One of the things we RVers invariably ask ourselves at some point is, “How long will I be able to keep on doing this?”
Of course, we can never really know.
But I can’t help but think of one particular gentleman whenever the question comes up: Loren Philliips.
When I spoke to him last fall, he was 87 years old and had no plans of slowing down.
In fact, he had just finished as 12,000-mile, 10-week RV trip to Alaska, the Yukon, and British Columbia. It was a trip he took with his daughter.
All in all, he’s a super inspirational guy and offers proof positive that you’re never too old to RV.
“I’m 87, and I’m planning on doing the same thing that I’m doing as long as I can,” he said.
Loren grew up on a farm and graduated from high school in 1949. When the Korean War came along, he did a three-year hitch in the U.S. Coast Guard. As part of Aviation Search and Rescue, he received all kinds of electronics training: radio school, aircraft radio school, and then aircraft instruments.
When he left the service in 1954, he went into the TV and appliance business for 48 years before he retired in 2001 at 70.
His love of camping dates to 1970, when he started out in a tent, before graduating up to a Volkswagen bus, and eventually, buying an RV in 1997.
Last fall, he still was using the same RV more than 20 years later, nearing the 314,000-mile mark on the odometer.
Yes, you read that right: 314,000.
Of course, that begs the question: How the heck do you keep an RV on the road for so long?
Well, it does take work.
Loren said the whole front end has been replaced and he had the rear end rebuilt at 225,000 miles “due to the fact there was this little growl” that “bothered me a little.”
He also has a few rules, starting with keeping it parked in a garage when not in use and regular oil changes.
Additionally, he changes the ignition system every 100,000 miles — he insists on using a genuine Mopar ignition wiring harness — along with the rotor and rotor cap.
Just about the only things that are original are the muffler system and the paint.
“I meticulously take care of something, if something comes up,” Loren said. “When you have a little problem, catch it in the bud. Don’t let it create more problems.”
Loren said he doesn’t mind the work at all.
Simply put, he loves the RV lifestyle.
“I can come and go as I please. I can do a lot of boondocking. Our Alaska trip, for 10 weeks, I spent about $300 on camping fees. The rest of the time it’s boondocking,” he said.
The Class B RV is perfect for his needs, too.
“I love the Class B, you can park it anywhere, drive it anywhere,” he said. “You can come and go as you please, and you’re free to do whatever you want with minimum restrictions.”
Loren takes a minimal amount of medications and considers himself to be in good health — something he attributes to RVing.
“You gotta keep moving. Every summer, I spend the winters in California for four months. And then every summer I take about a six week trip someplace out west or some place,” Loren said.
I asked him what advice he would give to those seniors who may be on the fence about RVing.
“My best advice to anybody is… don’t put things off. Because if you lose a spouse, you’re never going to be the same. So get out there and do it while you got your health, your desire, and the means to do so.”
Loren told me how he lost his wife, Francis, about five years ago from breast cancer. It happened very fast. Loren shared with me how he overcame it — with the help of RVing.
“The first two years were a little tough,” he said. “Then the third year was a transition year. And then since then, I’ve been fully enjoying my independence.
“So I’m out living the rest of my years in the fullest, and enjoying my (RV).”
A lot of people in that situation may have sold their RV.
For Loren, though, that wasn’t even an option — further proof of how meaningful the RV lifestyle can be at any age.
“You got the rest of your life to live, and you just better live it to the fullest, because you never know when your number’s up either,” Loren said.
Check out the video below to watch Loren tell his story: