Great books and songs about life on the road can ignite the wanderlust inside each of us. But, Kelly Beasley #120701 didn’t need prose or music to fuel her passion for travel. She inherited her nomadic tendencies directly from her RVing mother, Marsha Gledhill #45548.
As a former fitness instructor, she always yearned for more unconventional living, never-ending adventure and freedom from material things. But, like most people, the former Florida resident got caught up in mortgages, car payments and possessions. However, 2015 was a watershed year. After an eight-year relationship ended, she decided it was time to pursue her traveling dreams on her own terms. Kelly sold most of her possessions and set off on an open-ended journey. From the moment she pulled away from her old life, her mom has cheered her on.
Most moms would be nervous about a daughter’s decision to travel solo, but not Marsha. She wouldn’t dream of it, because Kelly was about to embark on a way of life that she herself has loved for over 20 years. This unconventional Floridian already knew the ins and outs of nomadic living and enjoyed everything about it. Growing up as an Army brat, as well as being a military wife, had nourished a lifelong passion for seeing new places. For Marsha, the excitement of picking up and moving at a moment’s notice was always something to look forward to. And now Kelly would have her chance to enjoy it, too.
“I was so excited! I never thought this was going to be a fad for her,” she recalls. The retired physical therapist was so happy for her daughter’s new life that she gifted her an Escapees RV Club Xscapers membership and mail-forwarding service.
“She bought me my first two years!” says Kelly.
Switching to the RV lifestyle seemed like a natural choice for her daughter. After all, Marsha was never one to remain content to stay in one place for long. “Traveling is in my blood. So much so that when I married, I thought it was a great idea to buy a mobile home and move it around with us. My husband did not share my “vision,” so, needless to say, my gypsy dreams had to be shelved for a time,” she says.
But then, Marsha couldn’t wait any longer. She divorced and bought the home on wheels that she always wanted. The house went up for sale; her belongings were put into storage, and Marsha moved into her own 1998, 28-foot Safari Trek motorhome. She found that joining Escapees was a logical choice for the kind of support she wanted as a solo RVer, and she knew that she could work as a traveling physical therapist to fund her RV adventures. At long last, Marsha hit the road and discovered that the dream she held dear for so long was all she thought it would be.
As the years rolled on, Marsha took short trips in the Trek and continued living and working in Florida. Meanwhile, Kelly married and divorced, fought her way out of a serious illness with her mother’s help and became a fitness instructor. When she announced she wanted to give the RV lifestyle a try, Marsha immediately felt a surge of pride. Unlike most mothers who hand down precious heirlooms to their daughters, like jewelry or family recipes, this Escapees mom passed on something even more valuable: the gift of confidence to go it alone.
“Seeing her do it for so long helped me know that I could do it as well,” says Kelly.
A few months into Kelly’s first solo RVing summer, Marsha heard the road calling her name again. She packed up the Trek and headed to Montana, where Kelly was working on a ranch. The duo went caravanning around the Rockies and when Marsha’s beloved Trek unexpectedly died, she bought a new 36-foot Itasca Winnebago Suncruiser for the return trip to Florida. The Winnebago was larger than her first RV, but she wasn’t intimidated by the bigger size.
“I am really amazed that people still say, ‘You drive that all by yourself?’ My answer is always, yes! With all sizes, whatever you have behind you is going to follow you. And I have always encouraged women to learn to drive their RV without their husband’s being in the passenger seat,” she says. Marsha knows that she and Kelly are a rarity in the RVing world. It never stops surprising her how many women are reluctant to take charge of the wheel, whether they are married or single.
“I explain the lifestyle to them to calm their fears about going it alone, and I wholeheartedly encourage any woman to at least try it out. I always tell them about Escapees and explain that the organization is a fantastic help for anyone considering this lifestyle,” she says.
Today, the two women remain steadfast in their individual pursuits of great adventures. One is enjoying a well-deserved retirement, while the other is still working hard to get there. Marsha lives in her RV on a lot in Miramar Beach, Florida, and takes occasional trips when she can. “I am hoping to buy a much smaller RV to continue my wanderlust,” she explains. “I haven’t given up on my RV lifestyle. I’m missing it even as I speak.”
Meanwhile, Kelly says she prefers being as far away from a conventional lifestyle as possible. After nearly three years traveling solo, she can’t picture returning to her old life. “I can travel wherever I want to; I am not ruled by a lot of ‘stuff’ that I have to take care of, and I get to follow the best weather in the U.S. No, I don’t want to go back. Not for a long time!”