Of course, I have to start with the beginning…no, not the very beginning, but at least give you a clue as to what in the world gave us this idea. For the first 8 years of our marriage, we did not travel. We got away for a day, maybe, but certainly never spent more than a weekend away. Between growing our business, raising our kids, committing to our church, etc., we never found the time.
Naturally, one can only do this for so long until monotony, boredom, and disillusionment sets in. So, we did what we normally do when these feelings creep in; we prayed. We prayed that God would give us flexibility, to make sure we provided, but able to travel, enjoy our family, and educate our children. We did not pray for anything specific and we had no timeline; just the prayer.
To save you from every detail, I can sum it up pretty succinctly. God did all those things in less than 3 years. And as we look back at how we have arrived at this point, we can see the hand of God moving to answer our prayers, although during it, we could not figure out for the life of us why certain things were happening.
One night, April 19th to be exact, lounging on the couch and flipping through the channels, a show that we had not seen before caught our eye. This show showcased the buying process and types of RVs that people traveled in. It showed older couples and younger couples, married couples and single people, Caucasian individuals and those whose skin was more like ours, people with kids and people with animals, and those who wanted to see the country and those who just hated hotels. Nevertheless, it showed the range and prices for some of these vehicles, and surprisingly, for the amount of time we travel, would make sense when compared to staying in a hotel.
But I guess we skipped that part didn’t we? Since when did we start traveling? Well, about 5 years ago, we decided that we would take at least one family trip a year and at least one ‘us’ trip per year. Since that decision, we have been to Gatlinburg 6 times, Disney, Savannah twice, New Orleans, Pigeon Forge, Myrtle Beach, Daytona Beach (2 times as of this summer), Las Vegas, Hilton Head, Ohio twice, Virginia, and am sure we are missing a few.
We just knew that they really would not have what we saw on TV and even if they did, there wouldn’t be any way they would be in our budget. From the moment we stepped on the lot, though, we were hooked! So, potentially a bit presumptuously, we went and traded in our beloved Honda Odyssey for an SUV, something we said we would never go back to, but knew we needed to get the RV (and justified it since our kids we getting bigger, i.e. needed more space and could open their own doors).
Over the next few weeks, we went back to that dealership and to another at least 10 times total (Yeah a bit much). We took the kids down and asked them which one they liked, even had them pick beds in like 6 different ones.
On May 3, we found “The One!” It had four bunk beds in the back for the kids, weighed less than the max we could tow, and within what we know we can afford.
The salesman J.H. at Three Way Campers, who was awesome by the way, told us what the steps were and met us every time we came down to look at it. We informed him that we had just eliminated all of our non-mortgage debt and knew the reflection in our credit would allow us to qualify at better terms and surprisingly, he agreed and told us to hold off until then.
As it were, on the morning of May 27th, Kelly’s birthday, the last of the debt that was paid off reflected upon our credit, increasing our score, and improving our options. So naturally we hurried down there, filled out the application, and within minutes we were driving off with our new RV!
Well, it was not that easy but the entire process was enjoyable. From the salesman, T. M. who did the loan paperwork, to the parts and service individuals, to the guy D. who gave us the tour of the RV showing us how to do everything, to J. the finance and warranty guy, to R. the insurance lady, and even the old guy who sold us the rapidly dissolving toilet, it was quite the experience.
All of that was the easy part and minus a few times of anxiety, nothing compared to what would come next: driving it home! Having never pulled a trailer until this past week (lawn equipment trailer) we were a bit nervous to say the least.
Yet, obviously, we made it home, and our neighbor Mr. T., guided us back in our driveway. We are taking a weeklong trip soon to our first camp site to learn the ropes. Then if the Lord tarries, we will be heading out on a 48 day trip, hitting all of the lower 48 states.
While we know we are going to have a lot of fun, we really desire for this to be a time of discovery and growth for our kids. We want them to talk about the historical places in this country in school and be able to see it in their mind since they were there. We want them to be able to reflect back and talk about, “Do you remember the summer when…?” We want them most of all to know that nothing takes the place of spending time with the Lord and each other. Looking forward to writing these next few days! Look out for the following hash tags: #thomas6travels #48statesover48dates
Please keep us in your prayers if you would!
William, Kelly, Madison, Mackenzie, Macey, and Phillip Thomas