How It All Started
We grew up in the Cleveland, Ohio area. We moved away in our early 20's and lived in Charleston, South Carolina, West Palm Beach, Florida, and finally ended up in Stone Mountain, Georgia for 26 years, which is where we raised our two children. Our son Josh, his wife Karen, and our two grandchildren, currently reside in Texas. Our daughter Jacklyn and her husband Sean currently live in Florida.
We lived in Charleston from 1977-78, and lived on a 42' Elco Yacht at the Stono Marina on the Stono River. Jim worked for Detyens Shipyards as a ship's carpenter, and Gayle worked around the marina helping the owner repair boat motors, and also worked as a carpenter in town. In 1978 we moved to West Palm Beach where we owned and lived on a sailboat at a marine facility called Tropical Marine Testers for about seven years, where we were also security guards. Josh was born in Florida and the three of us lived on the sailboat for three years. When the boat got too small for us, our dog and cat, we sold the boat and moved into a 28-foot travel trailer, which we also kept on the TMT property. We did not have running water so we had to haul water in a big plastic container, then transfer the water to the boat and then into the trailer.
In 1985 we moved to Stone Mountain, Georgia and bought the only house we have ever owned. Stone Mountain is a very quaint village (Stone Mountain Village) with many small, family owned shops. We were also right outside of Stone Mountain Park, which has the largest Confederate carving in the world of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson on their horses. The park is 3,200 acres with a campground, walk up trail (it's 1.3 miles to the top of the mountain), 5 mile path around the mountain, a lake for boating, canoeing, and fishing, a world famous golf course, and other attractions.
After 26 years in Stone Mountain we decided it was time to begin the next phase of our lives. The kids were grown and out of the house and it was just us and the two dogs. It was now time to travel the country and enjoy its wonderful sites and meet new people. This is an adventure we have looked forward to for a long time and have been planning it since buying our trailer in 2003. It has now come to fruition, and we are excited that we have been able to live our dream. We did not realize there was so much work getting rid of furniture and "stuff" and trying to pack everything you want in a 30 foot travel trailer.
We started looking for an RV about three years before actually buying one. We went to a lot of RV shows and looked at dozens of trailers, trying to decide between a travel trailer (tag along), Class C (truck body with trailer attached), or Class A (one you drive), which we would then have to purchase a toad (towable car to drive once parked). We decided against a 5th Wheel - too much windage with the huge cab sticking up in the air. We ended up buying our Ford Excursion before the trailer so that put our decision on a travel trailer, but now, which one. Gayle researched all the different companies looking for the layout we felt we would need to live in it, and Jim wanted one with maple cabinetry. At the time we were looking all the companies were making the trailers with oak cabinetry and it took quite a while before finding a company that would make the cabinets with maple. We finally decided on an Award, which custom builds trailers one at a time in Dunnville, Ontario. We settled on a Classic 30 and designed it the way we wanted and with the fabric we wanted as well. We picked up our trailer over Labor Day Weekend in 2003.
We went on mini vacations in the trailer between 2003 and 2011, as well as attending Tin Can Tourists rallies in Florida. Through the years we talked about wanting to go fulltiming but never actually picked a "date" when we would make it happen. I would suggest to people who want to start fulltiming is to actually pick a date and then move forward. There is a lot to do to prepare, especially if you want to sell your house and move into your trailer permanently. You have to get rid of everything in your house and pick what you want to take.
We also joined Workamper News and read their magazine for a few years before deciding on what we wanted to do. Also became life members of Good Sam Club and also joined the Escapees.
Our decision to go fulltiming came about when Jim had been unemployed off and on for about three years, and the firm I worked at for 14 years closed its doors and I had to look for another job. I was lucky to find another job before the other firm closed its doors, but it was not the same and not as enjoyable as my other job. I stuck it out for 1-1/2 years and Jim was home, while we still talked about wanting to go fulltiming and workamping. We read the Workamper magazines and the hotline emails all the time, and finally in January 2012 we decided it was time to "just get going." From there we started going through all of our stuff and getting the kids to let us know what they wanted so we knew what to get rid of.
We started with yard sales and selling the furniture on Craig's List. Throughout April and May 2012 we worked in earnest to get rid of all of our stuff; even selling two cars to Jim's old boss, Fred. During the last days at the house, our friend Bill Wallace loaded a bunch of stuff into his trailer; another friend John took some of our stuff and other friends came as well helping us get rid of the last remnants of junk. On the last day we drove up to Josh & Karen's house in Ringgold, Georgia and dropped off a lot of things, then traveled on to Chattanooga to get tires on the trailer. From there we started on our journey north to Minnesota and our first workamping position.