In the first two parts of this series of posts celebrating the completion of our 3rd year as fulltimers, we went over our decision to embark on this lifestyle [part 1], and a few of the more important things we learned along the way [part 2]. In this post I'll briefly list a few more of the things we learned as a result of our life on the road. As always, you can click on any photo to see a larger version.
We've learned that there's no single "right" way to live this lifestyle. Some, like us, have divested themselves of most of their worldly possessions, have no fixed house or real estate, and live 365 days per year in their RV. Others still have a fixed house and only spend part of each year in their RV. Purists consider those in the former class "fulltimers" and those in the latter class "part-timers". The purpose of that distinction is somewhat lost on us, however, as anyone living in an RV for any extended period of time deals with the same issues, problems, concerns, joys, and freedom on a daily basis -- at least while they're living in the RV. So we consider anyone living in an RV for any extended period of time to be a "fulltimer" (OK, maybe a part-time fulltimer?). For example, those who spend the winter down south in their camper are fulltimers to us, even if they go back to their fixed home up north during the summer.
We've learned that people are fulltiming in all sorts of rigs... truck campers, small travel trailers, class C motorhomes, pop-up tent campers, converted school buses and moving vans, and other this's and that's... really, anything goes. This is America, afterall, and you have options. You don't have to be constrained by other people's ideas about the "right" way to do things. I really enjoy reading the blogs of people who do it differently, those who don't have a big 5th wheel or a Class A motorhome. I generally find they're having a great time doing it their own way.
We've learned that most of the people living the nomadic life are friendly, genuine, really nice people. Any fears we had about meeting and connecting up with people were put aside the first night we started out. If they're fulltimers, they're generally good people. The lifestyle is also a great equalizer in that people with widely differing backrounds, financial resources, and education, all seem to meld together into a helpful, happy family of sorts.
We've learned that we prefer roads that are not Interstate Highways. Alright, if you're really trying to quickly get from point A to point B, maybe an Interstate Highway is the fastest way to go. But we're not in a hurry. We're out here to see the country. We want to experience history and see natural wonders. And the best way to do that is to meander down the old 2-lane State, County, and U.S. Highways, where you go through small towns... you find restaurants that aren't part of a national chain, and you can experience life at a slower pace. Remember, the Interstate Highway system was designed to go around and by-pass all that stuff. Once we figured out that the bus-house fits on lesser roads, they've become our preferred paths of travel.
We've learned that it's not easy to escape winter in the USA. We've awaken to 6f degrees in West Texas. We've experienced snow in Benson, AZ... just southeast of Tucson. The best chance of finding relative warmth during the coldest winter months in the Continental USA is in South Florida, extreme South Texas, and parts of the desert Southwest from Yuma to San Diego -- which is why these places can be so crowded and congested during that time. One of our prime directives is to avoid crowds and congestion -- which means we'll usually be somewhere other than those three places. We're not escaping winter as much as we're trying to take the edge off it
We've learned that there's far more to explore and experience in the USA than we imagined. This past year we ran into someone who, when they heard about our lifestyle, said "You've been traveling around the country for over two years?... You must have seen everything by now!" We looked at each other and saw our joint impromtu response in each other's eyes... "No, we haven't even scratched the surface! We'll never see everything and do everything there is to explore. There's just soooo much."
We've learned that, up to this point, we do not miss a regular fixed house and we certainly don't crave another one -- at least at this point in the process. That may change eventually, but we've settled into this lifestyle and it feels "right" to us now.
We've also learned the value of recording our travels and explorations in our blog and our photo gallery. Having the ability to go back and re-live those experiences... to read your notes from that day... to look at the photos... maybe a short video clip... is like having a time-machine. It's amazing how those same feelings come back... maybe even the smells... as you re-experience those days even years later.
[The next post, Part 4, will be about our thoughts on the future.]
[Go To Part 2]
[Go To Part 4]
Thom & Dar