It Ain’t All Rainbows and Butterflies

Before we get too far into this journey we want to make sure we are painting a realistic portrait for you. It may be hard to believe after reading some of our posts, but we don’t actually spend our days holding hands and skipping through campgrounds while gazing lovingly at each other and singing “The hills are alive with the sound of music…”

The Sound of Music

We are having a lot of fun and there is nothing else we would rather be doing right now, but life on the road comes with it’s own set of unique challenges. Here are a few examples of our less glamorous moments and realities in an effort to balance out all of the posts about how much fun we’re having.

Parking the Bullet 
Each and every time we park The Bullet, we have an opportunity to work on and improve our communication skills. Backing a 30-foot trailer into a small camping spot while trying to avoid low-hanging branches, small children on bicycles, and various woodland creatures, all while having an audience of well-intentioned but nosy campground neighbors, will test any relationship.

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We made the mistake of embarking on this journey without having first discussed what hand signals we would use when parking The Bullet and where the one directing should stand in order to best assist the one doing the backing up. Our communication skills and our marriage get stronger each and every time we have to park this thing.

If you are engaged to be married, or you think you know who you want to marry, we strongly recommend renting an RV with that person and trying to park it as a team. That exercise will prove far more insightful than any pre-marriage counseling ever could. Fortunately for us, we are three weeks into this trip and almost five years into our marriage and (so far, at least) we are feeling confident about the choices we have made.

Airmarshalling

Emptying the Tanks
RVs have two holding tanks. The gray water tank holds water that drains through the sinks and the shower. The black water tank holds anything that comes down through the toilet. When these tanks get full, they need to be emptied. Sometimes they get full on beautiful sunny days, making this unpleasant job slightly less unpleasant. Other times, however, they get full during torrential rain and thunderstorms. We’ve tried asking the tanks nicely, “Could you please only get full on sunny days?” but so far they haven’t listened to us. So we do what needs to get done.

This picture is from a sunny dump station day just before our 2012 RV trip. Suzanne’s brother Scott was visiting and we had the motorhome out for a test drive. The weather was beautiful and emptying the tanks was fairly painless (and almost entertaining with Scott there to cheer us on).

RV Dump Station 2012.jpg

As a contrast, here is a picture from a dump station just last week. The yellow you see through the rain is Kevin’s jacket. We were in the middle of a torrential thunderstorm but the tanks still had to be emptied, so Kevin took one for the team (Thank you, honey!).

Life on the road is glamorous. Emptying the tanks is not.

Dump Station St. Joe Peninsula

Traveling with Geriatric Dogs
We love dogs. We especially love old dogs. Having been in the old dog rescue business for awhile now we know that even though old dogs have the best intentions, their bowel movements don’t always have the best timing.

During the second week of our trip, we were heading west on I-10 in Florida when Snapper had explosive diarrhea inside the truck. At 65 miles per hour. Now, it wasn’t Snapper’s fault, the poor guy had a seizure and lost control of his body and his bowels for about 20 seconds, but there was still a mess to clean up.

Suzanne was the sole witness of the destruction because Kevin was driving and Noah chose to look the other way, so she feigned a calm voice and asked Kevin to pull over as soon as it was safe and convenient. We’ve had a lot of practice cleaning up dog messes during the past few years, so we were back on the road in no time (although, there was some additional detail work that had to be done once we got to the campground).

Noah may have been an innocent bystander in this particular instance, but his bowels don’t always cooperate either. Without going into further details, we want you to know that taking old dogs with you on your road trip is totally worth it, but make sure you pack extra cleaning supplies and love.

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Having Enough Personal Space
This section is not about the fact that we are a married couple living and working together in a (very) small space. That topic deserves it’s own blog post on another day. Rather, this section is about not having enough personal space between us and our fellow campers. 

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We did a lot of backpacking together in the early years of our relationship. We had so much personal space during those trips, as we disappeared into the woods, that we would sometimes go a day or two without seeing another human being. While we realize we will never get THAT much personal space at a campground meant for RVs, some parks do space things out better than others.

This photo is from our 2012 trip and is at one end of the spectrum of personal space (Note: We were boondocking in this picture. This is not at an official campground):

quartzsite

This photo from last week approaches the other end of the spectrum:

Close Neighbors

And, at one campground a few weeks ago, we were so close to our neighbors that the view out our windows was of their underwear flapping in the breeze. They were nice people, and it’s not their fault that we were packed in like sardines, and we’re glad they have clean underwear, but we would have preferred the forest view rather than the underwear view.

Neighbor's Underwear

On that note, we will wrap up this edition of “It Ain’t All Rainbows and Butterflies”. We’ve already started making a list of examples for the next time we choose to share some of our less-than-glamorous moments and realities.

We’ll see you on down the road!

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3 thoughts on “It Ain’t All Rainbows and Butterflies

  1. I LOVE all of your posts, but this one has the makings of my favorite, not because of the darker side of RV life, but because of its human-ness!

  2. I love reading your blog. This one was especially entertaining. I have to say that I have experienced most of it, with the exception of the dog issue. I did travel with my small grandson who had projectile vomiting (with no warning) in the back seat as we traveled across the country.

  3. This is the finest blog post I have ever read. Jill and I were laughing so hard I almost peed my pants.

    Here’s to backing up, docking, and strong communication skills! Well done:-)

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