You know how when you start running downhill your feet get to going really fast and it’s hard to stop? I sometimes think that RV’ing can be like that. You get started at something, like a pattern of travel. And at those times the best thing in the world can be to break the inertia.
Habits are incredibly strong. They’re great to have when they help you but they can be a real pain when a habit takes over and you do things you don’t WANT to be doing, or shouldn’t be doing. I know. I tend to EAT out of habit and my waistline hates me for it.
But back to RV’ing…
We’d be the first to agree that over the last two months we have been struggling with decisions about where to go. Since leaving our volunteer gig at the Oregon Dunes we have waffled on just about every aspect of where to go next and how long to stay. It’s as if our time with the Forest Service wasn’t RV’ing at all. We were just living in an RV. And because we got into a different headspace, our planning skills atrophied like unused muscles, to say nothing of warping our sense of finances (10 months in a row of no campsite expenses resulted in some pretty posh living for us).
Let me assure you that after 2 1/2 years of RV’ing we have not run out of places to go (meaning places we WANT to go). Our problem has been more re-learning how quickly we can afford to see them, and how to most efficiently accomplish our wants.
Let me explain.
I say repeatedly that there is no right way to RV. I know people who approach this with the ultimate of discipline and forethought.
And then there are others who aren’t so organized.
We’re somewhere in between.
For 45 years poor Peggy has put up with a guy who doesn’t know the meaning of being involved. I’m one of those guys who has to be committed. I’m sure you could tell that when we were volunteering on the Forest. I didn’t have to do all the things I did there — I wanted to do them. I had a vision of what I wanted to accomplish in the time we were there and I was hell bent to get those things DONE before we departed. (Even though I’m a little burnt out right now, I’m glad we did. I’m proud of what we accomplished there.) What happens, inevitably, is that I get really enthused about something and then need to slow down or change things to be enthused about. The only constants in my life are my faith, my wife (and family), and photography.
I’m kind of like that proverbial snow ball rolling down hill. I start out slow — getting a feel for where I am or what I’m doing. But gradually I pick up speed until there’s no holding me back.
Self knowledge is advantageous. We (both of us) have learned to consciously insert pauses in our life to slow down this runaway snowball, to exert a slowing force upon our momentum and to get ourselves (mostly me) back under control from total commitment to a sort of gentle cruising along! That’s where we are right now.
After rushing to finish up our Forest chores, then rushing to get our solar installed, and rushing to get back to Wisconsin to meet appointments made long before installing solar was ever talk about we were clearly in a tizzy. This second two weeks in Grenada is just what we needed to really get back to normal retirement.
Habit does not help with inertia. For example — Peg and I are both ‘nosey buggers’…. when we pull into a new campground the first thing we do — every single time as if we were programmed — is to go reconnoiter. The afternoon we pull in we check out the campground. The next day we check out the local town, or surrounding area. No one says we have to, it just happens. We’re nosey!
Also, we don’t sit around in our easy chairs very many days before we are back in the car and snooping around other things or I’ve gotten my cameras out and I’m looking for things to shoot. I haven’t done that as much in the last 2 years as normal, maybe I’m getting tired of carrying around 10-30 lbs of gear everytime I get out of the car. For a while there, I used nothing but my iPhone — just because it was convenient.
Are we restless souls? Sure. I’ll own that! I truly believe that was part of the reason we decided upon a mobile retirement. We may park for weeks on end but we don’t actually sit STILL for very long. Not even literally — I have never been able to SIT quietly without moving and fidgeting. I’ve even broken chairs because I move around so much.
One of my ways of breaking momentum has been reading. I have to force myself to slow down to read; to take the words one by one; to let my brain wander around the space that the book’s characters abide. And since we left Oregon I’ve been reading up a storm — a book every day or every two days. In addition, I’ve been catching up on chores. I’ve been coming up with new projects and actually getting some of them done. This has actually been quite restful for me.
Our upcoming 4 month stay in S. Texas is a bit of an experiment. I honestly don’t know if I can stay in one place for 4 months (without some kind of a ‘job’ to do). Even before we retired it seemed that 3 or 4 months would be about as long as I could go before I had to be off in the car on a photo trip or I would find some other excuse to travel.
So, the 4 months in one place in Texas will be more like having a pushing off point. With over 500 RV parks in South Texas, several National Wildlife Refuges, as well as 5 World Birding Centers the park we have picked for the winter at should be a great location from which to check out the Rio Grande Valley as a region we may want to return to — either periodically or regularly. We’ve have been in the valley before, but neither of us has spent any appreciable time there. We arrive there in a little over a month.
We’ll be here another 9 days, then 4 near New Orleans and a couple 7 night stays in Galveston and Matagorda — we’re not going to do a lot of driving in a month!
Have you’ve noticed that our driving style is changing? What we are discovering is how completely different Serendipity is to drive than was Journey (our last coach). Journey being a Winnebago was built on a Freightliner chassis with 4 airbags. Serendipity being a Monaco product uses a Roadmaster chassis with 8 airbags. This coach is also 8 feet longer than the other and most of that 8 feet shows up in a longer wheelbase. Serendipity is far more stable in the wind, less tippy on an incline, and the engine/transmission match results in a more positive response without many more horsepower (the Journey always had a time delay between when you depressed the throttle and the coach responding — I came to believe it was due to the engine/transmission match — a smaller sized transmission than should have been mated to the engine).
We don’t like 400+ miles days in the coach. Heck, I’m not so keen on 400+ mile days even in the car anymore even though I used be able to do 700+ miles in a day. My butt just gets too tired and as we get older things like blood clots in your legs get to be something you should protect against. But in Journey I was tired by the time we’d driven 150-200 miles. In Serendipity I find 300 miles is a nice day’s trip. Please understand, that’s a statement based only on 11 days behind the wheel in 7 months.
We still have a lot of learning to do with this new coach. With 4 slides instead of 2 it just seems like we should be actuating those slides a little less often. And because a 300 mile trip is more doable in one day, the idea of traveling 2 days worth of driving in only 1 day just makes sense to the mechanical part of my brain. If it’s easily doable, and comfortable — why not?
How long does it take to set up and tear down?
As long as I’m talking about such things — let’s talk a little about process. Setting up at a new site and getting ready to go at an old site are each about an hour’s work. There are things to move inside the coach, might fall or tip in motion. Then we retract our slides, retract our satellite antenna, raise our jacks, unhook water and electric and stow away the cords/hoses. That’s just about an hour start to finish.
If we are dumping wastewater and refilling we often need another 30 to 45 minutes — a task we often combine with hooking up the CR-V — as there’s not much to be done while we are refilling our fresh water. That’s a process you can’t hurry, you’re dependent on the amount of water a garden hose can move at 50 lbs pressure (max) while going through a filter that only moves about 3 gallons a minute. You do the math. With a 100 gallon tank — you can see how that might take a while (depending on how much water we USED in our last stay). I know it’s an extra 700 lbs to carry while we are driving, but if we don’t know where we’re stopping we’d rather have the water on board than count on filling our tank when we arrive at the end of the day. So we usually finish dumping and stowing the wastewater hose long before the freshwater has been taken on board — plenty of time to hook up the car for towing while we wait.
You may remember that about a year ago we bought a new coffee maker. As long as we were going to be on the Forest for the better part of a year we decided that using our french press ALL the time wasn’t necessary. We have been careful about accumulating more possessions but the french press made good coffee but didn’t keep a half-empty pot of Joe warm. And so it was that we found this Hamilton Beach Brew Station. I read all the Amazon reviews and everyone loved this coffee maker. Indeed — we did too for the first year.
But now…. he leaks. Well, it’s not so much that he leaks as that condensation drips back down into a part of the coffeemaker where water is not supposed to accumulate and if we don’t check it every single day it leaks out onto the counter/shelf. Actually, the coffeemaker is starting to sound like an old man with prostate problems!
We’ve been mopping up after our sloppy coffeemaker for a few weeks now and I suspect that we’ll seek a better solution. The brew station idea was good, but scratch this implementation off our list of good ideas!
When we bought this one Peg was afraid of a glass coffee pot in the coach — breakage danger. The Winnebago suspension bounced around so much that we were sure a glass pot would break. The Roadmaster ride is so much softer that we aren’t nearly as concerned. So — we’ll see what we end up with — whenever we get sick and tired of mopping up after an incontinent coffeepot.
Thanks for stopping by! I’ll talk with you tomorrow.