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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Sustaining RV Lust: The Open Road, A Happy Hearth, and Me—The Ultimate Ménage à trois

Another Monsoonal deluge here in soon to be Lake Lovely Ouray (sigh). Between Ms Monsoon's tantrums, Bobbie and I have been busy constructing two four by eight storage sheds that attach to the rear and side of the Imax Mine Shack. Seems our garage is maxed out and Bobbie's new Trek and my old 29'er needed a place to park out of the weather. But there will be no construction going on today in this ducky weather, so here's a potentially controversial post for BCB readers to chew on. Fasten your seat belts, folks, and you might want to cross your legs so as to avoid nasty "knee-jerk" reactions :)
Now, where did I leave off…oh yeah:

Today there is a tingle of excitement shivering my spine and synapses; it's almost as pronounced as it was in the weeks and days preceding our very first RV departure. This is a good sign... that I haven't fallen out of love with the RV Dream, that the "relationship" still has a pulse. I liken it to growing (growing, as in "progressing, maturing…flourishing") older, wiser, and deeper in love with one's soulmate, that lottery-luck one shot of good fortune that keeps you interested enough to hang around, just to see how it ends. Why is there still "Life and Lust" on the open road after all these fifteen years? 

First I need to set the mood. I want you to stop right here, clear your mind of all that preconceived prejudice crap, and then take a few deep cleansing breaths. Go ahead, I'll wait; at least three long inhales—now hold them………….and slowly release, into the polluted confines of your RV/Starbucks/Mc Donalds/living room biosphere. Feel that tingle? It's the vibration of stress leaving your body. 

Now that you are relaxed, I'm going to play a little song on your "heartstrings" by taking you on a road trip. I want you to take your time. Give your eyes permission wander into horizons, nooks, and crannies. Release your imagination…give it some rein, let it run like you were an eight year old…like you're some Walt Disney…and ask

What if...

Now, a couple more deep breaths…slowly exhale. Feel the vacant distance. Smell the intoxicating aroma of sage... crisp unpolluted air. Allow yourself to stand where I stood. Now, wander around and wonder some more,

What if...

What if…

What if...

What does this mean?

How did this happen?

I wonder where this leads?

Why am I here?

I wonder what this looks like during a thunderstorm?

What if it rains today?

I wonder if there is a way out?

I wonder what it would be like to camp around here in an RV?

I wonder, therefore I wander. Soon…very, very soon.

Ok, on the count of three I want you to wake up. One. Two. Three. 

Everyone will draw their own conclusions from this little exercise. Some will think it a silly waste of time... damn it, now I'm late for work. But I know there are a few males in the BCB audience like me...a breed apart who toddle to the beat of a different drum. As the noose of routine tightens around our necks, Life seems to slip away. The clamor and chaos of a megapolis existence is like living in a maze, one dead end after another. We thrive on change where others thrive on routine, we need movement where others need roots. 

Look, I'm the son of a restless traveling preacher-man, and everyone knows "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree." I've yet to meet a western "Blue Highway" that didn't flutter my eyes and cast a Witchy Woman spell on my bleeding heart. I've quit more jobs in the last fifteen years than I can remember—uprooted, run away, waved goodbye to friends—just to get a "Road Fix." When funds ran short we'd come off the road, go to work, and start over. It came to be where a couple three years on the treadmill was all I could take. Time for another Road Fix, the crack cocaine of routine averse RV dreamers—a little home-away-from-home remedy for the Same Old, Same Old Same Old Blues for highly addictive genetic mutants like me (there's got to be a "Willie" song in there somewhere).  

However (you knew there was a "but" coming, right?). I'm a man, and sometimes men are prone to wondering about grass on the other side of fences. IF Bobbie and I would have had sufficient funds—as all financially sound-minded people would have in place before flipping off their boss—would we still be enamored with "The Road" and RV living? Most would argue that more Moneeehhhhh does take the edge off Life's sword and multiplies options.  

There are limits to what the proletariat will bear under an autocratic demagogue.  One Blue Monday, at the ripe old age of 49 and after a week of romancing the road—camped beside babbling brooks, sipping 10 dollar bottles of wine and making love under the Milky Way—a most casual snip from King A. D. made this guy snap. Boom (I really need to get that hair trigger on the middle finger fixed someday). Whether in poker or Life, it's a little spooky when your bluff gets called. One minute you're a hand-fed hatchling, snug in a warm nest with regular meals and health insurance, the next, you're plummeting to earth and praying for those fledgling shoulder appendages to break your fall. Play it again, Pink FloydMonaaahhhhh!

Ching ching clang ching ching ching
Ching ching clang ching ching ching 
Well, get back
I'm all right Jack
Keep your hands off of my stack
It's a hit
Don't give me that do goody good bullshit...

With the aid of 20-20 hindsight, I seriously believe my "love affair" with Jack Kerouac would have died "on the road," so to speak, probably within two, maybe three years max of living the RV Dream. We were traveling around in what Pal Boonie calls "Vacation Mode," hitting all the Parks and Waterfalls and Tourist Traps...paying 25 to 40 bucks a night to camp in sardine can like RV parks, squeezed eyeball to asshole just so we could plug in and dump shit. It only took a few months for Bobbie to translate the pictographs on our cave's wall. The RV dream is expensive. No money coming in plus lots of money going out equals fewer eggs in nest, she enlightened me.

With Christmas nearing, I made the mistake of taking the little woman to Quartzite where I heard you could camp for next to nothing. Surely that should appease the Accountant-in-Chief. There were thousands upon thousands of RVs, spread for miles and miles across sun-blistered Martian-like terrain…not exactly a Hallmark Christmas Card. There was a cross section of RV demographics, everything from Motorhome Mansions to ramshackle broken down RV's with salvage yard perimeters. The latter was a wake up call. So this is how the RV dream ends…all broken down in Quartzite (we found out later that it really ends down the road at the Slabs on the corner of Desperation and Despair). Our dwindling nest egg had Bobbie doing math, wondering if this is how and where she would live out her golden years. It even unnerved me a little. The road may go on forever, but the buck stops short for those without Corporate or Govie pensions. I gave her some do goody good bullshit about going back to work, maybe build another spec home or two, whatever it took. She agreed to six more months. Monaaahhhhh!

And so the story goes. We adopted an intermittent RV lifestyle, run low on money, back to work, run low on money, back to work, run low on money...and so on. It's tough to hang up rose colored glasses, stow the gazetteers and RV de jour, then climb back on a treadmill. I hated it. I shoulda stayed in the service, I'd lament to myself and anybody who'd listen, Woulda had my govie check and health care for life after 25 years and only be 45 years young. But in the shortsighted know-it-all arrogance of youth, I wasn't about to let some "Lifer Louie" chew me out for not lacing shoestrings right over left. Monaaahhhhh!

It's funny tho, in some ways I believe our on-again off-again RV lifestyle kept my appetite whetted. I can't remember ever being satisfied, just one more corner, please, one more rise in the road less traveled. I'm older and wiser now, and though some will scoff, a bit more patient. Albeit in piecemeal fashion, our RV lifestyle is working for us. It's like a giant puzzle in progress—every year a few more destinations get fitted into place, but there is no hurry. Besides, when the puzzle is finally done, if that's possible, we can just tear it apart and start over. There are far too many pieces for it to get boring. I can honestly say that the puzzle's "border" is complete; it doesn't reach much beyond the east side of the continental divide. We had our fall romp to New England, followed the colors south and extended Ms Autumn's warm glow from weeks to months. But anymore, anything east of the Rockies doesn't hold our interest. I'm not saying "she" ain't pretty. I'm just saying there's too many people and too little free land…not to mention, wet-dog-in-a-sauna hot and humid. 

Perhaps the key puzzle piece that contributed most to a favorable outcome of our seasonal RV/work life was the decision to live in Lovely Ouray. It embodies the best of both worlds, a home in a scenic, recreational paradise, and a low investment clunker RV (sorry Goldie) that will take us to warmer paradises during the slightly too long (three months too long) winters around here. 

For good reason, nature designed Males such that they tend to lust after what they don't have, be it a neighbors house, BMW, or his wife. Having grown up in snowless and sunny southern Arizona, I have always been fond of snow. My parents would make the drive up to "Flag" several times each winter so I could have snowball fights and build forts in that strange but amazing cold fluffy stuff that I could compress into a baseball-hard missile and could take down a playmate's at 40 yards. Soak 'n wet 'n cold at the end of a long day, I'd fill our Coleman cooler with snow and haul it back to Phoenix and show it off to my younger mates, some of which had never seen the stuff...so foreign it might as well have come from Mars. 

I still love snow, but a little bit goes a long ways now… much more so than it did during my solar-filled childhood in Phoenix. Spending the Holidays in Lovely Ouray is all it takes us to get our fill of the hernia inducing white plague. We found that it provides a nice break from cramped RV confines, allows us to spread out, breath our own air and make big messes without worrying about it bugging our respective bunkmate. With all due respect to Quartzsite and the big RV show, Lovely Ouray has that Hallmark Christmas Card look. But before you can say, "Super Bowl," I'm ready to trade snowshoes for sneakers, snow for sun, and head south. Yep, I want what I don't have…neighbor's wife excluded, of course. And his BMW? Pretty, but totally useless in Lovely Ouray. You wouldn't even make it out of the garage.

Though it was a financial situation that forced us into the come and go RV lifestyle, I believe a home base in the mountains has sustained my lust for RVing, boondocking, and roads less travelled. For the vast majority of couples, the RV life is a phase, one that eventually grows tiresome... "been there, done that." Sometimes the CPR jolt of a new rig renews a fading RV pulse. But sooner or later a little cottage with shuttered windows, picket fence and roses will grab the attention of the better half. And the countdown is on to come off the road and settle down. 

Note to Men: If money is not an issue, hang onto the rig, guys, hang onto the rig. Maybe it's a male thing, the age-old "twin fantasy." No sooner are we thrust into bed with one, we begin lusting for the other. But if you can just find a way to hang onto the rig, you can have both! :} 


  1. So much to say and think about what you said...but...but..that photo of Little Wildhorse Canyon...oh my how I miss it. Part time RVing, can't get there this falll........and...and...sigh again...what were you saying?

  2. I do not plan on doing a Wandrin Lloyd and get rid of my Castle. But I do plan on sitting every summer in Decatur Alabama near my last remaining relatives (grandkid especially). That three months works wonders on my itch to travel when late September rolls around. Get as close to your dreams as you can with whatever you have.

  3. We have been on the road for alittle over 3 years...we still have the lust to wonder and wander. Of course life deals you cards that can change everything...that little cottage with the picket fence sounds like a good idea sometimes! The next few months will tell...

  4. "The RV dream is expensive. No money coming in plus lots of money going out equals fewer eggs in nest, she enlightened me."

    "...the decision to live in Lovely Ouray. It embodies the best of both worlds,"

    "For the vast majority of couples, the RV life is a phase anyway, one that eventually grows tiresome and "been there, done that."

    "The latter was a wake up call. So this is how the RV dream ends…all broken down in Quartzite. We found out later that it really ends down the road at the Slabs…"

    Believe it or not, I don't really disagree with anything you said. It's what you left out.

    This post would be more helpful to wannabees if you crossed-out "RVing" everywhere it occurs and replace it with "half-time RVing" or "RV vacationing." Distinctions like this are important. (You DID make the distinction once.)

    A half-time RVer has the costs of RVing IN ADDITION TO the high costs of a house. A full-time RVer has the costs of RVing INSTEAD OF the high costs of the house. Big difference. I'm not here to criticize half-time RVing. If you like it and have lots of bucks, go for it. But it's important to emphasize that RVing per se is not the problem. Half-time RVing is.

    I grimaced when you said "the best of both worlds" in your quote about living in a house in Ouray. It is true what you said, but it is also the worst of both worlds, which you failed to say. People usually ignore that when they trot out "the best of both worlds" cliche. It is only half true. They like the sound of it because it gets them out of the "shit or get off the pot" problem.

    Now I'm afraid I'm going to get into the trouble. It seems like you have missed the whole point of Freedom in retirement. It's all about lowering your cost of living, while expanding into pleasures that don't cost a lot, but might be experienced intensely and might add a lot of Satisfaction and Meaning to life. Freedom is just an empty sentiment unless if involves the serious project of lowering one's cost of living. The worst way to do that is to get suckered in the WORST of BOTH WORLDS: RV costs PLUS house costs.

    1. Sheesh, next time I'll run my post by you before publishing it. This is a recreational site, not a fucking presidential debate. I'll dot my i's and cross my t's when I'm fully retired and have nothing better to do…like some boon docker I know.

    2. I can't find it right now, but somewhere you said that RV couples will say "Been there and done that," about RVing.

      But I suppose that isn't true when they take their 435th trip that year to Home Depot for a little bag of fasteners or hinges that holds easily in their hand, but totals over $150?

      I suppose they never say "been there and done that" when it comes to mowing, weed whacking, pruning, weeding the garden, trimming the roses, fixing the roof leak next to the chimmey, cleaning the leaves out of the gutter, painting the garage on a weekend when your buddies wanted to go hunting, raking the leaves, rototilling the garden, ad nauseum, ad infinitum?

      How many hours can they spend fighting stop and go traffic, or sit in front of boob toob watching the weather channel, before they say, "been there and done that"?

      Oh yeah, let's not forget shoveling or blowing that lovely snow. What's this? It always started on the third pull last year. Oh well, I'll go to Charley's Small Engine Service. Oh wait, he's closed on the weekend. It's getting pretty old anyway, maybe I should just go to Home Depot and buy a new one. Just one more trip to Home Depot and the house will finally be done...

    3. That reminds me…I need to buy a snowblower. The last thing I need is another hernia just when I'm getting over the last one. I'm going to kick your lily white ass on Flying Monkey Mesa this year…get ready to eat my dust, Blowhard!

    4. Susan here. Maikel is gonna kick both your asses on the Flying Monkey Mesa this year so stop your bitching and save your strength. You're gonna need it!

  5. As much as we enjoy full timing I can see myself in a house again someday...but I cannot see myself without an RV ever again. It is the BEST mode of travel out there.

    You know, just cause some folks like to be able to "plug in and dump shit" doesn't mean they don't enjoy the great outdoors just as much as you do...they may just like their own creature comforts a lot too! Different strokes...

  6. Actually I would "plug in" more often if I could afford to… I like creature comforts as much as anyone, that's why we always stay at the Virgin River RV resort for the entire month of november. Campgrounds are fine too…we love Gilbert Ray west of Tuscon, Madera Canyon down by green valley, Chirachaha, State and county parks around phoenix and tucson. Ideally about half and half would be great. Sometimes there is no choice, too, In that case we ante up.

  7. I love it when you get wound up. Almost makes me wish for another rainy day in Ouray. ;-) Well, at least you used the genderless version, "better half" wants the picket fence, and not "the Missus!"

    You're killing me with those slot canyons...killing me.

  8. That last pic looks like what I remember of Capitol Reef NP. Is that where the pic was taken?

  9. This is a wonderful commentary...and photos, I might add...and everyone is right! Our story is an old one...very old! We quit our jobs at 50 & 59, bought a used RV & traveled on the cheap. Of course, 18 years ago, gas/fuel, parking, accommodations; cost of living period...was much cheaper. Since then we've passed several milestone birthdays, started collecting Social Security, then Medicare. Watched our investment portfolio lurch then slowly recover, sold a house way before the market in the SF Bay Area skyrocketed, and inherited. We've managed to live nicely, though frugally, do a lot of traveling, stay reasonably healthy though faced with some major obstacles, and watch our investments plummet then slowly recover. We have kids and grandkids and spend quality time with them several months out of the years. Being mobile works well for us. We know our day draws nigh, but in the meantime, we aimlessly wonder/wander, always looking over the next hill, pushing our limits, getting out of comfort zones...but mostly in. Lynda@stillhowlyntravels.blogspot.com.

  10. Hi, Mark. Don't think I have ever commented here, but I've been following for a long time---since whenever it was that Al mentioned your blog. As a couple who did something similar to what you and Bobbie are doing; being part time RV'ers, I was glad you got hot with the poster who jumped on what you said!!! No matter what song you sing, at the end of the road there comes a time when you need a place to live. We kept our TX house while we travelled in our class C. Then, having found our paradise in MN, we went between here and there for many years. But the time came when health ruled. Believe me, we are some glad we did not sell all to full time. What a mess we spared ourselves! Thank you for taking the time to blog, and for the fantastic pictures. You and Al make the world a better place for lots of us.

  11. This is a test. My last post didn't make the cut.

  12. doing my relaxing thing in Florida- pick up a few books in libaray- like james Patterson and Stuart Woods- 300 million books sold- they are now churning out "co auhors"" how does that work I wonder--- But give me a good Mark J rant any day! Walden Creek Rv steve

  13. Sooooo== Boonie has found the one answer on the one true way that all people need to follow to reach his answer to the good life???

  14. Ok, I'm way behind, and whenever you get on this topic you kill me with your perpetual indecision, it's so adorable! Do what makes you happy, Mark, that's all you can do. I know figuring that out sometimes can be the hardest part. Everyone has their own way, but I'm a little worried that I agreed with everything Boonie was saying too. What must be wrong with me? Do I have a fever?


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