But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.Matthew 6:33 NKJV
You know the Boy Scout motto?
Well, we were not great Boy Scouts.
We were most definitely not prepared.
We moved from our campsite near Knoxville, Tennessee to a campground in southern Middle Tennessee on February 12. We knew a winter storm barreled toward the south central part of the country, but after checking multiple weather apps it looked like it was going to perhaps just skim the edge of where we scheduled to camp for three weeks.
We were wrong.
Very, very wrong.
We arrived the afternoon of February 12. We headed into the nearest town on Saturday morning February 13 to buy groceries. We got up Sunday morning planning to go get propane, but the roads were covered with black ice. We tried to get out of the campground, but slid all over the place.
We turned around and came back to the camper.
According to the weather apps we use we were going to get up to 0.2″ of ice followed by up to 8″ of snow over the next several days. Temps that just a few days before were predicted to fall into the high teens were now predicted into the single digits.
The storm hit.
The temps fell.
Our water froze.
But we have much for which to give thanks.
On Tuesday, February 16 people came around to make sure everyone had propane. We were able to get both our tanks filled. With temps in the single digits at night we were burning through propane even though we set our heat at 55 degrees for a couple of days and did not use our stove except for coffee.
Even though our water froze in our camper, the spigot outside did not. We were able to tote water from outside to run through our Berkey water purification system to drink. We could also use the toted water to flush our toilet.
Until the black tank got full.
Thankfully we have a Thetford Porta Potti. That came in super handy. In fact, we like it so much we may remove our RV toilet and use the Porta Potti until we can get a composting toilet installed later this year.
We did not lose electricity. That in itself is amazing! We were able to run our small space heater on low to augment the propane furnace.
Finally, on Sunday, February 21 we were able to get out. We drove to Lawrenceburg for groceries and propane. I can’t describe how great it felt to get out and drive somewhere.
We learned a couple of lessons during that week. Probably more than a couple, but I’ll get to those in another post. I’m only going to mention a couple here.
First, God’s provision is no joke. Were we comfortable? No, not always. Were we concerned about our frozen water? Of course. But we had enough heat, enough water, enough food, solid electricity. We had everything we needed. There were many who lost power, ran out of propane, food throughout the country.
Second, neither of us is a fan of cold weather camping. I knew this about myself already. But that frozen week brought home just how much I dislike temps below 40 degrees. I’m all about chasing mild weather. And, that’s our plan going forward.
I made some other personal observations, but that will also be another post.
We’re just beyond grateful to be on the other side of the winter storm of February 2021.
This list makes it sound like we don’t love our camper and RV life. That’s not the case. We love our camper and our truck. It’s true we’ll love RV life more when it’s safe to travel again. But we are so grateful to be living our dream.
However, it is true that you don’t know what you don’t know. Even after two years of research and lots of soul searching what we thought at the outset would work great for us turns out to maybe not be the best choices.
With that, here are five things we’ve learning from our first five months of full time RV life that we want to do differently.
- Our space is just a bit too small. Yes, we could get rid of more stuff. But honestly at some point minimalism transitions to austere which is not us. Our travel trailer is 24’4”. After living in her for five months, we agree that we would like to transition to a Class C motorhome in the neighborhood of 30’. It’s not that we want more stuff. We don’t. Truly. The clutter of having to stack things, leave things out on the counter that I would love to put away, having to shuffle things every time I get something out of the cabinet gets frustrating.
- A dedicated bedroom with a door is a must. We chose a Murphy bed layout because we thought it made sense to not waste space on a room that is only used to sleep. We talked about having to go to bed and get up in the morning at the same time with the Murphy bed layout. We talked about the possible weirdness of our bed being in our living room. But after living in the space for five months we realize a dedicated bedroom is not a waste of space. Daniel sometimes likes to stay up later than I do. Right now he can’t really because our bed folds out into the living space. I must have some quiet time in the morning. I like to get up a little earlier than he does. With our current situation, that doesn’t work well at all. If this were a two week vacation, it would be fine. But living with our entire everything in one big room is not the best choice for us.
- Our next RV will be a motorhome. Not a huge one. We want a Class C around 30ish feet. We want to tow a small car. Don’t get me wrong. We love and are beyond grateful for our travel trailer and truck. Sometimes (most of the time) a small car is much more efficient than a big super duty truck once you’re at the campground and just driving around or going to the grocery. In a motorhome the dogs would be more comfortable on moving days instead of being cramped up in the backseat of the truck.
- We need a dinette/desk/table. We need somewhere to work and to eat. We currently have nice folding trays to eat and to use as computer stations. It works. It’s not great. Our current set up is not even close to ergonomic. In all honesty, I’m not sure you could have a truly ergonomic workstation in a small RV. However, it can be much better than what we’re doing now.
- Cleaning a smaller space is not necessarily easier. Yes, we have two medium-large dogs. Yes, they both shed. I really thought it would be easier to sweep and dust on the daily. Nope. It’s not. It does take less time, but there are all kinds of cracks and nooks and little tiny spaces hair can get into. And there’s no place for the dogs to go while I try to sweep up. I’m not sure how to make this better. We do need some type of very small vacuuming system. Although, I’m not sure where we would store it.
Even with these five things we’d like to change, we wouldn’t change the choice to take a chance on full time RV life. We still think it’s the best way to live for us. I’m sure in five months I’ll have five more things I’ve learned. Every day brings something new, for sure.
Now that we’re a month into our full time RV life. We are starting to settle in to living in a very small travel trailer. We’re learning to deal with not having separate rooms, except for the bathroom, and not having a bed available all the time since we have a Murphy bed. Adjusting to constantly having a little bit of clutter is taking me a little more time. I would love to have a tiny bit more storage space, but we don’t. So we deal with it. I think we will cull more things as time goes and we realize what we don’t truly need.
The Instant Pot may become a casualty to space. I’ve used it on two occasions here at the campground. I don’t know that I will use it when we start boondocking. We’ll see. I’m honestly not sure that using it twice warrants keeping it even at the campground where electricity is not an issue. I love my Instant Pot, but when you live in less than 200 square feet it’s not really practical to keep unnecessary items you only use 2-3 times per month.
We’re still trying to find a rhythm to our days. We’ve started staying up later, until around 11 pm, and sleeping until we wake up, typically around 7:30 am. This morning I did set my alarm and got up at 6:30. I just wanted a little bit more morning.
Trying to navigate being self-employed and learning to freelance are sticking points as well. Maybe not really sticking points, but pain points, let’s say. We’re both working on things. Wheels turn slowly, however
I did set up our Patreon page. I hope that grows organically. It’s not super formal, just a place people who want to support us can. In return there are a few photos and bits of information available in the Patreon posts that I’m not sharing anywhere else.
One thing that we do need to find a solution for is our black holding tank. The black tank is where the toilet empties. We want a better solution than a traditional RV toilet and black tank. We bought a Thetford Porta-Potti, but have not installed it yet. Honestly, I’m holding out a bit because I kind of think I want a composting toilet. I’ve done so much research, but feel like I need to do more. It’s an important decision.
Over all, we are loving RV life and are excited about the future while enjoying each moment.
August 7, 2020 we launched our RV life! We are excited, grateful, overwhelmed, exhausted, all the emotions all at once.
The overriding emotion, however, is a sense of humble gratitude that we have the opportunity to live our dream.
I’m not a patient person.
Seriously, I’m not.
But that NOBO 19.6 spoke to us. Well to me. Daniel liked it a lot. But as soon as we walked through, opened all the doors, looked at the storage, the decor, the floor plan, we both knew. We found THE ONE. Or at least the one we want to start our full time RV life with.
Trying to do the right thing, we took the salesman’s card, asked him to email us a deal sheet, and drove home.
We watched YouTube videos.
We decided we want the NOBO 19.6.
Wednesday afternoon I called the dealership, but our salesman was with another customer. I emailed him that we like the camper, but will need three to four weeks to get our finances settled. I asked him if he would take a deposit and hold the rig for us.
No response Wednesday evening.
No response Thursday morning.
No response Thursday afternoon.
Friday morning I called again.
The NOBO sold to someone else on Wednesday. I almost cried until I heard him say “But we’ve got more on order.”
So not only had they already ordered more of the same RV, one of the new units they ordered is already equipped with solar, which is something we want anyway.
Trying not to sound all trembly and whiny, I asked him if they would possibly take a deposit and hold the solar equipped unit for us.
Yes, it turns out, that is something he is willing to do. And the deposit was about 10% of what I anticipated.
So, while I was fretting for a day and a half, God had a better plan going. You can call it serendipity if you want to, that’s all good. I call it a God Thing.
And I’m grateful, so grateful we’ve found our RV. We should be full time RVers in six to eight weeks.
To say life changed in the past two months and five days since my last post is beyond understatement. From changes in our personal plans to global upheaval in a fight against a novel virus, nothing seems the same.
The third week of February one of our three dogs had to be humanely euthanized. We’re not talking about details. That’s enough to know.
Another of our dogs required extensive veterinary care which took a great deal of money and time to complete. He is almost completely healed.
We cancelled our Elkhart trip in February due to a predicted snowstorm in that area. We also finally admitted to each other that van life might not be the best RV life option for us, so we started exploring Class C RVs that would give a little more room for the two of us and our two dogs.
Then the novel coronavirus hit our area.
Our retirement savings took a huge hit just like everyone else’s. We began to realize that might be the most minor of changes in our lives for the next few months.
But we decided not to give up on our dream of RV life. We prayed, soul-searched, talked. I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve cried a lot over the past couple of months at the sorrow and fear and inability to know what to do and when to do it.
We took to heart the thought that it’s the RV lifestyle we truly want. The vehicle is less important. With that mindset we decided to go the least expensive route to get us on the road.
Truck and travel trailer.
We’ve narrowed our choices by shopping online. We had toured a few travel trailers during our RV search you know, when we could still go out to shop in person. We’ve done enough research to know we want and what we think we’ll need.
Late last fall we had thought to leave our jobs maybe at the end of March. Now it’s looking to be a bit later. We both work in healthcare, so the timing stinks. But, honestly, now may be as good a time as any to get out of healthcare. Praying about that too.
Regardless of when we leave our jobs, when we buy our truck and trailer, when we sell our house, we are moving forward with our dream and the vision God has given us. Neither of us knows what this is going to look like, but we know who does, and we trust Him.