We want to know the flavor of the towns and cities we encounter. We try to stay in each place at least a month in order to feel the pulsing heart of every location. We check out the local shops, especially the hardware stores. We patronize the movie theaters and smaller music entertainment venues. I make a point of exploring brew pubs with gluten-free beer. (Hands down the best such pub is in Asheville, North Carolina—The Wicked Weed. The owners use special Cascade hops that give their beer the most fragrant and delicious grapefruit overtones.)
Brian and I are blessed to have discovered such richness and diversity in the places we have seen. I loved walking our two dogs on the beaches of Galveston and learning to fish, fillet and cook my catch. The music, food and youthfulness of Austin were all treats, although I prefer the wildness of Galveston Island, despite enduring a mini-tornado and hailstorm there. Thank goodness for our heavy, well-made trailer! New Orleans had great music but an even greater World War II museum.
During our travels we have learned to be plumbers and electricians, replacing faulty valves, adding necessary pieces of equipment and getting rid of useless items we thought we couldn’t live without. I sometimes feel like a decorator crab, always carrying its prize possessions on its back. Fortunately, Brian and I have tasted the freedom of needing less.
This doesn’t mean there haven’t been problems along the way. A tree limb crashed down on our awning and ruined it. We discovered a leak in our gray water tank from a crack that we couldn’t repair. Making matters worse, our RV manufacturer went out of business this year. Since there were no markings on the original tank or identifying documentation in our records, we couldn’t find a replacement. Luckily we stumbled on a huge and very helpful community—a Facebook group called “Full-Time RVers.” One of its members came to our rescue and suggested we contact Nuwa Industries, which did some work for our manufacturer. In an amazing display of serendipity, Nuwa had one gray water tank left in its inventory, and it exactly fit our needs!
Our biggest challenge has been maintaining communications connectivity. Occasionally the DISH satellite does not work or the antenna can’t find any channels. But as my father-in-law used to say, “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff.” If you are going to embrace this lifestyle, then you’d best expect the unexpected.
Brian and I are both lucky enough to be able to work remotely. His office is our ample desk, and mine is our dining table. Before sunset almost every day we have a cocktail hour outside and enjoy watching the day dissolve into night. Sometimes we head out to hear music, see a movie or build a campfire. We relish the peace of nature and the pace of the life we have come to know and love.
I keep a list of songs that speak to me. Currently at the top of my list is “Who Knows Where The Time Goes?” by Fairport Convention’s Sandy Denny. Our youngest child was born in 1993, and I knew one day he would leave for college. Still, I was taken by surprise when, 18 years later, that day finally came. His departure had snuck up on me. Time just slips by. So now I want to experience each moment, smell the dewy grass and hear the rain beating on the top of our RV.
Every relationship has its ups and downs. When you are “down” in an RV, there’s no place to be totally alone. All the issues must be dealt with by both partners in close quarters. That can feel like living in a fish bowl, especially if you used to have plenty of space for retreat. Often these problems have nothing to do with your partner. They may be your own demons, rearing their ugly little heads and creating a need to banish or escape from them. To do this, Brian and I have learned to hide in plain sight. Although our roving life contains much richness and gives us more time to be together, it has also called for a few adjustments. No matter how good your relationship with your partner is, there’s always a need for private time and space. In an RV, you have to find creative ways to achieve that space. A book can frequently provide it. For Brian and me, “If my book is open, my door is closed.” But whenever my life gets a bit too close for comfort, I think of the song my husband Brian wrote for me. Here is part of it:
Life is a journey; it’s like an airplane,
You crash and you burn and you cause yourself pain.
With the love of a woman, you learn to hang tough.
Fasten your seatbelt, it’s gonna get rough.
When I first saw you in the Heart-Throb Café,
Standing so close, your eyes blew me away.
The dance floor was open, we went for a spin.
God bless you, Mitch Ryder, at a quarter to ten.
Our kids are grown, and it won’t be long
‘Til it’s just us lovers who started this song.
Sometimes I ask where did all that time go.
The Circle Game caught us in its undertow.
I have no regrets looking back on my life.
It’s been a great ride with you as my wife.