I Finally Did It! My Vacation Home Is Tiny and On Wheels

If you don’t follow me on social media, you probably wondered where I’ve been for the past few weeks. Let me start by saying my break from blogging was not intentional. I try several times each week to load the WordPress editor. Unfortunately, it uses a lot of add-ons and graphics that require more bandwidth than I have to spare. I’m actually writing this in Google Docs and may need to bring my laptop with me the next time I head back to civilisation.

That brings me back to the question at hand: where have I been? Well, the story goes much farther back than just the past few weeks. In August, I bought a travel trailer and spent several weeks preparing for a cross-country trip. I didn’t tell my friends and only informed my parents three weeks before I planned to leave. Why the secrecy?

That’s a story for another day, but a strong suspicion encouraged me to leave Atlanta and that suspicion proved true. My parents were 100% supportive of my journey and my reasons for leaving. In fact, they immediately took time off from their busy jobs to drive more than 2,000 miles across the country with me, in just three days.

Prepping for the Move

When I bought my Keystone Bullet, I had never spent more than 15 minutes — at the most — inside an RV. My first night under its roof was 600 miles from home. Consequently, I knew only what I read in books and saw on YouTube. Lucky for me, the gentleman I bought my RV from was an absolute saint. Not only did he allow me to leave it parked up at his friend’s acreage, but he and his friend coached me through towing.

The whole process flew by so quickly, I barely had time to catch my breath. I bought my FJ Cruiser in July, bought the RV in August, and left in September. During that short period of time, I had to learn how to properly handle a top-heavy SUV in place of the tiny city car I had driven for two years. I then had to learn how to hitch and unhitch my trailer alone and how to back it up without a back-up camera. If you’ve ever gone RVing, you know that most people who tow do so as a duo.

During that time, I was also downsizing my belongings. Everything I own right now is either in my RV or in a closet in my Atlanta home. Yes; I still have a home in Atlanta, though, when I will return to it, I have no idea. What I do know is that I plan to stay as far away as possible from Atlanta until my divorce is finalized.

I’m already in talks with family and friends to get that tiny-house-in-the-desert plan back underway. In the meantime, I’m having the time of my life, in my vacation home, on a semi-sabbatical.

Driving Across the Country

I originally planned to drive across the country in 10 days. I wanted to take my time, enjoy the sights and only drive for an average of three or four hours per day. That plan changed when my parents decided they were coming with me, come hell or high water. I’m sure Shadow also liked knowing he didn’t have to hop back into the carrier for a few hours every day for 10 days.

My parents travel as much as I do, so it offered a welcome break for them, after being cooped in the house all year. To add to this, my license wasn’t even two years old at the time and I had never towed anything before the seller gave me lessons. So, they also felt much safer doing the towing with me.

My dad offered to drive the 10 to 12 hours each day that it would take for us to make it across on such a short timeline. I refused. The first two mornings, I hitched up and towed for the first five hours before turning over the reigns. On the final day, Dad and I switched every time we made a pit stop. The one downside of the fact that I actually did quite a bit of towing myself is that I have very few photos of the trip.

Little Rock, Arkansas

Our first stop was in Arkansas. The city of Little Rock was nothing like we expected. It was bright, beautiful, diverse and friendly. Also, as first-time RVers who had never set up an RV before, neighbours came rushing to help. They showed me:

  • How to properly reconnect my batteries
  • How to turn the propane off
  • How to check the flue before turning on the furnace
  • How to check the fridge vent
  • When and how to turn the water heater on
  • How to turn the fridge on and keep it on auto
  • How to safely plug my RV in
  • When and how to use the water pressure regulator
  • How to connect my water supply

While they walked me through these processes, others reassured my parents that I was in good hands, on the road. Mom still talks about how our stay at that RV park really gave her peace of mind. She says everyone was so welcoming and they had so much information to share with her about what to expect as the parent of a young miss on the road.

Santa Rosa, New Mexico

Driving through New Mexico was one of my most terrifying experiences. While towing, I got distracted by all the beautiful views and stopped watching the gas gauge. New Mexico has long stretches without gas stations, and by the time I realised we were at quarter tank, we were well on our way into the middle of nowhere.

We drove for about 20 minutes on E with the gas light on before we found a gas station. I could literally feel Samson slowing to a crawl as we pulled in. We came so close to not making it! Dad and I cut it close a few times before on the gas, but this was the worst and we learned our lesson here. After this, we filled up at half tank for the rest of the trip.

I didn’t take any pictures of our campground in Santa Rosa. The neighbours were the exact opposite of Little Rock. We got there after dark and parked up next to a grumpy old man with a noisy dog. It was also ridiculously cold that night. We got up as early as possible the following morning and bolted out of there. I do think New Mexico is stunning, though, and the food is amazing.

Las Vegas, Nevada

The final stop was Las Vegas. My parents wanted to be close enough to the airport so they didn’t have to worry about making their flights back. I also had to get a few things sorted, which ultimately led to me becoming a Nevada resident before my 31st birthday. It felt amazing to sever that last tie with Georgia, even though I have no idea what my future plans will hold.

I have since left Las Vegas and ventured into more rural areas, which is why I never have reliable WiFi. My playground now includes Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona and California. In exchange, Mother Nature has provided me with unforgettable mountain views, stunning sunsets, beautiful hiking trails, and a wonderful community of fellow RVers.

Yes; more often than not, I am the only Black person at a campground. Yes; there are tonnes of Trump supporters in the rural areas I visit. Yes; I am quite often completely outnumbered by Mormons, especially when I go into small towns for gas and groceries. And, yes, I enjoy every second of it anyway.

Planning for the Future

I always have a plan. It’s in my nature to know precisely what the next week, month, year and lifetime will hold for me. This allowed me to seize opportunities as soon as they appeared. For instance, knowing I fully intended to tow with an FJ Cruiser was why I didn’t need to deliberate when Samson showed up as the exact model, year and upgrades I wanted, within a price I couldn’t refuse.

Similarly, it was why I was able to put my bid in for Jasmine the day she was posted. This gave me the opportunity to secure a barely used, reasonably priced RV in the middle of an industry-wide and nationwide shortage. During this time, waiting lists for brand-new RVs were three-to-four months long at every dealership I called, from Georgia to California.

However, for the past two years, all my plans have been with one goal: to get me to where I am now. So, for right now, I have none. I can finally relax and take it one day at a time. In the interim, I am soaking up the experiences and the places. This will help me better decide where to place my tiny home, when the time comes.

Over the next few weeks — when the internet allows — I’ll share more about my experiences as a Black woman RVing alone in the boondocks. Do I feel safe? Has anyone been aggressive toward me? What has my interactions with the police been, so far? What’s it like RVing during a pandemic under rapidly changing state restrictions? How is Shadow adjusting to RV life?

If you have specific questions, feel free to post them in the comments below. I’m also open to advice from experienced RVers. For more timely updates and responses, consider following me on social media. Until next time — whenever that is — stay safe, stay sane, stay isolated, and VOTE EARLY!

PS: I would like to give a special shoutout to Elizabeth Slaughter, who told me about the time she drove across America as a young woman. This is the second trip I’ve taken where you are most certainly part of the root cause. Thank you for always being an inspiration!

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51 thoughts on “I Finally Did It! My Vacation Home Is Tiny and On Wheels

  1. wow!!! nice to know you are on your way! i cant help but cringe in the fact you didnt spend time using your new home before heading out. i am reminded of the woman who hiked the PCT and had never hiked before. she was very lucky to survive her adventure and though yours is not quite as severe, i am glad (and you are lucky) you met some nice people. i will be looking forward to your adventures.

    1. LoL, men do things like this all the time and no one bats an eyelash….because they’re men and it’s their job to be reckless and laugh with the boys about it afterward. You’re cringing because I’m a woman. 😂

      That said, I did tonnes of research before heading out and went out to the RV twice per week to pack and mess around with it. The seller and the person whose property it was parked on also gave me an orientation and I got towing lessons. Almost everything I was told at the park I already knew, but I hadn’t actually done it myself before and neither had my parents. Everything for the RV I needed, I had with me.

      All I was lacking was experience and I got plenty of that on the road in the safety of family and fellow RVers. 🙃

      Also I know of that woman. A friend of mine had me watch the movie they made of her. Sometimes you just have to go for it! Her journey was inspiring! Hopefully you’ll be entertained by mine along the way. 🙂

      1. to me, anyone who does things like this makes me cringe. PEOPLE do stupid things and DIE!! the man who went to alaska by himself and DIED was an idiot and was lucky he didnt die sooner. yes i have been in a group of men reviewing some stupid thing one of them did, and even then i felt he was STUPID and lucky to be alive. DO NOT feel that i think you are a woman that i am “cringing” i am cringing because being unprepared/poorly prepared can lead to dire outcome. and NOT because you are a woman! i have been in several situations that i survived because not only of luck but because i went in prepared. even though several of those left me with permeant physical and emotional scars, it could have been a lot worse. please do not put me into a generalization category because i surely do not put you in one. i am looking forward to reading of t=your adventures, just like all the others i have looked forward to and enjoyed. be safe. be careful.

      2. Buddy, I welcome your concern for my safety, but I also think you’re overreacting lol.

        I’m not going to die because I didn’t spend a night in my RV. Far more important to whether I lived or died was ensuring the systems worked, learning how to hitch and unhitch, and towing it safely.

        I didn’t go to Alaska alone or hike the PCT. I towed 600 miles to my first RV park, with my parents, set up in broad daylight, and enjoyed all the same comforts I do at home. That’s why I say you’re cringing because I’m a woman, because there’s nothing inherently dangerous in that.

        Everyone has to start with a maiden voyage and that was mine. Suppose I had rented the RV? How was I going to test it before the trip? 😂

        Like I said, I welcome your concern, but the only thing that was at risk was whether I liked sleeping in an RV or not. Turns out I love it.

        Stay tuned for the things you SHOULD be worried about. 🙃 I’m currently weathering a 3-day wind storm in the mountains with wind speeds maxing out at 65 MPH.

      3. im not overly concerned. and im not concerned because you are a woman. you missed the point. but, never mind. it is not worth dragging it around. it has been VERY windy here too. keep all your wheels on the ground.

      4. I got your point: preparation can mean life or death and taking unnecessary risks are stupid. But I was a long way off from risking life or limb.

        We’re gonna have Category 1 hurricane speeds tomorrow. I’m not looking forward to it. 😂 I’m currently using Samson as an anchor for the RV. We also have a freeze warning and a red flag fire warning in effect. Mother Nature is throwing the whole book at me these past few days!

    2. Oh, by the way! I should thank you for the route. I chose I-40 based on your recommendation a few months back. Since I wasn’t traveling solo, I figured I could brave the Midwest instead of taking the scenic route through the South. 😂 We definitely stopped for gas in some places I might have been lynched as a solo traveler, but we survived!!

  2. I’m just so proud of you Alexis! Just as how Elizabeth has inspired you, you’ve also inspired me– maybe not to have a RV since I’m not sure how that’d work out in Jamaica, but certainly in regards to solo female travel. Stay safe on the road dear and remember to check in with us.

    1. I’d be terrified to have an RV in Jamaica. People’s vehicles go missing so often. Other than, it would be the perfect place because there’s no rules against where to park and sleep. Here’s to hoping our bad apples start to do better.

      And thank you! I’ll do my best. WordPress is really hard to load, even the app. I’m surprised it’s cooperating now and last night. Let’s hope it stays that way for a while longer! If it doesn’t, you can still always catch me on Instagram. ☺️

    1. Samson is my FJ Cruiser. Shadow is the cat. He stays indoors. I’d love to take him kayaking, but he’s semi-feral and doesn’t like other people.

  3. I take my hat off to you for taking such a bold step. I too am about to do the same. The difference is that I am 84 years old and I too will travel alone along with my two dogs.

    1. Thank you, Francis. Somehow doing it alone at 84 seems like an even bolder move! What kind of RV do you plan on getting? Motorhome, travel trailer, fifth wheel, etc.?

      1. Haha, I know exactly which rig you’re referring to. It’s parked next to me right now. There’s a lovely couple from Canada just about to leave. 😂 That thing is HUGE!

    1. I have no idea what that is, haha, but I’m assuming it’s your rig of choice. Happy travels and thanks for dropping by. ☺️

    1. Thanks, Michael! Maybe I will write about the full journey one day. In the meantime, I’ll keep trying to post my snippets.

      1. Nice to get news about you, Alexis! Great, to have you with positive mind, in this sad situation of C-19. Samson looks like the king. Lol Seems he enjoy travelling as much as you. Be well, stay save, and drive slow. Michael

      2. Samson definitely loves it out here. He’s in his element. He was made for off-road living and he reminds me of that every day. ☺️

    1. It’s not too late! I’ve seen couples and large families out here RVing. ☺️ I haven’t seen anyone else RVing solo though. Just me!

  4. This is awesome! I’m glad that you are getting to do you on your own terms despite the current chaos and uncertainty going on here. Congratulations!

    1. Thank you! It was an excellent opportunity to isolate without giving up adventuring for another year. I’m glad I took the plunge. ☺️

    1. Thanks Samantha! I’ve been trying really hard, but internet is REALLY bad out here on federal land. 😂

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