By Valerie Coffey
One of the best things about this life roaming the US in an RV is visiting friends and family around the country. All the new people Mitch and I meet are a huge bonus. What’s hard about this life, however, is that you miss a sense of community. You miss your friends from home, you miss going to their events and seeing your neighbors around, and seeing people you know when you’re out.
So it means so much when you meet someone with so much in common, and then you come to find out you’ll be in the same place again down the road. So it was with Marc and Julie Bennett of RV Love.
Ah, the beauty of the interwebs! We “met” Marc and Julie Bennett of RV Love through Instagram, the social media app that lets you share inspiring pictures. Then, on a walk around the Garden of the Gods RV Park in Colorado Springs one June evening, Mitch and I noticed their Allegro bus rig and little MINI Cooper convertible displaying their logo, “Live. Love. Travel. RV Love.” And I immediately recognized their brand. I looked them up, sent them a message and we met for social hour around their campfire.
Whereas most full-time RVers are retired, Marc and Julie are full-time RVers who are working age, like us. Marc grew up in Colorado, while Julie grew up in Sydney, Australia. Also like us, they sold their sticks & bricks home to expand their horizons and see the USA in a motorhome. Marc works full-time as Operations Manager for a nutritional supplement company, and Julie is a lifestyle coach. In the sharing of their journey via their blog and social media platforms, they’ve become a social media sensation with a following of thousands and over half a million views on their YouTube channel!
We had a lot of fun hanging out with the Bennetts during our time in Colorado Springs. We were all scheduled to be at Cherry Creek State Park in Aurora, Colorado, at the same time about a week later, so we made plans to meet them again down the road. We went to TAG restaurant in Denver with them to celebrate their two-year “nomadiversary” – just a few weeks before ours!
Julie and I bonded easily like two long-lost girlfriends, even though she looks like she could be my much-younger daughter. I’m a jolly giant at 5’10” and she’s a spritely elf at 4’8”! And we had a laugh when we found out that I went to high school in Sparks, Nevada, with Marc’s boss, Bert Wegner! I have stories about parties at Bert’s house back in the day. What’s even funnier is that Bert is my Friend on Facebook; Bert noticed the picture of the four of us together (Marc, Julie, Mitch and I) and he did a double take because he thought Marc was Mitch. A few people have commented on the resemblance of Marc and Mitch – they could be brothers!
I asked Marc and Julie some questions about their life on the road, and their answers make a great story. Read on to see why we love RV Love:
By Valerie Coffey
We have not been posting as much to our blog as we’d like in 2016. I’ve only managed to write a blog post about once a month. Sorry! We’ve been so very busy! Let us fill you in!
Since I last posted about our travels, we’ve explored the entire southern border of the US with Mexico. We left from San Diego in mid-March, and have now gone all the way to South Padre Island at the tip of Texas!
Along the way we stopped in the Yuma area (near the border of AZ and CA) for a few days, where we visited with our friends Roger and Gail and I got the RV stuck in deep sand. (Yeah, I’m gonna cruise right past that embarrassing story and save it for another day.) Then we walked over the Mexican border at Los Algodones, a popular destination for retirees and RVers to get state-of-the art but inexpensive pharmaceuticals, eyeglasses, and dental check-ups! We saved a lot of money and enjoyed some margaritas in the sunshine while we were there.
We stayed in Tucson for two weeks, visiting our friends Keith and Nicole Davis and seeing everything we missed last year, including Old Tucson Studios, Tombstone, and Bisbee. We saw Val’s cousins in Las Cruces, NM, and hiked nearby Dripping Springs Natural Area.
(By the way, if you’re wondering where we are, or you feel like you’re missing some of our adventures, be sure to “like” our public Facebook page, RVLuckyOrWhat. I post a pantload of stuff there, and only by “liking” our page will our posts come up in your newsfeed. You can also follow us on Instagram at RVLuckyOrWhat.)
All of this repeating of previous destinations from last year was mostly just to get to Big Bend National Park in the southwestern elbow of Texas – one of the biggest national parks left on our list to visit in the RV, and one of the hardest to get to! With over 800,000 acres of protected area, Big Bend is BIG, but only a fraction the size of Death Valley National Park in CA with its 3.4 million acres.
And much like Death Valley, Big Bend is the most amazing park most people have never heard of, much less been to (unless of course, you live nearby or have already discovered it). Mitch had never heard of Big Bend before we started our trip, and I’d only seen pictures of it online but didn’t know much about it. We set our sights on it for year two, scheduling it for early April. (Be sure to read my article, Ten Reasons Death Valley is to Die For, if you haven’t already. I’ll wait.)
My expectations of our first long-awaited visit to Big Bend National Park included sweeping mountain vistas and hiking adventures. I also expected April in Big Bend to involve flowering cactus and extreme heat countered with cool views of the Rio Grande (the river that defines the border between Texas and Mexico). We were not disappointed. What I didn’t expect was how many amazing deep canyons it holds. Nor did I understand that Big Bend is an animal bonanza in the middle of the one of the most remote spots in the U.S.
By Valerie Coffey
In April of 2014, Mitch and I took our first RV trip together a few months before we purchased our new home on wheels. We thought a short trial voyage with a rental RV would be a good idea before we exchanged our sticks & bricks house in Massachusttes for full-time life on the road. (Um. Ya think!?) Mitch had some experience RVing on family vacations but me, not so much.
So we took a road trip, rented a 36′ Winnebago from a private owner in Pennslvania, and drove it to Virginia for a long weekend.
I was sold on the RV lifestyle immediately! What a rush to be riding high, looking out the big windshield at the view, angsting at every turn and at every overhead branch and cable, but every minute becoming more comfortable behind the wheel of a big rig.
But perhaps what *really* romanced me was the rental advertisement for the RV we rented. In the ad, the rig was pictured at a tropical waterfront site in Key West, Florida. The owner told us that he took this picture of his rig at Boyd’s Key West Campground, a popular RV destination in Key West that required booking months in advance. We couldn’t wait to get there!
Now that we’ve stayed for a longer period at numerous RV campgrounds in the Keys, we found Boyd’s was only the tip of the iceberg. The Keys are chock full of great places to camp or RV! We found some other sites we liked even better!
Here’s our take on several amazing RV parks in and around Key West…
By Valerie C. Coffey
We left our sticks & bricks home in Massachusetts forever on August 14, 2014, driving away in our brand new Thor Tuscany 45-foot motorcoach for a year or more traveling the US.
We sold our homes, sold a lifetime of belongings, dropped of the kids at college, continued our jobs on the road, and have had the kick-ass adventure of a lifetime this past year, and have seen so much of the US! We have learned so much!
People commonly ask us — What’s the best thing you’ve seen? — an impossible thing to answer, because it’s entirely personal, based on our pre-RVing experiences, values, prevailing weather and our mood at the time. In one year, we have hit 42 states and have driven 25,000 miles in the RV with an additional 15,000 in the Hyundai Veloster tow car.
We have stayed at well over 100 different sites, including luxury RV resorts, campgrounds, RV parks that resemble parking lots, state parks, and national parks. We have managed to completely avoid an overnight stay in the parking lot of a 24-hr WalMart!
But we do have some answers!!
What is THE BEST THING we’ve seen??
We are in Seattle!
This is Mitch hiking around Mt. Saint Helens. That thing is really half gone! (Mt. Saint Helens, I mean. Not Mitch. Although read my next post about his injury.)
It’s amazing how far the explosive blast and landslide went.
You can still see it smoking in the picture if you look very closely.
The weather is absolutely perfect here! The wild flowers are in full bloom.
Where are YOU today??
Read my next post: What Happened to Mitch’s Face: A Series of Unfortunate Events
As we move along in nearly 9 months of full-time RV travel, Mitch and I are often asked whether we have made progress in one of our key missions of the trip: finding another place to live that is warmer and cheaper than New England. With palm trees. Within commuting distance of a major airport for Mitch’s work and our continued wanderlust. Big enough community to keep it entertaining and convenient. Far enough away from a big city so that we can afford a big backyard space with a pool. Proximity to skiing is a plus.
As a matter of fact, we have narrowed down our choices somewhat! Here’s a little recap of our favorite and not-so-favorites.