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!

Just One Reason Why I LOVE My RV

This is just one of the many reasons I love living in a RV. All of these photos were taken less than a mile from where we are currently sleeping.

This photo is from yesterday, taken from my cell phone (Kudos to Samsung! The Note 5 takes amazing photos)!

1 Arizona Landscape

Today, for the first time since we’ve been in Kingman – my real camera came out to play (all the photos below are from my camera).

The scenery we experience while we walk our dog is gorgeous.

2 Arizona Landscape

There was just something about this tree that caught my attention.

3 Arizona Tree

This photo below is similar to the one above from my phone, but this one was taken with my camera. I was comparing… Again, this is just a few steps away from our home on wheels…

4 Arizona Landscape

I wanted the Mesas in the background for this shot, but that didn’t quite happen. Oh well.

5 Sharon and Dave

Another try for a selfie with a cool background. Nope, didn’t work. That’s okay.

6 Another Selfie

Home Sweet Home. And back to my point at the start of this post. No matter how lousy I am feeling, by living in a RV I get to see a little something different – even with just the simple task of walking our dog. Home is always close, and so is adventure, even a mild one if that’s all I’m up for (which sadly, thanks to Gastroparesis, is usually the case). But by living the way we do now, I’m never house-bound, even when I am!

I love our home. It’s the best one we’ve ever had!

7 Home Sweet Home

April Showers in Kingman, Arizona…

This is what we get for trying to avoid too much rain. This is the view from my window today.

April 10 Kingman Arizona

It’s not too bad actually, it’s just that it’s been raining for several days and we have about five more days to go before we get our Arizona sunshine back again.

As a quick catch-up for readers, we left Grover Beach, California early. Though it’s a pretty place in pictures and sounded like a good place to be, it isn’t. Cold, damp wind does not do this body any good. I got sick while we were there and felt awful pretty much the whole time we were there. As soon as we were a few hours away from the coast I began to feel better. Low humidity is awesome. I’ll take dry skin and hair over body aches any day of the week!

Though we’ve been in Kingman, Arizona for a bit, we have not checked out the area or done much but catch up on an overly long list of to-do items, and for me, rest and recuperate. I had a bit of a health crisis recently with my condition (Gastroparesis) and so I’m just focused on healing and resting. We will have time to explore later. In fact, I’m almost grateful for the rain, as it feels like my job is to just relax, read, and watch TV. The only real downside to rain is muddy paws (not mine, Frodo’s).

That’s pretty much it for our update! Time has a way of melting away when you’re not feeling well.

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.

Lake Havasu City, Arizona is Nature’s Etch a Sketch…

Lake Havasu City in Arizona has to be one of the most beautiful places in this country. The appearance of the sky changes continuously all day long and is a bit like nature’s version of an Etch A Sketch.

The view of the clouds over the mountains in the distance, the color of the sky, the shape of the clouds – it just never stops. It’s drawn, and re-drawn, and re-drawn, over and over again. I stare at the sky often and just feel better when I do.

And sunrise? It’s breathtaking. And sunset? Even more-so.

Lake Havasu City Sunset 1

These photos are from tonight’s sunset.

Lake Havasu City Sunset 2

And yes, it’s like this every day.

Lake Havasu City Sunset 3

Every. Single. Day.

Lake Havasu City reminds me of the movie The Truman Show. The sky seems too beautiful to be real, as though we’re witnessing a staged production all day long.

Lake Havasu City Sunset 4

And of course, Lake Havasu has more than just sunsets, there are really cool cars. There are classic cars everywhere here, and though this car doesn’t fit that description, it caught my attention. It has character, oodles of it.

Lake Havasu City Cool Cars

Someday soon I hope to capture some of the amazing classic cars here, but until then, goodnight…

Lake Havasu City Sunset at Dusk

No. Oh no. What Have We Done? (The Unbelievable!)

Over the last week I’ve questioned my sanity thousands of times. Thousands. But I’m happy to say, I’m sure we did the right thing. I realize that this post may also make most folks who know us think we are crazy, but that’s okay!

Okay, let me back up. Oh where oh where do I start?!

We purchased a truck and travel trailer back in August, and soon there-after sold our house. All has been relatively great in regards to some of that, but not all. Sometimes, it simply takes true-life experience to evaluate goals and see how they really pan out. As it turns out, it isn’t that we weren’t meeting our goals, but in fact, our goals have changed.

Initially we simply wanted to be house-less, and at the same time, have a better work-life balance and see the country very slowly. We figured we would hop around from one place to another staying in places for long periods of time (a month to a full-time traveler is a long time!) – but that isn’t quite working out for us.

As we made the journey to South Dakota, and then back to warmer weather, we realized how much we were missing out on by our restricted travel method. Going from Point A-to-Point-B without an option to stop along the way to explore cool things that caught our attention was very frustrating. It felt like trying to hang glide with a cement block tied to our ankles.

With a truck and a 30-foot travel-trailer, there isn’t an option to go exploring without proper planning. The method of travel  with a travel-trailer is setup like a Hub and Spoke. You park the trailer somewhere (often at a campground, or bookdocking location if you’re lucky) as your hub – and then use your tow vehicle to explore in as many different directions you like, each time returning back to your hub location.

The Hub and Spoke method of travel feels like such a huge waste, and overly planned. Also, every single time we have a travel day to get to specific area (or time to explore), we have to “pack” for the day. With our rapid travel pace to South Dakota, we found ourselves “packing” EVERY DAY! With an average of at least four hours in the truck, we had to pack everything we wanted with us for the day – water (multiple bottles), snacks, cameras, you name it. Sure, we did stop at rest stops and switched over to eat lunch in the trailer, but each stop like that adds a large amount of time to an already long day of travel. Restroom breaks can be frustrating as well because sometimes there is a long break between rest stops – and our bathroom was behind us, but inaccessible. When we did have an opportunity to stop, we were usually limited to truck rest stops where there was enough room to drive through with our full rig (50 or so feet of vehicles).

What has surprised both of us is how our goals have changed since we first set out on this path.

We want to travel much more frequently than we originally planned. We want to drive from one area to another and see what we like in between – and simply see where that takes us. We want to have the freedom to go in any direction we choose and simply “go”. It seems silly when traveling with your house behind you that you need to pack for the day, but without any way to access our house from the road – that’s how it is. So, we wanted to change our travel method. It would appear that many full-time travelers change their RV setup on almost a yearly basis, though before now I couldn’t figure out why people make the change. Now I know! It takes living on the road to gain the experience of what it’s really like, and see what you think. We never would have predicted we would feel the way we do, or guess the direction we are headed.

After hours and hours and hours of research to determine our needs, and the options available, we have changed our setup!

Here’s the thing. In addition to traveling on a frequent basis, we also want the flexibility to go anywhere. If the downtown area we are near looks cool – we want to go walk around and take photographs! We also need to be able to run regular errands such as get groceries, which means fitting into a normal parking space (or close to it).

After exploring all the various RV options out there, our needs, and budget to make the change – We found something perfect. So…

We sold our Airstream. It’s gone. We have sold our truck. They’re both gone. I’m sad about the truck, I LOVED our truck! We are continuing on with our travels as planned, living full-time on the road only…

We are now living in a Class B RV. Not familiar with the term? It’s basically a van, with the various things we need such as a kitchen, bathroom, and a place to sleep. At 22’9″ it has everything we need to live comfortably, and travel spectacularly.

Yes We Live in a Van

My life will never be the same. Neither will Dave’s. I hope you continue to follow us along our journey as we continue to see this fantastic country of ours, and see just exactly how we are managing to live in a space so small. I’m sure we’ll have a lot more to say about tiny-house living!

It’s a Beautiful Day in Tucson, Arizona!

We had a choice between struggling for warmth in Las Cruces, New Mexico – or getting to BE warm and comfortable in Tucson. It was an obvious choice really, and we are finally somewhere that will have good weather for a while so we don’t need to rush off anywhere.

Even though our race across the country has been at a much faster pace than we plan to travel for any length of time – it’s been an amazing journey. We have had a wonderful opportunity to preview areas where we would like to have extended time to explore. St. Louis, Missouri looks like a blast for urban photography, Columbia, Missouri will be a great place to relax, and New Mexico? Give me a month in New Mexico – or maybe two! There is so much to see and do and explore!

For now though, today we are in Arizona. And it’s gorgeous! I can understand why people spend their winters in Arizona. Who wouldn’t want to be here?

Palm Tree

Something screams H.P. Lovecraft about this plant. Maybe because it was larger than me!

HP Lovecraft Plant

The Tao of Dog says, a dirty dog is a happy dog. At least according to me. And Frodo. A dirty beard means lots of nose-to-ground time – heaven for a scent-driven dog!

Happy Dog Frodo

If an opportunity presents itself to reach out and grab something – do it.

Sharon Tucson Arizona Pull-up

But be careful around cacti, particularly when they are close to ten feet tall…

Southwest Architecture

Southwest landscaping is pretty nifty though, I’m quite drawn to it.

Southwest

And architects are smart to build in sun-shades where it is necessary.

Sun Shades

But one of the coolest things we saw today was the most unexpected!

Car Parade

Wait, are they slowing down for the camera? They are! See the wave?

Car Parade 2

This guy was awesome, he honked for us!

Car Parade 3

Reason #101 why you should always have your camera!

Car Parade 4

Roadside Kansas

Today’s journey was about making as much progress south/south-west as we could go in a day. Traveling the way we do only allows us a few hours to drive each day so we’re making the best of what we’ve got! Once we get to better weather, we will slow down considerably and explore an area in detail.

For now though, we migrate. We awoke in Concordia, Kansas, and we’ll be spending the night in Liberal, Kansas. With almost 5 hours of actual driving time, plus added stops for a hot lunch (in our RV), bathroom breaks for us and Frodo – it was an incredibly long day.

Kansas Drive

Driving through Kansas is a bit on the dull side. Add in 40 degree weather, some windchill and rain, and it was hard for me to stay awake! I wasn’t the one driving, don’t worry…

Kansas 1

There was a considerable amount of farm land. Acres and acres and acres of it.

Kansas 3

Every so often there were some things to look at besides flat land, though I do appreciate being able to see miles into the distance. And of course taking photos from a moving vehicle is always a fun challenge!

Kansas 2

Frodo loves seeing wide open land. When driving through cities, he tends to nap, but with open land – he’s active and engaged and can’t stop staring. He loves getting to travel and is always happy to jump right back in the truck – even after a long day.

Dave and Frodo

Tomorrow we journey on, destination still to-be-planned. We are however almost out of dog food, so that will be our mission for tomorrow! Can you believe there are places where no PetCo or PetSmart exists for 50 miles? Yes, we’re there now – in the middle of nowhere Kansas, I mean, Liberal. Right!

P.S. If you have ever played World of Warcraft and been to Westfall, you’ve seen Kansas!

Rock Port, Missouri: Population 1,318

This afternoon, Dave and I took a work break and drove around Rock Port, Missouri. It was absolutely gorgeous outside, and the wind turbines were gently… generating power. As it turns out, Rock Port was the first city in the United States to be 100% wind-powered! How ’bout that?

Wind Farm

This is an agricultural area and everywhere you look there is land being farmed.

Fields

No small town is complete without a General Store.

General Store

And as many folks know, small towns come with (many) small churches.

Church

Every time we explore I spend part of that time with the camera down. I like to just take things as they come and experience being in the place where I am in that moment. I didn’t realize that my camera-free time was when we were in Nebraska! Oops!

While in Nebraska we saw the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Generating Station, which made us immediately wonder about the flood that occurred here in 2011 and what happened to the Nuclear power plant. You can read about that here. Dave thinks Nuclear power plants are interesting, as for me, they make me nervous.

That covers it for Rock Port! We reach a new location tomorrow. Cheerio!