“Look at this Instagram account,” I said, shoving the phone under The Husband’s nose. “They have an RV, they travel around the country, see all these cool places, and homeschool their kids.”
This was towards the end of May 2020, and we were just coming out of the shutdown. We thought we had the next ten years all mapped out. And then suddenly, it was all flipped around. What about our jobs? What about school? Everything felt like it was up in the air. Who knew what was going to happen in a month, let alone a year or two!
One of the greatest parts of blogging was that I got to interview so many different people. And I would always ask people, “How did you find joy?” Time and time again, I heard: Life is what you make of it, and time passes very quickly. So if you want to carve out happiness, the time is now.
I really took that lesson to heart and tried to live my life with that advice in mind. And in May 2020, we didn’t know what the future would hold, but we knew some things for sure: We wanted to find joy, continue to travel, spend more time with our kids, and get outside more… City life did not seem as appealing as it once had. RVing felt like the perfect solution!
… But we had zero RV experience (scrolling Instagram, sadly, does not count!). So we made a plan: we’d rent an RV and head out for a week-long trip. We booked an RV through www.RVShare.com, I snagged a sandy spot at a campground in Florida, and a few weeks later, we hit the road.
Our maiden voyage was SO much fun! We were instantly hooked! “Camping” with electricity, a refrigerator, air conditioner and a real mattress? It was perfect for our family. We immediately started to search for an RV of our own.
Now, I know that we were not the only ones with this bright idea! I’ve read RV sales went up 20% or more during the pandemic. However, we did make the decision a little earlier than most of the crowd, so we managed to beat the insane price inflation and lack of inventory that began to hit just a few months later. After weeks of comparing RV types (driveable, towable, etc), lengths, price points and floor plans… we settled on our dream RV.
Meet – The Flaming Marshmallow!
She’s ridiculously big – 42.5 feet long. When hooked into our truck, we’re about 61 feet long. Because we wanted an RV that we could actually live full time in (just in case), we opted for a large floor plan with two true bedrooms and two bathrooms. When you walk into the front door, you enter a kitchen/living room area with a full size fridge, a comfy couch, and a table that was perfect for dinners, virtual school, and puzzles.
There was a huge learning curve. Huge! I would never call us “handy.” But a basic rule of RVing is that something will break every time you go out. And before long, I could do all sorts of things – I could empty the tanks, drive it down twisty mountain roads, back it up into tiny spots, hook up the electric, unhook the RV from the truck, troubleshoot why the awnings would never open… It was quite empowering, actually!
Don’t get me wrong – we’ve had some major upsets. Once, the Husband dropped the RV onto the bed of the truck – the truck suffered more than the RV. We broke the toilet when it got too cold outside and the plumbing inside froze solid. We drove the side of the RV into a tree when making a tight turn. Another time, I opened the slides and hit the RV next to ours, shattering a window.
There’s a camping joke – “I’m sorry for what I said when parking the RV,” and boy, oh boy – is that true!
But seriously… RVing has been glorious. The adventures we’ve had! It’s been about 18 months, and we have gone on 15 different trips! We’ve explored the Carolinas, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida. Our camping trips usually are 4 – 7 days long, just depending on what we can swing with work and school (we usually do both on the road). We spend our times fishing, kayaking, making ‘smores, building camp fires, hiking, and biking. Claire even learned to bike at a campground in Georgia!
Our new pup Sam loves RVing! We got him two years ago, about three months before Maggie died. He is a husky/lab mix. We adopted him from the shelter when he was about a year old. We have never had a big dog before, but I really love having a dog that can keep up with all our outdoor fun.
Sam’s very protective, which makes us feel safer when camping. Although, I must say we have only encountered awesome people while camping. There are tons of newbies at the campgrounds, but also lots of people who have been RVing for years and are willing to help out if you need a hand. It’s fun to sit around the campfire with your neighbor and trade stories, and the kids love finding new friends wherever we go.
Here are my favorite campgrounds:
- Solitude Pointe RV Park in Cleveland, SC: This campground is very small – only 15 spots or so. There are also a few cabins that you can rent. It’s super quiet but beautiful, with a big mountain river at the front of the campground that is perfect for swimming in the summer. Cleveland SC is in my favorite part of South Carolina; we go here as often as we can! It is near Lake Jocassee, which is well-known for being one of the cleanest and clearest lakes in the south.
- Mountain Stream RV Park in Marion NC: Known as “The Prettiest Little Park This Side Of Heaven,” this park is also very small BUT the best part is that nearly all the spots back up to a roaring mountain stream. It is insanely beautiful.
- Mistletoe State Park in Appling, GA: Be warned – this state park has zero WiFi (but that’s how I like it these days). Surrounded by a beautiful lake, this campground is super “woodsy” and fun.
I don’t know if the stars will ever align for us to truly live full time in the RV, but maybe one day, it will!
And on a final note….
When I popped in over the weekend to say hello, I NEVER thought you all would respond the way you did! It was so sweet and lovely to hear from so many old Internet friends. 🙂 My first post back was very spontaneous, so I had no idea how to answer questions like, “Are you really back? Are you blogging again?” This is why I wrote this post – I wanted to share a little bit more about what we’ve been up to since everyone was so sweet and excited! I really can’t thank you enough if you took time to comment.
I do not know what the future holds for this space, to be honest. A lot of the reasons that I stopped blogging still stand. As the Internet got more “stylized” and “staged,” I struggled to keep up with it. And truthfully, a few people were downright cruel – I know that I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, but I had people do some really mean things to me behind the safety of their keyboard that reached into my “real world.” I have thick skin… but it just felt like too much after a certain point. The kids getting older was a major factor, too.
I loved to write about fitness and food and books and random stuff. But the other stuff that made Healthy Tipping Point so fun to read… well, I don’t know if they can exist in 2021. Remember our “great debates”? I used to post about a “controversial” topic, give my take, and then readers would debate in the comments section – with no name calling or yelling or “canceling.” Oh, that was so fun! And so interesting! I learned so much by reading others’ perspectives. Does our society even have the ability to have those chats anymore? I’m not sure… But the past few years have given us a lot of material for some really, really interesting debates, huh?!
A lot has happened to me over the last six years. So many lessons, so much growing, so many new thoughts and experiences. In some ways, I’m the same CaitlinHTP. In other ways, I’m not. I know this is true for you, too – everyone changes. And six years is a LONG TIME!
BUT – and this is a big BUT – I weigh all of that above with the absolutely incredible response to my “Hello Again” post. Again, I never thought that would be the reaction. And all the feelings of community and friendship came rushing back. I missed that, I missed you. I really, really did.
So, I’ll leave it open ended for now. 🙂
And I’ll close it out with a question, as I always used to do. How have you carved out joy during hard times? Tell me all about it. <3