Well, the past two weeks sure have shown us how FAST things can change, huh?
So far, for us alone, 2020 has already been a year of ridiculously awesome highs and absurd lows. Last month I was convinced that this year is determined to challenge the type-A planner inside of me. And now, it’s crazy for all of us!
If you would have told me last month that March is going to be even more nuts than February, I’m not sure I would have believed you!
On March 9th, I sat down at my computer to write out our January through February RV life updates, and I made this postcard graphic. I was going to leave out March. At that time, our most recent and future travels looked something like this:
But now, a mere 10 days later, a lot has changed, and there’s no way I can leave out March anymore!
I’m sure you went through a similar chain of events as I did. Perhaps you can relate to this:
I went from, oh, I think it’s still safe to fly to a small conference of RVers in a secluded state park. It’ll be fine. I’ll bring lots of sanitizer and wipes. To… oh, maybe it’s not safe. This thing’s spreading fast, and even if I got it and was okay, I could affect the health of others at the conference. To… Wait, I definitely should not be going. I’m going to email them. Should my dad be going to car shows? Should we be going to the Gaslight Theatre in Tucson? To… Wow, well, now I don’t need to overthink anything anymore, because almost everything has been closed or canceled, including the conference.
If working from home has made the RV or work-from-anywhere lifestyle call out to you, this may be of interest to you:
The in-person RV Entrepreneur Summit I was headed to has been converted into an entirely virtual conference experience. There will be Livestream keynotes, panels, and workshops. This is usually an in-person event where RV entrepreneurs meet up, form bonds, and learn from each other. Barrett and I attended last year. We left feeling incredibly inspired by so many great new ideas and friends!
With a virtual ticket (at a reduced price!), you’ll be able to access all of their main stage speaker sessions and workshops through live video & Q&A. Plus, they’re including videos of attendee-led meetups and a few other bonuses as well!
If you have any inkling of wanting to join the lifestyle, I would recommend purchasing a ticket and spending your upcoming Friday-Sunday of social distancing inside learning from all of these awesome RV entrepreneurs!
So what’s next for RV life? Where are we headed?
Your guess is as good as mine! Haha, just kidding, sorta…
Things are clearly up in the air for all of us.
We were initially planning on traveling throughout Arizona, Utah, and Nevada over the next few months, including a get together at Zion National Park in April and a “surprise” event my husband was orchestrating in Nevada in May. But now we are doing what we feel is the responsible thing to do and pulling the plug on the get together in April. And our May plans have also been canceled for us, so I guess I’ll never know! ?
For full-timers such as ourselves, it’s become apparent that it’s time to take a break until things become a bit more settled.
So our current plans look something like this…
We bought a generator! Which we’ve been wanting to try for a while anyway. As stores kept closing, we became a bit nervous that worst-case scenario (aka: all the stores and campgrounds close) we could very possibly need to find an off-grid place to hunker down for a while.
Right now, many State Park & National Parks are still open and encouraging people to get outside, which we, of course, love! I just saw this Facebook ad yesterday:
But Campendium has a list of all the closures that are growing every time I take a look at it. Tomorrow, more parks will close, and we will understand why. And then, once again, we will have to reassess our plans. It’s out of our control.
We’ve also actually been wanting to try boondocking for a while. Just last month, we were seeing boondockers everywhere and talking about how we wanted to try it out. But we also just felt so busy and like adding one more “thing to learn” to the plate while dealing with everything else would kill us.
Now, one month later, boondocking doesn’t sound too bad! There’s nothing like a global health disturbance to push you into learning new things, am I right?!
Our current plan is to stay put in Tucson for a bit. We have access to multiple grocery stores, take-out food options, a less visited National Park, and good weather here. We feel incredibly fortunate to be in a quiet campground, not overwhelmed with people. For us, going outside for hikes and bike rides are still possible, but we know so many people in big cities just don’t have those same options available right now. So far, the situation has been more relaxed here.
Luckily, RV life has prepared us to live this way, and oddly, I think this all feels a bit more normal to us than I’m sure it does to most of the general population right now.
So without further ado, I’m going to jump into what 2020 RV life has looked like so far, leading right up to the past couple of weeks.
Including two life lessons we learned from a period of being stuck just last month in February 2020. And how they can be directly applied right now to anyone living any type of lifestyle after February 2020.
2020 RV Life So Far! (January – March)
January 2 – January 4: Almond Tree Oasis RV Park, Coalinga, CA
This was a quick two day stop off I-5 that basically served as a break in our travels from the San Francisco area to the Las Vegas area.
We decided after the holidays that we would spend the winter exploring the warmer areas In Arizona and New Mexico. So we were flying out of Las Vegas next so that when we came back to the rig, we’d be coming back closer to where we wanted to explore. (Also, flights and RV parks were cheaper there.)
While in town, we had an added bonus of getting to meet some family members who I’ve been wanting to meet for years, the Wyatts!
January 4 – January 20: Las Vegas RV Resort / Walt Disney World
Next, we arrived at the Las Vegas RV Resort only to find out that we didn’t actually have a spot reserved. Luckily, after a period of nervousness, it all worked out! We were super grateful since most of our stay here we were actually going to be in Florida. Plugging in was almost entirely to protect the rig and give the cats a cool place to hang out for ten days.
So, the RV was parked, the cats were introduced to their new sitter and we then flew off to Tampa, to spend a night with my parents. We then woke up the following day and took off toward Orlando for what was an epic week of family time at Walt Disney World!
So this was the period of highs for 2020! This magical week included a day trip to Sea World, where we ate dinner with sharks and felt like James Bond villains:
Cheering on our family from Wales, and the rest of the American Cancer Society runners, during their half marathon:
Running a full marathon with our family from Wales:
And then preceding to wake up the next four mornings in a row to hit up all four parks together:
We did it all, even made it to Star Wars land where we encountered Kylo Ren, and I quickly got the hell out of there and left my sister-in-law for dead. ?Sorry, Sabrina!:
The entire trip was incredible! However, I’m also not 100% sure how my body did it. Must have been all those Florida hot tub sessions!
The last day, all of our family left, but we still had one more day in Orlando. We had initially planned on hitting up Fort Wilderness, maybe go to the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue and check out the Disney RV park. But we were so worn out, we ended up just getting a hotel room near the airport, and consuming lots of junk TV and food instead.
We got back to Las Vegas, not quite sure where we were going next. We knew we wanted to stay in the Southwest warmth until winter was over. So we decided to head to Lake Mead for a week of recuperation and planning.
January 20 – February 23: Lake Mead RV Village
We came back to one of our cats being pretty sick, which was a bit of a shock for me. She got better after a day or two, but it made us realize we can’t leave her with a sitter for that length of time anymore. After Vodka (the cat) got better, Barrett started getting sick. Then a couple of days later, I got sick. (laughy face) The whole gang (except for our other cat Squirt) was pretty out of commission for a week or so. But eventually, we all started to feel better. So, we sat down and figured out our travel plans for February through June. We decided we would leave Nevada at the end of January.
This is where our year started to turn on us. What was supposed to be, “Let’s spend a week or so by Lake Mead, relax, catch up on work, make some future travel plans and then continue on…” turned upside down.
First, my phone’s logic board just quit one day. We had to head into Las Vegas and spent most that day errand running and getting a new phone. Simple enough.
But then, we decided to go see the Hoover Dam the day before we traveled onward. On the way, while waiting in the Hoover Dam security line, our truck just stopped. Barrett turned to me and said, “The truck stopped.” My first gut reaction was, “Well yeah, we’re in a line.” Barrett quickly says, “No, the truck is completely stopped. It won’t turn on.”
So there we were, in the middle of barricades and cones, waiting to enter the Hoover Dam area, completely stopped. Barrett tried multiple times to turn it back on. Nothing. We got out, popped the hood. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. We were baffled. People behind us started getting out of their cars, asking us what was wrong. It was just a mess. So logically, Barrett walks up to the security stand and asks for help.
Somehow, I have no idea how, but somehow Barrett managed to sneak up on and scare this man. He jumped and grabbed toward his gun. Barrett quickly clarified that we just needed help. They came down and helped push us out of the way so the accrued line could keep moving in.
I jumped on the phone, got us a tow. They sent out the bomb-sniffing dogs to take a few laps around our truck. This all happened in a manner of minutes, but to me, it felt like an eternity.
We then proceeded to sit there and wait three hours for a tow truck, because while pushing the truck out of the way, we managed to push it under a freeway overpass, which ended up confusing multiple tow companies. But eventually, we got a tow!
The next day, we decided we had to do something, so we went and saw the Hoover Dam by boat instead. I was still trying to pretend what happened with the truck would not be a big deal, and doing my best to enjoy the surroundings.
But, we got a call at the end of the boat ride, and that was not the case. The truck problem was not small.
Part of our fuel system blew up, sending metal shards throughout the whole thing. Our entire fuel system, along with some other parts, had to be rebuilt. We were going to be hanging out at Lake Mead for a while.
In case you have the same truck as us, here’s an article that will shed some light onto what exactly happened to our truck. (I can’t guarantee reading it is going to help you sleep better at night… but it may help you realize you should probably start using fuel additives earlier than we did!)
We came back from our amazingly beautiful vacation (which I kept feeling like I didn’t even deserve for some reason) to what felt like complete chaos. Everyone was sick. Our Austin tenants suddenly decided to break their lease early. I was now playing middleman between GMC and our extended warranty company. My phone broke, and then it actually broke again. EVERYTHING was falling apart all at once, and the entire time felt utterly unsettling.
To top it off, the campground we were at would not let us extend and stay in our spot. At first, they implied we needed to go elsewhere. We were calling around to tow companies trying to find someone who could move us to another RV park. We figured worst comes to worst we could get a tow from our insurance company. But then the campground found an extended stay spot for us that was available for months. We were so relieved. We found a friendly neighbor to help move us. Then a week or two later, one random afternoon, they decided it was time to give someone else the spot and that we only had 45 minutes to move along. We reminded them we had no truck to use to move us along and were able to agree on extending a bit longer. Which was great, but the rest of the time we were there, I was anxiously worrying whether or not that would happen again.
We did, however, go on to make the best of a cruddy situation. GMC gave us a convertible Camaro as a rental! That was pretty cool and a reasonably significant change for us!
So much of a change that one of us did go on to end up getting a speeding ticket… ?
But that didn’t stop us from taking our new Camaro friend out on a few adventures! We took it to Valley of Fire State Park for some classic road trip fun:
Explored some more hikes around Lake Mead:
And even took it out for a weekend of Valentine’s Day fun on Fremont Street!
One more exciting thing that happened during this time was that we also got an opportunity to partner with Escape campervans for a 3-day journey to Death Valley! (More content coming up on this trip soon.) This trip was amazing! I whole-heartedly believe this spontaneous adventure was necessary to get us through our tough time and cannot thank them enough for letting us play in one of their campervans for a few days! Also, Death Valley is beautiful and highly underrated, in my opinion.
Want to get away and play in your own Escape Campervan rental for a few days? I highly recommend it! Use this link to book and you’ll get 10% off your daily rate.
Still, even with all that fun and beautiful scenery, the period at Lake Mead felt unsettling. I am, of course, never looking for pity when I share these stories. At the end of the day, I love the adventures and stories that RV life gives us. But I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that those few weeks were really hard on us. Our moods were all over the place. We were getting testy with each other and anxious for regained control of our time and space.
Eventually, though, we did regain control, fixed everything, and then immediately got the hell out of dodge!
February 23 – March 2: Big River, CA (outside of Lake Havasu, AZ)
Sweet, sweet freedom!
While in Big River, we explored the surrounding Lake Havasu area for a couple of days. We hiked SARA’s crack:
Fed some wild burros and saw a gunfight show in Oatman, AZ:
Took a very bumpy ride to a desert bar in the middle of nowhere:
And even met up with our friends Meghan and Aaron for a day of catching up and exploring in Joshua Tree National Park:
Things were starting to feel back on track.
The hard times that occurred in Lake Mead generated many conversations between us about the future of RV life. While here, we also decided to reassess all of our future plans we made for March-June. We knew we needed to take a moment, cut out some of the fat, ask ourselves what was still fitting, and if we were still focusing on the end goal of finding our future home and doing our best to not get distracted by “all of the things.” Since Colorado is still high on the list, we decided to cut down on a few stops and get to Colorado in May, instead of June, staying in the warmth for the rest of winter and some of the spring.
March 2 – Present Day: Tucson, AZ
As I said above, I wasn’t going to talk about March or Tucson in this post. But now, with our world’s current status, I feel there’s no way I can’t mention March.
We first showed up in Tucson as we do any other spot. Excited to explore the area, with a list ready of places we wanted to see! And we did actually get to visit a lot of those places before all of the social distancing and closures started.
We hiked in Saguaro National Park, joined Anytime Fitness (since we see them EVERYWHERE, whether we’re in a big, small, or micro-city), took a tour at Biosphere 2 (which was awesome):
And went on an incredible hike with my friend Lindsay’s parents Jeff and Diane:
We even saw a show at the Gaslight Theatre!
But then, obviously, everything changed. And since then, we have mostly been sitting inside, working, hanging out with our cats, and once again, reassessing.
Lesson 1: How to handle the times when all control feels lost.
So here is one lesson in the area of control that I spent a lot of time practicing last month, and that I know could be very helpful to many people right now:
For all of you Type A personalities out there right now during this current global health crisis (including me) – every day, you’ll work as hard as you can to readjust and make plans. But sometimes they’re just not meant to be, and life will have a good laugh at your expense.
During these times, when you want control oh so bad, but just can’t have it, try your hardest to be compassionate with yourself and others. Sometimes in this world, we are just utterly incapable of having control in the ways we want it.
What we can control is being kind to ourselves and having an understanding that this too will pass.
Think back on the times that things felt in control. It’s ok to remember those fondly. But it’s also essential to learn to appreciate the times you don’t have control.
I’ve decided that if anyone in RV life doesn’t learn this lesson, they will quickly be utterly miserable in this lifestyle. But this is one of the many reasons I’m grateful for RV life because I believe the current health crisis has shown us that this is a lesson we all need to learn no matter what. RV life just forced it onto me sooner and in a new way.
If anyone out there currently social distancing doesn’t learn this lesson, I’m fairly positive they will also be completely miserable right now.
Lesson 2: Times of uncertainty are great times for reassessment and reinvigoration.
With the current global health crisis, we are all in a moment of pause in a lot of ways. It can feel uncomfortable, but moments of pause can also be great moments to reflect and reassess.
The truth is, a lot of what has happened to us personally this year in both February, and now in March, has made us reconsider our plans over and over again. These two periods of time have led us to have many important conversations a bit sooner than I believe we ordinarily would have. And honestly, I think we needed to be hit over the head with this realization.
Don’t get me wrong, our primary goal of RV life has always been to find our spot. And we’ve still been exploring towns all along the way, asking ourselves if we could see ourselves living there. But I would be lying if I didn’t also admit that sometimes we get distracted and drawn in by National Parks and other “shiny objects” along the way.
We’ve used these times of uncertainty to regain a lot of perspective on what it is we’re doing and what we want out of RV life.
In January, we decided we were at least going to have a place to live part-time figured out by the end of 2020.
But then we also kept packing our calendar with “shiny objects.”
Now, most of those “shiny objects” have been removed, and we can focus on the main goal we established at the beginning of all of this, finding the best spot for us.
So, once travel is feasible again, we’re going to be making sure our future stops stay focused on finding our ultimate home base. At this point, we’re pretty comfortable saying it’s either Colorado or The Blueridge Parkway area (think eastern Tennessee, western North Carolina, and southern Virginia) for us! (And honestly, we knew that at the beginning of the year.)
We hope to first head to Colorado to spend as much time as we can exploring that beautiful state until July! (I absolutely HATED putting that in writing because now I know that plan is doomed. ?)
Are there perhaps things you may need to reassess? I’m obviously not in charge of your life, but this could be a great downtime to think about it. It’s worked well for us!
I just want to wrap this up saying, I know so much is up in the air for so many of us right now. I hope all of you are making it through this challenging time and making the most of your gained time at home with family. I’ve heard a lot of jokes about husbands and wives who are going to go nuts because they may have to spend a month together. I’m here to tell you, it is possible to survive being in close quarters for a little while! ?
Real talk, though, for any of you currently trying to figure out how to survive in the same small space with your family for more than one week, my friend Tina wrote a really great (and funny) article about how to cope, from a full-time RVer’s perspective. She even included some quotes from my husband, Barrett, who has now officially spoken on her website more than mine!
We realized yesterday that right as we were exiting one period of feeling stuck, we’re now entering another one. Except for this time, it’s totally different because it’s with everyone. In February, we felt so alone in our stuck. But now in March, our stuck is making us feel united with friends and family. I can’t begin to describe how different that is.
Hang in there. The truth is we’re all going to come out of this changed in some ways. Let’s help each other out as much as we can. If there’s any way I can help anyone who reads this blog, please reach out.
As always, thanks so much for reading and following along with us on our journey!
Sending love from Arizona,