Our Life "On the Road"
Now that we have been "on the road" for four years, I think that it is time to post some thoughts about our experiences and our lifestyle. We were recently interviewed by a couple who are writing a book on the subject and I will use that interview as the basis for the information given here.
Has this life been what you expected?
We would answer this question "yes", but mostly because we began with little expectation other than that it would be a series of new experiences. Neither of us would consider returning to our previous lifestyle. When we think about it now, we consider the change to RV living to have been as great a change as was our marriage and our separation from the Navy. All three were total changes in lifestyle.
What is the best thing about the RV lifestyle?
Like most fulltimers, our answer is largely one of freedom. Freedom from things we don't like as well as freedom to find new things that we do like. It is a lifestyle that makes it very easy to avoid the politics that inevitably are part of social relationships. Yet, because you can travel at any time, you can seek that social connection whenever you wish, while retaining the ability to leave it behind at any moment. This life allows us the ability to go where we are needed when we believe it is truly important, while avoiding the more humdrum requirements of social responsibilities. As an example, we were able to go and spend four months with our son's family when his wife was struck by a car, but we are never in the position of keeping the grandchildren when we would really rather not do so. Another great part of our life now is meeting new people and making new friends.
What is the worst thing about the RV lifestyle?
This is one that is usually different for women than for men. For Pam it is the lack of a close confidant just next door or down the street. Since men do not usually have as in depth relationships with one very close friend, it has been difficult for Kirk to grasp that issue. This is an issue that Pam has had to find a way to deal with. Email and the telephone may are a partial answer, but it does remain a problem. For Kirk the biggest issue is one of keeping busy "doing something."
Are you happy with your choice of RV?
This is a resounding yes! We put a great deal of time & effort into our choice of an RV for this adventure. We seldom spend much time looking at new RVs but we do visit in other RVs frequently and we occasionally look at a few new ones. To date, we have not seen one floor plan that we liked as well as ours in a motorhome, and we just seem to be motorhome people. True, a diesel pusher has advantages, but for us it just isn't enough to get us to consider a change. The air ride would be nice to have, but like most fulltimers, we spend far more time living in ours than we spend traveling in it. We believe that livability is far more important than the chassis that carries it.
What is the most important thing that you brought with you?
We both have the same answer to this one. Our hobbies! Pam has her sewing machine, serger, her knitting and crochet things. For Kirk it is the scroll saw, power tools and assorted hand tools for making his projects. And we each have a laptop computer. We both feel that to be happy you must have the ability to do the things that you enjoy when you are not traveling. None of us can, or would wish to travel all of the time.
Don't you miss your family?
At times we do, but with our children located in three different states, Pam's family is in another and Kirk's in a fifth state, we would not see them constantly anyway and we likely see them more since we went on the road. We also bring the grandchildren to where we are for a week or two, one child at a time to give each one all of the attention of both of us when they are with us. And we keep in close contact via cell phone and email. And when we are in an area near the grandchildren, they get far more of our attention than would be the case if we lived nearby. And we travel to where family is annually.
Do you miss having a house to return to?
In a word, no! Perhaps on rare occasion when things are not going well, but only for a moment and less and less frequently. And we have come to realize is that it isn't the house that we miss, only a favorite features. For Kirk the shop and for Pam the sewing room but not much more. A house is just a burden if you are really a fulltimer. Nearly all who stay on the road for more than two years sell the house either before they hit the road, or within the first two years. If you are not sure, then it may be good to delay selling it, but once you are sure you will be happy to see it gone.
What about your friends, don't you get lonely?
Friends are not a problem. Just as happens when you move to a different town, you soon make new friends in the fulltime society too. And while you move around, so do these friends and so both your friends and you just plan to cross paths from time to time. While we do still have some friends from our "life before the road," most of the people that we associate with now are also RVers and many are fulltimers. Thanks to the internet we are able to stay in touch and to know where each of us happen to be as we travel. And we also meet so many new friends as we go! We have never had so much fun meeting people. We meet people who staff the places that we volunteer and also from those we are contact with on the internet. Who knows, if you send us a note you just might be the folks we get to meet next!
Of all the places that you have traveled, which one is your favorite?
We are still looking for our favorite place! Actually, there are places that stand out in our memories for different reasons. The prettiest so far would be Salt Creek Park in Washington. The nicest host site would be Fulton Mansion in Texas. The best people would be Cheney Park in Kansas and the most enjoyable volunteer work would be San Bernard Wildlife Refuge in Texas. The most to do was Ft. Stevens Park in Oregon, and the most historic was Augusta Tree Farm in Virginia. But there is something that stands out about every location that we have stopped and even in most that we visit for brief periods. The fact is that not having a favorite is probably part of the reason we live this way and when we do find a true favorite it may be time to stop.
Do you have a plan for the time that you leave the road?
We have several plans, or possible plans. We always like to have some alternatives and so we made several plans and we have left all of those pretty loose.. Since we have no idea where we may choose to stop, we did not plan any destination. But we have thought about how we might choose to live. We don't really think that we will ever wish to be a home owner again at least in the way that we did before we became fulltimers. We may choose to live in a senior center near one of our children. Doing this would allow us to keep some kind of RV and to travel for extended periods with no concern for the house while we are gone. Another alternative that we have on our possibilities list is the purchase of a park model and placing it in one of the Escapees Co-op parks or some other location near one of the children. And yet another is to put a park model on property near our friends in north Texas. At this point these plans are only possibilities and may change completely. And we have also discussed what will happen when the time comes, as come it must, that one of us will have to go one alone. With any luck at all, that day will be far down the road, but it is something that we think about.
How much longer do you plan to continue to travel?
Like all of our major life changes, we went into this with no looking back and with plans for this to continue until our lives lead us in some other direction. At this point, we have no plans to change what we are doing as long as we both enjoy doing it. But I would not guess when that direction might change. All that I can tell you now is that we are sure we will know when that time comes. Until it does, this is our life and we love it.