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How To Become Full-Time RVers - The Year We Became Gypsies

Updated on April 6, 2013
Gypsy Caravan
Gypsy Caravan | Source

I have never claimed to be sensible. My husband and I have changed our direction at the drop of a hat, on the spur of a moment, or on a wing and a prayer so to speak. This may be a consequence of experiencing more than our share of life’s unexpected tornadoes – although I doubt it. We do think things through - but only to a point. If we really want to get on a brand new bandwagon, the little negatives we come upon get glossed over and every little thing comes up smelling like roses. One prime example would be the year we became gypsies.

Our Ranch-Style Home
Our Ranch-Style Home | Source
Our Back Yard
Our Back Yard | Source

In The Beginning

Life was good. We were living in a lovely three bedroom, ranch-style home which sat on a large treed lot and was surrounded by flowers, shrubbery and spacious lawn. Because our home was in a natural setting we were regularly visited by birds, deer, squirrels, bear, and a few other assorted outdoor friends. Everyone thought we would enjoy a happy retirement in our little piece of paradise – and so did we.

The trouble began when a good friend bought a Class A motor home. Of course they wanted to show it off so we were treated to a tour through their little palace on wheels. It was an older model but we could see it had absolutely everything a person could want. At that time we knew nothing about motor homes. We didn’t know they came in different models, so our friends explained that “class A” meant that the driver’s seat is part and parcel of the home - just like a bus.

They took us for a spin and I must admit I was a little nervous. There we were, barreling down the highway in the company of a fridge, a stove, and a bathroom for goodness sake, and the whole thing seemed huge! We couldn’t imagine driving something that big. Or could we?

After taking their rig out on a few camping trips our friends came home bubbling over with excitement. They couldn’t say enough about the comfort and convenience of traveling in their motor home. They also had a little Jack Russell terrier and apparently she settled right in. After listening to their non-stop tales of camping in style we thought it would be smart to take a look at a used model.

“We’re just going to look,” we both vowed. “We’re not really sold on the idea at all.” And off we went to the dealership.

Have I mentioned that we are not all that sensible?

Our Commander
Our Commander | Source

Accessorize - We Must Accessorize!

We left the dealership with a thirty-two foot 1995 Triple E Commander. It had one very small slide-out, a bathroom with separate shower, a comfy bedroom, two televisions, a fridge, stove, and quite a few cupboards. The décor was nice and it was well-kept for a ten year-old model. We were thrilled!

My husband found our coach fairly easy to drive. I quietly and calmly pointed out that we were not supposed to be driving in the break-down lane and that tree branches were better left on the trees! He quietly and calmly explained that it was very difficult to judge just where on the road the house should be. It only took a few days for my voice to come back to normal and the little pink pills calmed me down quite quickly! He couldn’t take pills – he was driving.

To enjoy fine camping, your basic North American camper must be well equipped with supplies. Coordinating sheets, blankets and towels should be purchased along with dishes, pots and pans, forks and knives, various cooking utensils and, of course, food. Also included are two or three small lamps for lighting as well as for ambiance, a duvet or bedspread with matching pillows, a nice painting or two, stylish clock, a pretty kitchen rug, matching kitchen towels - and don’t start me on bathroom accessories! Oh and we needed a new scratching post and litter box. The old ones didn’t match my colour scheme. Did I mention we’d be living in 256 square feet with three cats?

For some reason, friends do not often call me Sensible Carol.

All Rigged Out

The next order of business was the purchase of a tow bar. It seems that achieving a camping destination in a motor home is not enough. After arrival we must pay for our site, put the stabilizing jacks down, plug into electricity, extend our slide-out, extend the awning, lock everything up, and jump in the car for a little sight-seeing. For this all important ritual you need a car and the car has to be towed. This will automatically add several hundred dollars to the cost of camping and quite a few more feet to your wagon train!

Now that we were well equipped we had to decide on our first destination. We could choose a spot on the Washington coast, a pretty village in the Okanagan, or a visit to Vancouver Island. All of these destinations could easily be reached in a day and were fairly familiar to us. But winter was close and the weather forecast predicted rain and chilly temperatures.

Did I mention that we are not all that sensible?

Map of Arizona
Map of Arizona | Source

The Plot Thickens....

We chose Arizona for our inaugural run - a mere 2,400 kilometers away! Our kids and grandkids waved goodbye and off we went on another fine adventure. We planned ahead and picked several places to stop on our way south. Along the way we met several very nice people who were also headed for a warmer climate. Some took their time and meandered for a few weeks. Others had that crazy-eyed
gotta-get-there look on their faces. Because we believe it really is the journey and not the destination that counts, we chose to meander.

Eventually, after getting lost only once, we found ourselves in a lovely RV park near Phoenix, Arizona. Here we met a couple who, astonishingly, were from our small hometown. These people had dozens of hilarious stories to tell about their travels around Canada and the United States. It turned out they lived full-time in their large trailer. They had sold their home, bought a larger rig, and headed off into the wild blue yonder. Hmmmm......

Did I mention that we are not labeled as sensible people?

Source

Winter passed quickly. We learned where rattlesnakes hide and that Christmas can be equally wonderful in sand or in snow. We learned that litter-boxes could smell like the dickens but that a blend of essential oils and quick clean-out time solves the problem nicely. I also learned that most RVers spend a great deal of their day socializing outside their motor home and that living in a small space means less housework and more leisure time. I liked this way of life and so did my husband.

The time soon came to make the leisurely trek northward. Both my husband and I were mulling over the idea of becoming “full-timers” and wondered if we could enjoy living solely in a motor home. We decided to base our decision on how we felt when we were back in our home. I suppose most people would make this type of a decision based on sensible long-term monetary grounds. We knew we would want a bigger motor home if we made this life style change and we couldn’t afford to have both a house and a larger, more luxurious coach. We also knew, based on experience, that the scripts we write for our lives are not guaranteed. Careful plans and expectations can change in the blink of an eye. With all this in mind we headed for home.

Have You Ever Gone Camping in a Motorhome?

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Our Decision

We arrived in the middle of a rainstorm. The grass needed mowing, the gutters needed cleaning and the fence was definitely leaning. As we walked through our front door I waited for that warm, cozy feeling that says “Ahhh.....Home!” I waited and then I waited some more. Nothing. No deep-seated need for sturdy walls or spacious bedrooms. No rekindled romance with the fireplace and the TV room and definitely no deep-seated desire to scrub infinite floors or walls of windows.

I looked at my husband and he looked at me. Instantly I knew what we would do – and damned if we cared if it was sensible or not!

To make a long story short, we sold our house and bought a beautiful forty foot Triple E Empress Elite with four slides. The dishwasher was rather small but I thought I could manage.

The life of a Gypsy is not for everyone; however we thoroughly enjoyed several hilarious, crazy, fun-filled years in our home on wheels.

But that’s another story.......


RV - With Robin Williams

Comments

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  • onegreenparachute profile image
    Author

    Carol 3 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

    Hello grand old lady! Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately we no longer live the RV life. It was fun while it lasted though!! Thanks again, Carol.

  • grand old lady profile image

    Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 3 years ago from Philippines

    I love your humor with which you describe how you became RVers. Look forward to reading more about your adventures on the road.

  • profile image

    DJ Anderson 3 years ago

    Are you STILL BUSY????

    I guess I am a SLOW to catch on.

    Am I missing all the silent hints??

    HINT, HINT!!

    DJ.

  • onegreenparachute profile image
    Author

    Carol 3 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

    Thank you so much DDE for your comment on my hub. I appreciate it very much. I have never had a comment from Dubrovnik before!! It's exciting to know we are all so connected.

  • DDE profile image

    Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

    Great hub on How To Become Full-Time RVers - The Year We Became Gypsies sounds like a challenge

  • onegreenparachute profile image
    Author

    Carol 4 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

    LOL !! I'm alive but oh so busy!! I know.....no excuse. Letter following soon.

  • profile image

    DJ Anderson 4 years ago

    Glad to see you are still alive!

  • onegreenparachute profile image
    Author

    Carol 4 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

    Hi Tamara, Our 40' coach had loads of cupboard space and a 2 door refrigerator/freezer. We found we needed to shop once a week for bread and milk and fresh veggies but canned food and frozen meat was purchased every two weeks. I hope that helps and thanks for stopping by.

  • tamarawilhite profile image

    Tamara Wilhite 4 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

    How often or how little did you have to grocery shop, due to the smaller living space?

  • onegreenparachute profile image
    Author

    Carol 4 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

    Thank you Alicia, I appreciate you stopping by and commenting. I loved our home on wheels and would do it all again in a heart beat!

  • AliciaC profile image

    Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

    This is a very interesting and entertaining hub, onegreenparachute! The thought of living in an RV and visiting new places is very enticing. It was great to read about your experiences.

  • onegreenparachute profile image
    Author

    Carol 4 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

    Thank you for your comment B.A. Williams. We will always have great memories of us and the cats feeling as free as the birds! Thanks again.

  • B. A. Williams profile image

    B. A. Williams 4 years ago from USA

    What an awesome hub and a great dream of mine. I hate camping but having a home on wheels seems very appealing. I admire you courage to do what you wanted, but even more for taking the kitties with you.

  • onegreenparachute profile image
    Author

    Carol 4 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

    Thank you Seeker! I appreciate your vote and your comments. It was fun! I enjoyed it thoroughly and wish we could do it again. But, alas, money and the price of diesel got in the way and spoiled our fun.

  • Seeker7 profile image

    Helen Murphy Howell 4 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    What a wonderful adventure to have - especially in a country the size of the USA! I think you were very brave to just go ahead and do what you wanted to do - most of us miss so many chances in life, because we're too afraid to take the plunge!

    An excellent and thoroughly enjoyable hub! Voted up!

  • onegreenparachute profile image
    Author

    Carol 4 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

    Hi Nell - thanks for your comments and thanks for the card reading! It was excellent and right on!

  • Nell Rose profile image

    Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

    Wow! you lucky thing! I would love to do that! mind you America is slightly bigger than the UK! lol! it wouldn't take us long to take it all in, but over there? I am on my way! sounds wonderful, nell

  • onegreenparachute profile image
    Author

    Carol 4 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

    Hi Beth, we are in Apache Junction at the mo'. It's heading for 95 degrees today so it's time to start thinking about heading 'home' to British Columbia. Life in an RV is such an adventure - I hope you get a chance to try it.

    Thanks for you comments and for the chuckle I had while reading your hub this morning!

  • profile image

    Beth37 4 years ago

    I can't believe Ive never read any of your hubs before, I thought I had. Ive always wanted to travel in an RV (minus the cats). I lived in AZ for many years. Maybe we were near Phoenix at the same time. Small world. :)

  • onegreenparachute profile image
    Author

    Carol 4 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

    Hi Maggie! I'm glad to 'see' you again. Thanks for stopping by and for your comment. I'm sorry to hear your Dad didn't get to be an RVer but then again just imagine his travels now! I'll be he sees wonderous things!

    Hugs,

    Carol

  • Maggie Bennett profile image

    Maggie Bennett 4 years ago from New York

    This was my Dad's dream and he never got to do it. So I am happy for you.

  • onegreenparachute profile image
    Author

    Carol 4 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

    Yes Jama I totally agree! We made arrangements to stay in Bakersfield. When we arrived the RV park was in the middle of a train yard! The kind person working the desk deleted our reservation and sent us on to a park in the middle of an orange grove during blossom season!! It was heaven! Sometimes experience is the only teacher.

  • JamaGenee profile image

    Joanna McKenna 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    OGP, I just want to add a bit to what you told Dolores. On the road, my cousins chose park by the recommendations in a "Guide to RV Parks". Thank heavens they had internet access! A couple of days out from stopping for a night in Topeka KS, from whence I'd accompany them to visit our other cousins in Abilene KS, they said they'd decided on one the guide said was "great". I was happy to email back that that particular park was little more than a treeless, shadeless field without graveled or concrete pads. It WAS visible from the interstate, but could only be reached by a hard-to-find and very bumpy 2-mile-long road. I directed them instead to a park with trees and ALL the amenities next a beautiful lake at the edge of town, which inexplicably wasn't mentioned in the guide. They liked it so well they considered staying for a month or two! (Alas, they didn't, darnit.)

    So to those new to RVing, it's best NOT to trust printed guides which may or may not list all the RV parks in a particular area.

  • onegreenparachute profile image
    Author

    Carol 4 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

    Hi Jama - Thanks for your comments!

    Yeppers - life on the road is fantastic if you don't mind changing scenery, meeting great folks on the way, and new experiences to enliven your life! Living in a very small home has shown us that you really don't need all the 'stuff' nor all the room. In the RV lifestyle it's said that a Class A is great for traveling but a 5th wheel is better to live in and I couldn't agree more!

    Have a great week!

    Carol

  • onegreenparachute profile image
    Author

    Carol 4 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

    Hello Dolores! Thanks so much for commenting I appreciate it very much.

    Actually, many people find the RV life-style to be far less expensive than living in a 'real' house. There are no taxes to pay, no fences to build or roofs to restore. RV parks can be pricey or very reasonable, it depends on what you require. The only drawback is the price of fuel and today, that can be quite expensive - but then you can choose to move on or stay put.

    I'm looking forward to reading your hubs!

    Carol

  • Dolores Monet profile image

    Dolores Monet 4 years ago from East Coast, United States

    This sounds like one huge and wonderful adventure and I look forward to reading more. The opportunity to travel freely around our beautiful country sounds so cool, but I imagine quite expensive.

  • JamaGenee profile image

    Joanna McKenna 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Good for you, onegreenparachute! RVing definitely isn't for everyone, only for those who know there's wayyyy more to life than mowing lawns, cleaning gutters and scrubbing floors until their physical health requires moving to an assisted living facility (or worse). I've only made one trip in a "Class A" RV, even drove it for 100 miles or so. Was similar to driving an extra-large van, but can't say I liked it nearly as much as some retired cousins' totally-decked-out 35-foot fifth wheel that they pulled with a Chevy Suburban. On rare occasions, they also took along her little Honda, but she'd drive it and he'd drive the Suburban. That little house-on-wheels had ALL the amentities of HOME but none of the headaches of a house! They'd spend the holidays (T'giving through New Year's) at their house in Peoria, the rest of the year we never know where their emails would come from. What a life!

  • onegreenparachute profile image
    Author

    Carol 4 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

    Hello Vicki - I'm glad you found my account interesting. For us, living in a luxury coach and visiting wherever we liked was just the ticket - but as you say, it isn't for everyone. Thanks for stopping by.

  • profile image

    Vickiw 4 years ago

    Hi onegreenparachute, lovely account of your travel adventures! This is something I've never really wanted to do, but many people do seem to have a lot of fun with it. I prefer to go somewhere, and stay in reasonable sort of accommodation for the most extended time possible! It was very interesting to have your take on it!

  • onegreenparachute profile image
    Author

    Carol 4 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

    Hello Kathy - gee I hope I'm not replying to you twice! I accidentally clicked a button and *poof* my reply to you was gone! At any rate, I thank you so much for stopping by and for your vote. It is very much appreciated as always.

    I had written that there are thousands and thousands of RVers out there and they are the friendliest bunch I've met - except for Hubbers of course!

    Hugs,

    Carol

  • KathyH profile image

    KathyH 4 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

    This is fascinating and something my husband and I have talked about doing. Maybe in a few years, we'll see! Thanks for sharing your adventure! :) Voted up and more! :)

  • onegreenparachute profile image
    Author

    Carol 4 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

    Hi DJ - thanks for your visit and your comments! Sadly we no longer own our Empress but we are Snowbirds living in Apache Junction, near Poenix, AZ. We never did get to Florida and I'm sad about that. I have a cousin who lives in Bradenton and I'd love to visit. I hope you're enjoying your winter in Florida. The weather here hasn't been the best this year - too cool. Oh well, what can you do huh?

    Hugs,

    Carol

  • profile image

    DJ Anderson 4 years ago

    Oh, Carol, I love your write on RVing! My husband and I have been fortunate enough to have the time to travel. We would see one of these beautiful homes on wheels and and talk about the possibility of owning one. But, we resisted and five years ago became snow birds to S.W. Florida.

    But, I loved your story and your renegade travel antics. You make it sound like great fun! Are you still living and traveling in your Empress?

    Thanks for taking us along on your Gypsy Travels!!

  • onegreenparachute profile image
    Author

    Carol 4 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

    Hello Proud - here's to taking a chance and fulfilling your dreams! Thanks for your comments and for stopping by.

  • onegreenparachute profile image
    Author

    Carol 4 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

    You're welcome Bill - it is a great life! If I had it to do over again I'd opt for a well kept second hand motor home. New is nice but used is a heck of a lot less expensive.

    Thanks for stopping by!

    Carol

  • profile image

    Proud Foot 4 years ago

    Wow, I've always dreamed of doing something like this but I've never had the guts to. I know someone who owns one of those gorgeous little caravans in the picture at the top of this hub and it really is beautiful. It was great to read your story on the matter. Thank you for sharing!

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

    We are contemplating this in three years....not sure if we will or not but the thought of being on the road does not bother me at all. We shall see. Interesting story; thanks for shedding some light on the whole RV thing.

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