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.
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.
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.
Our search for the right RV took about two months and five states. First we started with nearby RV dealerships to get ourselves acquainted with space, floor plans, types and RV systems. In most cases the salespersons were extremely helpful and we learned a lot. This was a good first step. Initially we thought about a travel trailer so that we could unhook the trailer at a campsite and have the tow vehicle to explore the surrounding area. While we still may consider this in the future, for our initial adventure we decided that a smaller Class C seemed more appropriate for our travel needs, especially with pets. A new RV was out of the question on our very modest budget. Luckily RVs depreciate fairly rapidly. It is said that they depreciate 20-30% by just driving off the lot and about 10% every year there after. It is possible to find used RVs that have had light to moderate use. Though this may not be as good as it sounds, as we found some RVs have been left sitting for long periods in a state of slow rot. The use it or lose it analogy applies. Mechanical things do like to be run, at least on occasion.