Experiencing new things is one of the reasons we were initially drawn to RV life. We wanted to see more places, taste new foods, hear from different communities, smell new plants, and feel different climates. Full-time travel promised us a way to get out there and have some hands-on learning about the nature, history, and culture of our country.
Our Travel Story
Allie had done quite a bit of travel growing up, visiting places like Paris, Switzerland, and Tokyo, while also taking many more local family vacations in Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire. I grew up in New England also, and have memories of shorter travel to places like Cape Cod, Boston, and Sturbridge. Both of us realized early on in our relationship that, even though we have done different kinds of travel, we were both drawn to adventure. We also realized we had seen little of the USA in comparison to what we knew was out there.
We traveled early on in our relationship together and came to call these smaller trips our micro-adventures. We would do day trips driving up the coastal route in Maine, stopping for coffee, walking along the rocky beaches, and visiting farmer’s markets or having lunch in the small towns scattered along Route 1. These were some of our best days together, and soon we were taking overnight trips to New Hampshire, Northern Maine, and Massachusetts. Any chance we could get, we would get in our car and head out.
Before we even celebrated our first anniversary of being together, we decided to plan and go on a cross-country road trip. I was graduating with my bachelor’s degree and Allie was planning to leave her job and transition to another type of work.
We decided to go west. We both wanted to get to the Pacific Ocean and see as much as possible on the way. This trip is one of the most incredible things we have done, and we recommend to everyone we meet to try to take off on a ground adventure at least once. We deemed this our macro adventure. We had no idea it was only our first big journey and what we would come to understand and choose to do.
We stopped along the way the first few days of the trip, but we knew the goal was to gain some ground and get west. Our first big layover was in South Dakota. We had heard about The Badlands and knew it would be a good place to get our National Park pass, check out the otherworldly landscape, and hopefully see some bison. We had planned a hike for our very first day in the park. About half of a mile into The Notch Trail there was a rope ladder to climb. At the top we both looked around, amazed at the undulating landscape…and then Allie fell on the flat earth and broke both of her legs.
She must have fallen just right in her hiking boots, and her ankles buckled and snapped, fracturing the bones in both of them. She refused to go home though. We spent the next several weeks in an extended-stay hotel in Rapid City, SD. She religiously followed the RICE (rest, ice, compress, elevate) method, got in the pool to float and move her body, and sat in the passenger seat of our Jeep while I drove us through The Badlands, Custer State Park, and The Black Hills. Even being unable to move about much, Allie wanted to see what there was to see, and then she wanted to move on.
We made a lot of adjustments on that trip, but we still saw more than we ever thought we would. We drove our way through Yellowstone National Park, The Grand Tetons, over The Sawtooth Mountains, and into eastern Oregon. We slowed down in Oregon and visited many places before we even got to the coast, but we were forced to bypass Crater Lake National Park. There had been a record amount of snowfall that previous winter and the roads were still closed into July that summer. I remember crying with disappointment in the shower of the Super 8 when Allie yelled from the bed, “Let’s go to the Redwoods instead!” My heart skipped a beat because we had decided earlier in the trip to cut our southern route and bypass California altogether for more time in Oregon and Washington.
The Redwoods did not disappoint. By this time, Allie could take short walks and we were still exploring a lot by car. After the Redwoods, we drove up Highway 101 all the way to Olympic National Park where we fell in love with the whole of the Pacific Northwest. I think it may have been there that we decided we would live here someday, but I know it was there that we decided to pursue RV life.
Pursuing RV life
We met another couple on a hike at Hurricane Ridge who were spending a year traveling in an RV for their honeymoon. We listened to their story, went back to our car, and played their podcast episodes throughout the next week of our travels. We were each quietly pondering what it would be like to do what they were doing.
It was right before we got to Glacier National Park that we turned to each other in a rest area on the side of the highway and said, “Could we do the RV thing?” We had both been thinking about it, but it felt too unknown, too scary, too out there.
We knew nothing about RV’s. We barely knew anything about traveling together (although putting two people in a jeep every day for three months forces you to get to know yourself and each other pretty well quickly). We knew we wanted more of what we were experiencing on this road trip. We knew that there was still so much to see and do. We knew we wanted less stuff and more adventure, less work and more play, less normal and more weird in our lives.
By the time we arrived back at our Portland, Maine apartment we had watched over 100 hours of YouTube videos on RVs. We were learning a new language about what a Class A versus a Fifth Wheel was. We were watching people dump their tanks and hitch their rigs. We were making lists and working overtime to save money for purchasing our first home (on wheels) together. We spent the next year deciding on what RV we wanted and where we wanted to travel in it. We learned so much in that time, but can also look back now, over five years later, and see how little we actually understood about RV living.
We are grateful for our decision to sell our things, move into a tiny rolling home, and travel the country. We have seen the sunrise over The Grand Canyon, eaten beignets in downtown New Orleans, and hiked behind a waterfall in Oregon. We got engaged right below the Alpine visitor center in Rocky Mountain National Park at sunset, with a herd of Elk bugling feet away. We have stared up at a Saguaro cactus in Tucson, walked the salt flats of Death Valley, drank delicious coffee in Longview, WA, and visited Farmer’s Markets all across the country.
We have built a business based on being out, loud, and proud as Queer women, encouraging others to take to the road, pursue RV living, or just go outside for a walk in nature. Sometimes, we think about settling down and buying land to build on. We like the predictability of routine, our small mountain community, and the idea of laying roots, but we also say that we will always have a need for adventure. We joke that maybe we will have a tiny home with a foundation…and an RV parked right outside, ready to hit the road when we are.
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