First year in the books!

We purchased our new-to-us RV in June of 2021 and retired shortly thereafter, but weren’t actually full-time RV’ers until we sold our house on August 16, 2021. As we slide into the end of our first year, we thought it may be a good time to reflect on our journey so far: things we’ve learned, how we feel about it, and where we think we may be headed (spoiler alert – maybe not a specific destination).

So what have we learned this year? This is definitely not an exhaustive list, but things that came to mind.

  • Having time with friends and family is INVALUABLE
    We have joked with some of you about chasing 70 degrees, and while that is somewhat true we do have A/C and heat in the RV that have been working (knock on wood). So we haven’t really kept to that mantra. It’s been more about quality time with folks that we visit (when visiting people) and possibly helping them and/or getting service to our RV. We have spent considerable time in Missouri/Illinois area with family. Last October we spent a month with some friends in Colorado, and later visited some other friends in Florida and Louisiana. And all of July this year was spent in Ohio helping one of our daughters and her husband move into their first home. All of this has been made possible by having our home on wheels and being retired. The downside is that we REALLY miss those friends and family that we haven’t gotten to see as much since we sold our house.
  • Schedule Flexibility
    We were traveling from South Dakota to Colorado and snuck in a weekend with my niece and her husband and daughter. It was just a weekend visit but it was packed with wonderful memory-making adventures. Last fall, as winter was chasing us out of the northern states and we were headed South, we decided that when we hit the ocean we would either turn left or right. On our way, we visited an old boss who set Ken on the route to be able to retire early. We ended up going left to visit one of my childhood friends and her hubby in Jacksonville. Then visited some friends in Port St. Lucie. Eventually we re-traced part of our route to get back farther west to visit friends in Louisiana. The point being that with this lifestyle you can usually be very flexible. There have only been a couple of times when we had to be somewhere specific for a long-awaited appointment. Thank you to everyone we’ve been able to visit thus far, you know who you are!
  • Water/Electric/Sewer Management
    By using our RV’s tanks for water consumption, we’ve become more hyper-aware of usage. For instance, washing dishes is now just spraying a little Dawn Powerwash on the dish, wiping, rinsing, and drying. Filling up the sink with dishwater isn’t an option. Ken still takes a daily shower, but I’m on the 3 to 4 day plan unless I’ve been sweating a lot. You tend to keep an eye on your tanks and empty or fill them frequently. We now have the solar to boondock more (thanks to our extended stay in Colorado with our good friends!) but in the heat boondocking is not an option since we have a dog we leave in the RV for day trips and he needs A/C. No amount of solar would keep the A/C powerhog running. Side note: we use a Govee to monitor the temperature in the RV for our older poochie. Govee has the ability to push us a notification if the temperature gets out of our configured acceptable temperature range.
  • As a follow up point, make sure you have enough water to finish your shower!
    “Navy showers” or “Military showers” are a vital part of water management. A navy shower or military shower goes like this: Turn on the water and wet your hair and body. Wet all the nooks and crannies. Turn off the water. Soap up your hair, face, body, pits, nooks, crannies and the rest of you too. Turn on the water and rinse off. The objective is to use as little water as possible to get clean. The fresh water tank has a “guess gauge” to show how much fresh water you have in your tank. It’s a guess gauge because it’s really just showing you a guess of how much water is in the tank. It displays thirds of a tank. Ken hopped in the shower one morning turned on the water and rinsed himself. He then turned off the water and soaped up. He turned the water back on and no water came out of the shower head. He had me check the amount of fresh water in the tank and sure enough, it was empty. He asked for a bottle of water to get the soap off with so I handed him one. To this day he claims I got the bottle of water out of the refrigerator. To be honest I didn’t think of that option… 😉
  • Space Issues
    Let’s talk about the elephant in the room (or really lack of room for an elephant). RV’s don’t have much space. This seems to be a hot topic as most people admit that they couldn’t spend all of their time with their spouse/significant other in such tight quarters. We had a period of time initially that we had to figure out a better way to get along with each other since we each had our own style of working with people. There has been a time or two that each of us has done their own thing, but we’re mainly together 24/7 when we’re on the road. The only exception is when we’re visiting with friends or family we tend to do other things with them and spend a little more time apart. Also, we each have had an occasional day where we didn’t feel well and the other put in earbuds and watched Netflix. Or maybe ran to get provisions. The biggest space hurdle for us has been where to put all of our things. We seem to be forever analyzing the last time we used specific items, especially the larger ones. We also constantly try to find more creative ways to store needed items. Like my mini Keurig, which is now mounted on the wall with command strips so we have more room on our counter. Or the bread, which is in an IKEA mesh bag hanging from wall hooks. An over the door pocket organizer is hung on the bunk ladder to hold shoes, dog items and other readily needed items. Just to name a few.
  • No perishables in the drawers
    This was a recently learned lesson. A few weeks back I had purchased some potatoes, which aren’t highly perishable but do have a shelf life, especially if you forget about them. We were having a gnat issue and realized the potatoes were the source. I won’t go into further details because it was gross, but suffice it to say that the problem has been corrected!
  • Don’t flush the toilet with the exhaust fan on
    It just so happens that if you flush the toilet with the exhaust fan on a rather unpleasant odor fills the bathroom in point 2 milliseconds. Just don’t do it.
  • Short hair for the win
    Why clog up the drains with all that hair AND take longer to dry? And when you’re out hiking all day, who wants to deal with all that hot hair. Short hair is so much easier. Mine was forever in a ponytail before I had it cut (one stylist I knew called ponytails the ”I hate my hair look” LOL). Plus, for curly hair it’s much more cooperative when it’s short. I can’t say that I won’t have longer hair again, but for now this short style is working for me and our lifestyle even though Ken likes my hair longer.
  • Learn from others
    There are many YouTubers out there that love to share their lessons learned. One of our favorite things is to learn from them too! Why go through the headaches if they’ve already paved the way for an easier time? Or had an issue with some mechanics in their RV that you can glean knowledge from? After we purchased our new-to-us RV, our friends told us about a Facebook group that is specifically for our RV. We were able to fix our A/C with knowledge from that group, potentially saving us lots of money. It’s wonderful having a network of friends and family that may be able to help!

If you’re wondering what states we’ve travelled to so far during this past year, here’s a list (this doesn’t include anyplace we went to before we retired): Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida. Plenty more to do in all of them as we didn’t get everywhere yet, there’s a ton of territory to cover! More West is on the list, but we’ve been moving a little more slowly to take in as much as possible in one area. We started a National Parks collection of walking stick medallions to commemorate each of the NP’s we’ve been to. Yet to be determined what we’ll do with them. While we mainly keep to ourselves while out and about in a new destination, we’ve been fortunate that we’ve made a few friends on the road. Thank goodness for phone calls, texting, and FaceTime to help us keep connected with everyone. If we haven’t talked to you in a while, call us!

Anything you’d like to add regarding any of the points above? Feel free to post below in the comments. One last thing…we are running behind on our blog posts. Somewhat intentional, but it’s a little longer than we would like. Retirement has gotten in the way of more timely posts haha!