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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Why We RV

While there are some advantages, which I will share later, I have to tell you upfront that I am not all that thrilled about living in an RV, or at least not in our RV.

Due to our proclivity for dropping our daily detritus on any flat surface available, it is always cluttered. Even one day after a dedicated cleaning effort, it will have fallen back into disarray. We talk about how we need to be better about putting things in their place but it just doesn't happen. This is generally manageable in a larger house but in a small RV, it makes it look messy all the time.

Living with a large dog in an RV is more challenging. We love our dog but he is definitely more of a handful now than he was in our house with a fenced yard. He is constantly under foot, not because he is a pest but because there simply isn't much floor space. Our schedule is dominated by making sure he gets out when he needs to get out and, as an older dog, that is more frequently than in the past. In a small space, his loose fur accumulates rapidly and seems to coat everything. And he had taken over the couch. He was not initially allowed on the couch but we felt sorry for him as the weather turned colder and his arthritis began to act up more. Now, however, he wants on the couch all the time and it is not big enough for the three of us if he stretches out as preferred.

Cooking from scratch is becoming a rare event because the small kitchen makes it frustrating rather than enjoyable. During the summer when we had a camp stove set up outside, it wasn't bad. I had plenty of work space for meal prep inside before we cooked the food outside. Now, however, I'm trying to work with extremely limited counter space, crowded burners, and an oven that heats unevenly. (We're looking for pizza tiles to line the oven bottom to even out the heat.) Most of our meals are very basic and include more frozen and/or prepared ingredients. I miss the meals I used to enjoy preparing. I miss composting, too.

The driving part stinks. It's a pain to pack up the RV for being on the road. Anything breakable needs to be protected and secured. Everything loose has to be secured.  It'd be lovely to have a diesel pusher with air bag suspension and steering stabilizers that handles better on rough roads and in high winds, but that was out of our price range. That means we have to keep our rig weight down. The pantry must be pared down before going on the road and anything extra that accumulated while parked for a few weeks or months must be ditched. Finding an easy-access gas station is hard enough that we tend to fill up more often to avoid being stuck with a low tank. This is another example where having a diesel pusher would be nice as gas stations on the road cater to truckers.

So, with these downsides, why am I living in an RV?

There are some definite advantages to RV living, namely that it is mobile. It is easier to visit more places, see more birds, meet more people, and have more fun with a home that moves from place to place than with brief vacations. Because we have no desire to travel rapidly from one location to the next, we have the opportunity to get to know an area over the course of several weeks or months. There is not sufficient time during a vacation to do that, especially since flying or driving long distances can be expensive and most people then try to cram in as much sightseeing as possible into the limited time available. Been there, done that, and found it exhausting as well as unsatisfying.

It takes time to get into the rhythms of an area. We've been in the current area for four months. It's been an adventure learning about the weather, the community, the bird life and overall natural history. We've had time to make friends that we expect to keep in touch with long after we leave. It took me weeks to get familiar with where the birds hang out, how they behave, and recognize their songs. Having the time to do so, however, has paid off with wonderful experiences (and photos) and a bird list of 135 species in this area.

Spending enough time in new places to get to know the community, people, and culture also broadens our horizons. By being open to learning how other people see the world, we can get a glimpse into understanding what may initially seem like baffling behavior or beliefs. It doesn't necessarily change our beliefs, but it does increase our tolerance for those who have different ones.

These benefits, so far, have made me willing to deal with the disadvantages of RV living. You can check out our new Instagram page to see some photos of our adventures: instagram.com/birdingbyrv/. There is no need to sign up for Instagram just to check out the photos, although you do have to have an account to like a photo or leave comments there.

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