It’s been nearly a year since our last blog entry. There really wasn’t much to blog about, except how we were self isolating with the pandemic raging. Pretty much what everyone else was doing. Just in an RVer sorta way. After we were kicked outta our campsite in South Florida due to the park closing and being turned into a Covid Center, we found ourselves at a KOA in Apopka, FL just northwest of Orlando for a few weeks. There we started to figure out our immediate future. Plans kept changing. We had campsite bookings that were canceling on us due to shut downs. We just needed to find a place where we could hunker down for a while, and it needed to be somewhere cooler outta Florida as it was starting to get too toasty for my liking. We decided on a lovely campground just north of Fayetteville, NC we’d stayed at before a couple of times for one-nighters. It was perfect for hunkering down at for a few months as we began to adjust to our new reality.
Meanwhile our income sources were mostly wiped out. Filed for unemployment, which for Florida residents was quite an ongoing task. We were grateful for the CARES ACT which gave us each the extra $600 a week. We had some savings, but we were doing our best not to dip into it more then we needed. How long any of this was going to last and if things would ever return to normal were all up in the air. But it was becoming clear as things went on that this would be a long process for everyone.
Then the reality of how isolated we were going to be also started to dawn on us. Living in the RV was social distancing at its max. Except for the occasional visit to the grocery store, contact with others minimal for us. But when would we be able to visit with any friends or family? We were planing to continue on up to Virginia for the summer and fall to be close to family there. Would that be viable?
All in all things worked out relatively well for us. We spent the summer and fall in Virginia and enjoyed quality time with family as we did our best to keep everyone safe. I even got to see a friend in DC one day. As unemployment checks ended, we were shifting our business to the changing work environment. Drawing caricatures for virtual events on Zoom started to be a new normal. We made attempts to offer other services which never took off. But when you’re self-employed, you're willing try new things, knowing full well that some ideas aren’t going to take. We also launched an online store selling print-on-demand t-shirts. That was way more work than we expected, but found it to be well worth the effort. You can check out our shop at LizzyTheLightworker.com. We’re still working out the kinks, and figuring out our marketing.
We weren’t making the same money we had prior to the pandemic, but we were making ends meet. Living in an RV helped. Having the option to book campgrounds and RV parks that offered better monthly and weekly rates was a huge help. By late fall we knew we were going to be heading back south. Our usual campground was still closed due to Covid at that point. So considering other less expensive options was on the table. Part of our reason for wintering in South Florida, besides avoiding the cold, was the likelihood of working local events which were typically plentiful there that time of year. But 2020 was proving to be unique. We assumed there would be some events to be worked, but we really had no idea to what degree. So we were considering less expensive, aka less geographically ideal campsite options in Florida to offset the cost of being down there. This all became a mute issue when we were lucky enough to land a huge gig with Samsung drawing on their tablets at their Samsung Experience stores. Yeah, an actual live in person event, at a time when they were nearly extinct! And this was not just huge, but literally the biggest gig we’d ever booked.
The event would run 7 weekends, all day Saturday and Sunday from early November into December just before Christmas. It would take place at four locations, including New York, California and Houston. Elizabeth and I immediately changed our plans to move the RV to Houston so I could work that event while we lined up artists to cover the New York and California events. This wasn’t just a massive gift to us, but also to the 3 other artists working this at the other locations.
The amount of money this gig would pay would allow us to breath easier a bit more than we had in months. Allowing us to take care of things we’d been putting off and just relax a little as we were saying good riddance to 2020.
At first we thought as soon as the Samsung gig wrapped just prior to Christmas, we’d head to Florida to spend the remainder of the winter. But by the beginning of December we were having second thoughts. We weren’t getting any bookings in Florida. Hence, a large motivation for us heading down there was dwindling. The winter seemed quite doable in Houston, with temperatures not “typically” getting too low. The RV Resort site we scored in North Houston (that’s right, a resort. Fancy right?) offered us a lovely lakefront site and considerably cheaper than what we’d pay in Florida. And we also decided that come spring we were wanting to explore the western U.S. again, so why not just stay in Houston and save us all those miles to come right back this way again. So by Christmas, we committed ourselves to staying in Houston for the rest of winter, allowing us to chill, work on the T-shirt shop and other business as well as get some other projects outta the way.
Then in February Texas became the center of national attention as epic winter storms dripped down and covered the state in snow and ice.
I was originally planning to meet up with my old buddy, Tom in Memphis, TN where he was picking up a brand new motorhome. Tom and his wife, Teri had made the plunge into full time RV living last March, but felt they’d outgrown their current motorhome. So they’re making a big upgrade which should enhance their nomadic lifestyle. With their brand new Tiffin Allegro Red 33AA ready for pickup this week, Tom was going to fly into Memphis to take ownership of it and drive it back to Florida where they’re currently wintering. I offered to join him on the journey back to Florida to get me outta my RV for a few days, give Elizabeth a break of having me around all the time, and to just have some quality hang time with a good friend, which I’d been sorely missing this past year.
Those plans became increasingly complicated by the growing threat that was this winter storm. The forecast just kept get worse as we got closer to our travel dates. In an attempt to avoid flight delays or cancellations, Tom and I moved out flights to Memphis up to Sunday from Monday, but ultimately the winter storm building cancelled both of our flights. A blessing in disguise, because now it was dawning on Elizabeth and I how cold and icy it was going to be in Houston. If I had made it to Memphis, I would’ve spent the rest of my week insane that I wasn’t home with Elizabeth addressing the series of issues that were presented by the this storm.
Up until now, we’d pretty much avoided any serious winter weather with our motorhome. Yeah, we’d gotten the occasional snow fall. But the temps rarely dripped below freezing. I had a night that supposedly got down to 21 degrees in Taos, NM. But that was just one night and the temps prior and immediately afterwards were well above freezing. In a motorhome, its typically known that as long as you have the furnace running, by design, warm air will be blown into the lower compartments where the water tanks and lines are, keeping them relatively safe from freezing. When temps aren’t dropping so low, we also have an electric fireplace and space heaters to keep us warm, especially when we have shore power from the campground. As an add precaution, we placed small space heaters inside the lower compartments to help keep them warm, especially if we’re trying to mitigate our propane usage.
We received a notification from the RV Resort that due to the hard freeze they were expecting, they would be shutting the water off in hopes of saving their plumbing from damage. So Sunday afternoon just prior to the storm hitting us we’d all need to fill our fresh water tanks and disconnect out hoses to city water. We’d depend on our fresh water tank for a number of days along with any bottled water we bought.
We retired Sunday evening feeling we’d prepared the best we could, with the sound of ice and sleet beginning to fall on the RV. We woke the next morning to a very wintery scene. All the grass now white covered with ice, 19 degrees outside and no water running out of our faucets or toilets. But we had power, so that was a good thing. We quickly figured out we could fill a handy 5 gallon bucket with water from out fresh water tank, so although it wasn’t running through the plumbing, we still had plenty of water to wash and flush toilets with.
Trying the investigate where the plumbing was frozen was sheer speculation at this point. Since there was no water flowing anywhere in the coach, I kinda assumed it was the water pump or near there. So that’s where I looked first. We had a slight drip prior in the wet bay, so I ended placing the space heater in there on a higher ledge to avoid the heater from getting wet. But once I looked in there I saw there was a layer of ice that formed on the floor of the compartment pretty close to where the pump was mounted and some plumbing. There obviously was enough heat getting to this section, and this one bit of piping freezing could easily stop water flowing to the entire rig. So in hopes of remedying the situation, I moved the space heater lower, closer to the pump and took an emergency mylar sleeping bag I had in my camping gear and attempted the insulate the compartment better.
Since we probably weren’t going to see above freezing temps for at least a couple of days, I doubted the plumbing would thaw quickly, but I knew it would thaw eventually, and just hoped it would do so without causing damage.
We never had trouble keeping us warm enough inside. But were concerned with why it wasn’t staying warm enough in the lower compartments. The temps were expected to drop more so the following night. I had wireless thermometers in the lower compartments showing me how “not” warm it was down there, frustrating me as I saw the temps still dip below freezing.
Early evening the power went out. Which seemed a bit odd at first since we’d gonna all day with power well after the initial freeze hit us. A quick google search revealed Houston was struggling with their power grid and rolling blackouts were taking place. We started to hear the sound of generators running from all the other RVs in the resort, and we cranked ours up as well. We were officially boondocking!
Now we have done next to no boondocking, aka RVing without connections. We’ve done a few overnights at Walmarts and a Cabella’s. But I’ve since learned that Elizabeth really doesn’t enjoy these stays, since we are greatly limited on what we can run. Boondocking is ideal if you don’t have to run the AC or any energy hogging device like a residential refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker, etc. Our rig is designed for this, but having a well maintained and hefty battery bank to run the basics is key. RVers who are into boondocking often upgrade their batteries from standard led acid to lithium and install some solar system. We’re still sporting the led acid. Two big 6 volt batteries that wired together give us our 12 volt system. But I’d never really tested how long I could power our rig for on these. And without shore power, I still needed to power the furnace, our residential refrigerator and some lights. The furnace heats with propane, but still needs electricity to ignite and power the fan.
We quickly discovered that running the minimal systems, our batteries were only lasting a couple of hours before getting too low. Led acid batteries don’t like going down below 50%, or it will damage them. These are also the same batteries being used to start the generator, hence we definitely didn’t want the batteries getting too low. Turned out we’d be without shore power for over the next 24 hours. Running the generator for good chunk of time was going to be essential for keeping us warm.
Running the generator during the day was one thing, but sleeping with it running was another thing. We’d slept with the generator running once before during one of those Walmart stays and really didn’t like it. The generator is mounted towards the back of the rig close to our bed, so it was disturbing to sleep feeling this thing rumbling just below us. We were also a bit concerned about any exhaust seeping into the coach while we were sleeping. We did have a carbon monoxide alarm inside with us, but during this whole episode we started noticing a slight haze inside the coach that concerned us. The whole thing was just unsettling. Meanwhile, I’m starting to look closely at a feature that came with the RV that I never really used. The Auto Gen Start. Since we never really boondocked, I just didn’t get around to testing this Auto Gen’s capabilities. All I knew about this installed device was when I had it enabled it would automatically kick the generator on whenever the batteries go down to a certain level and then run for a bit and turn off. This sounds like something I’d like to use now. But since I’d never tested it, I wasn’t comfortable just going to bed and relying on this to work. And when I just had us powered by the batteries alone and the Auto Gen Start enabled, I was seeing the battery levels drop a bit more than the recommended 50%. So at what point was this thing going to kick in? I found the manual in the bag we keep with all the manuals and discovered that the settings for the Auto Gen Start could be adjusted, but I was going to have to find the box where all those settings are made somewhere below, most likely near the batteries and inverter. It’s was dark by now and very cold, so I waited til morning to find that and adjust to my desired settings.
We ran the generator the rest of the night, with no problems. Elizabeth surprisingly slept better then I did. We stayed warm enough, in fact maybe too warm. The thing with the furnace was where the warm air was going. From the first time I ever ran it in Taos, I’ve noticed how the heat vent into the half bath always blew way more hot air. The vents didn’t have any flap or way to close them, like the AC vents do. So the half bath in the middle of the coach would receive all the hot air. Almost seemed a waste. So that night while stressing over the generator being on all night, I start thinking how we can push more of the hot air entering the half bath down into to low compartments. So I start pushing rags into the vent to block most of it. There was still some air coming through, so it wasn’t an issue, but it seemed to help as Elizabeth noticed a difference towards the back of the rig, and the lower compartment temp readings were way up when we woke that following morning. It’s not a perfect system, especially when tested with these extreme temperatures. But learning how the rig works really helps.
The following morning still without power, I find the Auto Gen Start box and make my desired settings. The rest of the day the generator automatically turns on and off on its own without us having to monitor the levels, as well as save some gas and noise. A far more sustainable situation. By the afternoon the frozen plumbing thawed and our water pump flowed again, with no sign of damage. Our moods quickly improved, followed by the power returning later that evening. Meanwhile we were starting to realize the toll this storm was taking on so many others in Houston and the state of Texas in general.
This is when we began to appreciate how luck we’ve been, and far better prepared than most living in sticks and bricks. So few have decent backup systems in their home to deal with such an event. We started off with a 100 gallons of water in our fresh water tank plus whatever drinking water we bought prior. Then we had the ability to generate power and use batteries to still run thing so the generator didn’t have to run the whole time. Then we had propane to heat and cook with. We didn’t run outta anything. But man, so many were left with so little options. Desperate to get warm, too many died from accidentally setting their homes on fire or poisoning themselves from carbon monoxide. Then all the freaking damage from burst pipes. Just crazy!
We woke the follow morning without power again, but we were fine running with our Auto Gen Start. The power came back later that night and we were pretty much in the clear. Still waiting for the water to get turned on. Which it did briefly, but turns out the RV resort did indeed have its own bit of damage.
In the end, I’ll think twice about wintering in Texas again. And the next time we’re faced with a potential winter storm like this, we’ll treat it like we do hurricane threats. Just get us the hell outta there! Although this still would’ve been a though one to dodge. Not sure we could’ve moved fast and far enough away, based on what we knew when. But we’ll definitely be more on guard in the future.
Hopefully this is it for this winter, as we’re planning to head westward in just a couple of weeks.
Written By: Al Rodriguez
We got settled into our new campground in Apopka, Fl yesterday, after being given 48 hour notice to leave CB Smith county park.
To catch everyone up, we had 3 weeks left on our stay at CB Smith. It truly is our favorite campground, lots of green open spaces, lakes, exercise trails, and more. I love the land and cherish our stays there. I really like that they don’t pack you into close quarters as other campgrounds do. But the introduction of new animals at the park is what made our stay even more magical. We made friends with a beautiful peacock we named Sasha, and two bunnies named Rebecca and Bernadette. While the bunnies wouldn't let us pet them or pick them up, my heart would leap for joy each time they hopped up to me and took a carrot from my hand.
We always knew we be leaving, but didn't worry about the rabbits. Plenty of other campers there to look after them, and lots of grass and plants for them to eat. But never in our wildest dreams could we have known that they would kick all the campers out with 48 hour notice, and that the National Guard would move in and militarize the beautiful land.
The bunnies seemed to sense something was happening. They spent way more time around us than normal. We grew concerned as we saw the park emptying out. Less cars and RV's meant less safe places for the rabbits to hide from hawks and other predators. They suddenly appeared very vulnerable to me.
They were under the car when we finally had to leave. They normally run whenever we get into the car and start the engine, but this time they wouldn't leave. I had to get a stick to scare them out, but even then they were resistant. They didn't want us to leave, but didn't want to come with us either.
As we made our exodus from the park, the military presence was already strong, with about 500 uniformed personnel from my guess under tents and manning barricades. I watched as the peacock approached them, hoping to make new friends. And my heart broke to see this magical place turn into something very different. Will they cherish the land as we did? Will they protect the animals as we did?
Like many others, we were set to self quarantine for a few weeks. Forced though it may be, we were looking forward to the quiet space to tune in and nurture our souls. Instead, this week has been a very hectic week of running last minute errands all over South Florida to prepare to leave for the season in 48 hours instead of our planned 3 weeks. But we're in our new temp campground now. Next to an airport, the train tracks, and a busy road, crowded in close to other campers. When does the peaceful downtime begin? I'll admit, I am filled with a sense of grief. But the loud plane over my head drowns it all out.
Written By: Elizabeth DiPace
When I say the word ascension, some people may immediately shut down and tune out. That word has too much of a New Age feel to them, something they cannot relate to. So, let’s set that word aside for the time being, and instead speak of transformation.
When we talk about transformation, most people only feel comfortable scratching the surface. Perhaps they’ll cut sugar out of their diet, or paint their house a new color. I always pay attention to the transformation happening within a woman when she chops off her hair or does something drastic with her external appearance. She is expressing to the outside world the change that is happening within her. She looks in the mirror and says “I am not the same person, I do not recognize the person in the mirror anymore.” And so calls her hair salon to make an appointment, or in some cases, her tattoo artist. This is a perfect expression of the internal change being reflected by the external change.
The fun thing is, it works both ways. You can kick the internal transformation into gear by creating changes in the world around you. It may start with clearing out your closet. This creates a wave of momentum, and if you allow it to flow without fear of throwing out something you will miss, then you may then find yourself tackling that bookshelf, or desk draw, or garage. As you externally shed these material items that have weighed you down, for the possession and ownership of each material object in your house requires an energetic place holder within you, you begin the clear your energy field and allow movement and change within your psyche.
Much of what we hold onto we do so out of fear. How often have you found yourself keeping a cardboard box, just in case. Or that stash of plastic to-go utensils in your kitchen draw, just in case. Let’s consider those words “just in case”. What it quite literally translates to is: I may need this in the future, and may not have the means (financially or otherwise) to reacquire it. There is a fear of lack. But there are so many different fears that keep us stagnant. Fear of failure, fear of poverty, fear of discomfort, fear of loss of social status, fear of loneliness or isolation, fear of uncertainty or change itself.
The people I feel saddest for are the ones who say “I can’t because…” to every solution provided for them. They are truly stuck, because they have been playing that programming over and over again in their words and beliefs. And these are the people who seem to be the most desperate for change. You can offer them a thousand suggestions and avenues to make their dreams come true, and they will respond to each one with “I can’t because…”. They will never be able to rise above. Lateral steps is the best they can hope for. You could give them $100K, and still, nothing will change for them.
The reactions from other people towards the extreme lifestyle change my husband and I have made has been rather fascinating. There are those that look at it very disapprovingly. They feel we have made a poor choice by not embracing the American dream of owning a home, corporate career, community roots. You can see how they are so trapped within the matrix, that they can never hope to escape. But that’s okay. They are perfectly happy, as far as they know. To them, everything about our actions and reasons seem quite absurd.
Then there are those who look at what we have done with longing in their hearts and eyes. They see the freedom, the liberation. They admire our bravery, and silently say “If only we could”, or “If only my spouse would agree to this”, or “Someday, maybe.” This is the most common response, and I often wonder if they really want to live in an RV, or if it’s the casting off of chains and finding their own path that they really crave. Because you see, it is not about the novelty of living in an RV, nor is it the ability to travel and see much of what this world has to offer. It really is about freeing yourself from all the rules that society has placed upon you. And once you free yourself externally from these programs and beliefs and rules, you begin to experience true internal liberation for the first time. And it is from this space that you discover the real you.
But it is the rare and brave souls who say “I can do that!” and dig deep to create that change in their lives. Some will quit their corporate jobs and turn every aspect of their life on its head. They seek another path. They allow themselves to be as water, flowing and searching out a new place to run free, not bound by man. I am immensely proud of my friends Tom and Teri. They have undergone a massive clearing as they too have sold their home and most of their possessions. They will be moving into their RV full time in less than 2 weeks. We are beyond excited for them. Not because they are following in our footsteps, but because they are following their heart’s desire. The process of making the decision, setting it into action, and purging your personal possessions at that level creates deep changes within you. They are shedding, releasing, and healing so much within them as they go through this process. It has created space within them to discover more about themselves and live freely. And by living freely, they will experience even more changes within themselves, and how they view and see the world.
Now, we are not telling you that you must change, or how you should go about it. But change is the side effect of growth and expansion. Change is where new adventures await. Change is where you discover more of you. Change is a symptom of living free. There are those who enjoy change as they enjoy a kiddie pool, only going in up to their ankles. And there are those who seek change by jumping off a high dive into a vast ocean of possibilities. But you cannot fully experience change if you are trying to keep one foot on the ground, and one in the puddle.
Change for you. To hell with what others think.
Written By: Elizabeth DiPace
We made it to our winter home in Florida last week, and just in time too. An electrical short in our system related to us running the furnace while in Virginia knocked out the power to our thermostats. With temperatures dipping down into the 20’s there, you really need the furnace, but we can’t run it without the thermostats. Unfortunately, that also meant that we couldn’t run the AC once we got back to Florida. (Myth Buster: it can still be pretty darn hot here in the “winter”) But we got lucky and found a guy to come out to the campground and get us fixed up. While thermostats are working now, the root cause of the problem as related to the furnace cannot be addressed unless the temps get really low here. But for now, that is a distant worry.
We experienced some extremes in climates since we left Florida in the spring. Cold and very dry in the southwest turned to hot and very dry. And we watched as Virginia lost it’s lush green foliage as the leaves changed colors and dropped with the temps. Those we left behind in Virginia are settling in for a long winter. But when we returned to balmy South Florida last week, and I walked through the hot and humid night air, I couldn’t help but to feel a bit giddy.
When we first left Florida in our RV back in 2017, I was disappointed to have to return so quickly for the winter. We had just broken free and were looking for new adventures on different pastures, only to return a few months later. It was originally our hope not be so tied to South Florida, and feel free to spend the winters where ever we wanted. But as I sit here with my windows open on this perfect sunny day, with green grass and trees everywhere I look, I find I am filled with great contentment.
We no longer feel we have to see everything on the map. We like being in Virginia, so why not spend more time there? Just because your home has wheels, it doesn’t mean you constantly have to be on the go. We even considered buying some land there to call our own, where I can plant vegetables and flowers. But as winter set in, and we started making our way south, I thought to myself “We’d really need a home in both Virginia and Florida so that we can have the best of both worlds and be true snowbirds”. And then it hit me. We do have a home in both areas. It just happens to be the same home. And it was in that moment that I realized we had broken all the rules. We have broken out of the matrix. We have found our liberation.
As we lingered over empty plates after dinner one night, I expressed these feelings to Al. He shared with me that he has become very aware lately of how we operate outside of the system. We fly here, drive there, sometimes for just a quick stop over, and other times we stay for a while. We sip, dabble, and experience life in these different places. But when we leave, these places continue on. Like a computer running many different programs in the background, but you are just pulling up the one you wish to work with at the moment. When we leave Vegas or Amsterdam, those places continue to be Vegas and Amsterdam. When we leave our family in Virginia, they will go on living their daily routines. Not much will change in any of these places, except maybe the kids. Each place has it’s own program that continues on and on, and the people that live there are subject to that program, and very seldom break free.
I am reminded of Alison David-Bird, the founder of Marconics, saying that you must be able to exit the grid/matrix. You can then come back in for the experience, or to assist others with ascension. It seems we have done just that in our daily lives. As above, so below. Our lives are mirroring that which we have accomplished in spirit.
As I am sharing all of this, I am of course thinking of the Matrix movies. You must wake from the Matrix, then hop back in and out to effect change at specific points, while maintaining your consciousness and not going back to sleep in the matrix. It is definitely easier to do when you have broken free of the programmings. Imagine all that you could do if you didn’t feel like you had to follow society’s rules.
I still wish there was a bit more space inside the RV. And I still want my garden. But a cold front that blew through this weekend has dropped the temps down to the mid 70’s here, a true Florida winter. I think I’ll just be happy.
Written by: Elizabeth DiPace
One of our favorite things to do in our travels is put some extra miles on our hiking shoes. There are countless trails across America just begging for your feet to join in the steps of so many others before.
Now, I’m not saying that we are hard core hikers, or even intermediary. To be perfectly honest, we are lazy hikers, and usually only motivated by the thought of getting some exercise and seeing something spectacular at the end of the trail. So we look for trails that lead us to a magnificent view such as a waterfall or scenic overlook. We’d even settle for a unicorn along the way, or a taco stand run by leprechauns at the end of the trail. Yes, we need motivation.
If there is no “reward” at the end of a trail, we’ll tend to just walk until we feel we’ve had enough exercise for the day, and then head back to the car. That’s not to say that we don’t enjoy the journey. Although, whenever Al looks over his shoulder to check on me, he comments that I don’t look like I am enjoying myself. I simply do not have a poker face, and so you can plainly see that I struggle as we climb in elevation. But I tend to skip along without a care in the world when we are heading back down hill.
We hiked Bull Of The Woods Wheeler Peak Trail last week. It is classified as difficult. We were above 9,000 feet in elevation, so we felt the breathing challenge. But the temperature was perfect, we were surrounded by dense woods, and there was a luscious river keeping us company as we climbed up the mountain. We stopped and chatted with a guy along the path to ask him if the trail led to a scenic overlook or lake. He told us he had been hiking for about 8 hours that day, and was picking mushrooms. 8 hours? Why are we asking him for directions when he is obviously lost? And for goodness sakes, I wouldn’t even know which of the thousands of mushrooms we had seen on the trail were edible. For all we knew, that guy was tripping on those shrooms.
A few days later we hiked the Slot Canyon Trail at Tent Rocks National Monument. This was a shorter hike than Bull of the Woods, and only about 10 floors in ascent compared to the 25 floors we did at Wheeler Peak. But this trail would prove to be my ultimate challenge.
We arrived around 12:30pm, in the heat of the day. I think the temp got to 96º that day, which felt well over 100º in the direct sun. The park ranger at the gate informed us that the top of the trail closes at 3:30pm, and that he would be up there to usher everyone off the mountain top at that time. The reason for this is so that everyone gets down and off the mountain before the sun goes down and they close the gates. He can also make sure that no one is stranded or hurt along the trail as he follows the last person out.
As soon as you step foot on the trail, you begin to feel the climb as the sand trail makes every step more of a challenge than it needs to be. There are parts of the trail where large boulders block your passage and require that you climb over them. And then you begin a steep climb up the mountain. It all amounted to my perfect storm. I was huffing and puffing, my head spinning from the heat, and fighting the urge to throw up my lunch. My legs were weak and wobbly from the constant climb. Al was a great partner and helped pull me up quite a few times. But I was quite determined to make it to the top of the mountain.
This got me to thinking about ego. My ego was taking quite the pounding because I thought I was in better shape than that. Ego is like a double edged sword. It looks out for your comfort and survival, but it also makes you do some stupid shit. So in a situation like this, ego can make you give up because you’re just too uncomfortable and it’s just too hard, or it can give you a fierce determination to continue on and push past your discomforts. So, it can be seen as your ego fighting your ego. Which side of your ego will win?
I’m proud to say that I made it to the top of that mountain, and spent about 30 minutes trying to recuperate before we headed back down. I could see that others had a much easier time going up that mountain than I did. But I am not in a competition with anyone but myself, and I am proud of what I accomplished. On another day, I can maybe do that climb with much more ease, grace, and strength. It truly is a beautiful trail, and I would be happy to do it again. But maybe first thing in the morning rather than in the heat of the afternoon.
As we lingered at the top of the mountain, I thought about that park ranger saying that he was going to be up there at 3:30 to clear everyone out. I began wondering if he had a secret elevator that takes him to the top. Or maybe a helicopter. We passed him as we made our descent and he was headed up. I couldn’t believe it. He makes that climb everyday!!! I joked with him about my secret elevator theory. He replied that the Bureau of Land Management would never invest money to make his job easier. This broke my heart, these unappreciated rangers who work so hard to keep the parks in a condition to be enjoyed by all of us. They truly are the caretakers of this land. I assured him that I would be willing to pay extra in taxes to make his job easier. But if I had to guess, just feeling appreciated by all of us for the work they do, and picking up after ourselves, would make a world of difference in their life’s.
And so, this wraps up our westward journeys this year. We make our way east tomorrow, looking for lower elevations and higher humidity. See you on the road.
Written by: Elizabeth DiPace
Today we celebrate our 2 year nomadic-versary in Taos, NM. Looking back at our blog entries, it seems we have only done one other entry since or 1 year nomadic-versary. We’re pretty good about posting pics to our Instagram page once we leave South Florida, but we thought we’d be better at this whole blogging thing than we are. The reality is, we have a lot that we juggle, and this is low on that list.
WORK AND TRAVEL
Between us, we have 5 Instagram pages, and 3 Facebook pages, and 3 blogs that we manage for personal and business purposes. And even the business accounts don’t get as much attention as we would like. There are many travel bloggers who have made their living as a “professional travel blogger”. We, on the other hand, saw where the business we already had in place could easily go mobile. We feel we have been very successful in owning our own profitable business, and making it fit into a lifestyle of freedom and travel that we craved.
It’s not always been graceful. I work from home, but Al flies all over the world for his clients. This may mean a 6 hour drive to and from the airport to drop him off, depending on where we are staying. A lot of times, we only have a month notice about a job. We obviously need to plan our campsites much further in advance than a month if we want a good site, or if we want to avoid having to move the RV from site to site within the same campground. While I do fine on my own, I do not want to have to move this RV by myself. So, this all requires a lot of planning, as well as the need to stay very flexible.
But our business does take us back to South Florida every year for about 5 months. Because this just feels like “home” to us, even though we are still in the RV, we don’t tend to post pics that often during those months. It’s when we leave South Florida that we get inspired by all the beauty that is so different from what we take for granted back home. And what’s there to write about when you’re just home, working, paying bills, and stationary? I doubt anyone wants to read about my trips to Publix. It’s as if the inspiration is “out there somewhere”, like the New Yorker who never visited the Statue of Liberty.
We’re a big believer in keeping our private lives private, and we don’t like to post the negative stuff. Not because we want to create an image that all is peachy and perfect, but because harping on it doesn’t correct the situation. But we realize this leaves others who may be planning to take the BIG JUMP without enough information, and therefore they are mentally unprepared for the challenges that may arise. So here is the real low down on being full time RV’ers: It is a love / hate relationship.
There are times when Al and I are visiting some amazing bucket list place, and I find myself so grateful for the freedom and experience. I realize how lucky we are to be standing at the rim of the Grand Canyon and looking out at the vast beauty before us. This is why we do this, and this is what makes life worth living for us.
Our costs are definitely way down, and we view possessions and money much differently than we did before. We have been able to see our first full fall season in over 25 years, which was a big treat for us (there is no fall season in South Florida, no leaves changing colors). We were also able to spend extended periods of time with our nieces and nephews while they are still kids, and not quite yet teens. We are able to pick up and move easily when a hurricane threatens, which has been a big comfort during hurricane season. Al no longer has to mow the lawn, or worry that the roof will spring a leak every time it rains, resulting in shelling out another $500. He doesn’t hear me nagging him about something I want fixed or updated (I don’t nag, but that’s the word he would use).
But on the flip side, I feel very isolated at times. Many RV’ers talk about the close knit RV community. We’ve not experienced that. We are shy and keep to ourselves. We spend most of the time inside our RV because we are working. And we find that we have a different neighbor every few days. For me, the isolation has been the hardest part. I love my alone time, but everyone has their limits.
Another challenge has been space. I wish with all my heart that there was more room inside to exercise or do my yoga. If you are energetically sensitive, as I am, an RV can be just too small for your aura and energy field. If we have to run the generator, I feel bombarded. The AC is incredibly loud for me, and so close to my head. And I cannot focus on anything at all when the dryer is running. And if I cook curry, fish, or onions, it will smell in here for at least 3 days.
And FYI, it doesn’t matter how great of an AC system you have, it can only cool your RV by 10 degrees compared to the outside temp. So, if it is 96 outside, the coolest you can get it inside is 86. We were in Utah once, and the temp reached 114 outside, and about 99 inside. I must note here, if you are able to get a shady spot, the cooling capabilities are much more significant.
To be honest, there have been times when I really felt “stuck” in this lifestyle, and could not see a way out. Al loves it. Me, not so much. Or at least, not 100% of the time. I want him to have the life of his dreams. Does this mean we have to go our separate ways? But Al will always chooses me over this lifestyle, and tries to find ways to make this work for both of us.
At one point, when I was close to an absolute breakdown, and was expressing my discontent, Al asked me “Then what’s the point of the Our Big Windshield blog and Instagram account? Is it just for show?” It was an honest question. I explained that it is a way to keep reminding myself of all the amazing things we have been able to see and do as a result of this lifestyle, as well as a way for me to be engaged with the RV community in some way.
Al is amazingly considerate and looks out for my comfort at all times. He setup a wireless audio system so that he can listen to the TV on headphones as to not disturb me while I am sleeping. He switched out the recliner system for a very cute purple couch so that I feel more like I am in a house. He takes care of all the exterior breakdown and setup on RV moving day.
I don’t have to do any of the destination planning. I just tell him what I’d like to see and where I’d like to go, and Al makes it happen. When planning our trek from point A to B, he tries to keep the drive days to no more that 5 hours (when practical) because he knows I really cannot function after a long day on the road. And he makes sure that any campground he books is really nice, while sticking to our budget.
Now, I realize all of this makes me sound terribly fussy, and Al seems like a saint, and you may be right on both counts. But truth be told, Al likes really nice things too, so he doesn’t do all of this just for me. And he truly enjoys the research and planning of our travels.
When I had reached my wits end, we discussed renting a house or apartment somewhere for 6 months or year and taking a break from the RV life. But where? One of the major reasons we made this big lifestyle change is to sample different areas and see where we would like to move to permanently and put down roots. We’ve not found that yet. In short, we don’t know where we want to live temporarily or permanently. So finding a place to rent temporarily feels like we’d be forcing something.
And yet, as we start planning out our spring and summer for next year, I am excited at the prospect to traveling up and down the east coast of the US, spending time in North Carolina, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, and Nova Scotia.
So, these are the hard truths to consider if you are planning to go full time in your RV. As much as we did our research beforehand, there are things we just could not anticipate. If you’ve already taken that big leap, and you are finding the dream has many unexpected pitfalls, you are not alone. And if you had to give up the dream quicker than you thought, that does not make you a failure, nor does it mean you made a bad decision. There are many things to be gained from this experience. It will transform you in ways you did not see coming, and that was the whole point anyway, wasn’t it?
So, as Elizabeth pointed out, I do love this RV Living Lifestyle. It’s far from perfect, but I’ve found it satisfying on many levels. I think my approach to it was quite reasonable and realistic. Especially compared to so many others I’ve seen online sharing their experiences. According to a lot of other full-timers, they didn’t research enough and got themselves into RVs that ultimately didn’t suite them. I get how not completely understanding what your situation is until you’re living in it. So, I’ve felt very fortunate that the motorhome we bought ended up suiting us relatively well; and we really didn’t looked at that many. We just knew we wanted a Class A, not being pick-up truck people. We were looking for something used but in decent shape, not a fixer-upper. We were just adamant we needed a bath and a half, as well as a washer & dryer, because giving up certain creature comforts just wasn’t part of the arrangement we were looking to have. That quickly weeded out a good chunk of unwanted RVs. So it was just a matter of us, together, climbing into enough rigs that met our criteria, to find the one we’d end up buying. That happened the first day visiting an RV dealership.
Two years later, I’ve been pretty happy with our slightly used, 2016 Thor Challenger 37LX motorhome, with no desire to trade it in or upgrade. We’ve all heard the horror stories of folks buying their brand new RV, just to have to return ‘em to the dealership for repairs. Sure, we had our initial period of shoring up and fixing things, most of which we figured out on our own, or was able to have serviced while at our campsites. This process just allowed me to get more acquainted with my RV, which I greatly desired. Figured the more I understood the inner workings of this RV, the less stress I’d feel living in it. Being able to easily troubleshoot when things malfunction, just gives me a lot of comfort.
I entered this RVing lifestyle with the attitude that it was going to be challenging at times (hence the motorhome’s name Challenger). I was going to be learning a lot on how my RV operated and how it’s different systems worked and how to manage them. I was prepared to deal with things not working correctly at times and did my best to educate myself on how to deal with those. I wanted to master this lifestyle!
Mastering this lifestyle also meant learning how to adapt our everyday life to it. Luckily our business was a relatively easy fit, and I personally didn’t find the slimmer quarters problematic. Having the half bath (which is essentially my own private little room), a bedroom that can be closed off from the rest of the RV, and Bluetooth headphone technology made sharing the smaller space a easier than I even expected. Figured we’re still better off than most sharing a NYC apartment.
Having the outdoor space, complete with built in TV, which I admit to snickering at when first seeing it, also offers yet another way to spread out some. Of course, enjoying the outdoor space doesn’t always prove doable as conditions aren’t always ideal. The awning can only help so much against rain, angle of the sun, gusty winds, extreme temperatures, and mosquitoes. Even when all those issues are good, your neighbor’s smelly sewer hose being a tad too close can kill the atmosphere.
But I digress, back to mastering this lifestyle. And when I say mastering, I mean living this nomadic life so that it feels relatively easy and stress free. Going through all of the different processes of moving the RV, setting it up, living in it, packing it up, and moving it again without crying out “what the hell was I thinking?!”
Not sure if I’d call myself an RV Master now, but I’ve definitely learned so much in the past 2 years that now days this RVing thing seems like a breeze. Far less angst, malfunctions, and energy spent on overcoming undesirable situations. Much of that was realizing we were moving around way too much. We now stay longer in fewer campgrounds. We stayed in 41 different campgrounds our first year, compared to 24 this last year.
Dealing with our tandem tow dolly, which has been a huge source of anxiety due to its size and weight, has also improved. Seemed like we were always having to unhitch it, and rarely under optimal conditions. Then there was that time one of its wheels flew off while driving down the interstate, but we won’t get into that now. However, lately with our “Move Less, Stay Longer” strategy, as well as learning to book our sites a more carefully now, it’s also been less of an issue.
Ultimately, the most important thing I learned was how Elizabeth dealt with it all. I assumed a lot about how we’d live and travel, based on my own approach to things. Not realizing a few things would be more difficult for her. For example, I love to drive and figured there would be times when I’d forgo a campground stay to drive late into the night to get the miles in. We’d just pull into a Walmart or rest-stop whenever I was ready to sleep. While I’m driving, I assumed she’d just enjoy the ride, maybe do some work on her laptop or phone at times, watch some TV or go in the back and sleep or nap as she pleased. Turns out she really wasn’t that kind of passenger. She couldn’t sleep so she’d stay up front with me, concentrating on the drive almost as much as myself, eventually needing us to stop due to her own exhaustion. I don’t schedule us on drives like that any more, and everyone’s happier now.
Isolation is another aspect I didn’t anticipate. The incredibly friendly RV community was one of the things we heard so much about, but never materialized for us. I’m guessing the main reason is that we’re simply younger and still working compared to the typical retirees we find parked around us most of the time. Both Elizabeth and I operate well on our own, so being alone isn’t that big of a deal. But I travel a lot for work, leaving Elizabeth spending extended periods of time alone in places where she doesn’t know anyone. I know that it takes a toll. And even when I’m home, it’s just the two of us most of the time, and I do miss us interacting with friends or family. Thank goodness for social media.
All in all I feel blessed that we’ve been able to experience this lifestyle and pull off this experiment of sorts, rather successfully. I appreciate the opportunities it allows us, to change course whenever we want, the countless options it affords, and to go to places we probably wouldn’t see otherwise. I really like that as we move forward, we can continue to make adjustments so that this lifestyle is comfortable for both of us. Not locking us into any particular routine, travel pattern or place. We’re essentially free to go where we want for as long as we want. I’ve never felt as in control of my life, as I do now, and I really like that.
Love, Al and Liz
This is our 3rd trip to the southwest in the past 4 years. This region keeps calling us back because of all the geological eye-candy. Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado are home to so many spectacles of nature. We’ve of course visited many of the big tourist spots and national parks this area has to offer, and feel blessed to have been able to see and do so much. The items on our bucket list for the southwest are the same as most peoples- Grand Canyon north, south, and west rim, Antelope Canyon, Arches, Canyonland, White Sands, etc. But we only heard about Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah about a week ago from the Department of the Interior’s Instagram page @usinterior. And as luck would have it, we found ourselves in Albuquerque this week, about a 2.5 hour drive from Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah.
The pictures we’d seen of Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah were enough to motivate us to take the day trip. But for us, the icing on the cake was that this place is not on most tourist’s radar. This hidden gem is seldomly frequented. The whole area is pristine, free from liter or vandalism. But the absolute cherry on top was that we had the whole place to ourselves! This could have been because it was a Wednesday, or perhaps because it’s the middle of July. Regardless, we felt like kids exploring another planet together. The moon like surface and shale rock structures add to the fantasy. And the area is strewn with petrified wood!
As we hiked the half mile from where we parked our car to the site, we became very aware of the fact that we were alone in the wilderness. Being from Miami, FL, we don’t have a whole lot of wilderness that isn’t swamp land infested with cobras, gators, and mosquitos. So whenever we find ourselves in a moment like this, we tend to appreciate how rare it is.
But you also becomes aware of how vulnerable you are out there alone. No cell service, no amenities, no one to hear you cry for help if you take a bad step and hurt yourself (I’m still a bit cautious after my spill at Canyonland last year). And the skeletal remains of foals and calfs adds to the reminder that you are indeed in the wilderness. The horses roam free out there, and leave the evidence behind in large piles.
For those who are energetically sensitive, this place is light and fun. You can feel the energy shift on your return hike to your car, as if you’re suddenly dropped into density.
It was a day well spent and full of wonder. A definite “must add” to anyone’s bucket list!
The geographical coordinates are 36.139482, -107.920727. From I25 in Albuquerque, you’ll take US-550 west for about 115 miles (and enjoy majestic views all along the way!), and turn left on Co Rd 7800. Only the first 4 miles of this road is paved. After that, it’s dirt roads the rest of the way. 13 miles down 7800 the road ends, and you’ll turn left onto the even bumpier dirt road NM-57. You’ll see the sign for Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Study about 4 miles down on your right. Drive up that road about 50 feet and park at the barricades. You will then need to hike about half a mile to the good stuff.
There are no amenities out there. No bathrooms, no garbage cans, no food or water. So come prepared. You will need plenty of water! Protect your skin with sunblock, hats, and proper attire.
Make sure you have a vehicle that does well on dirt roads. Do not go there if there is a chance of rain that day, or if there was heavy rains the day before. The dirt roads turn into mud traps, and the basin of Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah will flood. Each time it rains, the waters alter the terrain and create something new and beautiful. But you must wait for the area to dry out before you venture in.
True photographers may have a preference about what time they are there for lighting purposes. We planned our day to beat the heat. We arrived around 9:15am, and spent about 2 hours wandering around and playing.
I personally would not take little kids or pets there. If you do, please keep your pet on a leash at at all times and clean up after it. Do not let kids or pets wander off without you; the area is vast and a family could easily get separated.
RESPECT THE LAND – LEAVE NO TRACE
Do not climb on the structures. They are beautiful, and delicate. Please remove EVERYTHING you bring into the area. Please DO NOT remove any of the rocks, fossils, or petrified wood. Please do not feed the wild life. Please do not mark the area in any way. We are the custodians of this land, and we are each responsible for it’s preservation.
You can learn more about Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah at the Bureau of Land Management’s website: https://www.blm.gov/visit/ah-shi-sle-pah-wsa
I wrote piece for the International Society of Caricature Artists (aka ISCA) for their member's magazine Exaggerate Features about life as a full-time RVer and working caricaturist. Feel free to check it out here!
So a full year of RV’ing has come and gone. We definitely thought we’d be blogging more, but we’ve not even had time lately to post to our Instagram page. Between visiting with family in Virginia and running a business, we’ve been very busy. These are beautiful reasons to be too busy to look at your phone. But we’ve also had some challenges lately that have kept us on our toes.
To catch you up, we had a mishap as we made our way from Massachusetts to Virginia. We hit a pretty hard bump on the road, and the wheel on our tow dolly bent out. We thought that if we took the car off the dolly, it would make it to the next destination for repairs. But the wheel ended up coming off 30 minutes down the road in Pennsylvania. So we had to leave it in Pennsylvania for repairs as we continued south to Virginia.
Now, September through December is always a very busy time in our business, and Al tends to have to fly from one place to another for work. We try to plan ahead as much as possible, but there are some things you just can’t anticipate. This monkey wrench meant we were going to have to make a 12 hour round trip from Virginia to Pennsylvania to pick up the tow dolly when it was ready. No worries. We can just drive the Jeep up to get the dolly and bring it back to the RV. No need to unhook and spend extra on gas to drive that big bus north and back. Until… I got rear ended in the Jeep by an off duty police officer. Trailer hitch pushed in 6 inches and twisted. Luckily we had the hitch on there, otherwise the back of the Jeep would have been totaled. But this means we cannot tow anything.
So now we also need repairs to the Jeep. Dealing with insurance and repair shop schedules, it doesn’t look like they can start the work for close to 3 weeks from the accident date. Which means our plans to head south after Virginia must be delayed by quite a bit. This also means giving up Al’s very fave campsite that we got lucky enough to book in Stone Mountain.
Then, Hurricane Florence popped up on the radar. We were in Virginia Beach, and the fear of flooding and strong winds across the coast meant we had to high tail it out of there, even if they didn’t get a direct hit. Probably won’t be bad in Virginia for those in houses, but you wouldn’t want to weather out that storm in a car/RV. But this helped solve the problem of how we were going to get the tow dolly in Pennsylvania. We just headed north, and found a lovely campground in Lenhartsville, up on a hill, safe from flash floods. And, conveniently enough, right by where we have the tow dolly being repaired
We’ll head back to Louisa, VA next week, with our tow dolly, and repairs to the Jeep should start the following week. In the meantime, Al will be working in Las Vegas, while I’m in PA. Once we get settled back in VA, Al will be flying out to work in Santa Fe, San Francisco, and Las Vegas. Upon his return to The Mighty Thor, if all has gone well with the repairs, we should be heading back to Florida for the season.
Truth be told, we never thought we’d be dodging hurricanes once we left South Florida. Our first year on the road was a bit of a bucket list experience, moving around hard and fast to see as much as we could. This year, we are more focused on spending longer periods of time in areas we are interested in possibly making our new home. Climate is a HUGE deciding factor for us when considering where to settle down. Obviously, after living in South Florida for most of our lives, we don’t want to move to anyplace that is susceptible to hurricanes or rising waters. We also do not have any experience dealing with brutal winters, nor is that something we want to learn. But Al HATES the heat. So while I love the Southwest, I cannot have a grumpy husband because he’s too hot. Perhaps we can compromise. Flagstaff and Taos have the Southwest vibes, but their higher elevation makes the summers more acclimatable. A large airport nearby, and large cities to support the growth of our business in the area are also very important.
In the meantime, we’re trying to find ways to make our current lifestyle more comfortable for me. Happy wife, happy life. We switched out the recliners for a couch we found on AmericanReserve.com. It’s lighter weight, more comfortable, and has more storage space. It makes the RV look more homey, and the purple color makes us smile in our hearts. We got new throw pillows to add lighter textures into the space, and changed out the colors in the bedroom area with a new quilt to pull it all together. So now it feels a bit more like home to us.
Spending so much time with family lately in Virginia has also been medicine to my soul. Being around people you know and love after so many lonely miles on the road is a gift. When figuring out where we want to live, being someplace where we have family and friends is important. But even the heat and humidity lately in Virginia has Al changing his mind about this. I think he’s willing to live alone on a mountain at this point, so long as the weather is a constant 69 degrees.
And so, we travel on.
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