We just celebrated one hundred days of living a nomadic lifestyle around the United States. We are currently hanging out with the snowbirds of Florida for a week. It has been interesting to reflect upon where we started, how we maintained throughout our travels and how we are feeling about our family of six plus two dogs living like gypsies. It has been good, bad and ugly all at the same time. I expected to embrace the trials that would undoubtedly come with traveling full-time. I did not expect how much I would change in such a short time. It has been a memorable experience that has made me so grateful for everything and everyone we left behind and for everything and everyone that awaits in our future.
I remember the months leading up to leaving our home in Texas. It was so chaotic and crazy to think that we would be donating or selling most of our belongings. I felt so overwhelmed by stuff and I just kept thinking “This is why!” All this stuff stuff I don’t use or need is causing me such anxiety. The things that we did bring with us were causing me so much stress in the beginning, nothing had a place and I felt like I was moving things around constantly in order to function, which I was. Only by the grace of God, working out with friends and so much help from my mom did we make it through the rough days of packing. I also planned a retreat the weekend we were set to leave. It was not the best timing but it was refreshing and filled with the holy spirit. The getaway calmed my mind that I did not really have a plan except for Yellowstone. We booked only two campgrounds before we left Texas.
It is comical now to think about the strange looks on most of the faces of those who have asked about our plans for our route and reservations around the country. We did not have much planned. Ryan and I prepared for full-time RV life by watching others. The common theme about the shows we watched was that everyone is different. Everyone has a different camping style from one family to the next. We could do as much research as possible and never figure out our own Rv camping style. The only way to figure out what works for us is to just get out there and do it.
In the beginning we were running on fumes and adrenaline. We made a bee-line to Yellowstone, slept at rest areas and parking lots. It was all a blur. The only campsite we stayed at was at Palo Duro Canyon after our overnight drive across Texas. We made it to Amarillo about noon and stocked up on groceries. A shower never felt so glorious. It was still a hot day in September and I remember I snuck Ryan into the ladies room to shower with me. It’s the little things you do to keep your marriage spicy. We let the kiddos watch a movie while Ryan and I slept in the afternoon. We woke up, made dinner for the kiddos, got them ready for bed and pulled back on to the open road that same evening. Eight hours at our first campsite was just what we needed to recharge. I was glad that we had the distraction of a few friends on our trip. I was able to keep somewhat of a level head while still trying to figure out our living situation. Yellowstone was chaotic with our guests but we were so exhausted from exploring, that I hardly noticed the extra work. I was also very ignorant as to what life in the RV should be like since things were so new. Full-time in an RV looks much different than just a weekend getaway here and there.
We finally slowed down when we got to South Dakota, meaning we stayed at one campground longer than a few nights. We stayed at a campground on Lake Huron for ten days and organized all the things and started our homeschool/work routine. We found a bit of a routine but then we struggled on communication and expectations as spouses. Thankfully my anger must come to a head sooner rather than later and we must determine what is making me crazy or else no one is happy. Long story longer…. Ryan and I were not on the same page when it came to our purpose and intention for this trip. We knew we wanted to travel and see all the things but that is the definition of a vacation. We were starting a new lifestyle which comes with new routines and expectations. It took some difficult lessons and discussions in order to straighten out our struggles. We are currently still working on getting rhythms down. The struggle is very real and we are always working on getting a little better every day.
We spent another week in upstate New York and welcomed the absence of internet access which allowed us to focus on our routines and organization more. With each change in venue our lifestyle became a bit easier. Breaking down camp and setting back up went much smoother. We discovered we can only boondock (cannot without electricity, sewer and water) for a few days. We have all gaggle of girls that require showers and washing hair. It is not easy to conserve water when bathing and cooking for ac family of six. We realized that we could only travel so much in one day with our children. We also discovered that one night stops could only be tolerated if our next stop was at least a week. We found that campgrounds next to those “convenient highways” were not for us. Sleep is a non negotiable in this camper. Our longest stay has been six week at an RV campground in northern Florida. We spent Thanksgiving through the New Year at this new resort only thirty miles from Ryan’s Aunt and uncle in Jacksonville. It was such a wonderful time of celebration and reflection. Not having to worry about our next destination allowed us to focus on what we needed to be working on within our family.
It seems that changes in campgrounds, seasons and time zones all contribute to our chaos. But even if we were in a house, an apartment or a houseboat we would still struggle with communication, expectations and organization. There is not much I would change amidst the challenges we have experienced. Sometimes the only way to learn is to jump head first into the unknown. It literally has felt as if we have jumped off a cliff and are trying to build our plane on the way down. If I didn’t experience anything challenging, I would never learn the valuable lessons that come with such a different lifestyle. If I were to fear change, I would never grow as a mother and wife. This adventure has stretched my faith in God’s provision. I only thought that I was a fearless in my journey to be more Christ-like. It turns out that God doesn’t just grant the virtues that I so earnestly seek like patience, temperance and faith. He has given me the opportunities to exercise such virtues. What a workout it has been. To God be the Glory.