As Frodo told Sam in The Lord Of The Rings, “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
That’s rather how my wife and I felt this week while on the trip we took to Florida this month. You see, what started out as a two week combined business/pleasure trip has turned into a completely life-changing experience that has had far too many coincidences to believe.
Let me tell you what I mean. First off, we had originally planned to take this trip in our new RV. Unfortunately, we suffered a major financial setback called the IRS that forced us into the position of having to sell the RV so we could pay off our tax debt. So we decided to leave it home and not put any more mileage on it and just take our trusty Honda CR-V.
Now, this trip mixed business with pleasure, as I wanted to visit the Kennedy Space Center to get some ideas for a book series I have in mind, as well as hit Khaotic Kon in Tampa. So we figured we’d just hit KSC on the trip down, and then get a timeshare condo somewhere in Tampa for a week to stay while we visited Khaotic Kon and enjoyed some sun & surf.
So, I searched for a condo in our timeshare exchange system and found what looked like a nice one near Indian Rocks Beach. I showed it to my wife, Jan, who said “Looks great!”
But when I went back to the reservation page – now, keep in mind, I had just checked to see that there was a vacancy – they were booked!
After muttering some curses, I started looking again, and finally found the Calini Beach Club in Sarasota. It looked good, had a nice beach a block away, and had some vacancies. Not wanting to have a repeat of the vacancy vanishing act, I reserved one of the units and that was done.
When the time came, we hopped in the CR-V and started heading south, and after lots of driving we hit the Kennedy Space Center, and then Khaotic Kon after we got to Sarasota.
Then we met with one of my wife’s school friends and her husband, who started talking about the area…and the home prices here. Our mouths dropped open, not so much because homes here are MUCH less expensive than where we live in Maryland, but because – along with selling the RV and our second car – we’d been planning to sell our house and find something less expensive.
But “less expensive” in the area we felt tied to (for various reasons) in Maryland is a relative term. Real estate is very expensive in our area, and there were few houses available – and not really very nice ones, considering how much money we’d still have to pay – in the school district where we wanted to keep the boys.
Here in the “greater Sarasota” area, however, we found out that there were some excellent schools, and a boatload of amazing homes that were well within our price range. Plus, we absolutely love being near the beach, having lots of sun, and no state income tax wasn’t a bad thing, either!
So, our business trip/vacation turned into an impromptu house hunting expedition in the Sarasota-Rotunda area!
Then, while we were driving around, we happened to drive by the RV World dealership in Nokomis, which is just south of Sarasota. I turned to Jan. “Hey, wouldn’t it be a hoot if they’d take our RV? We should stop in there and ask.”
After we got back to the condo, I looked them up on the web. And lo and behold, they had a page saying “Turn Your RV Into $$$!”
Well, I thought, that looks promising. So, we stopped in and talked to Bob, one of the sales reps. I’ve got to tell you, my head just about spun off. Not only would they happily take our Winnebago Tour and give us a big fat check, but they had just received – the day before – a lightly used 2006 Fleetwood Expedition that was just perfect for what we need. Then they put a guy in a car and sent him north to go fetch the Tour in Maryland, and we’ll be driving the Fleetwood home next week!
Side note: If you’re considering buying an RV, I can’t recommend the folks at RV World enough. We’ve had an absolutely outstanding buying experience with them. Even if you’re not in Florida, give them a call!
When all is said and done, this weekend we’ll have a big fat check so we can pay off the IRS, which will take a HUGE burden off my shoulders, extra money on top of that, an RV that’s great for what we need (and we didn’t have to pay sales tax, because it was a negative value trade!), and we eliminated the headache I was anticipating in having to sell the Tour on my own. Yes, I probably could’ve gotten more money in the end had I sold it myself, but if I didn’t sell it quickly a lot of that profit was going to be eaten up by IRS interest and penalties. This way…it’s done.
Then we come to another coincidence: as we’re talking to Bob (who’s an incredibly friendly and very knowledgeable guy), we find out that we should check for homes in the Englewood/Rotunda/Port Charlotte area. We started looking on Realtor.com, and fell over at all the nice homes there in our price range, plus they have an excellent high school for the boys. And one of Jan’s friends who’s lived here a long time raved about it. So, guess where we’re going to be spending a couple days in our “new” RV, scoping out homes?
Anyway, the moral of the story here, to me, is to have your eyes and mind open to opportunities that are put in front of you when you set foot out your door. Things like this don’t happen all the time, but when they do, when you think, “Boy, wouldn’t it be cool if…” – you owe it to yourself to ask the question. Peer through the door of opportunity, rather than slamming it shut or walking on by.