Travel Stories: The Search for the Perfect Snowbird Companion
By Kathy Taubman
Our dream has always been to become traveling snowbirds when we retired. Our dream began while owning and operating our own KOA from 1978 through 1981 in Van Horn, Texas. We were exposed to the value KOA has as a family owned business and the value it provides campers. After several challenging setbacks, including a kidney transplant in 2009 for my husband of 42 years, Wayne, we are finally able realize our longtime dream this year.
Where to start? The RV!
We put our plan in motion in January of 2012 starting to search for a used motor home big enough for us to live in for a few months, fit “down” our 100-foot driveway at home in the Quad Cities, and fit within our budget — so we could pay cash. We figured our budget would allow for a 2002-2004 36-38-foot class A. The search proved more challenging than originally anticipated and put thousand of miles on our vehicles — trying to find that “great deal” on Craigslist or eBay. Our goal was to have one by my retirement date of July 2, 2012. This would give us time to get familiar and take a couple shorter trips before heading south after Thanksgiving to become official snowbirds in 2012.
Our original plan was to buy from a private party to get more information about our new home than from an RV dealership. Instead, we ended up buying our rig from a local Iowa dealership and got a great deal, since they needed to move it. We also negotiated a promise from them of giving us the owner’s name and phone number who lived in Tennessee.
In the end, we got the best of both worlds. The dealership would ensure we had a place to service and leave our RV. The conversation with the previous owner meant we’d know the history of the vehicle.
It was love at first site when we walked into this RV. We looked at each other and knew this was our new home on wheels. It was a little larger — and diesel — but it felt like home the minute we set foot inside. Every other RV we liked but found something that wasn’t just perfect but could “live with.”
We ended up with a 2002 Alpha. Not only did the previous owner talk to us on the phone, we were able to meet them in person. We crossed paths with them at the dealership and they came out to our home to go over everything about our new RV. Its nickname is “Grandma Alpha” — since it’s one of the older models Alpha built. They loved it while they had it and it put our minds at ease knowing the care they had given her.
So, where we going in it? KOA, of course! After Thanksgiving, we’re headed to Van Horn, Texas — to the very KOA we owned 30 years ago. We can’t wait to relive the memories. From there, we’re going to Arizona for an extended stay at KOA. We’re excited for our new adventure in the coming months and hope to see you by the campfire.
After owning a KOA of their own back in the 1970s, Kathy and Wayne Taubman have long dreamed of living like the guests they took care of — to buy a house on wheels to tour the country. Following Wayne’s health setbacks and need for a kidney from a live donor they also made it their mission to communicate the benefits of live organ donation. After entering retirement in July this year, they are realizing their dream and traveling the country in their 2002 Alpha RV.