The Next Phase: BOBB-e the Barth

My wife and I decided that we wanted change. We were tired of the ordinary.  Tired is a massive understatement as well . I wasn’t sleeping, was full of stress, and my health was suffering greatly due to exhaustion and burnout. 

Always on my phone

As a web developer for nearly 15 years, I have spent nearly my entire adult life sitting in front of a computer, hunched over with terrible posture.  I was spending tons of money on rolfing therapy, chiropractic work, and individual therapy.  That money was very well spent as those things benefited me greatly, and eventually helped me to make the decision to make a drastic change.  My wife, Kyra, has spent nearly her entire life since a young child performing as an actor.  She set goals for herself, and pursued her passion relentlessly.  But relentless pursuit of your passion sometimes leave you feeling drained and ready for a change, even if just to prove to yourself that you’re capable of something you never thought possible.

That’s where this crazy idea came in.  Kyra had been making a transition over from mainly theater and musicals over to film.  I was in the middle of a job where I was on-call 24/7.  I was yearning for the opportunity to work for myself, but the burdens of paying for a mortgage, 2 cars, and all the “stuff” you could hope for were overpowering.  Kyra was yearning for me to have an opportunity to do that stuff as well since a lot of times it felt as though she was pursuing her dreams while I was watching life pass me by.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a nerd through and through and enjoy all things technology and science related, and by all intents and purposes, I was wildly successful beyond my imagination, but there was still that feeling deep down that I wasn’t living as fully and completely as I could.  Kyra was ready to travel as well, something I had promised when we first got together would be something we’d strive for doing often but fell by the wayside as many things do when life gets in the way.  

Kyra would probably tell it differently, but to me, the defining moment of what led to us making the decision to live in an RV full-time was when we went camping for the first time of 2018 in June at a place near Winter Park.  I was sitting by the fire, enjoying nature to it’s fullest and feeling alive doing menial physical tasks.  Without thinking, I instinctively pulled out my phone and started checking work emails to make sure I hadn’t “missed” anything, and in that moment, it’s like a wave of realization rushed over me.  I had a sudden and intense realization that I was perfectly content with the way we were living in that moment; free, wild, and without boundaries on where we could go. 

It’s like something clicked where I was seeing things differently than I had.  We started mulling over the idea of “what if we just did this all the time?”   We asked ourselves often “what if we didn’t have the burdens of life and bills holding us back from doing this?”  We went home from that trip hungry for more, and that’s when we started the journey in earnest.

The first thing we did was get online and searched for some youtube videos on “full-time rv life”.  We had watched many documentaries and videos years ago on the tiny home lifestyle, and were very interested in it but eventually put off by the requirement of finding land to put it as that felt like the problem we already had in life.  This lifestyle felt different though.  The idea of living in an RV and traveling full-time sounded so enticing that it seemed almost too good to be true.  However, as we continued to talk about the idea, the more it seemed like something we could do.  We LOVE camping, especially when it’s the “roughing it, middle of the woods without anybody around for miles” kind.  We love spending time outside, and we love going on adventures together.  Our dogs love being outside and going for walks and experiencing nature probably as much if not more than we do. 

This lifestyle was made for people like us.  It’s easier said in hindsight of course though.  The time we spent mulling it over and making the decision was more stressful than actually doing it.  Of course hindsight is always 20/20 though, and in the moment it felt impossible!  There was so much to do, how could we get it all done?  It’s amazing how simple it is to make a decision, and how hard it is to actually follow through.  But doing it was so worth it.

Once we made the decision, the rest was just a matter of logistics. I had to quit my job and then all we had to do was sell everything we owned including our house and find an RV in our price range that would be suitable to live in full time.  No pressure right?  And since we were at the tail end of the summer housing market selling season, we had to do it quick in order to get top dollar for our house.  The question of should I quit before we had the house sold took a huge toll on me.  Never in my career had I made the decision to quit a job without having another one lined up.  The idea of living off our savings while simultaneously trying to use those savings to buy an RV and put some money into renovations was daunting.  One thing we realized was that we could actually leverage our credit cards to help us for the first time instead of being a burden.  We knew we were going to get a decent amount from the equity in our house, so it was really all just a gamble on how long it would take to sell the house and how many mortgage payments we’d have to make in the meantime. 

Luckily we had help.  Lots and lots of help.  From Rick Bryan’s handyman work, to Maytal Hess and her extraordinary work helping us stage and sell our house in less than a month, and all while having a baby, literally!  She had her son a few days after we decided that we were going to do this, but she didn’t even miss a beat.  We got our house in tip top shape, and the first weekend it was on the market we received multiple bids.  What a relief! 

Once we were under contract, then the search for the RV went into overdrive.  We could (and probably will) do an entire blog post on searching for RVs.  We found a bunch of duds.  One guy even gave us a “scouts honor” wave that the water system worked, but the report from the inspector was much different under the line for the water pump that said “couldn’t even test due to water leaking profusely”.  Needless to say, we didn’t end up buying that coach.  The day we found our rig, I think we both pretty much knew it was a done deal.    

The rig is a 1991 Barth Breakaway Class A Cummins Diesel Pusher.  It took us a long time to find it.  We knew we wanted an older coach, in big part because we wanted to have a good portion of our money left over to do upgrades.  This was listed at $13,500, and the seller made it clear that $13,000 was the lowest he could go.  We were skeptical at first due to our previous interactions, but the more we did our research, the more we liked what we were seeing.  The brand Barth is no longer around, but in their heyday, they were well manufactured machines with strong bones. 

They had aluminum siding and aluminum framing, so unlike many other coaches of modern day made of wood and fiberglass, this one wouldn’t have as many issues with serious issue like issues with rubber roofs, delamination due to leaks, and moldy/rotten wood supports causing structural integrity issues.  We did notice some spots where there had been some water damage near the windows (likely an accident from leaving a window or two open during a long day out with rain).  The engine is a rebuilt Cummins Turbodiesel with only 28k miles on it (100k on the odometer/chassis total).  The transmission is an Alison AT542.  The chassis is a Spartan chassis common for the time period.  All these things together gave us a great feeling about the “bones” being solid underneath.  So even though the carpet and wallpaper needed updates, and some appliances needed replacing / updating, for $13,000 I don’t think we could’ve asked for more.

The beauty of the whole process is that we paid cash for our new home.  Something I’d never even fathomed in the previous lifestyle.  We had 26 years left on our mortgage before our house would have been paid off, and that’s assuming we didn’t take out any equity loans or refinance to tap into the equity. This route, our home is owned scotch free, minus for nominal yearly registration fees.  Of course, there was still a lot of work to be done as well, but at it’s base, it’s one of the first things we’ve owned outright without someone else holding the pink slip.  That feeling was empowering.

Naturally, the final thing we had to do besides update the interior and have mechanical things looked once over was to come up with a name.  We mulled over many, but one that we landed on that we really loved was BOBB-E, in honor of the little robot named WALL-E that helped clean up the earth and make it hospitable for humans to inhabit again.  We loved this homage to the movie because this lifestyle is such a re-connection back to nature and all the beauty it has to offer and forces you into a life of minimalism and only living on things that you absolutely need instead of the consumerist lifestyle that led to the downfall of earth in the movie.  Our hope is that through this journey, we can inspire others to live a more minimal lifestyle and appreciate the beauty and wonder of nature while we still have the opportunity.  Let’s face it, the clock is ticking on how long nature can continue to withstand the barrage of the voracious appetite of modern day consumerist society.  If we don’t do something together as a collective force soon, it may be too late.  They always say if you want to change the world, change yourself first.  This process has shown us how true that was.  So that’s where BOBB-E came from, and since Barth made such a wonderful machine for us to live in, we decided to make our home’s full name be “BOBB-E the Barth”. 

Our last challenge was to decide what the acronym “BOBB-E” stood for.  WALL-E stands for “waste allocation load lifter – earth”.  We mulled a few ideas where the BO stood for “battery operated”, but we ended up choosing “Bravery Overcoming Barriers & Beliefs – Earth”.  This rings true with our purpose and our goal: to show people that a daunting and scary lifestyle shift is something that is possible and entirely within the realm of reason.  We hope to demonstrate through this blog how our trials and tribulations are the things that make us who we are, and that doing scary things once in a while is a great way to break out of your comfort zone and remind yourself that you’re only really limited by your own fears.  

Thanks for taking the time to stop by and read about our journey.  We’re excited to share our thoughts, hopes, and dreams, and we encourage you to do the same with us.  We’ve been so amazed and surprised with the amount of support and community we’ve felt during a time when we thought we would feel crazy and alone.  We’re looking forward to the days and years to come, and hope to see you all somewhere along the way!

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