Our plans, like the plans of many, took a turn due to the coronavirus pandemic, but in reviewing our 2020-2021 “dreamline” that we wrote down in April 2020, we mostly stayed on track.

Our 2 year stint in Colorado sadly came to a close in summer of 2020. From Steamboat Springs, we drove to Illinois with all the possessions we would need for the next several months in 1 SUV + a roof box.

We landed in Illinois around the 4th of July and spent about 10 weeks visiting family and friends, starting home school, and decompressing from all the logistics of the last few months preparing to leave Steamboat and launch our Airbnb rental. We also had time to build a little bike track at Mom and Dad Bowman’s in Roselle and do a quick trip to Saugutuck, Michigan.

The pandemic forced us to rethink our Florida plans. Since Disney World wasn’t selling annual passes, we decided to cut the length of our visit to about 8 weeks. Instead, we traveled back to our home in Steamboat Springs during the Fall shoulder season for about 3 weeks. We spent time mountain biking and hiking before taking a 1 week extended road trip (36 hours of driving) from Colorado to Florida stopping in Colorado Springs, Tulsa, OK, and Rosemary Beach, FL.

Our Location Map for 2020

Disney World was a of course a highlight of our time in Florida, but I (Kathi) found myself missing certain things that make Disney special. There was no hugging princesses or shaking hands with Mickey Mouse. Most shows were not running as many actors have not yet returned to their stages. And of course, we spent time wrangling children to make sure they didn’t wander into other people’s personal space and stood dutifully on the lines marked 6 feet apart. They surprisingly never complained about wearing masks in the Florida heat. 

Princess sighting at Magic Kingdom on Lexi’s birthday

With faces half covered, it became more obvious that most of the thrill of Disney World is seeing the joy on the kids’ faces. Overall, we had a great time though and hosted 3 groups of visitors, saw a manned rocket launch at Kennedy Space center, and overall enjoyed the warmth of Florida in Nov-Dec.

After a quick return holiday visit to Chicago and a 5-day stop at our place in Steamboat Springs, we headed to my parents’ home in Las Vegas.

We were busy in Vegas but still had time for fun.  Short Hike In Red Rock Conservation Area Near Vegas (Above). 7 Magic Mountains with Babcia and Dzia-Dzia (Below)

Our first priority after arriving in Las Vegas in late January was purchasing a truck and RV. We only had about 8 weeks to do that! Since there are so many technicalities to towing a trailer, we had to put the cart in front of the horse and start with RV shopping.

Thanks to lots of Youtube research, we were pretty set on a Grand Design 5th wheel when we headed out to Blue Dog RV in Vegas. For those of you like us who know very little about RV towing, the main difference between a 5th wheel and a travel trailer is that a 5th wheel connects in the bed of a truck rather than a hitch under the bumper. This makes for easier towing – an important feature to first-timers like us.

RVs have been a hot commodity during the pandemic and they didn’t have our exact model on the lot. They did have one that was 1 ft longer (33ft vs 32ft) and offered a separate bunk space for the girls with a much-welcomed door. This momma was dead set on getting that door! For the amount of time we plan to spend together in this home on wheels, I felt paying for (and towing) an extra foot was worth it to maintain sanity.

Now that we had the specs of our trailer, the hunt for a truck began. We originally were set on getting a Ford F250.  We quickly found out that used heavy-duty trucks are difficult to find with all the features we wanted (camera system helpful for towing, diesel engine, and sufficient towing capacity) We also were pressed for time so couldn’t spend weeks browsing the used inventories.

After searching a 100 mile radius for F250s for a week and getting retargeted with truck ads all over the place, it became obvious that going with a Ram 2500 would make the search easier. We ended up getting a new 2020 Ram. This truck is definitely the most powerful vehicle we’ve ever driven and maybe the most luxurious too!  It has taken some time to get used to driving this tank, but we are quickly getting used to it. I still park way in the back of parking lots to avoid maneuvering this beast into a standard parking spot.

There is so much more to this purchasing saga I will not bore you with! Let’s just say it involves payload freak-outs and a few overnight UPS envelopes to complete registration for truck and trailer out of state. Next time we’ll do all this purchasing in our home state!

After driving away with the new RV and figuring out storage and parking for a few weeks, our next focus was stocking it with all the things we will need for our travels, from plates and bed sheets to a fire pit and air compressor! We basically had FedEx, UPS, USPS, and Prime trucks dropping off multiple boxes per day for a few weeks!

Setting up

At the time of posting this, we’ve completed one test run for 2 nights (sans kids) at Lake Mead and then went back there for 1 week with the kids.

We’re now in the midst of what we’re calling the Southwest Tour – Arizona, New Mexico, and West Texas.  We also have a rough itineray for the next year which includes Yellowstone, Smoky Mountains, Florida Keys, and a lot more. Stay tuned!

Girls stuck in the car for our first time unhitching and setting up. It went well but not as peaceful as this picture might suggest!