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All roads lead to Houston

Traveling pair settles in at Eagle’s Trace after 23 years on the road

Created date

July 26th, 2011

When Sally Clement s youngest son graduated from high school in 1984, she and her husband, Harry, sold their California home and hit the road. The couple spent 23 years traveling in their RV, often on cross-country trips to visit their children in Seattle, San Francisco, and upstate New York. After our kids were grown, we wanted to travel and decided this was the way to go, says Sally. It suited us. The more we did it, the less we wanted to settle down. With an estimated quarter of a million Americans living in an RV full-time, the Clements were not alone. They joined the Escapees RV Club, based in Livingston, Tex., and eventually made their way to all 50 states. People are generally considered full-time RVers if they don t own a stick house, says Sally. That s not to say that full-timers are on the road constantly. We would usually get to an area and stay for several weeks or months.

Uncharted territory

Adapting to their new lifestyle came naturally for the adventuresome couple. Harry, a retired Air Force pilot, and Sally, a computer programmer who worked on the Air Force s second computer at Langley Air Force base (the first computer was at the Pentagon), were accustomed to blazing new trails. Over the course of 23 years on the road, we went through five cars and two RVs, says Sally. Eventually we settled in Livingston for three years, near the Escapees headquarters, and took shorter road trips. Then, in the fall of 2006, the couple was invited to a luncheon at Eagle s Trace, an Erickson Living community in west Houston. We had been looking at continuing care communities in the Sun Belt, and we were so impressed with the amenities at Eagle s Trace, says Sally. We already had our travel plans mapped out for the winter, but our visit to Eagle s Trace gave us pause. After the luncheon, the couple returned to their RV to consider the possibilities. I remember it was a bitterly cold weekend, and we were holed up in our RV, says Sally. Harry and I looked at each other and said, Let s do it. I called Eagle s Trace on Monday morning and told them we were coming. The couple donated their RV to the Escapees Club to use for a fundraiser and headed over to their new home in west Houston. We showed up with two lawn chairs. Period, says Sally. Everything was built into our RV. We went to IKEA and bought new furniture. At a time when most people were downsizing, we had to upsize.

Navigating a different journey

After living on the road for so many years, the couple found community life appealing. It s nice to eat dinner with friends each night, says Sally. And we love the amenities here. Harry and I like to walk, and the climate-controlled walkways allow us to walk regardless of the weather. Always eager to try something new, Sally began to write, channeling her RV experiences into a series of articles forEscapeesmagazine. I just published my 21st article about transitioning from RV living to stick living, as we call it, she says. You have to write about what you know. In my case, I write mostly lifestyle stories that would be of interest to full-time RVers. And although the couple s adventures don t take them out on the open road anymore, they are enjoying freedom of a different sort. We ve made a lot of friends, and everything we need is right here, says Sally. We re perfectly happy.