What’s It Like? – A One Month Snapshot of Life on the Road

What's it like to live in an RV full time? Here is a peek at one month of RVing adventures.

Mountaintop meadow where our

month started in Parowan, UT

Full-time RV - Tractor show in Parowan, UT where we boondocked in our fifth wheel RV.

Tractor show, Parowan, UT

Full-time RV - John Deere Memorabilia, Parowan, UT where we boondocked in our fifth wheel RV.

John Deere rules

RV full-time - Iron County Fair rides, Parowan, UT where we boondocked in our fifth wheel RV.

County fair in Parowan, UT

RV full-time - Iron County Fair balloons, Parowan, UT where we boondocked in our fifth wheel RV.

Kids love clowns and

balloons

RV full time - Boondock site, Parowan UT in our fifth wheel RV.

Boondocking by a babbling brook

(brook not shown!)

RV Full time - Budweiser Clydesdales, Cedar City, UT where we boondock in our fifth wheel RV

Budweiser Clydesdales at the Cedar City western rodeo

RV Full time - Cedar City Western Rodeo, UT where we boondock in our fifth wheel RV

Lil' cowboy

RV Full time - Pioche, NV ore bucket where we boondock in our fifth wheel RV

Ore bucket in

Pioche, NV

full time RV - Pioche, NV where we boondock in our fifth wheel RV

Pioche, NV, ghost town, living history

and fading memories

full time RV - Pioche Nevada Overland Hotel where we boondock in our fifth wheel RV

One remaining saloon

out of 80 that once

thrived in Pioche, NV

full-time RV - Pioche Nevada jailhouse where we boondock in our fifth wheel RV

The jailhouse in Pioche,

NV

Full time RV - Pioche Nevada Cathedral Gorge State Park where we boondock in our fifth wheel RV

Cathedral Gorge outside

Pioche, NV

RV Full-time - Pioche Nevada Cathedral Gorge State Park where we boondock in our fifth wheel RV

Moonscape at Cathedral Gorge

RV full time - Pioche Nevada Cathedral Gorge State Park where we boondock in our fifth wheel RV

Cool shadowing cliffs at

Cathedral Gorge

Full time RV - Colnago bicycles at Interbike Las Vegas NV Boondocking in our fifth wheel RV

Pricey Italian Colnagos lined up for test

rides at the Interbike Outdoor Demo.

Full time RV - Shelter Island Harbor San Diego where we boondock in our fifth wheel RV

Sailboats in San Diego Harbor

RV full time - Cruise ships San Diego where we boondock in our fifth wheel RV

Cruise ship dwarfs the San Diego skyline

RV full time - Shelter Island Harbor San Diego where we boondock in our fifth wheel RV

Local sport fisherman shows off his shark

before tossing it back to the sea

full time rv - Shelter Island Harbor San Diego where we boondock in our fifth wheel RV

San Diego skyline at sunset

Full time RV - Mission Bay San Diego boondock in our fifth wheel RV

Sailboat headed out to catch the breeze

RV full time - Mission Bay San Diego where we boondock in our fifth wheel RV

A day of fun in the sun on Coronado

Beach in San Diego

RV full time

Scenic road through Red Rock Canyon, NV

What's It Like ??

What is it like to travel fulltime in an RV?  It is a total blast.  We have a sense of freedom and independence that we have not felt

since childhood.  But the wonderful difference between living like this and being a kid is that there are no grownups around to tell

us what to do.  Each day -- every moment -- we do whatever we feel like.  And we never know what will happen next.  We

structure our overall movements by seasons:  we'll spend spring here, summer there, and by fall we should be over there.  We

structure our daily movements by how much we like a place, what chores need to be done, and the weather.  Sometimes we

arrive in a town to discover there is an event going on, and we get caught up in the local excitement.  Sometimes the highlight of

a day is the hours at the laundromat: we have met some great people while folding

clothes.  Sometimes we have a totally quiet day, filled with reading, writing, napping and

talking with each other.  However we spend our days, by the end of each one we almost

invariably look back and say, "What a great day!"

For me, the best part of this lifestyle is the

unpredictability.  I like not knowing what I am going to

do after breakfast.  I like not knowing anything about

a town until I get there.  I like studying maps and

wondering about the views from the tiny squiggly

roads leading into the hinterlands.

ONE MONTH IN THE LIFE

During September, 2008 we had a series of outstanding adventures.  Those few weeks form a perfect snapshot of what it's like,

how repeatedly stumbling into unexpected good times can be so much fun.

We had spent the summer near Bryce Canyon, Utah where we had settled into

one idyllic location for a month.  Gorgeous as it was, while August began to wind

down we felt like we were growing roots and were beginning to itch for new

scenery.  Our overall goal was to get to Las Vegas, Nevada, by September 23rd

for the annual bike industry trade show, Interbike.  Then we would meet up with

family in San Diego on the 30th.  In between, we had a month to kill and very little

geographic distance to cover.  That month held the essence of all that is great

about this crazy, traveling lifestyle.

County Fair in Parowan, Utah

We arrived in Parowan, Utah, September 1st.  Missing the turn to our planned campsite, we stopped

in the visitors center for directions.  While there, we discovered the town was hosting a huge Labor

Day county fair, complete with a 5K running race, in just a few days.  Mark signed us up for the race,

and suddenly we were immersed in the fair's rides, kettle corn, crafts display and tractor show.  We

saw a terrific seminar on local raptors, ran the race, talked at length with various residents, and

watched the parade.  During the days of the fair we camped in a mountaintop meadow near a

beautiful reservoir, at 9,000 feet elevation amid aspen and tall pines.  When the morning air got too

cool we found another spot at the base of the mountains, at a warmer elevation of 6,000 feet, where

we settled in next to a babbling brook, just a mile from town.

New Friends

After the fair ended, we were doing our laundry, pondering what

might come next in our lives when, between washing and

drying, we met a delightful couple from Arizona who live in their 24' fifth wheel in a local

mobile home park every summer.  They invited us to stop by, get water for our trailer, and

visit a while.  What a glorious afternoon!  Their fifth wheel had a stunning view of the nearby

mountains, and they were full of tales of their lifetime of international travel adventures.

Great American Stampede in Cedar City, Utah

Still caught up in their stories, we packed up the trailer and moved

a few miles south to Cedar City.  We decided to stay in the Home Depot parking lot which put us close

to a lot of shopping that we needed to do, and allowed Mark easy access to Home Depot for purchases

and returns as he embarked on a trailer project.  After six weeks in remote areas, it was fantastic to get

22 high definition digital channels on TV, so we sat in front of the boob tube for a few days, nursing our

sore running muscles and resting up after all the excitement of the fair.

We discovered the town was hosting a

western rodeo show over the weekend, so

once again we found ourselves caught up

in the small town celebrations of a rural

lifestyle neither of us has ever known.  We

spent many hours with the Budweiser Clydesdale horses and

handlers before and after the parade, learning all about the recent

purchase of Anheuser-Busch by InBev, and learning about the life of

these magnificent horses and their dedicated caretakers.

More New Friends

While admiring the horses we ran into a friend we had met at the tractor show in Parowan, and he

invited us to stay a night in his driveway nearby.  First we needed to watch the parade and sample a

little more kettle corn, but soon we found ourselves camped out in our new friend's driveway, learning

even more about tractors.  He is an avid John Deere collector, and besides his many tractors, he has

a house filled with John Deere memorabilia: lunch boxes, quilts, vests, curtains, table cloths, coffee

mugs, you name it.  His wife is a collector too, and our eyes were saucers when he swung open the

door to a bedroom that was filled, floor to ceiling, with Pepsi memorabilia.  Posters, trays, cans from

every era, pens, mugs, buttons, statuettes, hats, clothing.  Neither of us is a collector, and last year

we emptied our lives of almost all our worldly possessions.  How amazing to stand in this house that is

a shrine to all things John Deere and Pepsi.

Pioche, Nevada - Living History

Talking a mile a minute about these amazing collections, we

made our way to Pioche, Nevada, a town of 700 where the

nearest grocery store is an hour's drive away.  The town is so

far off the beaten path that their city RV park is free.  Pioche,

NV, we discovered, is a living ghost town that is filled to

overflowing with real-life memorabilia of the town's rugged,

wild-west, mining past.  As we pulled into town, we had to drive

under the ore-bucket tramway that was stilled 75 years ago

but still has buckets swinging in the breeze.  Without the

slightest nod to tourism, this town is the real deal, authentic in

its living history and dying population.  The caretaker of the

historical museum and courthouse has so many stories to tell,

of living citizens and long-dead historical figures, that I wished I had a

notebook to take notes as I listened to her.  For three days we pondered

the brutal lives of the nineteenth century silver miners who lived in this

once rocking town of 10,000 where 80 saloons and 20 brothels thrived.

Everywhere we turned in this quiet, peaceful town, we were surrounded

by reminders of its rugged history.

Echo Canyon and Cathedral Gorge - Nature's Treasures

Seeking a little exercise, one day we rode our bikes 15 miles out to Echo

Canyon, a delightful desert oasis complete with herons fishing in the

reservoir and sheer rock cliffs.  Another day we rode fifteen miles in

another direction to Cathedral Gorge.  We hiked among the sandstone

towers, climbing deep into their cool, shadowed crevices, our heads

thrown back as we gazed up the immense, sheer walls.  We would have

stayed in Pioche longer, but Interbike was calling and we needed to get

to Las Vegas.

Bicycle Tours

We started our Las Vegas visit with a few days in Red Rock Canyon

where we enjoyed some gorgeous bike rides on the scenic road that

loops the western end of the city.  The views were right out of a bicycle

touring company catalog.  Once Interbike's Outdoor Demo got

underway, we joined the "Hangover" group ride on a stunning tour of

the eastern suburbs outside the city.  I will never forget the thrill of the

peleton flying down the hill in Henderson, NV, going 40 mph and more,

as the stunning view of the bright blue lake set against the red and

brown mountains opened up before us.

Bike Gear and Lance Armstrong

The Interbike trade show is a five day blitz of shiny bikes, clever gadgets, cycling

celebrities, free beer, and endless free "swag."  We test rode a Co-Motion tandem,

Co-Motion touring bikes with outrageously huge tires, top-of-the-line Lightspeed

titanium bikes (for the 24-mile "hangover" group ride), and an Orbea carbon frame

with the latest Shimano drivetrain.  Mark studied Campagnolo's latest 11-speed

gruppo, and we each ended up with a free pair of Oakley sunglasses.  Mark got

free custom insoles for his running shoes and a free set of Gore cables for his

bike.  The supplements were flowing on every corner, and we left with a year's

supply of electrolyte drink additives and energy bars.  The big surprise was the

night we aimlessly got on the free shuttle bus to go see a cyclocross bike race,

and arrived to find Lance Armstrong on the start line.  He passed us on every lap,

just an arm's length away, close enough to see him grimacing as he fought to stay

in the second pack, a full minute behind the leaders.  Why didn't I bring my

camera?

California Casino Hopping: Tiki Bars, Farmers' Markets and Swimming Pools

Las Vegas is insanely hot in September, and we had a week to kill before meeting Mark's daughter and granddaughters on their

vacation in San Diego.  We wandered into California hoping to find some relief from the heat, but the road from Vegas to San

Diego is mostly through the desert.  So we decided to casino-hop, planning on free overnights in their parking lots and air

conditioning somewhere in their buildings during the days.  We aren't gamblers, but one casino gave us money to play the slots,

so our meager winnings meant we were paid to camp at their place.  Even better was the delightful surprise that many California

casinos are set up as resorts.  We jumped from one casino resort swimming pool to

the next, soaking ourselves in the hot tubs and enjoying the poolside tiki bars along

the way.  What a great way to beat the heat for a few days while making our way

across the desert to the coast.  Between tiki bar hops, we rode our bikes to Old

Town Temecula and happened to hit it on a Saturday, the day of their farmer's

market.  We spent a happy hour talking with a 40-year resident who has been

bringing her homemade wheels of Gouda cheese to this market for 15 years.  She

told wistful tales of riding her horses through the valleys where the freeways and

housing developments now stand.

Waterfront Life in San Diego

Once we got to San Diego we joined the local RV crowd that takes up

residence along the harbor-side streets on Shelter Island and Mission

Bay.  We relaxed on the waterfront, checking out the latest yachts at the

nearby brokers, and watched the pelicans dive for fish while the

thundering Navy jets rumbled our chests on every take-off and landing.

A perfect 80-degree day of play in the sand and sun at Coronado

Beach topped off an incredible month of fulltime RV living.

Couldn't Have Planned It Better...

Looking back, it is amazing to think about the variety of good times we had that month.  I couldn't have planned a more ideal

string of 30 days, yet every great adventure was something we fell into by accident, completely unplanned.  From a 5K running

race to a county fair, western rodeo and parade, to meeting some great people we never would have met at home, to watching

Lance Armstrong race his bike, to sitting in a resort hot tub quaffing drinks from a tiki bar, to body surfing on a white sand beach,

we experienced a little bit of everything.  If I didn't mention any down times, it's because there were so few.  Sure, the drive

towing our 14,000 lb fifth wheel up and down the desert mountains was a white-knuckle affair.  It was almost as scary as the

rush-hour drive down I-15 through Escondido, California, where I prayed nonstop that no one would rear-end us.  The traffic jam

on I-15 between Baker and Barstow, California, really took the cake too, as we sat

motionless in 102 degree heat and wondered if we would ever get the truck out of

Park -- on the freeway.  Sure, it was a little mischievous to sneak into one casino pool

knowing it was for hotel guests only, and it was frustrating to sit in a casino parking lot

with the trailer interior at 95 degrees, unable to use the generator to run the air

conditioning because security forbade it.  And it was a little discouraging to do that

running race knowing that if I were living my old conventional life at home I would be

more diligent about my fitness and would be closer to true "race shape."  But those

are tiny tiny prices to pay for a glorious month of total freedom, unexpected

adventure, and countless great discoveries.

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch...

During this same month, the US financial markets imploded.  Lehman Brothers filed

for bankruptcy; AIG collapsed into government support; Uncle Sam pointed his

finger at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and said "I want you;" Washington Mutual

had a coronary, narrowly revived by a buyout; Wachovia went begging to Citigroup

and Wells Fargo, and everyone born after 1940 was talking "Great Depression."

Taxpayers were hooked for $700 billion to save their own skins when we didn't even

know our skins needed saving.  Cover photos on newspapers showed Wall Street

rank-and-file with their heads in their hands.

What a great time to be meandering happily between historic western towns, exotic

sandstone cliffs, swimming pools, farmers markets, boat-filled harbors and the

ocean, making new friends along the way.

What is fulltime RVing like?  This month says it all:  It's a great life.  We are very lucky to be alive and to be living this way.