Let’s Be Real

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So…we have shared all of the adventures we have been on, places we have explored, and fun times we have had. We have had some amazing experiences already, and we really enjoy this life! But I wanted to put a real life, daily dealings post out there to show that although most days it is days by the water, exploring new cities, and sunsets (no rainbows yet) and butterflies, we deal with lots of other things in the in-between. So now, without further ado…here comes our more than fair share of the challenges we have faced in the last 4 months of RV travel (which in all honestly feels like a year).
First, there were a lot of technicalities to downsizing our things, selling our old house, living with family, getting our RV, getting out on the road, and starting homeschooling that took a couple of months longer than expected to complete and get ready for which could be a whole post in itself.

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The second challenge is navigating the roads and unbelievably narrow, often hilly campgrounds, and difficult to get into gas stations in the RV. Sure we could get an RV GPS, but as usual, we choose to be frugal and use a couple apps, do a little research about each trip, and otherwise pretty much wing it for now. This approach definitely increases the stress level a tiny bit, and travel days can be interesting. An app called AllStays is our biggest help on the road as it lists low bridges, possible gas stations, RV repair shops, and possible places to stay (which we don’t use on travel days because we almost always have reservations, but it is a useful tool to find reservations ahead of time.) Also, once you get to some campgrounds, they let you choose your spot, this can be extremely tiring on traveling days to find the right spot and get leveled and set up. We have learned that once we find a good spot, it is best to stay there as long as is possible (usually 4 days to 2 weeks for us) so we don’t burnout from moving too quickly. We also try to limit our driving days to no more than 4 hours of driving at a time when possible to allow time for any issues and decrease the amount of stress on the day. If we have an 8 hour drive, we will try to stay somewhere easy for a night to split up the drive into two days. When we are planning to have no hookups at a Harvest Host or on BLM land, we have to make sure we fill our water tanks, and it can be hard to find potable water to fill our freshwater tank with, so it seems to be best for us to fill up before leaving a campground.

Third, and my least favorite of all, is critters and bugs. I for one am not a fan of bugs in general, so having infestations here and there, is never fun. There are also areas and times where mosquitos, flies, bees, spiders, or fire ants are more prevalent than others. For example, the first day we arrived in Texas, Tyler told me the next morning his leg hurt a little bit. I looked at it, and right where his shorts meet the back of his thigh, he had a bug bite that looked like it may be from a fire ant, no big deal, right? I put some melaleuca on it and we went about our day. The next day David calls me into the bathroom and a very small ulcer with small blue circle is now where the bite was. Thankfully, Ty didn’t have anymore pain through all of this. I put some natural remedies on it, and the next day it had grown more. We took him to urgent care and are pretty sure that was a brown recluse bite, which we hear are pretty common in the area we are in as it is the spider capital in this specific state park area of Lake Tawakoni. I look up the next afternoon, and see little spiders building webs all under our RV awnings in our nice spot looking out over the lake under the trees to get some shade from the 95 degree weather. We quickly sprayed the RV down, and moved spots to a spot with no view in the blazing sun away from as many spiders as possible (though we did see a gargantuan spider on the ground next to our RV as we were leaving this sunny spot, but that is to be expected in Texas I guess). Tyler got lots of prayer, topical essential oils, and activated charcoal along with bentonite clay dressing changes throughout the days, oral antibiotics, and an antibiotic cream, and luckily, over the next couple of weeks, his bite healed nicely (4 pics above are of the progression of the bite in a few days after the bite).  We are pretty sure he got bit at the campgrounds mini golf course as he had complained of some pain there, but since I was so freaked out, I also spread some (maybe just a lot too much) diatomaceous earth around the RV floors and cabinets to keep any bugs out of our RV. This stuff has the consistency of flour so sweeping it up is quite a treat! Most recently as of last night while awake in the middle of the night (thanks to a three year old who still wakes up almost nightly) while boondocking in tall grass next to a vineyard in California, hearing a little critter trying to chewing in our RV in the middle of the night (I quickly made lots of noise and turned our engine on to scare it away and set up a trap that I had on hand for just in case). And, yes folks, we did catch the critter. Lucky for us, it looks like his friends hadn’t been invited to the party yet.

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My close 2nd least favorite, and most time consuming, RV maintenance is pretty common and pretty much nonstop. We are constantly learning how to take care of our RV better, and there is an every 3 month or so maintenance schedule of things to routinely take care of or check such as roof seals, oils changes, lubricating slide seals, and things malfunction or break quite often too. Usually the mishaps are just small issues, but ones that need to be taken care of quickly. We have already dealt with, diagnosed and fixed, or taken our RV in to be fixed for leveling jacks that won’t level correctly (still dealing with this one), a fridge that wouldn’t run on propane (lost groceries twice and had to clean out the pilot light point behind the fridge), a toilet that wouldn’t stop filling up sometimes causing us to have to turn our water off (had to replace the seal and then a spring popped off the foot pedal that was next to impossible to get back on), on one of our less than glamorous days, we once had a stench so bad in our RV that was coming from one of the holding tanks while driving that we had to pull into the closest RV repair shop and jump out of the RV gasping for a breath of fresh air (as did the RV repair specialist I am sure, though he maintained his composure and helped us through replacing the valve under the since and giving the tanks a really good flush just in case for this one), having our generator stop working while boondocking 8 nights at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta (thankfully there were some knowledgeable Fulltime Family members around to look at it and help clean and tune up the generator to get it back up and running the next day which we are forever grateful for), smelling propane in the RV and getting that diagnosed (pretty sure we were just running out of propane because our propane gauge was not accurate), running out of propane in the middle of the night while boondocking since the gauge wasn’t accurate, little things like drawers and hinges that fall off or break while driving down on extremely bumpy roads, a pull out couch that has shed it’s fake leather within a month and now looks 100 years old, lights switches breaking, and more. I gather that this type of stuff is normal for RVs and I have heard that in cheaper made RVs, and new RVs in general the problems can be even more common. Our older tow car has also had two costly repairs come up in the past couple of months, and we all know car repairs are never fun!

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Working on the road has it’s fair share of challenges too! It takes a lot to be self motivated to get work done when you are in new surroundings. It is like working on vacation. Most recently, we dealt with being 5 miles away from a useable AT&T signal, which meant no internet for us in the RV for the first time in our 4 months of cross country travel. We had a small wifi booster, but nothing really great to boost any of our signals. Luckily we could use the campgrounds wifi in the Family Lounge, so I, basically lived in the family lounge, or at the closest Starbucks, from at least 4pm-10pm just about every night. I also got a Straight Talk Hotspot for any emergency internet needs, and it worked fine, but at $25 for 2G of service, we don’t want to use it much.

IMG_3323.jpg We still deal with many of the same issues we did before, but on a smaller, easier to take care of scale in most instances. And the experiences we get are unmatchable when compared to our days in our house. We still have running water, a fridge at all times, electricity, 2 air conditioners, a furnace, an instant pot, and an oven. We are warm, well fed, and comfortable. Nevertheless, driving a house down the road, living in nature, traveling back and forth to home, and finding places to park the RV comes with it’s fair share of challenges. So far, it is all totally worth it, but that is not to say that it isn’t time consuming and tiring at times. I am thankful to have David on my team. Between my research and planning skills, and his getting stuff done and driving the motorhome skills, this is all attainable. Neither of us would be able to do this alone, however, so we are ever so grateful to have each other on this journey together and as independent types of people, need each other now more than ever. And that is just fine and is making our bond even stronger.

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If you are an RVer let us know in the comments…What has been your most challenging issue so far, or if you are wanting to RV or travel often, what are you most hesitant about?

2 thoughts on “Let’s Be Real

  1. Hi there–former homeschoolers, now empty nesters here. What a great experience for your family! With twin daughters in different colleges three states away, our travel expenses are quite high and likely to continue for some time depending on where our girls end up. We have considered getting an RV as an alternative to driving/flying and hotels, even though it is probably a wash financially. I grew up in a family that went from tent to tent-trailer to class C to class A, but my wife has no experience camping or Rving. We would probably go with a small trailer to start, but to answer your question we are hesitant about a couple of things: 1.) The challenges of driving and living in an RV (even short-term); 2.) Maintenance and storage–our HOA does not allow parked RVs; and 3.) Related to the above, would we use it enough to make a purchase worthwhile? For this reason we are leaning toward renting one in the spring to get our feet wet. I am also reading as much as I can, so will be interested to hear more about your challenges and adventures.

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    1. Thanks, JD! We are really enjoying our adventure regardless of the challenges! It has definitely been worth it for all of the adventures we have had. We have honestly what feels like a lifetime’s worth of vacations and memories together since taking off 4 months ago, and the RV has taken us to places we would have never gotten to otherwise. It is definitely smart to research and rent an RV if you can before jumping in. If you work it all right and travel somewhat slowly, you can take in each place you visit and travel more affordably, otherwise traveling by AirBnB or something like that and taking advantage of monthly or weekly rates seems like a nice option that may be worth trying too. My husband does very well driving our 35ft motorhome, and though I should drive it, I still haven’t yet! Having a zone pass to Thousand Trails parks save us a lot when traveling and they have affordable RV storage options at many of them too. Good luck in your adventures and keep us posted 🙂

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