I just realized I missed my one-year anniversary! I’ve actually been living in my RV for a full year now, and I thought I should commemorate that milestone with a post. So here it is. . .
What I’ve learned over the year
When I first started out on this journey, I was ecstatic — about everything! I was in love with Florida, with the idea of living and traveling in an RV, and with my life in general. I remember vividly the day I picked up my new (to me) class C. I had to wait for the techs to install the tow package on my car so I could tow it behind the RV, and I just sat at the dinette inside the unit with the sun shining in through the window, feeling so completely at home.
I now recognize that my excitement at the beginning of my adventure was as much due to naivety as to the incredible freedom I felt. For example, I’m not so in love with Florida now; although it does feel like home, it’s not the paradise I felt it was when I first arrived. There is probably no such thing as paradise, and it’s about time I learned that! I have since discovered that in Florida there’s too much traffic, food prices are too high, and I probably can’t get health insurance. Still, I live less than a mile from the coast, I can go to the ocean (gulf) anytime I want, and the weather is a definite improvement over what I left. There’s a lot to be said for that. . .
As for living in the RV, I have loved it! It’s my little house on wheels, and it suits me. There are negatives, of course: I have a chronically-overfilled refrigerator, storage areas that are bulging at the seams, and important items that I still can’t locate quickly (if at all). It’s not for everyone, but it works for me. I will probably end up in a stix and brix again someday, but for now, I’m working on making over my RV and thoroughly enjoying myself. It has become my home, and I’m completely comfortable living in it.
And I still love my life. I wake up in the mornings and feel excitement about the day, as I have from the beginning of this year in my RV. It helps that I’ve developed a bit of ADD; there’s no predicting where the day will end up when I flit from thought to thought, project to project, goal to goal, so the uncertainty adds to the fun. On the other hand, sometimes the uncertainty contributes to a bit of depression, which I rarely experience these days but it does happen. Since I’ve been here, I’ve tried to live in the moment, but I recognize that an uncertain future doesn’t lend itself to such a carefree attitude. So when I start feeling lost and depressed, I stick my head back in the sand (figuratively, although I could literally do that!) and I’m good again.
Observations about RVers
I was initially apprehensive about having to drive the RV, but I knew I could do it; confidence is everything! After I picked up my RV from the dealer, I headed out to an RV park I had found that was fairly close to the dealership, in case anything went wrong the first week or so. Because of a couple of wrong turns (which are a bigger deal in a 40′ vehicle — including the tow car — than in a car or truck), I arrived at the park as it was getting dark, so I had to back into my site for the first time in less-than-ideal circumstances.
Fortunately, as I discovered that night, RVers are a very helpful bunch, and my neighbors helped me get situated (i.e., properly oriented to the amenities: sewer, electric, and water). I have found this to be the case wherever I go. As I’m backing in to a site, invariably someone comes over to help, probably, in part, because I’m solo and female, but also because everyone likes to help a newbie. It’s comforting to know that I’m never out here alone, and the rest of the population could take a lesson from RVers.
I like to compare RVers to pioneers. They tend to be a hardier, more self-sufficient bunch, and they are not content to just sit back and watch the world go by. This lifestyle (fulltime RVing, that is) requires constant resourcefulness, adaptation and learning, which I am convinced is the key to longevity — or, at least, the key to keeping one’s brainpower intact for the duration.
What’s been accomplished this year
Well. . . I have managed for the past year to live fulltime in an RV. That in itself feels like quite an accomplishment, but wait — there’s more!
I worked as a camp host at Fort De Soto for four months, which demonstrated that I could still get up for work in the morning, put in my hours, and come home and die afterwards — just like I used to! It was a fantastic experience, though, and I met a lot of great people I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I got to enjoy an extended stay at a beautiful park which I actually could not have afforded for more than a weekend, and I learned I could amuse myself for four months without having someone else there with me.
I have also been making improvements to my ‘home,’ including installing new vent covers on all four vents/fans on the roof, replacing all the 12-volt lights in the RV with LED bulbs (for greater energy efficiency), and pulling out all of the carpet and putting down vinyl planks. I just (today) installed the quarter round with my new brad nailer to finish it off. It looks great, and I love the new floor. I feel like I might have a new career in carpentry (and I know my brother is shaking his head at that prospect)! I’ve also begun reupholstering my dinette seating with vinyl (easier to clean), without a sewing machine [see reference above to resourcefulness]. The dinette is still a work in progress.
The accomplishments are as important for what I learned from them as they are for the improvements made. Most importantly, I have learned to rely on myself more, and consequently I have renewed confidence in my ability to figure things out and get things done. This leads me to the most important thing I’ve learned this year, which is to feel grateful for what I have and what I am able to do. I would venture to say it is the single most important thing anyone can do to improve their outlook on life. Slowing down and [literally and figuratively] smelling the roses is the best way to recognize what there is to be grateful for.
What about the second year?
I am not as confident about this year as I was the last, having learned that RVing is not necessarily a cheaper way to live. So I have a home on wheels that is paid for. . . I still have to pay to park it somewhere! And it is much more expensive to stay connected on the road — a cell phone with good reception and reliable internet connectivity are required for most RVers who have left their family/support systems behind. Still, I have no intention of giving up this lifestyle just yet.
So, my next task is to generate some income. I have a few irons in the fire (well, maybe a couple), but I’m particularly interested in location-independent employment. I would love to be able to actually travel in my RV, which was my first reason for wanting to live in one. So far, I’ve traveled within a 40-mile radius on Florida’s Gulf coast, which does not exactly qualify me to call myself a traveler. . . My first big trip will be this summer, when I head back north for a few months to spend time with my family and be available to welcome my twin grandchildren into the world!
In short, it’s been a magical first year in my RV, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the second year brings — new directions, new experiences, and new growth! Hopefully, I’ll get back to posting more often, since I have a lot of interesting creativity going on that I’d like to talk about . . .