We're now 6 months and 17 days away (thanks for asking!) from officially beginning our retirement journey, and it's beginning to get very, very real. Partly because we are just 2 months and 17 days away from having to order our Tiffin Open Road 36LA to be built (when crunch time really begins), and partially because I have now realized that there is an intricate ballet that I, and others, are now producing, directing, choreographing, and starring in.
Little things, big things and everything in between.
Was speaking with our sales rep at Marlin Ingram the other day on an unrelated matter, and find out that if you're going to do a custom color scheme (which we are), you must officially request it from Tiffin (which we knew), and Tiffin has to send you a rendering of it on paper and electronically and then you have to approve it before things get started (sorta knew that), but that it takes about a month to get everything finalized on custom colors (did NOT know that). Good thing we talked, because if we didn't get the ball rolling on that this month, we'd be behind the 8-ball on something that would have delayed the delivery date for our coach. Here's a photo-shopped look at what our color scheme should look like on a 36LA:
Which fast forwards us to the delivery date. We are set to retire on September 2, 2019. That's our last day of work. Our lease for this apartment ends on or around August 25th. The Open Road models at Tiffin are taking about 14 weeks to order, build and deliver to the dealer, and since you don't just walk onto a lot and pick up your motor home (although some people actually do this, and regret it later), we have to have our order ready and PERFECT for submission to Tiffin by May 1st. And hope that no delays occur in the build or delivery process of more than a week. We'll spend a day and night at the dealer getting acquainted with our new home, then a couple of days nearby in a local RV park to work out any kinks we didn't find at the dealer, and then it's back to Georgia for our last week or so of work.
But how do we get the Mini Cooper back to Georgia? Not like I'm going to be driving our new home around without Barbara sitting next to me, now is it? We'll be dolly towing the Mini across America in retirement, and the tow dolly we'll be using is the American Car Dolly – made here in the good ol' USA. There are many reasons why we will be using their product, but one of them is that they deliver their product to you, and set it up and train you on it's use! This is key for a towing newbie like me. It also means they have to be at the dealer with you when you're picking up the 36LA, or otherwise Barbara will be following me like a little puppy in the Mini as we leave to head back to Georgia. So six weeks before picking up the motor home, we have to order and schedule delivery of the tow dolly for the PRECISE DAY we'll be there.
And hope that all this happens without a hitch.
Did I say hitch? We need to get a drop hitch for the RV that is low enough to ensure that the dolly is level to the ground for towing, and bring that with us to our dealer.
Other need-to-haves that will be packed in that seriously undersized Mini will be an electrical surge guard type product to protect the coach from bad power, water pressure regulator, fresh water hose, a black tank sprayer hose, sewer hose and protective gloves. And that's just for the wet bay and electrical bay. Don't forget a cable and lock for the surge protector. Oh, and the tool bag and emergency kit – just in case. Check, check and check!
In between the ordering date and delivery date is not just sitting back and waiting, either.
We have to head out South Dakota for a few days in early May to establish residency there before the coach is delivered, then schedule 3 or 4 days in Red Bay, Alabama in early to mid-July to take the Tiffin tour so that we can catch a glimpse of our 36LA being built each day (since they no longer allow you to watch your build from the factory floor), and then be back in Red Bay in early August to be able to walk through our completed coach during the final QC process, where we'll be able to catch the (hopefully) few items needed to be fixed before it is sent off to our dealer for delivery. And we won't get any of these dates until the build schedule is set by Tiffin around June 1st. I'm reminded of those early Apollo astronauts who, after traveling a quarter million miles to the moon and another quarter million miles back, had to hit a tiny re-entry window just a few feet wide at a precise speed and angle or they would never see Earth again. I now have an appreciation of what they had to do to make that happen.
I figure our respective employers will be happy to see us leave once we start taking all this time off in such a short timeframe.
And did I mention that we'll be retiring? Barbara will need to apply for Social Security in early May, and I'll need to apply in mid-July for mine.
There are many nice-to-haves that we've been collecting and storing that will be transferred into our new home once we get back to Georgia, and many more we'll be buying before we start traveling in earnest beginning in January of 2020, but since we'll be retired, we can take our time doing some of these things.
All this to say that I'll be developing our own rather lengthy production schedule in the next week or two, in hopes that nothing falls through the cracks or gets missed during this very crucial time in our lives. Stay tuned, because I'll probably share it on this site.
We're Dave and Barbara Richard, and we're living the ultimate retirement experience - traveling the U.S. and Canada in style in a Tiffin Open Road 36LA Class A motor home, playing golf and stopping at every weird and wacky roadside attraction we can find.