|What do ya mean you bought a house?!?!|
We’ve been fulltime RV travelers for three and a half years now. It’s an experience we don’t regret…not for a minute…and one that has changed our lives for the better. It has given us a new perspective on life, a deeper relationship with each other and has helped us “find ourselves”. I highly recommend everyone give it a shot…sell off your possessions, detach from the known and head off to places you’ve not only read about but those you never knew existed. I honestly believe that the only way we can grow is to push ourselves outside of our comfort zones and do the things that scare us. Do the things that make you break out in a sweat, stumble over your words, laugh nervously and question your sanity (but be safe for goodness sake…I’m talking about comfort zones not hanging over a cliff).
Yes, we were nomads. And we enjoyed almost every minute of it. But mostly we loved how it changed us, including (and maybe especially) when we didn’t enjoy it. As beautiful and exciting and freeing this life style can be it can also be trying, challenging, difficult and can leave you with a longing for grounding (at least it did us).
How and why we decided to stop the fulltime lifestyle:
Intention: Our original intention when we moved into the RV four years ago was to travel the country looking for a new “home”. California was too expensive to live if we wanted to try to do so on Clark’s pension. Had we stayed we both would have had to go back to work, probably full-time, and that didn’t appeal to either of us. So, from day one we hit the road to not only experience the lifestyle and see “all the things”, but to also develop a short list of places we thought we might eventually want to live (and we could afford). Some of those places included Bisbee, AZ and New Harmony, IN and, if you read those posts, you’ll likely see that sentiment in the words. We also wanted to learn how to live with less…which living in an RV on a quarter of our original income taught us.
Burn Out: Like everyone else, including those who will follow but won’t heed the advise of others (just like we didn’t), we hit the ground running and traveled too far, too fast. I think we “did” 38+ states in our first year on the road. It was exciting and fun and great. But it was too much. We weren’t able to really appreciate and immerse ourselves into the different landscapes and cultures. We ended up skipping some amazing places because we didn’t know they existed and, when we did stumble across them, we couldn’t stay because of our next (non-refundable) reservation. That first year was full of lessons…especially about allowing for fluidity in our travels. In years two and three we traveled mostly without reservations (or even a plan) and never once had no where to park the RV at night.
Things changed significantly once we installed the solar. Our fires were reignited and our love of travel was multiplied to the nth degree. Our experiences were deeper, our connection to nature grew stronger, our compassion for the Earth solidified and we began to understand our impact on this word and the people with which we were connected. We undertook a summer in Alaska and, after breaking my ankle on the side of mountain, things shifted again…
Lack of Grounding: After the accident, surgery and a challenging three week drive back to the lower 48 it became apparent that we both longed for a home base. Thank God for good health insurance because I was able to go anywhere for physical therapy and still be covered! But even that became a challenge. I needed to be stationary for a few months to complete PT but we needed it to be somewhere we wanted to be for that long. When we came back to the states from Canada there was a bit of culture shock…especially as it relates to traffic. Clark was still having to do almost all of the work himself (set up, take down, hooking up the Jeep, driving and taking care of me) and it was taking it’s toll. And we still had no where to go and just be while I healed. It was a real eye-opener and not something we expected to feel…this not having a “home” to go to during a major medical situation.
Spoiled: I’m going to admit it. We got spoiled. If you read Jon McCartie’s post (Take Me On Adventures) about their reasons for buying a homestead he mentions something similar. We hit up a lot of National Parks. We spent time in some of the most beautiful places imaginable. We ate lobster in Maine, creole in NOLA, pasties in the UP and halibut in Alaska. As much as we tried to take advantage of these wonderful opportunities we also got jaded. We got mad at weekend campers and spring breakers (, just look at my Zion post!) who filled the parks and “ruined” our experience. We bypassed certain parks and tours because we felt it was too similar to somewhere else we had been (“if you’ve seen one cavern you’ve seen ’em all” thinking). We started thinking we were different (aka “better than”) other people visiting the same areas as us. And that’s not the type of people we are…or at least not the type of people we want to be.
There was a time we were those weekend warriors, taking our three day weekends to get out in a nature during the only time our jobs “let us”. We’ve also met quite a few people who are those weekend warriors and are truly “better than” us and doing more for public lands than those of us who just like to camp there for free. Yes, being fulltimers in summer and during holidays can be a challenge and requires some planning. And yes, it is a relief when school starts in the fall or the weekend ends and the campgrounds clear out…but I’m not so sure we have more “rights” to prime locations simply because we chose this lifestyle.
Shift in Goals and Impact: We have a small section in our blog dedicated to living green(ish) on the road. We’ve also posted, mostly on Instagram, some of the meals we make with local and/or organic foods and things we try to do to support whatever local economy we happen to be in. I’ve tried to stay abreast of slow food movements, locavore principles and made an effort to eat in season. But traveling often made it difficult (for us) to stay in alignment with those principles.We were left wondering if it was better to purchase an organic cucumber that traveled 1000 miles to get to the grocery store or a non-organic one that was grown 10 miles from where we were standing. It seemed that just when we found a reliable source of produce that was both local and grown holistically we would move. We wanted a connection to our food and a connection to the community. The answer came in the form of the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and that lead to the desire to create a homestead…a place we could grow what foods we could, source local foods we couldn’t grow and become involved in a community where we might be able to make a difference.
Stagnation: We hike a lot. We love to be outdoors exploring. Clark can sit on the banks of a lake or river and fish from sun up to sun down. But being in the RV we found that more and more of our time was being spent on our butts…especially after I broke my ankle. The recovery is ongoing and hiking has become an instrument to that recovery, and an impediment. Where once we’d hit the trail to tackle an easy 8 miles I was now lucky to make it 2…and that was after 6 months of healing. We both got out of shape and our lives grew stagnant. The depression in the couch was becoming too difficult to escape. We
wanted needed a reason to move our bodies and unplug from Facebook and the net. The idea of becoming mini-farmers and makers of things grew.
Timing: Two years ago we visited Mesa Verde Country and ended up staying for 6 weeks because we loved it so much. It quickly made its way to the top of my list of places to live. As much as Clark loved it he wasn’t quite as sure and there was still so much more of the country we wanted to see. We spent another unforgettable two years on the road but Colorado kept calling us. This spring,when we turned onto Highway 160 headed to Mesa Verde Country once again, we knew. This was home. We spent 3 weeks looking at property, houses, farms, yurts and cabins. On a whim, we drove down McElmo Canyon on our way to Hovenweep National Monument and found a small piece of property with a modular home and four mini-horses grazing in the pasture. In the background were huge red rocks (much like those you see in Grand Staircase or Sedona), a creek and lush, green land. It also had a for sale sign. We immediately called the realtor and the rest is now history.
|Thunderstorm and sunset over McElmo Canyon…|
We’ve been in our new home for a month now and still so much to learn. It sits on 3.26 acres, has 3 mature apple trees, one sour cherry tree, shares of irrigation water, a seasonal pond, six glorious Navajo Willow Trees (aka Globe Willows), a blackberry patch, wild asparagus and stunning views. My experience with backyard gardens isn’t going to cut it now that I want to plant about a quarter acre of food. We have “water rights” to learn about and a house to renovate. We also have never been here during winter and dealing with snow will be it’s own challenge. But, when we look back over these past 4 years we can be reminded about how we didn’t have a safety net when we made the leap to become nomads. We had zero experience with an RV (neither of us ever camped in one let alone driven one), we didn’t know anyone else doing it (it was six months after we hit the road when we met our first fulltime couple which happened to be Chris and Cherie of Technomadia) and we still barely understand how the solar works to this day. The adventure really is far from over.
For those of you who are nomads, soon-to-be nomads or wanna-be-nomads rest assured fulltiming is an experience we will never regret. We have formed some of the deepest bonds and best friendships with fellow fulltimers and hope to stay active in the community in whatever way we can. The adventure is worth it and we didn’t “quit” because we failed. We just knew we found the place we want to grow old in and snagged the perfect property at the right time and right price…it was too good to let slip through our fingers.
We still have a few RV specific posts to put up. Those will include our incredible journey down Highway 395 where we soaked in (free) natural hot springs and camped in the Alabama Hills…places you’ll want to add to your “list” of must-see’s. Upcoming posts also include Ajo, AZ, KOFA and Quartzite, Organ Pipe Cactus, Yuma and Los Algodones for tacos and teeth cleaning, and Truth or Consequences. I hope you’ll stay around for those.
|Standing near the front of our little ranch looking toward the pond, creek and beyond. The hill in the background is part of Canyons of the Ancients National Monument run by the BLM.|
|Looking at the house across our seasonal plnd. The large, dark green, round topped trees are called Navajo Willows (aka Globe Willows).|
|Looking from the house to Ute Peak…here lit up by the early morning sun. Those hills are part of the Ute Reservation.|
For any new people who might have found their way here from our ranch/farming photos on Instagram and FB…welcome! This blog will be morphing into our newest adventure…mini-farming…with all of its challenges, successes and failures. We hope to be makers of things and live sustainably. We’re already harvesting our cherries and making jams, vinaigrette and freezing them for later. We’re baking our own bread from grains grown and milled right here in our new hometown of Cortez, Colorado. We’re working with neighbors to learn the irrigation system and connecting with the permaculture community to embrace this interconnected, symbiotic way of farming. And we’re exploring our surroundings which include Canyons of the Ancients, Mesa Verde National Park, Sand Canyon, Four Corners, the San Juan Mountains and Hovenweep. Our property is adjacent to the Ute reservation and our view is the sacred Ute Peak. Our drive into town has us passing a bison herd and a winery whose grapes are grown right here.
Adventure abounds no matter where you are. It’s not a destination, it’s a way of life. Some travelers go to amazing places but can’t see the every day beauty of life because of the lens through which they see and carry from place to place. Other people never leave their hometown and find adventure and beauty in every thing they do. No matter which life you choose be sure to take that lens off now and then and take a step outside of that comfort zone while you’re at it.
By the way, our RV is for sale!! We are eager to sell the Mutiny and let her get back to what she does best, travel. Our rig is boondock ready with 640 watts of solar already installed. Check out the details here and make an offer (or share our ad).