Where is home? Where do you live?

This is a recurring topic in my thoughts. Not that I think about it a lot or that it bothers me, just that I find it interesting to sort of watch how my thinking and feeling about it is evolving.

For me, for the most part, the AdventureMobile is home. Even in casual conversation I’ll say “when I get home” and I mean when I get back to the RV. So wherever the RV is parked is home. Whether I’m parked in one of the western deserts or the forests of New England or along the Carolina shore or beside a Louisiana bayou, when I step inside the motorhome I’m home. All my stuff is there. I sit in my favorite spot on the couch. I sleep in my bed with my head on my pillow. It is totally familiar and I can walk around in the dark and never stub a toe. It’s all comfortable and familiar and mine. Though sometimes when I wake up in the morning and open the shade I get momentarily disoriented. Wasn’t there a tree outside my window yesterday? Why is it a lake today? It’s always the same house but the view changes frequently.

But in another sense I do have a geographic home. My mailing address is in Livingston, Texas. True, it’s just a Private Mail Box (PMB) number in a building where they accept and sort and forward thousands of pieces of mail every day. The USPS actually sends a tractor trailer there every day to drop off and pick up mail. When I first joined Escapees and signed up for their Mail Forwarding Service, that’s all it was to me.

I buy my health insurance via the ACA exchange. On the exchange the choice of insurance you get depends on where you live. I believe it’s organized by county. And the only plans available in Polk County, Texas are HMO’s, so I only have access to doctors (other than emergencies) in that area. I also, of course, have my vehicles registered in Texas.

I left Texas mid-January in 2018 and wasn’t back in the state until November. Both of my registrations expire in November. I hadn’t had a physical in 2018 as that got lost in the shuffle when Jodi and I split up and I lost my home and my job and my Dad died and life was just a bit turbulent for a while. So I figured I better see my doctor in Livingston and get that physical, and at the same time I’d get both vehicles inspected and renew the registrations.

All this is just a rather long way of saying that I now have certain ties to Livingston. It’s the place I go back to when I need to take care of certain things. I’ve been there 4 times now, for a total of probably 8 or 9 weeks. Three of those times I stayed at Rainbow’s End RV Park, which is where the headquarters for the Escapees RV Club is located. The other time I couldn’t get a reservation there and stayed at Lake Livingston State Park instead.

I’ve been in Livingston enough now that I’ve started to learn my way around the town. I have a favorite barber there. I even know the layout of the grocery store reasonably well! These things help make it feel like home.

And then there are the Escapees. Not so much the club organization, but the people who belong to the club. RVers in general tend to be a friendly and helpful lot, and Escapees seem to take that to the next level. For a painfully introverted person it’s a really good thing to have people strike up random conversations with me, though I’ll admit that it doesn’t always feel that way at the time.

Last week I had a minor out-patient surgery. One of those procedures you have done in the doctor’s office. But when I first saw the doctor for the initial consultation a few weeks ago he was adamant that I had to have someone to drive me home after the procedure. Now this was a dilemma. The doctor doing the surgery is located an hour+ from Livingston. An Uber would be something like $80 each way, assuming I could even get one. There are only a few in the area and they won’t always go out of town like that. And getting one back afterwards was not a sure thing. So what to do?

That night I posted on the Escapees Facebook group explaining my dilemma and within a few hours I had an offer from someone to drive me to my appointment (thanks Steve!) and back, and a backup offer from someone else not even staying at Rainbow’s End who said they’d come and drive me if for any reason the first offer fell through. Phew! That solved that logistical problem.

So Livingston. It’s where I go when I have to take care of stuff. It’s where my mail gets forwarded from. It’s where I vote. It’s where I find people to help me out when I need it. It’s where I know my way around and don’t have to use GPS every time I drive anywhere.

I still consider home to be wherever the motorhome is parked. But Livingston is also starting to feel like home to me. It’s interesting how this is all evolving. I am not a person that feels a need for roots. That’s not what it’s all about. But it’s home in the sense that I think things like “I’ll have to get back to Livingston to take care of that.”

Am I Still An Easterner?

When people ask me where I’m from I have several answers I might give depending on the context, and sometimes just my mood. I might say “Wherever I am, that’s where I’m from,” which is my I’m-a-full-time-vagabond-free-from-the-confines-of-everyday-life answer. Or I might say “I spent most of my life in New England,” which is my I’m-a-proud-New-Englander answer. Or sometimes if I just want to end this conversation I’ll say “Texas,” as Livingston, Texas is now my official residence.

For the most part I do still think of myself as an Easterner, and more specifically as a New Englander. I remember telling someone last year that while I loved being in the desert it was not my native habitat and to feel really at home I needed mountains and trees. I enjoyed my time in the Rockies of Colorado last summer, but of course those are different mountains and trees than those I grew up with in New England. In the West, everything is on a much grander scale.

When I left Colorado bound for Connecticut last September, I was quite excited about heading “home.” And I do remember the excitement I felt when I hit Pennsylvania and things started to feel like home. Even the heavy northeast traffic, and tolls, and constantly watching for low clearances, felt like home. For a while.

I spent three weeks in Connecticut. It rained. A lot. I enjoyed seeing family. I enjoyed showing Aoife around the places I grew up. And then I headed south. Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania. Four states in one day! The next day; Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia. Holy crap, it takes me four days to drive across Texas.

I spent a few days in Shenandoah National Park, and a few more at Carolina Beach down in North Carolina, then I headed west to Livingston, Texas. After a week or so there, I headed back east to Louisiana where I spent nearly three months at Black Bayou Lake NWR. It was all nice, but it started to feel so small and cramped.

I left Louisiana a couple of weeks ago. After stopping back in Livingston for a few days to take care of some medical appointments, I finally struck out for the West again. It took four full days of driving to cross Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and get just across the border into southern California. Big, wide open spaces. Desert sunsets. It feels good. It feels like home!

When I first chose Texas as my domicile and “moved” there, it felt pretty far west to me. But now Livingston, which is in the Piney Woods Region of eastern Texas, feels like the East to me. I want to be farther west. Maybe I should move my home base to Arizona. Well, that’s something to think about for a while.

I don’t think I feel like an Easterner anymore.

Ch Ch Ch Changes

I thought I had the general outline of 2019 all figured out; or at least the summer. I was going to spend the season working as a campground host again. The only question in my mind was whether I wanted to stay east this summer or head west again. Well, I had also applied for a volunteer position in Yosemite, and if I had gotten that I would have foregone earning money this summer for the chance to spend the season in Yosemite. But I’m sure they get lots and lots of applicants so I didn’t expect that to happen, and it didn’t.

Eventually I decided I wanted to go to Oregon, so I applied to the company I worked for in Colorado last summer and told them I wanted to work one of their campgrounds in Oregon. After a phone conversation it basically came down to me picking which campground I wanted and letting them know.

And then I woke up the next morning and saw an email from WINs talking about the circuits they’re running in 2019 and one of them caught my eye. I’m going to spend my summer traveling the country with the WINs and cycling on a bunch of the best cycling paths we have.

So the adventure continues. Sometimes on 10 wheels. Sometimes on 4. Sometimes on 2.



It’s been a good while since my last blog post. I left Colorado the middle of September and since then I’ve traveled nearly 5,000 miles. Since leaving New England on November 14 of last year, I’ve driven the motorhome with the car in tow almost 15,000 miles. And all of that driving has been solo.

The motorhome is 35′ 2″ long, 8′ 6″ wide, and 12′ 3″ +/- 3″ tall. With the car on behind the total length is just about 55′.  The GVWR of the motorhome is 22,000 lbs, or 11 tons. The GCWR — the maximum weight of motorhome plus anything towed — is 26,000 lbs.

The two specific things I need to be aware of when driving are low clearances under bridges or in tunnels, and weight ratings on bridges.

I long ago trained myself to always see and read clearance signs, and anything less than 13′ sets off mental alarm bells in my head. I never want to be featured on YouTube smashing into the 11′ 8″ bridge!

In practice the weight limits only come into play on the most minor roads, and have only been an issue once. I’ll get to that later.

So what does all this have to do with navigation? Well, with the motorhome navigation is more than just finding the quickest way or the shortest way or the most scenic way from Point A to Point B. It’s also finding the route where the roads are comfortable driving a large vehicle and where I won’t be stopped by any low clearances or weight restrictions.

Then there are special situations like tunnels I am not allowed through because I have propane on board. There’s the Baltimore Harbor tunnel on I-95, all of the Boston tunnels, and the lower level of the George Washington Bridge in New York. And on the east coast there are parkways that are open to passenger cars only and from which I am excluded. In Connecticut there’s the Merritt Parkway. In New York I am allowed on thruways but not on parkways.  Then there’s the Garden State Parkway in New Jersey, where there are weight restrictions on vehicles north of Exit 105.

And on the east coast I also think about tolls. If I were to cross the George Washington Bridge without an EZ-Pass, the toll would be $84. With my EZ-Pass, at off-peak hours it’s only $68.

And finally, one more thing to think about: where am I going to get gas along the way? My motorhome is a “gasser,” as it has a gas engine. So I need to pull up to the gas pumps, not the diesel pumps designed for large trucks. And I can’t use just any gas station I see along the way. There needs to be enough room for me to maneuver, which involves the orientation of the pumps as well as the approach to and exit from them. One of my rules for driving this thing is never to pull into any place where I can’t see how I am going to exit out.

Fortunately, we live in a high tech world. Google Maps and in particular satellite view makes it possible for me to locate a gas station and look at the approach to and exit from the pumps. And sometimes if I can’t figure out the pump orientation because they are under a canopy, Street View will give me a look. So I will note exactly how I will enter the station and which pump lane I need to use, all while still hundreds of miles away.

My default while traveling the interstates is to look for a Flying J or Pilot with RV lanes. They are easy to find using the MyPilot app on my phone, and I get a 3 cent discount on the gas price using my loyalty card. I can also usually get my propane tank refilled if needed, and they often have free fresh water so I can refill my fresh tank.

Whew! All of this and we haven’t really got to navigating yet! So you might have realized by now that there’s more to getting my rolling house from here to there than searching for the destination on Google Maps and clicking START. Google doesn’t know what I’m driving and will happily route me on roads where I can’t go. So I have an RV specific GPS made by Garmin. This GPS allows me to make a profile that includes the height, width, length and weight of the RV, and attempts to route me in a way that avoids any clearance or weight rating issues. It’s not perfect by any means. Not every bridge and overpass is in its database, and if it doesn’t know about something, it can’t route me around it. And as you might imagine, it has a very strong preference for the interstate highways. So much so that it sometimes comes up with some really crazy routing. I remember being 7 miles from a state park campground I was heading to just off the Natchez Trace Parkway and the Garmin was giving me a route that was 35 miles long. And last month when I was heading for Big Meadows Campground in Shenandoah National Park, it simply refused to route me onto Skyline Drive, even though that is the only way to get to the campground.

As you can see, I can’t rely on just Google Maps. And I can’t rely just on my Garmin. So I use both. And neither of them tell me about things like propane restrictions or which gas stations I can get in and out of, so there’s always a bit of research I need to do before hitting the road.

Here’s what the cockpit of the AdventureMobile looks like going down the road. To the left are the two GPS’s, and to the right is the backup camera and the tablet that monitors the brake system in the towed car — AKA “the toad” — as well as monitoring the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS).

The Garmin RV-760 GPS on the top with my phone running Google Maps below

The Garmin says it’s 300 miles to my destination

Google Maps says 279 miles

Google Maps usually comes up with a shorter route, and often I’ll follow it. Usually it pays off, but not always. When I was heading to Lake Fausse Pointe State Park in Louisiana the Google Maps route was 30 miles shorter than the Garmin route. Just after crossing the Atchafalaya River it took me off the highway and onto a parish route following the levee south. As soon as I got on this road I had a bad feeling. The road was really narrow with no shoulder. But there was no place to turn around. Some of the side roads were nothing more than tire tracks through the grass. So I pushed on. I continued on for a number of miles until the road made a 90 degree turn and there was a sign warning of a bridge ahead with a 5 ton weight limit and 9′ 6″ clearance. Well I’m more than twice the weight limit and 3 feet taller than the clearance. Crap! Fortunately there was a gravel lot right on this corner and I managed to get turned around in there and retraced those miles back to the interstate where I followed the longer Garmin route the rest of the way to the park.

On the right is the backup camera and the RVi tablet

The backup camera shows what’s behind me. Usually I see the towed car here, but I took this photo while parked so there’s my electrical hookup and the satellite dish!

And here’s the RVi tablet. This is the TPMS screen, showing the pressure in all of the tires, both on the RV and the car. There is another screen that shows what’s going on with the braking system in the car while it’s being towed. No matter which screen is up, it will sound an alarm if it loses communication with the brake controller, or if the pressure in any of the tires goes below or above parameters set for them.

On The Road Again

I finish my summer job on Saturday, and come Sunday morning I’ll be on the road again. And if Willie wants to come along and sing while I drive, he’s most welcome!

I have been busily attending to a seemingly never-ending list of chores, some large and some small, needed to get the rig ready to roll again after sitting still for 4 months. It’s been a wonderful summer but I am incredibly excited to be moving again. It feels like what I’m meant to do.

When I leave here I’ll head to Denver (actually, Auroroa) where I have an appointment to get six new tires on the motorhome on Monday morning. They’ll also be putting on new metal valve stems to support the sensors of the TPMS system I bought recently.

On Tuesday I’ll leave there and start making my way to Forest City, Iowa where I have an appointment at the Winnebago Factory Service Center to get a number of things worked on. My appointment isn’t until the 24th so I expect to have a few days to chill in Forest City beforehand.

From Iowa I’m heading for Connecticut; hopefully in time for Anju’s birthday on September 30th. I’ll be in Connecticut for a few weeks enjoying the fall weather, visiting family, doing some hiking, and generally getting back in touch with my New England roots. And Aoife will be flying in for a week while I’m there, so my family will get to meet her and I’ll get to show her around the places where I grew up.

Eventually I have to leave Connecticut and head “home” to Livingston, Texas where Ill see my doctor for my annual physical and get the vehicles inspected and the registrations renewed. Those stops in the Carolinas on the way are just one idea. I’ve not actually decided which route I’ll take to Texas. I may go via Memphis and visit my cousin there instead of going down the coast.

And finally, I’ll leave Livingston and backtrack a day into Louisiana where I will spend the winter volunteering at a National Wildlife Refuge in exchange for a free RV site and utilities.

As for next spring and summer, I have multiple ideas but none of them have coalesced yet. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Happy Nomadversary To Me!

One year ago today, August 30, 2017, I moved into the motorhome and have lived here since.

Probably somewhat uniquely, I didn’t know that’s what I was doing.  I had taken the AdventureMobile to the local state park campground and was expecting my now-ex to join me in a few days once she finished some jobs she had scheduled. Instead, a couple days later she called and told me she wanted a divorce and for me to move out. And wham! I made the transition to full-time RV life just like that. One trip back to the condo to collect some more of my clothes, and I was done.

It’s been a hell of a year. I stayed in the area for a couple of months while she and I worked out the details and while I gracefully exited the business we ran together, then I struck out for parts unknown. I left New England in mid-November heading south. I remember spontaneously stopping at Mammoth Cave NP for a few days, then heading to Memphis where I camped on the bank of the Mississippi and spent Thanksgiving with my cousin. Then I headed down the Natchez Trace and enjoyed the free campgrounds before heading west to Texas where with the help of the Escapees I established Texas residency, got my Texas drivers license, and registered my vehicles there.

I spent Christmas on the Texas coast and New Years Eve in a Walmart parking lot. I soaked in a hot spring on the bank of the Rio Grande in Big Bend National Park, experienced Quartzsite, boondocked in the California desert, spent my birthday on the beach in San Diego, explored southern Utah, hiked in the Grand Canyon, and now I’m winding up a summer of workamping in Colorado. And as icing on the cake, I got to share some of these adventures with a wonderful woman who has come into my life.

I’ve tentative plans for the next few months, but I can’t really say what the next year will bring. I do know that if I find myself somewhere I don’t care for, my home has wheels and I can move on. I think that might be the very core of the RV lifestyle.

I do think I might travel a bit less than I did the first year, and thus spend a bit less on fuel. From conversations I’ve had, it seems a nearly universal experience that folks travel a lot their first year. The freedom is addicting.

I’ve spent more money this first year than I had intended. I need to give that some real attention and get my budget under control. It’s certainly easier to spend less than it is to earn more, so I am determined to do so.

So much to look forward to!


For years I’ve suffered with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and just about this time of year, when the quality of the morning and evening light starts to change, I’d get a deep feeling of dread for the upcoming cold dark gray days of November in New England. I’m sure my ex could tell stories of how cranky I would become before spring finally arrived.

Now that I am no longer tied to any one place and I know I can leave when I want to, I am actually looking forward to autumn again. I plan to be back in New England to visit family around the first of October, and I am rather excitedly anticipating those cool crisp fall days. It has to be decades at least since I have felt this way. It’s really quite amazing!

Some Random Thoughts On Workamping

I am about halfway through my very first workamping job, and I thought I’d share a few random thoughts on the experience. I am working for a private company that operates Forest Service campgrounds in the White River National Forest, among other places. I work as a camphost for North Fork Campground, and as an assistant to the guy responsible for maintenance at about a dozen campgrounds in the area.

When I took this job there were a few things that concerned me:

  • After being footloose and fancy free for 6 months, never spending more than 10 days in any one place, would I go stir crazy being in one place for 4 months?
    Well, so far I’m loving being here. It’s a gorgeous corner of the world, and there is a lot to explore. I’ve been doing a fair bit of hiking on my days off, and also trying to teach myself to mountain bike (without much success, I might add). I’ll be ready to leave and head east when my job ends in September, but I’m not chomping at the bit to get moving.
  • Just how gross would it be cleaning bathrooms?Not that gross, I’m happy to report. For one thing, this campground isn’t all that heavily used during the week. But mostly it’s because I have all the tools I need to clean without getting too “up close and personal.” I regularly get compliments from campers on how clean the restrooms are. Considering that these are what the Forest Service refers to as “vault toilets,” and that there is no running water, that’s quite a compliment.
  • How much of my time would be spent dealing with jerks?As it turns out, nearly none. I’ve not had to deal with any real jerks that would necessitate calling in law enforcement. The huge majority of campers are wonderful to deal with, and I’ve had some really fun and interesting conversations with some of them. There is the occasional person who tries to get out of paying for their site or who resents being asked for the information I need to register them, but they were all handled without any harsh words being exchanged.

Monkeywrench Your Life?

Monkeywrench your life. What does that mean?

According to Merriam-Webster, a Monkey Wrench is:
1: a wrench with one fixed and one adjustable jaw at right angles to a straight handle
2something that disrupts 

It’s the second definition I have in mind; something that disrupts. And yes, I know it’s weird that I write monkeywrench as one word instead of two. I always have and even though I know it’s wrong, I’m going to continue doing so. Continue reading “Monkeywrench Your Life?”