Sunday, March 10, 2013

I Want to Live in an RV? What Am I Thinking?

Happy "Spring Forward"! I hope everyone is enjoying the extra hour of sunlight. I'm happy to say that, since my last entry on emotional healing, I'm still feeling upbeat and positive about my life. 

The last month has picked up in both intensity and productivity. In preparation for selling my home, I've had a sheet rock guy come patch up my wall, a bathtub guy refinish my tub, a termite guy inspect my house, a mason install a new mantel and hearth on my fireplace, a gardener trim tree branches off my roof, a construction worker repave my concrete driveway, and I myself staged my home, photographed my home, created a flyer, filled out ten million realtor documents, and of course continued babysitting and Evoxing. 

Today I feel a bit rough around the edges, since I've come down with my worst cold in two years—you know, the kind where you can't breathe and you can't stay asleep. I wish I could sleep off this cold like I normally would, but I've had to get up early since Friday to prepare for buyers who might decide to drop by anytime. The last three nights and mornings have been brutal, but it's nothing that won't pass, so I'm just pushing through.

As soon as my house sells, I'll be buying the RV I've had my eye on. I'll spend a few weeks preparing for my cross-country move, and before I know it, I'll be heading East! I don't have a place to live in Knoxville yet, but I've decided to be less of a planner and trust that everything has a way of working itself out. Once I get to Knoxville, I'll just live in my RV until I find the right house.

As news of this somewhat bizarre plan has made its way through my social circles, people have expressed some confusion and concern over it. So I'd like to dedicate the remainder of this entry to clarifying exactly how RVing suits my needs.

For as long as I can remember, I've been fascinated by RVs. Then, about eight years ago, "owning an RV" was officially added to my bucket list. I always thought I'd hold off on the RV dream until I had a family or was retired. But circumstances have expedited that fantasy—and for very practical reasons.

The whole idea of RV travel came to me last summer when I made the decision to move to Tennessee. I knew I couldn't move myself and three cats to the opposite end of the U.S. in my Toyota Matrix. Not only would it be uncomfortable for my cats, it would be a nearly impossible task for me to accomplish due to my poor health. In the last couple of years, every time I've stayed in a motel, I've had immune reactions to mold, dust, remnants of smoke (which I can always smell in "nonsmoking" rooms), and the bedding. The mattresses are usually too hard for my back, the rooms are too humid, and it's just a toxic mix.

If I drove across country in my Matrix, I'd be staying in motels. With cats. Three cats. I don't know how many motels would even allow that. And transporting my cats, one by one, in and out of the room every night and morning? What a pain. 

I'd need to make reservations, which would require me to know in advance when I'll be arriving in any given city. I'd rather not make such plans because my health is unpredictable. I may need to spend an extra day or two in any given city before picking back up again.

I may need a nap quite suddenly from, say, 2 to 4 pm. For this I require a real bed, as I cannot simply sleep in a regular car. And motels don't rent beds by the hour, do they? Ew, that makes me think of prostitutes. I think I'll pass. Solution: Pull over and sleep in my full-sized bed in my RV, wake up, hit the road again. On any schedule.

Then there's the issue of my bladder. My interstitial cystitis is so unpredictable—and when it hits, it hits HARD. Some days, my bladder and urethra will spasm for 12 hours nonstop, causing incontinence, so if I don't pee every 20 minutes, I pee in my pants. Solution: Pull over and use my own toilet in my RV as often as I need.

What about storing healthy foods for my road trip? I don't want to be eating fast food for a whole week. Yuck. Thanks to the mini fridge, freezer, and stove top, I can actually make salads and lots of other healthy foods without Yelp searching for local gluten-free, healthy restaurants, which I'm sure don't exist in the vast expanse of land between Salt Lake City and Omaha.

And while my cats won't necessarily be "happy" in a moving house, at least they'll have room to move around. Their comfort is one of my main priorities on this trip.

Years ago, when I made RV travel a goal in life, I wasn't even considering all of the practical reasons highlighted above. At the time, I was more enamored by the idea that I can occupy a space with adaptable surroundings and views. One day I can look out my kitchen window upon a mountain range, and the next day I can look out my window at a forest.

I love to travel, but I abhor airplanes. RV travel and living is a pretty laid back way to travel, and obviously it's the more scenic choice. Plus, I've always loved camping, so I can only imagine how spectacular it will be to camp my RV.

Anyway, I've narrowed down my options to the Freelander or Chateau in 22 ft length. And I'm going to be purchasing this RV, because it makes more sense from a financial standpoint. I've done the research, and I just cannot justify the costs associated with renting an RV for multi-location pickup and drop-off. Thanks to the money I'll be making through my home sale, I'll probably be able to afford to keep my RV indefinitely, but if money gets tight, I can sell it. The resale market and demand for RVs in the Tennessee area is pretty good.

Everything feels like a win-win. Still, some people are concerned at how I will handle operating the RV. Well, the model I purchase won't require heavy lifting of anything (like propane tanks on trailers, for instance). When I toured an RV dealership a few weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised by how uncomplicated the process seemed. There's an opening where clean water goes, an opening where dirty water comes out, a place for electricity and a place for gas and it's all basically straight-forward.

Of course, in the beginning the learning curve will be steep, so I'm taking a hands-on course offered by the dealership to ensure that I don't end up in a Reno, Nevada, RV park my first night, cold and confused and cranky and scared and panicking.

As I also mentioned in my last entry, I'm no longer requiring local access to an LLMD, due to my choice to pursue self-treatment. So my decision to plant roots in Knoxville wasn't based on healthcare access as much as it was based on weather, population, and other lifestyle factors. But Knoxville is a large enough city that it has good hospitals and doctors too.

Finally, I'm in no hurry to get to Knoxville. I don't have a job to start or any kind of deadline to meet, so I'm not going to rush there. If I like a place I see along the way, I may spend an extra night there. Or I may hear along the way about a really cool lake or waterfall that diverts me from the main route. My point is, I'm going to try to enjoy the journey without placing urgency on the destination. 

Hopefully this entry helped appease anyone's worries about the choices I make. I know my lifestyle goals and experiences aren't everyone's cup of tea, and that's totally fine! I feel like I'm on the cusp of a personal renaissance! The unpredictability of what lies ahead gives me butterflies! 

Seeing new sights is quite literally the grandest type of fun that can be had in this lifetime, in part because new places aren't attached to anything tangible or intangible from my past. They can only be associated with the present tense. I look forward to leaving California and all its negative associations for good. At least for me, too much familiarity creates too much attachment to the past, which is something I'm working on breaking away from. Hopefully I won't recreate my old, bad habits in the future. I'd like to think I've grown up enough that I can be happy making a commitment to one place.  


  1. Dearest Leila- It sounds like you've really thought about this move and if you'd like to cross "owning an RV" off your bucket list, who is anyone to say nay to that.

    One caution I have, and it's from experience-- can you please, please look into buying an RV that's pre-owned? My parents bought a new RV, thinking they'd live forever in it, or at least five years. Well, my father had a massive heartattack and died within a year of owning their new RV. I know for a fact that a new RV depreciated even more than a new car once it's driven off of the lot. There are so many, many RV's in excellent condition, taken care of by people like my parents, who had to sell because of age or they just got tired of being on the road. Most of the consignment sales places have warranties that will cover your needs for the time that you'll have the RV. My mom lost $25,000 dollars of their purchase price within that first year. I'd hate for you to lose that kind of money. Please think about it.

    Otherwise, I wish I could go with you!

    P.S. PLEASE make plans to come see our babies! OXOXO

  2. Leila, I think that I am not the only friend to wonder how you will fare if you come across anyone who - God forbid - does not wish you well. There are bad people in the UK, surely that must be a scenario which exists across the pond as well? I for one hope that you will never come across such a person(s) on your travels. Protect yourself. Possibly learn self-defence. Maybe you will carry protection of some sort, I don't know; I, like any other friend, wish you well. Possibly there's a sense of wanting to 'look after you'; let me assure you that feeling is in no way patronising; we all love you:-)) xx PS: perhaps you will publish this on fb?

  3. I saw you have interstitial cystitis...D-mannose has a reputation of curing that. Just wanted to pass it on since it is inexpensive to try.

  4. Leila, I am SO JEALOUS! I wish someday to be able to do what you are doing. My travels to Alaska were done without GPS, cellphone, or a gun and I survived :) Anyway, your trip sounds like heaven and I hope you see tons of neat things and take lots of pictures and post them so I can travel through you :)


  5. Leila, you are so cool and mature. You made it through living in your current house so I feel confident that you are sharp enough to know how to handle yourself. I hope you have the time of your life. Before I got sick I used to go on one of those bicycling trips that are supported each summer and fall. I rode through S Utah, Cali Coast, across PA, Iowa, N wash State, Wine Country CA, nova Scotia, Colo, and several trips through Europe too. The slower you move the better you will enjoy the scenery and people. I so admire your courage! Keep us posted! Gary

  6. If living in an RV is listed on your bucket list, then by all means own one! I don't see anything wrong in living in a motorhome. As you can see, the word "Home" is there, it's just that you can bring it anywhere, which is totally awesome! In my personal opinion, don't sell everything and live in a RV because someday, you might change your mind and decide to live in a normal household again, then it'll be too late.

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