The move into Lulu was hectic and chaotic. No matter how much I tried to prepare ahead of time, we were still surrounded by tubs of stuff that made walking nearly impossible. I tried very hard not to let the stress get to me, and just slowly and thoroughly unpack each one. It took about three days, but I finally achieved move-in peace. And here is Lesson #1.
Lesson #1. Don’t waste your time trying to find the perfect place for everything. I promise, that as life slowly starts to settle down, you will change things around, sometimes, more than once, as you adjust to RV living. Just find a home and give yourself time to figure out the best place for everything. After two months, I’m still rearranging.
Lesson #2. Be creative and think outside the box. For example, I did not have a desk area I could claim for myself. I tried a little table between the two front seats, and using the dash as part of my space. It worked a little, but it wasn’t quite right. All my office supplies were sitting on the dog house and I didn’t like all that clutter. A few weeks back, I went to Hobby Lobby with my mom and sister. Lo and behold! I found a perfect tiny table. Not only was it painted in distressed red, but it also had one drawer, fairly deep, that holds all my office supplies. It fits right between our chairs and is the perfect height for me to work. I am now a much happier camper!
We had been worried about the dogs and how Quincey and Chacho would adjust to the move. They took to it like little troopers. Sage, of course, is very accustomed to camping. The biggest adjustment was the lack of a doggy door for them. They were used to getting up in the middle of the night for potty breaks. Of course, here those potty breaks meant that Mommy had to get up, let them out, bring them back in, put them back on the bed and try to go back to sleep. I found that subconsciously anticipating those little thumps caused a lot of sleeplessness.
Lesson #3. Give your pets plenty of time to get adjusted to this new lifestyle and don’t get discouraged. The first couple of weeks were rough until they got used to a routine, but it’s worked out. The late night potty breaks are very rare now, and sleep is no longer an illusion. Give them extra attention and work with them to get them adjusted. One of our big issues has been barking at everything walking or driving by. We tried water spraying and that wasn’t enough to calm them down. Unfortunately, we had to resort to non-bark collars. However, after the first couple of times, we pretty much only have to hold the collars up, say no bark and they stop barking. Using fear as a training tool is not an ideal solution by any means. However, they had to learn quickly that this kind of behavior was unacceptable, and we had to be tough. Campground living means that disturbing the neighbors is only a small bark away.
Our first month was filled with laughter, smiles and some very trying times. No matter how careful I was, my disability reared its ugly head by tripping down the stairs and breaking my foot. This was an extremely difficult lesson for me to learn. Motorhome living is very different from house living and I have to be on guard to ensure that I don’t break more than that. Fortunately, my very understanding sister and brother-in-law built us stable steps out of risers. They fabricated them to where we can take them apart for our journeys and put them back together when we stop. Just knowing that I can be more stable coming in and out of the MH has set my mind at ease.
Lesson #4. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Be vigilant. In a small space, it’s very easy to get tripped up and lose your footing.
Tragedy struck three weeks ago when we lost our beloved Quincey. We knew his time with us might be short and that fear turned into reality. Quincey had 23 seizures overnight. I stayed up with him, holding him, and we made the painful decision the next morning to let him go. As always, Dr. Walker at Big Springs Veterinarian Hospital was right there for us and helped us ease him out of this life. He went the way he loved - eating treats. We miss him every day, as do Sage and Chacho. Quincey was our little goofball. He always knew just when it was time for some comic relief. He was our healthy boy, with a cast iron stomach. He loved raw potatoes. If I was peeling them, he was underfoot, waiting for his treat. He would meet us at the front door with a gift - a toy or something he got hold of. The loss of him still hurts deeply.
Not all parts of our new life are bad or painful. For the most part, the adjustment has been great. The things I worried about the most have not come true. I expected to feel the walls close in on me if we were stuck inside due to bad weather. That hasn’t been the case. It feels cozy in here, with the rain hitting the roof. And I find plenty to do. Between satellite, internet, my kindle, I stay plenty busy.
One of the biggest pluses is the change in our lifestyle and relationship. While living in our house, after work, we’d inevitably move apart. Dave to his office and me to the living room. Now, we spend our time together. We talk, we laugh, we build lots of campfires and plan for the future. The dogs are loving it because we’re with them more, as well.
We always look forward to Friday evenings. We mark the end of the work week with a campfire and we sit outside, just enjoying the spring air in the mountains. When things get too hectic, I know that we can unwind here in the peace and quiet.
With a smaller space comes less work as well. Clean up takes a few minutes versus several hours. I’ve gotten my bathroom cleaning time down to four minutes. Even laundry is easier. Since I go to the campground laundromat, I have a routine of doing the laundry every Wednesday. I’m not stuck doing laundry all day. Two hours and it’s all done. I thought I would miss the convenience of a washer and dryer. I don’t miss it at all.
Cooking has been fun. I spend a lot of time figuring out how to cook easier and lighter - not use as many dishes and space as I used. I’ve become a huge fan of the Instant Pot. I researched a great deal before I bought it, and I have to admit to loving it. Being able to cook an entire meal in one pot in a short amount of time is miraculous. I’ve had some great successes with it as well as a few “I need to fine-tune” moments. It is very enjoyable, though, figuring out how to convert my favorite recipes and using less propane.
Another bonus is the sense of community. It’s so enjoyable to sit outside and wave at the neighbors driving by. I can’t remember the last time I sat outside my house and talked to neighbors as they walked by. That tradition seemed to have gone away decades ago. I love it. I love talking about our dogs or the weather. I’ve gotten great tips and advice and passed along some kernels of learnt knowledge.
This lifestyle has been the perfect change for me. Unencumbered by the stresses of house living and working, I’m so much more comfortable. Out here, I feel that I pull my own weight. I feel free. I feel comfortable in my own skin again and my disability has become less of a factor.
My mom asked me the other day how long we would be traveling. Five years, ten years? I smiled and told her as long as we possibly could. Forever, if possible.