When I first started RVing, I decided I would stay in RV parks for the first six months to a year. This would give me enough time to learn my way around RVs and make my mistakes in small communities where neighbours could save me from myself. At these parks, I had access to laundromats, electricity, water, and sewer connections. It sounds like heaven, but with more Americans trying out the open road, RV parks are becoming expensive. They’re also prioritizing weekend warriors over full-time travellers.
On May 4th, I began my journey to wean myself off RV parks. For the next month, I travelled from an RV park in Southern California to a farm in Northern Wyoming. During that time, most days, I had to rely on my small solar generator and carry water by hand. Some days, my bathroom was a bucket and other times, I had to empty my tanks into a portable tote. It has been an eye-opening experience for me. In fact, I learned quite a bit about myself.
1. I Adjust Easily
During my school years, I spent my summer and winter breaks in America and then returned home for school. Naturally, there was a big standard of living change between America and Jamaica. Yet, whenever I changed places, the switch was always automatic for me. I never complained about not having a water heater in my college apartment or having to wash my clothes by hand. It never fazed me.
Having lived in America for almost six years, I haven’t made that adjustment in a long time. RVing has changed that. While on the road, I sometimes had running water for a few days and then would carry in my water by hand or truck for the next few days. Sometimes, I had enough electricity to run my microwave and other times I had to heat everything up on the stove. I adjusted with no issues.
2. I am Resourceful
When I arrived at the Red Rock Campground, the host asked me if I had a generator because there was no electricity. I told her I had a solar generator and that I would be fine. Sadly, my solar generator has a capacity of only 175 watts, so it could only meet my basic needs. After some thought, I remembered that Samson, my FJ Cruiser, had a built-in inverter rated for 400 watts. Consequently, Samson became my generator. I used him to power the 200-watt spin-dryer, so I always had clean clothes.
When we arrived at Valley of Fire and there was no sewer, I had to figure out how to dump my tanks without frequently moving my RV. I have a portable sewer tote, but it weighs 240 lbs when full and I don’t have the muscles to lift that. After toying with a few different ideas — some of which were colossal failures — it occurred to me that I could tow the portable sewer tank if I could attach it properly to the truck. I got a lot of strange looks towing it through the camp, but I got the job done.
3. I Rarely Prioritize Convenience
The neighbour I followed here from California often teases me that I never take the easy route for anything. I’ve also often been told I tend to do things by the book or follow the rules or that I’m a goody-two-shoes. But, no one has ever phrased it as me never taking the easy route. The more I thought about it, though, the more I have to accept that Kevin is right.
I would rather spend two hours figuring out how to do something myself than ask someone else who could do it in two minutes. I dismantled my RV glass window and frame at Valley of Fire with nothing but the advice from a store clerk and the screwdriver he gave me. I prioritize self-reliance over convenience. That said, I know my limitations. When I change my oil, I take the truck to a mechanic. Similarly, when I needed help drilling a hole in my cupboards, I didn’t hesitate to accept my neighbours’ help.
4. I Crave Solitude
Kevin and I were parked almost side by side for four months before I drove up to Wyoming with him. We had one parking space between us that was, at first, occupied by two friends. Then, they left and strangers passed between us. During that time, Kevin and I spent a lot of time together as next-door neighbours. We took walks together, went camping together, and crashed drones together. But, on the road, when we were parked immediately next to each other, it drove me insane. There was no longer a buffer.
Most people who are alone lay in bed at night and wonder if they’re going to be alone forever. I was laying in my bed at night worrying that I would never be alone again. Eventually, I told Kevin to go on ahead. We crossed paths along the way, but we no longer stayed at exactly the same campgrounds every night. I have always known that I love my space, but off-grid living has taught me how important it is for my sanity.
5. I Am Socially Fearless
Ironically, one of the reasons I prefer to be alone is that I do enjoy meeting new people. If you’re surrounded by old friends, this is virtually impossible. While at Red Rock Campground, for example, I saw a guy with a tent I had ordered that won’t be delivered until this August. I recognized it immediately and took off running across the campground to ask him questions about it. I spoke to him and his wife often enough before they left that we exchanged phone numbers. Guess where they live: why, Wyoming, of course!
Kevin teases me that I will walk up to anyone and start a conversation. I will see a tricked-out Jeep and march right up to the owner and ask if I can drive it. Yes; I have actually done this. I don’t care who the person is or whether they look like someone who might not like people like me. The Jeep owners, for example, were so stunned a Black person spoke to them that I never got an answer on whether I could drive the Jeep. They froze with spoons halfway to their mouths, while their jaws dropped. What can I say? I wasn’t taught to fear any demographic. We’re all just people.
Living off-grid can really push your limits on what you’re comfortable with. It’s an unpredictable way of living and a lot can go wrong. But, it is so worth it, in the end!
What experiences have you had that forced you to come to terms with some interesting things about yourself?
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