Many couples cannot imagine a better retirement than living life on the road in a luxury RV, visiting far-flung grandchildren (15 of them) behind the wheel of a luxury motorhome. Todd and Karen Humphreys share that vision. They enjoy each other's company as they experience America through a windshield.
There are two significant differences between the Humphreys and the rest of the RV crowd: They get paid for every mile and their "RV" is a 1998 Peterbilt with an Ultra Sleeper.
"I don't know why anyone would want to buy a motorhome," says Todd. "These people should go into trucking, see America, spend time with their grandkids and get paid for their efforts."
Todd and Karen Humphreys got into trucking 13 years ago after retiring from private business. The couple always wanted to work together, but little did they know that it would mean being together 24/7 and logging more than 235,000 miles a year in a big rig.
Todd was a businessman who over the years owned three veterinary practices with his father, operated a satellite dealership and owned a small trucking company that serviced oil fields. Karen drove dump trucks. She was belly dumping on runways when she met Todd. She says she may be the only female who was involved in building runways in Ft. Wyuka, AZ, for the space shuttle.
When the couple became empty-nesters, they began driving team. For three years the Humphreys drove for Ryder Freight until the company went under. Then they drove for Kimberly Clark. They joined OOIDA in 1991. "Even as drivers we belonged to OOIDA," Todd says with a grin.
As owner-operators, Todd and Karen still drive team and log 1,200-plus miles a day mostly hauling parts for airlines. This adds up to more than 235,000 miles a year in their big Pete filled with all the comforts of home. Todd says the Ultra Sleeper allows them to have the luxury of a queen-size bed instead of bunks. The rig and flatbed is 74 feet overall. "We ordered the rig sight unseen," says Karen. "When we picked it up even the flatbed with 10 custom boxes was perfect."
"When we ordered the truck we knew we would be virtually living in it," says Todd. "We wanted every creature comfort we could fit in the cab. We mostly haul jet engines, so weight wasn't a worry."
The Humphreys added an entertainment system with satellite dish, 13-inch television, VCR, computer, power tools and a vacuum. And to run it all, they selected a Trace inverter.
"I knew I wanted to power the unit on AC. That meant looking into power inverters," notes Todd. "I wanted one with enough wattage to handle heavy loads and one that would plug in and charge the batteries while supplying power."
The couple chose a Series 1 inverter-charger, manufactured by Trace Engineering of Arlington, WA. The unit provides 1,100 continuous watts of power with 3,000 watts of AC for several minutes of surge (surge represents the initial high electricity draw to power a device). They can shut down the truck and still run all equipment for eight to 10 hours, thanks to extra batteries which give them extra time.
"It sure is nice to be self-contained," says Todd. "When we need to recharge, we just idle the truck for a short while, or connect to shore power." While Todd says he can't wait for the day when truckstops all offer power, he and Karen "plug in" as often as possible. He says shore power is no real big problem since they frequently spend the weekend at one of their five kids' homes and most airports they haul to have convenient plug-ins.
Delta in Atlanta, in fact, invites them to bed down in a hanger. "It makes Todd's day since he would be happy to sweep runways just to be around planes," says Karen. "Todd earned his pilot's license at age 14 and loved to be called for search and rescue when he was a vet in Wyoming."
The Humphreys enjoy being on the road in their rig so much that they spend an average of only three days at the home they maintain in Worland, WY. They also own a residence in Oracle, AZ.
"Oracle is more on our trip route, we enjoy the weather and plan to retire there when we quit trucking," says Todd.