Confessions of a Traveler…Meet The Garlands
One of the best things about traveling is meeting new people who share similar passions. This is why we bring you Confessions of a Traveler. We love sharing others travel stories to educate, entertain and inspire you to go outside and play!
Meet fellow RV travelers Abby, John and Noah!
How long have you been RV’ing?
John (30) has been RV’ing since 2004, a year after graduating from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. His first assignment was in San Diego, CA and renting an apartment while being stationed on a boat for months at a time didn’t make much financial sense so he purchased a trailer to live in while on land and stored it while traveling distant oceans. His first home on wheels was a hybrid pop-out travel trailer (Starcraft TravelStar 19CK). His next Coast Guard assignment had him traveling around the world frequently, a lifestyle also conducive to RV living. He would live full time in his RV while at his home base, and store it while deployed. John had his first trailer until 2008 when we got married and were sent to Hawaii with the Coast Guard for the next three years. While on the island of Oahu, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, we dreamed of the open road and all the adventures to be had back on the “mainland”. When we found out that our next duty station would be Washington D.C., we decided that this was a perfect opportunity for a cross country RV road trip. We bought our first Motorhome together (from Hawaii- sight unseen) and signed the paperwork on our 3rd Wedding Anniversary (you know, it’s the gift that keeps on giving or um…that keeps on being given-until you pay it off). We dealt with an RV wholesaler directly out of Elkhart, IN and had it delivered to Bremerton, WA where we would be starting our journey! Our son, Noah, was just 6 months old when we started traveling in our Motorhome. He travels like a champ and if he could speak, I think he would say he LOVES RV’ing too! LONG answer to a short question!
Do you have a home base or are you full time?
We have a home base in Washington D.C. – John is on active duty with the U.S. Coast Guard and Abby is a stay at home mom. We would love to full time one day! And yes, it’s possible to drive an RV in DC, just take your time.
Tell us about your RV.
We are the proud owners a 2012 Forester 3121DS Class C motorhome by Forest River.
What’s your favorite part about your RV?
Back in Hawaii we poured over hundreds of makes, models and floor plans and decided on the Forester 3121DS. We think it’s a great floor plan-in particular it’s got a side aisle bathroom which means we don’t have to block off the back of the RV if somebody wants to use the bathroom and you don’t step out into your kitchen/hallway after taking a shower. It has a living room slide out and a bedroom slide out plus GREAT storage space compared to other units we looked at, and being a Class C it is easy to drive, has numerous sleeping options, and the living area fits a pack-n-play perfectly, very important for infant and toddler travel! 🙂
What’s your least favorite part about your RV?
Gas millage- it can hurt the bank, and a rattling stove we can’t seem to quiet! Oh and the travel latch on the shower door closed while John was in it taking a shower and it locked him in completely. Luckily, Abby was nearby and heard his call for help…most people don’t carry a cell phone or pocket tool with them into the shower…so you can imagine it would be pretty bad if you were RVing alone and that happened to you.
Do you tow a car?
We do not tow a car, but we do talk about investing in the tow package quite frequently. We would be towing our 2003 Jeep Liberty. We like to do and see a lot when we travel, and some places are not quite RV accessible/friendly. We definitely see the value of towing a vehicle or some other form of transportation (bicycles, segways, golf carts). Without the benefit of another vehicle, you have to coordinate when to do your shopping and grab meals out prior to arriving at a campground (unless you are at Terry Bison Ranch in Wyoming where the restaurant on the property will actually deliver right to your RV) and get all hooked up and set up in a campsite. Usually, you don’t want to undo all the connections, put everything back in its place, close up the slide outs just to run to the store or grab a meal! We’ve made it work without one though.
What’s your best RV experience?
So many! Our entire cross-country road trip was unbelievable! Our itinerary was fantastic: from Bremerton, WA to Leavenworth, WA (for an RV shakedown) to Walla Walla WA to Baker City, OR to Cascade, ID to Brigham City, UT to Richfield, UT to Arches National Park, UT to Gunnison, CO to Vail and Breckenridge, CO to Cheyenne, WY for Frontier Days. Then we went to Lincoln, NE to Amana Colonies, IA, to Elkhart, IN (to see the RV/MH Hall of Fame) to Cincinnati, OH to Columbus, OH (for the State Fair) to Ronceverte, WV to Williamsburg, VA and finally Washington D.C.-what great memories all of it was!
What’s your worst RV experience?
We really haven’t had any downright horrible experiences (knock on wood), but anything involving black water is pretty nasty! We mostly had “memorable” experiences like surviving a hail storm in Wyoming and a massive lightning storm in Utah. We thought for sure we would lose a tire or break our chassis frame in downtown Denver when the GPS lead us astray (yes, always blame it on the GPS) and we drove the windy maze of one-way streets, massive road constructions projects and potholes, low overhead clearances and temporarily narrowed lines, etc. We had a couple severe diaper blow-outs, not the easiest to deal with in a motorhome while on the road- especially with a squirmy baby!! 🙂 Sorry, that may be TMI, but it’s a reality of traveling with a baby! Also, we nearly got ran off the road by a semi-truck in Utah on our way to Arches National Park- we had our camera with a telephoto lens and were able to get pictures of the license plate and reported it to the Highway Patrol (on a side note- kudos to the Utah Highway Patrol, as we were out in the middle of nowhere, our call kept getting dropped, but they tried calling us back, triangulated where our cell phone signal was coming from and persisted until we were able to establish a good connection!). I’m pretty sure they caught up to with him down the road and dealt with him appropriately. Oh yes, and how could we forget on the 5th day of owning our RV Abby fatefully picked to drive Route 71 in Idaho (coming from Baker City, OR), this was a gravel road up the mountain side along a Damn, with no guard rails, no cell phone service, and signs that said to drive at your own risk and there were no available emergency services…it looked like a neat road to drive on the map though…
What’s your favorite town/city Right Now?
We don’t have a favorite- we have loved things about everywhere we have gotten to go- if we found a favorite place we might be tempted to stop RVing, and we don’t want that to happen yet!! On our cross country trip we drove through a neat looking town called Leadville, CO (off of US Highways 24 and also happens to be the highest incorporated city in the United Sates!) that we’d like to go back to and explore. We also have to give a shout out to Camp Burson at Hungry Mother State Park in Marion, VA-that was an awesome State Park campground!!
Give one piece of advice to other RV’ers.
Enjoy the journey as much as you anticipate the destination! Don’t be afraid of traveling with babies and small kids, the experiences are different, but it’s all we know and totally do-able and enjoyable- this can be a great lifestyle at ANY life stage! Don’t always stick to the highways/interstates…sometimes you just need to try the “other paved road” as shown o state maps-it always leads to some great story/adventure on the other end!