People and Places of Days Past

I fell down the rabbit hole tonight. Past pages of texts and Facebook messages and photographs and people and places of days past.

It started with college and so many of the lessons learned, about myself and books and other people’s feelings. Lessons about true friendships and fake ones, trust and betrayal, brokenness and healing. I probably don’t give those years enough credit when I take stock of the past. They were tough and beautiful. They were an incredible struggle but also somehow so satisfying in their proof that I could trudge through on my own.

It was indeed a coincidence that led me to the next chapter.

It transitioned rather quickly into the life I lived surrounded by airplanes and humans who were gifted with the ability to fly. What a world that dropzone held, full of hippies and rich college kids, self-proclaimed sky-gods and the slighted that had found a place that welcomed their difference. A place that I didn’t think I fit, and yet somehow it was where I finally found myself. I remember some of the amazing people I came to know there, too, the ones who found me and held up a metaphorical mirror so I could finally see myself clearly. I can see their faces and hear their voices so vividly and in such detail, even after sixteen years. I met some incredible humans in that small desert town, a mere 9.1 miles from the only place I’d ever known as home. It was so close all that time, but I really did have so very far to go before I could really find my way there.

My time there can often be described as cinematic. Moments were so epic in lighting and cast and soundtrack that they couldn’t possibly be real. They had to be moments of fiction I wrote for myself to make up for the past. Sunsets and sunrises with strangers-turned best friends. Desert parties with zebra hats and RV hangouts. Houses filled with steady beats and black lights and body paint. Coffee shops and tip money and peanut butter wheat bagels. The mundane everyday mixed with the exhilaration of human flight. The joy of first skydives and the finality of death. Quite the dichotomy that was definitely not lost on me.

 

Advertisements

Two Months In

The full-time life has been surprisingly easy to get used to for all three of us. I’ve been thinking about all of the random things I’ve learned during the first two months of our full-time RV life and thought I’d compile them here.

IMG_2976
  • You don’t need that much stuff to get by in life. We packed essentials and a few luxury items, but many of our interior storage cabinets are empty.
  • Living tiny isn’t hard. We did two additional purges from the RV while we were stationary in CG & close to our storage unit.
  • Riv is happy in any living situation as long as he has his bike, his scooter & tons of vehicle toys.
  • RV parks with pools are awesome, especially in the summer in AZ.
  • Two RV ACs will not keep up in 100+ degree temps in AZ.
  • I actually like the coziness of our tiny space.
  • A small RV fridge will keep you from over-buying perishable food & wasting it!
  • Our pantry fits way more stuff in it than we thought.
  • It would have been nice to have a convection oven/microwave combo, our regular oven heats up the RV way too much to use it in the summer.
  • The dinette is awkward and the couch is pretty uncomfortable. I’d like to remove both & have seen some cool alternatives that other full-time families have used in their modifications.
  • Doing dishes by hand is as annoying as it used to be when I was a teenager doing them at home. I miss my dishwasher!
  • Do not wait to buy a small vacuum for your RV. We finally got one last weekend and it is so much easier and so much more thorough than trying to use a normal sized one.
  • If you are a germaphobe like me you will hate RV park laundromats. Buy this unit for your RV. We don’t have interior hookups in our RV but we are installing it in our outdoor kitchen.
  • A fireproof safe is a great place to store your important paperwork that you will need on the road.
  • Don’t store crayons or other melty things in cabinets that are mounted on one of the outside walls during an AZ summer.
  • You absolutely can run the AC and a blowdryer at the same time if you have 50 AMP service in your RV.
  • Command hooks & strips will become your best friends when your interior walls are made out of glorified cardboard.
  • You might take on traits of your retired neighbors and start doing puzzles in your free time.
  • You can bake a cake in your RV oven, but you might need a pizza stone to distribute the heat more evenly.
  • Peacocks are way louder than you would guess they are, but they can also be super friendly.
  • Rivers will make new friends easily, but the goodbyes will always be hard.

Here are some photos from the first couple months.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our Maiden Voyage- to Mexico!

We bought our rig in November and didn’t pick it up until January. Even after we drove all the way to Prescott to pick it up, we didn’t get to take it anywhere fun or test it out right away, it went straight to storage. Insert sad face here. From the moment we signed off on our final paperwork and knew it was ours, we couldn’t wait to actually go somewhere in it! I had been scheming and planning in my mind where we could go to have a quick trip to experience it and learn all its quirks before it was our full-time residence. In December I messaged my aunt Helen to see if she could give me some info on RVing in Rocky Point, Mexico. It’s a destination I’ve traveled to many times with my family growing up, but we normally rented houses. I knew Helen had been to Rocky Point in her RV before, so I knew she’d be able to recommend a great RV park. I figured that since Ben & Rivers would have the same days off for Spring Break, we could maybe take it to Mexico for its maiden voyage.

In a perfect streak of luck Helen happened to be planning a trip herself at the same time to take grandkids there for their break. I quickly texted my other aunt  & uncle to see if they would want to make it a big family trip and bring their RV also. Pretty quickly the dates were agreed upon and Helen offered to handle the reservations since the process was a little antiquated. The Playa Bonita RV Park is located right next door to the hotel of the same name. It has great reviews on Trip Advisor and of course my aunts both agree it’s a perfect place right on the beach.

IMG_2970

The entrance to Playa Bonita RV Resort

You definitely can’t beat the cost of $24 a night for interior spaces. It has full hookups and 30 amp included in the price. The temps were perfect when we were there in March so we didn’t bother to inquire about the extra cost for 50 amp that is listed in their office. The one tip I will offer if you plan to stay is to make sure you have a really long water hose. Our connection was on the opposite corner of our slot from our intake and we ended up having my aunt bring us en extra hose since they were arriving a day later than us.

IMG_2477

The distance to the beach from the nose of our rig.

This is an awesome place to take kids. Rivers spent most of his time at the beach, playing in the sand, looking at tide pools and searching for shells and hermit crabs. I would recommend sand toys, beach chairs and an umbrella or easy-up for a comfortable beach hangout.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Other than beach time, we also went into town to the Malecón a few times. It’s a great place to buy fresh seafood and tortillas and also pick up some souvenirs. There are plenty of restaurants in that area too, many of which are kid friendly.

IMG_2687

Family photo at Casa del Capitan 

Enough words, here’s what you really want: PHOTOS!

IMG_2692IMG_2690 IMG_2521IMG_2712IMG_2711 IMG_2731 IMG_2707 IMG_2721

That Feeling

You know– that feeling you get once everyone is buckled in tight, all the bags are carefully packed and you drive off into the fuzzy early morning light to somewhere exciting and new. It’s sort-of like butterflies and electricity all mixed together. The feeling of anticipation and excitement for a trip to somewhere you’ve never been before. The nostalgic feeling of another visit to somewhere you love and are so happy to visit again. The knowledge that you are setting off to make memories and enjoy time with your family; no work, no stress, no obligations – no strings attached.

That feeling of freedom.

Freedom from the responsibility and monotony of the everyday.

THAT feeling.

That’s the reason we chose to do this.

The freedom to enjoy our family before it’s gone.

That feeling is the best feeling.

EVER.

The Search Is On

We started the RV search by googling until our eyeballs almost fell out and clicking through a ton of listings on rvtrader.com. We then decided we needed to look at some of these things in person to really get a feel for their size and floor plan. We headed out to La Mesa RV (LMRV) in Mesa, Arizona to check things out. We immediately ran into Bob who was an incredibly knowledgable guide through our next four trips to explore models. In all we made three trips to La Mesa RV, one trip to Glendale to a big RV show put on by the valley LMRV dealerships, two terrible but informational trips to Worldwide RV in Mesa and one incredible trip to Affinity RV in Prescott.

In the beginning we were thinking we wanted to do a custom sprinter van conversion. We both liked the idea of it fitting easily into parking spaces and looking pretty normal on regular city streets. Then we remembered that Rivers owns like 4,000 Hot Wheels cars and there was no way we were going to survive in a footprint that small. Then we moved on to class C options. They seemed really cool and our favorite was the Winnebago View. Those weren’t going to work out because Rivers needs to travel properly restrained in a car seat and they don’t offer that option (legally, anyway). We finally settled on the safest method being a 5th wheel or travel trailer and a truck to tow it. As much as that sounds like narrowing things down, not so much.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

There is an incredible amount of options and choices in the world of towables. We started out looking based on price. The travel trailers (TTs) are much cheaper and in some cases have more spacious floorplans. The interior ceiling height was fairly low, though, which is a problem if your husband is six feet tall. We did entertain the idea of getting a TT for a while and found a ton of models we liked. It was nice to have Bob as our salesman, and once he had the full story of our plans to fulltime in it, he really knew what direction to guide us in. We really liked Bob for his no-bullshit style and the amazing wealth of knowledge he had. He was very honest with us about a few brands that he felt were cheaply made and would not stand up well to full-time occupancy no matter how careful we were.

On trip number two to LMRV Bob showed us a bunch of travel trailers and of course we fell in love with a few. Our original favorite was the Dutchmen Denali 371BH. It had a bunk house for Rivers to have his own space, a bathtub, a kitchen island with lots of storage and nice solid surface countertops. With two opposing slides in the living room and kitchen area, it provided a really open feeling to the space we knew we would spend all our time in. Then Bob wanted to show us some Keystone brand options. Our favorite Keystone TT was the Keystone Outback Ultralite 293UBH. This model was cool because it had three beds in the bunk house and a small dinette. We thought it would be a great space for Riv to color or play with vehicles on the table top. It also had a bathtub, which was an original necessity on my list that I had to give up once I realized how impractical it was. We also noticed during this trip that the TTs didn’t offer much extra storage space. Considering we would be fulltiming, storage was a big necessity. We left that day feeling like we were definitely headed in the right direction of finding the right setup for us.

After looking at so many towable options Ben set out to research towing and the kinds of hitches available for TTs these days. He had memories of traveling with his family when they had a TT they towed to the mountains, and was hoping that time & technology offered a more stable/less swaying option. During his research he became pretty convinced that with as much as we would be moving around during our winter travels he would prefer towing a fifth wheel (5er). We also learned how much more headroom it would offer for him, so we decided to hit up LMRV again.

On our fourth trip to the dealership we found out Bob wasn’t there because he was busy getting things ready for the company’s big RV show they would be hosting that weekend at University of Phoenix Stadium. We were then warned that inventory was low on-site since many of the rigs had already been moved to the stadium in preparation for the show. One of Bob’s colleagues showed us a couple of 5ers they still had and we made plans to hit up the RV show to have a better selection to consider. Since we had a few days before the show we used the LMRV website to look at the brands & layouts we would want to see in person.

Next Post…The Rv Show

 

 

A New Journey Begins

img_1098

We are becoming full-time RVers!

“Wait…what?”

That’s a pretty typical response that we’ve received from the few people we have already shared this with. We seem to be greeted with one of two reactions: people either think we’re crazy, or they think our plan is awesome. Many people plan or dream of a lifestyle like this for years, but I can’t say either of us had really put too much thought into it before. We are incredibly excited about this new plan, especially when you consider how quickly it’s fallen into place.

It all started on a Tuesday afternoon at the end of October. We had traveled up to Flagstaff to do some hiking over Ben and Rivers’ fall break. As we hiked along, stopping to take pictures and collect beautiful yellow leaves, Ben posed a question that pretty much came out of nowhere.

What if you could quit your job and we could just travel during the winter?

Obviously that sounded amazing, but how could we afford that? My simple response almost startled Ben.

I’m down. Figure out the details and I’m in.

He said he’d run the numbers before and if we weren’t wasting our money each month paying high rent, outrageous summer power bills, and all of the other house-related expenses it was completely possible on his river guide income alone. This meant we would have to be stationary for the six months out of the year he was running his river season, but that we could spend the other six months traveling anywhere we wanted. We chatted though scenarios and options for the rest of the hike. By the time we got back to the car and the cell service, we were both googling RV types and prices.

A mere six weeks after Ben asked me that random question on a hike we owned both an RV and a truck to tow it with. Six weeks. We really are crazy and apparently efficient! I will share more about the research and buying process in the next few posts.

 

 

 

 

Last Trip of the Season

Every season I look forward to the last trip of the season. I love that my husband loves his job. I love my husband’s job. I just don’t love how much of Riv’s life Ben has missed.

This season has been the hardest one ever. They are always hard for me because my anxiety intensifies and depression creeps in due to the loneliness. This season I haven’t been lonely, but truly overwhelmed. I have mentioned to more than one person that somehow in the planning of our family I “forgot” how much I would be on my own with our baby. I was quite simply just overjoyed & excited about the concept to the point that I never stopped to think how hard it would be.

It was no big deal over summer when I had all day at home with Riv to get just one load of diaper laundry done. Balancing work & Riv & diaper laundry & showers & teacher clothes laundry & work meetings & nap schedules & sleep for myself… I just haven’t figured out how to balance it all.

To be honest, I wouldn’t be functioning on the level that I currently am without my mom. She has been a lifesaver in all of this craziness for us. We are truly lucky to have her taking care of Riv during the day while I am at work. He loves her so much and I love to see his face light up & hear his excited squeal every time she comes to our house.

Ben will be calling me tomorrow as his last trip of the season ends at Lake Mead.

He will take his last ride of the season in the semi back to the warehouse.

He will pack away his gear after the last trip of the season.

Then he will come home to his family. ❤