In 2015 we took a huge leap, emptying out a three story townhouse with a basement, putting stuff in a storage unit in Canada, and just leaping into the adventure of RV life.
Over those 9+ months, through those 28 states, I learned so many things. We learned so many things together. Things like what it feels like when a tire blows at 60 mph. How loud the frogs sing at night in Mississippi. What chicken fried bacon tastes like. That the man who invented the Palm Pilot calendar app, who we met in Texas, has a dog named Freeway because that is where he found him. RV people have pet cats, and pet dogs, and do yoga outside, or lift weights outside. Most RV people have homes to go back to, and we didn’t, which was a hard thing to get my head around.
My youngest son, now 24, stormed away from the RV in Wyoming, in Oklahoma, in various other states, and every time I had to quell the panic of “Oh dear god what if someone picks him up, I will never see him again!” Of course we fought. We all bickered, we all argued, and there were times we all stormed away from the RV. When I talk to my son now he tells me it was the best adventure he ever had.
We grieved the death of our Shelty mix dog, Mandy, in Florida, eating Panda Express orange chicken while camped out in a Cummins’ courtesy RV lot for the night. Milo met an armadillo that hissed at him and scared him. We handfed elephants (sanctuary in OK), alpacas, cows, longhorn steer, and donkeys. We met some amazing and colorful people, ate wonderful BBQ in the Carolinas, Mississippi, Georgia and Texas.
I learned to only buy what we have room for, and that, while knick knacks and mementos are lovely and I still long to keep things, I have to keep tiny mementos that will fit in a small box. I learned to be present, to open my eyes and look, because this country is unimaginably vast and sprawls and twists and turns in ways I never realized when living in a house. When you travel full time you see things you would never guess at if you live a life of “live in one place. Travel but only directly to another place and back.” I learned to step up, to ask questions, to be unafraid to say, “We’ve never done this, how does it work?”
When we arrived in California we thought we were done, but ultimately decided to keep on going. We spent five years there and realized we felt trapped. Stagnant. My husband would come home and say, “On that last work trip I thought, ‘I wish I could just keep driving.'”
Since this journey I blogged here, we traded in our Damon Intruder for a Jayco Northpoint fifth wheel. We traveled to Pennsylvania for a job for me, and it meant paying to have our fifth wheel hauled over to the east. Neither of us drove a truck at the time – when we purchased the Jayco we had it delivered. Moving from one RV to another is considerably easier than moving houses.
That brief window into traveling, on our drive from Cali to PA, was bittersweet. Sunrises and sunsets and land speeding past, and me following my husband’s car in mine, the dogs (now two again) split between us for the journey. But no chance to just stop and sit and take photos. Hotel rooms instead of the RV. It felt…antiseptic. Sterile. Too neat. All my life I have been expected, it feels, to cram myself into a too neat place, when really I am messy. I want adventures, and surprises, and journeys. I want new people and new places and new foods. This is my country, and it feels like prior to our journey I’d never appreciated how complex it is – some states almost feel like separate countries entirely (WV, Wyoming, I am looking at you).
We currently live in an KZ Durango (with a dishwasher!) near PA, in a campground. It has lots of transient RV’ers – here for a weekend and then gone. But it also has a small bunch of full timers like us. We’ve met people we really like spending time with, real people, people who can sit for an hour and watch the clouds, or talk about the robins building a nest in the tree in their site. I’m finding I have way more in common with them than I do with people I spend my 9-5 hours with, in an office. I go in Mon-Fri, wear my nice clothes, sit at a desk, and on Friday all I can think of is how much I cannot wait to be at a campfire in the evening with our friends.
We will get back to it. I know we will. DH has bought a truck now, and we’re ready. We’ve made it through properly snowy winters in the RV, and the KZ has fantastic insulation (the lower cabinets are temp controlled, which helps significantly). We’ve found internet that can travel with us. Once a remote opportunity shows up for me, we’ll go, and I promise I will regret nothing.