Where We Are – And What’s Next for Us

The last few weeks have been a bit rough for us. July 3rd was a milestone, and a turning point – it was one year from when we decided to become Nomads and drastically change our life.  And, on July 3rd this year, we found ourselves questioning everything.

Let me back up. Currently, we are in San Antonio, New Mexico, finally, FINALLY under 5,000 feet in elevation. Let me explain why that is a big deal…

We spent the last 6 weeks in Flagstaff, Arizona, at almost 7,000 feet above sea level. To escape the Arizona heat found at the lower levels, you need to either go north, or go up. We had initially planned to go north, but all of our plans fell through so we decided instead to go UP in elevation.

Well, as it turns out, going up didn’t quite work for us. If you go up in elevation too quickly, you can get Altitude Sickness. Sometimes though, you can simply get Altitude Sickness just because you are susceptible to it. Since we spent over a month in Kingman, Arizona (elevation 3,333′) we definitely did not come up in elevation too fast. But, we both were feeling the effects of the altitude.

Altitude Sickness affects people differently, for us, it mostly means over exhaustion, with a handful of other minor symptoms here and there just to keep things interesting. In addition to constant over exhaustion, I had also been having quite a bit of trouble breathing (a tiny 1/4 mile walk had me huffing and puffing and having to take breaks), and though Summer usually means fewer Gastroparesis symptoms, I have been having a really rough time with GP. This summer is the worst GP-Summer I’ve had in over five years. High altitude affects the oxygen in your blood, which affects circulation, which affects bodily functions such as sleep and of course, digestion. Who knew?

Anyway, the altitude has been a huge factor in us feeling extremely worn out, and pretty awful all around. We considered going lower in elevation, but due to the heat, we were avoiding that maneuverer. However, things finally came to a breaking point where neither one of us could take our symptoms anymore, and we decided the heat is easier to deal with than the elevation (and the health consequences involved).

AND, this led us to question everything about how we are currently living. I mean, everything. The RV Lifestyle, our van (vs. another type of RV), just simply, everything.

Being a Digital Nomad isn’t easy, and not many of our peers talk about the struggles of maintaining a career (or two) on the road, and trying to fit some type of travel. I recently came across this post from Pace Smith and wondered why no one else ever talks about this stuff.

Rather than hide what’s happening, I’m going to be open about it. This isn’t working. There are some aspects of RV Living that we absolutely love, and that has had us flip-flopping our decision back on forth on a daily basis.

We knew traveling while working full-time would be challenging, but you can’t plan for every obstacle. We certainly hadn’t planned to have a career change this year and that has played a very large role in this decision as well. We are both launching new careers. Right now. Traveling with a NEW job role is absolutely, positively, NOT something I would ever recommend. So…

We are planning to transition back to a stationary life. The last few days have been all about – GET THEE TO A LOWER ELEVATION – and then figure things out. Seriously, it’s really hard to think straight when you feel like garbage. This decision has been much harder than the one we made a year ago. Leaving the RV Life means leaving much more behind than a stationary one – even though that seems contradictory.

I expect a lot of questions that we can’t answer quite yet – we’re still figuring things out. We have taken the first step though and that is: finalize our decision. We are definitely doing this. At the moment our plan is to continue to drop in elevation and head East. We have a few places to check out as potential settling spots but we need to see how things are in person.

We have moved a tremendous amount not only in the ten years we’ve been married, but even individually before that. We aren’t looking for a crash pad, we’re looking for a home. Ironically, it was the RV Park where we stayed in Flagstaff that made us realize how much we need an actual HOME.

The people we met and befriended over the last month and a half provided us with the strongest sense of community either one of us has ever experienced. It was a terribly difficult decision to leave the area. However, at the same time, it taught us that we need to find a community anywhere we could possibly even consider living.

It’s taken giving up almost everything to figure out what we need most. Isn’t it crazy how life works sometimes?

If you’re reading this – Bob & Diane, Dee & Jerry, Doug & Rhoda, Dawn & Sherri, Ken & Nancy, Dave & Donna – you all played an important part in us figuring out something very important that may actually help us “settle down” once and for all. Thank you!

Pictures from the Road – New Mexico

Datil New Mexico

Quemado New Mexico

Socorro New Mexico

On the Road - July 2016

I’ll be sharing more pictures from the road as we inch closer to a resting place.

Cheerio!

Summer Heat Wave – Or Alien Invasion?

Our attempt to escape the summer heat has us currently hanging out in Flagstaff, Arizona. However, the weather lately has been wonky everywhere and this time Arizona isn’t being excluded. Flagstaff is about to hit record high temperatures in a few days.

It’s time to break out the big guns! Reflectix – you’re my hero!

Summer in an RV

Technically, this is something we should have done ages ago, because it helps in the Summer AND Winter – but it’s one of those things that we haven’t had time to do until now.

All the pieces of Reflectix are simply wedged into place so we can easily take them down when we head to get groceries.

Summer in an RV 2

Other RV’ers swear by Reflectix and we can already tell a difference in the inside temperature, just a few minutes after having our window coverings in place.  We’ve also lined a few shelf areas to protect items on the shelf from the incoming heat.

Reflectix is a super quick, easy, and cheap way to help add additional insulation to your RV when dealing with unusual high or low temperatures. We used almost an entire roll (48′ x 10′) for our needs and the cost was only $26. You really can’t beat that for the additional comfort it provides.

Secrets Full-time RV’ers Will Never Tell You

Sharon and Dave 2015Secret #1. Rv’ing can be super cheap, but it can also be incredibly expensive. Of course this seems obvious, but it’s being new to the road that will bite your finances. You will make mistakes with regard to planning, and most of them will be ones that cost you money.

Most people will say you don’t need to make reservations, and whether you do or not depends on your flexibility.

Secret #2. Your RV will limit your flexibility. Weather will limit your flexibility. Add your budget to the mix and you have the perfect storm. Ha! No really, so you want to go visit Anytown, USA? You will be limited by time of year, temperature, and costs. This is of course obvious, but the actual assembly of this 3D puzzle in real life with real constraints is incredibly difficult. It involves researching an area with regard to weather and elevation, potential places to stay, costs to stay there, and speed of getting there. Faster is more expensive, slower (using Weekly or Monthly rates) is cheaper. Sometimes you can’t opt to go the speed of your choice.

The different ways your RV limits you is the following: How much insulation do you have? Are your water tanks heated? How well does your AC work? Are you able to boondock and go offgrid if you want to (if so, for how long?). Even knowing the answers to these and having an idea of how things will play out, doesn’t fully prepare you for dealing with the actual limitation of say, choosing a city in an area to visit but knowing the surrounding areas are outside the temperature band of what you can reasonably pull off. This map gives you a general idea, but with planning, keeping an eye on elevation of your travel path is critical!

Secret #3. Planning for your budget doesn’t necessarily mean those options are available. If you aren’t interested in Boondocking (not everyone is!), sure, staying somewhere for a full month is the cheapest way to go. Daily rates are super expensive, Weekly rates are less so (but only likely affordable if you use this option sparingly), and Monthly rates are where the financial wiggle room is. But, to stay somewhere that meets your interest, temperature range, and time of year? Everyone else in an RV is doing the same thing – and they snagged all those Monthly rate spots A YEAR AGO.

Our plans A, B, C, and D have all been squished and gone splat. Spend a month in Utah? Nope. Ain’t gonna happen. The place we were interested in was booked a full year ago, and still has a waiting list.

Our idea of spending a month (or two!) in Boise, Idaho? Gone. Too many other folks had the same idea – LAST YEAR and there is a waiting list for the places we wanted to go.

A month in Portland? Nope.

We’ve spent the last several weeks planning, re-planning, pulling my hair out, and planning some more.

For a few days we are chilling out in Pahrump, Nevada to escape the heat of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, and even getting a spot here was luck.

Spring is migration season, and as hard as it is to get a spot where you want in Winter, that difficulty remains all year round! I’m telling you this because no one else will. The easiest thing to do is travel off-season, but that again flips your 3D puzzle on it’s side and has you evaluating if you want to BE in those places off-season. Chances are, you don’t.

Sure, we CAN boondock, but we only want to occasionally. A day here, a day there. A small RV means small water tanks and we prefer having at least partial hookups.

Secret #4. It is incredibly time consuming to figure this stuff out. Before we set out, I began following several bloggers of folks like us who work for a living and travel by RV. I will tell you this, no matter how much time you think it will take to learn the ropes of the road, and plan travel paths, it will take you longer when you sit down to do it. Possibly two to three times longer than you expect. Doing this while working 7 days a week is beyond exhausting.

For non-retirees, personal time is different than neighboring retirees. Almost every day we are asked if we’ve seen (some nearby place) to say, “No.. um… we were working. We’re mostly just here for the weather and scenery!” I think people think we’re a little nuts…

Anyway, we had some great travel ideas in plan for the summer, in an affordable method (Monthly rates – yo!), but those plans are not actually doable in a way we can afford, at least not without having the full year mapped out and reserved ahead of time. We could still go to the places we want, if we traveled using overnights and Weekly rates, but that method is way, way outside our budget.

As luck would have it, we finally found a place where we can hang our hats for the next month. It’s in a beautiful part of the country, has great weather, and, holy cow, it’s even affordable! I never would have guessed we’d be able to stay on the Coast in Central California without making some blood sacrifice, but we can!

Grover Beach, California wasn’t part of the initial set of plans, but I’m very excited to head there and check it out! Based on the last several weeks of planning, I have no idea what to expect after next month. If we like it, we may stay there for a few more months (if they have spots available) – who knows? So to our friends and family who keep asking where we will be next so you can come visit us, I’m sorry to say – we’ll know when we get there!

It’s disappointing that our initial set(s) of plans didn’t work out, but our new plan looks pretty nice so far. I’m really shocked we found an affordable place in California, that was probably one of the last places I ever would have expected!

Secret #5. As crazy as all of this is, it’s still amazingly awesome. There is no place in this country I want to be for 12 consecutive months, so even with all of the above, living in an RV is still fully worth it to us!

It looks like the next year will be very interesting one way or another. To those of you following along, thank you for reading!

This post was written in Pahrump, Nevada.