This is my first blog entry since embarking on this new RV lifestyle adventure in August of 2017. Since Elizabeth has written the previous entries, I wanted to give my perspective of this experiment we call Full-Time RVing. I’ll try not to rehash too much of what Elizabeth covered already.
It’s been an insane 9 months since we freed ourselves of so many possessions that filled our Miami townhouse and moved into a slightly used 38 ft Class A motorhome we named The Mighty Thor (based on it’s manufacturer Thor Motor Coach). Our only prior RV experience was a hybrid travel trailer that we took out to Burning Man in 2016. So The Mighty Thor was a bit of an upgrade. Since going full-time, we’ve stayed at 30 different campgrounds, RV parks and ‘Resorts’ in 13 states, along with a Cabela’s and Walmart parking lot, and I feel like were just getting started, or more like we’re just starting to get the hang of this. There’s been a lot to learn and adjust to as full-time RVers, and for the most part I feel like that powers that be, have been extremely kind in doling out our lessons in a manor we could handle and benefit from. I personally went into this lifestyle change preparing to be challenged on all sorts of levels, but to be greatly rewarded as well, and I haven’t been disappointed by either. As we’ve continued on, I feel the rewards keep outweighing the downsides. I’ve never once thought this was a bad idea, but there have definitely been moments where I’ve declared to myself, “I really don’t like this!” Even then, those moments have usually been followed by great feelings of accomplishment, along with much appreciated acquired knowledge I didn’t possess prior. YouTube videos and other friendly RVers have definitely helped in this area.
More often than not, figuring out and remembering how all the systems work together onboard resolves the issue at hand. “Why aren’t the leveling jacks working?!” Oh, the engine needs to be running. “Why aren’t the slides working?!” Oh, the engine needs to be turned off. “Why isn’t there any power coming in through the power outlets?!” Oh yeah, the inverter needs to be on. “Why isn’t the radio/rear camera coming on?!” Oh, the battery usage switch accidentally was switched to Store mode. “Why aren’t the house batteries charging?!” Oh, there’s a reset button that just needs to be pushed. “What’s that beeping?!” Um, depends where it’s coming from.
Of course, living and traveling in a motorhome often offers challenges you don’t expect, or can really prepare for. All you can do is go with the flow, handle ‘em as they come, and learn from them. Here’s a sampling of the challenges we’ve experienced since becoming full time RVers:
I now watch Star Trek, Star Wars, or anything dealing with a vessel of some sort (water, land, air, space, etc.), with greater appreciation. The Mighty Thor, our 38 ft motorhome, along with the tow dolly, Jeep and Vespa is essential our ship and character in our ongoing escapades. Like the USS Enterprise, Millennium Falcon, Nautilus or Black Pearl, the Mighty Thor is the vessel we now travel around, live and have our adventures in. And if you’ve seen any of these movies, you know the ship always takes a hit or two and needs repairing along the way. Sure, we’re not in repeated battles with other RVs out there on the roads (although that’s an interesting concept, note to self). Shit happens, things malfunction, but we’re not gonna let that get in the way of our adventures. On the contrary, it’ll just enhance our adventures. Just wished I could call out, “Damage Report!” And have someone there to tell me what’s wrong. Elizabeth may humor me on this one.
One of the most surprising things since becoming a full-time RVer, has been the response by folks when they learn what we’re doing. So many claim we are living the dream, which I remind myself often of while I’m emptying the grey and black water tanks. Most have questions about how we deal with basics like how we get our mail, decide where to stay, work and run a business on the road. Unlike a good chunk of folks who do this, we’re not retired. Pulling in an income is still a necessity, and one that we’re adapting to this lifestyle. Luckily, we were already running our own business, and with the Internet and cell phones, it wasn’t a huge leap. I travel a lot for work as it is, but a good bit of our income is still linked to South Florida. Uncoupling our dependence for physically being there has been a goal we’re still figuring out.
Meanwhile, we continue to spend much of the year in Florida, which really isn’t a bad thing, especially during the winter months. Thing is, The Sunshine State is a bit too popular with RVers during those colder months, which makes being a spontaneous nomad tricky, forcing us to plan and book campsites far in advance. At least for more desirable campsites, as we learned this past February when we had to stay in three different campsites around Orlando, cause RV parks book up and can’t always accommodate us for longer stays. This means we have to move when we really may not want to, or when it’s not altogether convenient for us.
Working the whole campsite booking game has become an exercise I have a love/hate relationship with. I enjoy the challenge of finding an awesome campsite, but sometimes it can be a real pain just to end up at a crappy site near where we’d like to be. Elizabeth tried to help and assist in this area once when I was really busy, and it didn’t go well. There was crying. She just wasn’t aware of all the methods I’ve developed to find RV sites. Depending on the area, type of RV park or campgrounds, length of stay, and a number of other factors, there’s a variety of resources I use to find and book campsites. ReserveAmerica.com & AllStays.com (along with their apps) are just the jumping off points. By the end, I’ve read reviews; studied Google Maps’ satellite imagery; gathered elevation and climate data; and assessed campsite stats for cost, space, clearance, views, hook-ups, potential discounts & points earned; proximity to airports in case I need to fly to a gig as well as cellular signal and DISH TV accessibility. I definitely prefer booking online when I can, especially since I’m often looking for campsites during my downtime at night. But with many campgrounds and RV parks, you just have to call and talk to someone. In the end, there’s just nothing like scoring the perfect, leveled, spacious campsite, with an scenic view, at a great deal that’s easy to pull in & out of without having to unhitch the tow dolly, access to fast WiFi and/or cellular data, hook-ups that are a cinch to connect and dumping tanks is just a simple opening and closing of the valve drains! That’s good stuff! Despite my efforts, we don’t always end up in ideal campsites. But that’s one of the perks of this lifestyle. We’re not stuck in undesirable sites for too long and there’s always the next campsite to look forward to.
Now that I've broken the ice with this blog rambling that took me way too long to write, I'll be more diligent to write more often. As I wrap this up, Elizabeth and I are sitting in The Mighty Thor up in the Colorado Rockies just west of Denver at a KOA campground overlooking the gambling town of Central City on this snowy day, cozy & comfy. We’ll be here for a month before we move further west towards Aspen and Grand Junction, then into Utah, up to Idaho, Wyoming and South Dakota for the summer. Not sure where we’ll go after that, we just know there’s a campsite waiting for us back in Florida for the winter months.
Blog entry by Al Rodriguez