Category Archives: RV Lifestyle

A New Place, A New Adventure!

Full-time RV travel is rewarding beyond the obvious. The freshness of experience and opportunities for learning and personal growth abound, but some of the greatest benefits come about from its challenges. Since we tend to move frequently, hardly a routine is established before it is modified. This regular state of flux seems to enliven even the most mundane everyday experiences. Regular travel also requires considerable energy and focus, which can be exhausting but is frequently offset by inspiration. The new landscapes, people, energies and feelings stir up the senses and push personal boundaries and beliefs. Now, nearly two years on the road, our full-time adventure has served marvelously as a rejuvenating period of growth and experience which we can now draw on.

Our full-time adventure started as a whirlwind cross-country expedition with the hope of finding a new place to call home. Nearly two years later, it became so much more, yet still fulfilled its initial purpose. The RV Nomads have landed in St. Augustine, FL! The oldest city in America grabbed our hearts with its historic European feel, beautiful waterfront and beaches, and vibrant small town feel. It is the perfect place for us to establish what we missed the most on the road: community, consistency and focused outlets for creativity.

We feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel 22,000 miles around this country and find a place to consciously choose to live. Finding a place that met our criteria and personalities was no easy feat. Our love for urban street life and walk-ability was not something we were prepared to give up, we found this in a condo we recently purchased on the north side of town. Situated on a beautiful bay, complete with lighthouse, and only a few miles from the beach, our love for the water is utterly satisfied. Always attracted to historic charm and streets, the oldest city in America does not disappoint. Some of the existing structures date as far back as to the 17th and 18th centuries, with a very different history than the northern colonies. Compared to the west coast or Baltimore (our hometown), housing is only a fraction of the cost, allowing us freedom to pursue entrepreneurial efforts. Located on the northeast coast of Florida the weather isn’t too shabby, either. The nearby cities of Jacksonville and Orlando also give us the option to have big city amenities at our convenience, while the sizable tourist economy supports a music and arts scene that is unparalleled in other towns of its size. The people here are friendly and have been welcoming and hospitable. While it may not be perfect, it is pretty darn close!

Today, we are as excited to start a new life in a new place as we were to take off and experience America. This blog will remain active as we share updates of Christian learning to surf, Alayne’s photography, and our latest projects and travels. In the meantime if anybody is looking for a great little motorhome “The Dutchie” is on the market – $6500!

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Fulltime RV Travel as a Sabbatical or Gap Year

I have always been attracted to the word sabbatical. It sounds much more respectable and purposeful than “I need to get heck out of here because life as it is, is driving me insane!” Most people think sabbaticals are reserved solely for academics or clergy to recharge and refresh, so that they can deepen their understanding of a subject and return to their teaching or research with renewed vigor. While we recognize the purpose and benefits for academia, it is discounted and discouraged for others. I would argue that it is every bit as important for everyone to have time to reflect, recharge and develop personally and spiritually. Very few people allow the space for serious and often beneficial contemplation to live life intentionally. Too many of us, self included, get caught up in the expectations and currents of life before we even have the faintest idea of what is going on. Perhaps fear is the reason we steam ahead certain in our uncertainty. It is said we are the sum of our choices, but what if all of those choices were made with little thought or insight and the total is wrong? I do not think there is anything more terrifying than that. While many people double down and harden on their current path, a sabbatical is an opportunity to rediscover, develop awareness and enrich life and purpose. While world travel may be out of the question or impractical, especially for people with school aged children, traveling North America in an RV for a year or more is well within reach for many.

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The Joy of the Unexpected

Life on the road brings with it many unexpected surprises.  We travel with destinations in mind, but what we discover along the way is often more meaningful.  When travel reveals something as special as a previously unknown landscape, charmed town, history or cultural nuance that is when the journey becomes the destination.  Often what catches us off guard are little things like the quality of sunlight in a specific place, the different colors of rivers, or the cultural juxtaposition of Texas and Wyoming cowboys.  The U.S. is a country of regions and sub regions each offering unique experiences.  Most of this was unknown to me prior to our travels, minus my impressions through media and brief vacation stays.  While well known landmarks like major cities, national parks, and storied locations are impressive and provide a travel guide, it is the discoveries along the way that are the sweet filling that make RV travel so delicious.

Cultural references take on new life and meaning when experienced first hand.  When a country song references “a good-bye town,” I know exactly what that is.  I’ve been to a Hootenanny, know why it is called bluegrass music, and have tasted Carolina Gold.  I can tell the difference between a Kentucky and a Georgia drawl.  I have seen places where races and cultures mix well, and others where there is a dividing line through town (and they are not where you’d think).   I know why Northern Californians dis-like Southern, and that Oregon and Washington want nothing do with either.

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WorkampingReviews.com – A New Workamping Resource

One of the ways Alayne and I afford to be full-time RVers is by volunteering in exchange for an RV site, and soon workamping for a wage. In general, we enjoy the work and experiences. However, two were less than positive, one of which, we felt completely taken advantage of. It surprised us early on, that there were few resources for volunteers and workampers to share their experiences; to help each other avoid bad situations and provide encouragement for the good. Recently we launched a website to do just this, provide a voice for workampers and volunteers.

workampingreviews logo

WorkampingReviews.com is in its early stages of compiling reviews. This easy to use website is completely free and requires no registration. It also allows users to post anonymously. This new resource needs people to submit reviews to get the ball rolling. If you have a volunteer or workamping experience to share, please do, so this becomes a helpful and powerful resource for all.

Fulltime RVing with Cats

Living in a 150 square foot RV can be a challenge for two adults, but add two VERY LARGE cats in the mix and we literally, are on top of each other.  Fellow RVers and others have frequently been curious about how cats do on the road.  In the beginning, NOT well at all.  It was a mix of curiosity, shear terror and what appeared to be a cat’s version of a panic attack.


Meet Kimchi (left) and Miso (right): Adventure Kitties (when they’re not sleeping)

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RV Envy

When we first bought our RV, even though it was older, we thought it was the coolest thing.  That was until we hit the road and began staying in RV parks, usually surrounded by much larger, fancier rigs, oozing with style.  During our evening campground strolls, we started to imagine ourselves in these rigs and took note of all the attributes that made them more desirable than ours.  At times we even felt inferior and wanted more, assuming we’d be happier with something better.  Truth is, our used Class C RV, is about as un-cool as it gets.  It does not have slides, hydraulic doohickeys, hip retro styling, satellite TV, Corian counters, or full body paint with swoosh graphics.  There are no RV groups or cult followings dedicated to generic Class C RVs that are past their prime.  Nor are we approached with compliments or curiosity about our rig.  Even though it is 24 feet long and nearly eleven feet high, it might as well be invisible.  But what it does have, it excels at:  It is paid for, and has proven to be tremendously practical.

I recall being told many years ago that no car is better than the one that is paid for.  This can be applied to just about anything, as debt, at least in my mind, is like indentured servitude. RVs can be financed for 15 years, which is a long time and not enviable.  Having our RV paid off, allows us to have this adventure and worry less about money.  One of the principles to happiness is to spend money on experiences, not stuff.  Learning to live simply has been one of the greatest benefits from this journey.

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Lighthouse Hosting – Heceta Head, Oregon

After a less than enjoyable stint as camp hosts at a State Park in California, coming to Heceta Head Lighthouse in Oregon has renewed our joy for volunteering. Also, we now realize that we prefer interpretive volunteering over campground operations. It is said that there is no better way to learn about a subject than by teaching it. Last summer we learned a lot about birds and the history of the Outer Banks, NC, by volunteering at the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. In just a few short weeks at Heceta Head Lighthouse on the Central Oregon Coast, we have a heightened appreciation for historic lighthouses and a firm foundation of understanding about the history of the Oregon Coast and Pacific Northwest, in general.

Heceta Head Lighthouse is one of nine historic lighthouses on the Oregon Coast. It is said to be one of the most photographed lighthouses in the country, largely due to its scenic perch on a rugged headland. The lighthouse was rededicated last year after an extensive two-year renovation and is now in its full glory. The two ton 1st order Fresnel lens, the largest of its kind, is completely intact and is a masterpiece of 19th century design and engineering, with all the beauty and craftsmanship of high art. Built in the 1890s to provide a navigational aide for what was known as the “dark coast,” a 120 mile gap between lighthouses, it was and still is remote. The lighthouse keepers at the time had a lot of responsibility and work maintaining the light, but the real effort and toil was simply living on this wild and rugged frontier. Today, the lighthouse and keeper’s home are easily accessible and visible from the Pacific Coast Highway. It is open everyday for tours and staffed almost entirely by volunteers, which is us this month.

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The Pros and Cons of Full-time RVing

To the outside world it may appear that Full-time RVing is all rainbows and butterflies, a constant adventure and permanent vacation.  What may not be evident are its complications and challenges, yet these too can be opportunities for honing one’s skills and growth.  Now that we are no longer newbies and have some time and experience to reflect on our journey, here is our list of the pros and cons of this lifestyle.

Cons:

  • Campfires – For recreational campers, building a fire at the campsite is a part of the experience. For full-time RVers, campfire smoke is like dense pollution that quickly fills every square inch of the RV with little escape, minus a strong breeze in the other direction.  Sometimes the smell is only removed after a few days and a couple loads of laundry.
  • Mildew and mold are common.  In very small spaces, one begins to realize how much moisture we, as humans, put off.  In certain climates it is not uncommon to wake up with all the windows inside and much of the walls covered with a moist dew.  This turns into mildew or mold if preventative measures and diligence are not taken.
  • Smells seem amplified in such a small space.  The “off gassing” of two humans and two cats in a tiny space is a regular assortment of interesting and usually undesirable odors.
  • Things break a lot –  RVs are houses that are subjected to the abuse of highways and roadways at 60+ mph.  Many of the systems in RVs are of questionable quality to begin with, and after a decade and 50,000 miles things fail with some regularity.
  • Noisy weekend campers are out to party and get away.  This often conflicts with the full-timer wanting a normal quiet night at home.  This can be avoided by staying away from public parks by large population centers, especially on weekends.
  • Tiny shower – RV bathrooms are tiny with minuscule showers. They are so small that simply turning around is an exercise in balance, control, and spatial awareness.
  • Inside traffic jams –  If we are both moving around in the RV at the same time, we are with certainty going to be in each other’s way.
  • Gas costs when travelling.  We bought an RV to travel, but at 9 miles per gallon at $4/gallon, it not hard to visualize dollars flying out of the tail pipe.
  • Creepy Bathrooms – Sometimes using the facilities at campgrounds is not unlike walking into a horror movie.  Restrooms and showers at campgrounds are rarely well cared for and can be down right creepy.
  • In such a small space, clutter and mess are as easy as a few things being out of place.
  • With nature comes bugs, expect to have visitors and the occasional welt.
  • Maintaining a budget – With fluctuating costs it is very difficult to maintain a regular budget, though we do try.
  • Lack of regular community – We do miss being a part of a regular community.  Having lived in the city in a particularly social neighborhood, we miss the connections. 
  • Unfamiliarity with local service providers –  Finding a good mechanic, hair cut, notary public, medical and dental care and just about everything else can be a challenge.  Luckily with online reviews the troubles are lessened, somewhat.
  • Generational Gap – The traditional full-time RV’er is retired and for younger full-timers there can be a generational gap and sometimes a subtle hint of ageism. 

While the cons to full-time RVing are tangible, the pros, on the other hand, are less so, yet much more profound.

Pros:

  • The travel – Seeing and experiencing new places is exciting!
  • Meeting new people – part and parcel of the travel experience is meeting new people and learning from each one.
  • Personal growth – This might be the most important and significant and every man’s journey is his own.
  • Serendipity – realizing after the fact, all the things that led you to a place.
  • Volunteering/free camp – there is something joyful about volunteering, when there is no money exchanged, there is just appreciation.  Living rent free is a dynamite perk.
  • Easy clean up – It takes only 10-15 minutes to entirely clean the inside of the RV.
  • Simplicity – the lifestyle demands simplicity which leads to less stress and a lack of want.
  • Communication – increased communication with spouse or travel partner and with people from a wide variety of backgrounds.  This can easily be a con too, hopefully this is known before hitting the road.  We have seen relationships strengthened and fall apart. 
  • Nature – regularly being connected with nature develops an appreciation for the natural world and nourishes the spirit.
  • Lack of routine – we find that by breaking out of routine and the comfort of familiarity, it opens us up to growth and by regularly having new experiences, life tends to slow down.
  • Less stress – As result from a lack of want and reducing responsibilities, anxiety is at a minimum.
  • General over sense of well being – responsibly breaking from convention to really experience life and develop awareness results in a sense of peace.
  • Learning and education – The opportunity for experiential learning through travel is tremendous.  We learned more in a year of travel than we did the previous decade in our “normal” life.  

Carpe Diem!

Carpe Diem, Seize the Day, was a phrase made popular by a widely seen film of the 1980’s, “Dead Poets Society”.  Since then the phrase has been a staple in the American lexicon.  However, what is well known is not always regularly practiced.  Most people tend to live their lives as if something better waits for them in the future, almost guaranteed.  Intellectually, we all know we will meet the reaper in the end and sometimes sooner than expected.  In fact, there are no guarantees, in a sense all we have is today.  Every day is a gift for those who are grateful.

I feel, more and more, that we all have been subjected to a great ruse.  That society has programmed us to believe certain things are important, when in the end they are utterly meaningless.  Instead of bolstering individual growth and awareness, what I feel is the true meaning of life, we are misguided to believe that comfort and wealth is synonymous with happiness.  Instead of facing the difficult task growth, a craving develops for immediate gratification and pain avoidance through a myriad of distractions.

“Life moves pretty fast, if you blink you just might miss it.”  This saying too was made popular by a 1980’s movie, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, right before embarking on one heck of an epic day.  The routines of work, shopping and entertaining oneself are comfortable, but tend to speed up life into a succession of days barely distinguishable from the prior.   Weeks turn into months, months to years and before we know it, life has slipped away with little more to show for it than drudgery, interspersed with a few milestones, some recreation, and even less excitement.

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Learning to Listen

Maturing as full-time RV’ers and travelers has happened quickly for us.  In a little over a year we have crossed the country 3 times, seen fifteen National Parks, stayed in everything from parking lots to luxury resorts, and we’re starting our fourth volunteer workamping job.  Phew!  It has been a year full of adventures, but also learning.

Fifteen months ago we were naïve and knew almost nothing about RV’s, campgrounds, workamping, or even about this country a couple hundred miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean. Alayne and I felt compelled to shake up life a bit and explore.  There is something about throwing oneself into the unknown that creates a quick learning curve, and draws upon resources previously unknown.  Living life on the road is not all smooth sailing and kicking back at campgrounds.  It is waking up and not knowing where you are, or where the grocery store is.  It is flat tires and blow outs, broken refrigerators and roof repairs.  It is all the things life throws at us, with the extra element of disorientation and a lot less space.  It is about becoming comfortable outside the comfort zone, and most importantly learning to listen.
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