Sitting in our home, I used to imagine what it would be like to camp permanently. I knew it would be harder than living in a house, but I also knew I wouldn’t be able to imagine how, I’d just have to live it.I knew I enjoyed a shower before I left the house,
and often another one before bed. I knew I enjoyed fresh sheets every Saturday night,
and clean bodies before getting in between them. I knew I enjoyed having my not-so-dirty/not-so-clean clothes lying in wait, the purgatory between fresh out of the washer and ready for the hamper. I knew I enjoyed having a fridge and pantry stocked full of whatever I might need for any given recipe.
I had gotten used to a washer and dryer in the mud room. I knew I had a hard time peeing in a public bathroom if there were others around. I knew if I were going to the bathroom and someone called my name, my butt would close right up and refuse to do business until the coast was clear. I knew these were going to be issues I would have to overcome and no amount of practice or preparation would change that. I knew I was a bit of a clean freak, and that was going to have to be adjusted for the new life I was about to set out on.
After almost 3 months on the road, I have done a lot of adjusting. Tom as well. It was easier to ignore our imperfections at home, but now they are jammed into this car, sitting on our laps. Compromising takes on a whole new dimension on the road.
Luckily my bathroom issues have been broken gently by pure luck of privacy and now are almost non-existent – we even carry (and use!) a shovel for those deep-woods mornings
I have been able to figure out a way to have everything I need wherever I am.
- A shower bag with everything I could need while showering (flipflops, soap, shampoo/conditioner, razor, lotions, hair cream, towel, washcloth)
- A tent bag for all my frequently used items (floss, nail file, toothbrush, ear plugs, wet wipes, listerine, deodorant, chap stick, advil, hair bands, room spray, etc). It hangs on a S hook behind my seat for easy on-the-road access.
- A computer bag with all our chargers & speakers, and because I found myself bringing this into the tent every night, I decided to keep my pj’s, spare pillowcases, and baby wipes in here so it acts as an overnight bag. I throw my tent bag in each night after brushing my teeth so I always have that stuff too (I hate getting down from the tent once I’m in!)
- The glove box holds my glasses, camera tripod, highlighters and markers, swifter wipe, tide pen, perfume oil, hand lotion, band aids, Neosporin, and whatever else I am using at any given time.
- My door pockets hold my journal, planner, receipts, camera, headband, tissues, bandana (for wiping up stuff?), and hand sanitizer
- The middle console carries everything else you could think of (paperclips, copies of the title, insurance, registration, stamps, business cards, headphones, misc swag from places…I’m constantly amazed by how much stuff we have in such a little space, you’d never know how much we really have in here!
My in-between clothes kinda don’t exist anymore due to the fact that I wear the same outfit all day, everyday until they are noticeably dirty; but I do have a couple of items floating around the back of my seat, just for easy access to something lighter/heavier.
Showering has almost become a nuisance now and although I rarely pass on the opportunity, I found myself getting annoyed at taking them in the beginning. The process itself has changed to not include washing my hair and shaving, or even putting on clean clothes each time; and drying my hair and putting makeup on hasn’t been on the to-do list since our 1st week out. Letting go has helped me a lot. I still look great and smell fine, and no one would know that I’d been living in my car for months. :)
The other learning curve has been getting places… finding things to do, places to sleep, and food to eat. I like to eat organic and that has been my biggest obstacle so far. For the last 3 years I had eaten out in a restaurant maybe 15 times, which, as far as I’m concerned, was too many. I can’t even count how many restaurant meals I’ve eaten in the last 3 months! Even when there are organics in the fridge cooking isn’t always possible when I am hungry, which is way too often apparently. At first we tried lunch meat sandwiches, but they got old after a few weeks. Then we switched to hash brown potatoes with onions and peppers, which required heating and also got old after a while. Typically I eat a lot of yogurt, KIND bars, and fruit but I often crave a hot meal and resort back to those potatoes. Tom eats nuts, all day, every day. When we left home I brought my (newly gifted) stainless steel pot and pans, after the first week of those clashing around and taking up way too much room, we got a GSI mess kit that is much better!
Anyway, back to getting places… We use Roadtrippers.com and their app, plus now we found the Boondocking app which helps, but so does freecamps.net Roadtrippers has been our guiding light for the most part. We are now looking to help out and have started to reach out to Workaway hosts; I’m feeling a little unfulfilled and would like to have some work to do – but not a job!! Getting around is enough of a job for me! Some days I get frustrated at the routing and moving and throw my hands up in the air needing Tom to take over. The first time this happened could have been the end of the trip for some people, thankfully Tom and I have a strong bond and understanding of each others’ needs, strengths, and weaknesses. We were in Carlsbad, NM and moving fast. We were tearing down camp and moving on each day, I was desperate for a break. Tom found us a camp but when we got there we weren’t feeling it. Tom suggested we move on to the next camp, only 40 miles away. I reluctantly agreed, and only did so because 40 miles was a distance I could deal with. Well, 40 miles turned out to be closer to 100 and we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere with no service, food, or water four hours later. I lost it. Luckily it all worked out okay, and I’d like to say we’re even stronger as a couple now because of it; but it was certainly not fun.
Again, letting go is key.
Part of all this stress was the fact that in an effort to maintain the comforts of home on the road, we had a huge ground tent with 2 large air mattresses (a frame and a bed) and we were setting up and breaking down daily, a process that took over 30 minutes each time – and was hard work! It was also very cold in those days so we had an electric blanket, not knowing the heating coil was draining our battery almost instantly, we would wake up freezing at 3 am with no power. Combine all this with 4-6 hours of driving a day, tensions were mounting.
Then Memorial Day came and we visited Tom’s old friend from high school, when we arrived his wife was so excited to talk to us and hear our stories and was just in awe of our life. She couldn’t stop telling me how awesome it was, while stressing the fact that she had to go to work the next day. Perspective is a funny thing. See, she hadn’t the slightest idea of how stressed out I had been, she was just so thrilled to meet us. Her talking about her life was just what I needed to remember why I am doing this. I don’t need to be stressed. If something wasn’t working I just needed to tweak it. Isn’t that what this is all about?! From then on everything has been fine. Sure I still get stressed, but nothing like before. Sure I miss having coffee and being able to go inside when it’s too hot or cold, or the bugs are eating me alive. But I don’t miss it enough to go back. Matter of fact, for about a month now I find it funny that people live in houses anyway!
So even though we’ve spent a lot of money fixing the planning we had done all year, we are better now than ever. The rooftop tent makes a huge difference in the way we travel, and I wouldn’t go back to the ground tent even though I do miss it sometimes. Our truck has gotten the work it needs to be able to handle us and our gear without hurting her (airbags, shocks, alignment while loaded) and we have found Natrapel which is much more pleasant than any other bug spray we’ve tried (deet free! non-greasy!).
Now if we could just find a horse farm to help out on, we’d be all set!