Posted on Sep 30th 2009 by Lisa.
Wright on Time Books: Tell me a bit about your family. How long has your family lived in an RV? What states/countries has your family traveled to?
Kelly: We are a family with one 3 year old and two 90 lb dogs living full time in a 36′ motorhome. My husband is a helicopter pilot which takes him across the country to seasonal positions so we decided to sell it all and travel along with him to keep the family together. We’ve been on the road since last Oct. and we are currently in the Black Hills, SD and he is flying Mt. Rushmore/Badlands tours and this Fall we will be taking a month or so to travel and then be in the Smoky Mountains in TN for another touring job.
Wright on Time Books: Are you homeschoolers? Do you call yourselves roadschoolers? What type of homeschoolers are you (or do you prefer to not give your family a label)?
Wright on Time Books: Do you have a “home base”? This is especially important for legal homeschooling, isn’t it? Did you sell all of your possessions, or keep things in storage?
Kelly: We don’t homeschool yet but we do lots of outside activities and take advantage of what each location has to offer (parks, museums, zoos). Our home address is my parents’ address in TN where we get our mail and our cars are registered. We had a 5 bedroom home in Atlanta and we liquidated all but keepsakes and those are in storage and the Mother In Law’s home. We have an article on our blog about liquidating that was featured in Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper.
Wright on Time Books: What resources did you use both before you began your adventure and/or while you were on the road? Any particular books or websites that you couldn’t have lived without?
Kelly: We read about RV life on the internet, RV Forum, Families on the Road and then just did it and learned by experience. We knew there were going to be several years of moving around for his career and we knew we wanted to be together. With two very large dogs apartments weren’t an option and some of his jobs may be two weeks on/two weeks off so an RV was the most feasible option for us.
Wright on Time Books: How hard is it to deal with the maintenance of the RV? What are the most difficult aspects? Who handles what?
Kelly: Once we hit the road we ran into some problems that mostly revolved around leaks…our home is an 01 so some seals and caulking were dried and cracked. We also did quite a bit of remodel on it over the year. We took out a lounge chair, installed a ceiling mounted curtain and put in a toddler bed for Caleb to sleep. He loves his “room” and we put underbed boxes under his bed for toys. We also got a storage ottoman to make the couch area more comfortable and it also stores toys. We took out the carpet and installed Pergo (much cleaner with the dogs and kid and looks great). We reupholstered the furniture for a more modern look, installed flat screen TVs, put vinyl sticky tiles on the kitchen backsplash and painted the whole place to get rid of the heinous wallpaper. We also removed the window boxes and added fabric valences. One of our favorite updates was laminating an antique map onto our kitchen table.
Wright on Time Books: How large is your RV? What is it like? We want to know where everything goes and where everyone sleeps. In an ideal world, would you have wanted a bigger RV, smaller RV, or something the same size but with a different configuration?
Kelly: Our home is 36′ with two slides. If we had to do it over again we might get one that has two slides in the rear bedroom because our dogs sleep on the floor back there and the floor gets pretty crowded. There is a door between the main living area and the back bathroom/bedroom and that provides privacy since our son sleeps in the front area. Also provides privacy if one of us wants to be alone in the back. Our office area is in the back also.
Wright on Time Books: Who does the driving? Do you ever have issues driving such a large vehicle? Do you avoid cities or curvy/narrow roads up mountains, or do you take them in stride?
Kelly: Brian usually does the driving but I’ve done it some on the highways. Brian is an excellent driver and has little intimidation about driving cities as long as we take it slow. We do, however, try to avoid very small towns and small gas stations that may put us in a bind. We tow an Xterra with a bike rack behind that so it’s intimidating for me to pull in and out of gas stations.
If we are headed to a destination we stay in roadside/commercial campgrounds or Walmart/Flying J parking lots. We also enjoy State Parks and campgrounds that are kid friendly if we are staying a couple of days. Right now we are staying in the parking lot of where Brian works. When we aren’t stationary with a job we try to make our route around cities we haven’t seen, friends around the country and natural areas we’ve heard would be cool. We love being on the road and we get a little cranky after being stationary for too long. Our son loves the travel also and we tell him we are going to go find a new “yard”. He calls it our BigTruckNewHouse named by him when we first bought it and the name just stuck. The dogs don’t like the driving down the road part but they are getting accustomed. When we are in small campgrounds their life is a bit tougher because they are always leashed. Sometimes in the more rustic campgrounds we can find a field to let them run.
Wright on Time Books: How do you keep in touch with friends and family? Do you visit them? Do they visit you? Phone, e-mail, etc.? What about holidays and birthdays?
Kelly: We try to go “home” to TN every few months to visit the Grandpeople but this Fall we’ll be living in that area for a number of months. We use Verizon aircard for internet and Direct TV. Our mail comes to my Mom and she faxes it to me (www.myfax.com is an excellent resource for this). We have few bills but things like insurance and bank statements we get online. Health insurance is a bit of a problem because it is independent insurance with little to no coverage out of state. Knock on wood…we haven’t had health problems but would most likely use a walk-in clinic if needed. The dog vaccinations we can get at places like Petco as a walk-in.
Grocery stores are always an interesting part of our travel. We don’t use coupons like we used to but I can look up the local grocery store sale ad and still shop sales for food. We eat out only about once a week (three year olds don’t love sitting in restaurants!). We often park in a rest area and make a sandwich or even if we hit McDonald’s we’ll eat in the house.
Wright on Time Books: Does anyone ever get homesick for your old life? How do you deal with that?
Kelly: I miss my big kitchen in the old life, Brian misses his big TV. I miss having a zillion toys for Caleb and a large yard for a sandbox and pool. I did take a plastic storage tub and fill with playsand and we take that along with us for his sandbox. We also miss babysitters!! But the things we miss are minor compared to the life we have. We are blessed to have each other in such a close way and we get to experience the various cultures and beautiful land across the country that so many people don’t even know about. I often say…I hope Caleb remembers even just a little bit of this experience. And I reccomend liquidation to everyone!
Wright on Time Books: How can we find out more about you and your family? Website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter, etc.? Please tell us also what the next great adventure for your family is!
Kelly: You can read more about how we started and a little about our day to day life at www.bigtrucknewhouse.blogspot.com and I have a small blog that I’ve shared some things like traveling with toddlers and dogs and housekeeping/cooking in an RV at www.kellynorth.blogspot.com. I hope you can read a little and laugh with us.