Last weekend I discovered an additional purpose for this blog: a how-to manual for would-be full-timers. Several couples and families stopped to talk with us as they cruised the beach. They wanted to know who we are, what we do and how we are able to live a mobile lifestyle. Above all, they really wanted to understand how we made the transition...not 'why' but what it took to make it happen. This got me thinking about the future of this blog and the other two. Maybe I should streamline and organize this one more clearly? That's a post for another day...
So today's post will be a brief discussion about planning a similar change in lifestyle. In other posts I have already mentioned that our blood runs pure gypsy. I've touched on our Mexico Adventures and teased about future posts about our Seattle Adventures, Florida Adventures and more. We tried RVing once before, but really only went two places: a park in Destin, FL, for 6 months then another park a few miles away in Seagrove, FL, for another 6 months. Hardly a mobile adventure. But that year was truly an adventure and we learned much from real RVers. Fast-forward a few years...we missed the beach and thought about RVing again. We wondered if we could make online landscape design a marketable service and started planting the seeds (pun intended. ;-) Not long after our daughter was born we tested our remote online design idea by moving to Corpus Christi. This allowed us to live at the beach and continue building on our DFW/Denton clientele, and start expanding our services into other areas of Texas. But the gypsy blood never ran dry, and after 6 months I started feeling the "highway Jones."
David, too. But neither of us wants to leave the beach...so...we started thinking about RVing again. I'll skip a lot of details now that can be found both here and on http://christyilfrey.blogspot.com/. I'll go directly to choosing the right vehicle...
A 5th-wheel would give us plenty of room, storage and creature comforts. The downside is, the gooseneck hitch takes up the entire bed of the truck and during certain times of the year would be too heavy to drag through sand. We hope to spend most of our time in sand...have I mentioned we belong at the beach??? Then we thought about a trailer. Most are towed behind your truck so the bed is still available for storage. In most cases, they are lighter than the 5th-wheels. Unhitching them is much easier, and newer models can be as big as a small 5th-wheel. Like 5th-wheels, many travel trailers have quite a bit of room, storage and creature comforts. Still, hauling one through sand is not always possible. Both 5th-wheels and travel trailers do have some impact on a truck's gas mileage.
We made a list of priorities and desired amenities. Most importantly, our 'rig' had to be able to easily handle sandy conditions. If it could shift into 4-wheel drive, even better. 4x4 conversion vans exist but are way out of our budget.
And that was another consideration...we wanted to be able to pay cash for our RV and not have to raise too much additional funds to modify or upgrade it. For months and months...and many more months...we considered our options and checked classified ads. Finally, we decided the best option for our prospective routes and budget would be a slide-in truck camper. One of our trucks is a 4x4 and we had already traveled back-and-forth from Corpus Christi to Dallas comfortably. It is almost 10 years old but has a durable and powerful 7.3L diesel engine; it is designed to last nearly forever and to be a heavy-duty workhorse. I was adamant about having a bathroom because of my own preferences but also to make Sage comfortable. Truck campers with baths are fairly pricey...and much smaller than travel trailers and 5th-wheels. In the end, we settled on an older truck camper that pops up, does not have a bathroom, but is in near-perfect condition. In total, this camper is 65 square feet. There is a 3-burner stove and fridge. The stove is powered by propane but the fridge is so old it only works on 110V electricity now. That means, unless we are camping in a park with hookups, we do not have a refrigerator.
We also do not have adequate storage for two adults, one toddler, one dog and a very busy business. I take up the least amount of space. David is larger so naturally his clothes are larger and require more room. His shoes are size 13. Yep, they fill up spaces much faster than mine. He also has more toys -- fishing rods and tackle, for example. Sage of course has toys overflowing...and books...and changes clothes several times per day. All I need is my bikini, laptop, journal and I'm pretty much set. Unless it's cold or we are away from the beach...ha. Then I need more clothes and running shoes, but really not much else.
To handle our storage needs and to accommodate my wishes for a bathroom, we decided to also tow an "adventure trailer." They, too, are pricey. We got super lucky when we bought the camper, because the seller also had an old rusty utility trailer. For about $100 we took it and cleaned it up, and decided to design and build our own adventure trailer using materials we had lying around our house.
My bathroom is still unfinished but, honestly, I have not missed it. I'm surprised that I have lasted nearly two weeks on Padre Island National Seashore without one. A few miles away at Malaquite Beach there are restrooms and showers; I've used them a couple of times when I was on my way to run errands. Otherwise, I have become quite fond of my natural sanctuary. Many years ago, I would not be caught dead in the dunes. Now, I relax and listen to the waves and the birds and enjoy the vibrant scenery waking up for the day. Rivers of Little Bluestem wish me good morning. Monarchs leap and twirl from Dune Sunflower to Sea Oats to Railroad Vine to Evening Primrose. Yes, the pesky mosquitoes and gnats are there, too. But not always, and when they are I am too entranced with Nature's ballet to notice.
Sand is everywhere, all the time. When we leave here the first thing we are going to do is CLEAN. Clean the truck, the camper, the trailer and, above all, OURSELVES. Our living spaces are indeed small, and we have had to adapt in some ways. But I would not trade this litany of significant and meaningful experiences. Not for the plushest bathroom in all the world...
PS I have not had to scrub a toilet or scour a shower in 5 weeks! Totally worth it...ha ha ha.