We’re coming close to our 6-month anniversary as full time RVers. After three months on the road, I wrote a blog on the lessons learned to date. At the half year mark, here are some of the key things that affect our daily lives:
SEEKING THE FAMILIAR AMID THE UNFAMILIAR! Whether on the road or camped out somewhere, days fly by very quickly. I suspect it’s due to having to learn new things and overcome personal fears like this……..
However, traveling as a way of life is a very different animal than traveling in short vacation-type spans. As humans, as much as we may love the idea of ditching the routine and dream of the gypsy life, we’re also creatures of habits, eager to find the familiar amid the unfamiliar. I find that aiming for some sort of routine and comfort in our home-on-wheels is key to our mental stability… Morning coffee and the New York Times, going for a walk or to the gym (thank goodness for Planet Fitness when there’s one nearby!), perform daily rig hygiene (empty tanks, sweep, clean), shower (or not!), plan the day, go out explore or just go grocery shopping… Like any routine, it’s pretty oh-hum but reassuring… And that’s a good thing!
Budget wise, it’s also important to remind ourselves that we’re not just ‘sightseers’ with a generous vacation fund allowing for frequent restaurant visits or impulse buying. These costs add up fast! No worries though as there is a silver lining…. although still very tempting, I can no longer buy household “objets d’art” – I simply don’t have the space anymore. And that’s a good thing!
THE WEATHER The weather forecast is high on our daily checklist and longer term planning. Depending on the time of year and location, it’s crucially important to be aware of what’s in store in our area or next destination. For instance, West Texas can get pretty windy in April; it gets its fair share of thunderstorms, which in turn may lead to flash floods, large area flooding, and of course the dreaded tornado alerts! Best to avoid being on the road during any of those weather depressions, which means that a scheduled itinerary may have to be altered very quickly. Like Boy Scouts, we have to be prepared!
PLANNING ITINERARIES Planning our itinerary (usually two to three weeks ahead) by researching the route and overnight stay. This can take several hours as there is a multitude of factors to consider… road condition, accessibility of overnight RV Park or boondocking spot, safety; how long we stay depends on exploration/activity level (what is there to do), fun factor, scenery and relax time, etc. Thankfully, there are several online applications that greatly assist in this task. I currently have 15 “RV apps” downloaded on my iPhone and Mac computer + Google Maps and Google Earth – this last one is very useful when we need a close check on a road or terrain or RV stayover spot.
DIGITAL CONNECTIVITY Ha! Good cellular and WiFi reception is the nemesis of all RVers! Because we are mobile, we are on a constant quest for ‘perfect’ connectivity anywhere at any time! Coverage across the US and Canada is far from seamless. Here again, RVers purchase products, from the simple to the sophisticated, from cellular and WiFi boosters to cable/TV antennas, to telecommunication hotspots… a whole alphabet soup of technical products that may or may not work in any given situation. Several RVers—us included—subscribe to RV-tech websites (Mobile Internet Resource Center is one of the best out there), just to keep ahead of the technology curve! When connectivity is no issue, we’ll watch something on Netflix or Amazon Prime (we have purposely stayed away from hooking up to a TV satellite service (Dish Network or Direct TV).
HUMAN CONNECTIVITY… KEEPING IN TOUCH! Last but certainly not least is human contact… it is fuel for the soul and staying connected to our various communities is so very important. I keep daily contact mostly via texting, email and Facebook with family members and close friends. We were thrilled to host our first ‘overnight guest’ when our friend Marlene popped in from Toronto while we were in El Paso.
If an issue arises—technical or otherwise—on the RV front, we often ask for informal assistance by popping a question on one of our Facebook closed group RV communities (with names like Full Time RV Living, Retired Full Timers, Escapee Boomers Club, RV Lifestyle Group, etc.); usually within minutes, several helpful comments come through with great tips or suggestions. We have learned a lot through these.
Equally important is to keep a strong network of trusted professionals to reach out when needed. Banking staff, investment managers, insurance brokers, accountant, doctors… being able to reach a human being who is familiar with your account is key. Beats talking to a robot computer any time!
EPHEMERAL FRIENDSHIPS Our practice as full time RVers, at least for the next two or three years, is to explore and keep moving. It’s slow travel mind you… we stay somewhere for a minimum of one week, usually two, sometime three—depending how we feel, what’s the weather like, and others above mentioned factors—which allow us to get to know an area thoroughly. Though we have met several lovely folks along the way, this RV lifestyle is not always conducive to cultivating long-term friendships. There are gatherings organized by RV social clubs that are posted online—we just show up to the event! Over the years, I expect we’ll meet some of the people we briefly befriended again, thanks to the magic of Facebook and guess what… there’s an app for that, RVillage!. But without a doubt, whether in person or via social media, we are now part of an amazing group of people and we feel very privileged to be members of the RV community.
John Lennon’s famous song lyric, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” may be a clever truism but one that is fulfilled by too few of us, still today. It’s entirely doable but definitely harder to live by than the pop song might suggest. It takes genuine will and determination to live in the Now–with a healthy dose of nuttiness to change one’s life. My son, Olivier is doing this right now – making a big career change in this thirties — way to go mon chéri!
Going ‘fulltime’ was a big decision for us but one made easier because that’s what we wanted to do all along. For better or for worse, we plunged in head first; so far, so good!
At the end of May, we will be saying goodbye to Texas. From El Paso to Big Bend to San Antonio to Galveston and the gulf coast, to Houston and Austin, we absolutely loved Texas! I had never set foot in the Lone Star State before and must admit that I had a lot of preconceived ideas about what I’d find. Some of these turned out to be deliciously true (Texans really, really do say “y’all” and are so very hospitable and helpful. I even spotted lots of Beto 2020 bumper stickers on many cars everywhere we went – how ’bout that!!
In my next blog, I’ll write about the cultural gems that got us both enchanted and flabbergasted, usually at the same time. For instance, there is more to San Antonio than its famous Riverwalk; Houston’s oil & gas industry investment in its beautiful parks and world-renowned museums; life on the gulf coast in May (the wettest month of the year with amazing bird watching!) and finally, the sophistication of Texas’s capital, Austin.
On behalf of the ‘real’ RedbirdRV gal…. Tata for now!
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You only live twice!