Thursday, December 20, 2012

Parting Thoughts on Living Fulltime in an RV

I feel compelled to share some reflections, food for thought if you find you are seriously contemplating this lifestyle.  These are not in any particular order, rather just random musings that you may find worth considering.

  •  Know your motivation.  The reality is, this is still life, with both ups & downs.  If you know the true reason you are pursuing this, it will help you ride the bumps & not be deterred from turning your dream into a reality.
  • If you have not previously owned some sort of camper or do not have experience towing a trailer of any sort, be aware that there will definitely be a learning curve!  Yep, you can count on it being challenging, and you can also count on making mistakes.  Make sure you’re mentally prepared for that, and also make sure you’re financially prepared to fix your mistakes!  In short, if you don’t have the experience, it would be an awesome idea to vacation in a rig of sorts prior to moving into one full-time; if not, know that others have figured it out and you will, too, eventually!   
  • Know that while little kids—babies and toddlers—are really quite portable, they also tend to be “easier” with some sort of routine.  Maintaining routine while on the road was definitely challenging for us.
  • Know in advance how attached you are to the internet, and make appropriate plans to tend to that during your time on the road.  Honestly, given the fact that I had been living in a “technology-at-my-fingertips bubble,” I was genuinely surprised how many places we stayed had no wifi.  I was also surprised how many places advertised wifi, but in reality, it was either intolerably slow or simply did not work at all from our campsite.  If you’re relying on the internet to plan your next stop, campgrounds, as well as what to do while you’re there, this can be a real pain!  And if you’re relying on internet for blogging, well, you’re probably going to be perpetually behind, lol!  Seriously, although we did use Steve’s phone to tether, at various points, it simply didn’t work, so we were forced to do all of our research on his phone, and wait to blog until we had wifi again.  If you, or your spouse, is a research guru or needs wifi for work, this can be challenging.  Also, along these same lines, discuss whether one smart phone is sufficient for your family.  If one spouse has access to the internet for information, staying in touch with loved ones, etc., and the other spouse does not (but was used to that access formerly), well, it could cause conflict…don’t ask me how I know that! ;)
  • Either take time before you start your adventure to thoroughly discuss each family member’s goals for your time on the road, or make sure you make time at the very beginning for that.  Each family member needs to know that his or her needs and desires are heard and valued.  Once you’ve determined what your goals are, discuss how you plan to fulfill them!  Trust me, especially if you’re doing this for a limited time, you’ll be amazed how quickly the time flies, and how incredibly full your days are with all of your driving, sightseeing, hiking, and taking care of meeting basic needs like laundry, meals, dishes, etc.  Add homeschool to that mix, and rest assured that what you have not developed a plan for in advance will not get done!
  • If you already run a business together before doing this, you have a bit of an advantage; you’re likely already used to being around each other all the time!  I have to admit that over a year of being around each other nearly 24/7 was a big adjustment.  I have discovered over the last year just how attached both Steve and I are to the idea of being in control, haha!  Previously, I was the decision maker for most of the hours of most of my days, schooling the kids at home, and Steve was used to managing his own schedule, separate from the rest of us.  Suddenly, he was thrust into the throes of trying to comprehend what it really takes to get 6 people out the door by a certain time each day, and I was struggling to comprehend exactly what the word “submit” really means, day in and day out!  Wow…lots of room for growth there, but hopefully, we’ve made some progress! 
  • Despite all that time together, it is challenging to find time “alone” together.  And, no matter what your rig looks like, I’m pretty sure that intimacy is always a bit tricky.  Enough said.
  • Speaking of being together most of the time, know how much “alone time” you personally need to be the best spouse/parent you can be, and be assertive about making that happen.  Trust me, with packed schedules and just one vehicle, it can be challenging to make that happen.  Also trust me when I say that if you don’t, everyone will suffer!  Not only that, but it is important to know how much down time each of your kids needs to thrive, too!
  • Mentally prepare yourself for the economic/financial climate to change from what it was when you formulated your plans for your adventure.  For example, the price of diesel skyrocketed from what it was when we decided to do this; that definitely cut into our “fun money” budget.  Sure, we still had lots of fun, but it did affect our ability to do things like eat out/sample the local fare of an area, or do something for just the sheer fun of it, unless it was either free or held some sort of educational significance. 
  • Chances are that you’re tougher than you thought you were in ways you didn’t know, and you’re also probably softer than you thought!  Chances are that your spouse likely has different tolerances in these areas than you do, and you’ll have to figure out how to reconcile them!  I discovered that I’m pretty attached to water, showers, electricity, and my oven!  I also discovered that I'm okay with reduced access to those same things if carefully interspersed with great access to those same things.  In other words, it got to me when we dry camped for too long (or without enough water in our tanks), but if we dry camped for a few days followed by staying at a place with either full hookups or water/electric with a great bathhouse for showers, I was still a happy camper! 
  • Community is more important than you’ve probably given it credit for.  It’s still possible to have a sense of community on-the-road, but it does take some effort.  We found that national and state parks are fabulous for beautiful surroundings and more space, but community is often found in RV parks.  We spent most of our first half of our adventure staying at state parks, COE parks, and national parks, and we stayed at several Thousand Trails (TT) parks during the second half of our adventure.  I can’t say that I’m in love with Thousand Trails, but I can definitely say that we met more people that we now call friends by staying at TT.

And with that...we hope you've enjoyed reading our blog.   We tried to write in a way that would be helpful to others who might follow in our footsteps.  We really gained a lot of knowledge when we were in the planning stage by reading others' blogs!   If you are interested in this lifestyle, then please check out Fulltime Families, which is an excellent resource.   They also have a very active Facebook group which we highly recommend joining, both for enhancing the community aspect of fulltiming and for great advice and wisdom regarding the fulltime lifestyle.   

We might occasionally add posts here and there, but they will just be about regular life here in Salt Lake City.   We don't know what the future holds, but we might continue adventuring again at some point.  Who knows??   If you have any fulltime RV related or travel questions, please feel free to email us at for Steve or for Linda.   

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Best Campgrounds

Camping among the tall pines at Clear Spring COE

Top 3 COE Parks

1)      Clear Spring Park, Texarkana, Texas -- The tall pines here were amazing.  The sites were super spacious, and there was a beach to play on at the lake, as well as playgrounds.  

2)      Taylor Park on Granger Lake, Texas -- This was a super clean, well-maintained campground with spacious, easy-to-get-into sites.  There were also hiking/biking trails and a playground.

3)      Potters Creek, Texas -- This campground had easy-to-get-into sites, with lots of wide open space and a great view of the lake.  The bathhouse here was awesome, too!

Fun times at Hillshade RV Park in Gonzales, Texas -- Yes, this is January.
Top 5 Private RV Parks

1)      Small Country Campground, Lousia, VA -- We loved this campground for its reasonable rates, nice owners, spacious sites, a jumping pillow & a pool!
2)      Little Farm on the River, Rising Sun, IN -- The kids really enjoyed the playground, the basketball courts, and the little pond for fishing.
3)      Creekwood Farm, Maggie Valley, NC -- This park was in a great location, super close to Cataloochee.  There were clean, private bathrooms, and the rates with Passport America were good.  The trout stream--and the snakes in it--were a point of fascination for the kids!
4)      Hillshade RV Park, Gonzales, TX -- The owners are what make this a great place to stay.  The Moers  are super nice, and their homeschool kids befriended our kids and had a blast together.
5)      Big Pine Campground, Custer, SD -- This is a very pretty, wooded campground.

This amazing playground was right behind our site in Moscow, Idaho.
Top 5 Municipal RV Parks

1)      Pilot Knoll, Highland Village, TX -- We loved the setting here.  It is beautiful, and the staff was always nice.  

2)      Tapo Canyon Park, Simi Valley, CA -- This is a very nice, well-maintained campground with a great playground.  Watch out for ants though...

3)      Lewisville Lake Park, Lewisville, TX -- We stayed here a lot while we were still living & working in the area.  It's right on the lake, although your sites aren't.  The far bathhouse was great - clean, hot showers. And, the advertised wifi actually works and is super fast!!

4)      Victoria City Park, Victoria, TX -- If you're looking for a super cheap place to just hang out & catch up for a week, this is it.  This is a first-come, first-serve campground with full-hookups in a nice little town.  

5)      Fairgrounds, Moscow, ID -- The sites here are super close together and are also first-come, first-serve.  However, we had great neighbors, and there was an incredibly awesome playground right there.  The supermarket right across the road was pretty handy, too!  This is also a great place to just hang out & play catch up.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Friday, November 30, 2012

Top State Parks we visited

Top 17 State Parks

1)     Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas

We stayed 4 days in this gem of a place. 

Amazing rocks, amazing hiking.

3)      Point Lobos, California

Fierce coastline, and amazing tide pools

4)      Antelope Island, Utah

Wading in the cold salt lake, and super peaceful camping.

5)      Lake Tahoe, California

Big Trees and a gorgeous lake.

6)      National Bridge, Kentucky

Beautiful countryside and good hiking

7)     Tallulah Gorge, Georgia

Natural waterslide

8)     Jordanelle, Utah

Fall colors and the place to ourselves.

9)      Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

The ocean!

10)   Catalina, Arizona

Beautiful Desert

11)    Oliver Lee Memorial, New Mexico

11 Mile Hike with 2000+ vertical feet gain.

12)    Pinnacle Mountain, Arkansas

A hiking triumph by our 4 yr old.

13)    Enchanted Rock, Texas

A big pink rock that begs to be climbed.

14)    Magazine Mountain, Arkansas

Butterfly capital of the world.

15)    Quechee Gorge, Vermont

Fun in the water.

16)   Three Island State Park, Idaho

A green oasis in the Idaho desert.
Mountains of sand.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Top National Parks

Top 10 “Natural” National Parks
1)  Yosemite, CA
2)  Glacier, MT
3)  Acadia, ME
4)  Shenandoah, VA
5)  Joshua Tree, CA
6)  Grand Tetons, WY
7)  Buffalo River, AR
8)  Pinnacles, CA
9)  Craters of the Moon, ID
10) Badlands, SD

Honorable Mention:   Yellowstone, Devils Tower, Smoky Mountains

Top 7 “Historical” National Parks
1)  Alcatraz, San Francisco, CA
2)  Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, Baker City, OR
3)  Minuteman Missile, Near Wall, SD
4)  Jamestown, VA
5)  LBJ Ranch, Fredericksburg, TX
6)  Wright Brothers, Kill Devil Hills, NC
7)  St Louis Arch, MO

Honorable Mention:  Yorktown, VA;  Mt Rushmore, SD

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


It's challenging to summarize a year/fourteen months of travels in just one short post, but with this phase of our adventure at an end, I'd like to point out some favorites:  You'll notice that there are hyperlinks for the national parks, state parks, and museums that will take you to a separate post with the top (as voted by those old enough to vote in our family) parks, etc. visited on our adventure.

1-Visiting Friends & Family -- Hands down, this has been the most fun of our adventure!  Relationships trump "stuff" every time.  We will never regret the time we spent with others, period.  Rekindling friendships, making new friends, and sharing life with family we don't live close to made priceless memories that we'll cherish for a lifetime.

2-National Parks & State Parks aka "The Great Outdoors" -- Visiting National Parks all over the US was awesome!  Learning history, geography, and science, all while experiencing God's creation firsthand was great for everyone.  We certainly didn't make it to all of them; we had to leave some for later vacations, you know!

The kids learned so much from various Junior Ranger programs, and we did, too!  Of course, just getting out there and experiencing God's amazing creativity and imagination, all for us to enjoy and explore, was fabulous.

3-Museums -- I have a confession to make...prior to this adventure, I had no great love for museums.  I did occasionally go to them, but I often found myself overwhelmed with the massive amount of information, as well as the crowds.  Certainly, I got stretched in this area, and I have to say that there are definitely some incredible museums out there that are very much worth your time and your money to visit!

4-Campgrounds -- We stayed at probably over 50 different places on our trip.   These highlight the best ones.

Ultimately, I think all of our family learned that, pretty much no matter where you go, there will be great things about that place, and perhaps some not-so-great things.  When you are visiting a place at just the right time, with perfect weather, perfect amount of people, etc., there is no place better in the world to be!  I'm happy to say that we managed some of those moments of pure perfection, and I'm also happy to say that there were moments that didn't seem so perfect on the surface that we embraced and made priceless memories just the same!  I definitely want to remember that as we go forward--whether on-the-road or not--embrace where you are!  You are not confined by circumstances!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Exploring the mountains near our new home

Remember the idea of "embrace where you are"?  Well, we never would have imagined we'd end up in Salt Lake City, Utah.  We have no family or friends that live here or anywhere close to here, so it wasn't in our top five or even ten of places we hoped we might land.  Nonetheless, this is where we've landed, and we're embracing it!  It is beautiful here, so we're getting out and exploring the area!

The Fall colors hit the nearby mountains several weeks before the valley where we live.
Cecret Lake

Right after moving to our house in Sandy, the fall colors in the mountains hit their peak, and we really enjoyed them.  Knowing that winter would be coming soon enough, I took the kids hiking to Cecret Lake, definitely a do-able hike, with a sweet reward at the end---a beautiful lake.  We also hiked to Donut Falls, a less spectacular hike in terms of reward at the end, but the fall colors on the trees made it especially nice.  We also hiked Catherine Pass as a family on the weekend. There's something about that crisp, cool mountain air, and the brilliant blue skies and bright sunshine is simply amazing!!

Enjoying the sunshine
Jake enjoying himself right before he tripped and face planted.
Hike to Catherine Pass
Taking a break along the trail
The view from the top of the pass.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Our new house!

A house, ya know, the "sticks'n bricks" variety.  We decided to look for a house with RV parking, mostly because the thought of selling the RV was pretty abominable to Steve. ;)  And...we didn't want to pay for storage fees for it.  In our driving around to check out the area, we discovered that many people have RVs or boats parked next to their homes, so we knew it was surely a possibility.  We realized pretty quickly that we would end up with a larger home that we originally had in mind if we were going to find a house with parking that could accommodate our big rig in a neighborhood that was both reasonably nice and reasonably close to Steve's work.  Sooo...Labor Day was our first house hunting day, and the second house we looked at, we knew we should make an offer on.  Sure enough, three other offers came in on the heels of ours, but ours was the winning offer...and so, in record time, we landed a house here in UT.  Wow!  Still seems a little crazy that it all happened so fast, but that's kind of how it was selling our house to move into the RV, too!  We love the view of the mountains---from the girls' bedroom.  Unfortunately, our view is obscured by the frosted glass window of the master toilet room.:/  What were they thinking?  The basement is also awesome, with a built-in bookshelf and cabinets where I can keep all our homeschool stuff,  and a crazy large, cement block pantry!  We're ready for any natural disaster now! ;)  There's a lovely area for a garden in the backyard.  We're also just a short walk to a park with playground, tennis courts, and a track/trail for walking, biking, etc.  It's not perfect, but it looks perfect for us!

This is our new home.   Notice the RV parking on the right side.
The kitchen is the most popular room of the house.
Are they done yet?
The RV parked next to our house collecting snow.   We would get another 6-8 inches of snow after this photo was taken.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Thoughts on Our Adventure - Past, Present, and Future

This is a tricky post to write!  There are many thoughts floating around in my head, so I'm trying to chase down the important ones and articulate them in a coherent manner!

I know that Steve was initially resistant to the idea of looking for work again, but once he began the search and realized it was going to be tougher than he anticipated, he embraced it wholeheartedly, throwing "travelling" to the wind for a season, somewhat unexpectedly for me and the rest of the family.  However, we embraced the full-time lifestyle once more for a final hurrah, and I'm so glad we did!  When Steve received the offer for Salt Lake City, his initial response was rather somber.  It was difficult for him to see it in a light other than "losing his freedom" and "the end of the adventure."  Sooo...lots of fluctuating emotions have abounded around here for quite some time!  With that being said, we have prayed about our "end game" as diligently as we prayed about our start, so although there are without a doubt some bittersweet emotions flying around, there is also great peace about the way it all worked out.  I'm not sure why we've landed here, other than to say that I am convinced that, for whatever the reason, it is where the Lord wants us to be.

Since our arrival here, we have transitioned from a one car (truck) family, to a two vehicle family! shopping is always stressful, in my opinion.  Nonetheless, we now own a minivan in addition to our truck.  I know Steve was always dead set against owning a minivan, but he was a real sweetheart and caved to my request for one.  Gotta, love, the space inside for cargo in addition to people!  And, it is definitely easier to maneuver in tight spaces!  Another bonus is that since the price of diesel has risen 40 cents a gallon since we arrived here in SLC, we have a more fuel efficient vehicle for getting around!

Of course, we had to decide what to do about lodging, too.  Realistically, we're not sure how long we'll be here because you never know what the future holds; I think we know that with much more clarity now than we did just a year and a half ago!  We needed to decide whether to stay in the rig, rent, or buy.  I'll admit, I wasn't gung-ho about the idea of staying in the rig; as Steve puts it, the best thing about an RV is that it moves!  In other words, it isn't too exciting living in RV parks, packed in like sardines, watching all many of your neighbors come...and go...while you stay put!  Not to mention, having dealt with condensation issues in our rig last winter, which was mild, I wasn't thrilled about wintering here in SLC where there are real winters with plenty of snow!  Soooo...after a little research, we decided that it would be a good idea to buy a house here, but of course, we had to decide on location, size, price, etc.  All I can say about it is that God was in the details.  We did spend a lot of time looking at houses online, but when we decided to look at houses on Labor Day for the first time, Steve & I both knew that the second house we looked at was "the one."  Crazy!  We didn't even bother looking further; we just made an offer.  And, despite three other offers coming in on the heels of ours, our offer was the one that was accepted!  Wow!!  Such big decisions, so much money, definitely daunting, but again, it's good stuff that's happening, and there is an underlying peace about it all, in spite of the tumult!  It's becoming clearer that the adventure never really ends.  It simply morphs.  One era may have ended, but another is just beginning! more thing, there's room to park the rig right next to the house, so for now at least, we'll be keeping the rig! Awesomeness!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Beading with Friends

One day while Alyssa was out scootering around the RV park, burning off extra energy, she made a new friend!  I'm so glad she did, because we all enjoy Mrs. Debbie and Mr. Billy!  I think Debbie lured the girls in with her beading hobby.  Most evenings after work, Debbie would be outside at her picnic table, making necklaces and bracelets...AND she welcomed my girls and generously shared her beads with them, even buying beads specifically for them!  Wow---it's been so much fun and so good for my girls to craft with her! When Mr. Billy comes home from work, he always has a collection of bracelets, anklets, and necklaces to put clasps on.  It has been such a treat getting to know these guys, and it is so sweet to see our kids become friends with them.  We've been totally blessed by their kindness and generosity!  And...despite having left Pony Express RV park, we still get together every couple weeks for beading, yummy food, and hanging out.  For our sake, I hope work doesn't tug them away from Salt Lake City any time soon!

The hub of beading activity
This can go on for hours :)

Friday, September 7, 2012

New Minivan

It was time -- to get a second vehicle.  Steve hadn't found one at the auto auction with his dad in Pennsylvania, so minivan shopping commenced soon after our arrival in SLC.  I have to confess that I hate loathe car shopping, but the reward was nice!  Admittedly, this was a splurge -- DVD player for the kids (wow, we held out on this one for a loooong time) and leather seats; we all absolutely love all the cargo space in addition to the people space.  It is a Chrysler Town & Country.  The ride is indeed super sweet, the warranty is nice, and Steve isn't concerned about me & the kids driving from TX to UT, or other long road trips without him.  Soooo...we're enjoying it, and we plan on keeping it for a long time.  And no, we didn't purposefully choose to get a van that matches our truck (really, we don't have a thing for red) -- it just worked out that way!