replaced after a windstorm took it a year ago). We also got a fantastic deal on a membership upgrade to Elite status. Now we can stay in any preserve for up to three weeks and go directly from park to park.

That was the last piece of the puzzle. We had no more reason to stay tied to Florida. So now we’re truly free, and taking full advantage of it!

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