During a time when many families were spending more time at home in a COVID-19 lockdown — perhaps thinking about household projects and family game nights — the Gamble clan had a different idea: What if home had wheels?
After all, the family’s teenagers Jack, 16, and Stellie, 14, were already going to school remotely. Grant, an author and business strategist, and Jana, a creative director, had the ability to meet with clients virtually while pursuing their own projects. The moment seemed ripe with opportunity to do something drastic, like traveling the nation — including a monthlong stay in Florida.
The thought of moving into an RV was hatched when Grant and Jana noticed how coronavirus restrictions and cabin fever were adversely affecting the whole family, especially the kids.
“You don’t want to watch your children suffer, it’s hard to do that,” Jana said. “It was driven by the children and their well-being more than anything else.”
The wheels were set in motion. Grant and Jana purchased a 40-foot, 15-ton recreational vehicle dubbed “Thelma,” a motor home with lots of “character” and beige on the inside. Months of work went into their new home on wheels, bought for just over $20,000, making it livable and highway-ready.
“We spent about two months repairing, restoring and refitting her and that was pretty much full-time. We invested a lot in her, more in labor than money,” Grant said. “Thelma is big and beautiful, that’s the way we describe her. And well-worn.”
The family came to terms with selling their Charlottesville, Virginia, home of 18 years, as well as with downsizing from a 3,000-square-foot abode to a 300-square-foot bus.
At the same time, they started spreading the word of their plans to friends and family.
“We thought people would think we were crazy,” Jana said. “Pretty much everybody was like, ‘What you’re doing is amazing. It’s what people dream of doing but don’t really ever do.’”
On Oct. 30, 2020, after weeks of packing, selling, sorting and consolidating the family’s belongings, the Gambles hit the road, bringing along their Great Dane and two Labradoodles. There were pangs of, “What were we thinking?” but after selling the house, there was no going back.
Following stops in Roanoke, Virginia; Asheville, North Carolina and Massachusetts, the Gambles headed south to warm up on sunny Hilton Head Island before spending nearly a month exploring Florida.
“We were surprised by how diverse (Florida) was and how big it was. We didn’t really have a perspective on that,” Grant said. “When you drive the state, it’s quite amazing how big it is and how much it has to offer. We did love the Everglades.”
Check out the rest of the article from the Orlando Sentinel here.