I originally wrote the rough draft of this post two weeks ago. Now with fall fully taking hold with colder days and darkness descending earlier each night, I wonder where the time went. It’s time I finish and publish this post. Here is the updated version.
Taking the training wheels off and venturing into the unknown proved to be a wonderful experience. With a ton of exploration, learning new things, and finding what works best for us the journey continues. At the beginning of July I felt trepidation about finding places to stay. Now I can say with some authority, I’m quite good at finding amazing spots. When we no longer had the safety net of parking at friends’ or our family’s house, we dove in and ADAPTED.
Thus far that is my biggest takeaway after six months on the road, adaptability. In a world of many unknowns this life skill is becoming more and more important every day. Hitting the road forced us out of our comfort zone and I’m grateful for that. Today I am a different person than I was last year. I’m happier, healthier, more content, and full of gratitude each day. This life is not perfect, but the ever changing scene makes you appreciate things at a deeper level. We are more in tune with the IMPERMANENCE of it all.
When we first headed to the UP our strategy was very different than it is now. Then we were moving more frequently. We relied on electric hook-ups much more. I found myself stressing twice a week trying to find the next place to go using mostly the Michigan DNR site along with a couple others to find places. Once we arrived in the UP, it became clear staying at state parks would be challenging without advance reservations. From that we found our way. Through branching out we discovered our favorite types of places to stay and even now we continue to tweak and fine tune that process.
While in the UP we added an inverter and 2 solar panels to allow us to be off the grid and still have power. Big game changer for us. With less reliance on electric hook-ups , we no longer needed to stay at crowded state parks.
Over the course of July, August, and September here is a breakdown of the types of places we stayed.
5 state parks all with electric hook-ups and less space. Price range $20-$25 per night.
6 state forest campgrounds all primitive but with more space and views. Price $15 per night.
3 in the private owned category, all primitive and with space. Price range $10-$15 per night.
2 free sites, dispersed camping and Boondockers Welcome. Totally free!
Our favorites were state forest campgrounds for their secluded nature and larger sites. Now that we have solar panels, an inverter, and lithium batteries (just added last week) we plan to boondock more (free dispersed camping). Thus making us more SELF-SUFFICIENT and able to live off grid.
After a full six months on the road I thought I would share some common questions and answers for those that are interested. If not feel free to skip ahead (don’t worry I won’t know).
Common Questions We Get on the Road
Where are you from?
This is by far the number 1 question we get when we meet new people. Our answer differs from situation to situation. Sometimes to keep things easy we simply say just southwest of Indianapolis. But most of the time we respond with some version of this, “well our last known address was southwest of Indianapolis. Now we live and work remotely on the road in our class C RV. ” Which is usually followed by the next question along with a chuckle at “last known address”.
What do you do for a living?
This one for us has been something we had to figure out somewhat on the road. We don’t have it all figured out but basically Shane has converted his car shop business into a remote tuning business. On top of that we reduced expenses to allow us to live off less income. As for me, I’m currently working on my yoga teaching via online videos and doing family photography when in the area. Plus let’s face it, I’m the glue that is holding this all together. 🙂 As the full time chef and accountant, along with general up keep of the RV I stay pretty busy.
Are you retired?
Although I’ve answered this above, I wanted to address it separately. Initially we told people we were full time RVers and this was almost always followed by, “are you retired?”. I’m middle aged so I hope I don’t look retirement age but we also found that some people would respond more negatively. Maybe they thought we had a ton of money. Hence we changed our answer to “live and WORK remotely”. No we are not retired nor do we have a desire to be retired. We call ourselves “selectively employed”, meaning we work when necessary but we also find time to play just as much.
What do you think of it?
This is an easy answer for us. We love it! It fits us perfectly. In some ways we feel as though we were training for this all along without knowing it. We enjoy learning, exploring, and figuring it out as we go. This is a decision we should have made sooner.
How long do you think you will do it?
I can’t really answer that at the moment. But for now it’s, as long as we can. We realize life happens and things could change. For now we are grateful for this opportunity that has already changed our lives.
Where are you going when it gets cold?
Well the short answer, south! Where exactly and how we will get there is left up to whatever we are feeling in the moment. We have no schedule or agenda. Instead we will see where the winds take us. We do know for this winter it will be the southeastern US, as we have family to visit. But our sights are set on the Great American west in the future.
How do you get mail?
We have our regular mail set up for delivery at the kids’ house. Right now we have about 3 months of mail piling up there. For the future we will get some large mailers with postage paid and have them send us our mail monthly to whatever post office we are near at the time. As for packages, we had to get creative in the UP. We didn’t order a lot online except for our inverter and solar panels. Here is what we found. If it’s coming through the USPS, you can simply have those packages sent to the local post office as general delivery. They will hold those packages up to two weeks. We would look ahead to see what town we would be in and have things sent that way. However, if it’s coming Fed-Ex or UPS, general delivery does not work. In this case you either need to find a UPS/FedEx customer center nearby to have it delivered to and pick it up from there. Or in one case we actually met up with the UPS driver on his route to retrieve a package. It was closer than driving to the nearest customer center, 2 hours away. We were able to meet him about 25 minutes from our campsite. But let me tell you that was fun, trying to coordinate on the phone when both parties have limited cell coverage.
What about internet?
This has not been an issue for us, except for one place. Copper Harbor, MI is the only place we had absolutely no cell coverage or internet from our RV. However, even that situation was rectified by looking up the closest cell tower, driving to the top of the mountain, and using our Wi-Fi router to get some work done on our laptops. As for everywhere else, we have a cell phone booster called Weboost and it’s saved the day more than once. There are places my cell phone shows no coverage at all. However, once we hook up the booster we can get a signal. Now I will say we haven’t always had blazing fast internet. At times it has taken an hour to upload one of my 15 minute yoga videos. But for the most part we are able to do our online work without much of a problem. We also have a Wi-Fi router, making it easy to get work done on our computers either inside or outside. And for those times, like Copper Harbor, you can always resort to finding a bar, having a beer and connecting to their Wi-Fi to get some basics done or drive to the top of a mountain and work from the office with a view for a bit. Or lastly, forgo the internet all together and simply explore, taking a few days off. Another trick I use for spotty connection spots, I download yoga classes, meditations, and podcasts for offline use if needed.
The last 3 months spent in Michigan (2.5 of those in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan) have left me with fond memories to last a lifetime. I’ve always thought of myself as a beach girl, thinking I needed to be near the ocean. However, I have found my happy place to be along the shores of the Great Lakes and yes my favorite is Lake Superior. It is a mighty lake which commands much respect. While up there I found myself reflecting on those whose lives were claimed by that great lake with it’s unrelenting power and yet it’s majestic beauty.
I cannot seem to find the words for what the UP means to me. It felt like finally finding home. Breathtaking experiences and raw beauty at every turn. Plus the sound of those waves crashing along the shoreline, I could easily sit and listen to them forever. Absolute peace, that’s what I felt.
Lastly, I’m grateful for the opportunity to spend time exploring new places. This RV lifestyle is making that possible and that is my favorite part.
Exploring via kayaks
Campfires to keep us warm and cozy
Sushi, beer, and wine on the road
My happy place, along the shores of the Great Lakes
Yoga on the road
Sunrises and sunsets
Adaptable, self-sufficient, and the impermanence of it all. The three words I have taken away from the past 6 months on the road. We will see what gets added to that list over the next 6 months.