We're going to try and bring you some interesting and entertaining people who are out there writing travel and RV'ing blogs and perhaps introduce you to someone new. Our first attempt celebrates a couple who are moving on to a new stage in life, and we're so happy for them!
Some of our RV'ing readers will immediately recognize Sam and Donna from 5th Wheel Vagabonds.
They've been writing their blog almost daily for over three years now as they count down to retirement, and now it's finally happening! They set out this morning for their first month long trip!
Kevin and Ruth: If it's okay with you, we'll start off with some personal details. Sam, you've got an interesting history, can you tell us a little about your time in the Navy and then as an officer of the law?
Sam and Donna: I was born on 04-01-48 in Scranton Pa., to a great family. My mother was Angelica Genett Weibel of Italian descent. Taught me all I know about cooking. I was schooled in the Scranton School District, and graduated from Scranton Technical High School where I had studied Electronics. I was also a great swimmer and had Red Cross Senior Life Saving, and Water Safety Instructor by the time I graduated from high School. Little did I know this would have a profound effect on my U.S. Navy Service.
In basic training they saw those swimming certificates, and after attending AE A school I was assigned to Helicopter Combat Squadron 2, where I served 4 years as an Aviation Electrician and Special Duty Rescue Air Crewman and Rescue swimmer. What a great time.
Kevin and Ruth: And after the Navy? Where did you head to then?
Sam and Donna: Well, after leaving the Navy, I moved to St Louis MO. I was hired by the Bellefontaine Neighbors Police Dept as a patrol officer, and after 4 years I went to the Dellwood MO. Police Dept where I stayed another 27 years, retiring as Ass’t Chief. I have to say I never regretted either job and loved both of them.
Kevin and Ruth: A St. Louis police officer. I'll bet you've got some stories you could tell! And I would think it was dangerous at times to, wasn't it?
Sam and Donna: Yes, both could be dangerous at times, and yes I was shot at a few times, but overall it was a great life. I retired from the Police Service in 1986 with 31 years total. Worked several retirement jobs including 7 years as Chief in Lake Sherwood MO. I have to say there are a lot of times when it’s more fun being an Indian than a chief! For the last two years, I have been fully retired.
Sam, with his buddy, Riggs the Wonderdog!
Kevin and Ruth: Somewhere in all those years, you met Donna...
Sam and Donna: Yes, I met Donna when I was working in Dellwood and she worked the midnight shift at a restaurant after working the afternoon shift at a trucking company. Always the workaholic. We married in 1978. Donna’s Dad was in the trucking industry so Donna worked for many companies after she graduated from college. After deregulation several had to close and she had to move around. She had held almost every office in a company from terminal manager and office manager, to accountant, or dispatcher. Donna has always been the brains of the outfit!
Donna and Riggs relaxing in the 5th wheel.
Kevin and Ruth: Speaking of brains, lets talk a little about Donna's history in that regard. I understand that Donna has an interesting university degree that she's never used to earn an income!
Sam and Donna: As you can see I shortchanged Donna a bit. Donna was born at an early age in St Louis MO, she was raised in Eureka MO. In a little town named Times Beach. Which is gone now because of a chemical scare in the 70’s.The whole town and any signs of it ever being there including signs and old building are gone. She attended college, and got a degree in Biology. And yes, she never worked in her field of study. Thank goodness her field was trucking and for most of the time she made a decent salary.
Kevin and Ruth: And now she's retired?
Sam and Donna: Donna’s retirement date was 05-17-13. We took the weekend off and then Tuesday (today) we will be heading south to Fla. & Ms. For about a month. We also are planning an Indiana trip this summer, and then who knows where, hoping by winter to head south again, either Fla. Or south Texas.
Kevin and Ruth: And you're doing all of this traveling in your RV? How long have you been RV'ing?
Sam and Donna: How long have we been RV’ing? Well lets see. Our son Andy was about 8 years old and he’s in his thirties now. I don’t remember the exact year but it was around 1986. We were planning on taking a vacation out west to the Grand Canyon. One of the cops I worked with said "hey why don’t you take my pop up and you can stay in it one night and a motel the next and still save a bunch of money".
It was a Coachman Casino Royale and after the first night we enjoyed camping so much we never did stay in a motel for the whole 3 week trip. When my buddy Randy that owned the Donut shop said his Dad had an old Shasta about 18 feet long and he wanted $300 for it so we bought our first camper, No bathroom and an ice box that you put ice in but it was still camping to us. A couple of years later I bought another pull behind about 20 feet long a Kit Roadranger made in Idaho for cold winters. It did have a bathroom and a double bed and a bunk for Andy. Kept that until '93 when we bought our first fiver a 30foot Wilderness, that we kept to 2006 when we bought the present 30 footer Coachman Chaparral that we have now.
Sam and Donna, camping with friends.
Kevin and Ruth: And so now that you're retired, you're going to be doing some longer trips with the 5th wheel?
Sam and Donna: Up until now we have always used them for extended vacations. But with Donna retiring, we will now think in months instead for weeks. We're not big on boondocking but we like the cheaper campgrounds and state parks. Once we get used to the economics of being retired we plan on Mexico and more. We are still undecided on keeping our house but it looks like we will for awhile. Both the tow vehicles we have had have been diesels. A 93 Chev 1/ 2ton with a 6.2 diesel with 185 hp. It was adequate, but just barely. In 2004 we went to the 2500HD Duramax with the Alison trans. An 315 hp. That was the way to go we get 11-13mpg towing, and 19-20mpg without the trailer. It has turned out to be a reliable truck. Probably the best vehicle we have ever owned, besides a recall on straps for the tailgate, it’s never needed any major repairs, just normal maintenance, brakes etc. Wow, that's a lot of typing. I’l l take a rest now.
Kevin and Ruth: Okay, thanks for spending time with us today Sam and Donna and allowing us a little more insight into your lives. Good luck on your first long term trip!
Well there you have it, our first Blogger Interview. We hope you enjoyed reading it as much as we enjoyed conducting it. You can follow Sam and Donna on their first long term RV trip at the following address...