I felt strange, lost, confused and alone. My bunk was level with the open window on my 25-foot mini-motorhome. A warm breeze stirred. The trees murmured and swayed in the woods surrounding my campsite. The moon painted eerie shadows. I couldn’t remember where I was, what day it was, or for that matter, who I was. I was six weeks into a life where no one could find me except via elaborate plans. I had no day-to-day job from which to derive an income.
Tears streamed down to my pillow. I cried for my first life with a husband who went on to that next plane leaving me with two grown children who were already on their own and didn’t need me anymore. In my family, to own property was the most desired objective but I had sold ye olde homestead of 30 years, lock, stock and leaking roof. The future was more of a mystery than I could comprehend. Doubt and guilt loomed at the foot of my bed in nightmare proportions.
Yes, an emergency CB was tucked behind my seat. Yes, I knew that I could call on the Man Upstairs at any time. Yes, the prairie dogs whistled, the Big Dipper blinked a goodnight, and the sun beamed me up each morning. All my worldly goods were duly divided and delivered. The good wishes and prayers of relatives, friends, coworkers and a kitful of memories bounced along on my bumper. I was now “on the road,” female, fifty (almost), free, fit, and a full-fledged, full-time RVer.
The decision seemed right and yet…this free-to-be-me vagabond lifestyle kept being interrupted by sheer panic…why? My immediate needs were met, a roof over my head, bathroom, kitchen, bed, everything I needed for all occasions and all seasons on six rolling wheels. This drastic altering of my life took place four years after my husband’s death, but I admit it was still far more spontaneous than the result of any superb and detailed plan of action. Although I do not and cannot regret any of it, hindsight says that a “plan” would have dictated better choices.
I didn’t march into the office singing, “Take this Job and Shove It,” but I had left the stability and social side of the working world. The adjustment to this new life came slowly. Fractured nightmares ultimately gave way to peaceful sleep with the monotony of freeway traffic or the sounds of nature as I became used to parking my new “home” in various environments. Friendships developed and adventures multiplied beyond my wildest dreams.
A Bit of Envy
When I recounted tales of my seemingly nonstop escapades to members of the stressed-out world, their eyes twirled and visions of sun-drenched beaches and swaying palms danced in their heads. I saw “For Sale” signs pop up on the green lawns of their minds, but then the alarm clock went off and the dreams were tucked back into “reality,” and they talked themselves out of this amazing adventure.
Yes, it is a big step, but I say, if you have the dream, go for it! I encourage singles and couples alike to try it, but do weigh the pros and cons first. Make a list of the costs of living in your permanent home. Make another list of RV on-the-road expenses and compare them to give you an idea of the cost difference. Some expenses you will always have and others will be lower or higher depending on your personal preferences.
Full-time RVing doesn’t fit everyone. It is a big step. If you’ve never tried it, buy a used-but-in-good-shape small RV to give the lifestyle a good honest try for three to six months. It is NOT like vacationing for a week or two. Does it feel comfortable? Can you handle living so close together? If you discover that one or both of you really don’t like it, you will still have a home to which you can return. The other way to look at it is that if you don’t have anything left behind, you might work harder at making your situation work.
After a year and a half, mechanical problems in my used RV almost took me off the road. I had to make a choice as to whether to buy another RV or once again embrace being curbed and working 9 to 5. I dove in headfirst and bought a new 27-foot Class A Sprinter that I traveled with for the next 17 years. Everything boils down to choices.
Friends and Family
Even if you have mapped your every move, being good friends will still be the greatest consideration in living in an 8.5-foot-wide-by-whatever length RV. This lifestyle is as good as it gets, but friendship between co-travelers is essential. If you cannot ignore or forgive your partner’s faults and shortcomings, and they yours, you’d better think it through again.
There are many relationships to consider, children, grandchildren and/or great grandchildren. Even though you have reached this age and stage of life and you’re hankering to do something different, the pull of grand offspring, friends, and family is mighty. All your relationships will change but with a little work on both sides, especially with today’s amazing technology, your travels and adventures can be not only exciting, but also educational for all the special people in your life.
Of course if your offspring are not on board with your full-time travel plans, you could always threaten them with parking your RV in their driveway for six months at a time, expecting meals to be provided—ah, well, maybe you should rethink that threat. They would probably use you as a babysitter and you might wind up cleaning house and mowing the lawn.
For those taking the leap, at the top of your packing list should be a sense of humor, common sense, and then your dollars and cents. Now, I’ll give you my last two-cents worth. Fuel prices would make anyone gulp and there isn’t much of a way around filling your tank once in a while. That “once in a while” is the answer. Choose a section of the country where you’d like to explore and stay awhile, maybe a full season. Thoroughly investigate its history, geography and idiosyncrasies. Take part in a dinosaur dig or volunteer with the National Park Service.
I promise your full-timing wheels will take you to unbelievable adventures. Get busy…dream…plan…execute! What a way to start 2015! Happy New Year and God Bless.
Sharlene Minshall’s first novel, Winter in the Wilderness, (e-book and hard cover) and the fourth edition of RVing Alaska and Canada are available through Amazon.com.Research Campgrounds, Plan RV Safe Routes & Turn your phone into an RV GPS.
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