Who are these modern day gypsies who spend their lives on the road? What prompted them to leave their former homes and communities for a life on wheels? Each week we will introduce you to some of the fulltime RVers we meet in our travels and those who read this blog.
Can you think of a better way to spend your retirement than living in our country’s beautiful National Parks and other natural areas? Neither could Carl and Sandy Greenbaum, who spend their time volunteering in National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges (NWR).
They’ve been doing it for over eight years and have developed a pattern of volunteering in Florida or Arizona in the winter and at Grand Teton National Park in summer. They have done volunteer gigs in Okefenokee, (three winters), Santa Ana, and at Oregon Coast (two summers) NWRs, Ocala (two winters) and Pisgah National Forest, Tumacacori National Historical Park, Potter Marsh (Alaska), Patagonia Lake State Park in Arizona, Fort Caroline National Memorial, and Grand Teton.
Before retirement they lived in Hudson, New Hampshire for 28 years, where Sandy was a teacher, trainer, and technical writer, and Carl spent 31 years as an electrical engineer. Carl and Sandy have been fulltiming for 4½ years, and for the six years before that they spent 6-9 months a year on road.
Longtime campers, they had two different van campers in the 1970s when their kids were small. From 1982 to 2000 they had a dry spell with no RVs, then they bought a used Safari Trek for weekend and summer trips. When retirement approached, they traded up for a 34 foot National Dolphin, and in early 2007 they traded it for their current coach, a Tiffin Phaeton 35 DH.
They said they began fulltiming when they realized that their condo in Lowell, Massachusetts was setting empty from 6 to 9 months a year, and decided to sell it. Like most new fulltimers, they moved around a lot in the first three years, traveling to Alaska, Mexico, Belize, Newfoundland, and Baja, putting 55,000 miles on the Dolphin in 3½ years. Now they explore new places between volunteer gigs. They have traveled in caravans to Mexico and Belize, and to Baja and Canada several times on their own.
They have been to Alaska twice, a three month “vacation” trip in 2003 that included the usual sites like Fairbanks, Denali, Anchorage, Chicken, Homer, and Seward, plus a several day trip to Juneau by ferry. In 2008 they returned and volunteered at Potter Marsh, just south of Anchorage.
When asked what some of their favorite places have been, Carl and Sandy said wherever they are at the moment. When pressed for a more specific answer, they said it would be Grand Teton and the Oregon Coast.
The Greenbaums belong to the FMCA, Good Sam, and Passport America. They attended two Life on Wheels conferences and several FMCA rallies, all in the first few years. They said they attended many seminars and classes at those events, and rate Mac McCoy’s fire safety classes as their favorites.
Now they rarely go to RV shows and rallies. They are too busy birding, taking photos, volunteering, making new friends and having fun. They want to visit as many National Parks and Wildlife Refuges as possible.
When asked about their best day fulltiming, the Greenbaums said it was hard to choose just one. Maybe close sightings of grizzly bears and moose in the campground at Grand Teton, or perhaps seeing seals, sea lions, thousands of nesting sea birds and gray and Orca whales offshore on the Oregon coast. In both of these cases they were volunteering and these “best days” occurred often!
Their worst day fulltiming was when they were stuck in Birmingham, Alabama for a week with a blown turbo on their coach.
Carl and Sandy agree that the hardest part of leaving their old lives is being away from friends and family. They both had jobs they enjoyed, but traveling across the country is better.
When asked what advice they would give to a newbie, they said that fulltiming is wonderful, but not for everyone. Make sure you love the lifestyle before you sell everything.
Summing up their feelings about their lives as fulltime RVers, Carl and Sandy said that fulltiming and volunteering have given them great opportunities to live in beautiful places, meet many great people, and help others enjoy our parks and refuges. They plan to continue until health or boredom (unlikely) makes them hang up the keys. I suspect that they are having way too much fun for that to happen anytime soon.
Thought For the Day – Being young is beautiful, but being old is comfortable.