- Mum’s the word! March 25, 2017
We decided to take the plunge in September 2014, after a fateful visit from our friends Chloe and Brendan. They came to us after visiting the Hershey RV show, telling us of their plans to live in an RV, us secretly saying “Y’all are crazy” and then being secretly persuaded…little by little. We waved goodbye, said again “Y’all are crazy” and started thinking. And thinking. And talking. A lot. The next day, I wrote Chloe a note “Oh, nothing important to tell you. Great to see you. Oh, and we just decided to sell everything and live in a motorhome. In other news, we’re thinking of starting an herb garden. Mum’s the word!” Chloe wrote back, without skipping a beat, “So tell me more about this herb garden.” This is why we’re friends.
And so it began. What started in September 2014 became a reality in December 2015. Time flew. And once in a while the four of us get together, grill our grillables and talk about that crazy weekend. We may take in a cheesy tourist-trap event because, heck, we can.
People who we meet have three reactions:
1) “That takes some guts!”
2) “Wow, that’s…interesting.”
3) “But you’re so young!”
So let’s dissect these three reactions, shall we?
Guts. If you can buy a house, move or get married, you can do it. People do it every day, although buying the house, moving and planning the wedding are more “mainstream” human beings are capable of doing these things. Perhaps the reaction comes from the notion of getting rid of stuff you’ve accumulated over the years. In 15+ years of a realationship, there was a lot. It is easier than you’d think. Just like home ownership or marriage, there are days where it’s difficult. Then there are other days, when you’re not even paying attention, where there’s a sense of contentment and ease. However, like owning a house or getting married, know yourself. It may or may not be for you.
Interesting. Insert the judgey tone here, along with the background music of dueling banjos. Some of this is due to ignorance as to what the choice means. Our nephew told his schoolfriends that we were buying a motorhome “and they’re not even poor!”. It means something else in many people’s minds. Others have their snobby hats on and don’t even realize that motorhomes can cost more than many people’s houses, although sometimes they don’t. In our case, our motorhome cost as much as that house we sold. Either way, the only thing to do in this situation is to try to educate to the ignorance or just plain shake your head and ignore it.
Young. This is a part of people’s ignorance as well. Even among those who RV, there is a thinking that you can only be retired if you full-time in a motorhome. For some fellow RVers, they can’t seem to get over this fact and we are sometimes treated in a less-than-a-polite manner than if we were 20 years older (perhaps they think we didn’t earn the right to do it?). Finding other youngins and finding other RVers who enjoy all types of people has been paramount to us enjoying our stays.
Despite everyone’s reaction, right or wrong, yes, it was a big leap of faith to live full-time in a motorhome. We prepared by moving into an apartment first (1300 square feet, one floor) and once we moved in, there were waves of “ohmygodohmygod we made a huge mistake”. Even the most prepared can have those waves. You hope that it comes in the form of waves versus all the time. We found that some blogs and Facebook groups romanticized the thought of living full time in an RV. Like everything else, it isn’t all sunshine, unicorns and puppies. There are ways you can prepare for it, but like marriage, there’s no way to know how it will be until you take the plunge.
The best piece of advice we have is don’t do it all alone. You don’t have to find people just like yourself but surround yourself with a village of RVers who are there for you. We had each other as a couple, sure, but we also had Chloe and Brendan who have been friends for 20+ years and are our age, also full-timing it, and they were there for our first five months of full-timing. We found neighbors who went out of their way to help us through the “oh crap!” moments without being asked. We re-found friends who are our age who also decided to full-time, without either of us knowing we both were doing it. We even bought the same RV make and model in the same year (oh, hai, Kidds!). In your travels, you’ll also get to see friends and family who you haven’t seen in a long time because now you happen to be on the road. When you happen to stay in a touristy destination (like we did in Orlando), they come to you. There were dinners, brunches, drinks and weight gain, all in the name of friendship. It’s what we must bear, I guess *dramatic sigh*.
So with young, interesting guts, move forward but go in with eyes wide open and a village who can help you.
- Park it March 20, 2017
Let’s just recap our last thirteen months.
Some of these states were pass-throughs, but we found neat little parks that if the circumstance ever warranted, we’d stay there again. Others, not so much.
To make sure our extended stays were as positive as possible, we did our research. We mainly use RV Park Reviews and Google. Read the reviews carefully, because they are very subjective. For example, if you like to have campgrounds being remote from the world, but someone rates a park 5 stars because it is close to everything, you have different needs and standards.
There are also some basic questions we now ask when we stay at a campground for more than a couple of days:
- We have a 45′ Class A + tow. Can your park handle big rigs with wide turns? We always press on is the “big rig friendly” claim almost all parks make. Some do not consider the drive to and from the spot they state is big-rig friendly, or low-hanging branches that can scratch your coach. A reputable park will tell you when you ask the first time “There are some turns but we have a good escort to get you to your spot”.
- Really? Really really? It sounds silly, but for the safety of your coach and your stress level, ask again. Stress again the size of your coach and that it is a Class A (if you have one). Handling a fifth wheel has some maneuverability – Class As are less forgiving.
- How is your cell service? This is something we didn’t think to ask until we were completely without cell service. Then, after a tiring day of driving, we had to transfer our service over to skype and spend time on that rather than relaxing.
- What is our spot number? With the campground map and Google Earth, you’ll be able to understand if the spot makes sense for you. It also stops the “bait and switch” some parks will try to pull, guaranteeing you the super premium deluxe super spot and then give you the “wah waahhhhh” spot.
- Does this spot have any known issues with satellite ? Does the satellite need to be located somewhere specific on the coach to get a signal? Again, we didn’t think to ask this until we were completely without signal. We were told that one spot had great service, until we arrived, got set up, and nothing. Only after questioning were we told that the sattalite will only work if it is in the very front of the coach.
- Can you see and/or hear fireworks from this location at all? Dog owners, beware! There are a lot of parks that forget to tell you about the fireworks. We were shocked at how many insist they are dog-friendly but then have fireworks that sound like firebombs overhead, even at times shaking our very sturdy coach. We were also shocked how dog owners would give these parks high reviews. For our dog Piper, it was traumatic.
- You say you’re “pet-friendly”. Where are dogs allowed to go and where can they relieve themselves? An important question. There are campgrounds who claim they are “pet-friendly” but don’t allow dogs to walk (even on leashes) on any of the grounds! This means you’d have to carry Fido to the approved area. I don’t know dogs who listen to reason and rules and sees grass as “a place to go”. You can argue with the campground as to the definition of pet-friendly or you can just take your business (and the dogs’ business, as it were) elsewhere.
There are other criteria you may have, like close to shopping or civilization, or just the opposite. We like paved and grassy in comparison to gravel (doggie paws don’t like gravel and they equate “grass” with “a place to go potty”, so lack of grass is difficult). We like civilization to be close-by (10-15 minutes) and like access to bike trails. We have our top 5 but if you were to ask if we’ve yet visited the perfect place – that’s still down the road and we’ve yet to stay there yet.
- Bye, Dear Friend March 8, 2017
Being on the road with pets is always a challenge when it comes to vet care. However, when it gets beyond needed the care of a vet – saying goodbye – it’s even worse. You go through the emotions of the goodbye – someone who has been your companion for a very long time starts to deteriorate. Then you need to trust that your decision is the right one. For our girl Nala, we had made the decision. Right after Thanksgiving, she started to go outside the litter box. After the obligatory vet visit, we found out she was in kidney failure. We were told that given her age, with treatment, she could last two weeks or two years. She was still a kitty, we felt, that had some meowing to do so we gave her a chance to fight. Three days of 12 hours of fluids later, her numbers were looking really good.
She went back to eating, drinking and being a good girl in the box. But then…things started to deteriorate after about 4 weeks. She went on a hunger strike, she started peeing everywhere (even laying in it), and while her appetite came back we knew it was the beginning of the end. They gave her 2 weeks to 2 years and we got 4 weeks but it was worth every day more we had with her. Tests confirmed our fears. We knew it was a matter of time. Her personality was leaving, she lost her meow, and despite eating like a champ she did little else but sleep.
Even though we knew it was the right time, it killed us to make the decision. We had asked our vet about the procedure and they explained how they’d bring her in back and give her a catheter. Then they’d administer the first solution to make her drowsy and then the second which would put her to sleep. This sounded horrible to us. Nala wasn’t exactly a vet kitty (what cat is?) and bringing her in back – even for a second – just wasn’t right for her or us.
On the eve of the New Year’s day, we called Lap of Love which is a hospice and euthanasia mobile vet service available in 30 states. There, we found Dr. Toby (also known as Dr. Toby Goldman, DVM). We spent three hours with her. She even sought out Chris, prompting him to pet her…and then she peed uncontrollably. First on the seat, then on Ally (we think she was finally telling Ally what she thought of her). She couldn’t control herself at all. It killed us – she wanted to be pet, she wanted love, but her body just couldn’t do it anymore.
Lap of Love does both hospice and euthanasia so the key is to review the pet’s case and understand where they are in the process. It was clear that despite her wanting petting and food, it was time. With the fire roaring, Nala sleeping in “her spot”, surrounded by her favorite toys and the people who loved her, Dr. Toby talked us through the process. When we felt we were ready, the first drug was administered. Dr. Toby told us we were doing the right thing…something we knew, but something that is always reassuring to hear. He spoke with a pleasant and quiet voice to both us and Nala. He gave us 15 minutes or so with her being aware(ish) and we spent the time just being with her – speaking to her (telling her she was a pretty kitty and soothing her by saying her name slowly – something she loved hearing her name as “Naaaaaaalaaaaa”), petting her, reassuring her. She was ready. We were as ready as we could be. Then the final drug was administered. She was gone.Unlike with kids, you are pretty much guaranteed to outlive your pets. It’s part of the deal you have with them when you take them in. The hope is that you can give them the most peaceful passing they can have. We found that Lap of Love provided Nala with that.
This is the eulogy we wrote on Facebook:
Today we lost a beautiful soul. It is with heavy hearts that we said goodbye to our Nala. She was a Siamese who had piercing blue eyes – probably the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. She was always the hostess and charmed everyone she met.
She was mischievous and a night owl; she never met a twist tie or Christmas ornament she didn’t want to destroy. She would often “catch” dog toys (the small squirrel was her favorite) and announce to all who would listen that she caught it all by herself. She was a graceful goofball and a gentle soul who acted as our grief counselor…and during this time of grief it makes us miss her even all the more.
She had 16 (almost 17) good years, but it still feels too soon. She came to us as a mischievous puffball kitten and left us as the most loyal friend. Rest in peace, Nala Girl. We will miss every single thing about you. May you cuddle up to Bailey and have a toy squirrel near you at all times.