Grateful... a good way to begin a blog post, not to mention each and every day. I am grateful to readers for sharing their RV insights, philosophies and personal stories; they add perspective and color to my near and far-sighted dreams. I'll wager that if your comments soothe my outlook, they also help a few others who bide treadmill time... contemplating the pros and cons of becoming road vagabonds, particularly those with diminutive budgets who will be boondocking out of force of circumstance as much as for the natural ambiance.
I would like to add that I am inspired by all the single RV'ers, especially women, those who chose to adventure on... who did not let "loss" nor fear nor finances snuff out their travel dreams. You are modern day RV "Amelia Earharts," and my hat is off.
I considered cutting and pasting fragments of reader's thoughtful comments from the last post into the body of this one. The diversity of circumstance added wide ranging perspective and was valuable food for thought. You are RV "field mice," reality "lab rats" for those of modest means. They wait and watch from the wings to see if, and how you pull it off. They are reading your blogs and comments, gleaning bits and pieces of information and thinking, "If she/he/they can do it, maybe so can I/we.
There is a need for honest RV information so that decisions can be made based on truth. It is part and parcel to why I wanted to do this post, to help me and others like me who are not, nor never will be, corporately or governmentally pensioned. I would venture to say that most RV wannabes fall into this category... they are not wealthy nor are they "funded" beyond Social Security (at some point) and the "nest egg" left from selling their sticks and bricks. That money must last a "lifetime." Hummm, anyone have a crystal ball I can borrow?
It's much easier, as in "cakewalk," to motor into the sunset when one is "funded." The rest of us juggle risks, rewards and budgets while cavorting on unicycles. We've got one foot in the now and one eye on the future... wondering if there will be enough money after 5, 10... 20 years on the road. I don't know about you, but I would like to have a few options, choices... some "control," should I live to be 80... 90... or, God forbid, 100 years. The good news is, it can be done. The bad new's is, it takes a really well thought out plan.
I wanted "up side" stories from commenters and got them. But I also wanted "down side" stories... the ones glossy RV magazines "gloss" over... to add some balance. I didn't get much in the way of downsides, perhaps because as we get older we choose to take a "no regrets" attitude; I noted that in some comments. After a lifetime of treadmills the last thing we want to be saying from our nursing home wheelchair is, "I wish I'd traveled more... not played it so safe."
The "Glossies," as well as a few bloggers, paint a rose colored life out on the road. Sometimes they make you feel like a coward if you don't join up... that your life is not "free" if you live in sticks and bricks and continue to work for the man. Well, I'm here to cheer wannabes on as much as anyone, but arm yourself with "information" and a plan first... look at both sides of the RV story before pulling a lemming swan dive into what might be a river of no return. There are roses, lots of them, but it's not all roses... especially if money runs short. Things get old and break down, and I'm not just talking about RV's here.
Bobbie and I sort of leaped before we looked (financially). "Secure," whatever that means, is different for all of us, as evidenced by commenters. I hoped my resignation at 49 years old signaled the last treadmill. Well guess what? Fulltime RVing is expensive... even if you boondock... and especially if you spend too much up front on a rig.
After a year and a half on the road it was amazing how fast we blew through a good portion of the proceeds from our house sale. But hey, we were seeing the USA... coast to coast, border to border. It soon became clear that we were not going to make it to Social Security years, not even close. Bobbie wondered if we would have enough to get back into a house again (that was back when houses were "appreciating" at 10 to 15 percent per year in Colorado). I saw a "look" in her eyes while we camped near Quartzsite. There were magnificent quad slide motorhomes parked next to dilapidated old RV wrecks with blue tarp roofs... propped up with plywood and cardboard. That "look" gave me pause. I put away my pom poms and had a heart to heart with reality. Could we find above minimum wage jobs again if we needed to? And where in the hell was that little town full of rainbows and butterflies that I was searching for... what's it called, Nirvana?
I watched the value of my 50 K Excel Fiver depreciate at a Blue Book rate of over 10 % per year. I felt stupid for not settling for a used unit... for not keeping the old Arctic Fox. I saw the Excel's fiberglass fade from glossy to dull in the Arizona sun... the pretty little decals cracking and peeling away in a desert storm sandblast. To be honest, I felt a little ripped off by the "dream," but it was more my mistakes than anything else. I bought into the "Glossy Magazines" pitch... a Fiver, parked all alone by a lake... a roaring campfire reflecting a serene glow off lovey-dovey thirty something couples.
We came off the road spent... literally and figuratively. We managed to get back into real estate, thinking it would be a springboard for our next "retirement" (it always worked before). We found a couple of treadmills to climb on and settled in. Not even a year had passed and I was planning the next jailbreak... secretly monitoring the blogs of Wandrin Lloyd, Cowboy Brian and Tioga George. I even dug out my old pom poms.
We've sold out and hit the road so many times; the ups and downs run together like a long play "soap." The adrenalized joy of selling and leaving; the reoccurring bother of finding another treadmill. If only I would have stayed in the military... I'd have it licked. But wishing does not pound a single "nail," let alone move "mountains." I learned to live a "compromised" RV life and tried to be thankful for what I had. I even grew up a little bit... realized I was treating full-time RVing like an extended vacation. You can't sustain it; you'll burn out and die, just like Marylyn Monroe and Superman.
I've learned how to blend "bricks" and "wheels." It's not so bad... one gets used to straddling fences after developing callouses where it counts. I'm also learning to appreciate smaller things I once took for granted... like drawing a deep breath of clean pine scented air and gazing out Imax windows at purple mountain majesty. I try not to look at my situation as one of being trapped in a bogged down real estate market. Someday a house will sell, but until it does I'm trying not to make plans on how to spend the money. I'm not holding my pine scented breath. Nope, I just go off to my Pool Boy job and try to appreciate the good fortune of being "trapped" in a place as Lovely as Ouray. Glass, I officially pronounce you half-full.
That's my take on the "Perfect Life;" It's an oxymoron. The best we can do is make a good plan then let life's chips fall where they fall. As for the "Perfect Rig," no such thing... at least for me. There are times when a motorhome would be nice (a used one... "fool me once..."). I like the idea of a passenger being able to get up and walk around... maybe ride an exercise bike or stretch out for a nap while going to the next destination. I'd pull a little four wheel drive toad of some sort, one that gets 30 miles to the gallon. There are definite times when we would like the additional room a motorhome offers, not to mention all the storage underneath for art stuff and gear. But what about the times I want to "go farther," deep into mountains, woods, or canyon lands? That requires a lightweight... like our Chalet or a slide in pop up camper. Even a Sportsmobile Van, like the one pictured above. It pops up, BTW. Alas, I need three RV's... or...
There are times, though, when a little winter house in Arizona sounds right... like the Bayfield Bunch bought in Congress. A "project," of sorts, because one shouldn't hike and bike and explore every damn day. We're not on "vacation," we're "living," and you don't want to end up like Marylyn and Superman. A little house in warm winter sun... and a Chalet. "That's all I need, and a chair... I need a chair... but that's all!"
Love to all dreamers. I hope all commenters added some "perspective" and this post shed some light on your RV Evolution and The "Perfect Rig—Perfect Life" Paradox.
|Compact RVing... needs four wheel drive tho|
|The depreciation alone would kill me... but I like it|
|Alternative RV's... remember, you can anything if you are willing to make necessary sacrifices and adjustments|
|Well... there goes a few hundred G's|
|A Danish interior... spartan, but elegant, if that's your thing :)|
|Now this is more my style... fully depreciated and a dent won't upset me. No gaudy decals to peel away either.|
|My mom and dad and I lived in a 16 foot travel trailer just like this for a year.|
|You can live in this... park anywhere you want for free|
|Boonie and me and Bobbie...|
|Just add custom skirting and you have permanent housing|
|Remember The Wise One's? They full timed for a year, then went back to work to put some money away for the future. Rumor has it they are heading back out on the road soon|
|Mike and Louise lived in this rig for a couple of years traveling the width and breath of the good old USA. It can be done on a "dime."|
|Fritz and Deb's Tiger Van has served them well for over a decade. That's our rig behind them... camped at Madera Canyon, Arizona|
|My wanderlusted dad|
|A couple of Artful Adventurers in Organ Pipe National Park|
|Valley of Fire, Nevada.|