Archive for RV retirement

Birthplace of Elvis Presley

Birthplace of Elvis Presley

A MarketWatch post by Joseph F. Coughlin suggests that retirees need a vacation from retirement! Really? Yet what he says makes sense. At any stage of life, including retirement, we can get stuck in a rut. According to Coughlin, a “vacation” can be a chance to renew your relationship with your partner, refresh your mind and reinvigorate your mind and body with a thrill.

The RV lifestyle gives more opportunities to do this than the stick ‘n brix lifestyle, though some RVers do park in one spot and get stuck in a routine. Even traveling can get routine if you let it. However, while traveling, it can be easy to locate interesting sights, museums and find physical activities that challenge you. You do need to focus on it, though, and not let yourself get stuck in a rut. Many activities are free or low cost. You can find free interpretive walks in national parks. Towns may have things going on – concerts, talks, book discussions and more. With Internet connections readily available on smart phones, it can be easy to locate activities with a little research. And visitor centers are also good resources as are local newspapers and bulletin boards in supermarkets and the library.

Take full advantage of the RV lifestyle and live fully. At some point, travel may not be realistic because of health or financial reasons. Enjoy every moment you can! Jaimie Hall Bruzenak

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After years of being an air traffic controller, Jonathon Look was looking forward to a worry-free environment and a comfortable life, but he realized that was the path to stagnation and boredom. Instead, at age 50, Jonathon sold everything he owned and began traveling the world.

For me, the RV lifestyle was all about pushing the boundaries and getting out of our comfort zone. Part of it was the unknown factor of costs and having to earn a living. By cutting the umbilical cord of a house and steady jobs, we realized that we could always earn money and we could live on a limited budget – many costs were actually lower and we saved more money than before. I worked in maintenance, jobs totally unlike my career. Then I became an interpretive ranger for the National Park Service, learning about the Klondike Gold Rush and sharing that with visitors from all over the world. We went to new places, learned to boondock on public lands and made new friends. We had adventures we never would have had.

You don’t have to travel the world or even in an RV to challenge your comfort zone but it is a good way to do so. If you have a bucket list you are checking off or like to visit family, RV travel is the perfect way to do so.

In his article “The Magic of Leaving Your Comfort Zones in Retirement”  for Forbes Magazine, Look says:

Comfort zones should be places where we go to relax, reflect and rejuvenate. They should not become permanent retirement destinations where we passively allow time to slip away.

Is RVing the way you will challenge yourself and be alive during your retirement years? Jaimie Hall Bruzenak

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Painting Dead Horse State Park“It seems that staying active in retirement is an important part of maintaining one’s cognitive abilities…” according to Susan Rohwedder, Associate Director of the RAND Center for the Study of Aging. In an article, “Mental Retirement” in The Journal of Economic Perspectives, she and co-author Robert J Willis found that “nations with an earlier retirement age saw the most rapid declines in fluid intelligence.”

Retiring to an RV is a way to stay engaged with life. You are using your brain, for one. Planning your journeys, picking routes and places to stop plus seeing new sights is all stimulating. Many RVers get involved with one club or another, participating in activities and expanding their “community.” Others work or volunteer. Hobbies can also be a way to use your brain.

Retire to an RV – not the couch! Jaimie Hall Bruzenak


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From the mile-high mountains of Idyllwild, we dropped down to the desert near Palm Springs. Though I have traveled both I-10 and I-40, I had never visited Joshua Tree National Park. Both my sister and I were looking forward to exploring it. There are visitor centers at Joshua Tree, Twentynine Palms – both off CA Hwy 62 south of I-40 and at Cottonwood off I-10. We were staying in Joshua Tree so went to that visitor center to get maps and hiking information. That afternoon we drove Park Blvd in the park as far as the Jumbo Rock Campground where Skull Rock is located. Most of the Mojave Desert is pretty bland compared to the more lush Sonoran Desert but the rock formations in Joshua Tree are amazing and huge!

After breakfast the next morning we hiked the Boy Scout Trail, turning off to Willow Hole. Most of the Joshua trees were much taller than we expected since they are in the yucca family. I had read that yuccas are in the lily family, but they have broken up the lily family into distinct classes and the Joshua tree is considered an agave. The few spring blooms left were fading and pods forming. We eventually followed a wash among tall boulders back to an area with willows. While we never found standing water, the greenery of grasses, shrubs and trees indicated that water was available. It was so nice to have a shady spot for our lunch.

I wanted to locate an Airstream hotel a friend had told us about – Lazy Desert in Landers, north of Yucca Valley. The GPS took us by a slightly circuitous route by Integratron, where you can take a “sound bath.” The sound bath will have to wait until another time but a couple of people thought it was well worth it. It’s well known enough now that you need to make an appointment, not just drop in. Lazy Desert was disappointing. The website made it seem a lot more interesting than the reality- six Airstreams plopped down in a rather bare area in a chain link fence with nothing around! Quite a ways to town or activities.

Searching for a place to eat, we then drove to Twentynine Palms. The Bistro was done but we checked out the 29 Palms Inn. Long used by the Serrano Indians, the Oasis of Mara is now surrounded by a hotel and restaurant with funky little houses and cabins to stay in. Their restaurant didn’t look that great so we went back to Joshua Tree, which doesn’t  have a huge choice of eateries but the Crossroads Cafe and Saloon turned out to be a good choice. We were served before it began filling up for an open mike night of music. We couldn’t resist a Cinco de Mayo pic!

The next morning, after putting air in the tire (turned out to be a nail) and breakfast, we did a short hike before heading to Los Angeles. Hidden Valley is a one-mile nature trail, in a rock-enclosed valley rumored to have been used by cattle rustlers. Short but gorgeous.

RVs can camp in some national park campgrounds. In a couple there are length restrictions. Campgrounds with hookups are available outside the park. Yucca Valley has a Walmart and is the largest of the three cities on the north side of the park. Jaimie Hall Bruzenak


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My sister and I haven’t traveled too much together in the past several years because of her babysitting duties but we recently did a fun trip together. We spent two nights in Idyllwild, in Southern California up in the mountains west of Palm Springs and two nights in Joshua Tree (next post). Idyllwild is a lovely mountain town about a mile high with Ponderosa pine and with mountains on two sides. It’s a touristy town because it is a pretty easy drive from metropolitan Los Angeles. We had time for two hikes, plus wandering a little around town and meeting Mayor Max, along with deputy mayors Misty and Mike – elected for life!

Our first hike was on the Deer Spring trail, taking the cutoff to Suicide Rock. High above the town, this huge outcropping dropped straight down. It would have been death to fall or jump, whether on purpose or by accident. It was a worthy turnaround point and our longest hike- about 10 miles. ugh…. The next morning we hiked an easier Ernest Maxwell Scenic Trail with views of Suicide Rock from below. More parking was at the trailhead at the top but we wanted to hike up, then down so found a place to park at the other end. Other hikers told us the beautiful red plant was a snow flower – actually snow plant. It obtains nutrition from fungi located underneath the soil, not chlorophyll.

There are RV parks in the area. Trail heads do not have room for an RV and you need a permit or pass. We also needed a free wilderness pass to hike to Suicide Rock. And, there are no taxis. Lovely place to spend some time. Jaimie Hall Bruzenak

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An advantage of staying put for a season is that you are more likely to find out about special events. The Tucson Cactus and Succulent Society puts on a garden tour in the spring. Timing was perfect for some wonderful blooms. One garden was artfully laid out by homeowners. Another home belonged to a metal sculptor. His gardens weren’t extensive though he had a unique double-crested saguaro growing in his yard. Another was a wholesaler and, after walking by a lovely pond, we ended at a retail nursery.

The contrast of colorful flowers in a desert is heart warming. This has been a fabulous spring with all the rain the desert has had. Lucky to be here! Jaimie Hall Bruzenak


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Volunteering at Big Bend National Park

Volunteering at Big Bend National Park

Volunteering on the road can be good for RVers. It’s a way to have structure but not as much as a “real” job. It can be satisfying and a way to give back. And, some volunteer assignments include a free RV site so help the budget and provide a place to stay when in an area.

In a  Forbes article, “What You Need To Know About Volunteering During Retirement” by Robert Laura, the author mentions a few points that should be considered by RVers. One point is “Set realistic expectations for your role with the organization.” He suggests you ask about an exit strategy in the event it doesn’t work out. The best advice, though, is to be realistic. Volunteer organizations are not perfect. They are usually run on tight budgets. There may be personality issues or deficiencies.

Knowing, that even if it isn’t perfect, you are contributing in some way, that it is serving as a means to an end and that it’s not a career can help you get through any rough spots and feel good about what you are doing. Jaimie Hall Bruzenak

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February 27, 2015
Categories : RV retirement

That is very hard for many of us but is a crucial element of a successful retirement according to Robert Laura, author of the Forbes article, “How To Practice Being Happy In Retirement.” He’s not talking about being lazy or staying in bed all day. According to Laura:

Beautiful vistas!

Enjoying a beautiful vista in Monument Valley

“It means ‘mindfully’ doing nothing. To stop and smell the roses; to be grateful for what we have and maximize what we’ve accumulated, instead of seeking more. Happiness, after all, is a state of mind that needs to be cultivated and practiced.”

Type A personalities will likely have more trouble than others and it may take time to slow down. And when new to RVing, most RVers focus on seeing lots of new places. However, we can focus on enjoying them rather than collecting souvenirs. We can stay an extra day or two soaking up the sights rather than racing off to the next place. The longer we are on the RV road, the slower we tend to go but acquiring that practice earlier will bring a deeper satisfaction to your life and travels plus save you money on fuel and lodging. (You may be able to take advantage of weekly or monthly rates for your RV site or even get your site free in return for working or volunteering.)

Laura writes about two other elements. The three of these are not among the typical suggestions for preparing for retirement so they should give you food for thought.

One other suggestion for new RVers: don’t make any promises to be somewhere by a certain time — unless you have to be at a wedding or a job or similar obligation. Chances are you’ll wish you could take more time somewhere along the way instead of being tied into a schedule. George and I also do not make reservations until that day, exceptions being holidays or an area where RV sites are limited. And we plan stops of more than one day into the itinerary. In fact itinerary may be a misnomer. We have a loose plan.

You’ll figure it out but think about your level of contentment and whether it is something it would benefit you to cultivate. Then enjoy the journey! Jaimie Hall Bruzenak

Categories : RV retirement
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February 15, 2015
Categories : RV retirement, Saving money

Rebecca Sheppard, staff writer for, suggests that “Before Your Retirement Move, Ask Yourself These Questions.” In a nutshell, she suggests you thoroughly check out a new location before moving there.

If you think you’d like to relocate in retirement, RVing can help you make the decision. First, you can travel, checking out places as you go. If we at all like an area, George and I like to pick up the real estate booklets or peruse the Sunday ads to get an idea of what is being offered and the prices.

Second, you can get an idea whether or not it would be a match and comfortable for you. Some of the items Sheppard suggests you check out include walkability and transportation, shopping, entertainment and more.

Third, if a location makes your short list, how about finding an RV spot and staying there for a year or more before making a final decision and finding other housing? It may turn out that you enjoy the weather during one season but there are bugs or miserable weather during others. What seems like a quiet town isn’t so quiet and you have trouble meeting compatible friends. Living in an RV park, though not exactly the same as a neighborhood, can keep you from making an expensive mistake.

In the meantime, you have freedom to move and to see more of the country and are probably spending less in the meantime. Jaimie Hall Bruzenak

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Class C The idea of living full-time in an RV seems to have captured the attention of journalists. I came across a couple of articles that might be of interest if you are considering RV retirement.

In “What is it like to live in an RV full time?” Chris Neiger, at, gives a glimpse of five different full-time RVers living the RV lifestyle. One woman works on the road, another RVer is actually a family of six and another is a family of five where the husband works remotely from his RV. Maybe one of those five matches what you envision.

In “These RV-riding retirees will make you incredibly jealous of their life on the road,” at Yahoo Finance, the focus is more in depth on one couple, Carroll and Basil Melnyk. They have traveled to all 50 states, living on a fixed income, the bulk of which consists of Carroll’s pension and both of their Social Security benefits. They keep their IRA and 401(k) savings on hand for the years when they won’t be able to manage year-round travel any longer. They typically spend $2,000 to $2,800 a month. Most years fuel takes between 8-10% of their budget though they have spent as much as 20%. (This should be a good year for them.) They now spend winters in Tucson but take other trips, including an international one each year. They have purchased a condo in Ruidoso, NM for when they settle down. Read the article to get some tips on how they save money.  Jaimie Hall Bruzenak