A travel journal from two full-time RV nomads about the reality of RV living and full-time travel.
Ahhhh..... January, how I love you.
Intellectually, I understand that the delineation between December 31st and January 1st is not a real thing. But, the concept of letting go of one year and moving on to the next is an effective generator of optimistic, inspired energy for me and I'm leaning into it.
Two of the things I am looking forward to this year include:
- Another year of travel! May of 2023 will mark 3 years of full-time travel and RV living and I am excited for all the places we'll visit this year. If you want to see where we're headed this year and where we've been so far, this is where you'll find our travel itinerary.
- A deeper focus on learning and creativity. As many of you know, we lost our son to suicide in May of 2020, the same week we moved into our RV. In the December 2021 issue of Let's Get Lost, I wrote about how travel was saving us from drowning in grief and that continues to be true. The first 2 years of full-time RV life were very much about survival. This year, we both feel like we are starting to come back to ourselves and feel inspired toward new things.
So, happy January to you, friends. May this be the start of a good year for all of us.
January on the Gulf Coast
This is my current situation...
I'm not mad about it.
On January 7th, we left a cold and snowy Colorado and drove south to Crystal Beach, Texas where we plan to hang out for the rest of the month. Located on the Gulf of Mexico, Crystal Beach is an unincorporated part of Galveston County that includes miles of hard-packed beach suitable for any size rig.
My understanding is that the area is packed with campers and vacationers from May through September. But, in January, we're one of the only ones here. The temperature is mild and sunny and the waves are crashing to shore not 30 feet from our front door.
What do we plan to do while we're here? Not much. 😊 Work, read, take long walks on the beach, and long rides on the motorcycle. We'll catch up on current projects and likely start a few new ones.
We are close to the ferry to Galveston, so we'll head over there at some point to check it out. But, mostly we are going to enjoy the sound of the waves and schedule free days.
RV Road Trip Bucket List
After nearly 3 years of traveling across the United States in our RV, we took some time to identify the places that are our favorites so far and created an RV Road Trip Bucket List.
This is a list of our favorite places so far, listed in no particular order. It's also an ongoing list. As we continue our travels, we'll add new favorites to the list.
This was a really fun exercise! And, honestly, it was hard to not add almost every place we've been to the list because we've loved something about almost every single place we've visited so far.
But, we managed to narrow it down to 17 places for which we highly recommend anyone visit: RV Road Trip Bucket List.
Wrapping up 2022 in North Carolina and Saint Louis
We spent all of October and the first week of November in the Deep Creek Valley of Bryson City, which is perfectly situated just a mile from the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
October in the Smoky Mountains is as spectacular as you might expect and we did our best to explore as much of the area as we could. You'll find all of our top recommendations for things to see and do in the area here: Bryson City and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Saint Louis, MO
On our way to Colorado for the holidays, we spent two weeks near Saint Louis at 370 Lakeside Park in St Peters, Missouri. The park was clean and well-maintained with large spaces along a lake.
There is a paved walking path around the lake and the opportunity to rent kayaks or paddle boats when the weather allows. If you're ever traveling through or to the Saint Louis area with a camper, it's a great place to stay.
While we were there, we spent some time in the city of Saint Louis and explored some of the small surrounding towns on the motorcycle. But the best part of our time there was a few days I got to spend with a childhood friend I hadn't seen in 30 years. ♥️
Colorado for the Holidays and Tips for Cold Weather Camping
Both of us were born and raised in Colorado and lived our whole lives there until we moved into our RV. All of our family is there, including our two daughters. So, that's where we spend the holidays.
This year's 7-week stretch was punctuated with a lot of snow and very cold temperatures. Nearly every night we were there was well below freezing and we had a few days with temperatures as low as -17 degrees.
We learned a lot about how to protect our rig and ourselves in weather that cold and came away from the experience knowing that we can survive a few days of bitter cold but would much rather avoid it. 😂
Here are a few tips for surviving freezing weather in an RV: Winter RV Living ~ Tips for Cold Weather Camping
What We're Eating in January
Over the past decade or so, we have gradually become more and more interested in eating a lot more plants than animals. After reading Mark Bittman's Vegan Before 6 (linked in the reading list below), I've doubled down on that resolve.
We are not strict or rigid about it. We just choose plants over animals a lot more these days. That is, of course, reflected in the meals I've been cooking and the recipes I've been working on.
Here are a few of the things we've been eating lately:
- Vegan Broccoli Soup with Nacho Cheese and Crispy Potatoes. We eat a lot of soup all year round but especially in the fall and winter. This hearty vegan soup checks all the right boxes for me. It's packed with vegetables but tastes like creamy comfort food. I usually make enough of the vegan nacho cheese sauce to make some veggie nachos for lunch the next day.
- Traditional or Vegan Tzatziki Sauce. I'm not sure there's anything I don't love more with a dollop of tzatziki. (Ok, not really. But you understand my point.) Try it on grilled veggies, fish, chicken, or sheet pan greek meatballs. Spread it on sandwiches or wraps, use it as a salad dressing, or as a dip for raw veggies.
- For years I thought I didn't really like cauliflower and now I can't imagine what I was thinking. These days you'll pretty much always find a head of cauliflower in my refrigerator. Often I simply sauté cauliflower florets over high heat until it's blackened in spots. Other favorite ways to use it include General Tso's Cauliflower, Curried Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Mushrooms, Tequila Lime Vegan Cauliflower Tacos, and Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry.
- Two things I cook almost every week: White Beans on Toast with Veggies and Greens and Crispy Corn Tortilla Quesadillas. Our oldest daughter learned how to make both of these recipes a few months ago and now she also eats them almost every week. You simply can't go wrong with either of these simple, thow-it-together recipes.
- We're boondocking right now, so I'm making a lot of things that don't require the use of many pots, pans, and other dishes. Here are a few favorites: Black Bean Enchiladas and Chicken Enchiladas Verdes, Quick and Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup, and the ultimate use-anything-you-have sheet pan dinner.
- January always feels like the right time for these super easy buttermilk pancakes, sometimes for breakfast but mostly for dinner.
- Last month I made Berry Cobbler 3 times for different occasions and it's always the hit of the party.
What We're Reading, Listening To, and Watching
Aside from devouring the last season of The Crown, we haven't watched a lot of television lately. Part of it is because the holiday season is always busy, part of it is because we've been doing a lot more reading, and part of it is because we haven't found another series to get into.
So, what are you watching, friends? If you have a suggestion, please leave it in the comments!
Books and Podcasts!
I've got several good books and podcasts to share with you this month.
- Vegan Before 6 and the Vegan Before 6 Cookbook by Mark Bittman. As a recipe developer and general food lover, I would never willingly place myself on a strictly restrictive diet of any kind. I'm interested in eating more plants than animals, but have no plan to go 100% vegan. In these books, Mark Bittman expresses his concerns with health and ethics in relation to ourselves, animals, and our planet. I strongly related to his desire to eat a plant-based real food diet most of the time.
- The Foundling by Ann Leary. After a string of mediocre novels, this book reminded me of the power of a really good book. I didn't want to put it down and just ordered her most recent novel, The Good House.
- Glennon Doyle is one of the hosts of one of my favorite podcasts, We Can Do Hard Things, so I don't know what took me so long to read her most recent and most popular book, Untamed. I finally read it and then promptly sent copies to both of my daughters and several of their friends. It's an incredible, freedom-creating and empowering book that I feel almost anyone can benefit from reading.
- I discovered Yrsa Daley-Ward from her guest appearance on The Good Life Project podcast and was so enamored with a poem she read I purchased two of her books, Bone and The How. Her work is gracious, raw, and illuminating and I'm grateful for what she's putting out into the world. I think we need it.
- A Guide to The Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine. I heard Professor Irvine interviewed on The Waking Up App (see below) and promptly ordered his book. There's something about stoic philosophy that resonates with me and this book is an excellent presentation of how this way of thinking can direct us toward a better life.
- The Buddhist Enneagram by Susan Piver. I have long been fascinated by the Enneagram and this book offers a unique, fresh perspective about it's value towards personal growth and alignment with buddhist philosophy.
- More podcasts worth mentioning: The Ten Percent Happier Podcast with Dan Harris. Making Sense with Sam Harris, and The Sporkful with Dan Pashman.
While not a podcast or a book, I want to mention The Waking Up App. I downloaded this app when it first came out in 2018 and it was highly instructive in my quest to understand meditation. After our son died in 2020, I deleted it. Life was more about survival than anything else and honestly, sitting still and being present with my thoughts and emotions was just not something I could do for a while.
I downloaded it again last September and can't recommend it highly enough. In addition to a library of guided meditations, there are lectures, conversations, and hundreds of hours of audio from teachers specializing in every aspect of mindfulness, meditation, and non-religious Buddhist philosophy.
It has been a tremendously positive resource in my life for the past 5 months. If you are even remotely interested in the nature of consciousness, I'm certain you'll find the app rich and rewarding.
- We began last year in Southern California, starting the month in the Palm Springs area and then moving south to San Diego. Read more + Let's Get Lost, January 2022
RV Living FAQs
Since selling our house and moving into a 5th-wheel RV, there's been a lot to figure out about life on the road. We've answered many of our own questions along the way. Not incidentally, these are also the questions we get asked often by others.
So, we compiled all the questions we get asked most frequently about what it's like to live in an RV while traveling full-time and working remotely.