In the past year or so, we’ve met up with some of the cast members from the upcoming Open Road RV Nomads Movie Documentary; either one-on-one or at convergences. While we were living up the boondocking life (no utility hookups) at Quartzsite and American Girl Mine in January, we worked closely collaborating with
Recently, while waiting in the business’ reception area, I had a conversation with a young lady who was manning the desk and phones about our RV lifestyle. Guessing, she had to be in her mid to late 20’s, single, no kids and full of life and aspiration gathering from our conversation. She seemed genuinely interested in our lifestyle.
Strangely, we didn’t really know what to expect once we pulled our fifth wheel out of that small Kentucky town. I guess you could say we had visions of visiting everything under the sun, cleverly writing postcards like Hemingway, going out everyday sampling local cuisines and wine tastings, sightseeing every inch of every State, etc. e-v-e-r-y-d-a-y! I mean, that’s the stereotype or perception of what full-time RVers do, right? Continue reading “Our 10 Challenges about RVing”
We recently wrote a blog piece 10 Things we should have known before going full-time. It was our list of challenges we have faced since full-time RVing. We hope that didn’t scare those of you who are contemplating this lifestyle. Though being brutally honest, we hope it saves future RVer’s sanity or helps to better prepare them, then that piece was worth sharing. We certainly don’t want to be a downer. Ya just gotta see the grit and dirt. We get asked a lot about full-timing and the romance of it but sometimes that may obscure the real deal. So, take that for what it was intended. Nothing is all puffy clouds and rainbows; RVing included.
Okay, now that we got THAT out of the way…
We’ve come up with our own list of Why RVership is Better than Homeownership. This is a fun list we put together for your enjoyment and perhaps may be that nudge you need to push yourselves over the edge into selling it all to go on the road.
1) LAWNSCAPING – We hope we never have to pull the cord to a lawn mower ever again…or firing up a chain saw or weed wacker. Our dreams of never having to pick up a shovel to dig holes to plant things or worry about our hard-worked gardens and lawns drying up in the heat of the summer have come true. Admittedly though, it is fun to sit in our chairs outside with our cold beverages while watching others do it. That said, we aren’t total jerks; we always offer a cold bottle of water or ice tea to them as they painstakingly do their chores. Sorry…not sorry!
|Our water garden (we built) at our former sticks & bricks home.
Though it was beautiful and serene, it required maintenance.
Now we enjoy gardens without ever having to pull a weed or water.
2) ALL DAY HOUSECLEANING – Never do we miss a day of taking three days to thoroughly clean our former 3600 square foot home. NOPE! No more lugging that big monster Kenmore vacuum up and down the stairs, dusting four bedrooms, laundering curtains and washing window, organizing the never-ending craft room mess, scrubbing floors, and constantly wiping knicknacks and wall art. It always seemed to be endless chore after chore. Now, we can have the bed made, dishes done, bathroom cleaned, deck swabbed, pillows fluffed, lateral surfaces dusted, etc. all in the course of…*drum roll*…ONE HOUR. Can you imagine? Our 380ish square foot 5th wheel doesn’t need massive cleanings anyways because we always keep it clean and picked up. We have to or we’ll trip over it.
3) COLLECTING STUFF/CLUTTER – We simply can’t be collectors of stuff anymore. We don’t have the room and we have to be mindful of our weight. Every few months, we purge. If its not been used since the last purging, out it goes. We buy ‘disposable’ holiday decorations. When the holiday is over, ‘out, out damn spot!’ If its good useable stuff, we usually put things in the RV park or campground laundry rooms. Two or three hours later, we’ll notice its gone which means others enjoy our givings. If they are big things or clothes, we’ll donate or pass them on. Our choice donation centers are on military posts/bases where young military families can get our contributions for nearly nothing.
4) HOUSEFUL OF FURNITURE – When buying an RV, it comes completely outfitted with furniture and even decor. Sure, we’ve picked up a couple pieces of small basket holders and purchased a better mattress but that’s it. We have a couple photo frames and two small table lamps. We may pick up a piece or two of wall art but when we put up the new, out goes the old. We usually buy less expensive decor so we don’t feel bad about getting rid of it when its time.
|We still can’t believe ‘all’ the furniture we had in that huge house!|
5) PAYING REAL ESTATE TAX – While some may this might seem selfish, it’s not. We paid dearly for years while we owned three homes at different duty station locations. Don’t think we get off scott free; we still pay federal tax on Dan’s military pension and our contract work, sales tax on purchases, taxes on fuel and road tolls, and truck/RV/motorcycle registrations but we don’t miss having to set aside upwards to hundreds a month for real estate taxes…a savings of about $4000/year (seriously!).
6) SHOVELING SNOW – NOPE!! We prefer consistent 70’s and 80’s but unless we’re in Cabo San Luca, that’s not going to happen. We have been bit by cold snaps a few times so we’ve quickly looked at our map’s latitude lines and told each other, ‘let’s head for better weather!’ Once in awhile we have to run our furnace…and we hate it!
7) OBNOXIOUS CABLE BILLS – Some RVers have Direct TV or Dish Network. We prefer not to. For fun watching, we subscribe to Netflix or Hulu for occasional movies and we have a case full of DVD movies or we swap-borrow. If an RV park or resort has cable tv in their hookups that’s part of their rate, fine but we won’t pay extra just to have it. Its not important to us. In fact, all of January and most of February, we’ve not even turned the television on. We went hiking, walking, sightseeing, played cards, visited friends, and just enjoyed the other things. You can’t believe how liberating it was not having to watch the elections leading up to the Presidential Inauguration.
8) WASTING FOOD – Rarely do we throw food away because simply, we don’t have the room for two loaves of bread and bagels, numerous boxes of crackers, etc. We don’t do a monthly grocery shopping anymore or bulk shopping at Costco or Sam’s. We plan out our meals each week and shop for those provisions accordingly. We don’t cook for an Army (er…Coast Guard) anymore; its just us and perhaps a couple more servings for leftovers for lunch the next day unless we’re entertaining.
9) JUNK MAIL – We don’t get bills in the mail because we ‘went paperless’. Not only are we conservation-minded, we have more time to do the things instead of opening mail, putting it in a pile, sorting and shredding it. To read about how we handle our physical mail, read our blog piece You’ve Got Mail.
10) SAME BACKYARD – Seriously, with our nomadic life, our aft picture window views change frequently. Sometimes we have the beach or mountains, and other times we have the forest or desert. Our neighbors change also; if it’s not us that’s relocating, its them. If we end up with boring scenery, we hitch up Liberty and find something better to look at or interesting places to go. Even Krissie and Kandi, our nomad cats, enjoy seeing different views.
As you have just read, while it may sound like we’ve gotten lazy, we have not. We fill our time with exciting activities like hiking, ADV motorcycle riding, visiting friends and family, playing tourist, blogging, writing, jewelry making, etc. We even volunteer sometimes! We keep busy. Our days still start early (just kidding!) and our nights…well, we don’t have set bedtimes anymore either. What’s funny though…it may seem like we have all the time in the world, we manage to live one moment at a time. We now have time to really ‘stop and smell the roses’. We’ve learned how to LIVE and enjoy it living in an RV instead of a big McMansion.
We’ve lived and traveled in our RV for going on 3 years and absolutely wouldn’t trade it for the world. Our lifestyle is incredibly amazing. We’ve been told people want to ‘be us’. While we adored our previous sticks and bricks home, we love the tiny-house simplicity, liberation and freedom to go when we want and where. We are blessed with so many people who come into our lives through our travels and remain friends for life. But that doesn’t say there aren’t things we’ve missed or day dream about that we had living in our former ‘S&B’ (sticks and bricks) home. We’re being honest here. In this lifestyle, you trade one for another.
This lifestyle brings a whole new set of challenges. That military mantra ‘overcome and adapt’ has followed us. It’s okay though, it’s what makes us stronger to enjoy the reason why we are doing this whole nomadic lifestyle. We consider ourselves lucky to be doing this but that doesn’t erase some disappointments or things we’d wished to keep. This is a brutally honest, hearts-on-our-sleeves blog piece. Don’t think for a minute that we’re complaining but, if you’re ever contemplating a nomadic lifestyle whether it be RVing, sailing, backpacking across the country, etc., you might want to know before cutting the cord:
- Soaks, Salts & Suds – I miss my big jetted tub! I used to take 2-3 baths a week with my favorite soaps, salts and essential oils; whether it be therapeutically or simple relaxation. Now, I’m lucky to get one every 2-3 months. If I visit a friend or relative, I always ask, ‘may I?’ and when we get a hotel room, I splurge and get one with a big soaking tub.
- Endless Hot Water – It goes with the bathtub soaks. Admit it, long showers rock…where it meant using the entire water heater tank in our former sticks and bricks, that we could stand in the shower for a good 30 minutes of pulsating hot water on my back and shoulders, but I digress. Now, our showers are limited to about 5 minutes unless we use the bathhouse where we are parked but then there’s the whole privacy thing. We sacrifice one for the other.
- Down The Drain – Doing dishes back then was so much simpler with one less step. Now, we scrape our dishes well or wipe them with a napkin before washing them. Weird I know, but we watch everything we put down our plumbing and tanks. If not, we’re in big trouble…perhaps bigger and more costly than when we had our S&B. On the same note, if we’re not hooked up to sewer, we then are very conscious of how much we put in our gray tanks. So, even that five minute shower gets cut to about two.
- Friends and Family – This is probably the biggest ‘low point’ but we try not to dwell or think about it. Our families are in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Virginia and elsewhere and Lisa’s best friends are in Florida, Maine, and Kentucky. We make it a point to fly or drive to see our families and friends. It takes extra planning because of where we may be parked, who will care for our nomad cats and how we get there.
- Forever Neighbors – We knew exactly who had coconut sugar or special spices to borrow from in our former neighborhood. If a neighbor needed a babysitter, we were always there to help them. The Early Wyne Ladies gathered every month for Bunco, baby and wedding showers, cooked for sick neighbors, and took care of each other’s neighbors and pets while we would step away on vacations or trips. We miss the annual Kentucky Derby parties, Halloween Parties at Kim & Jim’s, Christmas Parties at Amy & Paul’s and New Year’s at whomever was bold enough to volunteer. We’ve even hosted a few. We miss the neighborhood community we had. We knew we could depend on each other without worry.
- Butcher, Baker and Candlestick Maker – It might sound like a fairy tale we lived in however, this part was important to us. We got our meats and groceries from our small Kentucky town Country Mart, our pastries and baked goods from The Tea Cup and whatever handcrafts, I bought from locals I knew. We don’t have that anymore. I miss it. But it won’t keep us from not finding the best in the places we visit. We make talk with the locals wherever we go to find their recommendations. We enjoy visiting Farmer’s Markets everywhere to compensate.
Dave & I chatting at our favorite bakery
the Tea Cup in Taylorsville, Kentucky
- Girlfriend Dates and Outings – nothing like all my peeps packing into our former home in funny themed pajamas to scrapbook until 4 am, lunch dates at the local cafes, and ‘playing the ponies’ at Churchill Downs with ‘da girls’ at Kentucky Derby time. But on a good note, I’ve met some fabulous lady friends whom I’ve gotten to know to do ‘girlfriend things’ with on the road. Some of us have grown extremely close because of what we have in common.
- Doctor, Dentist & Chiropractor – They knew us and our health like their own familys’. They knew our stories and personals. The knew how to treat without having to go through continuous comprehensive exams every visit. Our military medical care is perhaps, one of our biggest challenges on the road, but we make it work. We have to.
- Our Nomad Cats’ Veterinarian – As with our own Doctor, our fuzzyheads miss Dr. Shelley and the staff at Elk Creek Animal Hospital. They know them well and have been their patients since they were frisky kittens. Doc Shelley diagnosed Kandi’s Feline Hyperesthesia and understands her need for separate visits to get her immunizations because of her allergic reactions if taken all together. He also knows that Krissie is a Prima Donna, loves to be held by him but hates opening her mouth for him. On a good note, each year we return to Kentucky to get their well-kitty checks and to play with the staff.
- Home for the Holidays – Most look at this as a heartbreaker but we make the best of it. I can honestly say, ‘we’re used to it’ because of our former military lifestyle being stationed away from our families. We love the holidays and we love our families. But because of where they weather, location and time of year, travel is most times difficult, especially when we are parked a couple thousand miles away. We try to situate ourselves where we may meet with other RVers in the same situation or choose a location near(er) to other family or friends. Its hard to be alone but really, we’re not.
Our ‘RV Family’ OwnLessDoMore‘s Emily & Tim and son, Dane
joined us for Christmas dinner at Wine Ridge RV Resort
in Pahrump, NV
Since we’ve been on the road, we get asked that one looming question, “HOW DO YOU GET YOUR MAIL?”
As nomadic RVers who are rarely in one place for more than a month at a time, our system has worked for the most part. We’ve had some blunders however, we’ve managed to keep our bills paid, packages received and mailings kept down to a manageable minimum.
We’ve been asked numerous times to share our story of how our dream began over lunches, dinners, campfires, happy hours and small talk. It seems to be a very interesting subject to most…well…because we’ve chosen a different lifestyle…a different path. Though we’ve been doing this for over a year now, we thought a thorough explanation might help some appreciate the process we went through to get to where we are now.
We’ve always been inclined to travel. Its in our blood. We’re nomads and always have been. We also love road trips! Being a long-time military family, we always were looking for somewhere to go, however, the majority of Captain Dan’s tours in the Coast Guard kept him up in New England. We still PCS’d (Permanent Change of Station) but only enough for me to quit my job, change schools for our son, etc. We uprooted our lives and home every 3-4 years.
Dan retired with 30 years in 2010 which kept us in our beautiful Kentucky home for seven years; the most we’ve ever been in one place. By our fourth year in Kentucky, we were itching to go ‘somewhere’ but to be honest, we hadn’t a clue where we would’ve gone. It was after Dan took a couple jobs to sort of ‘settle down’, we still felt restless. It was ingrained in our minds ‘we had to move…we had to go somewhere’.
In the past many years, we’ve always dreamed about getting a camper to tour the country but it was more like small talk; something to just pass the time. It was merely a DREAM.
Who would have thought, several years later, that we’d be sitting in our beautiful ‘home on wheels’ talking about it on our blog?
In January 2014, I drove down to St. Petersburg, Florida to visit two of my best friends. While planning the trip, I had learned that the Tampa RV Super Show was precisely the same time as my visit.
Before leaving, we had briefly entertained the idea of hitting the road in an RV. After perusing the Tampa RV Super Show like a little girl in a candy store, I quickly learned the difference between Class A’s, Class B’s, Class C’s, 5th Wheels, Toyhaulers, Pop-Ups, etc. It was quite overwhelming with so many choices! Being that we wanted to include our two Harley Davidson motorcycles, we honed our interest into the toyhauler market.
Then, the RV Show was over…
We had negotiated and came close to finalizing a purchase from a large RV store in the Tampa area, however the sale fell through no fault of our own. The dealer couldn’t deliver as promised. (Shall we say, ‘they lost our $70,000 check?‘)
Going home empty handed broke my spirit however, unbeknownst to me, Dan, was home in Kentucky pounding keys looking online for Toyhaulers that were closer to home.
While enroute back home, Dan scheduled me to stop at Big Daddy RV in London, Kentucky on my way home to look at a Heartland Cyclone 4100. I did a quick walk through to look at the floor plan and instantly fell in love. It was actually better than the deal that fell through in Florida.
Three hours later, I arrived home and told him how pleased I was with the construction, floor plan, and other specifications that was suited for us. A week later, we drove back to Big Daddy RV to order our Toyhauler. We were slated for delivery toward late March to early April of 2014.
Our walk-through was March 30th and by dinner time, we were gripping the steering wheel tight pulling our new coach home; wondering in the back of our minds, ‘are we nuts?’ We had previously made reservations at Taylorsville Lake State Park Campground to park our new rig.
Immediately after, we put our home on the market and started the master plan of getting rid of everything. Reality just slapped both of us in our faces! Lots of stuff to do!
Once our home was listed, we started the daunting, VERY EMOTIONAL ‘process of elimination’; downsizing from our newly renovated 3800 square foot, five bedroom, three bath home to roughly 350 square foot RV 5th wheel. ‘Emotional’ doesn’t even come close to best fit our feelings. I guess one could equate this to losing everything in a house fire.
We had closets full of clothes, parkas and skis from Maine, boots from Massachusetts, fishing and hunting gear from Pennsylvania…oh, you get the idea.
Its been seven years from our last military PCS’ but this purge was about to get real. Most of the purging was done by me, as Dan was still employed full-time by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in Louisville.
Painstakingly, I started selling small home decor items; knick-knacks, canisters, bedding ensembles, bathroom decor items, small furniture and chests, etc. on local Facebook ‘for sale’ groups; meeting buyers at public places to exchange our gently used wares for cash.
I had to do this slowly as we had to keep our home staged until we went under contract. It didn’t take long though that most of our closets were empty, rooms were looking larger and our piggy bank was filling up. We organized a few yard sales to get rid of little stuff and my craft supplies. Almost embarrassed to admit, I had enough to open my own Michael’s store.
Begrudgingly, I let pricey scrapbooking, rubber stamps, paper crafting, etc. supplies go for rock-bottom prices. However, it all had to go. The more I sold, the less we had to deal with for an estate sale. This money was projected to buy things needed for our RV (ie. new tires, new wares, motorcycle tire chocks, new grill, portable fire pit, etc.)
Two seasons later…
Spring soon turned to summer and summer turned to fall. Our first realtor only had six showings on our home from April 1st to October 1st; leaving us wondering ‘why’? Other homes were selling in less than 30 days. Our home was no different than others; it was a beautiful family home. We painstakingly updated and renovated the kitchen, repainted, kept the manicured landscaping, etc. Hindsight being what it was, we hired the wrong realtor. She simply was not ‘working for US’; she was more interested in real estate ventures with her son who was flipping houses (gee, the things you find out in a small town!).
So, through guidance and advice from a dear friend who is a realtor in California (thank you Gwen!!), we terminated our contract with her (she surprisingly didn’t fight us) and took the house off the market for three weeks. After which, we hired a new realtor, Eric Johnson of Keller Williams, notorious for relocation services for big companies in the Louisville area (UPS, Ford, University of Louisville, hospitals, etc.). Less than two weeks after listing with him (Mid October), we were under contract to close in approximately 30 days! (Hmmm, see how that works?) By this time, Dan had given his termination notice of employment.
Its about to get real…
Now, we were at flank speed. We had thirty days to empty our house and get the rest of our affairs in order. We rented a 10×10 storage area for things and small furniture items we just couldn’t let go of. We sent our most treasured heirlooms and momentos to Dan’s parents in Pennsylvania.
We had two more yard sales, sold bigger possessions on Facebook pages all while we were also trying to learn every facet of RV maintenance, upkeep, trip planning, etc.
We interviewed an Estate Sale Company for possible hire to do our Estate Sale. BUT, a day before making the call telling them we’d hire them, a miracle happened!
The family whom was buying our home asked if we would consider selling everything (furniture, brand new beds, home decor, wall art, dishes, bedding, etc.) in our home. Well, didn’t this make this a whole heck of a lot easier?! We agreed on a price to be paid separately at the closing.
We packed up only a few more boxes of my favorite things and left everything else; the Christmas tree, holiday decorations, leftover craft supplies, pillows, blankets, bedding, towels, shower curtains, dishes…everything but our suitcases and toothbrushes! We even left stuff up in the attic! They wanted it all! It was such a blessing to have this fall into our laps (and theirs!). To this day, I still give a ‘nod to God’ for this.
Now, its November and were eagerly waiting for our realtor to call us with the closing date. Its frigid cold and snowy. Kentucky winter has pathed its way to us which we were totally not prepared for this kind of RV’ing. Coincidentally, chose not to get the Yeti cold weather package for our RV because we never envisioned us being where we would have to worry about freezing hoses, plumbing, etc.
Needless to say, it happened. Our coach froze. Dan worked through all hours of the day and night keeping our pipes from freezing. We were frustrated and growing depressed.
It was then we learned how much propane we needed to heat Liberty. Dan lost much sleep babysitting small heaters in the basement of the RV. We learned patience and about the things happy RVers don’t talk about.
We were itching to leave Kentucky. We had even contemplated hiring an attorney to attend the closing to sign papers in our absence. However, we got the much awaited phone call; our closing was scheduled for 5:00 pm on the eve before Thanksgiving.
That night, we signed, shook hands, congratulated the new family and went on our way. We went out for a nice dinner and just sat there staring at each other. We were now ‘houseless’.
Our RV Journey began…
Thanksgiving Day, we spent quietly in our RV tying up loose ends. The temperatures rose a few degrees and we were finally thawing. We were utterly exhausted. We were set to leave the following morning to head south…anywhere south…where it was warmer.
Today, we are enjoying our new life on the road. No regrets! Absolutely none! We waited to do this all of our lives! We are now ‘living the dream’.