How We Roll

Baby Steps

We are taking this journey in baby steps. First we moved from a 3-bedroom house to a 1-bedroom apartment. We put a few things in storage, gave away more, and packed up the rest.  It took us a bit of time to adapt to the smaller space, but since we had been thinking about buying a motor home and living on the road sometime in our future, we told ourselves it was good practice. We stopped buying art and knick-knacks, kept our cookware and dishware to a minimum and generally started looking at smaller furniture. So we felt pretty confident that we could live in a motor home. The one thing I didn’t really downsize at first was clothes. (And my husband reminded me often that there wouldn’t be enough room in the motor home for all of my shoes!)
Then we moved from the 1-bedroom apartment onto a 34-foot motor home. Our first campground (a KOA) had full hookups (water, electric, and sewer) so we just had to generally get used to living in a motor home. During our 2 ½ months there, we downsized a lot more, but also bought a lot of stuff we needed: a bike rack that hooks onto the ladder at the back of the motor home, a tow dolly for the car (turned out Honda didn’t recommend towing our particular Civic on 4 wheels for more than 50 miles), a custom metal table to hold our flat-screen TV that could bolt to the floor, 2 small recliners to take the place of the not-so-comfortable hide-a-bed couch, interlocking racks to hold clothes, and various plastic containers to keep things from shifting around inside cupboards when we drove.
That campground closed for the season, so we moved to another one for 2 ½ weeks. The second one had water and electric hookups, but no sewer hookups so we had to pack up the motor home and drive it over to the dump site once a week. That was good practice; securing things, moving the slide-outs in and out, hooking and unhooking the electric and water. We also got some good practice on living without a water hookup since we had a cold snap and 3 nights in a row the camp host came over and turned off the water so the pipes wouldn’t freeze. So we used our reserve water tank and the water pump and used less water—way less. We also learned how the propane holds up. If you are using it for heating water and cooking only, it lasts a really long time, but if you turn on the furnace for an extended period of time (say, you accidentally leave it on overnight), the propane goes down really fast. So we bought an electric heater that looks like a fireplace/flat-screen TV. That saved us a lot of propane. So, we’re learning.
I also learned to drive the motor home in baby steps—mostly. Before I tried it I watched several videos of people demonstrating how it was done. (Mainly, you have to take turns much wider than you’re used to and you have to be aware that it takes a lot longer to stop when you put on the brakes. Other than that, it’s pretty much like driving a car. You don’t even need a special license.) Still, I was pretty nervous. So the first time I drove it was in a Walmart parking lot. I drove around in circles, practicing taking wide turns. It was fun, but I was going really slowly and there was no traffic. The next time I drove it was in a campground. I just had to drive it from our space over to the dump station and then back to our space. I learned a little more about maneuvering the rig and being able to tell where my edges were. The next baby step should have been on a rural highway without much traffic. But it wasn’t.  The next time I drove was through a very narrow road construction site, down winding roads (including 2 winding tunnels) taking us out of the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina…with lots of big truck traffic, all in the space of an hour. I count that as about 20 baby steps rolled into one.