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South Facing Adventure

Morro Strand beach, California, the sun setting like a pat of butter melting into the horizon. Reds, oranges, pinks in paint strokes with the lid of the dark night sky closing over. A hint of the crescent moon can be seen just as the sun makes its final dip, seemingly right into the Pacific Ocean. We are here for this; the sand warm at the surface from its day of sun, but colder as you dig your toes in. The intensity of the huge waves rolling on the shore, grappling towards us like thousands of white hands, foaming towards our feet. Crabs scuttling quickly from one hole to the next. We are sitting on drift wood; my husband, my two girls, my 3rd baby growing in my belly – my whole world, right here. Getting up the nerve to take a three month RV trip was, in the end, like everything else in life, a decision. Finding things not fitting quite how we want and choosing again.

Hi, welcome to my life. This is how me and my husband of 100 years (actually just about 15, but we’ve been together since we were stars in the sky I’m pretty sure) operate. We are both big dreamers and are opposed to a life of mediocrity, it’s one of our common values that keep us madly in love 22 years into our union (that’s the actual timeline). But we don’t always see eye to eye. For about 3 years I had a dream of living a mobile life; it started with watching a video of a family in the same line of work as me who wanted to simplify their lives and reconnect with their kiddos. I started following endless RV Instagram accounts and would swoon over their perfect tiny homes. Steve was not feeling it. We come from an area where the mobile home life is still a bit misunderstood; trailers are for Snowbirds living in Florida or the ‘van by the river’ scenario. He wasn’t seeing what I was seeing.

But as I stood looking out my kitchen window just over a year ago the thought that I had mulled over as a distant “wouldn’t it be nice” notion suddenly came slamming to the forefront of my mind. Yes, it’s time. We are totally going to buy an RV, renovate it and take a Southern sojourn for a few months. But actually.

I knew that the RV life would be perfect for us and check off the following desires: + super cute, super cozy home on wheels — no matter where you go, you’re home! My answer to being a homebody that needs to travel to feel alive. + most affordable way to travel through the US and western Canada (actually debatable when you take conversion of funds and gas prices into account) + allow us to keep to no schedule at all and go where we wish, when we wish (turns out this is much more involved than I once thought) + give us the benefit of camping with all the modern comforts we are accustomed to

So, that snowy January in 2019 I capitalized on Steve’s winter blues and presented the option one final time. Between being restless, cold and bored I had him in the sweet spot to think my crazy idea was doable. I needed him to be on board, I’m the idea generator and he’s the activator, he gets the practical work done. As it always is, once the decision is made all of the pieces start to fall into place. Within 6 weeks we had bought a 40 foot class A motorhome, something I had up to that point of life not even known existed. It’s the kind with maroon and gold swirls on the sides, a completely brown-themed interior, looks like a giant Eagles tour bus, as a friend pointed out. We renovated it top to bottom (obv) and charted our course. It was an incredibly vague plan; we knew I needed to be in Atlanta for a conference within 2 days of leaving Ontario so we hauled-ass out of the snowy north and got there. But from then on we were pretty willy nilly in our plans.

I soon learned why people often take two years to plan out RV adventures. We were amateurs and it showed. Though learning the ropes of emptying the black water (aka poop), hooking up at a site, and using the dozens of fun and ambiguously designated controls came pretty easy to my smart husband, it took us a solid six weeks to get into a groove of figuring out the best apps to find places to stay. We ended up writing off most of Florida as we clued into the fact that we landed there in the midst of spring break — everything was booked for months in advance, oops. Those white sandy beaches of the Keys were out of reach and we had to reassess. Realizing that getting west was actually the most important thing, and that the stretch of land between where we were and where we wanted to be was super far, 4400km, we got moving. We did as few stops as possible and rolled into Needles California around midnight on Steve’s 38th birthday just one month after leaving home. Mountains, forests and ocean, that’s what we were longing for most and we had made it.

Early April, we had just gotten into jammies at the end of a day spent walking for hours along beaches, forests, and eventually into a small fishing town to attempt to quash my constant 3rd trimester craving for hand-cut fries (to no avail, come on America!). Our 40 ft RV is stationed for the night in a glorified parking lot; contrary to what we fantasized about, we camped nearly exclusively at places that were barely disguised parking lots. Catching the glimpse of the hazy sun setting over this spectacular beach, we tore barefoot from the camper, knowing we were on a timeline. Sunsets on the beach, a top priority, were worth dirtying our bedclothes and staying up too late.

Our weeks were spent with sticky fingers from more roasted marshmallows than I care to count, normal schedules abandoned, beds set up from the living area with near military-like execution, exploring forests and parks and sleeping parked at grocery store parking lots.

I’m only just unpacking the lessons learned and see now how richly this experience will inform the rest of my life. Look at us now, spending an indefinite amount of time out of school in social isolation, our 3 month sojourn last year prepared us well for creating a rhythm in times of change and uncertainty. I know I’ll be revisiting our adventure often through my writing, what do you most want to know about our RV travel?

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