Monday, March 20, 2017

What's Life Like for Us in an RV - Part 1

Wow, I guess it's about time for an update, eh?

Why is it so difficult for me sometimes to write blog posts? I need a blogger support group with tips and tricks on how to make it happen daily. Someone please interview me. What do you want to know?

A friend of mine kind of DID interview me, so I'm going to post some Q and A here about living in an RV after 5 months on the road. She actually asked me these questions over a month ago and because I'm SO organized and prompt, I'm just posting them now. Even though we'd talked about doing this then. Also because of these mad skills, some of my answers have changed. So I'm going to post the answer over a month ago and the answer updated now. To make is less confusing. (/sarcasm)

My friend, the interviewer, is M. I'll post her questions
bold and green. I'm E, and my answers, as ever, will be purple. Updates to current events will be in pink, because I love color. And now, on to the interview! J is my husband and K is my son.

M: I'd love to hear more about your RV life and its rhythms, how it works with J working, space, K, chronic condition, etc.

E: J hasn't started working again yet - he is still in decompression stage from the past 5 years of stress. I do think we've finally found a good rhythm. It's definitely a constant learning process.

J has a higher need for outside than K and I do - he can't just hang around home and chill as much as K and I like to. We have more of a need for down time.

I think we meet that need for J a bit by having him run all of the errands like grocery shopping and whatever else we need that we can't wait for Amazon to deliver. I pay attention to what needs doing and keep the lists and then let J know and he checks them off. I can still do things like laundry and dishes. He also takes Muffins out most of the time, although depending on where we are, I like to do that too. But he definitely does it in the mornings and after dark.

Update: J has started doing Tai Chi every morning at this new place in Arizona, and we've been making good use of the pool as well. This has made things much happier for him, having ways to move his body.

M: How does K like the change of lifestyle?

E: K seems to be doing fine with it really. He misses his BFF (who lived 4 hours away in Seattle), but they still game together online, just not as much. We got lucky: he recently got into this game called Overwatch, and his BFF plays but isn't all that into it.

I'm in an online group with BFFs mom called Unschooling Gamers, and often us parents will post for our kids that they are looking to play such and such a game. I posted that about Overwatch and several people answered the thread that their similarly aged kiddos were playing. We all exchanged Skype info and gamer tags for the game, the whole thread did.

K really wanted to play so that won over his shyness about new people, I helped him friend the whole group, and now they have this great group that they play with online. Two of the kids he has really clicked with are in AZ so their parents and I are making plans to meet. The other two he is really clicking with are in Indiana so we're making plans to go see them after we go to Missouri to see our families.

Update (and this is a BIG one!): We are now visiting said friends in AZ and all is going smashingly well (knock wood). While here, we learned that this family and ALL of the families of the other kids who play in this group are going to an Unschoolers Waterpark gathering in Ohio in May. We'd previously thought we couldn't manage to get across the country that fast, but this opportunity seemed too amazing to miss. Having his whole group of friends together IRL in one place for a weekend of fun?

We're going. I worked really hard on the schedule for like three days, and figured out how we could make it and go. And I did. It took a small miracle, but we're essentially driving across most of the country in 45 days, which is breakneck speed for our way of traveling.  But for this opportunity, we have to. Right? Plus the rooms at the resort (yes, resort) where the gathering is being held are just - this really will be a vacation for us. They're amazing. We're all looking forward to it, and hopefully I will find ways to keep my health intact while we travel. (I will).

M: How about personal space? Are you able to get that?

E: Finding (personal) space has been a struggle at times, but we're figuring it out. J doesn't always realize when he needs to take space, so we've talked about that. I'm trying to get him working out again in some way because it has always been an important part of him maintaining his sanity. He's self conscious about doing things outside but he's at least aware of his need now and is thinking about ways to meet it. He used do Tai Chi or work out at lunch daily when he was working in a central location.

Update: I know I said this above, but he's doing Tai Chi again, it's gotten much better.

We do have a back bedroom and a front room that are divided by a door and that helps. K and I are used to being together 24/7 so we don't really bother each other but J isn't as integrated into our mix so we often need time apart. And then there is always the whole outside, but sometimes a person needs indoor retreat space, so we try to meet that.

It's been better than I thought it would be in ways. We're being nicer to each other a lot of the time, but we still scrap in our usual way at other times. It seems to be tricky for us to occupy a space together so much of the time, but I really did think it would be worse than it's been. It's something we're finding ways to get around. And sometimes just being conscious of an issue leads to solutions.

J will take Muffins out when he needs a minute or go run an errand at the store. That seems to work well for now. Or one of us will retreat to the bedroom in back with the door closed. I do that a lot when I want to talk on the phone.

M: Do you meet many people?

E: We haven't met many people, but that's more on us and our tendency to hermit up rather than the lack of people or opportunities. RVers tend to be really friendly and helpful and available for company. Josh meets and chats with people a lot when he takes Muffins for walks or to the dog run area.

(As I wrote this in February) there were about a half dozen kids playing outside and K was in the RV on his computer playing online with his friends.

In a lot of ways, chronic illness taught us to be completely self-reliant and not look for social interaction. It's not like cohousing, where everyone is just outside your door. Most people stopped coming to us a long time ago when I got really sick. So we just got used to being by ourselves I think. Perhaps we will again adjust to being social, and being able to be social, as we travel.

M: How do you decide how long to stay in each place?

E: Amount of time depends on travel needs, etc. We like 2-3 week stretches in places because it gives us time to explore, do errands, have down time, be sick apparently.

When we were first on the road, we started from western Oregon in November, so we were essentially running away from the weather. We'd take 2, 3, 4 days in a place and keep  a close watch on when the weather would change. And we'd go a little further south each time.

Update: Then when the rains had taken over Northern California, we spent time in Southern California. We wanted to stay a lot longer in certain places than we did there, but availability of space and when is what dictated those stays. It was around the holidays, so space was really at a premium. We took what and when we could get. Once we were further down into Southern California our pace became a LOT more leisurely. We stayed in San Diego for about a month and a half.

Part of that was due to getting sick in San Diego (the air is polluted and the toxic overload caused both K and myself to have a big strep flare), which took a big chunk of time. You don't want to try to travel when you're sick. No. And then we wanted to see the things we went there to see. So we stayed a little longer.

Also in San Diego K's friend group seemed to solidify even more, and our plans changed. That was when we decided to fast track it across AZ and spend three weeks visiting K's friends. Plans were made with their parents and off we went! Man, was I glad to get out of that SoCal pollution and into some seriously clean air.

Also of note: I REALLY miss California citrus and the ocean, with all of my heart. This dry air and heat are...well, ups and downs, right? Things dry really quickly, like laundry hanging up. And no worries about mold! But then J gets daily nosebleeds and the heat is "unseasonably warm" for this time of year. So there's that. But the pool is great! And visiting friends is priceless. K is SO happy when he gets to be with them.

Back to deciding how long to stay somewhere. For this next stretch, we leave at the end of the month. (I don't even want to think about the withdrawl K is going to have.) Our schedule was determined by two things: 1) we need to be in this specific city in Ohio by Mid May; and 2) can we make a decent length stop in Missouri to have a good family visit.

Usually we like to drive no more than two hours on travel days. It's just how we roll. We like the locations, but we don't like the driving.  And we REALLY don't like the pack/unpack that we have to do for travel days. I mean we don't mind it at infrequent intervals, but we don't want to have to do it for several dozen days straight, you know? So if we have 1 or 2  one-night stays, that's okay. And we could maybe push the travel days to do a little more, you know, actual traveling. That would also give us a couple of 4 or 5 day intervals where we can see some things we want to see, like Roswell, NM (Area 51).

And I DID it. I was SO crazy proud of myself, because I actually managed us an 18 day stay in Missouri to see our families, and that's a HUGE win. So now we've tried several different ways of planning the route, and I'm SO much more confident with how it goes. Maybe I'll even do a post on how I plan!

When we have more time in a place like 3-4 weeks, we have a to-do list  of things like maintenance and decluttering. The RV gets cluttered really quickly (because we aren't minimalists and our needs change as we go and suss out more ways to use the space better). We're already eyeing places we want to clear out some things and lighten the load. Some of it is just stuff we thought we'd need and didn't, others are electronics we've had to replace and need to recycle, etc.

Update: We have since taken out the old perpendicular table and replaced it with a new bigger parallel one to use for my sewing space. And the fruit that used to sit on the table has now been put into a handy cart with drawers we got from IKEA. It's original intended use? Clothing. It's perfect for our fruit stash! Since this photo was taken we've also added a 5-tray Excalibur dehydrator we got on craigslist in Tucson for cheap!

We have done some decluttering of the bedroom and next want to tackle the living room. All in due time! Sometimes having fun and downtime takes precedence over tasks. To that end,
I have yet to sew on my table, but I have a list of projects waiting to be done when I do!

If this post created even more questions, or if you have questions about living in an RV and traveling the country, please let me know in the comments. That's why it's Part 1! I know there's lots more to answer!

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