Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Lifestyle

Alex and I love to get out of the city and into the beauty of the Western United States. We don't do it enough, a fact we regularly bemoan.  Even the shortest of trips takes time and energy to plan and those are two things of which we are in short supply.

We considered buying a cabin as a way to draw us out of the city regularly but then decided we didn't want to go to the same place all the time.  We want new farflung places.  If you pair that with the intense all-consuming love I have for road trips, all signs were pointing in one direction --

Alex and I are looking into "The Lifestyle."  
(the RV lifestyle, not that other one)

We went to the Seattle RV show over the weekend and had a grand yet confusing time. There were hundreds if not thousands of RVs to tour as well as educational seminars and vendors showcasing products such as special poo container cleaners.  Wait, what?

Some of the giant RVs were ridiculous.

Leather recliners and a fireplace.  
Screw campsite fire pits, some people like their fire fake and indoors

Full ceiling height kitchen

This one had an additional mini kitchen plus TV outside

More TV.  TVs everywhere.  This model had four TVs scattered throughout. 
I don't understand.

Al and I squinted at the RV show seminar program and wondered why half the seminars were about guns.  They had titles like "Gun carry permits for RVers" and "State laws pertaining to RV gun owners" and "How to best enjoy your gun in a miniature home flying down the highway" and "Your gun and you: a lifelong friendship."  

I must admit, I could get over the overwhelming number of TVs and fake cheesy fires but all the gun talk gave me pause.

Me:  Umm... so... why all these guns in RVs?  What are people afraid of?  Are they afraid of animals or are they afraid of other people?
Alex:  I think they're afraid of other people.
Me:  Should we be afraid of other people when we're out there?
Alex: Definitely, they're all going to have guns.

I stepped into one RV and opened one of the cabinet doors.  It was an oddly-shaped shallow closet so I shrugged and told Al, "I guess it's a coat closet."  Then a man climbed aboard behind me, opened the same cabinet, and called over his shoulder, "Got a nice rifle closet in here."  That's when it was confirmed -- we were perhaps going to be slightly out of our comfort zone in The Lifestyle. 

I've been doing a lot of research about The Lifestyle and have learned a lot.  One of the most popular topics is boondocking, which is when you park your RV overnight somewhere other than a designated campground.  There are many places to boondock -- the ever popular Wal-Mart parking lot, rest stops, rural roads, farmland, etc.  -- and you can find lots of advice on how to get away with it without getting towed or ticketed or beat up. 

For instance, I found this helpful tip -- 

In the west especially, check out Federal and State "Wildlife Refuges."  Some allow overnight parking.  Tip: When asking the ranger if overnight parking is allowed, have binoculars and a camera, a notebook and all that other "birder" stuff on you and mention how you want to see the "flaming boobie hatch" or similar real bird's name at sunrise.

No problem.
We got this.

Guns and lying to wildlife refuge rangers aside, the fact remains I'm a road warrior and am hurting to get out on the road in one of those things.  We want Yosemite, Yellowstone, Glacier.  And when the kids start their whiny chorus of "I have to go to the bathroom" every fifteen minutes as they have on every other road trip ever, I'll be able say, "Well, get up and go!" then honk my horn like the crazed RVing mo-fo I am.

We'll likely rent one in the upcoming months and take it out for a spin.  We need to determine if this is an activity we'd truly enjoy or a giant waste of money full of TVs. We may return hardened, and owning a few guns, but if that's the price of road trip freedom, so be it.

What do you think, friends?  Tiny house on wheels, yay or nay?


  1. well for sure rent one....you have to try before you buy on this one for sure...but I think it would be fun...not fun trying to park...and not fun buying the gas...but fun for sure once you actually get where you are going....and the bathroom on the road is Gold Jerry. Gold.

    1. Do you have one, Debbie?

    2. no ...but when I was a kid we were always hitching a trailer to the back of the stationwagon and going all over the place...I fondly remember driving thru Harlem in the early 70's with Ontario plates on our car and trailer and my Dad saying..see kids...New York....crazy times.

  2. Well, as much as a random internet stranger can provide advice, here's mine: when I was a kid we had a popup camper which we used all the time. This worked fine until my brother and sister and I started to get bigger. Then there was a lot of competition for bed space :) When we were a little older, my parents sold the camper and we rented RVs instead for trips. We loved it so much! it was so great to be parked in the backwoods of some national or state park and see things before other people were even awake... having a bathroom handy that was free of spiders and other creepy crawlies was a nice bonus, too.
    In fact now that my parents are retired, they purchased a used RV and have been taking trips of 6-8 weeks at various points around the country - there are places you can store RVs everywhere so they just do their homework, pick a place, and fly home. Then they just pick up where they left off. I wish we'd done that when we were kids, it's a great way to see the country!
    They're headed to Portland now to start their next trip. I have to say I am incredibly jealous. I can't speak to the gun part although my folks have never mentioned it. I do know they did a *ton* of research and traveled all sorts of places before they found one that they liked; there are many, many different outfitters that do all sorts of configurations.
    So I say, yay and I'm jealous that you can consider it :)

  3. Thank you, Sndmaven. You're painting the exact picture we were envisioning. Good old family fun in an RV with nature outside to boot. Your parents have an awesome system down, by the way!

    The number of models available is a bit overwhelming but we'll whittle it down if and when we decide to pull the trigger (see what I did there? Guns!)

    We're lucky in that my in-laws are willing to buy it with us. It would be a jointly owned RV. My in-laws do a lot of RVg on the east coast and would love to have one here to use when they come visit. We've got partners, helps a lot.

    Thanks again for your advice. That's two votes for the yays so far.

    1. (got your second comment. Blogger didn't eat your first, just took me a minute to publish it. I won't publish the second.... and thanks for your commitment!!)

    2. Oh awesome! Just an addendum: going in with your inlaws is a great idea. My folks were able to get a good deal on one from 2006 when they bought. Which seems like a long time ago in car years, but is practically new in RV years, it had less than 15K miles on it :) They figure the folks who bought it originally took a couple of trips down to FL from New England and then had had enough. They've already more than doubled the mileage on it! Given your adventurous family I think you'll love it. It's cheaper than buying a cabin anyway! One additional tip: some places they find it beneficial to rent a car to make getting around easier, since sometimes mountain roads are a little *too* twisty.

  4. We went to an RV show back in the fall and were smitten with the house-on-wheels. My husband really wants one because he thinks we'll make UNREAL time on roadtrips if we don't have to stop every 30 minutes for me to pee. Me? I don't think we can truly afford what is essentially a second mortgage payment. Holy crap! We could seriously buy a small fixer-upper in our city for what an RV costs.

    The compromise? I think we'll end up with a "hybrid" camper, which is a trailer that has the push-out canvas covered beds. We can easily haul one with our vehicle, it's a LOT cheaper, and we won't have to sell one of the children to be able to afford the gas to run it.

    I was amazed at how fancy those things are now. When I was a kid we had to hand-crank our pop-up camper and it leaked at all the seams, but I loved camping with my parents and want to have the same experiences with our kids. We don't need 4 TVs though, or granite counters. I don't even have that in my house LOL

    1. Hi Anon, thanks for checking in and sharing some RV love. The cost of these suckers is intense. We wouldn't be considering it seriously if it weren't for my in-laws, who are RV lovers and willing to co-own with us. And we're not even in the market for the "biggies" -- I can only assume people sell their homes and all their worldly possessions to own one of those.

      4 TVs in 100 sq ft of space? Go home, RV makers, you're drunk!


    I love roadtrips. LOVE. THEM. I have a secret hankering to rent an RV. Do they come with closets for secret hankerings? Because I have many and they're quite large.

    So I say do it. I need to live vicariously through you, so stop being so selfish and hurry up. Forget all the times Coco has puked in the car. It's a bathroom on wheels, baby!

    1. Ahem... you make a fine point on the Coco car riding issue, Bec. If we get an RV, we will be careful not to spring for the fancy upholstery. Especially since both Lucien and Oscar get carsick too. WHOOOOO!!!! ROAD TRIP!!!!

  6. haha, we went to the minneapolis RV show this weekend, too! always been on jimmy's list of dreams to own an airstream. for now we shall keep dreaming, as it costs way to much to be so sleek and cool. though, we have found that our family seems to function better on the road than in our home, so perhaps we'll sell the house and hit the road. :) road trips forever and ever! good luck with your fun decision!

    1. Awesome, Rachel, great minds do similar things on the weekends. I can see you and Jimmy embracing the nomadic way of life. If it keeps the family harmonious, it's worth not ever sleeping in the same town twice. RV high five.

  7. I'm not much of a camping-girl but I have to admit, some of these new-fangled, fancy, pimped-out RVs are seriously cool-looking -- although I could do without the vaulted ceilings and indoor fireplaces (but if you find one with a giant hot tub? Let me know.) If I HAD to do camping, that's how I'd want to do it: not in a leaky tent sleeping on the hard ground where I have to bath in a creek, worry about snakes crawling into my sleeping bag and dig a hole to poop in. The plus side of having an RV is that if the world gets to the point where it's all Stephen King's "The Stand", you'll be more likely to be the ones who survive, whereas me? I'll be winnowed out after a week with no hot running water and no ice for my frozen margarita. I say, rent before you buy, for at least 2 different trips, maybe even experiment with different types of RVs to see what you're most comfortable with.

    1. Lisa! You make good points, especially the thing about possible societal collapse, in which case we'll have a decent exit strategy. Another "yay" for The Lifestyle!

      You may want to look into a "customized bus." I didn't know they existed but according to my RV book that's how really rich people like to travel, and they have things like waterbeds and hot tubs. So go on, then!

  8. Husband really wants an RV (motorhome), but we 'compromised' because I really wanted a cute vintage trailer to fix up. The allure of an onboard restroom is high though. The only reason I won the 'compromise' is that I was concerned about maintenance costs of an entire other motor/transmission/etc. I think in a few years we'll probably go that direction though.

    1. Hello there, G. Smith. Onboard restrooms are a huge draw for me. Those kids, man, those kids.

      Maintenance costs could be overwhelming. I'll keep you posted.

      Thanks, all of you, for stopping in and sharing the RV love.

  9. Replies
    1. Indeed, Duchesse. Honk honk.

    2. I keep thinking though that those RV could serve as inspiration to decorate tiny, awkward Parisian apartments!:)) I wouldn't mind a RV if it were in a Hausmannian building in the Quartier latin:))

  10. I knew my comment was bound to make someone happy:)) Wouldn't you just LOVE camping in my digs next to, say, the Panthéon?:)))

  11. I love it! Get one! My husband and I were talking about renting one and doing a Western Road trip once the kids are a little older. His uncle owns an RV park and horse ranch (b/c those two things go great together) in Arizona so we figured we would start there.

  12. Whoa! That RV must be huge. It looks really spacious. It is even loaded with amazing looking furniture. The kitchen looks great as well. I can just imagine myself whipping up a couple of lovely meals there. Hahaha! Thanks for sharing the fun at the RV show. I wish you all the best! :)

    Cristina Hamilton @ Mount Comfort RV