One does not have to leave special interests, hobbies, and talents behind to move into an RV, full-time or part-time. We carry with us a full-sized keyboard, a hammered dulcimer, two mountain dulcimers, and a trumpet. At times, we’ve added a full-sized harp, a mandolin, and guitar. Others pack sewing machines, fabric, and items for crafts. Some take along wood working tools. No matter the interest, RVers have a unique knack for finding space for their special things inside their rolling homes.
This winter while visiting Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, I discovered volunteer Carol Miller from Connecticut who was demonstrating oil painting on the patio of the Visitor Center. “My grandfather gave me a set of oil paints on my 13th birthday,” she said, pointing to a wooden box of paints near her easel. “He was my encourager and I’ve painted ever since.”
Volunteer Coordinator, Sue Walter says Carol’s application to be a volunteer was not accepted because she is an artist. “Some times a gem like Carol drops into our laps, and we utilize her talent,” Walter adds. “Most of our volunteers give patio talks about various aspects of the Sonoran Desert, but Carol sets up her easel twice weekly and demonstrates painting the mountains and cacti.”
Carol and her husband, John, both volunteer at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. John took visitors on a van tour of the Ajo Mountains while Carol greeted guests and said, “Welcome to my studio.” As she dabbed her brush at a saguaro cactus on her canvas, she told them, “Painting is my favorite thing to do and when I paint a mountain, I have been staring at it for a long time. I know it intimately.”
The Millers are not yet full-timers, but Carol says they are getting close. “The cupboards in my house are almost empty,” she says with a smile. “When we bought our motorhome, I made sure we had a place to stash my paints, canvases, and unframed paintings.”
While Carol painted on a sunny January morning, two visitors came in, each holding a small oil painting of their interpretation of the organ pipe cactus. Knowing that Carol was there, they came to share how they had been inspired to take up oil painting while on the road.
No matter what one likes to do: carve wood, paint pictures, quilt blankets, sew garments, braid rugs, make jewelry, play music, or write stories; there is a way to combine it with travel. And for certain, you will find others with whom to share your interests. You can take who you are on the road!