Happy 2019!

It has been a month since we announced we’re leaving the daily grind for a new life on the road. We have been overwhelmed by the encouragement and support shown by our family, friends, and coworkers. Thank you all! ♥ It is hard to believe 2019 is here and even more difficult to comprehend exactly what lies ahead. There is much that we don’t know, but the picture is slowly coming together.

my “to do before I leave work” list is starting to feel a little daunting

We’re down to about seven weeks at work. I was fortunate enough to secure a part-time remote position with my current employer. I have been the project manager for a new software system. The process development and implementation is something I’ve been enjoying and that I can do remotely as long as I have an internet connection. My boss seems happy to have me and I’m appreciative for the part time, flexible work. I’ve switched my cell phone plan from our local carrier to Verizon so that I’ll have better coverage on the road.

Jason won’t be working for now and is looking forward to spending his time pursuing new interests such as learning how to maintain all the systems on our RV. I have no interest in that and am happy he has it covered.

Readying the rv

Jason has been working hard to get the RV ready to hit the road. Our first modification was a quick and easy one, an upgrade to an Oxygenics RV Shower Kit. We’ve heard nothing but great reviews on this head which infuses oxygen into the water creating better pressure. We expect this will quickly pay off since we’ll primarily be boondocking (no hookups) and will need to conserve water.

The day after Thanksgiving, we drove the RV up to my parent’s house. My dad has a heated shop large enough for the RV, hydraulic lift, tons of tools, and experience working on just about everything imaginable. He has been recovering from knee replacement and is a bit limited in what he can do, but his help has been invaluable.  He and Jason have worked on the RV every weekend since then, getting the Jeep ready to tow and upgrading our battery system.

grateful for my dad’s big shop!

We’ll do more detailed posts later, but the Jeep tow project has involved installing a new bumper, adding a Ready Brute Elite Tow Bar with Break Away Device, running an emergency break away cable, adding an electric wire harness, and wiring a break light activation indicator into the RV dash. I think Jason has seen the underside of both vehicles more than he has seen me over the past month!

bye bye old bumper
hello new bumper!
installing the inertia breaking system

The batteries that RV manufacturers use are a joke. It was a given that we’d need a major upgrade. After intensive research, Jason ordered two 100 Ah LiFePO4 12 Volt Deep Cycle  lithium batteries from Battle Born. This decision was not made lightly since the batteries alone cost just over $2,000! But the advantages of these batteries over all others were clear. The upgrade also involves replacing a board in the converter for the charge controller, addition of a Victron battery monitor with shunt and temperature probe, addition of a battery switch, and 250A class T fuse. Rounding it all off, we have purchased a Zamp Portable 200W solar system. I won’t lie, this upgrade has been shocking to the wallet. But this isn’t just providing power for a weekend vacation—it is going to be powering our daily lives. It will allow us to routinely boondock which will save us a ton of money in RV park fees. Reliable power will also be essential for my part time job.

upgrading the charge controller
battery monitor
someone is excited about his battery switch

The battery upgrade would be complete by now, but we added on another modification… Initially, we thought we’d have to place one of our lithium batteries in a side compartment since the battery box from the manufacturer only holds a single group 27 battery. After some measuring and planning, my dad came up with a better solution. He is fabricating a new battery box that will hold both batteries and is adding longer extension sliders so the whole thing slides in and out of the battery compartment allowing for easy access. This modification has been very time consuming and an unexpected expense; however, it is going to be so much nicer than what we originally had planned.

Once we have the RV back home, our nephew Max is going to make us a custom designed, modular cat platform and install some shelves for our wardrobe closet. As he’s doing that, I’ll work on getting everything packed that we will need to live in the RV. After that, the adventure can finally begin!

2019 Travels 

I’ve been getting lots of questions about when we plan to hit the road and where we’re headed. Our first couple trips will be short ones close to home—we want to give our battery system a good workout and fine tune our gear and storage before we get too far away. This will also give our cats Jake and Indy an opportunity to slowly adjust to RV life.

inside of our new home on purchase day

The first big trip is still a bit up in the air. Yes… that is hard for an ultra Type-A such as myself (I confess that I vacation with an itinerary and a 3-ring binder full of trail guides and maps). But this isn’t vacation anymore. This is going to be our everyday life and we don’t have to have every moment planned. We’ll see what the weather is doing and how long we can be away from home. We need to be home for some personal affairs this spring, so we may not wander too far. The Oregon Coast, Bend area, and Columbia River Gorge are the leading possibilities.

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon – the perfect tow vehicle for adventurers!

Summer in the Pacific Northwest is beautiful, so we plan to stick around the immediate area. We anticipate trips along our favorite fly fishing streams in the mountains of north central Idaho, exploring the Washington Cascades, and backpacking in Oregon’s Eagle Cap Wilderness. The bucket list is still quite full even though this is all so close to home!

Jason is looking forward to more fly fishing!
I’m looking forward to exploring more wilderness!
we’re both looking forward to free “rooms with a view”

September we’ll begin the long, slow trip south for the winter (bye bye Palouse winters!). We may head to the Sawtooths of Idaho or down the Oregon Coast. We’ll see how the mood strikes us—we can go wherever we want. October will be spent in Utah. We’re especially looking forward to our friends Mick and Suzy joining us for some red rock explorations. I also hope to catch up with a coworker who recently retired to the St. George area as well as a couple friends who live in Utah.

we love the Sawtooths in September!

In November we’ll stick around Utah until the weather really starts to turn and then we’ll slowly continue our travels south. Sedona, Phoenix, Tucson, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Red Rock Conservation Area, Valley of Fire State Park, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Joshua Tree National Park, and Death Valley National Park are all high on the list for future winter explorations. I expect we’ll cross paths with our friends Tom and Claudia who winter at the BLM snow-birder areas in Arizona and California.

Spring of 2020 will find us pushing our way north as soon as the weather starts to change. New Mexico explorations are a real possibility before returning home for the summer. By then we’ll know a lot more about ourselves and life on the road. We anticipate we’ll be downsizing all our belongings into what can fit into an average size storage unit so we can turn the family home over to my uncle upon his retirement. At that point, we will officially be full time nomads.

Those are our current plans for 2019. We hope the year brings you good health and happiness. Be sure to dream a little—some of those dreams do come true.

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11 Replies to “Welcome to 2019 & Semi-Retirement Update”

  1. Well , well , looks like you are doing everything right on the RV . We had an RV for a few years and everything you are changing was a problem we found out the hard way . We had to adjust our plans often and we didn’t travel far from home because of the things you are doing to your RV .
    Just remember if you travel to our coast or Bend area or the Gorge , let me know and I would love to join you for a day !!


    1. Hi Rich,
      We are really hoping this improves the system. It should, the battery situation can’t be any worse than what comes stock! We had a travel trailer years ago and learned a lot of lessons that we are able to apply now. So at least we aren’t total greenhorns! lol
      We will definitely let you know when our spring plans solidify a little more. I have an Oregon loop in mind that would definitely put us in your area and we’d love to finally meet in person 🙂

      1. Great ! Keep me posted . I’m looking forward to hearing about your travels too . We wanted to do the same thing when I retired 20 years ago with our motor home but ended up just doing stuff in the state even with it being fully self contained , They have draw backs if you can’t afford to stay at full hookup places .


        1. I hear ya! Our plan is to boondock on BLM, Forest Service, Army Corp, etc. land as much as possible- no way we can afford to stay in those RV parks all the time. Nor would we want to. No offense to those who do, they have their place and I expect we will stay at them on occasion. But to me it is similar to the difference between living with lots of neighbors in an apartment complex vs living on your own acreage in the country… we want our own acreage 🙂 That is why this lithium battery upgrade is so vital. With that, a generator, and the solar panel (plus being low energy users) as well as extreme water conservation, I think we will be ok. It is a good thing we are backpackers- we are experienced in living with minimal comforts. This will seem like the Ritz Carlton, ha!

          1. Yes it will be like the Ritz alright , compared to backpack tenting ! Tec-knowledge has greatly improved the RV going like you are doing and yes you are ready for it because of your going light and lean .


  2. I’m so excited for you both and Matt and I are looking forward to visiting with you when you head to Phoenix area in November. 🙂

    1. Thank you for the encouragement friend! We look forward to seeing all of you again as well and also to meet Ralph! Please promise me you’ll have nice warm weather, we just drove home in an ice storm. So ready to be done with that!

  3. Wow, thrilled you get to retire early and become nomad adventurers. Also jealous as heck that I can’t do that myself. My family and I have done a bit of hiking and rock crawling in the Moab area. Love those canyons and wish I could get out there more often. We are on the East coast and I’m enjoying reading through all your hiking blogs. Looking forward to reading your new adventures. Safe travels to you and Jason!

    1. Greetings Linda-

      Thank you for visiting our site. I’m glad to hear you have been enjoying the posts! Yes, Moab is a spectacular area! We’ve been there a handful of times over the years. I have several backlogged posts I’d like to do of that area. We plan to spend quite a bit more time there and the rest of Southern Utah. And thank you for the well wishes. This is something we’ve dreamed of and worked toward for about 14 years and we’re still pinching ourselves that it is finally happening. I’m very grateful to my employer for allowing me to continue working for them part time remote. It is turning out far better than I ever could have imagined and will certainly give us a little more breathing room 🙂 If you don’t mind my asking, what state are you from? The East Coast has so much beauty and wonderful history. We spent time in Virginia while Jason was in the Navy. We were so young and poor, but we managed to take in quite a bit of history and can’t wait to make some travels there in a few years.

      Happy trails,

      1. Small world, we are in Hampton Roads. I’m not a native Virginian, so still discovering all the beautiful places in this state. We camp a bit and it’s always amazing the difference between the coastline and the mountains. Make sure to let us know when you head this way so we can give you a warm welcome to Virginia. I think I remember you talking about spending more time in Utah in 2019. If you haven’t hiked Corona Arch, you should definitely consider it. Just outside of Moab, it’s an easy hike, only 3.5 round trip and it has a gorgeous view out over the river, the arch is immense and stunning. We’ve been there a couple times and it’s a favorite for a quick hike in the late afternoon or early morning. There is a campground right across from the trailhead and I think you can RV there. Called Gold Bar and it’s on Potash road about 11 miles south along the river from Moab. We canoed down there from Moab a couple of times. You can also take your Jeep further down Potash Road, which becomes a rough 4 wheel drive road heading west to Isle in Skye, past Dead Horse point and the Gooseneck. It’s the back way in to Canyonlands Isle in the Skye district, comes out on White Rim Road in Shaffer Canyon. Fun ride and great views of the Gooseneck and Shaffer Canyon. I’m sitting here on a cold, rainy Sunday in Virginia Beach having canyon withdrawal now!

        1. Definitely a small world Linda! I was in Newport News for 2.5 years, Jason was in the area even longer. He was stationed aboard the USS Enterprise as it headed into dry dock at Newport News Shipbuilding. That was the early 90s and I bet a lot has changed. I loved the history of the area and we both look forward to returning someday. I’m guessing it will be a few years before we make our way east, but I’m hoping you stay in touch through the blog here and we’d love to meet you in Virginia.

          Thanks for the tip on Corona. We hiked it… maybe 2011? What a fantastic hike! We nearly had it to ourselves. I think it is more popular now. We saw a very large gopher snake right on the trail. He was fun to watch once we realized he wasn’t a rattle snake (which also would have been neat, but from more of a distance!) We haven’t visited Moab area since we bought our Jeep Wrangler- will be a lot more fun to explore now!

          Like you, we get red rock fever this time of year! We commute an hour each way (longer when it dumps snow). Today started at 20 degrees and a blanket of fog. Booo, dreaming of the desert! Take care out there in VA.

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