Miles, smiles, mice, and mishaps. Year 1 review.
Race for Florida border. Battery problems. Replace house batteries. Discover Grayton Beach State Park. Stay longer than anticipated. Cross into Alabama March 1st. Don’t stop. Blitz through Mississippi and Louisiana on way to Texas. Waste entirely too much time in Texas. Realize we’re not city people. Book it to Amarillo. Eat steak. First BLM boondocking outside Roswell, NM. Avoid abduction. Move to Alamogordo and Oliver Lee Memorial State Park. Almost die on totally unprepared hike. Head to Tombstone. Boondock with the Dragoons. Tuscon. Great mexican food. Flagstaff. Move trees with the Jeep on a busted trail. Boondock near Grand Canyon. Meet PPalmer and Trinklesontour. Plan for 3 days, stay for 6. Lone Rock, Lake Powell. Stunning view. Sand. More sand. More PPalmer and Trinklesontour. Monument Valley. Get stalked by rollingalongcountryroads. Zion National Park. Lose passenger side mirror. Meet rollingalongcountryroads. Bryce Canyon. Excellent boondocking. Host mini-convergence. Moab. Two weeks. Meet SerendipRV. Arches, Canyonlands, Dead Horse Point State Park. Park City, UT. Salt Lake City, UT. Grand Teton National Park. Heaven. Three weeks boondocking. New and old friends, bears, moose, bison. Grand Lake, CO. Ricky, moose spotting. Lafayette, driveway surfing. Seattle. Mice. Reunite with friends. Natalie time. North Cascades. Blown inverter. Fixed inverter. Tree. No more awnings. Zip ties. Gorilla tape. 3,100 miles. Back to square one. Repairs. Reset. Work-camp.
Diving head-first into RV life is an exhilarating experience; equal parts terrifying and exciting. Any number of things can go wrong and, when you’re in the middle of nowhere, that possibility can loom large if you let it. We managed to get really good at navigating the lifestyle. That being said, here are the biggest issues we faced in our first year of full-time RVing.
- Wind. I suppose if we had thought more about it, we’d have seen this one coming but, other than the things listed below, wind is public enemy #1. Not only can it shake your rig and keep you up at night, but it blows dirt and sand EVERYWHERE. If you’re not careful you’ll never be rid of it all. Driving in windy conditions is an insanely nerve-wracking experience as well. We ran into some pretty strong wind outside of Moab on our way in and it was brutal trying to keep the rig between the lines.
- Mice. Yes, mice. One evening, we’re in bed and we hear a rustling sound. We fear an animal is outside in our camp until we realize the sound isn’t coming from outside. A few awesome and effective mouse traps later and we’ve got 12 tiny tombstones outside. We know the general area the entry hole is in, but it’s not accessible so we’ll be devising other measures to keep them out in the future. They are pesky, but a little peanut butter on those traps and BAM!
- Trees (one in particular). On our way out of Seattle after having our faulty inverter replaced, we managed to clip a tree on the passenger side. Our main awning and our bedroom slide awning were ripped clean off the rig, leaving only the screw holes exposed. In the heart of the summer in the Pacific Northwest it was going to take weeks to even have the rig looked at. After careful consideration, it was going to be cheaper and quicker to drive 3,100 miles back to Florida and get the rig fixed, so that’s what we did. Eight days later we dropped it off at our dealer and shot up to North Carolina to stay with friends for 5 weeks while they fixed our home on wheels. It was really unfortunate, but we move on and keep pushing!
While we had struggles in our first year, they were far outweighed by good experiences. We met entirely too many amazing people, saw too many amazing places, and got way too close to a lot of wildlife to let a few hiccups overshadow what an awesome time we had. Here are our favorite positives:
- The people. When we hit the road we had no idea what was out there, but our favorite thing by far has been the people we’ve met. We’ve had more instant friendships on the road than either of us could ever fathom. Every time we arrive at a new location we are equal parts excited to explore and see who we are going to meet. This lifestyle is rewarding in so many ways, but the people you share it with are by far the most valuable.
- Boondocking like champs. I have to say we adapted to boondocking pretty quickly, but the real triumph was our gradual proficiency in water conservation. We have a 70 gallon fresh water tank and managed to go 3 weeks before having to dump and fill up. The amount of pride we felt after this ‘accomplishment’ is comical looking back, but it gives us confidence that we can last as long as needed the next time we fall in love with a spot. (We’ll go into more detail on how we made this happen in a future post.)
- Constant progression. I don’t know about you, but staying in one place makes us feel really stagnant. The perpetual motion of RV living has helped keep us sharp, motivated, and craving improvement at every turn. We are always searching for ways to be more efficient in every aspect of the lifestyle and it’s carried over into our professional lives. We accomplished a lot, and we have so many goals for 2018, it’s crazy. These wheels just keep on turning!
An eventful year full of new experiences wouldn’t be complete without plenty of lessons. Here are just a few:
- Slow it down. We moved way too quickly. As we launched we were aiming to get to Yellowstone before school let out. This caused us to blitz through a ton of amazing spots that we now have to go back to. It’s important to keep a slow and steady pace and know that you can’t see everything. It’s going to take some time. Probably best to circle manageable areas and do some long term planning.
- Be extra careful. This is a no-brainer, but it’s human nature to be complacent. We got a little lazy in a few places and it stings a little looking back. ‘Be extra careful’ applies to all aspects of RV life. You want to take exceptional care of your rig and tow vehicle, and you want to be very careful when camping. Those moments when you let your guard down or delay some form of maintenance are the ones that will bite you! We could’ve been a smidge more attentive and potentially missed that tree, and we have some unnecessary paint damage that could have been avoided if we tended to our vehicles more regularly. Be diligent, people!
- Love thy neighbor(s). Not to drone on again about how great our social experiences were, but we really enjoyed meeting new people and hosting campfires. I lost count of the times I asked total strangers if they wanted to take a tour of our rig or just come in to chat. It helped me regain some lost confidence in the human race.
Recapping our entire year is impossible, but this will do. Year 2 should be even more interesting! I think we’ll actually be joined by non-RV friends at some point, and we have some exciting business opportunities guiding our route at times. Thanks again for reading and following along – more Miles Away is on the way!
As a fun way to end this – here’s a quickfire list of weird/funny stuff we encountered:
- a nude old man sweeping out his Jamboree near Capitol Reef National Park
- my (James) mom’s doppleganger at Magnolia Beach, TX
- a moose relieving itself about 30 feet in front of us in Rocky Mountain National Park (the pee stream was THICK)
- and a homeless man loudly degrading a light post and imploring it to return his money in Seattle
Not bad for the first year, huh?