JOHN & LAURA HEBARD
BACKGROUND/BIO: Chris and G travels introduced us to the idea of full time RVing though their YouTube channel in early 2016. We can’t thank them enough for opening our eyes. The idea sounded amazing to us, especially because our lives had been boring and stagnant for years. We were working to pay rent, so that we’d have someplace to sleep, so that we could go back to work, and were damned sick of it. Laura was working a job she couldn’t stand with a schedule from hell, and John was looking at an upcoming career in law enforcement.
Our marriage had been under strain for a while, and a rotating law enforcement schedule would have only made the problems exponentially worse. After a few weeks of discussion weighing our finances we decided to go for it!
We knew that our landlord was wanting to sell that summer so we dove into research head first. Laura was working a full time overnight shift, and John was a full-time student with a part time job. So, there were a lot of sleepless nights watching YouTube, reading blogs, and searching forums. Research was split with Laura focusing on the RV and John took the truck, he was working as a mechanic after all. We decided to get the truck first, you can’t really take an RV home without it. John decided on a 2011, or newer, one ton dually because of their towing capacity. He wanted a truck that would be able to pull anything, just in case they found a screaming deal on a 15,000lbs+ camper.
After several failed attempts at buying one we could afford out of state, a 2014 3500 Silverado dually across town fell into our laps one night. Laura decided on a fifth wheel due to the price, square footage, and quality. Around the time we found the truck Laura finished compiling a very short list of fifth wheels that were rated for full time living, had a four seasons insulation package, were rated highly, didn’t have a corner shower, didn’t have a dinette, and had a few other must haves’. We couldn’t afford a new one so John called around to local dealers looking for anything used on that list. When he called Camping World they happened to have a previous year’s model still sitting on their lot, and they wanted it gone so they could bring in a newer model. It was a 2016 Forest River Cedar Creek 36CKTS. To incentivize a sale, they had marked it down about $33,000, which just happened to drop it right into our price range.
THE RIG: 2016 Forest River Cedar Creek 36CKTS
We moved into the RV in May 2016, but we didn’t get on the road until October 20th that year. John was finishing his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice during the fall semester. Once he was down to one online class we hit the road for Pensacola Beach, FL and haven’t missed Kansas yet!
When we started out we had grandiose dreams of starting a YouTube channel and using that to fund our travels. We were in for a harsh reality. Not only did we know nothing about editing video, but John was as lively as a cadaver on camera, and Laura didn’t want to be the face of the channel.
Well we persevered and kept making videos. After several months of trial and error, some extremely helpful viewers, better filming gear, and new editing software, we started to make a name for ourselves. Although we’d be remiss if we failed to mention what launched our channel into orbit, so to speak. Our brand-new RV started falling apart at the seams, and the manufacturer provided less than adequate customer service, to put it all nicely.
At the same time, we were on a trip that started in Kansas, went to Florida, then to Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Utah, back to Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and finally Washington. We went to many National Parks and other amazing places. The goal of the trip was to have fun, finally start living life, and to get our YouTube channel going. However, at the same time more and more things kept breaking on the RV. Between our travel and lemon videos the channel grew very quickly. We went from nothing to 2000 subscribers in nine months.
NOTABLE BAD EXPERIENCE: The worst thing to happen during our travels was our new RV falling apart. When we bought it we really believed it was one of the best brands on the market, we totally drank the marketing video Kool aide. The silver lining is, of course, how much it helped boost our YouTube channel. We wouldn’t be where we are without Forest River’s poor quality, non-existent quality control, and lax customer service. Without that whole mess, we probably wouldn’t have even made it into the movie. Forest River was instrumental in making us popular, they’re our MVP.
PET/S: We travel with two dogs and a cat. John had Sox and Bullet when he met Laura. He found Sox shortly after he retired from the Army. She’s a grey tabby that loves sleeping on the heat vents and watching wildlife outside. Bullet was second, he’s a 110lb yellow lab that lives for fetch and tug-of-war. Finally, Laura was working as a vet tech in a shelter when she found Kimber. Kimber is a true mutt, we have no idea what breed she is. She loves chasing Bullet, when he’s chasing a ball. She doesn’t understand why everyone keeps treating her like a dog. And she gets very angry when people don’t pay attention to her, or stop petting her. It’s best to just give her what she wants.
CAMPING PREFERENCE: So far, our preferred method of camping has been in RV parks with full hookups. This is largely because we started as newbies with no boondocking experience. Also, we don’t want to leave the pets in a non airconditioned RV. Although, the more comfortable we get with living in an RV, the more we’ve been boondocking.
We need to drop some weight so we can carry more water, and we need to get a larger generator so that we can really get off grid for a while and enjoy the freedom… with AC.
TOP CAMPING SPOT: Our favorite campsite by far was the Wahweap campground on the shores of Lake Powell, on the Arizona side of the lake. The views were absolutely breathtaking, the campground was clean, well-managed and staffed, campfires were allowed, WIFI was provided, all sites had a level concrete pad, and there was SO MUCH to do around there. That will be a stop for us on every trip though the southwest.
FAVORITE MOMENT: Our favorite moment was shortly after we started RVing. We were staying on Pensacola Beach for our anniversary. We drove out towards Ft. Pickens on the end of the island and found some place to pull off. We hauled our beach chairs and food out to the water for a picnic. To our surprise we had the entire beach to ourselves for as far as we could see. We were surrounded by beautiful white sand and the clear cool waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
While we sat there eating our buffalo chicken tenders and fried pickles from Hooters (classy, I know) we realized that we were finally free. We had escaped from the miserable lives we’d been living just weeks before. Honestly it felt like the end of Shawshank Redemption. For us, RVing was our escape from the prison of lower middle-class America where you kill yourself at a crummy job just to have someplace to sleep.
We’ll never go back.