Wow 2017!

In the summer of 2015 we had started to talk about it and Jason even shared at work with his boss and his peers this was something we were going to be working toward. He started to have job offers in the fall of 2016, but they didn’t work out for a number of reasons. Then came a serious and very lucrative offer in late spring of 2017 that made us pause and consider what precisely were we looking to do.

Jason was excited at first about what the offer entailed, but that offer meant a relocation to North Carolina with a prospect of only a day a week working from “home.” It was also pretty clear that “home” needed to be stationary. While this meant Jason could be home with Barb more than he was previously, it still didn’t seem like the lifestyle we were looking to find. At that time we knew the University could not counter offer the financial package, but we had hoped they could on the telecommuting. In the spring of 2016 that wasn’t possible either.

There were dozens and dozens of trips to Goodwill and Treasurers of the Heart with donations

It seemed after turning down that offer, we had to shift our gears to a different approach. We also realized during that process, we needed to start “unloading” the house. Early in the summer we started the “purge” of the house, getting rid of things that were easy to do. Stuff we moved into the basement seventeen years ago when we built it and never used it since. We had to come to grips with handling things with a history, that we liked to know we had, things we wanted and what we needed. Once we met with our realtors from the Coldwell Banker Johnson Group, this set us on a path to pick up the pace while it also got much tougher and tougher to do since the easy things were done. In July and August we pushed hard every evening and every weekend to prepare for the sale. August 1, when the cats were away to be laser declawed, we moved in the RV next to the house. The cats never came back to the house and now love their new views each week out the window. Being in the RV we could focus on the house, keeping it clean as we went along. By mid-August the house was on the market and it was sold, then by the end of September we had closed.

A seemly perfect pair!

By the time the house was sold, we had no “future” solidified yet. Jason had a job, but would he be changing it? He had several interviews and offers to consider. Timing of the house sale left us wondering did we need an apartment for winter? Back in March 2017 we hedged on that we wanted a “full-timers RV” and bought a new 5th wheel trailer, which seemed to answer our year long question of a motorhome vs. a 5th wheel trailer. (Which we still don’t seem to be settled on yet by-the-way.) Then we found the 2015 RAM truck that addressed our four year old pickup that was rusting prematurely at a rapid rate and seemed to be a perfect match in design and capabilities to the new trailer.

Parting with some things were more difficult than others

As all of this unfolded, Jason continued the job hunt, operating under the idea that the University would not be flexible with the telecommuting options. In September, Jason received an offer as a lead unified communications engineer for a small Minnesota (which also had a Florida division) based call center company. They were looking for a position that was local to Minnesota but at the same time was open to a 100% telecommuting option. Then with resignation letter in hand, Jason was counter-offered an option to telecommute with the University up to 75% of the time.

The University counter offer completely changed our direction of life. We were hours away from signing a short term lease on an apartment in Woodbury, MN, and this spectacular opportunity came to light. While Jason was again excited by the new prospects, the non-university offer came with only one week of vacation and not until after one year of being with that company! The health insurance was better by giving us a nationwide local coverage option, but it increased our out of pocket cost of nearly $7,000 per year in premiums! After 20 years with the University now Jason can maintain his sick leave, incredible amount of annual vacation and maintain consistency with his direction. We were going to take a pay cut, for the 100% telecommuting flexibility. The telecommuting is starting at 50% time (over an annual period) and is expected to be approved at 75% time. This gives us a few months in the River Falls area in the nicest time of the year. This happen with only about two weeks until the close on the house, we pushed hard and rewarded ourselves with some downtime in Michigan before Jason returned to the office to prepare for the November 1st departature.

Christmas Day Event

Christmas 2017 dinner at the Sumter Oaks RV Park Christmas Day Escapees RV club event. Thank you to the Pattons for the photo.

Thanksgiving 2017 was novel when wearing shorts at our festive table outside. But Christmas was tougher being away from family and friends. We shared in the Christmas festivities of the Escapees RV Club here at Sumter Oaks RV Park with a Christmas dinner on Christmas Day. We paid the club $2/plate for the ham and the rest of the table provided the remainder of the feast. We had a great conversation with a Red Cross couple at our table and enjoyed the presence of others on the holiday day. We also had a great opportunity to worship both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in Zephyrhills, FL, at a WELS church.

At each step of the way we asked ourselves, “are we really doing this?” We look back to the preparation to begin full time RVing and it was amazingly euphoric as we went through that now. As we reflect on this history there is little we would do differently, it had to be led with some prayer and some leaps through the uncomfortable. This was the right time. God guided us through a number of ups and downs to give us the ability to now appreciate what we do have and to appreciate even more so what we do not now have. What started with a lucrative offer ended up being status quo, we knew it was not about the money but it was about the flexibility of Jason being able to spend more time with Barb and for us to become nomadic together. The qualities of life for both have increased because of sacrifices we have made and so have those around us.

August 2017 – Repacking and purging the RV basement, another “big milestone moment”

While we look back at what was a year or more of process, we have many to thank for this. From Jason’s boss and co-workers who enable him to be remote, to our families who helped us clean and repair the house, are storing a few things we need to yet purge, while at the same time now go out of their way online to include us in family events. We have God to thank for the opportunities he gives us and for showing us that by purging stuff and focusing on listening to his guidance we are indeed protected.

Fall 2017 Travel Path

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We are very thankful for a great 2017 and look forward to a less chaotic 2018. Since most campground reservations are either six months in advance or open beginning January 1, we have been planning out the 2018 season. Given Jason has weeks of vacation, we are going to capitize on our annual Disney passess, probably return to Dollywood for Christmas 2018 and in between see some of the bigger sites of the United States and Canada.

We now end our time in Bushnell, FL, since we have arrived in Florida earlier in December. We will return to this area, but now we go to explore other areas of the state. Since we departed River Falls we have made several stops along the way, pausing for a week at each of those spots. Only once did we not stick at one one of the locations we had planned, which was the Mammoth Cave area due to the Internet issues. We look forward to family visiting us now over the next few weeks. Then we will begin our return to the North with an anticipation of being in River Falls, WI, by Easter.

Nights Stayed23: December 11, 2017 - January 2, 20187: Feburary 11-18, 2018
Parking SiteSite 46 for the duration
Sumter Oaks RV Park
4602 CR 673
Bushnell, FL 33513
Site F-5
Blueberry Hill RV Resort

Bushnell, FL 33513
RestaurantsCoyote Rojo
Chuck's Odd Couple Restaurant (breakfast)
Big O's Home Plate (burgers)
Howie's Family Restaurant (breakfast)

From Winter Garden RV Resort notes:
AttractionsDisney World & all the fun (75 minutes East)
Pine Island Beach Park (45 minutes West)
Centro Ybor, Trolley (45 minutes Southwest)
Dade Battlefield State Park ($3/vehicle) (15 minutes North)
WELS ChurchesGrace of Spring Hill, FL
Emmanuel Lutheran of Zephyrhills, FL
Remember for Next TimeC Y Western Co (clothing)

The chinese restaurant West of Walmart is horrible.
AT&T Coverage4G LTE poor to great, depending on whether the service is horrible when overloaded over the holidays. Using a directional antenna on the WeBoost helps, we can change the direction of the antenna to a different tower that is not so overloaded.4G LTe Excellent

Full bars 30-50 Mbps down and 5-10 Mbps up. Latency good between 40 and 50 ms. At the highway it is not the same story, so the sector of the tower covering the RV park is much better.
Verizon Coverage4G LTE good4G LTE Excellent
WiFi CoverageNone, not providedThere is a WiFi service, but impossible to get in because of all of the hotspot interference.
Anytime FitnessA good quality gym in Bushnell, FL, by Walmart (showers were pretty dirty though)
Mail ServicesCan receive packages via USPS and UPS at main address, First Class mail is forwarded to the mail service in Livingston, TX. FedEx delivers directly to the site when the site # is in the address.UPS and FedEx will deliver directly to the site if you include the site number in the address. USPS delivers to the office and then the office hides it on you. Really they put in the mail room and don't tell you there is a mail room. But they do have a good process for those that are here permanently.