This Valentine’s Day will mark our first anniversary full timing in Charlie. In anticipation of more than one First Anniversary post idea, I thought I would bloviate on some observations over our first year to date. Many of these would seem obvious to someone who has been doing this for some time, but there are lots of people who are still new (at least newer than we are) or are considering doing this themselves. It is these people who I am primarily addressing. All of these are only my opinions and experiences. Take them for what they are worth.
It’s not all skittles and rainbows!
Since most of us interact on social media or blogs like this, we tend to put a bright shiny face on everything. People are always happy, everything is terrific, and each morning you wake up to another bright shiny day of nothing but skittles and rainbows. Hopefully, I have not done this, but it’s possible that someone reading from the beginning might think we have this kind of life too.
While it is true that some people might just want to put a pleasant face on everything, I think most of us are just having our eyes opened to a life that we have had all along but may only be seeing now. That being the case, we are excited to share.
One thing that I feel must be true for anyone going from a “normal” life to something other than whatever that “normal” was, is that you notice things that may have never previously gotten your attention. I first experienced this years ago while Mireille and I still lived in our house and our kids were young and at home. We drove to Quebec to visit Mireille’s family one year for her folks’ 40th anniversary.
It was 1500 miles, and all the way there I felt like I was seeing things with new eyes. I felt like I had been living in a bubble and that bubble had suddenly burst, and I was seeing the outside world as if for the first time.
Now that we change locations often, I do not have the time to have that bubble surround me, so I think I see more and take less for granted. The fact that I ever allowed this to happen before is a failing on my part, I could have had my eyes open all along and not taken things for granted as I did. I am just glad to take advantage of it now.
Wherever you go, there you are
Everyone’s situation is different, and I do not claim to know much at all. That said, I feel comfortable saying that it’s unlikely that moving into an RV will solve any problems. Whatever problems you have, you will bring with you when you move into an RV. Once you are in an RV, you will find you also have a whole new set of things to pay attention to. Some will be a trade-off with stuff you had to deal with when you lived in your sticks and bricks house (like mowing or painting or cleaning the gutters) that you do not have to worry about any longer. Others will be brand new.
Marcus Aurelius said, “You can live here as you expect to live there.” We have been to lots of parks, most really lovely. We have met many people and made new friends almost every place we have stayed. Most of the people we have met are happy, well-adjusted people that are fun to talk to and hang out with.
However, I still see drunk husbands acting like jackasses to their wives and others. We run into people that are chronically unhappy and apparently hope to improve their mood by passing their unhappiness on to others. People complain about money, the weather, their neighbors, and just about everything that they complained about before moving into an RV. None of this is any different from when we lived in our house. Life is life, and life is going to be life wherever you happen to be living it.
Nothing is perfect
I am a member of several groups on Facebook, Many of which are Tiffin (the brand of RV we have) related. Many times if someone is facing an issue, they will post on one of these groups asking if anyone has experienced a similar problem in the past and if so, what they did to mitigate that issue. I have done this myself. Most people in groups such as these are eager to help.
Sometimes people who are still in the researching phase see these posts and get worried, even to the point of deciding that they are not going to follow through on their dream because of all the “bad news” that they see. When I see them post that they are leaving the group or second-guessing their plan, two thoughts typically go through my head almost simultaneously:
- This is not for everyone. If you are going to get put off that easily it’s probably a good thing for you not to do.
- Nothing is perfect! If you are thinking that you will never have any problems you need to think again. I mean, what area of life doesn’t have problems?
We have driven almost 10,000 miles in Charlie this first year. We have stayed in 19 different parks and overnighted in nearly as many Walmarts, Gander Outdoors, Flying J’s and other type parking lots. We have driven over the roughest roads I have ever encountered that could still claim to be paved, stayed in places where we could not get level, gotten rained on, gone through crazy winds where we had to pull in all but one slide to protect the slide toppers, been in hot weather and really cold as well.
For all of that, the punch list we are keeping for when we get back to Redbay (where Charlie was built) to have warranty work done is very short and mostly cosmetic. Of the significant things that we have had so far, only a couple have not already been fixed easily by a repairman or by us, and when there was an expense, that was paid for by Tiffin. The items on our punch list (fixed or not) which I would put in this significant group are:
- Our floor has squeaked since we picked Charlie up.
- Our cold water pipe to the shower got crushed because it was between the lower frame and the house wall. This has been fixed.
- The bottom shelf of the cabinet over the sink is sagging in the back because it was never fastened to the wall during construction.
- A piece of fiberglass behind the driver’s front wheel is loose and needs to be reattached.
The rest of our punch list is purely cosmetic, and if nothing gets done, it’s no big deal to us, but we will have time when we go back through to make sure everything is addressed. That is a pretty short list when you consider all the different systems that go into a Class A motorhome. From my perspective, I am delighted, and while the brace I made to hold up the back of the cabinet shelf is less than ideal for Mireille, it’s a small price to pay until we get back to Alabama to have it all fixed.
I want to encourage you!
So long story short, living in an RV will probably not solve all your problems, and any RV you buy will come with its own crop of issues that you never heard of before you got it. Even so, as we near a year traveling with Charlie, we can both say without hesitation that we absolutely love it and would not change a thing. That is our experience and as I close I would like to share with you one other reason I think that is.
When we started, we decided that we were not going to complain. This was Mireille’s idea, and she reminds us both often. Stuff happens and most of it is outside of our control. We make the best of what is going on and we keep in mind the wonderful opportunity we have to live this dream we are living. This does not mean we do not have our moments. I am an acquired taste at best, and if I have a superpower, it is that I can be the biggest jerk you can possibly imagine. I am continually working on it, but sometimes it can get away from me before I even know where the handle I just flew off was. Dr. Bruce Banner would understand.
Whatever your life is like, it can be improved if you keep the right attitude and do not take things for granted. I loved Mireille tons before we started on this adventure. However, I can tell you after almost a year full timing I think she is way cooler than I ever gave her credit for when we were living in a house. She is tough, smart, funny, friendly, happy, fun to be with, and I am thankful every day that we are together. I don’t think Mireille is cooler because she has changed. It is because our life now is so much less routine, I am paying more attention, and I see lots of things differently (no more bubbles). Because of that, I have gotten to see her better and more clearly than I did before. In my opinion that is a good change for both of us.