RV Virgins and the Poopsicle

Looking around the room at the eclectic group, I wondered what had brought each of them to the decision to winter in their RVs for a long cold Colorado winter. It was obvious they understood much more about their RVs than either my husband or I did. We were clearly RV Virgins and feeling completely underprepared for the impending cold and snow.

Then I heard the RV Park employee say, “You don’t want to get a poopsicle.”

What? It sounded painful. I looked at my husband and he was listening intently. I was very confident in his ability to handle all of the complexities in living in our 5th wheel, but a poopsicle? Our eyes met and we exchanged a ‘No, we don’t ever want that to happen,’ look—but we got one anyway.

What had possessed us to buy a 5th wheel, put everything we owned in storage (in two different states), and settle into RV living? It is simple. We were making the best out of difficult circumstances. I had retired rather unexpectedly after forty years in education, my dad who had been living with us was in a nursing home and headed to his 101st birthday, and my husband had a job in the same city. We needed to stay, but we also needed it to not be permanent because where we really wanted to be was with our children and grandchildren in the Seattle area.

Making the best out of circumstances had been part of our marriage for 37 years, but even for us, this was a leap—and it was my idea. Scott was the envy of all men whose wives ‘would never do that.’ While he had to figure out how to prevent the dreaded poopsicle, I had to figure out where to put my beloved clothes and shoes. The Pinterest storage solutions for tiny homes became my friend. It was a study in human ingenuity. My favorite solution was to cut a ‘hang on the door shoe holder’ thingy in sections and Velcro it around the box that held our mattress. Boots were a greater challenge.

Probably my biggest adjustment (besides hitting my face on the wall when getting out of bed) was not having a dishwasher, garbage disposal, or washer and dryer. Not that those conveniences are impossible to have in an RV, they just didn’t exist in mine. Oddly enough, I discovered life moved on and I needed much less than I thought I did. It was forced minimalism, but before long I wanted to get rid of even more stuff. I literally stopped shopping because there was nowhere to put anything I bought.

I discovered absolute contentment within the small space of my RV. I also found it wasn’t any easier to make myself clean a small space than it had been for a five-bedroom condo. It just took less time—when I did manage to motivate myself. I missed having an office, guest bedroom, and garage but I gained so much more!

Living in an RV park provided an unexpected snapshot of life. It was fascinating to live in a place where those who made a dream come true pulled in and out every day. My grandchildren came and stayed for two weeks (a very cozy adventure) and I told my seven-year-old granddaughter, “If you see a child your age who looks like you could be friends, you have to take the initiative and meet them because they may be gone in the morning.” I watched as she took this lesson to heart and enjoyed many hours showing other children around the park. I did go through a lot of quarters for the arcade!

I had to learn to take the same initiative in meeting the interesting people who wandered through for a night or more. The second summer, I decided to start a blog because there was just so much to write about. The stories of how people took hold of their dreams of travelling fascinated me.

These stories were never at all similar. There was the man who was a mayor of a town on the east coast, but travelled with his family in order to homeschool his daughter. He tried to resign when they decided to travel, but the town liked him and said they would just Skype him into the meetings. Then there was a woman with five award winning Maine Coon cats in the back of her toy hauler. I spent a delightful afternoon at the pool with a family from Australia who had come to the United States, bought an RV, were spending the summer traveling across the country, and then planned to sell it and return home. For some time, a retired pilot who was often gone to participate in pickle ball tournaments lived next door. My favorites were two women who had been college friends and decided to tour the country and learn about/interview/blog the stories of people who were helping others heal in various ways.

The ‘healing ladies’ were probably my favorite because I was on a journey of healing. It was amazing how often others expressed the RV life as being part of a healing journey. I didn’t know living in an RV was going to be beneficial to my healing, but it most assuredly was.

An RV Park is a place where people come to live simply and enjoy life. It provides a daily connection with nature. In my case, I have a view of Pikes Peak and the Garden of the Gods is practically in my back yard (if I actually had one). In addition, a creek runs alongside the park and provides many hours of quiet walking and reflection along the trail. It is such a simple life my husband and I share. We have a patio where we sit in the evening and watch the sun set while we wave to the visitors walking their dogs—and sometimes their pigs.

I remember the day we realized we actually were going to take the leap and live in an RV. There was excitement mixed with a healthy dose of, “What on earth are we dong?” We really were RV Virgins. There was much to learn about gray tanks and black tanks, lighting the stove, making sure you didn’t run out of propane in the middle of a cold winter night, and of course the dreaded poopsicle. That is what happens when you leave the black and gray tank valves open with the faucet dripping during a sustained freeze. This is a mistake only a RV Virgin would make. Now we know better and are much more comfortable about our wintering skills.

As I write this, we have survived our second winter. We never bought a truck because we didn’t intend to travel . . . yet. Our small Nissan pickup that parks in front of our 32 ft. 5th wheel gets many wondering looks. We have considered putting a hitch in the truck bed just to make people wonder even more. Our world is never the same from day to day. It seems no two RVs are exactly alike and the stories that travel inside them are always intriguing. We are not sure how much longer we will remain here, but for now we are waiting for the BBQ guy to return and ring the dinner bell every night. This summer another restaurant is opening up in a refurbished Air Stream. Yes, It is a good life. We made an excellent but intimidating choice to take the leap out of our comfort zone and into our RV! It has certainly been an adventure for two RV Virgins—despite the poopsicle.

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