Author Archives: The RV Nomads

The Perfect Rig

Everyone knows the three L’s in real estate: location, location, location.  In choosing a motorhome, a different three L’s apply: lifestyle, lifestyle, lifestyle!  The most common mistake in selecting a rig is not matching it with lifestyle, i.e. the highly mobile adventure seeker’s needs are completely different than a semi-permanent snowbird residence.  Having spent nearly a decade in real estate and now living in a motorhome full-time, I am using this perspective to tackle the age old question in every new RV’ers mind: Which rig is right for me?

Less is more sometimes, and more can be limiting.  The many cases, the larger the rig, greater the limitations and expense.  Many of the National Parks and most scenic campgrounds were not designed to accommodate large rigs and do not accept them. In the west, it is frequent to find mountain passes with size limits. Some of the best nooks and crannies in cross-country road travel cannot be easily accessed by large rigs.  Large rigs also have higher fuel and maintenance costs; tires to general service cost more.  Smaller motorhomes can show up to most Jiffy Lube’s or service stations and get in and out quickly at comparable prices to a pick up truck.  Large rigs, especially diesels, need a specialty shop generally by appointment, which can be a hassle.  Smaller the rig the more easily it will handle two lane twisty roads and city streets, which is an advantage.  Smaller rigs are less conspicuous for stealth camping* and to fit in a friend’s or relative’s driveway.  More times than not, when we hear complaints about size it is because the person bought too big, not too small.  Bigger may be better when stationary for long periods, large families, and stays at traditional RV parks and campgrounds.


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A Diverse Nation

The diversity of this country’s people is almost as broad and unique as its landscapes.  Growing up on the east coast surrounded by colonial, Revolutionary and Civil War history, which I considered the important stuff, it has been easy to forget or fail to see the other histories in the United States. Mexico, Spanish, Native American and even the French, controlled parts of this country only several generations ago.  These influences are felt and apparent today in architecture, art, food, culture and even the spirit of a place.  Somewhere I heard that America is less of melting pot and more of a salad, and I believe that is more accurate.  The people in New York might be tomatoes, while Texas is a pepper, and Oregon a cucumber, the regions all play a part in this dish. Onions may be disliked by some, it does not mean they do not have value and add to the medley.

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Island Time on Cedar Key

The Cedar Keys in Florida are a small group of islands located in the Gulf of Mexico about half way between Tampa and Apalachicola in what is known as, “The Nature Coast.”  It is also called “Old Florida,” due to the lack of development and ubiquitous strip malls.  Cedar Key is a small island town of less than 1000 residents that support themselves clam farming and with a modest tourist industry.  This place is every bit of the old fishing village one can conjure up in imagination; weathered piers and fish shacks, with well worn boats built for a singular purpose.  A small group of artists also call the island home, establishing a collective and adding a hard to miss funky charm.  The pace is slow, the work is hard or long, and there is little more than nature to provide entertainment.  It is frequently compared to what Key West was during the time of Hemingway.


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If It Can Go Well, It Will

The more Alayne and I travel around this country, the more I realize that there are many different Americas. As I write this we are in the town of Cedar Key, Florida where the local mantra is, “If it can go well, it will.” This is a very optimistic view for a town that most would consider sleepy with limited options. Yet, the residents and visitors alike smile, wave and laugh with regularity. This remote island town, almost an hour away from any “real” civilization, is contented to go its own way. In places like this that resist “Starbucking,” the homogenization of America, where the locals feel little need to keep up with the Jones’s or anyone else for that matter, feel authentic and real. The American spirit of freedom and independence is alive here. Often it seems the further one is away from “civilization,” the more civilized and community oriented the people are.

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How to Find a Great Campsite

There is no need to ever stay in a unsatisfactory campground.  With a little bit of online research it is easy to locate campgrounds that suit your individual tastes.

AllStays.com is possibly the most comprehensive list of both public and private campgrounds.  It also includes places for overnight parking.  Both the website and app allow the user to search according to tastes and specifications.  If I were to use a single application this would be it.

UltimateCampgrounds.com is a site I found relatively recently and have been using it more and more.  It specializes in public campgrounds, which we prefer, and is more comprehensive than allstays.com in this segment.

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2013 in the RearView

Life is too short to hang onto unpleasant circumstances that can be changed.  While change can be scary and takes work, the willingness to do so often beats the willfulness it takes to remain stuck in state of familiar, yet comfortable dis-ease.  In 2013, we stepped off into the unknown that we hardly planned for, and ended up finding adventure and making new discoveries along the way.  I guess it could be said that 2013 was a pioneering year.

As a non-retired couple living and travelling in an RV fulltime, we are bucking convention and it has allowed us to have an outsider’s view on ourselves and the culture we live in.  We have been able to recognize the many good hearted, creative and adventurous people doing inspiring things, and have seen cultural ills too.  There are many different Americas, each is unique and worth taking the time to appreciate.

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Top Ten Campgrounds of 2013

In 2013 we crossed the country, staying at more than three dozen campgrounds along the way. Below is list of our favorites.  These are, of course, subjective to our tastes and preferences.  We prefer scenery and proximity to cool stuff above all.  We enjoy the luxuries of a full service campground from time to time, and when stationary for extended periods,  but we are happy to rough it a little for a great trail or view.  We also appreciate a good value, expensive campsites really have to be something special to impress us.

Campgrounds with excellent scenery from the site:

Valley of Fires Recreation Area

This New Mexico Park is enchanting.  It has sweeping vistas of the “wild west” and is surrounded by an ancient lava flow. The park has a nice hiking trail through the flow so visitors can get a closer look at the unique fauna. Camping here is a memorable experience. New Mexico parks have nice amenities, well maintained and inexpensive, less than $20.  Each site has water and electric, concrete pad and a shade pavilion with picnic table.

Moonrise in NM
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So How Much Does it Cost?

The Full-time RV lifestyle can cost a lot less than traditional living if one is mindful and budgets accordingly.  To be truly frugal, one would have to keep traveling at a minimum, as RV’s are not known for fuel efficiency.  This is one of the reasons we volunteer and stay stationary for 1-3 months at a time.  It allows us to be of service and trade time and labor for our campsite.  Since we own our motor home, we essentially have no housing expenses during our volunteer stints.  Given our set expenses, ideally our monthly total is less than $2000 per month, not including taxes.

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Hosting in the Holy City

Welcome to South Carolina!  This is the home of the Palmetto and Spanish moss, Antebellum history, southern hospitality, and Charleston.

We have settled into our second workamping gig at James Island County Park, and we could not be happier.  The park is only five miles from Charleston’s historic district, and is about the same distance to laid back Folly Beach.   The park itself is the jewel of the local park system and is 600 acres of loveliness.  The campground is luxury compared to our site in the Outer Banks. We especially enjoy the hot showers, nearby laundry, and the fast, free WIFI.  The park has 6 miles of newly repaved trails that meandered through the semi-tropical foliage and marsh, two lakes, 50 ft. climbing wall, kayaks, fishing pier, play grounds, water park, and a lot of places to find solitude.   This is a beautiful place to be.


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