Over the past few months, the entire world’s population has ground to a virtual halt to “shelter-in-place” or “hunker down” in an attempt to allow the medical system to be able to work through a new virus that is unlike anything seen before.
These are very trying times for many people, with the ability to come and go at will, see friends and family, hold on to employment, and even to get essential supplies being impacted. In an effort to stand together with our RVing readers, we thought it might be good to share what the writers at RV LIFE and Do It Yourself RV are doing during this unprecedented time.
Dave Helgeson, RV LIFE writer
During the pandemic, Dave Helgeson has been staying at home, doing home improvements, and heading out on walks on nicer days to quiet places where we can practice social distancing. This last week Dave and his wife headed out to do some boondocking on federal land to get away from things for a while.
They arrived with everything needed to camp and returned home without interacting with anyone or placing stress for commodities on a rural community. Dave says the get-away helped him feel better about things because he spent the week “social distancing myself from the news.”
Dave has been working on trying to put together an RV Show, which is extra challenging when the target dates keeps moving!
The first place Dave wants to go after travel restrictions are relaxed is to see his family. He shares some happy news: “One of my adult children lives in a county that only HAD 14 cases of COVID-19, none fatal and the last person recovered 3 weeks ago!!!!”
Christina Nellemann, Do It Yourself RV writer
At home in Northern Nevada, Christina Nellemann and her husband have been taking their 13-foot fiberglass trailer out to Bureau of Land Management desert and mountain campsites around their home. There are plenty of boondocking spots and wild areas around so it is easy to remain socially isolated. Her main difference is having her husband work from home—she is used to having the place to herself, so sharing space all day long is new.
Christina says that the pandemic has shown her that the way she and her husband have chosen to live their lives has helped prepare her for this kind of situation. “We have no debt, have the ability to work for ourselves, and enjoy being in the outdoors more than the city. We have also learned that because of this we have the opportunity to help others who need it.”
As travel restrictions are lifted, the couple is eager to get back to their favorite places along the Eastern Sierra. They also have plans to visit the Monument Valley with friends, and hope to make a trip up to Banff, Canada.
Patrick Buchanan, RV LIFE writer
Patrick Buchanan and his wife have six adult kids (one at home with them), seven Dachsunds, and few brains left. While his wife is working as an at-home nurse and finishing up her Master’s degree, Patrick is adjusting to working from home. While he misses his face-to-face meetings with co-workers, Patrick is not missing the 60 to 80-minute commute.
“Here in Texas it is warm, and we have the pool running nicely. Lunchtime is no longer wandering around town trying to find somewhere decent to eat, but rather a little outside pool time. The dogs have acclimated to me being home and actually prefer to be in my office during the day now. I was initially afraid of working at home, feeling like I would be too out of touch or too distracted, but it’s not as bad as I thought.”
Although they have not gone anywhere in a while, the family enjoys periodically having movie nights inside their 43-foot diesel pusher RV. When travel opens back up, they will load up all the dogs and head west to drop in on the grandkids briefly and stay at the Route 66 RV Resort. It’s a newer park located next to the Casino run by the Laguna Pueblo.
Hayden Seder, Do It Yourself RV writer
During the lockdown, Hayden Seder has been stuck at home in Sun Valley, Idaho with her adorable rescue pitbull Otis. She lives alone, and with the town’s strict travel restrictions, she has only been able to keep up with friends and family over video calls. She is staying busy reading, doing crafts, baking, and working out to stay sane.
Like many freelance travel writers in a time when people are not traveling, Hayden is struggling with work and financial assistance. She feels fortunate to live in a vibrant outdoor town with trails on which to run and bike but misses group outdoor activities like rock climbing. Hayden says “It’s hard to stay diligent in following guidelines when so many of my friends are starting to hang out with each other even though it’s risky and not recommended.”
So, where will Hayden head once travel restrictions are lifted? To visit her parents in Port Townsend, Washington, her brother and his family in Olympia, Washington, and a friend in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Rick Stedman, RV LIFE writer
Since mid-March, Rick has been working from his home in Olympia, Washington instead of his office and traveling to business meetings in other states. He has been doing a lot of reading, writing, and running to fill the void, but is most excited about his latest effort.
“When COVID-19 reared its ugly head, masks of all kinds were suddenly needed. It was unbelievable how many first responders and other caregivers were searching for masks and mask makers. The Internet, nightly TV news, and various Facebook postings all requested assistance. To answer that call, a friend of mine began sewing masks. She asked if I could assist with other aspects of that process, specifically, getting the masks to those in need.”
Rick’s friend, Trang Nguyen, grew up in Vietnam and learned the art of sewing as an adolescent working in a factory in Ho Chi Minh City. Though she had not used those skills for more than 30 years, she knew it was like riding a bike. Trang purchased a Singer sewing machine along with yards and yards of material, then quietly went to work. Rick has been busy helping Trang by coordinating to get the masks to the people who need them. In less than a month, Tran and Rick have sent more than 1,200 quality cloth masks to Providence Medical Center, the Northwest Kidney Foundation, and several private organizations like nursing homes, and other care facilities.
When the restrictions are over and done, Rick is headed to Las Vegas. Ireland was also on his schedule for 2020.
Chelsea Gonzales, Do It Yourself RV writer
Chelsea Gonzales and her family live in an RV full time. When the shelter-in-place orders started, they were at the Thousand Trails RV Park in Orlando, Florida with several full-time RVing friends. They ended up choosing one family with whom to spend their isolation period and have stayed next to them in the Orlando park the entire time.
There was a period of time when Chelsea wasn’t sure what was going to happen. Hundreds of RV parks were being shut down across the country, and she was fearful that the park they were in would follow suit. Fortunately, the park has allowed them to extend their stay until May 8, after that, she plans on heading to Oklahoma where relatives have land that they can “mooch-dock” at until things open up for travel again.
“At first, I was pretty stressed out. My husband and I both write for a living, and many of my gigs were put on hold, meaning we lost about half of our already small income. On top of that, we weren’t sure we were going to have a place to stay down here in Florida and didn’t know if we would be allowed to travel back to Oklahoma to stay with family.
Fortunately, everything worked out. Our campground allowed us to shelter in place here and new streams of income came our way. I have an online Irish dance school that has exploded during this time, and that income has almost made up for the lost writing gigs. This also means I get to do more dancing, which in my opinion, is never a bad thing.”
Of the many lessons Chelsea has learned through this experience, an important one is how busy they always were, and how that was negatively affecting their kids. They have been absolutely thriving with all this time spent being creative and playing outdoors. Other lessons learned include how important the family emergency fund is, that the family loves traveling and that even though she tends to keep to herself, Chelsea really enjoys people and misses being around them.
As travel restrictions life, Chelsea hopes to get her family to the Pacific Northwest, which has been on the list for 3 years now.
Rene Agredano, RV LIFE writer
Rene Agredano, her husband, and their three-legged German Shephard, Wyatt are full-time RVers. They are riding out the pandemic lockdown in Oregon on a ranch owned by friends in a full-hookup RV spot. Since they both work from the RV, there is not a lot of difference in their day-to-day lives, only they are stationary for a while rather than being able to pick up and go.
One of the challenges they are facing is that life in an RV doesn’t have nearly enough storage for pandemic life in order to stash two weeks’ worth of provisions for two people and a big dog. Fortunately, their generous friends have extra storage space they can use, including a small refrigerator, so they don’t have to make additional trips into town and have the potential risk of being exposed to the virus.
Rene is a big advocate of taking things as they come and not taking tomorrow for granted, which is why they started RVing full time in the first place. But she is learning that the RV lifestyle has drawbacks during a pandemic in that you can be stopped in your tracks and are very vulnerable to the whims of municipal laws and RV owners who have the right to close their gates to preserve the greater good. “Suddenly, owning a piece of property where we can park long-term is looking more appealing than ever.”
As soon as it is safe to travel, Rene wants to get back to Southern California to give her parents and sister a big hug.
TC Wait, RV LIFE writer
TC Wait, her husband, their 16 sled dogs, and 2 cats were making preparations to travel south from their winter cabin in Alaska to Colorado when the shelter-in-place orders were given and the Canadian border closed for non-essential travel. With a summer work contract scheduled in Colorado, they have been waiting out the border closure and trying to plan for a safe way to travel south.
A big challenge that they have faced through this is that they had already diminished most of their provisions in preparation for moving south, so when the lockdown happened, they had to struggle to get food and supply stockpiles built back up with store shelves empty and the supply chain to Alaska tenuous.
Alaskans tend to live fairly isolated lifestyles, so the day-to-day differences are not a big deal. However, with her husband as a First Responder, and several friends working the front lines in Colorado and New York fighting to keep people alive during this pandemic brings into focus the importance of travel restrictions and safety precautions. The uncertainty and the stress of being “stuck” is tough.
Once it is open and safe to travel, TC hopes to be able to start fieldwork and see family in Colorado. If that isn’t in the cards and they stay in Alaska, TC hopes to visit friends in Chatanika and to do a lot of exploring of the Denali State Park and Chugach State Park areas.
Nikki Cleveland, RV LIFE Editor
Nikki Cleveland is stuck at home in Oregon, where camping at state parks & recreation areas remains closed through at least May 25. Since she normally works from home, day-to-day living hasn’t been very different.
Nikki is spending part of her at-home time learning to be more self-sufficient in growing her own fruits and vegetables and making her own bread and food. Like many places, the local store shelves were picked clean at the beginning of the pandemic and she lives where food delivery services do not deliver.
After the lockdown, Nikki hopes to reschedule her planned trip to Alaska. She was planning a road trip around the Anchorage area and to see Denali and Fairbanks. She is also hoping to drive down to Reno and up to Glacier National Park in Montana.
Andy Robinowitz, RV LIFE CEO
Andy and his family are currently bunkered down in his home in the Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas. They haven’t been out RVing at all, but have done some “driveway camping” in their 1959 Airstream Tradewind (his daughter uses the trailer as her hangout space). They have had time to clean up the trailer and get it ready to go when the time comes. The family is enjoying time together and Andy enjoys being surrounded by the people he loves.
Andy reports that the business side of things has been tough, but he is working hard and cutting his own pay to keep the Social Knowledge team protected. “I’m really proud of our team, we decided to pivot and focus on building tools to help RVers after the country starts to open up. My team has been working long hours and hopefully we will be able to help hundreds of thousands of RVers get through this crisis together.”
After travel restrictions are lifted, Andy hopes to head to the high country of Colorado to listen to the sound of aspen leaves quake in the wind and feel the dry air and warm sun on his skin.
Andy’s message to his readers is simple: Please help be part of the community. You can help by submitting feedback to www.CampgroundReviews.com. You can use the RV LIFE app to run bandwidth speed tests from campgrounds to help other RVers understand what kind of connection is available. Stop by one of our forums and say hello, talk shop, and find easy/inexpensive DIY hacks for your RV to make it better before your next trip. The one thing that makes him most happy is seeing people share. Knowing we are all building these resources together is a really special thing.
RV LIFE is working to keep our content geared to the current needs of the RV community. Our main focus has traditionally been on RV travel and great destinations and most people are not looking to travel right now. Instead, during this unprecedented time, RV LIFE has focused on more in-depth articles on other useful topics like RV maintenance and storage guides, the latest news in the RV industry, and useful information for full-timers who are still on the road, like where to dump your tanks, where to pick up supplies, and what campgrounds are open or closed. Keep checking here for the latest updates!
I really enjoyed this, it was a nice look into what others are doing during this strange time. The worst part is feeling isolated and missing family. Can’t wait to get out and travel again!
Thanks for a very enjoyable issue with a lot of information on the staff. I enjoy RVing but have stayed at home in compliance with NM rules. I’m slowly getting my truck camper ready but have also been working hard doing things around my property. One thing I’m doing is exploring purchasing a newer truck to replace my 08 Dodge 2500 since I’ve hit the top of the GVWR scale.
It’s always nice to see and hear about other places, but I would like to see a few articles on upgrading the electronics (like the radios) in older units. For example, the AM/FM/CD unit broke so I bought a new unit to replace it. The old one had 12 wires but the new one has 21. You can see the problem.