The snow was falling and the wind chill was -5 F this weekend in my hometown of Madison, Wis., but I didn’t care. It was 84 degrees and sunny here in Phoenix. In fact, it has been 80 degrees and sunny every day this week.
If there is one thing I have found most enjoyable about the RV lifestyle, it’s the options that come with it – and those options are life changing.
As soon as my three daughters had flown the coop and ventured out of the house to pursue their own life journeys, I pledged I would NEVER endure another Wisconsin winter. The past seven winters have been most enjoyable.
But, escaping cold weather is just one of the many options I have enjoyed while living in my RV pretty much full-time for the past two, going on three years. Here are some more:
Visiting the kids
I love my three daughters to death, but living with them long-term was problematic before I bought my motorhome. One daughter lives in a one-bedroom home, so dad gets the couch when visiting. The other daughter lives in a two bedroom home, so dad either shares a room with the baby or sleeps on the couch. My youngest has a three-bedroom home and two kids. So, unless the girls bunk together, dad gets the couch.
Couches are fine for sleeping, like in the middle of a movie. But, when visiting for a week or two, it’s not the ideal situation. Morning comes very early for little girls – and pet dogs. It’s tough to be inconspicuous when you’re occupying the bulk of living area in the middle of the house.
What’s that old saying about relatives and fish? The visits are much more enjoyable when dad has his own place and isn’t in the middle of all the activity 24/7.
Fortunately, there is an RV park about 10 minutes away from each daughter. So, we can enjoy a few hours of time every day, and still have plenty of space to comfortably live separate lives.
The same holds true for visiting friends. My RV has allowed me to connect with dozens of people I normally would never see because it would be too expensive to fly into a city to meet with them. I just back the RV into their driveway and the motorhome becomes an instant guest house.
Trip planning is fun because if there’s someone I haven’t seen in a while, I just alter the route a few hours and we get to connect. In the past year, I was able to meet up with my old homeroom teacher from high school, several friends from high school, a college dorm mate, a few old church friends, a couple of long-lost relatives and even some old co-workers.
Facebook is fun for reading snippets about everything they are up to during a typical week. But nothing beats a face-to-face conversation – often over a meal – and time reliving old memories and getting to know their spouses and children. Plus, when I leave, there are no sheets to change or rooms to clean. No lives were disrupted that need to be reordered.
Change of scenery
I’ll admit, I’m a restless fellow. I sat in my house in Arizona from August 2009 to March 2014 looking at the same wall every day pounding away at my keyboard. The 20-step commute had its advantages, but after a while, I got a little stir crazy.
Having an RV gives me the flexibility to change my environment to visit new places or revisit my favorite states. I’m fortunate in that my job really does allow me to work wherever I have electricity and an Internet connection.
So, if I want to visit Washington State, I consult a few directories to find out what RV businesses are in the area, make an appointment and I’ve got an instant reason to make the trip. But, I can factor in lots of playtime to explore the area as well.
I’ve been to every state except Hawaii, but there is NO RV industry in Hawaii, so I’ll have to find another reason to get there. But, when you’re a journalist who covers the RV industry, having dealers, campgrounds and suppliers scattered around the country means there is work to do just about everywhere.
And it beats looking at the same walls or out the same window onto the same street day after day.
This has only happened a few times when my neighbors at a campground drove me crazy with loud parties late into the night, disruptive children and the non-stop arf-arf-arf-arf of some little nippy mutt. But, rather than endure it like I would have to if I owned a sticks-and-bricks home, it’s just a matter of pulling in the slides, retracting the levelers and disconnecting the utilities to go find a new place to live.
It’s rare that I will spend more than two weeks in one location. But, even when I have prepaid for a reservation and the campground can’t move me to a different site, I’ve found that it’s sometimes worth abandoning the site in search of peace and tranquility.
Living in an RV also allows people to experience a new community for weeks or months before finally settling down. I know a lot of earlier retirees who select 10 or so communities to check out before buying a home.
I feel sorry for those people who read up about a place to live and select a community based on what they find online. They fly in for a week to find a place to live and later discovered it’s not what they hoped it would be.
What better way to get a feel for a community, check out churches and cultural or entertainment activities and start making friendships than by living in an RV for an entire season?
A waterfront home
One of my dreams has been to have a waterfront home. Whether it is visiting the ocean, staying along lakes, parking next to rivers or listening to babbling brooks, I just love the water.
But, who can afford to own a waterfront home? Fortunately, there are some spectacular places to park an RV along waterfront property.
One of my favorites has been Tom Sawyer’s RV Park in West Memphis. It’s right on the Mississippi River. My desk is situated right behind the passenger’s seat in the motorhome, and I can look the big windshield and watch tug boats pushing barges a stone’s throw from my RV.
Twin Lakes RV Park in Cumming, Ga., offers spectacular lakefront views near Atlanta. I parked as close to the ocean as possible at Ocean Lakes RV Park in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The Army Corps of Engineers operates an RV park at a dam site overlooking a lake and a river in Burlington, Kansas. There were all beautiful places to visit at a fraction of the cost of renting a home or booking a hotel room.
This is my last weekend at my home base in Phoenix for another 11 months. I am really excited to begin my third year of RVing later this week, and I’ve very grateful for the options that the RV lifestyle gives me.
Some days I am tempted to just settle down in one location. But, then I think of the tremendous flexibility that RVing allows. At this stage in my life, I just can’t imagine spending a whole year, or even half a year, stuck in the same space. I’ve been there, done that, got the T-shirt and souvenir cup. It’s time to move on.