Thursday, May 24, 2007

Bio for Al & Sharon, May 2007

Introduction to Al & Sharon and our travel logs. It is not our intent to update this blog or travel log on a daily basis. After we travel for a ways or have visited a particular area, we will post a log and pictures of our travels. Most of the writing will be done by Al, and edited (corrected) by Sharon. We welcome comments and feed back and will try to reply to emails.
We do not have full time access to internet. We currently use our cell phone for internet access. We have studied accessing the internet by “air card” and two way satellite, but we have not made a commitment to either yet.
Al & Sharon retired at an average age of 60 in 2004. Al worked in the mainframe computer industry for 37 years at IBM & USAA Insurance Company. Sharon took “very early retirement" from government service in 1973 when our first child was born and has been a homemaker for Al & the kids ever since. Of course now Sharon says “What retirement? I am still doing much the same work things I did before “we” retired in 2004! :)
We have two adult children, a daughter who lives in the Dallas, Texas area and a son, DIL and grandson who live in San Antonio.

Grammy says our grandson is the "cutest kid in the Universe”
We have known for years that we wanted to travel extensively after retirement. Al’s parents became full timer travelers (RV’ers) twice in their lifetimes, once for two years in the early 50’s when Al was 6 to 8 years old, and then again for 10 years from the mid 60’s to the mid 70’s. So the full-timer bug is a trait that Al must have inherited.
After retirement in 2004 we started taking trips in our 33’ Mobile Scout travel trailer to see how we liked living in a tin box. This included a 5 month trip in 2005 to Wyoming and Idaho.

After returning from this trip in the summer of 2005 we started getting serious about clearing out 35 years worth of accumulated “valuable possessions”, painting & prepping the house for sale in the spring of 2006. In May 2006, just a few days before we signed a contract with a realtor to sell the house, our son & DIL decided they wanted to buy our home. This really made Sharon happy to have “family” live in the home she has loved for 30 years instead of some stranger. It is also nice that our grandson will get to grow up in the same house & have the same bedroom his father did.

We then moved into our 33’ Mobile Scout Travel trailer and began our full-timing lifestyle. Even though we had spent considerable time in the Mobile Scout, we began to realize we wanted a little more space and ease of towing for our full-time traveling home. Since we love staying in National Forest, National Park, State Parks, BLM areas, City Parks, etc, we didn’t want a 36’ to 40’ 5th wheel and a medium or heavy duty truck. We also ruled out motorhomes. The “nicer” motor homes are beyond what we are willing so pay for an asset that depreciates very quickly. We probably would think differently if our 2200 square foot house in San Antonio had been located in a high priced city where the sale would have brought several hundred thousand dollars. Then we may have considered using a portion of the sale money to buy a motorhome. In San Antonio, the proceeds from our home would just about pay for a decent diesel pusher.

Our first trip as full-timers went up thru the heartland of the US into Kansas, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana. In Kansas, we toured the 5th wheel trailer manufacturing plants for Excel, New Horizons, and the HitchHiker, made by NuWa. Everyone we met in these plants impressed us with their desire to turn out a quality product. On the other hand in Indiana, we toured several manufacturing plants and were sorely disappointed in what we saw. Of the plants we visited in Indiana, only Numar seemed to put much thought, interest, and care into the manufacture of their product. The rest seemed to be interested in only how much product they could turn out in a week.

In September, we attended our first RV rally, the Escapees Escapade in Van Wert, Ohio. There we met a nice couple who was the president of one of the HitchHiker club chapters. They knew of a nice lady in Omaha, Nebraska, who wanted to sell her HitchHiker & Chevy diesel tow truck as a package. This package was just what we were looking for. Our current tow vehicle was a gas powered Chevy, which we knew was not rated to tow a 33 to 35 foot fifth wheel.

We talked with the lady in Omaha and agreed to purchase the trailer & truck after being allowed to give it a through inspection. As soon as the Escapade was over we high tailed it to Omaha, and in short order we agreed the trailer and truck were in excellent condition and committed to buy them. Now we had a dilemma. Two trailers, two trucks and we were in an unfamiliar city. We headed back to Texas, with our Mobil Scout, to our daughter Sarita’s house in Lewisville, Texas. It is so nice there; we can park our trailer in her back yard. Woo Hoo, free rent!! J

Al & Sharon spent the next couple of weeks making the Mobile Scout ready for selling. Al then flew to Omaha, completed the purchase of the HitchHiker and truck and brought them back to Lewisville.  

We moved all our belongings to the HitchHiker.

 Now the next obstacle: Where & how to sell the Mobile Scout. A couple of years ago we had read in an RV’ers web site where they had bought their 5th wheel from a consignment dealer in Houston, at PPL Motor Homes We had researched PPL and thought they were very professional. However we really didn’t want to have to tow the trailer 300 miles down to Houston if we could sell it in the Dallas area. We took the Mobile Scout to a small consignment dealer about 45 miles north of Dallas. That turned out to be a mistake. The trailer sat on their lot for a month, and I don’t believe anyone looked at it. The day before our free sales period was over we picked up the Mobile Scout and took it to PPL. Six days after it was put on PPL’s lot it sold for the NADA retail price. We were thrilled! J NADA’s prices are always somewhat over priced, but the Mobile Scout was in excellent condition.

We spent Thanksgiving & Christmas in San Antonio with the “kids” and thoroughly enjoyed being with our grandson. Our daughter came down for both Thanksgiving & Christmas. It was great spending both holidays with all of our family.

A couple of days before New Year’s Day we left for southern New Mexico and Arizona for the winter, returning to San Antonio the first of April. We had mostly very nice sunny and warm days in New Mexico and Arizona. We did have a few days of cold and a little rain but not enough to be uncomfortable. We did have a memorable day in Zion National Park, where we had 4 ½ inches of snow right around daylight. We were camped inside the park and it was beautiful, first with the snow falling and then with ground, trees, bushes and canyon walls white with the snow. We wish we could show you pictures of the snow but all the pictures of this trip were lost. Al thought he had all the pictures and travel logs of the trip backed up, but due to an operator error the external hard drive he uses to back our files deleted these files. You live and learn. Sometimes the hard way!!
We hope you enjoy the stories of our travels.

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