Two Years on the Road
We started this nomadic journey two years ago. Many of our family and friends have been asking how we like this lifestyle, now that we’ve been out here for a while.
In a nutshell, we know we made the right decision to go full-time in an RV. Truthfully, Covid has had very little impact on us. RV‘ers tend to park separated, not bunched up, so social distancing was already a “thing” in our community. We had to change our travel destination a couple times, but we were blessed to find new and fascinating places to visit instead. The big loss was not seeing more of our two boys and their families.
The first year we made the big mistake of trying to see everyone, which meant we traveled over 15,000 miles in 4 months, spending very little time anywhere. It wore us out! It also cost a lot in fuel. In 2020 & 2021 we got smart, and backed off the traveling, which allowed us to spend more time with people, and more leisure time in nature, like lakes, rivers, BLM land, COE camps, and boondocking. In 2021, we are on track to have only traveled about 10,000 with Bella, and 18,000 miles total.
Is maintaining a big fifth wheel and one-ton pickup more complicated and expensive than a house? I don’t think so. First, no yard to mow! Every other move I spray lubricant on all the slide gears. That takes 5 minutes. I maintain tire pressures all the time, and have a tire pressure monitoring device that does that for me. All I have to do is add air when needed. I have routine maintenance on the pickup on a mileage schedule. The onboard computer reminds me of that. Before pulling in the slides we have a set routine to stow all gear, and we double-check each other, including a walk around before driving. When we stop for fuel or rest, we do a walk around inspection. After going over rough roads, when we park and open up, we check everything before completing the evolution, which includes things that may have slid around inside the fridge!
our biggest challenge is parking. Bella is 41’, and sometimes we have some challenging spots to park in, be it RV parks, campgrounds, and boondocking. We look out for branches, walls, rock outcrops, potholes, and tight corners. I discovered that if I “think” like I’m driving an 18-wheeler when taking turns or parking, life is good, and safe! I never park alone! Jan is always out there as my director. The biggest lesson is, if she says “Stop!”, I don’t ask why — I stop! That has saved us from mistakes multiple times in the past two years.
Living in an RV tests your compatibility with your spouse. Generally, you are together 24/7, so you better be able to get along, or life will not be fun. As you who know us realize, even though we are two very different people, Jan & I get along in all situations, from relaxed to stressed. We LOVE being together all the time. Do we have “me” time? Yes, we do. Jan has quilting, sewing, and things she does without me. I have outside time and walks for myself. So, we aren’t glued at the hip, but are separate individuals that prefer to spend most of our time together. Yes, we could do more things separately, but we prefer each other’s company better. We have movie night dates, be it dollar DVDs or streaming service. We play a lot of music, so we dance in the living room. We also go out for breakfast, or lunch, or dinner at least every other week. Dating is a big part of our life together. We’ve been some very interesting eateries in the past two years!
One thing we were worried about is being fully active in Church. We are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We love being fully engaged. Every week we look up the local ward, check times, and attend sacrament meeting, Sunday School, and Priesthood or Relief Society classes. Because the Church has a schedule of scriptures that will be taught each week, we come prepared for class, and often engage in discussions of the topics, as though we are members of that ward. We have been asked to give opening and closing prayers, and the members we meet in our travels have become friends. We have also joined service projects and additional meetings (called Firesides).
As noted in an earlier post, we will be serving a Church Service Mission in 2022-23. We will be hosts at a Church camp just north of Sandpoint, idaho, right on the Pend Orielle River. We will be there from late April to the first of September each year. Our camp spot is perfect! We will still have time to visit with family and friends before arrival and after, arriving back in Quartzsite in November.
Bella is set up for full service solar, so we do not have to alter our diet in any way. In fact, we are eating more variety of foods than ever before! I bake sourdough bread, use a Ninja Foodi, and love our new Traeger smoker grill. Jan can whip up a wide variety of baked goodies, and makes the most amazing international recipes! each summer we make homemade jams, applesauce, and pie fillings. A lot of our friends are familiar with my 50 year old Squeezo, which makes canning easy.
We are both VA patients. Our “home” doctors are in Seattle. If we need to be seen, we schedule our annual visits a couple months out. We also have periodic phone conferences with our doctors, specialists, and pharmacist. While traveling, we just call the VA Travel Coordinator, and we visit a facility near us. With Medicare and military TriCare, we can still visit emergency care places when needed. For dental, we go to a wonderful dental clinic in Los Algodones, Mexico, just across the border from Yuma, Arizona. Their staff are highly trained, and the equipment is the latest technology. We have our medications mailed to wherever we are.
A big benefit of this lifestyle is we are able to see this beautiful country! We don’t have to get on packed airplanes, live out of a suitcase, rent cars, or sleep in rock hard beds! In fact, we take our super comfy bed with us! When we visit friends or family, we don’t displace some kids, sleep in the living room on a blowup mattress, or disrupt their normal lives. We do stuff with them, and we also do stuff on our own when they are busy. It’s like we lived nearby when we are there. Because we are mobile, we are able to visit people we haven’t seen in many years.
The hardest part of this lifestyle is downsizing! That was REALLY hard! But, once done, it was like this huge weight lifted off of us. Also, none of our family can decide to come live with us! First, they’d have to find us!😁 If we get sick or disabled, we’ll get off the road, but will most likely still be able to stay in Bella. We already have several places in mind if that happens.
I think I’ve covered most of the high points and concerns about our experience of living in an RV full time. When it gets hot, we go north, or find a cooler location. When it gets cold, we head south. It’s a pretty simple process. We live on wheels! If we don’t like where we are, all we have to do is hook up and move! And the view out our windows are to die for! As I write this, I am sitting on the beach of the Colorado River at the north entry of the Grand Canyon National Park. I’m looking at the river and the majesty of the 1,000’ high red rock cliffs in front of me. What’s the view like out your window?