Merry Magical Christmas to you!!! I hope that this holiday season is one you will cherish! Taste things of such deliciousness that the memory of them will dwell in your heart. Spend time in places where the air is filled with wonderful scents of amazingness! Enjoy the companionship of many friends and family.
Put aside yesterdays and tomorrows…be here for those around you right now…in this moment. Be present. Be!
I’ve been making Christmas ornaments. There’s something amazing that happens when I sit down to work on them. Everything else fades away from my mind and I feel peaceful as I draw. Even better are the times when I worked on them together with Sarah in Maryland or with Sakura in Oklahoma. We talked and laughed and drew. I think its the part of this Christmas that I’ll tuck away in my heart the most.
My friend Reen has a Christmas tree. I’ll be heading there the day after Christmas. I’ll hang my ornaments on her tree. Last year my little tree in the RV had the ornaments I made of old travel trailers (vintage is the word I suppose). I have them hanging here and there in the RV.
While here in Maryland, I went across the river to my old church. It was good to see old friends. The small church was beautifully decorated and it felt welcoming and comforting. I still knew almost everyone there. They hugged me like a long lost child…which I suppose I am. It felt like no time at all had passed.
I love to go for a drive in the evening to see the lights and decorations on homes and towns. I don’t care for the busy-store part of the holidays. I stay away from that as much as I can…but the lights and music and seeing people I haven’t seen in a long while…that’s great. Its a smidge sad, because I don’t come here very often, so when I hug them good-bye I wonder to myself “will I see them again?” and it makes me want to cry. It makes me appreciate them all the more.
This Year’s Christmas
…is about taking it easy, living in the moment, and to just “be”. I savor time with friends.
Its not that every moment of my life is perfect and that there is no strife. It still happens. I just don’t anticipate it happening or fret about it, expect it, or brace myself for it. I enjoy right now. Maybe I don’t have a lot, but I have what I need and a little more. I don’t always get it right. I am, after all, a work in progress.
So this Christmas I’m grateful…for the scent of fresh brewed coffee, conversation with friends, art-time with Sarah, breakfast on Thursday with Joyce and Ellynne, for the glow of my little electric fireplace, and for chocolate!
…(and maybe life, in general) is about what you can get used to, what you hope it will be like, and what you’re willing to put into the experience to make it fulfill your expectations. I RV full time because I like a simple life. I like possessions, its true. But I accept the reality that when I had a LOT of possessions, they owned me and not the other way around.
I get wanderlust every once in a while and my time in the RV world has satisfied my need to move on every now and then. I’m an artist and my eyes and mind need to see amazing and beautiful things more often than some people.
I am an introvert and I treasure and require time alone. I need people, but one at a time. I prefer my own company. I prefer solitude. RV life offers me that. I can be with friends all I want, but when I’m done, I can slip away to my little turtle shell, my little house on wheels, because its close by. I understand that RVs are always riding along on a earthquake kind of road and things break. I don’t like it, but it comes with the territory. It brings me to my knees with sadness sometimes, but if I tough it out and get through it, I find I’m so glad I didn’t give up. I’ve gotten used to this life.
Sitting here at this table and drawing or writing or watching a video on YouTube. I love a cup of coffee or a cup of hot tea. I like to go out to eat once in a while. I love to sit around a campfire with friends and talk about our experiences with our RV lives. I’m okay with the limited closet space and the small pantry. I don’t mind not having a dishwasher anymore. Einstein would dearly love a fenced yard, but he does get more walks this way. I don’t really like TV very much. All that sound takes away the stillness. My mind is thinking. Thinking about my art and about what I want it to say. Its thinking about things that I’ve seen and experienced and putting words to them so I can describe it in my journal. After all these years, TV has become noise. There are times when I enjoy watching something, but I don’t usually have cable and so I’ve gotten used to doing other things with my time.
My kitchen/galley is pretty small, but so far the only thing I can’t make is a large turkey. My little oven is too small. Sometimes I wish I could lower the table about six inches. It seems to have been designed by someone quite tall. My hands fall asleep after a while.
One more thing. Up at the driver’s seat, I wish there were a couple things. A mirror so I could see back into the RV. When something crashes or the dog gets upset, I can’t see what has happened. And I’d like a better snack center for while I’m driving. The place my cup goes is so low, I have to bend down a bit to reach my drink. I guess that’s it. I’m okay with things the way they are. I’m most definitely getting very used to this time to myself. I need that.
So tell me. What is your life like now? What stage of your life are you in? Are you happy with it? Content? Used to it? Is it enough? It doesn’t take courage to live in an RV. That comes along the way as you figure things out. It just takes a dream and deciding that now is the time.
I have this game I play with myself during long drives. I can’t seem to play the game unless I’m driving. Can’t be the passenger. Gotta be the driver. I ask myself “If I could have anything I want, what would it look like?” I’ve played that game my entire life. For the most part, when I ask myself that question and start to answer it I get all happy and excited. I let my mind race ahead and the rest of me is content to just catch up best I can. Hm. What would I want?
However, as my mind races along, it seems to put up roadblocks. “Well,” I think, “I would want to have…” and I start describing a dream house or location or a way to earn money. I go down a path and my left brain throws up a hand and says, “BUT!” and that leads me off down a negative path that kills my “what if”. That can go on long enough that I end up quitting the game and just ride silently and with mad eyes and down-turned mouth. But I will come back to the game another time. I always do. Just in case I have a breakthrough. And I do.
Sitting here right now is a “what if” come true. So. I want to describe this RV life I’m living…the behind the scenes glimpse of it.
For me, it has been all about what I can get used to. What is the vision I have for what I’m doing or want to do? For RV life? I came at it the way a lot of people do…after living sixty some odd years. There are, I’m very happy to say, a lot of young people opting for an RV life, too. I’m so glad. Where are you, you young people? I want to meet you and talk to you and shake your hand and say “well done!”
I went from living in a 6,000 square foot log home in the forest to living in a twenty-five foot Airstream travel trailer and now a thirty-five foot Winnebago motor home. Why those…is for another time. Another post. So right now its the Winnebago. Its a year and a half old. There are a lot of things I like very much.I have a residential refrigerator, which means it is one that you might find in a home or apartment. It uses only electric. I like it. I could get by with a smaller fridge, but I manage to fill this one up. I have a washer/dryer combo. I use it a lot. I like it very much. I could get by without it, but it sure does make things easy. There is an electric fireplace in the RV. I don’t know what I’d do without that. There are times when it is my only source of heat. I have stayed places where I only had 15 amp electric. That will run the blower for my propane furnace (which I love), but my propane tank is built into the RV itself and to fill it up means taking the RV someplace for that refill. Not always possible. The fireplace functions extremely well and the flicker of flame, though fake, comforts my soul.
I’ve gotten used to living in a small space. Pretty much everything I own is in here and I can usually find whatever I need. Not always. Like those rubber boots! Wow! I looked everywhere for them. It rained sooooo much where I was for a while that my shoes would become completely waterlogged and it took days for them to dry out. AFTER I left that area, I was looking for something outside in the “basement” storage area and there they were. Sitting there as if to say “Na Ni Na Ni, Boo Boo!” I left them there to have time-out and think about what they’d done. Right.
The things I use the most are in the overhead storage cupboards over the table, because that’s where I spend most of my time (at the table…not in the storage compartments…sheesh!). I keep my art supplies inside of canvas, lidded boxes. I can’t list EVERYTHING on the little card showing contents, but its usually helpful enough. The canvas boxes fit perfectly and hold quite a bit of stuff. I like them because they keep things from shifting about during travel days and when I later open the door, the contents don’t rush out to greet me. I’m used to this type of system now. I admit that I tried a lot of different sizes of containers. I like these best. I hope I can find some more. I need a few more.
I should back up for a moment. What made me leave my log home and live in a little home on wheels? At first it was my age. I turned sixty and realized that I was on the downhill side of this roller-coaster life. When you’re on the uphill side, you are filled with anticipation and awe because you aren’t sure what’s beyond the up-hill side or how it will affect you. Then you reach the top and begin the descent. That’s me. Hurtling down the latter years of my life. Stomach up in my throat. Blood rushing to my head. Screaming like a crazy woman. Wondering if we’ll leave the track and die or if I’ll throw up. Yep. Anyways, it made me realize that if I’m going to do any of the things I want, I had better get going. There are other reasons but those, too, are for another day.
That first adventure presented me with a lot to get used to. I went alone so had to learn to do EVERYTHING. I was reading back through my journal yesterday (something I do when I’ve just written the very last entry in that volume). I saw what I wrote as I did research about RVs of all kinds. I had remembered a movie where two young women lived in an Airstream and they had it all fixed up with lace curtains and little lights and girl-stuff. I loved it. That was what I wanted for me. I wrote about how excited I was. Building that log home and living there for so many years felt like a “last chapter” in my life. No “nexts”. I didn’t like that so much. I love having things to look forward to. Next chapters. The idea of an Airstream meant a new chapter, a next chapter, something to look forward to. I felt myself filling up with hope and excitement. I remember driving Rocinante home. The Airstream was named after Don Quixote’s horse, who took him on great adventures. I headed out on a two and a half week test adventure the day after purchasing the Airstream. My journal for that is so fun to read. I was as excited as a child. I was fully alive. Scared, too. Wondering what lie ahead. So I was on the uphill of the roller coaster again. Wow! How awesome is that at the age of about sixty-two.
My journal entries from those first days are filled with me figuring things out, learning how to work things. I had failed to bring a LOT of things. In fact, I forgot just about everything. I arrived at my destination with empty cupboards, but high expectations. It was fun shopping for the things I needed. I tried to be responsible and practical…getting only what I really needed, but at the same time, making choices that fell in line with my artist-self. Interesting to look at.
I had to get used to the trip taking much longer than I dreamed it would. In a car, I could make that one trip in eight hours. This time it took eleven. And I was exhausted. Driving a big truck and pulling a travel trailer was different. I’d had to figure out how to hook the trailer to the truck and wow, was that complicated. I had to drive up mountains and down mountains. I had a Golden Retriever with me (of course it was Einstein – Dah!). Upon arriving, I retrieved the envelope left for me at the entrance to the campground. It had a map of the campground, rules, and which site was mine. I was getting one of the last open sites in the entire campground. On the outside of the envelope was the name and number of the owner and I had been told I could call him no matter what time I arrived. Hm. I usually try to do everything myself. Could I this time? Probably. Maybe. I was pretty tired though. I called the number. The man said he’d been waiting for my call and no, I wasn’t disturbing him. He wasn’t asleep. He came right over and lead me to my campsite. In fact, he offered to drive my truck and back into the site for me. Whew! Backing up? As tired as I was. Sure! Thank you, Mr. Campground Owner. Yes!
That two and a half weeks was so wonderful. Just reading about it and thinking back to it makes it as real as if I’m right there again.
I am trying to describe that time and I find myself stuttering. I can’t find the right words and it was so exciting that maybe there are no words for it. But it was so amazing. It forced me to change. It forced me to slow down and to sit and do absolutely nothing sometimes. It gave me a time of peace. Now, please remember that I was on my own. There was no one aside from Einstein to talk to and he was always just listening for words like “outside” and “cookie”. Evenings at the campground were magical. There were families there and as I went for walks in the dark of the evening, I passed people gathered around campfires, talking, roasting marshmallows, laughing, having a glass of wine or a beer. There were kids riding bikes and playing hide and seek. When I passed by, they always wanted to know if they could pet Einstein. During the day, once I bought a bathing suit, I could swim in the fabulous round pool. I ventured into the camp store and had chats with people who worked there. They showed me pictures of their pets and we talked about nothing in particular. It was nice. For an introvert, I did pretty good.
I got used to that first experience and I wanted more.
It was hard to go home. I’d gotten used to more than I’d expected. I lived with far fewer possessions. I had more free time. I spent more time with Einstein and he just blossomed with so much attention and with such nice long walks. The weather was wonderful. Not so hot and humid. Just right. I got to spend time with relatives and friends in the area. There was time to visit favorite places. There was no rush. Sitting and talking with people when there is no rush takes life to a whole new level.
Back home I began making plans for a longer trip. I didn’t know how long. I wanted to just go and turn right or left on a whim. Know what I mean?
While I was figuring out general plans, I got a credit card. It had a $20,000 limit. Hm. I had an Airstream that was pretty empty. What if I wanted to go somewhere and drycamp? So I bought a solar generator that was newly out…with a lithium ion battery. I got the briefcase solar panel kit to power it. I bought a small cube of a heater, called a Broan. I was watching videos on YouTube by lots of RVers who live in their RV and have experience. I wrote down what they said and some things went onto a list. I wanted to feel safe and comfortable. I was used to living in a large home with lots of comfort.
Upon returning from my short adventure I was struck at just how large that house was and how much STUFF was inside. Sometimes less is more. But then again, I wasn’t ready to do with nothing.
Having WiFi on my trip was very important to me. I had several film editing projects to work on. My editing software required internet, as did the uploading and downloading process. I bought a JetPack made by Verizon. I believed I would have unlimited WiFi. More research. I bought a WiFi booster. A friend installed it for me. I have trouble sleeping at night and some more research helped me discover mattress toppers that are geared toward people like me. But it was expensive. So. When I felt I was sufficiently equipped and the last item arrived via the FEDEX truck, I left. It was six o’clock at night. But I decided I wanted to GO. I drove to the north side of Washington DC and stopped at a Cracker Barrel for the night. I admit that I like having electric and water and all that good stuff. It was sufficient though. I was excited and happy. I ate breakfast in the restaurant. I was ready to hit the road.
Most of this is written about in more detail in previous posts. The point of this is that I was getting used to things and working out my new life and new routine. Emptying grey tanks and black tanks took some getting used to. The Airstream itself took a lot of getting used to. Because of the airplane fuselage shape of the thing, storage is awkward. I hadn’t brought enough stuff with me on the first trip and on this trip I brought too much. I didn’t know how long I’d stay out. I left the cabin as though I would be gone forever. So I had art stuff and things I needed for life in general, clothes for different climates, food for myself and the dog, my sewing machine (I had big ideas of making some curtains and place-mats), a couple of computers (yeah, I know!).
Now I’m in the Winnebago. I probably have too much stuff. Everything I have has a place to be stowed. But I still have too much. I have two canvas boxes with some books that I use as references for my work. I have art supplies. I have clothes for all types of weather. I keep out-of-season clothes stowed below. I don’t have a lot of clothes, but could easily get rid of some that are more thread bare. Those are usually my favorites. 94I have girlie stuff – like hairbands and gel and a styling brush. I have all manner of aspirin and first aid stuff. I went to Okinawa and Japan not long ago and I took a glass blowing class. I made a beautiful glass. I have that with me as my only glass. I have stuff for the kitchen and have purchased them over time and as I came to need them. I like to bake. So I have a small cookie sheet and brownie pan. I have a pot for making hot water for my tea. I recently bought a small Keurig. For Christmas I got a Home Pod. I have been toting my only two living plants with me. An African Violet and a Shamrock. Both are dear to me. I’ve had them for many, many years. I’m USED to them and they are used to their life in an RV. Over time I’ve had many rugs on the floor. I’d buy them for Einstein and he would get them so dirty and matted with his ever-shedding hair that I couldn’t keep them clean and they began to smell. In the trash with them. Now there is a long skinny rug at the foot of the bed. Its where I stand when I’m dressing. Its where Einstein likes to sleep after I turn out the light. There is a rug at the top of the stairs at the entrance. I can pretty much sweep them and keep them relatively clean. Eventually they will have to go. But the rest of the floor is rug-less. Since I seldom use the couch, Einstein has claimed it, so no rugs on the floor is pretty okay with him. He, too, has had a lot to get used to.
Einstein drinks a lot of water. He hates being in a moving vehicle and the RV is no exception for him. He cries, pants, and shakes the entire time. I listen to audible books to drown out his crying. Nothing I do helps him. Vets have prescribed medicines. I’ve tried over the counter stuff. I bought him an anxiety wrap. I travel with blinds down. Blinds up. Nothing. He cries. He has NOT gotten used to travel days. And I have NOT gotten used to his anxiety.
Because he drinks a lot of water, I use a lot of water for him. Usually he can drink water from whatever area we are in. I hook us up to water and fill his bowl and he drinks. Sometimes I don’t feel the water is safe for either of us and I buy bottled water. Right now is one of those times. The bypass valve for the freshwater tank is broken and so when I hook up to city water, my freshwater tank fills to overflowing. I can’t do anything about it right now. I’ve had it repaired at the Winnebago factory. The RV is out of warranty now. I’m broke. So I’m getting used to this “work-around” for now. I fill my freshwater tank from city water and then unhook. Since water sits in the freshwater tank for a while, I don’t trust it. Its very hot where I am now and there could likely be a lot of bacteria in there. So I use the water for bathing and washing dishes. I bought gallon jugs of water for Einstein and small bottles for me.
Driving the RV by myself has been something to get used to…and I have. I can hop into the driver’s seat and drive off and not give it a thought. I forget that there is a house behind me. I just concentrate on the road ahead…unless something crashes or bangs behind me. On this recent travel time I was entering a campground and there was a big bump at the entrance. I heard lots of crashes and I winced. A cupboard opened and all my dishes fell out onto the floor. There were paper plates and plastic plates, which were okay. But I had two ceramic “favorite” plates. Not valuable. Just comforting to me because they were pretty. Smashed to pieces.
Had to clean that up immediately so Einstein didn’t cut his feet. The day before that I heard a bang and then around another curve another bang. Was it the refrigerator? Had I failed to secure the doors? No. It was the sliding door to the bedroom. The strap that secured it to the wall had broken and the door was slamming open and shut as I drove. Einstein just about had a heart attack. He was not happy and it took him a couple days to trust the door not to “get him”.
Pretty much just as I get used to things being one way, they change or something happens. On our way here, I was taking him for a quick walk in the grassy area next to the gas station. As we rounded the front of the RV, a large piece of metal crashed to the ground up in the front engine area. I was distressed! Einstein was distressed. Now what? Turned out, after a little investigating, that it was the the thing that the hood latches to. You turn a key and a latch swivels and falls into place under a plate. That whole big plate fell off. So I stayed the night at the city park and went to a hardware store to buy some twine. Tied the hood shut for the time being.
I don’t like that things break. I hate it when those things make it impossible for me to stay in the RV or travel in it. This is home. I’m not rich. I knew up front that things break. Each time it happens, I get upset and I have to take some time to calm myself. I have to adjust and think clearly. Okay. What do I do now? Because I’m alone, I have to figure things out on my own. When I do that, I feel my self confidence grow a bit…and I need more of that in my life. So that’s a good thing.
So spending a considerable amount of time in an RV takes getting used to. It has a lot of good about it. RVs, no matter how expensive, are going to have things break. New gas engine motor homes have a one year warranty while new diesel engine motor coaches have a three year warranty. I don’t know about used stuff. I went to the Winnebago factory two times in the first year. The first time was during warm weather and it was busy. To get out of there and on my way, I only asked to have two things fixed. They were big things though. Later I went back and it was winter and cold and I was the only one on the waiting list, so I was able to get everything on my list fixed. There were fifteen things, mostly small. They fixed everything in one day. The Winnebago technicians were great.
A lot of people turn to RV life because of the simpler life it offers. It gives you more time to enjoy life. Maybe your idea of a great life would be to live in an RV and see new places and in the evenings watch TV. You can make that happen. Maybe you’re an author and you’re looking for an opportunity to get away from it all and devote your time to writing. Good goal! Do-able. My goals have changed as time has passed. One moment I want to write that book. The next moment I want to get a part time job and stay put for a little while and get to know people in the area. Other times I want to stay in the southwest desert, dry camping. Listening to silence. Sometimes I actually come to an intersection and decide to go right instead of left. That’s always fun. I’ve traveled forty-five states now. The down-side is that there are fewer surprises along the way. The good part is that there are still some surprises and yet I know the general things I can expect. Some states, like Montana and Wyoming and Arizona, etc…better keep that gas tank filled so it doesn’t go below half tank. Gas stations you fit into are few and far between.
Whatever your reasons for wanting to travel about in a travel trailer or motor home or fifth wheel…whatever…do it. Get all you can out of your time. As you go along, you’ll acquire what you need. You’ll learn the ropes. You’ll meet wonderful people who are doing the same. When things break or go wrong, you will devlop a network of folks you can turn to. And there’s always YouTube.