We’ve spent two months living in our 35 ft fifth wheel now. It’s had it’s good and bad points – it’s ups and downs. We are now on our way home, back to the cold and snow of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It’s February. It’s the coldest, snowiest, crappiest weather month in the UP. We weren’t planning on going back this early, but things change. Life is unpredictable. I’ll explain in a later post.
First off, living in a small space 24/7 with your spouse (and 2 cats) takes some compromise, as you can probably assume.
One of our biggest issues of all has been BOREDOM. I kid you not. I never, in a million years, thought that NOT working and having all this free time would be a problem. The boredom seems to set in every night after dinner. What did we do at home after dinner every night? Usually that was tv time. We have cable at home with all the movie channels and gazillions of other channels!
We don’t have satellite TV in our camper and many parks don’t offer cable TV. We’ve been “lucky” to get broadcast TV in many places. That means you’ll get a few, if not all, of the main channels – CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX and then a lot of what I call “garbage channels” most of which show reruns from decades past. I’m pretty sure there’s one channel that only shows Texas Walker Ranger 24 hours a day. It’s nice to have some TV, but most of what we have always watched is on all the other channels that we don’t get while camping. We own a campground and we always wondered why people were so in need of their precious TV’s and Internet when they camped. Now we know why!! We may be looking into getting satellite TV for our future endeavors. Decision not made yet. Back to the boredom thing…. When it’s dark out by 5pm, or you have a rainy day – tv is nice. Nothing to watch means trying to fight off boredom for at least a few hours EVERY NIGHT!
Well what about internet? Yes, great, I love the internet – emails, Facebook, Twitter, vacation planning, Instagram, sweepstakes, Pinterest, etc. YES-that will keep me from being bored!! But wait – I’m camping. The state parks I’ve stayed in have had no wifi.
I spent a month at a park with $$ wifi that was so slow I could barely use it to even check emails. I didn’t want to spend the $30 per month for it so I paid $3 a day for two days so I could mainly pay my bills. It was terribly slow! I had to drive to Starbucks to get decent wifi. One time I even sat in a gas station parking lot to hook up to their wifi (thank you WaWa in Florida) because the McDonald’s wifi down the street wasn’t working. Most of the parks we’ve been to so far aren’t going to give you the speed you need to stream anything either, so forget about Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Well you can use your cell phone as a hot spot! Yes, that is an option – if you have good cell service and a big data plan! I thought I had both.
We spent time in state parks with absolutely no Verizon coverage and another month in a park with such bad service that we had to drive into town to make phone calls and return business calls. Very inconvenient. As for the hotspot…the month we stayed at parks with paid wifi, I completely burned through my 14GB data plan with Verizon in less than three weeks, and that was being conservative! This was mostly just using my phone. When I hooked my computer up to the hotspot it seemed to use the data even faster, and that was even with turning on the metered settings on the laptop and having the datasaver on the phone continuously.
OK, so no technology…what can we do…. Read a book or a magazine! Well… I’m not really a reader. I did bring magazines and two books and I’ve read a little of each. I can’t do it daily though. On average I read one book every three years. I’m usually too busy reading the internet and planning trips!
Other boredom busters we’ve tried: Games – we’ve played cribbage and Farkel and cards. I have crosswords and puzzle books. We’ve had conversations. We’ve gone for walks in the dark. We’ve rented Redbox movies. Still every day, around the time it gets dark, we get bored. I actually have to fight to stay awake till 9 or 10 pm. I really look forward to going to sleep because IT’S SOMETHING TO DO! I like sleep. It’s not boring! And I’ve been told I’m really good at it!
What we’ve found is that where you stay really affects the boredom factor. We have found that we really enjoy state parks. We can sit out at night, have a campfire, etc.
The private park we were in last week was nice but we could reach out and touch our neighbors on all sides.
And there were no fire pits. We’ve found this to be true at several private parks. It’s just a different feeling. We like having a little space.
The park we stayed at for a month in Alabama had activities at night. We went to a few dinners, played bingo, etc.
I can’t quite put my finger on it, why we are so much more bored here than at home other than maybe it has to do with being in a much smaller space with less room to move about. I’m still working on solving that mystery and coming up with new ideas to combat the problem!
Other “issues” we’ve discovered
Only one person can be in the kitchen at a time. At least in my tiny kitchen.
Cats: There is no way (that I’ve found yet) to completely get rid of litter box smells. And by that, I mean the perfumey smell of the litter itself. My box is even confined in its own closed in spot in a cabinet. Next up I’m trying unscented litter.
Showering is even…different. Sometimes you have to take “Navy”showers to conserve water. Rinse/turn water off and soap up and shampoo/turn water on and quickly rinse. And you have to do this all in a space about 3′ x 3′. Try shaving your legs. You have to get into the yoga pretzel pose to do that!
Boondocking means no coffee pot and no hair dryer. I’ve learned to make pour over coffee on the stove and throw in a ponytail for the day. We’re thinking we definately need a generator for any future boondocking adventures.
These are just a few of the things you learn about yourself and your camper once you get out there for an extended trip. I suppose in a way, it’s given us things to think about and work on. Building problem solving skills! Like the first week out where we taped my phone to the bedroom slide ceiling so we both could watch a movie I downloaded as we had no tv or Internet.
There have also been a boat load of good things this trip has brought us. We’ve met new friends along the way.
And gotten a chance to catch up with old friends we haven’t seen in a while.
We’ve been able to spend time with both of our parents.
We’ve de-stressed and “learned” how to relax. Yes, I really had to learn that. It took a good two weeks! I believe I’ve mastered the art of relaxing. I love my zero gravity chair now!!
We’ve gotten to see so many new places – beautiful places whether they were cities,
We visited the smaller, lesser known places like the medical museum in Foley, AL.
Along with the bigger tourist attractions like the naval museum in Pensacola FL.
We’ve had history lessons at sites like Fort Morgan AL.
We’ve tried new foods, like swamp soup at the Fish River Grill in Alabama, and damn was it good!
We’ve even had a few surprises along the way like watching the Blue Angels practice over the Gulf of Mexico during a picnic we had for our wedding anniversary.
There is beauty everywhere! You just have to get out there and see it!
We’ve encountered many animals of all types, some of which I didn’t even know existed!
We have had more time to just take it slow and enjoy every minute of each day.
We’ve gotten more active doing bike rides and walks and other activities.
It’s brought peace and happiness into our lives. We spend each day together deciding what to do, what to have for dinner, etc. I think it’s helped build our “couples skills” even though technically we have worked together for the last 10 years.
Aside from a few minutes of boredom every day, I have really enjoyed this two months down south in our camper. It has taught me so much about myself, about life, about happiness and goals. We head home now to the great white north with a massive life changing project in front of us. Days of boredom will become a thing of the past. I know at least that I’m well rested and up for the task!
I wasn’t sure I would like living in a camper. Even after the first few weeks I was still unsure.
I now think I could do it. The freedom it brings has been amazing. As much as I love international travel, (and I’m not giving that up!) I’ve found a whole other type of travel that lets me take my house and my pets with and yet still gives me that free spirit, adrenalized feeling that comes with exploring new places.