Celebrating One Year of Full-Time RV Life + A Travel Update

We hit a year on the road just 6 days ago! Happy Nomadiversary to us! We just so happened to be parked at the same RV park in Pocatello, Idaho, as our friends Brad and Sarah. Tim and I aren’t the best at celebrating things, so Brad, Sarah, and their girls made sure we celebrated. They made us a homemade “Happy 1 Year!” banner, party hats, fifth wheel coloring pages, and signature cocktails. We felt so loved, and had way more fun celebrating than we would have if it was just us.

This is a sticker on our RV – shows all of the states we’ve covered this past year
Personalized Coloring Pages
Calla showing off our 1-year banner
Sarah and me with our “365 Days” hats

A year on the road left us with a lot of feelings. In many ways, we feel like we’ve lived 100 lives in these past 365 days on the road. In our previous lives, a year would have flown by: between work, house projects, and the rhythm of daily life, time flies. In RV life, we are constantly having to think. No such thing as the auto-pilot life! This causes time to slow way down, for the most part.

Swimming with the manatees in Crystal River, FL – October 2017

Nothing is mindless. Everywhere you go, you have to research it, use your GPS (phone) for directions, and then tackle setting up every time you get to a new place. If you want to go to the grocery store, you have to use your phone to find your way there, then you have no idea where anything is. Every day is an adventure, but every day is also an effort. I’m not sure how else to phrase it.

We’ve been through a lot this past year. I think anyone would tell you that those first couple months, where you are getting used to driving your rig, parking it, figuring out hookups, tank levels, rig leveling, and just all of those little things that you have to do just to maintain your nomad life – are HARD! And we made it through those things, and are a lot more comfortable now with all the day-in-day-out of RV life.

We spent almost 3 months being beach bums in Florida last fall

We switched rigs on the road. We traveled from Pittsburgh, down the East coast, spent a lot of time in Florida, made our way west through Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Utah, Colorado…then drove back to Pittsburgh. After 5 weeks in Pittsburgh, we went West again, this time keeping North – we explored Wisconsin, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. That’s a whole lot of travel in a year.

Here are some reflection posts we’ve made along the way:

2018: Rolling Forward – Made at the beginning of 2018

East Coast vs West Coast – Made in June 2018

One thing that’s been a challenge for us since we left Pittsburgh in July has been our pace. We have been booking it. We know that this is not good for our sanity. Staying at least a week somewhere is preferable. Since mid-July, we’ve only stayed somewhere for a week ONE time. The rest of the stays have all been much shorter, anywhere from 1-3 days on average. This has been due to various factors – a lot of it is our own fault – we’ve had so much we want to see! But some of it isn’t up to us either…it’s a lot harder to get a booking at any campground while school is out. Now that kids are back in school, campgrounds are starting to open up around mid-September.

Our Original Plan

Our tentative plan from mid-July – winter can be summed up in this photo. We didn’t have any reservations (it’s really not how we roll) so it was definitely subject to change, but this is everywhere we wanted to go from about July until November:

Leg 3 of our RV Journey as planned in July 2018

This was an initial rough draft – and now we’ve been on the road for 6 weeks since that was planned. So what has changed? Here’s what our map looks like now. It shows where we’ve been so far:

The past 6 weeks

So we got the whole way to Bozeman, Montana – our stop before Glacier National Park, which we were SO excited to see. It was the #1 thing on the list for both of us. But as you (might?) be able to tell, we headed south from Bozeman…NOT north to Glacier? Why? The #1 factor was wildfire smoke and park closures from the fires in Glacier.  Every day I looked at the webcams to check the smoke conditions in Glacier. I also searched Instagram, messaging with people who were in Glacier right before we were about to go.

The news was never positive: the beautiful mountain views were completely covered with smoke on the webcams, and people who were there said that the smoke was so thick, they didn’t even want to get out of their RVs. So we decided we weren’t willing to drive 6+ hours to Glacier and 6+ hours back only to have views obstructed by smoke and poor air quality. I was also disappointed that our RV won’t fit in any of the campgrounds at Glacier (the largest one has a 40′ trailer + truck combined limit). I had my heart set on actually being in the park so Tim and I could catch shuttles to different hikes rather than having to use the car. So Glacier didn’t happen for us, and we are still disappointed by it, but think it was the right decision. We’d rather go when we either have a smaller rig (or tents!) so we can stay in the park and when Going To The Sun road is entirely open. We weren’t willing to miss half of the park!

So we went south to Pocatello, which is where we had the 1 year anniversary party I mentioned above. So it kind of felt like our 1 year was rung in with a little taste of disappointment after deciding not to see Glacier. We also made some other route decisions while in Pocatello. We were starting to feel travel fatigue from moving so often. It feels like forever since we’ve stayed anywhere for more than a few days. We were also extremely discouraged  by the wildfires and smoke in the pacific northwest. Around the time we had to make a decision if we were going to head there, we saw news reports of kids wearing masks to school and recess being cancelled due to the poor air quality.

The combination of travel fatigue and the bad air quality in the West led us to the decision that we wanted to head to Colorado. We could see ourselves spending some time there, and just taking the pressure off a little bit. But we were so close to the PNW – how could we not go? Were we making a mistake by turning around and heading in a direction we had already been? The bottom line was we just didn’t feel like heading West any more. It felt like something we SHOULD do, rather than something we wanted to do. I’m glad we were able to listen to our hearts and know the difference. Don’t worry, despite this, I’m still having FOMO just about every day. I have to remind myself that the PNW will be there in the future.

We’ve had the past year of GO GO GO: we need to see this, we need to stop here, we can’t miss this town, this attraction, this national park. And we’re just…tired. Fatigued. And I’m sure to someone who sees our life and envies it, it sounds ridiculous. I know how it must sound. But until you’ve had to pack up your house every 2 days and not even know where you’re going until you’re on the way, you can’t understand how constantly having your life up in the air wears on you. The constant decisions – should we boondock? This campground looks nice but isn’t free until Wednesday. What do we do in the meantime? What about fitting in hours for work? Will we have cell signal? Can we last without dumping our tanks? Will our rig fit? Is it too expensive? Is it too far from the interstate? Just a few of the factors we are constantly analyzing.

So where are we? We are currently in rural Wyoming, boondocking until some spots in Colorado come available after the Labor Day weekend.

Boondocking in Green River, WY
The town of Green River has a nice bike path

I hope we can slow down in Colorado and that the right next step will come to us. For right now, we are just overwhelmed, tired, and in need of a reprieve. I’m also feeling the pull to go back to work – it’s been 2 years since I’ve worked full time, and I’m ready for the change and for more structure in my day. How does this mesh with traveling? I have no answers. Hoping the right thing reveals itself in time. Thanks again for following along with our journey.

View from our living room window here in Wyoming

2 Comments

  1. I loved this honest post. Also, your recall is impressive…that’s 30 for ya! I hope you dial back your pace to enjoy present moments in places that you love. You might be able to leverage your skills remotely to have a predictable work obligation on the road that will mentally and logistically anchor your days and give Tim and Calla adventures, time together and a routine but still allows you some decompression time. You might be able to have the best of both worlds! Your experience to date will inform that possibility. Either way, I admire your determination to step out AND to record it! That’s a skillset in itself!

    1. Hi Beth! Thank you so much for commenting. I’ve considered remote work, but am unsure how it would work with both Tim and I working and no childcare. I also feel ready to have some “real life” co-workers again! But we will see, I’m not sure how any of this is going to work out. Childcare – Travel – Work seems like an impossible balance unless we have a nanny on the road traveling with us – ha!

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