Our travel adventures began in the early summer of 1991. But wait... there's more to the story!
During our forties, Sharon and I would have frequent conversations about purchasing a motorhome when we retired and travel extensively throughout North America. Our travel adventure discussions received a jumpstart with a wake up call from my heart.
During the summer of 1990, at the age of 50, I started to have chest pains. Sure enough, I had a 98% blockage in the left anterior descending artery that connects to the left coronary artery going to my heart. My condition required a bypass operation. That frightful experience changed our whole outlook on life from that day forward.
Following my bypass operation we quickly scrapped the plan to wait until our retirement to purchase a motorhome. The uncertainty of what the future holds, convinced us we needed to start enjoying the RV lifestyle immediately, while our health permits us to do so. Thus, our quest began for the purchase of our first motorhome in the spring of 1991.
I turned to one of my business clients for guidance on motorhomes. He owned a motorhome manufactured by Fleetwood Enterprises, a Class A, Bounder model, 30 foot long, with a front mounted V8 gas engine. I was impressed with the construction and layout of the Fleetwood motorhomes and did some extensive research on the manufacturer. Our decision made, off we go to Crystal Lake RV in Crystal Lake, Illinois in the early summer of 1991 to look at their selection of used motorhomes. After looking through several Fleetwood manufactured Class A motorhomes, we selected a 1989 Pace Arrow, 32 feet long with a front mounted V8 gas engine. It looked to be in pristine condition and had less than 2,600 miles on the odometer. The dealer took us for a short test drive then turned it over to me to drive. Oh my God!!! I had never driven anything this big before in my life. Thank goodness we were on a two-lane back road with little traffic. I was driving down the middle of the road and said a silent prayer to myself when oncoming traffic approached. My poor old heart was pumping like crazy, through my new bypass, by the time we pulled back into the dealers lot! A short huddle on the side with Sharon and the decision was made. We would now have the perfect vehicle to begin our travel adventures.
1989 Pace Arrow Motorhome
We completed the purchase and arranged a late afternoon pickup for the following week. I figured by late afternoon the rush-hour traffic would be cleared out. I wanted as much road as I could get to drive this beast home! Upon our arrival at the dealer, they provided us with a brief instruction on how everything worked (very little of this did we retain), handed me the keys and off we go. Sharon is following me in our car on the two-lane back roads I am taking on the fifty mile journey to our home. Our first stop is to my sister's home in Barrington Hills, Illinois to show her family our new purchase. They have an archway over the entrance to their five-acre estate that I somehow miraculously cleared upon entering. It is pitch dark when we finally depart my sister's home and we have a forty mile drive ahead of us. Once again I somehow clear the archway and I'm again white-knuckle driving on the two-lane back roads. Upon our arrival at home, we both breathe a sigh of relief and have a celebratory cocktail, while we stare in wonder and amazement at our new home on wheels.
We traveled extensively in our 1989 Pace Arrow motorhome during the summer of 1991 through the spring of 1995. Our travels took us to numerous scenic locations throughout the Midwest, a trip to the Adirondack Mountains in Upstate New York and a trip to Mount Rushmore and the Badlands in South Dakota. We would take our grandchildren on weekend winter ski trips throughout Wisconsin and Michigan. The onboard generator would provide power to the furnace throughout the night to keep the interior of the motorhome fairly warm, in the frigid cold winter weather.
As the years passed, the motorhome manufacturers started manufacturing Class A motorhomes with rear mounted diesel engines (fondly referred to as diesel pushers). We were now seasoned motorhome veterans and getting the itch to upgrade! In the spring of 1995 we attended the spring RV show in South Bend, Indiana. We drove our Pace Arrow there to use as a trade, in the event we found a diesel pusher to our liking. After many hours of walking through the motorhomes on display, we made our selection: a brand new 1995 Safari Sahara motorhome, 36 feet long with a rear mounted 225 horsepower Cummins diesel turbocharged engine. The motorhome was outfitted with a full-sized refrigerator, stand alone ice maker, washer and dryer, two televisions and a combination stereo radio with cassette tape and CD. The bathroom was nicely designed and had a glass enclosed shower with a skylight. The master bedroom had a queen-sized bed, television, a makeup table with mirror and plenty of storage cabinets. The storage compartment underneath was massive, about six feet in length and open throughout the width of the motorhome. On top were two roof air conditioners, one for the main living area and one for the master bedroom. It had an onboard six kilowatt propane powered generator to power all of the electrical requirements. It had a 50 gallon propane tank, 100 gallon fuel tank, 100 gallon water tank, 50 gallon black water tank and a 50 gallon gray water tank.
1995 Safari Sahara Motorhome
In early June of 1995 we traveled to Tom Raper RV in Richmond, Indiana and spent the night in the dealers lot in our Pace Arrow. The dealer provides electric and water hookups for overnight guests. The next morning we completed the paperwork, did the instructional walk through and were on our way. This Safari motorhome would now become our mode of transportation to tour North America until we reached our retirement years.
We spent many wonderful years enjoying life on the road in our Safari motorhome. I used it frequently for my business sales trips throughout the Midwest. We spent memorable winter ski vacations in Colorado with the grandchildren. We enjoyed unbelievable scenic adventures in the Badlands of South Dakota, Devils Tower in Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park in Montana and Wyoming, Grand Tetons National Park in Wyoming, Glacier National Park in Montana, Banff National Park and the Columbia Icefield Glacier in Canada.
Throughout all of our travel adventures we had the faithful companionship of Heidi, our 100 pound Old English Sheepdog. She came into our lives as a tiny puppy at eight weeks old, just a few days before Christmas 1995. Oh how she loved to travel! When she heard the engine start on the motorhome, she would nestle down by the passenger seat next to Sharon, and just enjoy the ride. She blessed our lives with her love and devotion throughout the ten years she was a member of our family. She is sorely missed to this day.
Heidi - Her First Day Home!
December 16, 1995
As we entered the first decade of the twenty-first century, maintenance expenses and fuel costs for the Safari motorhome were having a significant impact on our budget. We determined that maintaining our present motorhome or upgrading to a newer one would not be financially prudent during our retirement years. We decided we would downsize to a small travel trailer.
During our many years of traveling we observed many different styles of travel trailers. One model in particular always intrigued us, it is a single axle, all-fiberglass trailer called a Scamp that is manufactured in Backus, Minnesota.
In the spring of 2007, I began my research of fiberglass trailers by visiting the Scamp website. The information I gleaned from their website led me to a search of other fiberglass trailer manufacturers, where I discovered the Casita Travel Trailer, manufactured in Rice, Texas. After completing my research of several brands of fiberglass trailers, I narrowed my focus to the construction, amenities and floor plans offered by Casita and Scamp. In August 2007, we made a tentative decision to purchase a Casita. Our decision was based on the floor plans offered and the single axle with 14-inch wheels. The Scamp had 13-inch wheels. I believed there was an added safety factor with the larger wheels on the Casita. We called the factory and made an appointment to tour their manufacturing facility in November 2007.
During our tour of the Casita manufacturing facility, we were very pleased with how the trailers were manufactured and placed our order for a model year 2008, 17-foot, Casita Spirit Deluxe, with a completion date in May 2008. We took delivery of our Casita on May 20, 2008 and have been having the time of our lives in our "little home on wheels."
Our home base is in the Chicago area. We travel and live in the Casita about 5-6 months each year. We also maintain an online business that helps to supplement our retirement income. We are always looking for the next breath-taking vista that awaits us as we travel down the road. When we are home we get our dental and medical needs tended to, spend our time gardening, just relaxing, or visiting some of our favorite places in and around Chicago. After a month or so at home, we start planning our next adventure!
Safe travels to all!
May Your Journey Through life Be Healthy, Happy And
Full Of Wondrous