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ReVving Up Your Down Time

James Little Lauren Little Edible Arrangements De stressing from Work

© Ken McCray Photography

Lauren Little grew up wanting a recreational vehicle, ever since she was awed by her friend’s parents’ RV when she was young.

“I thought it was the coolest thing. It was a house on wheels,” Little said.

RV ownership became even more appealing after Little started a business.

“I don’t want to book reservations. I just want to pull up and say, ‘Let’s go,’” said Little, who owns Edible Arrangements stores in Avondale and Bartram Park.

She likes to get away from the bustle of business and home, and get away with nature. Or, more simply put, to stress less.

“You don’t have to go far, just to get away,” Little said.

But after eight years in the Marine Corps she had enough of “camping,” and now prefers “glorious camping,” or “glamping” for short, instead. “I’ve done enough laying on the ground. I want to lay on a bed,” she said.

Knowing how badly Little craved the flexibility and serenity that an RV could provide, and after attending numerous RV shows with her, her husband secretly started shopping for one a few years ago.

He happened upon a couple who were retiring from a St. Augustine business that they owned. They were selling their RV so that they could fly to Colorado to visit their daughter.

Though her husband tried to keep it a secret, Little caught on when the couple called him while she was in the car with him in December 2011.

The couple had lived Little’s dream and knew that she would appreciate the 2002 Winnebago Adventurer more than anyone else to whom they could have sold the RV. She recalled them saying, “We owned a small business. We totally understand the need to get away.”

000_0174Little’s husband still surprised her though, having them deliver it to the Edible Arrangements store in Bartram Park shortly before Christmas. When he told her that they would be driving her RV to Atlanta for their holiday trip instead of their truck she protested, saying, “I don’t have an RV.”

But he walked her out of the store to where the RV was parked—with a big ribbon attached. They quickly changed their plans and drove the RV to Atlanta instead.

 

James Little Lauren LittleEdible ArrangementsDe stressing from Work

© Ken McCray Photography

Though it has been almost three years now, Little still does not drive the RV, preferring her husband to do so instead. “I want to ride in it and enjoy it instead.”

Similarly, Vance Stallings drives when he and his wife Dana get away in their 42-foot-long, 2005 Monaco Dynasty because the RV is so big, she said.

The owners of Kilwins in St. Johns Town Center and Little Britches in Mandarin, the Stallings bought the RV in November, so that they could travel with, and visit, their college-aged daughters. One goes to Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers and the other runs cross-country and track for the University of North Florida, which takes her to meets across the Southeast.

“It’s following them around and staying in contact with our kids,” Vance Stallings said.

vance and dana stallingsThe couple had co-owned an RV with Dana’s father when their daughters were children but sold it about 10 years ago. They still recount a two-week RV vacation to the Grand Canyon as their favorite trip when their girls were young.

“It makes you spend time together because you’re in there in that small space. A lot of families don’t have that anymore,” Dana Stallings said.

The bonding continues today. The family even took six teammates of one of the daughters to a cross-country meet in Tallahassee.

“They had a ball,” Vance Stallings said.

Like Little, Dana Stallings values the quick getaway.

“It’s nice and simple. Everything is in there,” she said. “You can just go.”

You can also stay just about anywhere. “Sometimes you spend the night in the Waffle House parking lot, which is an adventure in itself,” Vance Stallings said.

Peter_Roesler (1) (2)Web Marketing Pros Owner Peter Roesler plans to spend most of this summer at campgrounds as he travels the country with his wife and their three young children, in a 19-foot-long travel trailer that he bought two months ago. It includes a queen-sized bed, three full-sized beds and satellite Internet connection so that he can work.

“You’ve got an RV. If you don’t like a place you can just pick up and go,” Roesler said. “That’s how we like to travel.”

His children are already experienced travelers. “We spend about six months of the year traveling,” he said.

Their summer itinerary includes stops in Louisiana, Texas and Nevada, before traveling up California’s coast to Washington. They then plan to hit Colorado as they journey to New England. They will stay in Maine and Vermont, before traveling back down the East Coast.

Roesler’s wife will drive while he works, and then they will switch. With their youngest child is only nine-months old, they will likely limit daily trips to five hours. They will also occasionally unhitch the trailer, perhaps renting houses for longer stopovers.

“It’s going to be a good way to travel,” Roesler said. “Right when school gets out, we’re on the road.”

 

Have Web will travel.

peter rv webWeb Marketing Pros Owner Peter Roesler and his family will spend three months traveling the United States in their 19-foot-long travel trailer, but it won’t all be a vacation.

Roesler will use the trailer’s satellite Internet connection and his mobile devices to work much of the time that they are away.

“Basically, anywhere I go I have Internet. That’s all I need.”

The ability to work from just about anywhere provides Roesler flexibility in running his business An avid traveler, Roesler has accessed the Internet even deep into jungles and in remote villages in developing countries.

Roesler shared some advice for working while traveling, whether it be for business or for pleasure.

  • Unlock your phone so that it runs with different carriers.
  • Use a prepaid SIM card when traveling abroad.
  • Tether mobile devices to your smartphone so that you can use its Internet connection
  • Use Skype for lower calling rates

Roesler will literally work on the go this summer when traveling with his wife and kids.

“It’s beautiful now. With the Internet and mobile I work while she drives.”

 

RVers

“Members of the NEFC RV Club have adopted the RV Lifestyle, one that treats each person as a connection to family, friendship, and the freedom of adventure. Our club colors are “teal, black, and gold” and we wear it with pride! Our motto is simple…”Explore With Us, Stress Free”” Welcome Page from website for Northeast Florida Campers RV Club (www.nefcrvclub.com)

RVers are a tight bunch.

They are bound by their loves for the open road, the great outdoors and the sharing of experiences.

The Northeast Florida Campers RV Club has 35 members, including Lauren Little and her husband.

“We joined this club so we could convoy to places and have someone with us who knows the ins and outs of it,” said Little, owner of Edible Arrangements stores in Avondale and Bartram Park.

Little and her husband have owned their RV for less than three years but have used it frequently, including for trips with the Northeast Florida Campers RV Club, which itself is a member of the National African-American RVer’s Association.

Their group trips have included getaways to Asheville, N.C., and to Washington, D.C. for President Barack Obama’s re-election inauguration in 2013. They stayed at Cherry Hill Park, an RV park and campground in nearby College Park, Md., for the latter.

The group used Cherry Hill Park’s shuttle service to visit the Washington Monument while the biggest crowds convened on the inauguration.

“We got in our RV and drove back,” Little said. “We didn’t get in the middle of the chaos.”

Back at home, Little enjoys taking mini vacations at an RV park at Naval Station Mayport. “You actually see business in action that you take for granted,” she said, noting the work being done by the Jacksonville Port Authority and the U.S. Coast Guard as examples.

Most of the RV sites also have water, electricity, cable television and Internet access—all within a block of the beach. So, Little and her family will sometimes go out on a Thursday and stay through Sunday.

“You’re not restricted, which I like,” Little said. “It’s the freedom.”

Members of the Northeast Florida Campers RV Club plan to join like-minded enthusiasts at a regional RV rally in Sarasota in June.

Local business owners Vance and Dana Stallings will likely partake in the convoy. Though they are not yet members of the group, and have only had their RV for about six months, they are interested in joining the club so that they can have more opportunities to travel with other campers.

“It will make it more enjoyable,” said Vance Stallings, who along with his wife owns Kilwins in St. Johns Town Center and Little Britches in Mandarin.

Looking even further ahead, Little hopes to someday travel out west to see the Sequoia National Forest in Springville, Calif. She also would like to visit a former employee who now lives in Jackson, Wyoming.

Having experienced first-hand the popularity of traveling by RV, and how relaxing and fulfilling that it can be, Little would also like an RV park in Downtown. It would become a popular destination for out-of-town campers, who would enjoy parking along the river and touring the city, she said.

“If we’re going to revitalize Downtown, that would be my recommendation.”

 

By Jim Molis

 


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