nancy + phil’s story

We went RVing…because we thought it would be an adventure.

We saw some people RVing in a fifth wheel near Steamboat, Colorado, and thought it would be a great way to travel with our pet (Maggie), and to see our children, who live around the country.


Born: 1947 + 1938

Home State: Nebraska

RVing with: Each other and Maggie (rescue cat)

RVing full-time since: 2004

Type of RV: 2010 Hitchhiker (5th wheel), Ford F-250 diesel tow vehicle

Current Location: La Hacienda RV Resort & Cottages in Austin, Texas

Best thing about RVing: Ability to experience local food from farmers’ markets, the culture of looking out for one another, ease of travel with pets, and ability to see family around the country

Biggest challenge in RVing: Learning to do things differently (like driving a big rig through busy city traffic), opportunities to be of service to others, the importance of teamwork, and the need to carve out personal space on occasion

Life philosophy(ies): Love is important wherever you find it, live in the moment and enjoy it, and family and friends are at the top of the list of what is important

Their Story

Nancy and Phil have been married for 14 years and for the past 7 years they have gone RVing for 10-11 months each year. They spend approximately 5 months each year in Austin, Texas, near one of their children and the rest of the time visiting other family members around the United States. They have explored at least 20 states and a few Canadian provinces during their time on the road.

A long-time real estate investor, Nancy spent many years in the residential rental market before giving it up during the home-ownership bubble to work in the public sector, earning her Master of Public Administration degree along the way. She jokes that she did the national average (18 months) as a fundraiser for the American Red Cross before getting back into real estate, this time on the commercial side. She currently owns a marina on the beautiful Lake of the Ozarks, one of the few properties she retained when Phil retired and they decided to go RVing full-time.

Phil says he never intended to teach, but went on to work as a public school educator for 42 years. He unexpectedly secured his first teaching job just after graduation from college at mid-year. He was home visiting his parents and a local teacher became pregnant and had to take mandatory leave, so he interviewed for the position, was hired, and taught at the school for four years. Over the years, he taught history, political science, English, and Latin. Then he became a school administrator and spent the last 20 years of his career as a school superintendent (he accomplished some very important things in his city…and even has a school named after him!).

Their first rig was a Hitchhiker fifth wheel, purchased in 2004. Eleven days after they took delivery of the RV, Nancy’s best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer, and so the RVing was put on hold while Nancy cared for her friend. Once her estate was settled, they hit the road and have been happily RVing ever since! Both say that this new RV, their second rig, is different than their first.

As Nancy says, “This one is much nicer…we have a REAL bathroom. Phil now has his own closet, and so does Maggie.” Maggie is their beautiful rescue cat that they both joke was a pregnant teenager when they got her. Other meaningful differences in this new RV include a convection oven, 50amp, and a much better workstation for Nancy to run the marina from the road.

Phil goes on to say that although the bathroom in this RV is much nicer, it still is only one bathroom. He says, “The reality is that it’s still one bathroom, but I don’t mind using the showers in the park. It’s more convenient, and easier than sitting around waiting—we’re both impatient—for the other one to be finished.”

As a result, they plan very carefully where they stay (you should see the uber-organized system Nancy has!) to ensure that the parks have first-rate shower and laundry facilities. They both note that there are definitely places that don’t have first-rate facilities, but they don’t stay in those for very long; usually when just passing through, or if there is no other alternative near a family member.

Both Nancy and Phil recommend that anyone interested in going RVing long-term realize the importantance of buying an RV large enough to live in easily for many months at a time. They also tout the benefits of having an RV when visiting family:

  • you get to stay in your own place, and
  • you’re not in their house.

They love that they have gotten to see more of the country that they never knew they were missing. Listen to this short clip as Nancy and Phil describe some unique experiences they had in some out-of-the-way places.


Ultimately, what both Nancy and Phil find especially enjoyable about full-time RVing is the culture of people who look after one another.

As Nancy says, “Everyone here is a friend you haven’t [yet] met!”

She goes on to describe their first winter in Texas and how a nice gentleman came by, noticed they were having a bit of difficulty navigating the RV into the space, and offered to back it in for them. Another example is when Phil’s mother passed away unexpectedly and she had to stay behind with the RV; everyone in the park was checking in on her all the time, seeing how she was doing and whether she needed anything.

As she summarizes, “I just know that if anything happens, people are going to watch out for me, because we’re all in the same boat.”

Candy’s note: Nancy and Phil have been our next-door neighbors all winter, and these two energetic, fit, multi-talented, well-educated, extraordinarily humble people are salt of the earth. It would take months of unending listening to fully plumb the depths of their story. I am honored to have been privy to even this much of it!

Want to hear the uncut interview? Listen!

Click any image to begin the slideshow…enjoy!

Joy - April 7, 2011 - 1:24 am

Great story! Makes me lonesome for the days I was a full-timer! RVer’s are certainly a special breed. Candy & Tim, you’re blessed to have had such interesting neighbors. Can’t wait to hear the next story!

Candy - April 13, 2011 - 11:43 pm

Thanks Joy! I bet you do miss those days occasionally!

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