A year ago today, we hooked up the explorer to the back of our Home on Wheels in our backyard: next to a nectarine tree I had planted 4 years earlier, across from the shop where Jeremiah had built a remote controlled lawnmower with a friend. Nope, I need to rephrase that. Where Jeremiah tried to build a remote controlled lawnmower but actually lit two fires while doing so. The house we’d lived for 4 years was just another stopping point now. We drove away, and as we did, we waved to the new owners as they let us out on to the street.
The morning of the Exodus
At nine-thirty on November 3, 2018, we rolled on to the street with no idea what we were doing. Sure, we’d researched. We knew what to do if we broke down, and we knew where we were staying the next couple of weeks – to be fair, we’d actually planned about 6 months down the road.
But we didn’t know what we didn’t know.
It feels a little like we’ve lived a lifetime in the last year. I read an article a while ago that showed the average person remembers something like 7 or 10 days out of each of their year. That all the other days are forgotten. This year will be an outlier for us. We have made so many memories.
What are some of the things we’ve learned?
Rv life is not vacation
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that no matter where you are, no matter what you do, life is life. By this, I mean that if a car breaks down in a Podunk town in Texas, it still broke down. It still needs a tow truck and a mechanic. I still have allergic reactions to things I wasn’t aware existed. Jeremiah’s back didn’t miraculously heal itself after physical therapy and we’re in Terrell, Texas, waiting for his 360 spinal fusion to heal before we travel. The dog has good days and bad days. I still miss my friends in California and Maryland and Oregon. Probably more now than before.
Having said that, we have a lot of good days. We’ve gotten to see friends and family, visited places we never would have before, we swam with manatees and woke up Christmas morning on the beach. The amount of good barbecue we’ve eaten cannot be overstated. I found I love Chicago as much as I expected from the limited time we spent there.
Another lesson we’ve learned that we read about before we left and didn’t fully understand is Slow Down.
I think there’s some bigger meaning to this than I’m willing to dive into but what we’ve found is searching for a place to stay, driving there, setting up, and doing it all again the next day is exhausting.
If you’re a full time RVer, plan to stay at least one to two weeks at each destination. Sure, there are days we’ll stay at a truck stop and drive the next day, but don’t make it a habit. Why? It’s exhausting. Secondly, you miss everything. If you are full-timing, remember that this isn’t a vacation. You have time to explore.
I wish we’d listened to all the other RVers who said “Stop Rushing,” because everything I read before we hit the road told us to slow down. People we’ve talked to on the way say, “Slow Down.” I guess that’s something we had to learn for ourselves. Chances are if you’re planning on doing this, you’ll have to learn it yourself as well. The idea that we wanted to travel across Canada in about a month is laughable now. (We haven’t gone to Canada yet – maybe next year.)
Our next step
It’s been a year; are we thinking about giving up this lifestyle? Yes and No. We’re both missing some of the benefits of stationary life: a garden, a shop, a place for the dog to run without being on a lead. Knowing where the hole-in-wall restaurants are. It’s the things that we knew we would miss, nothing unexpected.
We know we aren’t going back to Oregon to settle back into our old routines, and we don’t see living there ever again. We’ve got some idea of where we might call home long term, but we’re not there yet. And ultimately, we plan on keeping the HOW. It’s a great RV for us, and neither of us have been craving life in a typical home.
It hasn’t been the year we expected. But it’s been a good first year in the Home on Wheels.