Contrary to popular belief, the rv lifestyle is NOT full-time “camping.” We are not ON VACATION. We don’t have a fire and roast marshmallows every night. Not every day is spent exploring some new area of the country and enjoying a gourmet meal in a five-star restaurant. In other words, it’s not all fun and games. Just like when we had a sticks and bricks house, we have days of joy, frustration, work, boredom and crazy busyness. Though we do feel very, very blessed and happy with our full-time rv life, we have realized that our life now is much the same as our previous life in a house. Only this house is portable. And a lot smaller.
#1–We still have home maintenance. The floor needs swept, windows need washed, tires need air, lug nuts need tightened, light bulbs need changed, etc. Washing the camper is a challenge since most campgrounds don’t allow it. Alan has become very adept at filling a spray bottle with soapy water and hand washing one little section of the camper at a time. It takes him about a week to get the whole camper done.
#2–Our tiny house. Because we are living in 250 square feet, we can only make one mess at a time. So, if I’m in the middle of a sewing project and it’s dinner time, I have to clean up the sewing project in order to eat. There’s only room for one of us in the bathroom. And we truly have a “one-butt kitchen.” Sometimes the closeness gets to us and we have to take a solo walk to have a degree of separation to maintain our sanity.
#3–Exploring can be a drag. Don’t get me wrong, we love to see new places. We have never been the family that always goes back to the same vacation spot every single year. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just not our style. But, every new place we park the camper we have to go exploring for the necessities. Where’s the grocery store? Where’s the gas station? Where’s an eye doctor? Where’s a barber shop? Where’s the laundromat? And the most challenging, Where’s the post office? There have been lots of times we’ve missed our old stomping grounds where we didn’t have to stop and think, we just hopped in the car and drove to Giant Eagle or Manhattan Cleaners or Carnation Mall and got our business done. True, SIRI helps out a lot, but sometimes she can cop an attitude. When traffic is crazy and her directions are incorrect and she gets yelled at, we’ve heard her respond, “You could try being polite, Alan.” I am being completely truthful. I know, it’s a little creepy.
#4–Water and sewage. Never thought too much about it in our old house. We had a deep well, so though we weren’t wasteful, we never had to really conserve water. And with our septic, we “just flushed our troubles down the drain.” If we ever had a major water/sewage problem, we hired a professional. However, our camper has a 40-gallon fresh water tank, so we have learned how to wash our hands with very small amounts of water. And we get to carry around our waste water, sometimes wondering where we can dump it. Yep, we now think a lot about human waste. Lovely.
#5–Family and friends. We were able to spend anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months at a stretch with our kids this past year. It was wonderful. We hadn’t spent that much time with them since they were in high school. But when it was time to say good-bye, it was REALLY tough. And it’s hard when I call my folks and they sound tired or sick or lonely and I’m 3,000 miles away. And then there was the time in northern California when it seemed as though EVERYONE at our campground was having a get-together with their friends EXCEPT us and we realized how much we missed our Ohio friends. Yes, life on the road can be lonely. If you let it. We have met some fabulous people on our travels by simply being friendly and saying, “Hello.” And we remind ourselves how lonely we have felt and try to reach out to other campers that might be feeling lonesome, too.
#6–Church. We have a wonderful home church back in Ohio. When we hit the road last August, we knew that it would be way too easy to get in “vacation mode” and not attend church. We made a commitment to go to church every Sunday morning wherever we were. What a blessing it has been, meeting and worshipping with God’s people all over this country. When we are with our kids, we attend their church. But when we are on our own Alan uses the internet to search out churches near our location, sometimes we have one choice and other times we have many. We just let God lead us to the right one and each time we have been truly edified by the preaching and encouraged by the friendly folks we’ve met.
There are a host of other lessons we have learned and many more to come, I’m sure. We’ll see what year number 2 has in store.