March 2021 Budget

March was a more expensive month than we expected with $5,777.26 in costs. For more detailed information see below.

Entertainment – We spent $47 dollars more than our budget, which was nice that we had something to spend money on.

Food – This is where a ton of extra money went. We went over by $184 this month.

Groceries – A trip to Costco and continued focus on eating healthier drove our budget up by $103.

Gifts – I went over by $400 in this category. Our daughter Kay had her 25th birthday and we splurged a little on that, plus I bought a bassinette for my middle daughter for the new baby. Then of course there is Oliver. I keep telling myself I am going to cut back in this category but I spent several years on the road not being able to buy gifts and it’s really fun to be able to do that now.

Home Equipment – We went over by over $200 this month. There was nothing big in this category, it was all lots of little stuff. Our CO2 detector died and we have to replace it which cost $80. We did spend $55 on a new pan, which is crazy, but it is a really nice pan. and our old ones were almost 10 years old.

Pets – We spent $563 on Jack this month. He got his annual checkup and shots, a trip to the groomer, and a years supply of flea and tick chewables. This should even out over the year.

Overall it was fine. We continue to put money in savings every month which is great and I feel strongly that since we are blessed enough to have money right now its important that we share it.

Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

First Easter with Oliver

First and foremost I want to say that we received our first COVID shot in Florida with no issues at all. We did have to supply an ID, but since that has a Florida address it was no issue. Neither of us had any symptoms at all with the Pfizer vaccine and we were both relieved and grateful to have received it. Now, onto Easter.

During our time on the road we have been lucky enough to spend Easter in some cool places, but spending it with my Grandson may have been the coolest of all. I did all the traditional Easter stuff with my girls, but that was a long time ago, and I was excited about trying again with Oliver. My daughter Kyrston was also at a bit of a loss because he is only 19 months old, so I was happy to share my experience.

Basically at this age you keep the events short and let the kid wander off when they are done. I also highly recommend doing them in the morning so you can follow with a nap. We completed an Easter egg hunt, colored a few eggs, and he opened and sampled his basket in about 1-1/2 hours. Perfect in my opinion, but let me share the photos so you can see.

First up Grandma had to show Oliver where the egg goes. He picked it up super quick
And because you keep the “hiding” simple at this age he did a great job finding them…with some help.
Look at that smile
I thought this one was kind of hard but he found it
Out of 12 Kyrston hid he easily found 7 which I thought was a great job!!
Then we did the coloring. After some searching I found an egg spinner which was pretty easy for a toddler
Push the button and the egg spins around. We only did five but he liked it
Then we did the Easter Basket complete with a Baby Yoda
He doesn’t get lots of sweets but loved the chocolate bunny ears
His absolute favorite though was the bunny bubbles
I also wanted to have him help me fill deviled eggs. Kyrston showed me this cool trick where you put a Ziploc bag in a cup and then scoop in the egg mix
Then you pull the bag out and snip one corner. I have never done that before
Oliver was a little squirmy for egg making so we gave him a nap and then started making the dinner
Ham, cheese potatoes, green beans, and deviled eggs. All done in time for the end of Oliver’s nap
Delicious!!

It was a super fun day but by 3:00pm I was all pooped out and ready to go home. Little kids take a bunch of energy to keep up with.. Next up a trip to Magnolia Gardens and some of the most beautiful flower pictures we have taken on the road.

Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

In Search of a COVID Shot

I know I mentioned that we were leaving on Saturday, but as so often happens (especially this last year) things changed.  It started with my daughter who is pregnant in Minneapolis telling me that she and her partner had scheduled their COVID vaccinations.  This led me to really thinking about what it would look like if we didn’t get the vaccine before meeting our new grandson and I really didn’t like how that would work.

Initially I thought we could maybe get a Johnson & Johnson shot during our travels but the more I looked into it the worse I felt about our chances.  The rules from state to state vary widely and timeframes vary as well.  It’s all well and good to say it’s likely we would be able to get a shot but likely and definitely in this case are worlds apart.

I talked to some RV friends of mine next and several of them had managed to get shots in a different state than their domicile.  That was good news but one common factor in their stories was the amount of hours they spent online trying to find an open appointment.  Add to that the fact that we would need to stay in one place for at least 30 days if we got the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine and the idea of trying to find a shot while we were moving was daunting.

Next I thought maybe I could find something in South Carolina, but that turned out to be a real mess. All states are different, but South Carolina is really struggling and they don’t have enough vaccines to cover their 1A patients let alone enough for the 1C that we are in this state.  I even asked Lee to go to the Walgreen’s across the street from us to see if we could get on some kind of a waiting list for unused injections but that conversation only cemented how difficult things are here.  The woman he talked to was absolutely exhausted and although she confirmed that they would put a general call over the PA when they had unused injections she also said it was extremely random when that happened and they maintained no list of names. You basically have to be in the building when it happens.

Part of the problem here is many of the appointments are through private providers and those lists (best we can tell) are all separate.  Monday morning Lee woke up and checked Walgreen’s, Publix, Costco and the state site and couldn’t find any appointments for anyone this entire week.  That was pretty upsetting and we talked about widening our search so I decided to look in Florida, which is our domicile.  Amazingly I went on their site, found Nassau County (the closest to us) and within minutes found two adjacent appointments for Saturday 3/27.  It was amazingly easy, so much so that I doubted I had done it right, but in no time we had confirmations for our Moderna appointments.

The downside is we have a 3-1/2 hour drive each way that we have to make twice but honestly I feel like we won the lottery.  Even better because as of today (3/22) Florida opened it up to age 50 and above and we don’t need to worry about proving residency because our drivers licenses are all the proof we need.  Could we have found something in Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, or Minnesota…maybe.  But I would much rather stay here the extra 30+ days and then continue our travels.

To be clear I personally know people who have gotten the shot out of their home state and not had an issue, but that experience seems to vary as widely as everything else does in this vaccine rollout.  Not the first time our life was complicated by our travels and certainly not the last, I am just grateful that this time we stayed in place until we worked it out rather than pushing forward and hoping.  This is just too important to us.


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

Helping Kyrston with her New House

When we came to Charleston for the holidays our initial plan was to leave on February 20th and head west.  A couple weeks before our departure date, Kyrston (whose lease was up) found a house to rent.  She and her husband are not 100% sure they want to stay in this area, so buying wasn’t on the table, but we encouraged her to look into finding a place with a yard and she was lucky enough to find one.  The challenging part was she didn’t have a ton of time to plan the move, and she also wanted Lee’s help with building some furniture for her new place along with some other “make ready” projects.

Lee was excited about the project and I wanted to help with the move so we decided to stay another month.  The daily rate is double what the monthly rate is at this campground so our new departure date is March 20th.  After that we are going to visit Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Missouri on our way to see Kat and be in Minneapolis for the birth of her first child.  Thankfully we built lots of extra time in the schedule so we will still be able to get state stickers in all of the states before June.

In order to help Kyrston, Lee went to the house with her every day.  They also took Oliver almost every day which was really good for him.  His world has been pretty small, but he loved exploring the new house and the backyard was a big hit.  He also “helped” with the table building, handing out screws and using his play drill.  The pictures and videos were really cute so I thought I would share them with everyone.


Here’s Kyrston, with the first thing she ever built, a sawhorse. To build more stuff.

That’s my girl cutting some plywood to make a shop workbench using two base cabinets bought at a Habitat ReStore.

 

It won’t be long before that parts bin is filled with screws and nuts and bolts and such.

Kyrston got the idea for the furniture from a woman named Ana White.  She has a website which shows people how to make farmhouse furniture pretty inexpensively.  I love the way it looks and the costs were relatively inexpensive.  It is time consuming though and I think the projects are taking longer than either Lee or Kyrston thought.  Still can’t argue with the results.

Simple pantry shelves for the laundry room/pantry. The middle vertical pieces are to keep the shelves from bowing, but they “float” so they can be moved around as needed, that’s why they aren’t centered.

 

Working on a console/sofa table for the living room. What’s cool is you can build them to whatever size you need.

 

Staining the top pieces of the console table.

 

Oliver had to stay inside during the sanding but he loves watching his mommy work.

 


The finished top. The bottom still needs painting.

Turned out beautifully

The farmhouse table was even more complicated, but very nice and done by move in day.  The most time consuming part was waiting for pieces to dry between steps, so they worked on multiple pieces at the same time.

The chairs Kyrston bought used on Facebook Marketplace and stripped and painted them. They still need new fabric for the seats.

While all this was happening, Oliver was mostly delightful.  He would walk around and chatter throughout the day and only occasionally demand immediate attention.  Lee really enjoyed both helping his daughter and spending so much time with his grandson and that alone made all the work worth it.

Playing in a big box.

 

Playing in the mud

 

Love a dirty faced kid

 

Up and down the steps.  Kids don’t need fancy toys to keep themselves entertained

 

Helping Grandpa making memories and sawdust.

 

Hanging out in the cabinet

 

And trying on some cool shades

 

He would play and play and then just collapse. This day he took a nap on the floor.

 

I came one Saturday and brought a sand/water toy, but honestly he’s more interested in what’s laying around

 

Lee and I also went to Lowes and bought Kyrston and Jeremy a grill as a house warming present. How can you not have a grill on which to barely cook ribeyes??

There were so many great pictures and videos from the week, but here is my very favorite. Oliver carried that level around for a whole day, singing at the top of his lungs. Apparently he thought it was a musical instrument.

As a grandparent sometimes you see a picture of your grandchild that flashes you back to when your own child was small.  This picture evoked the same memory for Lee and I and I found the one of Kyrston when she was little so you can see what I mean.

Oliver, March 2021

And His Mommy, July 1991.

Lee and I both miss traveling, but these moments are really special, and it’s a privilege to have a lifestyle that allows us to be here for them.  Plus I get to take Oliver on moving day just the two of us and nothing is really more special than that.

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

February Budget

We went over budget by around $1700 in February, but that was largely due to the wedding.  Because the monthly rate was cheaper in Charleston, we double paid for a week of campground fees and eating out and gifts all had extra expenses as well.  But it’s not every day that your niece gets married so it was what it was. For more detail see below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Campsite Fees – We went over by $370 because we double paid for one week. 

Clothing – Lee had “outgrown” his dress clothes so had to purchase new shirts and a jacket.  The funny thing about these clothes is we rarely wear them so it seems like every time we have an event we have to rebuy.  I used something I had purchased for work which worked for me, but Lee lives in jeans and rarely wears anything else.

Dining Out – We went over by around $450.  This was partly eating on the run and also dinners with friends and family.

Home Repair – We have had mismatched RV tire rims for some time now and it was driving Lee crazy.  He got new rims and paid to have them mounted.  He also bought a jack so he could remove the tires himself.  All in we spent about $1K in this category in February.

Truck Fuel – Despite all the running around our truck fuel stayed below budget which was nice.

That’s all I have for this month. Lee’s normal stats will be up in a few days after we help our daughter’s family move!

 

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

Attending a Wedding in a COVID World

Last week my niece got married and despite COVID decided she wanted to have a reception.  This put me in an awkward situation because I love my niece dearly but frankly did not agree with her decision.  My choices were further complicated by the fact that my husband and I share a 400 square foot RV so social distancing from each other is simply not practical.  I was keenly aware that any decision I made was also a decision for him, so we definitely needed to be in agreement.

Despite my love for my niece I probably would not have attended except for two things.  First and foremost, my sister was a HUGE help at the weddings of two of my daughters, and I wanted to be there for her as she was for me.  Second, this family has experienced significant loss from the suicide of my nephew a year ago, and I knew this event was a way for them to try and move forward. Thankfully my brother, mother, and father had all had their vaccine shots so really it was just Lee and myself in my immediate family I needed to worry about.  All three of my daughters had declined to come.

After talking it through and being very open with my sister, Lee and I decided to attend only the portions of the event we felt were safest.  None were completely safe, but we did what we could to mitigate our risk and tried to keep things as close to how they would be for us if we didn’t go. We left Charleston and went back to Rock Hill on a Sunday with the intention of spending a week helping her as we were able.  On Thursday many of the other family members came into town and we all went out to an Italian dinner.  The restaurant put us at two long tables, but Lee and I requested a separate booth of our own.  It was kind of a bummer being that far away, but at least we were able to be in the room, and this was no different than if we had gone out to eat on our own.

We are on the right you can see my head poking out

 

My brother-in-laws family

 

My family

The next day we went to the venue and helped set up the reception hall.  I took the day off to help as much as possible and Lee and I spent most of the day assisting.  I felt really good about that, because we were able to provide some value.  About 25 people were in a space that holds 150, but at times it definitely felt tight.  The helpers were pretty good about wearing their masks, but the families not so much.  Lee and I did our best to social distance as we did our tasks, but it was hit and miss.

The venue was a converted barn, really pretty

 

My brother was there as well and he is always a huge help at these things. His daughter is only 12 but he gets the help next 🙂

 

We spent a ton of time ironing tablecloths and setting up tables

 

My brother and my Dad

 

It was wonderful seeing Josh (my brother-in-law) and his sister laughing together

 

The groom, his mom, and my niece

My sister is super crafty and there were lots of loving little touches everywhere.

All the grown cousins together

After setting up they all went to the church for the rehearsal, but Lee and I met up with them for the rehearsal dinner.  The restaurant was really great and had awesome decor and once again we were seated at a table all to ourselves, which was nice.

This was the coolest thing, it was a bed frame hung on the ceiling with lights in it

 

And we loved this light fixture at our table

Abram loves Lee and he did a wonderful job of keeping his mask on when we was around us.

 

My brother, Mom, and Dad

 

Josh’s sister, future son-in-law, and daughter

 

We had a choice of three different entrees and my steak was delicious.  The pork chops were even better.

The next day they decided to have the family back at the reception venue for wedding pictures prior to the ceremony.  The kids were doing first look at the venue which made things a little easier, but the taking of pictures was awkward.  It was pouring down rain and we only had a small outside spot to work with plus of course the pictures were without masks.  We probably shouldn’t have taken them at all, but who wants to be that person and at least we were outside in the fresh air when we did it.

My super cutie patooty nephew Abram.  The sneakers and suspenders were awesome

 

Jake and Abram

My nephew Alec. Wow he’s almost grown up

Josh’s family

My family

Mom and Alec

The classic car that ferried the couple back and forth all day

My sister

The church itself was very safe as masks were provided and it was immediate family only, about 40 people.   I was disappointed that no one on the grooms side wore masks but everyone wore one on our side and we had a pew all to ourselves, with an empty pew in front of us and behind us.

Bailey was stunning walking down the aisle

And I absolutely adored her dress

The happy couple Bailey and Preston

After the ceremony we went back to our RV, because the reception was just too risky for us, and we left to go back to Charleston the following morning without seeing anyone else.   The kids had a wonderful time I heard and I was able to get a picture of their first dance from my Mom.  Looking forward to seeing the video and thankfully as far as I know no one got sick from the event.  It is a difficult time for so many things and we all just have to make the best choices we can.  I wanted to share it with you all though because this has been a big part of the last couple of weeks

One last thing I would like to say.  Culturally accepted behavior around COVID is extremely different in the rural versus city areas.  As we have traveled we have seen that it is less north versus south rather it is rural versus urban.  These two different worlds are starkly different when it comes to the virus and as best we can, Lee and I are trying to navigate both.  I am sure many of you are in the same situation.

When Lee looked at this post, he immediately noticed how few people were wearing masks in the pictures.  It was definitely a mixed bag and as the weekend wore on less people did.  He asked me what I was trying to say by this post, and I guess the answer to that is it is hard.  It is easier to always make the safest choicest when there are few demands on you, but when you have something you really want it is much tougher.

Objectively should I have stayed at home…yes.  Am I glad I went…yes.  And I am trying to reconcile those two very real emotions. I imagine many other people are doing the same.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t get judgmental about those people who throw caution to the winds.  I do. And you certainly have the right to get judgmental about what I did.  But keep in mind that at the end of the day we all have to live our life in a way we can live with ourselves.  I needed to be there for my sister, and at the end of it all did the best that I could to honor that and stay safe.


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

First Time on a Podcast

Recently Lee and I had the privilege of participating in the Work Kamper Show podcast.  If you would like to hear the interview click on the picture below.

Tracy and Lee Perkins talk about their six-year adventure on Episode 108

If you are new to our site and not sure where to start, I will recommend a few links.

  • One of the most popular features of our site is our budgets and to see six years worth click here.
  • Interested in our work kamping experiences?  Check out our summary page here.
  • Want to know how we made it all happen?  Here is our Becoming Fulltimers Step by Step page
  • And finally for those of you who are interested in our take on the emotional experience, I have written numerous posts on the emotional journey.  Here are the links to annual summaries to get you started.

I strive to write the blog that I wish I could of read and hopefully it is helpful.  Any questions, please feel free to contact us at camperchronicles@gmail.com.

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

 

#Baby Breakout

One of the coolest things about being a grandma is grabbing your grandchild and having a day of adventure.  Unfortunately we don’t have a back seat in our truck so in order to take the baby we needed to borrow Kyrston and Jeremy’s car.  Since it is a new one, they weren’t crazy about that idea (I get it), but finally one morning they both agreed to let us take Oliver out just us. Needless to say Lee and I were super excited!!  We decided to go to the Children’s Museum downtown and scheduled the first available timed slot.  In order to control crowd size all the slots were prescheduled and we were happy to get a slot.

Grandpa pushing the stroller.

In a pre-covid world this would be packed on a Saturday but barely anywhere there

The Children’s Museum has five large rooms (each themed) and a terrific toddler area.  We allowed him to roam the place at will although we ended up spending most of our 2 hour window in the toddler zone.

Grandpa can science

Pirate Ship!!!

I loved the grocery area but unfortunately the bins were a little high for Oliver

The tool center had lots of cool tools

And a 3D printer

Lee got VERY excited about the theater area

I loved the paint area

Especially the table with toddler seats

We painted a picture

The toddler area was the best

 

He loved this Melissa & Doug Cutting Fruit food playset so much I bought him one of his own

After the children’s museum we decided to get Oliver a pair of big boy shoes.  I knew Kyrston wanted to get them so decided to take that task off her plate.  I have to say I miss Payless because we went to three different places before we finally found the pair we wanted.  He was super patient with the whole process though and he loves his light up Paw Patrol shoes. 

Watching him watch his feet light up was amazing

And last but not least we had to get McDonald’s.  Our first Happy meal and a great way to cap off the morning!!!

Absolutely fantastic grandma and grandpa morning and we loved every minute of it!!


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.

First Time in Beaufort, SC

As we travel across the country we have the opportunity to visit places we would probably never go.  We will pass by a relatively small town that we have heard of in our lives and will stop by just to see what it is like.  Sometimes these small towns don’t have much  of interest (Roswell, NM comes to mind), but it’s nice to check the box and say we have been there.  So when I was looking for something to do last Sunday, we decided to go down to Beaufort, SC.  

I knew the town name from one of my favorite authors Pat Conroy (Prince of Tides, Great Santini) but I didn’t know much about it.  Still it was nice to get out and it was a pleasant drive.   And sometimes when you just drive something really wonderful happens.  Turns out that Beaufort, SC is a VERY old town with streets that originated in 1711.  And the houses…wow just gorgeous and we spent some time just driving around the small side streets looking at the most amazing restored homes. 

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It wasn’t just the houses…it was also the beautiful old oak trees.  I have never seen anything quite like it in a residential area and even with the rain it was absolutely beautiful. 

I have never seen a tree crossing a road like this.

Clearance was 10 feet

Everyone has heard of the beautiful old homes in Charleston and Savannah but these were just as great.

This was my favorite…built in 1850

The working gas lights in front of many of the homes were amazing

Tidalholm was used in the movie The Great Santini and The big Chill

Interspersed throughout the home were beautiful channels and marsh

And several small park areas

And right next to the historic neighborhood was an old armory that is open to the public.

After leaving the neighborhood we drove through the small downtown with shops and stumbled across a Pat Conroy museum.  I had no idea it was there and better still it was actually open open a Sunday.  So we parked quickly and went inside.  It was a small building (free to enter) and was a treasure trove of artifacts.  

A jacket from The Price of Tides movie

The jacket from the Great Santini movie

Pictures of Pat

They even had his writing desk and allowed people to sit in his chair …gave me chills.

Pat’s hat when he went to the Citadel

A beautiful quilt

A note board which is lovely

They had many items for sale including these great small wall plaques

What a lovely surprise this day was, and the Literary Center was amazing.  To cap the day off, we took Jack to Fish Hall beach during a break in the rain.  This beach is the Gullah area on the outside of Hilton Head and is very dog friendly.  

We did see this sign when we entered which made me worry a little bit for Jack 🙂

Love…love this picture!

One last thing..we were super close to Parris Island so we drove right up to the gate.  We could have gone farther but neither of us thought that was a good idea, but it was neat to see Parris Island…at least the entrance to it.  Lots of cool stuff in this area. 

 

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.

Impact of Fulltiming on my Marriage

     Today Lee and I are celebrating our 32nd wedding anniversary.  It is also the 6th anniversary we have had while on the road and I thought it might be a good time to stop and take stock of how this lifestyle has impacted our marriage.  Although I have touched on this issue many times, I have been hesitant to write a post solely dedicated to the subject.  Which is weird because it was one of my main concerns when going on the road. I understood instinctively that we were playing with live ammo when it came to that and that level of change would be significant, for good or ill.  

So why have I shied away from talking about it?  Well, it’s highly personal, for one thing and I didn’t want to open myself up to judgement.  Also everyone’s marriage is very different and I hesitated to draw conclusions in case they were misunderstood.  At this point though I feel confident that the folks who read this blog can make the distinction between my life and theirs.  And I am extremely lucky that my readers mostly keep their judgements to themselves 🙂  So draw whatever conclusions you wish to from this post and I will do my best to be as honest as I can stand. 

Those who have been reading for awhile know that I like to look at patterns and timelines, so let me go back to the beginning and see where that takes us.  My very first post about this subject was in Feb 2015 and it was creatively titled First Anniversary on the Road.  I wrote a nice summary of our life together and then wrote, “…if it wasn’t for Lee this wouldn’t be my life.  I would never have had the vision or the courage to completely turn things upside down and start this adventure.  He brings those things to our marriage and I am so incredibly grateful to him for it. Plus he can still kiss me in a way which makes me tingle which is a really good thing 🙂 And he makes me laugh…oh, how he makes me laugh…”

This was written during our first three months on the road and although there was lots of change and stress around that change, Lee and I were a bit giddy and more passionate in our relationship than we had been since we were kids.  I can’t speak to other people’s passion, but I can attest to numerous people I know getting very giddy from their newfound freedom right after they start full timing.  It is definitely a rush with lots of excitement and for us at least some of that emotion translated into passion.  It was also the first time in 25 years we had no children in the house which didn’t hurt either! 

Unfortunately for us those early feelings didn’t last and as more time passed in the lifestyle, that side of things calmed down.  In April I wrote a post called Changing Relationships that talked about what was happening in our marriage.  I wrote, “There are lots of reasons people start full-time RVing.  The desire for adventure, wanting to live with less rules, the need for simplicity in their life, there are a myriad of reasons.  But for me the absolute number one reason was a desire to strengthen my marriage….It has been hard on our relationship these last few months but it’s also been great for our relationship.  We are talking more to each other than we have since we were young together and trying to figure it all out.  We are challenging each other to be better. And most importantly we are loving each other more deeply.”  

Even that early on I recognized that something very important was happening.  I used the blog as a means of writing about those feelings and to help me understand what was happening.  Looking back I am pretty proud of how much time we spent on our marriage during this time period and how we kept it front and center during the transition.  This changed as I grappled with whether or not to quit my corporate job and I spent more time thinking about myself and the marriage took a back seat. I talked about these struggles in Changing the Way I Define Myself and Identity Crisis.  My work was a huge part of how I defined myself and giving that up had a huge impact that took me a few years to deal with. 

During this time period when we were trying different jobs and figuring out how to support our lifestyle working low level positions, I really struggled.  At times I would fall into the trap of blaming Lee for the path our lives had taken and would have to pull myself out of that mindset because I knew we had made the decisions together every step of the way.  In some ways it didn’t help that things were so uneven.  What I mean by that is some jobs were just fine and our time off was great, but when we had a miserable job it was miserable.  In those times, it was hard not to be resentful that I had left a perfectly good job and the benefits of the lifestyle didn’t always outweigh the challenges.  

One thing I realized pretty early on is I needed more in my life.  This caused some friction with Lee.  He was largely very content with our life and the jobs we had and didn’t understand why it wasn’t enough for me.  I knew I was hurting his feelings, which wasn’t my intent, but I was trying on a new suit of clothes and everything felt too tight.  I missed the respect and mental challenge that I experienced in my old job and needed some outlet for my creativity.  Lee has always been a person who finds ways to be creative in everything he does, but for me that ability came late in life and I sorely missed it.  To meet that need I became more involved in the blog (which eventually led to my book) and I started cooking more.  Lee often felt that those activities were ways to avoid being with him, but it really was about me trying to steady myself. 

And to be honest it was a tough transition to spend so much time together.  We went from both working long hours and my traveling to us working and living together all the time.  For both of us this was a transition, because the kids had been a buffer of sorts for many years and now it was just the two of us.  This is a pretty common phenomenon as people go through empty nest, but few people simultaneously are living together for the first time in a 400 square feet of rolling space. In retrospect I think it would have been good to work through some empty nest issues prior to going on the road, but at the time we thought the adventure would help us. 

And it did in some ways.  The constant change of scenery was a welcome distraction and we always did better when we were in new places, but you take who you are with you wherever you go and unless you are willing to constantly travel sooner or later you will be in a place long enough for those distractions to not be enough.   I want to be really clear here this was simply our experience and everyone is different.  For us though a new place was very much a shiny new toy and since we didn’t want to ruin the experience we often kicked our marriage issues down the road….literally. 

One of the reasons I was really struggling was for the first time in years I didn’t feel self-sufficient.  I wrote a post called Solo Strategy that summed up my dilemma if something should happen to Lee.  I wrote, ” Our lives are completely entangled in each other now, in a good way, but what I never really thought about was how vulnerable that would make me. I spent years working myself into a position of independence.  Not because I didn’t love Lee, but because I needed to know I could stand on my own two feet. Over the last three years I have intentionally given most of that away. ”  The combination of not making enough money to support myself and living in an environment that I couldn’t manage on my own really got to me.  I know I am certainly not the only person in the lifestyle to worry about this but I also know that this is not a problem for many people.  As hard as I tried I couldn’t think my way out of these feelings and my unhappiness was really impacting our marriage.  

In January 2019, after a particularly disappointing Work Kamping Job, I decided to seriously pursue consulting work.  Lee was willing to let me try anything that would   make me happy but there were several restrictions around the type of job I could take.  Those restrictions coupled with a “hole” in my resume made the task much more difficult than I thought it would be.  It didn’t help that we were gate guarding and I was working 4pm – 4am shifts and scheduling phone interviews when trucks were rolling by was not easy.  When I wrote our five year summary in January I mentioned our 30 year anniversary and stated, “It didn’t help that in the middle of all this we had our 30th anniversary and even though we luckily had a few days off work we didn’t do anything to celebrate it.  Milestones are important to me, but not so much for Lee, and generally we manage to find some middle ground on celebrating them.  This time though nothing we could do felt right and we ended up doing nothing which really bothered me.  I knew I was unhappy with the way things were going and it became obvious that Lee felt the same way.  I had been so focused on myself and my own feelings I didn’t see that he was also struggling.”

I didn’t really understand at the time how bad things had gotten, because I was really focusing almost solely on myself at that point. Things were not fine from Lee’s side of things, but it wasn’t until the anniversary that I really realized how bad things were.  Since we were going right back to working opposite gate guarding shifts until our break in April, I didn’t think there was much we could do about it and then in March, Lee had a heart attack .  This was a major catalyst event in our marriage for several reasons.  From my perspective some of my worst fears were finally realized and I was traumatized by the fact he had almost died in front of me when we were alone in a remote area.  He woke up knowing just how precious his life was and committed to no longer living in a way that did not make him happy.  

The next year was one of the toughest of our entire marriage.  We weren’t communicating, we both were dealing with individual PTSD and our attempts at counseling in Oregon did not go well.  The one positive event in this year was we became grandparents and that event did help remind us of why we were together.  In September,  I was finally able to get a corporate job and for me at least it was a major step in getting myself back together.  Our marriage though was in trouble, but oddly the thing that probably helped us was COVID.  For one thing it forced us to stay in one place for 7 months and since we were with friends we had to maintain a certain level of politeness with each other.  It also provided an opportunity for us to find a virtual therapist.  Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy, but I am not sure we would have gotten serious about therapy unless we were forced to stay in one place for such a long period of time.  

It’s worth noting that the therapy has progressed much slower than I expected.  Seeing people virtually has its challenges and it took awhile for her to really understand our lifestyle.  More importantly the damage that had been done on both sides was more severe than either of us realized and 32 years of stuff can take awhile to get through.  We are making progress though and now that some of the financial pressure is off I think we both feel a bit better.  Things will probably never be the same as they were before the heart attack though, and for both of us that’s a good thing. I often miss what we were, but as Lee reminds me I do tend to look back with rose colored glasses. 

You know I started this post by talking about how the lifestyle impacted our marriage and I have to say that I am not completely sure that things wouldn’t have worked out the same regardless of where we lived.  Certainly the lifestyle makes it harder to hide from each other, and for what it’s worth promotes a certain level of practical co-dependency.  For example, we have to talk when we are getting ready to move, or arriving somewhere, because mostly that’s a two person job. We have to sleep in the same bed, because we literally do not have anywhere else comfortable to sleep.  We have to be sensitive on how we are sharing space because there is so little of it.  

So I guess, yes, it has changed our path.  No way all those things couldn’t impact our marriage.  Long term how it will turn out, who knows?  I am past the hubris of believing our marriage can survive anything.  I will say it has survived a lot, and despite it all we still love each other.  More importantly we enjoy traveling together.  But for me at least it can’t just be about heading to the next shiny thing and I don’t think that is enough for Lee either. The core of who were are is independent of our lifestyle.  That’s what we need to mend. 

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.

 

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.