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Full time in USA πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ

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19 Apr, 2022 @ 00:41:02 am
Global Traveller
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Hi All

Some photos of our full timing in USA since September 2020. Story to follow!

 

Slower and lower is better than higher and faster!
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19 Apr, 2022 @ 03:19:51 am
Global Traveller
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Hi All

We were caught in the covid saga in 2020 and could not return to RSA so decided to retire and go full timing in USA in September. We started in Pensacola, Florida where we established residency with a mail box and address so we could register our vehicles - a 7.6 metre long, double axle, 2800kg ‘Lance 2075’ caravan (called a travel trailer in the USA) with an island bed, full bathroom, kitchen and dinette and a bakkie (called a truck in the USA) - Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Duramax 3.0 L diesel with crew cab and canopy.

We started out towards the end of the hurricane season and unsuspectedly got caught in a category 3 hurricane named Sally with 160kph winds. It struck at night and resulted in a very rough night as it shook the caravan violently. When branches and leaves started flying past I went out to inspect what was happening but nearly got blown away and quickly retreated to the safety of the caravan. By morning the eye had passed and the wind had died down so we could get out to examine the damage. Miraculously we had no damage which I think was due to the caravan facing the wind. Only one caravan in our park was damaged beyond repair with no injuries because a tree trunk collapsed on its roof. The roads were blocked due to fallen trees  and powerlines and the highways with trucks that had been blown over. The overhead power lines were blown down causing them to shutdown the electricity to prevent electrocutions - they haven’t heard of underground electrical cabling here!!! πŸ™„ So for more than two weeks we had no electricity, no fuel, no ATMs, most stores were closed and those that were open only accepted cash - felt like loadsheading in RSA!!! Some suggested next time we hitch the caravan and fill all the tanks with 510 litres of water to weigh it down. When the next hurricane entered the Gulf of Mexico we hitched up and headed in the opposite direction until it had passed. That’s the life in Florida during hurricane season otherwise it’s like the Natal coast - hot and humid summers and cool pleasant winters.

After a few months we moved to the Gulf Shores in Alabama where we experienced some of the best beaches in the world, competing with the likes of the Maldives, Mauritius and Seychelles. Beautiful endless white sandy beaches that are long, wide, without crowds and very safe to walk along. After 3 months we moved to a park in rural Florida.

We are very fit and I decided to look for part time work to fund a solar upgrade to the caravan. I was offered a contact job in Boise, Idaho so we packed up and spent 5 days travelling 4800 km through Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico and Utah. We stayed as far south as we could for as long as possible to avoid encountering snow.

My boss is an owner of a RV (caravan) dealership network spread across the north western USA. He said I would have a hard time living through the northern winter in a caravan. I told him that the caravan was 4 season rated so I would give him feedback and my assessment of the manufacturers 4 season claim.

Shortly after arriving, the weather warmed up quickly and we spent a very enjoyable summer hiking, driving scenic mountain passes, trying out hot springs and watching others river rafting, kayaking, tubing and fishing. Idaho has the beauty of the Karoo, Drakensberg mountains and eastern Transvaal rivers and waterfalls all in one.

We have now survived our first winter in Idaho and this is what we learnt. Our caravan with its German designed and built Truma ducted heating system, kept us warm and cosy all through the winter. All the tanks are also ducted with warm air so none froze. We woke up one freezing -16C morning to find the external plumbing had frozen solid - most campers suffered a similar problem. The more knowledgeable winter campers suggest we buy heavy duty pipe heating cable and thick pipe insulation with foil. This was applied and no more freezing. Most parks and resorts in the north are closed for winter because they don’t want to be bothered with the freezing water problem. The majority of our fellow campers used horrendous amounts of propane/LP gas for their heaters and had to refill their gas bottles weekly or hire industrial size gas bottles that lasted a month. We used electricity as our primary energy source and gas as a backup - our electricity bill was 3 times more expensive in the winter but much cheaper and more convenient than using gas. Many campers have vinyl or insulation board or polystyrene skirting around the bottom of their caravans to protect the tanks and plumbing from freezing but we opted not to as our caravan underbelly is enclosed and heated.

The RV (recreation vehicle) industry in the USA is very far behind in technology when compared with Europe, RSA and Australia. Absorption fridges and freezers are found in most RVs and compressor fridges are unheard of unless it’s a standard domestic fridge. The aircons are glorified window aircons fitted to the roof - they are power hungry and very noisy. Split aircons are also unheard off in RVs. Only recently are they installing acrylic windows in some models - (our model has double insulated acrylic as found on Jurgens) most have heavy glass windows. Most roofs are wood covered with a thin layer of PVC or plastic resulting in high maintenance and many leaks. Many campers, including us, use the caravan toilet for urinating only and most use the caravan park’s bathrooms because you can shower warmer and longer and don’t have to empty tanks that often.

We have decide that we will stay at one location for no less than 3 months and possibly 6 months as moving too often is very stressful and can be expensive.

At all the parks we have lived in so far we have met only very nice people- some young some old, some working full time, some retired, some with children, others without. They all rally to help when needed. Campers throughout the world are all the same - friendly good people.

Happy camping everyone - we will update when we have more news.

Best regards to all our fellow campers 

 

Slower and lower is better than higher and faster!
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19 Apr, 2022 @ 05:52:14 am
Hennie Botha
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Wow, what an experience. Enjoy your full timing and keep us updated. Nice Truck and Van you own.

SΓͺ dankie vir wat jy in die lewe het.
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19 Apr, 2022 @ 10:42:24 am
Swanie
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Thanks Very interesting

Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world.
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19 Apr, 2022 @ 13:37:18 pm
RichardJ
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Very interesting, thanks for that. Looking forward to further updates.

Living the dream
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19 Apr, 2022 @ 13:38:58 pm
Fred
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Interesting what you experienced with the Americans being technologically behind even our country as far as caravans go. I would have thought the opposite. Please let us hear more of your life over there.

Het is beter rijk te leven dan rijk te sterven
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19 Apr, 2022 @ 14:18:08 pm
Nico
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Most interesting input! Thanks!

I watch the various programs from USA on RV's (when shown) and most of them quite huge - just more bling and huge set-ups (!!) ... so most surprised that they are behind SA!?! Quite a revelation!

Your camp sites seem very small, and surprisingly no one seems to put up these elaborate tent extensions like we do here?

Keep the updates coming - good to hear from caravanning on that side of the world!

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19 Apr, 2022 @ 18:05:39 pm
Relaxed Camper
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Nice pics. 

WAARSKUWING:

Kampeer is aansteeklik en verslawend 😁
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19 Apr, 2022 @ 20:22:06 pm
Chuck Norris
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Baie dankie, dit was nou n regte jaloers maak storie.

Wat sal so opset SE prys wees, ook jul kamp plek per dag.

Net vir interrantheid.

 Lekker omte weet.

Geniet dit en veilig wees.

Groete

 

Al weer oppad iewers heen.
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20 Apr, 2022 @ 17:43:56 pm
Nico
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Also, you must be USA citizens? Or, what visas do you have? Surely not visitor's visas? Ours was only valid for 6 weeks??

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21 Apr, 2022 @ 04:55:05 am
Global Traveller
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Pensacola, Florida beaches

Slower and lower is better than higher and faster!
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21 Apr, 2022 @ 05:19:14 am
Global Traveller
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Gulf Shores beaches - Alabama 

Slower and lower is better than higher and faster!
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21 Apr, 2022 @ 13:53:58 pm
Bostoe
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Wow nice enjoy the camping

Haak daai wa kamp bly koning
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