If I weren’t more familiar with this lifestyle, it would be hard to understand some of the choices of what you see first, next, etc. Most people picture all these big moments with a lot of things you have waited all your life to see because you compare it to vacation. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had a lot of big moments but how many times have you gone on a great trip and were still happy to be back home?
Carlyle has been a great palate cleanser in that way – our happy to be home after a busy trip sort of feeling. It’s of course not our home – I just mean that it allowed us to change our focus to tasks, direction, rest, etc. It’s a small rural town, with a population of just over 3000. It’s basically some small neighborhoods, corn fields, a few restaurants, a big lake, and a Walmart. I love it as much as anything else we have done though, it’s been exactly what I needed!
We primarily chose Carlyle because we try and not travel more than 4 or 5 hours a week and we generally just need to keep moving south towards Texas. We also wanted to try out an Army Corps of Engineers campground because we’ve heard they have well maintained grounds and are inexpensive. So far, the rumors are true, it’s a beautiful campground on a huge lake and it was $18 a night. We only have electric hookups this week, but we have supplemented our fresh water supply by visiting their immaculately cleaned shower house. I have also held on to some laundry and will get to it at our next stop. They do have a laundry area on site, but we aren’t in dire need right now.
While Ed worked this week, I have done all sorts of things – some deep cleaning and reorganizing, worked on trip planning (specifically looking at my son’s visit for Christmas break. I CAN NOT WAIT to hug him and see his handsome face!). I took care of some bookkeeping and our Airbnb business requires my attention frequently. I try and make time to write each day- some fiction, sometimes this blog. I also play scrabble with my mother-in-law. For those who don’t know Miss Doris, she is great at games and especially scrabble. Occasionally, I luck up and win -not usually- but I enjoy it.
I am also trying to re-engage running. We are pretty active with touring, hiking, biking, etc, but I enjoyed training. I was consistent with training for two years but about this time last year, I fell off. When I first began running, it was a desperate attempt to get out of a depression. It was my last ditch effort before moving towards medication. Talk therapy helped, but not as much as the running and being consistent with some vitamins and a healthy diet. (I am not giving others health advice, it’s not a solution that would work for everyone. I am just stating what worked for me.) I stayed with it to continue to manage my stress, and it just made me feel great and gave me a different relationship with my body, how I viewed myself, and how I prioritize my time.
I did strict keto for about 7 months last year and it effected my performance right in the middle of training for a half-marathon. I toyed with different things to try and overcome that, and eventually quit Keto. I then injured my toe and every time I started back over the next 5 or 6 weeks it would start bleeding again and I thought I was going to lose my toenail. That break was just long enough to forgot how much I loved it and needed it. I have gone a few times since we left, but this morning my body told me its time in every way that it could. So I went out and enjoyed the weather, my music, and the beautiful lake. I thought about all my blessings and how grateful I am, what a great way to start the day! I just like writing down and sharing my goals with others for accountability. You would laugh at some of the others I had to set since we left. Let’s just say establishing a new routine has been hard because you do start off feeling like you are on vacation.
It’s been nice that Ed’s schedule stayed on Eastern time while we are on Central. It makes his days a bit earlier and we are able to go outside and play for a little while before dinner. We have gotten out in the evenings to go for hikes or to ride our bikes, sometimes a combo of both. There is a big area across the lake where all these birds congregate in a big mass so we went with binoculars to get a look. Mostly huge pelicans, but some white egrets, blue herons, and sea gulls. I’d share a pic, but it just looks like a big white blur across the lake. Probably the best hikes were loops 1, 2, and 3 in the Eldon Hazlet State Park – those had a lot of deer. The bike trails go all along the lake, on top of the dam, down the river, etc. Very scenic.
We are only an hour from St. Louis so last weekend we visited the zoo. The weather was perfect and it was fun to people watch as much as look at the exhibits. (Little humans everywhere – they are the natural comedians of our species!) We had planned to go to the Arch NP afterwards, but it was a “free day” to visit so the tram was booked, We were already lukewarm on going, so we didn’t go ahead and pursue it. We decided to be lazy and go see a movie to polish off the afternoon.
We are now headed to the Ozarks for a couple of weeks. We are driving half today, half tomorrow because it’s 6 hours and it breaks our 4 hour rule. We try to keep trips shorter to avoid driving fatigue for safety reasons. Hoping to stay long enough to catch some fall foliage. I am also looking forward to seeing the mountains again after a couple months of flat farmland. See, variety really is the spice of life!
Here are a few questions we’ve been asked lately, thought some of you might be curious too:
What have you done to make your RV more like a home for you?
Good one! Some of our projects that has made things easier or more comfortable:
-Ed and our son-in-law Travis built a pass through drawer in one of our compartments. When you slide it out, it has my blackstone grill and a cooking station set up. There is a paper towel rack, oil, water, Salt, pepper, a trash can, cooking and cleaning utensils and a little space to sit down a tray or plate. I cook a lot, we eat out the same amount or maybe less than we did at our house. I love how this simplifies- we don’t have to set up the stand and get it out and put it back all the time and protects it from theft.
-We removed one of the couches and put in a desk for Ed so he has a good workspace. Both couches were pull out couches, but you couldn’t have them out at the same time so we lost nothing.
-The kitchen bar is where we eat, but he installed two drawers underneath so I could use it as my workspace and to store my laptop. I think he ordered them on amazon, and we installed them in less than 30 minutes. I like that they lock, it’s helpful when we are moving. The chairs also have storage so I can keep mail or other things I need to work on. (Okay and I might have some coloring supplies in there too, it’s a nice meditation for me)
-I think bedding is a big deal for any home, after all you spend about 1/3 of your time there. I opted for an all seasons down comforter with a duvet because it would be hard to wash a big comforter all the time or to carry different weights of blankets. Most RV’s have odd sized mattresses , and that’s been a challenge to find the quality I wanted in what is called an “Olympic Queen”. I have found for the comforter, King size works great and I really love the one we have. So far, I have only bought the OQ sheets, and it’s driving me crazy because what I bought has already started to pill. I bought two sets because I probably change them out twice a week! I don’t have OCD, I just like sleeping and use everything I can to make it as enjoyable as possible. I may have to try King Size so I can buy a better quality set, that might require pinning the fitted sheet? Open for suggestions!
Other than that, our RV was already set up very well for the two of us. Choosing the right one is both hard and important, don’t rush that process if you are looking to purchase. It helps us a lot to have a dishwasher and a washer/dryer set on board. Those items might be less important if you aren’t full time, but they are very nice if you are. The toy hauler under the bed lets us carry our motorcycle, ebikes, lawn chairs, a ladder, and an inflatable kayak. (If you choose to go inflatable, go for quality. We have had that one for several years and have used it a great deal, it’s very durable.)
Do you like this lifestyle, do you think it’s what you signed up for?
Yes! We love it! However, I do like to keep it real. It hasn’t been without its ups and downs and adjustments. Especially the times we wished we could be with our kids, and just missing them a lot in general. On the other hand, I think everyone should carve out time at some point to follow their crazy dreams, and this one is ours. It’s not forever, and I know we will make time to see our loved ones and some of them will be able to make time to come see us too.
Overall, it’s been maybe even better than we thought it would be. There are benefits that we couldn’t have understood before doing this. I still couldn’t tell you for how long it will be, but have no regrets at all. We will always be able to look back at all this quality time and all the new experiences we have gotten to share and know we wouldn’t have traded it. Nothing is ever promised, so it’s nice we were able to do this while we were able.
It’s not for everyone though. If you are not a “go with the flow” kind of person, maybe reconsider. Things break, you will have trouble getting into sites, you will miss your turn off, you will change plans frequently, and you will need to have patience so you can bite your tongue in some of those moments so you can remember you are on the same team !
Since we have started we have had a windshield repaired after a rock on the highway got us, the roof was torn on a branch during a failed attempt to stay at Tahquamenon Falls State Park and as a result started to leak, our solar system has had to be reprogrammed a couple of times with some late evening visits with our consultant, we had a broken AC, the toilet was leaking, we’ve dealt with a few big events with our Airbnbs (one guy turned our apartment into a mud pit – that was a fun day). And we had a couple of especially tough times parking the RV. That sounds stressful, but somehow the rest of all the good stuff totally outweighs it for us. We were glad to be able to fix all of these things pretty easily. Maybe the biggest advantage we have is what we choose to focus on, and that’s true in all lifestyles and situations.
I would be happy to answer other questions, if anyone has any just send them a long. I primarily started this blog thinking it would be easiest for our loved ones to keep up with our happenings, but I have had some folks curious because they are thinking about doing the same thing. No matter what, I am happy I decided to keep records on our little adventure, it will be neat to revisit one day. Thanks for reading!