Our First Pin

The salesmen at the dealership told us that we were adventurous for deciding to embark on such a daunting trip so early. In spite of the vast amount of instruction that they gave us, they encouraged us to take a short trip to break Isn’t She Lovely in (oh yeah, that’s her name, “Izzy” for short…and our truck is named Doofus thanks to J. Clark).

We don’t need a reason to take a road trip. We planned on coming to Daytona Beach for FBCW Beach Camp, so we already had the trip. Just a few late minute logistical changes: cancelling our hotel and booking the RV site, and we were ready to go.

On the way out, we ran over to the dealership because we had an issue with an electrical outlet that we couldn’t figure out and also to check out a noise that we kept hearing.
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Of course I was anxious about getting her on the road. Typical, I’m sure: can I really drive this big thing, what if the wind blows too hard, can my truck pull her, and will I get good gas mileage? The first three turned out to be non-worries; gas mileage on the other hand was a little different.

Three times we had to stop for gas on a relatively short 465 mile trip. A little more than we had expected but we were foretold that we would get about 8-10 miles per gallon and that’s about what we got. Other than that and us taking about 12 hours to get there, the trip was pretty smooth.

We pulled into the RV site, after calling and telling the manager that we would not be there before they closed. Honestly, we had no idea what to expect. We stopped by the front office, picked up the map of the sites and found ours. Seeing as we had never been to a site before, we had hoped our site would be a pull thru with no backing in (although I had gotten pretty good at backing into our long driveway). But, of course, that would not be the case. However, as soon as we pulled in, a guy across the way named Brad, volunteered to watch me back in to make sure I didn’t hit anything. He gave us a quick few instructions on what to hook up and where to hook it up to and told us to holler if we needed anything.
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Our neighbor at home, who owns a fifth wheel, told us that the first thing we needed to do when we arrived was to turn on the hot water heater so that we could take hot showers all week long. Thanks M. L., you are a lifesaver. A friend of ours, D. A., wrote us the morning after our first night and asked it how it was. We responded by saying it was relaxing, removing, rejuvenating, and refreshing. Oh boy was it. The kids slept well, except for one falling out the bed. Won’t tell which one, since her 6 year old self would frown if I did.
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So here we are, our trial run. We are not the most rugged campers in the world as we have A/C, a stove, brewed coffee, internet, and even our printer with us.
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But we did set up our own sewer lines, let the kids in the car with sand all over everything, and went to sleep without a TV on. For us, we are expanding our horizons.

Both of us woke up this morning with big, silly grins on our faces. Maybe it’s just first night excitement, we will see. We have a few more days here in Daytona to make sure we can handle being so close to each other and able to enjoy it, so we may change our minds. But for now, we cannot wait to begin our summer trip of 48 states over 48 dates! Because Madison has been with her friends at camp and not with us, this trip won’t officially count for our FL stop, so we will be coming back through to be the inaugural state on our journey. In order to track and see the places we have visited in the RV, we put a large map inside our bedroom.
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Each stop we make to visit, play, learn, or explore will receive a pin. Daytona Beach, receives our first pin!!!!
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At the end of this trip, our children will be able to see the path in which their summers went.

Teacher: “Kids, what did you do this summer?”

Our Kids: (Smiling)….

#thomas6travels #48statesin48dates #48in48 #webetraveling

-William and Kelly

And So It Begins!!

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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.
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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.

So back to where we were.  The next day, we decided just to go and take a look. 
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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. 
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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! 
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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. 
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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