So how’s it going, they ask.
“So… how’s it really going?”
Honestly, this isn’t a profound, revealing inventory of the travails of life on the road. We’ve been away from home 3 weeks. It’s like a long, slow, working vacation. At the same time, the rental paperwork was signed two days ago, so we are officially homeless. Full-time RV living with kids is real and happening.
We packed as much of our lives as we could justify into this house on wheels, which means there are growing pains. We’ve also been in the Black Hills of South Dakota for 12 days, which means we’ve seen amazing things. And then there’s the mundane things, like dirty socks.
Monica and I asked ourselves some questions and answered them separately. If you want to know “how it’s really going on the road”, here’s a glimpse inside.
Monica: Let me just say I hate laundry and dishes. As a mom of four kids, they are chores that are never done. I can think I’m done, but then someone brings another cup that they just finished with. Annoying.
Leaving my dishwasher and laundry room was a huge sacrifice. I normally do two loads of laundry a day. If I miss a day, it just stacks up. A washer/dryer was part of the my top three things that we were looking for in a motor home: Outdoor TV, Bunk House, and Washer Dryer. We haven’t used the outdoor tv once, but I’ve been to the laundromat 4 times in the last ten days. Hmmmm…. Maybe someone needs a priority adjustment? It’s not me.
Ryan: I miss our king-size bed. Sharing this queen-short mattress with Monica and the dogs makes for bad sleep. We need to train the dogs to sleep elsewhere. Someone is opposed to that. TBC…
Ryan: We came across a herd of buffalo in a beautiful valley between Wind Cave National Park and Custer State Park. It was 06:30 and the beasts were animated: Kicking up dirt, brawling, chasing each other, sexually harassing the ladies. Watching the buffalo sprint about the valley and the stereo symphony of their grunts was one of the coolest things I’ve ever witnessed.
Monica: Watching the Buffalo rut was amazing! Also, watching our kids ride their bikes on dirty construction hills. It was such a push for what seemed like forever to get ready to go. Having lazy days with my kids is such a different change of pace.
Monica: Yes, but they would say no. They have done more in the last 10 days than we did for most of covid – although there were some awesome road trips in there. We aren’t the kind that sit around for fear of catching some disease. Take your vitamin C, kids.
Ryan: I think so? I’ve been working a lot of hours. Monica is taking the kids to the pool and the library daily. We’ve visited Wind Cave, Custer State Park, Spearfish Canyon, and played dungeons and dragons. I get the impression they are having fun.
Ryan: My commute is 5 minutes! The job I left was about an hour each way. And the toilet flushes with moxie. The old motorhome had a lazy, inarticulate toilet that we frequently broke, so I am thankful for a high-powered toilet.
Monica: The lack of complaining from the kids. Our kids are resilient. They have experienced a lot of moves in their short lives. I knew everyone would experience stages of grief at different times. Parker bemoaned the loss of his room before we even left. Each person has had to give up a lot to make this happen and I don’t take that lightly. I keep waiting for the tears to come rolling in from the kids, but so far they are having too much fun to be sad.
Monica: Other campers getting mad at us for our kids or dogs. I’m the kind of person that tries really hard to make sure everyone is ok at all times. Some people call it co-dependence, I call it being a mom to special needs kids. We have two barky dogs, and a couple weird kids – so you can imagine the pins and needles I sit on whenever one of our kids or dogs opens their mouth. Will the person on the receiving end be kind to them, or will they be irritated? How can I maintain my allegiance and loyalty to my kids/dogs while smoothing it over with the offended party. It’s exhausting. So far, people have been very cool.
Ryan: Our intentions are to pick up a contract in Florida, Texas, Arizona, etc., for the winter months, but there is no guarantee a job will be available. The thought of spending a cold winter cooped-up in the motorhome produces anxiety.
Ryan: First, we believe that Heavenly Father led us on this path of full-time RV living on the road with kids. Whenever we question our sanity we can rely on past impressions. Also, church has been a perfect fit so far. We feel welcomed as a family. The kids are having fun at the activities. This weekend we are participating in a food drive for one of the local reservations near Rapid City.
Monica: The fulfillment that we are traveling the path the Heavenly Father laid out for us brings tremendous peace. Watching my bored kids fill their time with the same kinds of things I did when I was a kid brings me peace as well. I got dirty and stayed out riding my bike all summer long.
Monica: Dishes and Laundry
Ryan: The neediness of the dogs. To prevent our motorhome from becoming a litter box we have to walk Frank and Gus 10 times a day. I’m spending more time with the dogs than the kids.
Ryan: Other than having our coach fall apart and cost tens of thousands to fix? Getting an assignment and not having somewhere reasonable to park the coach. It seems like everyone owns an RV these days and the best RV parks are booked up far in advance. It would super suck to have an hour commute when Monica and I share a car.
Monica: The rig or our car breaks down and life gets more complicated and expensive.
Monica: Apollo wants his own phone because he’s tired of sharing with his siblings. Parker misses his bedroom back home. Halea misses her friends. Full-time RV living on the road with kids has its drawbacks, but I’m surprised there hasn’t been more complaining.
Ryan: Their bedroom. The last ten feet of the motorhome has two motorized queen-size bunk beds that drop from the ceiling. The lower bed becomes a couch. They have a tv/dvd/playstation set-up and a desk with art supplies and a computer. Space is tight, though, and they have trouble keeping it clean. The moans from the gallery might not end anytime soon.
Ryan: Where aren’t we excited to go?! We hope to score an assignment somewhere in Florida or South Carolina in October. Next summer we’re going to spend two months in the Great Lakes region, tooling around Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota (not working). While we’re here in the Black Hills I’m most excited about hiking Black Elk Peak and going to Sturgis to photograph the motorcycles, as well as Mt. Rushmore (at night), Badlands N.P. (again), and Theodore Roosevelt N.P. in N. Dakota..
Monica: I would have spent more on a rig and gotten something newer and brighter.
Ryan: It would be nice if our RV park had grass, a pool, and a few other amenities. Everything in the Black Hills booked out months before we knew this was our assignment, so the pickings were slim.
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