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What’s It Like? ~ Part 5

August 28, 2014

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Close quarters is something people sometimes comment on when looking at photos of RV parks.  I think the ideal site is at least 60 feet long, wide enough for two vehicles, with a separation of at least 20 feet, the more the better.   (By the way, that’s a trash bag on the ground in front of the RV in the photo above.  This park picks it up at our site a couple of times a day.)  At this writing, we are in a site that barely accommodates the length of our 36 foot Bounder.  The site is wide enough for two cars, so it does allow us to park next to the front of the motorhome, and gives us room for a patio under the awning.  An additional 20 feet in front would allow us to park in front of the rig and have at least one guest parking space.  In this case, next to the patio is a grass strip that’s maybe 8 feet wide, and that’s where the neighbor’s pad starts.  The driver’s side of the neighbor’s rig, like ours, sits right on the edge of the pad.  The width of the site is pretty typical.  In some parks, it’s even closer.  When we park permanently (which is the plan), we will shoot for the biggest site possible within the budget.  (Yes, prices sometimes vary.)  Sometimes you have to choose between a nicer park or more space.

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When travelling, we have stayed for a day or two in places where the awning almost touched the next rig, and I recall one that sat so close to a driveway that a passing RV would have hit the awning if we’d put it out. The photo above was at Nashville Country RV Park in Nashville, TN.  We had stayed here a couple of times before, and we asked for this spot in particular because many of the others were closer together.  Since we were visiting family in the area, we spent little time at the RV.  While this site was right next to the road, it actually did give us more room. The other side of the motorhome was next to a fence line with tall, fairly thick shrubbery.  When you’re traveling, you don’t often get to pick and choose, but have learned that it never hurts to ask for a particular location.

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Again, the space at state parks, like this one at Big Bone Lick State Park in Kentucky, is almost always much roomier.  Unfortunately, almost every park has a 14 day limit and then you have to leave for at least a day.

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One of my favorite spots for space was the one above at Dale Hollow State Park near Burkesville, Kentucky.  We got there just after Labor Day and the park was almost empty.  But even with more people, the campsites were spaced out for lots of elbow room and privacy.

November 2013

Privacy inside is pretty much complete.  With the exception of motorhome windshields and driver/passenger side windows up front, most RV windows are tinted to begin with.  With our sunscreens on the front, it is impossible to see inside during the daylight hours.  Even without the screens, since a motorhome sits high on the frame, one can only see a short distance inside through the windshield.  Night-time is another matter.  We open our shades and curtains as soon as it’s light outside in the morning, and close them when we can no longer see outside in the evening.  We do like the light and the ability to see the world IMG_7327edited

You’ve already seen that living in an RV means much smaller living space.  We will also never see our home increase in value.  But there is a lot less stuff and a lot less to clean.  Don’t get me wrong, we liked our stuff, and if we moved back into a regular house, we would have it filled with stuff in less than three months.  A major difference is that, if we want to move, all it costs is some gas. While we are nesters, we are not settlers.  We have a history, in our twenty-four years of marriage, of moving a lot.  There have been a lot of houses and apartments.  In an RV, we can have our cake and eat it, too.  We like the lifestyle, and we can move whenever we want.

Compared to an apartment, well… with profuse apologies to our apartment-dwelling friends, there really is no good comparison for us.  We have never really been happy in apartments.  Neighbors on the other side of the walls, and either above or below.  Postage stamp patios with a view of other apartments… or a street.  The thump of a sub-woofer at all hours of the day or night.  And, even with a gated complex, security is questionable.  Only in very rare circumstances have I ever felt insecure in an RV park.  And as an added bonus, because RVers tend to be independent and move when they want to, there is no lease.  Just pay the monthly rent plus electric and give reasonable notice when you want to leave.  Keep in mind, there are generally no refunds if you’ve already paid ahead.

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I’m using some photos more than once here, but they serve a purpose.  An apartment usually has one large window in the living area.  As you can see here, an RV of any size has a number of windows on three sides, allowing almost a 180 degree view of the outside.  Sure, some of those views look out onto other RVs, but with the right kind of shades, you can have plenty of light while downplaying the view when you want to.

In terms of security, while we have stayed at a few places that made us uncomfortable, for the most part, I think we have always felt pretty secure.  Most RV parks are dead ends, cul-de-sacs with no through traffic, so drive-by mischief really doesn’t make much sense.  And many of them get drive-through patrols by the local sheriff’s department, just like any other neighborhood.

We keep an eye on the weather far more than we ever did before.  I don’t like driving a big rig in the rain, so I check the forecast the day before a moving day, and on the morning of the move.  Many times, I can time a drive to happen between thunderstorms.  When we’re sitting still, the only other thing that I concern myself with is the wind.

Berry Springs rv park

 

When the awning is out, I’m a bit paranoid about it, checking the wind forecast during the day.  I keep it strapped down to corkscrew stakes in the ground, and even if the weather forecast is clear, I take it down to its lowest level when we leave to go somewhere.  If the forecast indicates the possibility of wind above 25 mph, I’m more comfortable if we just stow it away. We also stow it away if we’re going to be gone overnight. The awning often isn’t really necessary. In the photo above, we were at Berry Springs RV Park in Georgetown, Texas.  It was a bit windy many days, and we finally just left the awning stowed away. The afternoon sun shaded the patio perfectly anyway. While the awning can provide shade from the hot sun, it is often simply an “atmosphere” thing, providing a covered patio attached to the “house”..

We recently sat through a pretty good storm.  The forecast was looking kind of grim, so we stowed the awning. There’s a young man staying next to us in a smaller trailer. While I was putting a couple of other things away, as the sky was getting dark and the wind was picking up, he was out looking at his phone and asked me, “What’s the weather report say?”  I looked up at the really dark sky and said, “This is it.  I think any tornado threat is past, but we’re gonna get wind and rain.”  A couple of minutes later, I looked out the window and he was getting in his truck and driving away.  I think he has family nearby.  When he arrived, I got the feeling he had never stayed in an RV before, and his trailer is quite a bit lighter than the motorhomes and fifth wheels all around him.  For the next couple of hours, we felt some pretty good wind gusts occasionally in the motorhome.  I suspect he would have felt it a lot more in his trailer.

With the awning stowed away, I pretty much stopped worrying about wind affecting the motorhome itself after we sat through some storms early in our RV life.  We sat exposed at Galveston Island State Park through some major storms and felt the wind rock the RV only slightly.  10 tons sitting on six tires and four levelling jacks doesn’t move a lot.  As for rain, we’ve discovered water leaks in both motorhomes, but as best we could tell, we got both of them fixed.  A lot of fifth wheels are lighter than the motorhome, but an awful lot of them have sat next to us in some pretty heavy weather.  While we think we’ll end up living in a fifth wheel, our future travels will likely be in a much smaller Class C motorhome.  I guess we’ll see how one of those handles the wind.

WIFI is iffy everywhere we go.  Even the nicest parks can have terrible internet access.  In many cases, the only decent connection is at the clubhouse or next to the office.  We bought a pricey booster and still had trouble getting good service.  Phone service can also be an issue.  It’s a bit better where we are now, but where we stayed over the winter, we sometimes had to walk out in the middle of a road to make a call.

Next…. What the future holds for us… we think.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 28, 2014 6:46 pm

    You give a very goo detailed descriptions. so much so that I am really homesick. I thought about buying a very small rig before I married again, but at my age I ended up letting myself be dissuade. But after reading your blog, I am very sorry I did. good luck with you search and I hope your wife is all better. Syd Harper.

    • August 29, 2014 1:33 pm

      Syd, you’ve been following us for a while, so you know we try to keep our life as flexible as possible. Early on, someone asked us if we had an “exit strategy” for when we have to stop travelling. We always pointed around us at the motorhome and said “this is it!” The plan we’re working on now is all part of setting us up to exit when we have to, but still allow us to keep travelling until then. Nell appreciates your kind words and wishes.

  2. August 29, 2014 1:01 pm

    I had to laugh about the size of some sites. The first time we went out in our MH, we stayed at a park on the ocean that had sites so close together that we had to move our neighbors patio rug in order to hook up our black water hose. Now THAT is close!!! we have learned to be observant and ask for a site that we like, trees, wider, etc!

    • August 29, 2014 1:37 pm

      Cindeb, that’s TOO close. I’m enjoying reading about your experiences getting ready to retire.

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