One year ago today we moved into our motorhome and waved goodbye to our home in Seattle. We have since driven across the country and back again, touched 22 states (lived in three of them), and covered over 10,000 miles of US roads. We’ve seen incredible things and met wonderful people. We wouldn’t trade the experience for anything and we don’t want it to end anytime soon. Full time RV life is treating us well.
All of that said, we are exhausted. No matter our best efforts we have struggled to establish a routine that doesn’t feel rushed. A working vacation every day of your life is not quite as relaxing as it sounds. As awesome as ROADSCHOOLING (killer link) is, figuring it out is a challenge.
Last July we did a Q&A with ourselves around the two-week mark of our travels. We asked ourselves questions about our inchoate dramas, high points, low points, etc. We were so much younger then.
One of the questions we asked ourselves was, “What do you fear could realistically happen while full-time RV living with kids?” My answer? “Other than having our coach fall apart and cost tens of thousands of dollars to fix? … blah blah blah.”
Well, that happened. Just one short year ago the thought of an expensive RV breakdown was a nightmare so heinous I mentioned it only in passing on the way to a more acceptable potential problem.
We will never again hypothesize about what could possibly go wrong because writing it on the internet brings it to life. And just so I’m not mincing words, it costs $16,000 dollars for an V10 6.8 liter Triton engine replacement with all the trappings (and no one wants to do the job). You read that correctly.
Well, that’s about enough introduction. Below are eight questions we felt like asking ourselves. Perhaps we will touch on something useful to you, or just help you feel better about your lives.
Monica: “Oh, so many things…. The adjustment of living in a small space with our kids has been a hard one, especially with such a limited kitchen. Having Covid — In a motorhome — Twice. The exhaustion of moving from place to place rapidly. Saying goodbye to new friends is hard, but the alternative is to put up an emotional wall which would rob me of authentic relationships, and those are my favorite part of what we are doing. Learning where the nearest in-network hospital is can be inconvenient when you’re having an anaphylactic reaction. Oh, yeah, and homeschool and hoping my kids are getting a better education on the road than they would otherwise. I’m sure there’s more. Oh yeah, missing home.”
Ryan: “Other than Parker? 1. The motorhome crapped out on the freeway in the middle of Nebraska. Hotels, tow trucks, and emotional Tetris ensued. This is an ongoing issue. 2. We actually traveled too much with our free time, wore ourselves out and wound up fighting. It didn’t help that the weather sucked for the better part of two months. I know, I know, first world problems. 3. One of my workplaces had rough personalities. I was referred to as “that boy who needs to be set straight”. I almost terminated the assignment early.”
Ryan: “Our family polar plunge in 37-degree Lake Superior. Preparing for a 1/2 marathon in Charleston with Monica. Hanging out with bison in South Dakota. Sharing my love of Rock n Roll with Parker at the Rock n Roll HOF. Playing video games with my kids at the Galloping Ghost Arcade in Chicago.”
Monica: “Watching the Buffalo rut in South Dakota. Teaching my kids to boogie board in Florida. Teaching my kids to rollerblade in South Carolina. Columbia, SC (Ryan knows what that means).”
Monica: “Cooking. Laundry. Dishes. Teenage moodiness.”
Ryan: “Keeping priorities straight, adjusting expectations, and meeting everyone’s needs.”
Ryan: “Downtown Charleston. City Museum in St. Louis. Grand Marais in Minnesota. Brookgreen Gardens in Myrtle Beach. Driftwood Beach on Edisto Island. Door County, Wisconsin. Sylvan Lake in Custer, SD. Downtown Chicago. The Florida Panhandle beaches.”
Monica: “Charleston, South Carolina. Destin, Florida. Chicago, Illinois. Door County, Wisconsin.”
Monica: “That we weren’t such an anomaly. We are a full-time RV life family, but we are also tethered to a career that does not happen from the confines of our home on wheels. We have met three full-time families in our travels in the last year. They live super cheap and meander from state to state every couple weeks. Our lifestyle is more like retired snow-birds staying in one warm location for as long as we can milk it. Except we’re still raising three teenagers, and the hubs goes to his full-time job. Even with that, I’m grateful for this experience.”
Ryan: “Offload one more dog plus Parker.”
Ryan: “Colorado and Tennessee. Southern Utah. Yosemite and Glacier National Parks. The White Mountains of Vermont. Newport, Rhode Island. Philadelphia.”
Monica: “Hawaii, Florida, and Alabama.”
Monica: “I miss having a fully stocked kitchen with counter space.”
Ryan: “I’m living my life in fast forward. Every day, every hour it seems there is something to do. Part of me longs for a calm, simple existence.”
Ryan: “I’d like to create a system that balances friendships, service, and experiences at a manageable pace. <snickers to self, knowing this is impossible>
Monica: “I’m hopeful our kids will look back fondly on this shared experience, and a bond will form between them.”
Over the past year we’ve lived in South Dakota, South Carolina, and Utah, and we’ve traveled to Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. We’ve seen nine National Parks, the largest rollercoaster and waterparks in the USA, the biggest arcade in the world, and the best beaches in the lower-48 states.
Our family has motored from the Florida panhandle to the Canadian border. We’ve seen Mammoth Cave, Jewel Cave, Wind Cave, and Cave of the Mounds. We’ve been to the highest point east of the Rocky Mountains and played amongst the largest herd of bison in N. America.
As wonderful as that sounds it hasn’t been a golden brick road. We’ve fought with each other and our neighbors in the RV parks. Covid struck in South Dakota. One of our dogs was given away in Charleston. Motorhome and car repairs have totaled $20K.
At times we’ve questioned whether it’s all worth it. True story! Several times we’ve had the discussion of if we’ve made a huge, Gob Bluth sized mistake.
The verdict: It is definitely worth it. God is Good and the USA is blessed. Here’s to the next 12 months. See you out there on the road!
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