It’s July 14th, which means that we’ve now been doing this full-time camper life thing for a whopping 365 days!
To quickly recap, we’ve settled in something like 15 different states and made 43 new “homes on the road” over the past year. In some ways, it seems like the time has flown by. But in other ways, it feels like I’ve been living this life for way longer. Starting with the east coast, moving across the south, and finally up the west coast, we’ve been moving slow and staying in each place a couple weeks. Seven of these 12 months were spent in our little pop-up with canvas walls, and then the last five months have been in Dragoon, our upgraded Class-A RV.
On the day we left Atlanta last July, we really didn’t plan on being on the road for this long. Originally, the grand plan was to spend a few months traveling around and then pick a place to plop down “somewhere out west.” Well, we haven’t picked out that magical western place, but we sure have seen a lot by carrying on with this whole nomad thing for longer than expected.
We’ve never set a time limit or a goal for how long this adventure would last. But at this point, it feels the new normal, and it looks like camper life is here to stay for a while. In fact, we’ve already thrown out ideas for where to possibly end next spring and summer.
Camper life isn’t that glamorous stuff you see on Instagram (I still don’t understand Instagram). For someone like me with a restless spirit, living in a new place every few weeks makes me feel alive and satisfies my relentless curiosity. It’s easy to keep up with my work on the road, and I’m fortunate enough to have a husband and dog who are on-board with all of this as well.
But the lifestyle can also feel draining, lonely, claustrophobic, and even dull after a while. I don’t see the purpose of sugar-coating it, but I’m also not unappreciative of my opportunity to try this out for a while. But even with the ups and downs, it sure as hell beats arbitrarily plopping down somewhere just because “that’s what people do.” Twelve months later, I would still choose this lifestyle over something more stationary. After all, there’s plenty of time to do that later if nothing more interesting comes along. But I suspect that something will 🙂
Here’s a recap of this past month’s batch of “homes on the road”:
Gilroy, California: Home on the Road #41 (continued from last month)
- Highlights: Winery in walking distance of our campground where we met the owners and were invited to stay for a home-cooked dinner and basketball game viewing party, hiking through caves with flashlights at Pinnacles National Park, adult swim hours at the campground pool, finally found some light jackets for unpredictable Bay Area weather, seeing a Bollywood movie (thankfully with subtitles) in a theater
- Lowlights: Sucking at golf pretty badly, missing out on visiting a friend before leaving Santa Cruz, quickly killing a mini rose plant, failed attempts at airing up the RV tires (have since bought our own portable air compressor to be self-sufficient)
Oakland, California: Home on the Road #42
- Highlights: Trying a Hawaiian poke bowl for the first time and discovering it lives up to the hype, putting in a record number of friend and family visits, amazingly spacious campsite with eucalyptus trees and wild turkeys, some rare chill-out/do-nothing time, checking out the SF Pride Festival, seeing the places where my husband grew up, seeing the utility pole gnomes of Oakland still up and in-tact, a fun 4th of July with friends
- Lowlights: Awfully long and twisty/turny drive to get anywhere from our campground, super challenging to find decent WiFi, trying to bike the insane hills of San Francisco, a bad dog boarding experience at Wag Hotels, two weeks of rib pain/ab soreness from flying on a trapeze
Napa, California: Home on the Road #43 (in progress)
- Highlights: Decent campground at the expo center in town and in walking distance of downtown, Day trip to Calistoga with hot springs/massage/petrified forest, geyser, bike paths/lanes to get around, good doggie day care experience at Camp Rawhide
- Lowlights: Traffic – everywhere and all the time, way too many wineries – how does anyone choose which one to go to???, not much hiking close by
“TOP 5” LISTS OF THINGS AND STUFF
To celebrate our one-year anniversary of living on the road, I’m doing something a bit different this month. Instead of my usual section of ramblings, I’m making a few “Top 5” lists. Limiting each list to 5 will really make me narrow things down and not get too annoyingly wordy like I tend to do. Besides, everybody likes lists, right?
Things I Like About Camper Life
- Never being bored
- Exploring potential areas to move to one day
- Being about to do my job just like I would sitting in an apartment somewhere
- Choosing to be in places with nice weather
- Easy access to nature and adventure activities
Things I Dislike About Camper Life
- Paying for fuel in the gas-guzzling RV
- Close quarters and shantytown-like conditions next to campground neighborhoods
- High cost of campsites in ideal locations
- Lack of reliable internet, a deal-breaker for remote working
- The exhaustion of constantly doing travel research
Things I Miss About Stationary Life
- Drinking drinks with good friends on the regular
- Consistent Wi-Fi access
- Easy travel for holidays with family
- All my gnomes (now tucked away in storage)
- Easily doing arts and crafts
Things That Set Us Apart from Other Full-Time Campers
- We’re not old
- We work full-time jobs
- Half of us isn’t white
- Free camping isn’t a priority
- We’re not big fans of people
Common Research Topics in New Places (pardon me while I break the 5-limit rule)
- Hiking trails
- Biking trails
- Comedy shows
- Bar trivia
- Local theater
- Dog-friendly breweries
- Community rec centers
- Dance classes
- Driving ranges/golf courses
- Disc golf courses
- Arcade bars
- Archery ranges
- Dog daycare facilities
- Cafes with Wi-Fi to work at
- Neighborhoods to check out
- Dog parks
- Climbing gyms
Most Frustrating Moments
- Not being able to get internet reception/Wi-Fi
- Unreasonable pit bull bans
- RV sewer leakages
- Ant, moth, and other insect infestations in the camper
- Learning to drive an RV towing a jeep on treacherous roads
Things that Have Surprised Me About Camper Life
- How easily I’ve adjusted to the lifestyle and how normal it feels (i.e. daily routines, eating/drinking/exercising the same as I would in a stationary place, the same things stress me out/piss me off)
- I have become more introverted
- After seeing so many new things over the past year, I’m not as easily impressed
- I have become exhausted with travel planning
- Even with more “me time” than I’ve ever had before, I still struggle to find time to do hobbies, chill out, etc.
Plants I’ve Grown (decently) in a Camper
Favorite Areas from the First Year
- Moab, Utah
- Red River Gorge, Kentucky
- San Diego, California
- Asheville, North Carolina
- Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
Regions I’d Consider Plopping Down at for a Bit
- Santa Barbara, California
- Albuquerque, New Mexico
- San Luis Obispo, California
- Tucson, Arizona
- Salt Lake City, Utah
- 4 Monkey walks per day, alternating 2 per person
- Morning yoga in the RV
- Texting with my best friend throughout the day about anything and everything
- 8+ hour work days
- Guitar practice (not exactly daily but working on it)
Biggest Life Changes Since the Camper Upgrade
- Not having to walk across a campground to pee in the middle of the night after one too many beers
- Avoiding the nastiness and awkwardness of public bathrooms
- Driving shorter distances from one place to the next because driving an RV is exhausting
- An extra monthly payment to budget for
- Being able to withstand more extreme temperatures/storms
How Monkey Has Made Camper Life Interesting
- We’re always looking for dog-friendly places and restricted as to where we can do with her
- Way too many unwanted social interactions because of her extreme friendliness
- Keeps us on a schedule of waking up early…ugh
- Gives us something to focus on besides each other, ideal for a 24/7 confined space
- A steady source of entertainment (twirling!) and frustration (pulling!)
Looking Ahead to Next Month
We’ll be in Napa for a little while more, and I’m excited to re-visit one of my gnome collector friends that lives in Santa Rosa. LOTS of gnome pics coming up soon, so gettttttttttt readyyyyyyyyyyyyy!
From here, we’re headed to the coast to check out Mendocino and Fort Bragg. It’s pretty hot out here in Cali, so we figured the coast is the place to be as long as the campgrounds aren’t insanely overpriced. Things are a little up in the air after that, but it’ll all be figured out in due time.
But for now, it’s time to go track down some wine and celebrate this random little anniversary of ours. Thanks for following along for the past year and keeping me accountable to continue putting together these monthly recaps!
Catch up with the journey:
- It’s Been 11 Months on the Road…Will We Make it a Year?
- Double Digits Down: A 10-Month Report on the Ups & Downs of Camper Life
- 9 Months Later…Yup, We’re Still on the Road!
- Camper Life Month #8 in Dragoon-A-Saurus Rex de la Mantequilla
- A Day of Love, Hallmark Cards & Our 7 Month Camper-aversary
- Half a Year on the Road! A Six-Month Camper Life Update
- 5 Months on the Road: Wait No More, Your Full-Time Camper Life Update Is Here
- Month #4 on the Road: Camper Life Update from Colorado & Utah!
- Month #3 on the Road: A Full-Time Camper Life Update!
- Two Months on the Road! A Full-Time Camper Life Update
- One Month on the Road: A Full-Time Camper Life Update
- Final Days in Atlanta…Next Up: Full-Time Camper Life!