mobile work station
Zach and I live on the go! Our entire life is portable so it’s only fitting that our workstations are compact and portable too.
As a full-time employee, one of my requirements for full-time RVing was an office space that I could easily set up and tear down. I want a comfortable work environment, but I also want to be sure that the RV doesn’t feel like all work all the time.
Zach and I (mostly Zach, I definitely benefit from his research) found a few amazing office supplies that perfectly fit this lifestyle; these supplies make for easy storage when the office is put away:
- portable monitor: this thing is slim, has a great picture, and is USB powered which means no extra plugs necessary!
- adjustable tablet stand: I’m not a fan of using the monitor case as a stand for the monitor, and this foldable stand is the perfect alternative.
- the roost stand: perfectly lifts my computer up to eye level and is super steady compared to how tiny it folds up.
- mini keyboard: I’ve had this since before the RV life; it’s as if it was meant to be.
My laptop plus all of the above mentioned items fit nicely into my Patagonia backpack and snugly into a cabinet. Which means I get to enjoy those sweet work-free moments with the office converted into a lovely, cozy lounge.
oh santa, when can we expect you?
Merry Christmas from Zach and me. We wrote you a song. Xo.
propane and propane accessories
After getting by for the summer and most of the fall on one tank of propane, I decided it was time to refill our empty tank before the other ran out. (Apparently you can get air in the lines, and it sounded like getting it out would create extra work, and I’m lazy.)
Disconnecting and reconnecting the tank for the first time was easy, but thanks to the dish soap leak test I discovered one of our [not that old] pigtail hoses had a leak. Luckily, the highly accommodating KOA in Shreveport, LA had a replacement hose in their RV accessories shop and even shared some teflon gas tape with me.
After I replaced the hose, checked for leaks, cleaned up, and put all my tools away, I decided it was the perfect time to check the other hose. That one was leaking, too, but replacing the pigtail hose assembly was just as easy the second time. So now our propane will stay in the gas lines, instead of making the air around our LP tanks highly flammable. It’s probably a minor repair for a seasoned RVer, but I’m happy that I learned to do it.
Hank Hill would be proud.
A couple years ago I got the idea in my head that I needed to spend a summer in Rhode Island ✔️ and enjoy fall in the Great Smoky Mountains. ✔️
So, what’s next? June on the west coast, perhaps. xo.
our rig. (aka home, sweet home)
So, where exactly do Zach and I live? In an adorable little Airstream which is towed by an equally adorable mid-size truck.
Zach and I shopped and shopped for RVs for many years. In 2012 we purchased a RAV4 with a tow capacity of 3500 confident we’d buy an Aliner to tow behind it. When our dreams of owning an RV turned into living in an RV we started having doubts about what we needed. We’d spend hours browsing RVs at local RV events and local dealers. We liked a lot of styles and brands but I couldn’t stand completely straight in some or didn’t enjoy the dated interior in others.
And then we saw an Airstream and that was that.
Our next decision was the length; we quickly eliminated the 16′, were seriously debating the 19′, but we ultimately went with a 23′. We knew at the time of purchase that we’d be living in and working from the space full-time; we wanted to be realistic about our needs and I’m so thankful for those extra 4′ feet. I’m often amazed at how little our Airstream looks from the outside compared to how big and roomy it feels inside.
When we started our search for a tow vehicle, the Colorado was newly releasing its diesel engine (wait lists!) which made it the toughest mid-size truck on the market. (And also toughest to obtain! That’s a story for another time.) Zach and I hadn’t ever thought about buying a Chevrolet but given the specs of our camper and after crunching the numbers we knew that this truck was the only realistic way we could stay mid-size and comfortably tow our Airstream. But even then, everyone (aka the internet and my dad) said it wasn’t enough truck. People love overkill.
Stressing their opinions, Zach and I spent a lot of time test driving other options. It was important to us to have a capable tow vehicle, while also having a truck that we felt comfortable driving on its own. We knew we loved the Colorado, but it wasn’t until we test drove — and subsequently struggled to maneuver — a Silverado that we officially decided to to take the plunge.
We’ve been so pleased with our decision and I’m so happy to have proven the concerns unfounded. Our little truck doesn’t struggle at all, has great control and handles the load so well. While towing we get around 16MPG, but Zach amazingly got 21MPG while towing from Asheville, NC to Nashville, TN. When we’re not towing we enjoy gas mileage that is far better than the small hatchback we traded in for it.
So, long story short, I am in love. Our years of research paid off because this is seriously the perfect set-up for our needs.
six favorites for six months.
Zach has been doing a great job at plotting the locations we’ve been on a map. Considering we started our journey a mere six months ago and have purposely stayed in one spot a week or two (or a month or two), I’m pleasantly surprised and pleased at how far we’ve already traveled.
So, to celebrate those six months I decided to highlight six of my favorite things we’ve come across so far. Partly because I’d recommend these to anyone in the area, but mostly because I want to keep a record of these things so when I return I can do it all again. Plus, I recently wrote a postcard to my niece, Pepper, who loves lists and inspired me to write some lists of my own.
In order of appearance:
1. Hacienda RV Resort, Las Cruces, NM
This was our first experience with an RV park and we’ve been in a lot of RV parks since. It’s not fancy, but it’s a good price, has nice views, large spots, and privacy fences between rigs. They pick up your trash at the curb every day, have dog runs and nice/clean showers. The more RV parks we visit the more appreciation I have for Hacienda. I expect we’ll be spending a lot of time at this RV park due to its proximity to Zach’s family. I’m OK with this.
Honorable mention: Zach’s favorite was the KOA in Saco, ME. Close proximity to Portland, forest-like feel in the middle of a city and the staff was outstandingly friendly. Nothing beats moochdocking with family though, followed closely by state parks.
Out of all of the states we’ve visited Vermont is one of the few that I hadn’t been to before. Those mountains, trees, towns; dreamy. Vermont has officially made its way to my list of favorite states ever, but this decision might’ve also been influenced by…
3. Maple Creemees, Creemee Stand, Wilmington, VT
Pro tip: there is no substitute for the real thing. Zach and I ate a lot of maple creamies/creamees/creemies during our stay in Vermont, but the very best we had was the frozen custard variety from the Creemee Stand.
Honorable mention in the category of creamy desserts: my sister-in-law’s homemade ice cream. She experimented the entire time we were in Rhode Island and had it down to a science about the time we rolled outta there.
4. Goodies Family Restaurant, North Stonington, CT
I consider myself a pancake connoisseur so when I tell you that I had the best pancake ever at Goodies, you better believe it. These pancakes were so good we scoped the area for rig parking so that we could eat there again on our way out of town.
Honorable mention in the category of great pancakes: Buttered Biscuit, Maggie Valley, NC
5. Durham, NC
If someone told me right now I had to pick one place to live forever out of the places we’ve visited so far (yes, realizing this is a silly scenario) it’d be Durham. I loved Durham the first time I visited in 2010. I loved it even more this time.
Honorable mention: Providence, RI which has always been my favorite littlest big city on the east coast.
6. Cocoa Cinnamon, Durham, NC
I’m married to an avid coffee drinker and tea lattes are my drink of choice when I’m trying to keep up with him. Way too many coffee shops make tea lattes out of powder (ew) or syrups (meh) but the tea lattes at Cocoa Cinnamon were made fresh. On our first visit I ordered a killer rooibos tea latte but I knew I was hooked after I ordered that harvest tea latte on our second visit. My only regret is I’ll never have anything like it again. And, confession, it was then that I started shopping for houses in the neighborhood.
why we full-time / the timing of full-timing
Today would have been nan’s 90th birthday and next Tuesday will be my 34th.
I’d love to pick up the phone and call her; I’d sing a bad rendition of happy birthday, ask her about her day and tell her, “talk to you in a week!” One week later she’d call me and sing to me. Just like we’ve done every other year for as many years as I’ve been living away from her.
Zach and I moved to Las Vegas, NV in 2007. We weren’t far from my family in AZ but felt worlds away from the rest of our family. And when we moved to Austin, TX in 2013 we felt worlds away from AZ. We would talk about moving closer to family but could never settle on a location as we couldn’t decide between siblings or parents who were spread from AZ to RI. (We love you all equally.)
And then I read this post that visually lays out the human lifespan after my sister shared it on Facebook. And then I found this project that explains why time flies.
And we ultimately decided that we wanted to live everywhere and see everyone; we didn’t have to choose between one or the other. I’ve always felt a little transient by nature anyway and talks about living in an RV surfaced regularly in previous conversations with Zach. At one point, we had a 5-year plan with Google calendar check-in reminders along the way; I think our launch date at the time was tentatively scheduled for 2017. We hit the road in April 2016.
We started in Arizona where I was able to spend the entire month of May with my parents, sister, niece, nephew, brother-in-law, aunts, uncle and nan. Oh, nan.
Nan passed away in July and I can’t help but feel so thankful for the timing of our full-timing. With a goal to spend more time with family, how lucky was I to build such timely and lasting memories with nan on our first stop?
So yes, nan would be 90 today and I feel beyond appreciative for 33 years I was able to spend with her. I’ll miss her phone call next week (and forever). But I know she was pleased with this mobile life we’re living. I am too.
Austin to Mesa
It’s been a little over a week since Carrie and I left Austin unceremoniously, in a mad rush to empty our house, divide stuff between donation drop-offs, storage, and the truck/camper set-up we’ll be calling home for the next year (++?).
We didn’t say goodbye to the city. I said, “Goodbye, house” as I stood in the empty living room after a final sweep and took a quick photo from the curb, including the “for sale” sign indicating the inevitable tear-down/rebuild our home of two years would be facing. We said goodbye to very few people, even those close to us. The idea of leaving Austin for nowhere in particular, however exciting, made it hard to believe it was happening, which — as a terrible excuse — I blame for not being better about telling friends and loved ones we were leaving. I’ve been doing the Irish goodbye years before I knew the term. Plus, we’ll be back in Texas, and definitely through Austin, in the not-too-distant future.
But here we are in Mesa, AZ, parked in a nice, shady spot at Carrie’s parents’ place, backed in courtesy of a recently installed wide gate, powered and cool courtesy of a 30-amp power outlet, both installed for visiting RVers and conveniently in time for our month-long visit. Her parents are so good to us. We’re getting to know and slowly but steadily organizing our small home. The smaller the space, the more time and work it takes to organize. Sounds ridiculous but it’s true.
I’m making music plans and figuring out what this year will mean for shows and songwriting (good things, I feel). I’m thinking about how much of the country Carrie and I will see in the next year; all the family and friends we’ll visit (We’re visiting! This is happening right now!); the bizarre and beautiful WaterFire event in Providence, RI; fall in the south and visiting Asheville, NC, Bascom Lamar Lunsford’s stomping grounds; reuniting with Arkansas Black apples, the best apple in the world.
After the incredible pace of the previous weeks, the exciting, anxiety-inducing uncertainty of completely changing the geography of my life, I think I’m finally getting to the point where I’m thinking straight and seeing clearly, with my mind going at a normal-ish pace and my footing steadier than it’s been in years. Instead of planning for this, I’m living it. This is what’s next. Next is here.
Take a deep breath, buddy.
Big news, people
Carrie, the dogs and I are leaving Texas for Arizona. Then Arizona for New Mexico. Then, after a string of states along a route we haven’t quite mapped out, New Mexico for Rhode Island. We’re hitting the road and going full-time mobile in an Airstream travel trailer. We’ve been talking about it and planning for years and we’re finally in a position where we’ve happily accepted that the reasons to do it outweigh the reasons not to.
We love calling Texas home, but we want to see our families more and we want to see more of the country. Our families are spread out from Arizona to Rhode Island; although that makes getting us all together in one place kinda tricky, it gives us extra incentive to take to the road and visit them and the places they’ve all chosen to live.
Professionally, Carrie and I are extremely fortunate in that we can work from anywhere in the world as long as we have an internet connection. The fact that we both landed remote jobs when we left Las Vegas helped our decision to go full-time digital nomad (although we discussed it long before that), and my move to more in-depth web development helps expand those options. Carrie is highly valued at her company (and rightly so, because she is ridiculously talented), and her boss has a lot of well-placed trust that she’ll continue to prove that wherever she is.
RBK is still mostly a solo project, and my sometime bandmates all live in places we plan to spend some time. Maybe this also means I can constantly be on tour, although with us staying in one place from one to three months it’ll be a very slow-paced tour. In addition to shrinking down our possessions in general (it’s so easy to accumulate stuff; I’m so, so tired of moving hundreds of pounds of books around), I’m working on shrinking my instrument collection down — and in some cases (like my parlour guitar, mini drum set, and microKorg+) shrinking my actual instruments.
So, come the end of April/early May we’ll be pulling up stakes and hitting the road toward smaller living and bigger driving. Hopefully we’ll see you out on the road, or at least on the internet.