One year ago I traded in my house in Georgia for a new 29’ pull-along trailer. My bright red Honda Fit was upsized to a bright red, gently used Chevy Silverado. One of my jobs came along with me as I continue to do online communications for a marketing company a few hours a week. My passion for teaching yoga morphed from a class that met in a gym to volunteering to teach chair yoga at an independent living center for retired RVers. Highlights and foibles from this year follow in preceding order. I hope they inspire you to hit the road, or take the first step towards your own version of freedom!
Yesterday I concluded a 3 day course called “Birds of Yellowstone”, one of many classes offered through Yellowstone Association Institute. Employees and volunteers at Yellowstone Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to Inspire, Educate and Preserve this awesome park, are entitled to take one free course per season. We set out by bus from our lodging at Lamar Buffalo Ranch to discover more than 70 species, 20 of which were life birds for me. The highlight was watching a Golden Eagle soar high above a mountain, then land on a cliff ledge within view using binoculars. The eagle has been a totem for many years, and reminds me of the many freedoms I have been blessed with, most importantly is the freedom to choose our thoughts.
Before arriving at Yellowstone to work during the Centennial season (celebrating 100 years of the National Park Service), I volunteered at the Escapees CARE Center in Livingston, TX. Teaching yoga was one part of the many services I offered here – doing dishes, cleaning the dining room, driving residents to appointments, and delivering furniture to the thrift shop were some of the duties that kept me busy for 6 weeks. I enjoyed the experience so much that I will return again to assist.
In January I arrived in Texas and chose it as my place of domicile. I plan to return here each year in order to get my truck and RV inspected and registered, renew my healthcare plan via HealthCare.gov, schedule doctor and dental appointments, update Miss Georgia’s shots, and other annual tasks. Little did I know that Texas is home to a gazillion birds in the winter months, and that I’d get to volunteer at Roma Bluffs World Birding Center in February in return for my RV site and use of a car.
I also enjoyed exploring Padre Island National Seashore and joining in on a couple of free birding tours. Mating Crested Caracara eagles were observed near Laguna Madre. RVing neighbors rescued me when I depleted both my truck and trailer batteries, gave the truck battery a jump and plugged the trailer battery into a generator. Then, I got an hour-long lesson and tour of a completely solar powered Class A from a retired owner of a RV dealership in Canada. He and his wife shared information, reassurance that “I can do this” and confirmed that there are friendly folks everywhere. My job at Amazon this fall will pay for a solar setup and LED lights.
Another of my rookie mistakes was going through a car/truck wash in order to get the sea salt off my vehicles. It was high enough to wet and lather soap around the trailer, but then the water hose got caught on the air conditioning unit. I tried backing up to release the tension, but it was stuck fast. The carwash was unattended, but I spotted a maintenance garage across the street and walked over to ask for help. This fellow drove over with a tall ladder, untangled the hose, and allowed me a photograph. Phew!
On New Year’s Eve, I visited the Humane Society in Georgia near my previous home, and chose a kitten to share my RV life with. Rather, she chose me…jumping into my arms and purring. I was enchanted, and gave her a new name as soon as her wildly curious side came out. Miss Georgia is part beauty queen, part Curious George, part spunk and part sweet. She has become a fellow explorer and makes friends with two-leggeds and four-leggeds wherever we go.
My first paid workcamping job was with Amazon outside of Nashville, TN. For three months I packed close to10,000 packages on an assembly line in return for free RV site, decent wages and lots of bonuses. Friends made here are coming to visit next week, and others will meet up again this fall. It was a good experience, although I’ve discovered there are many more workcamping experiences for both solos and couples than I’d expected to find.
The summer months were spent visiting friends and family from Tennessee to Colorado. I got the hang of towing my RV, hitching and unhitching with barely a hitch. Two National Parks were visited by my son and myself – Rocky Mountain and Black Forest of the Gunnison. Both were spectacular, and Clark’s Nutcracker became a new life bird spotted high in the Rocky’s. Spending time with my son in both the city and in wilderness was priceless, and one of the reasons I went RVing.
My journey in RVing started off small, sticking close to my previous hometown while I waited for taxes and trailer tags to be straightened out. At the first RV park I stopped at, the super slide on my Coleman Explorer would not budge. It had failed at the dealership before I drove out, and has failed intermittently since then. Turns out there was a loose connection on the motor’s circuit board which I had spot soldered in Colorado. Other items that were fixed by Camping Worlds across the country under warranty were the water pump, leaking slide, and refrigerator controller.
While this is the first anniversary of my journey, it is also the end of my certified used truck warranty (I got free oil changes and tire rotations in Colorado, Texas and Montana), my RV warranty (turned out to be a good deal both financially and for peace of mind), and free membership in Good Sam Roadside Assistance (which reimbursed me for a flat truck tire change even though I was in a National Park). I’m really glad I chose an ultra-lite RV (6,500 pounds fully loaded) that can be towed with a small pickup, but will purchase a shorter unit next time for ease of parking.
This flag symbolizes the freedom I feel – so grateful to be an independent woman in the 21st century in America. Thank you for joining me on this journey, and for continuing to follow this blog.