Saturday, October 31, 2015

Not so Halloweeny -- Day 5

Today I screwed up.

Actually, it started before today, and the fulmination was realized today. It’s Halloween, and while I have always had a certain affinity for the door-to-door candy collection, and the license to dress in anything you like, I hadn’t taken into account the fact that this is probably Zoe’s favorite holiday of the year. Sure, she loves Christmas, we all love Christmas, but Halloween is sanctioned taking candy from strangers. She loves meeting people and she loves sugar, this is her day.

Unless you are stranded in an old folks home.

There are several cool things about the Rainbow’s End RV Park in Livingston, TX. Full RV hookups (water, electric, sewer) plus a swimming pool, activity center, social events, and even WiFi. But being the youngest full-timers that we’ve met so far, there is a distinct lack of children out here. The kids that most of these people have are our age, and settled in somewhere that the grandparents can drive a day to get to. Somehow, I had imagined that the old people would love to dress up, and a concentration of so many people in a small area would make Trick-or-Treating a snap. Ha! I couldn’t be more wrong.

Zoe was a trooper, though. We slept through the pancake breakfast (because we wants to eat at 7am anyway?) and missed the ice cream shop (apparently it’s been closed for four months.) Then she got the news that we aren’t going to get to go Trick-or-Treating. I felt like such a heel.  

The make-up plan is in place. Tomorrow, when we hit the road, we’re going to get pancakes and a giant bag of candy. This life is different, and we have to learn to plan differently. The learning curve is pretty steep, but I can honestly say that I love it, so far. Of course, it did help that I hooked up the PlayStation last night so that we could play a little Minecraft together.

Just because she’s the youngest human in our tribe, doesn’t make her opinion, wants, and desires any less valid. So you can bet your ass that we will be near a Saltgrass for her birthday, come July 1.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Sometimes it rains -- Day 4

Woke up this morning super excited to play some disc golf at Shawshank, only Mother Nature had other ideas. The rain storm that I thought we were going to miss dropped just enough in Huntsville to spoil any thoughts of golfing. But, since we were dry camping in a Walmart, I got to enjoy some free WiFi.

There is balance in the Universe.

Our next stop was the Escapees RV club headquarters, at Rainbow’s End Park in Livingston, TX. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it is a wonderful, friendly place! It reminds me a bit of sleepaway camp, only everyone else here has grey hair. The best part is probably the full hookups that we are enjoying for the first time, in our own camp. Water, electricity, and our own sewer line! Funny how things change in importance in your life.

Since it’s Friday here at the Rainbow’s End, it’s movie night. Casper (1999) was showing, which is a movie I had only seen once before, and didn’t particularly care for. But Zoe was into the idea, so we went. It’s fun to enjoy the enjoyment of others, particularly when they look old enough to be my grandparents, and they are enjoying a movie aimed a target audience of elementary school. I guess the key to life is enjoying things like a kid.

The single biggest draw back to this place is the lack of internet. To someone as tech-dependent as I am, this is painful. There is a trickle of WiFi available for $3/day, per device. However, this does give us all a chance to explore what it’s going to be like when we have no internet at all, in that twisted dystopian future at which we’ve aimed ourselves.

Lucky for us there’s an all-you-can-eat pancake and sauage breakfast in the morning. For $4. Senior citizens seem to know what’s important, after all that time on the earth.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Life at 60mph -- Day 3

Woke up next to Lake Joe Pool in Grand Prairie, TX. Drove to brunch at Red Dog Right in Grapevine, TX (try the pizza rolls, they're fantastic!!) Hit up Camping World in FT Worth, stopped off to see a 240' caterpillar named "Bruco" (Italy, TX) and then dinner in Dew, TX (chips and coke.) Now we're tucking in to sleep in a Walmart parking lot in Huntsville. THIS is what I imagined life on the road would be like. Rolling hills and vast empty fields of fresh cut hay. Winding little highways through podunks that I never knew existed. Avalon, Blooming Grove, Richland, Streetman. Quaint little bergs, all with their own stories, many already forgotten.

"When you're driving to Houston, Corsicana ain't that far"

Everything comes down to perception. I have friends that are from Corsicana, and often will return for weekend visits. To me, that used to seem like a really long drive, just to enjoy mama's friend chicken, legendary though it may be. Now, that two hour drive is just a warm up, something that we would do just to get the day started, before we even eat our fist meal. It's like a coffee run to get the juices flowing!

Tomorrow is special, because if the weather holds, I will get to play disc golf on one of the highest rated courses in the state. Of course, we are under a flash flood warning, so it will require quite a bit of luck.

"Now that we know where it is, we can come back to it"

One of the most awesome benefits of our new lifestyle is the flexibility. We missed out on Czech Stop in West, TX this time around (and Anya has never been!) So that is one of the must-stops on our return trip. If my round of disc golf gets rained out tomorrow, I'll hit it back up another time. The only constant is change, so there is no permanently lost opportunity. Everything will come back around again, eventually. The most exciting thing now is to see what happens tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Road is Life - Day 2

So far, I love it. Life on the road is as exciting and freeing as I hoped it would be. There have been some challenges, and I’m not looking too far into the future, so I’m allowing the picture to be as rosy as I want it to be.

We haven’t left home, yet.

As Zoe, 10, put it, “Wherever we go will be home, because we take our home with us!” So we haven’t left home, and we won’t. But we haven’t left the metropolitan area of our previous address, yet. We’re still a short drive from our friends, family and favorite foods.

Tomorrow the real adventure begins. People keep asking us where we are headed. I am really tempted to make up some exotic location, because the truth is much less interesting and kind of confusing.

Here’s the deal: We are planning to live on the road. No permanent place of residence. “Where are y’all headed?” We have (technically) already arrived at our destination. Our destination is the road!

“The only constant is change” ~ Heraclitus

They say that life isn’t about the destination, but the journey. This is so real to me right now, being in a state of permanent flux. I feel like I see the deeper meaning behind “the journey.” This whole adventure is like an extended metaphor, being played out in real life. Like we are just pawns in this cosmic game of chess. Nah, it’s more than that. We are so much more important than pawns, we’re like … players and all the world’s a stage. Nah, it’s even better than that. We are the stars, the main characters, the heroes of our story! And the best part is what we get to write our ending!

Our campfire has burned out, and it’s time to watch a movie with the fam. We let Zoe pick tonight, so it’s Monty Python and The Holy Grail. And tomorrow we hit the road.

So, where y’all headed?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

On the Road, Day -2

Sitting in the dark in my (mostly) empty apartment, contemplating life.

"This life I chose isn't easy, but sure is one heck of a ride!" 
~ Greg Universe

Hard to believe that we've made it this far! Getting a 1000 sq ft apartment pared down to fit into a 34' RV is a challenge not lightly undertaken. Even taking the "bare essentials" we have so much stuff that we're going to have to get really creative about storing. And the advice from experienced RVers ring in my ears, "You will start out with WAY more stuff than you need." I wholeheartedly believe them.

I have five pairs of shoes. Ten shoes, but only two feet. It seems to be more than I need, but I have genuine needs for each pair. So, I find a way to make it work. Necessity is the mother of invention, right? I have a buddy that has more shoes than my whole family combined. He probably needs them all, though. Maybe they serve a purpose beyond covering his feet?

"Attachment leads to suffering" ~ Gautama Buddha

If only I could fully internalize that sentiment. I still want all my things! I still enjoy going through old yearbooks and reading what that one guy said in 8th grade. That guy that I didn't really like that year, and haven't spoken to since. You know who I'm talking about, right? OK, so maybe I can live without those things. What if I could live without MOST things? This is part of our adventure. How much stuff do we actually and truly need?

This week's Beginner RV tip: Learn all that you can about your rig.

So our generator wasn't working when I tested it yesterday. This is particularly frustrating to me, because I feel so helpless! I don't know ANYTHING about generators. If this were a problem with our car, I would at least know where to start looking, but since this is brand new ground, I find myself scouring YouTube and RV forums trying to get a clue. And coming up mostly empty. So it sounds like we'll be calling a technician to  come look at it while we're parked at the lake. At least we'll have the lake to look at while we're waiting!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

We bought an RV!

I like to be spontaneous. I appreciate a well-ordered and executed plan, but sometimes I just like to get an idea and run with it. I mentioned in a previous post that we were planning a big cross-country move, and that has morphed into a completely new adventure: we're going to live in an RV.
The craziness of this idea hasn't completely set in, there are three more weeks of preparation that we have to endure before our drop dead date. But we are frantically trying to figure out how this is going to work.
NO job. NO permanent address.
Just me, my Anya, my daughter the spiritwolf, and our fur companions, Muffins (the dog) and Kitty (the cat). Sharing a space not much bigger than our current kitchen!
Fortunately, we come from a long line of people that enjoy being in close proximity. My mother used to always say, "Just give us four square feet." Now that's going to be a reality.
The best part? We don't have any RV'ing experience. Zero. Everything that we know about it, we are learning from the internet.
So this ought to be a very interesting adventure!!

Tips for first time RV buyers:

  1. Do your homework. There are things that we learned about our rig that we didn't know until AFTER we purchased it. Things that are going to require costly repair. There are a million RV blogs and resources out there, and you would be doing yourself a favor to check as many out as you can.
  2. Join an RV club. We are members of Escapees, and I highly recommend it. The communal feeling is helpful for the confidence level. Particularly when you're just starting out from scratch like we are.
  3. Be prepared to spend more than you think you want to. RV's are a significant investment. Even if you're only going to be using it for holidays and occasional camping, there are tons of hidden costs that you should be prepared for. If you can afford it, find a place like National Indoor RV Center where they do all of your off-season maintenance as well as getting your rig ready for trips. Storage and maintenance all in one place? Yeah, that's perfect.
  4. You can do it! Even though it's a daunting thing, and sounds scary, it's completely doable. The people that founded Escapees did it when they were in their 40's with kids, pets and less than $1000 in savings. Chase your dream!