by J.D. Roth
Whenever I conceive of some bold idea, it comes with a potent mixture of enthusiasm and fear. I’m eager to pursue my new plan but worried about the consequences that might come as a result. What if something goes wrong? What if I haven’t thought things through? What if I fail? What if I succeed?
Sometime last spring, Kim came to me and said, “We should buy an RV, and then we should take a trip across the country.”
I embraced the idea immediately. I’ve always wanted to do a cross-country road trip, but never felt like I had the time or the resources. Plus, I didn’t have anybody to do it with. (Kris was never keen on this kind of adventure.) Now, however, I have all three: the time, the resources, and the companion. Kim planted the idea in my head — and it took root.
We didn’t do anything about this theoretical cross-country RV trip for a long time. Neither of us has ever owned a recreational vehicle. And although Kim has spent some time in motorhomes and trailers, the whole notion of buying and owning an RV seemed somehow overwhelming. For me, it was a brand new world filled with unfamiliar jargon and terminology, a world full of big expenses. Plus, making a trip like this poses massive logistical challenges:
We spent several months cogitating on the idea, taking no action. We talked with others who had made similar trips, picking their brains about the pros and the cons of long-term travel on the road. We looked at trailers and motorhomes, trying to decide which features we liked and which we loathed. We read. We watched videos.
Last autumn, we finally started making some moves. We attended the Portland RV show and began looking at RVs on Craigslist. After a few months, we purchased an RV of our own: a 2005 Bigfoot 30MH29SL. We spent a few weeks prepping the rig for adventure and, finally, last weekend we took it out for its maiden voyage.
I’m pleased to report that everything went swimmingly. We love it.
As I say, whenever I make a big move like this — and this move cost us $38,000 up front and will take about a year of our lives — my excitement is mixed with trepidation. In this case, the trepidation appears to be unfounded. During four days in the Columbia Gorge, Kim and I had a hell of a lot of fun. Sure, we encountered a handful of challenges (a water heater that wouldn’t heat, a campground next to a busy rail line, a dead battery, etc.) but we resolved them easily and moved on. We worked well together.
It’s clear to us now that we can do this crazy little cross-country trip. We don’t know exactly what we’re getting into, but we know we can muddle through whatever misadventures might await. Kim and I have decided that we really will do this crazy thing.
We have an official launch date: We want to hit the road on April 1st. (Yes, we know that’s April Fools Day. Yes, we think we’re funny tempting fate like that.) In four short weeks, we’ll board Bigfoot and drive south, spending some time in northern California (we’ve already booked a camp spot in the Yosemite Valley on April 12th) before winding our way through the Southwest. By mid to late May, we intend to be heading north through Colorado, then Idaho and Wyoming (hello, Yellowstone!) and Montana.
At some point, we’ll head east (through Canada? through the Dakotas? we’re not sure…) to Minneapolis. We intend to be in Charlotte, North Carolina in mid-September for a conference, but our plans between Montana and North Carolina are vague. After the conference, we’ll stick on the East Coast to see the fall colors and to explore New York. As autumn moves to winter, we’ll wend our way to Florida, and then to New Orleans. By Christmas, we think we’ll be exploring Texas, which everyone tells us will take at least a month. And after that? Who knows?
As you can see, our plans are a little nebulous. That’s fine with us. Our motto as a couple has been, “Go with the flow.” We intend to keep it that way. It’s not the destination that’s important to us, but the journey. We want to embrace the spirit of adventure, to take time to get to know the people and the country we encounter. We fully expect our plans to change along the way.
When this trip is over, we’re not sure what we’ll do. Maybe we’ll return to the comfortable life we currently enjoy. Maybe we’ll pack up and repeat this process in Australia or Europe or South America. Maybe we’ll become even bolder, reduce our belongings to a bare minimum, and then backpack across the world (as our friends Scott and Chelsea are doing this year). Or maybe we’ll find someplace along the way that feels so much like home that we stop and stay and never leave.
Whatever our future holds, we’re eager to get started. Our test run last weekend was wonderful, and now we feel like high-school Seniors. We know we have to finish some final work, but we can’t wait to get out there and live on our own in the Real World.
Updated: 27 February 2015