This is a story of a dream deferred. Nearly thirty years ago, when Andy and I were first married, I decided to show my new British husband the best of America — which in my mind is our wilderness and National Parks. I took him to the Painted Desert of Arizona where we were dropped off in at a trailhead by a ranger and told to walk out at least three miles before we set up camp (The ranger would be watching from the bluff.) We trudged out with our packs on our backs, set up our tent, started to cook a can of beans over Sterno, and listened to the coyotes howling around us. Andy turned to me and said, “Please tell me that you will never make me do this again.”
The next indicator was when our friends started moving out of San Francisco to the suburbs. I remember driving through a nice leafy ‘burb and seeing a large RV parked in the driveway. I was about to say, “Cool”, when Andy said, “If I ever bring one of those home, will you just shoot me in the head.” It was not a good time to say that I always thought I’d eventually transition from my childhood of camping to RVing.
Finally a few years ago, I realized Andy was never going to want to see another American National Park, but he’d be okay if I wanted to do a solo trip. That’s when I began my twice a year road trip schedule. At first I thought I’d camp or sleep in the back of the car. But it quickly became clear that my days of sleeping on the ground were long over. After four or five road trips where I spent the night mostly in KOA cozy cabins, it also became clear that this plan wasn’t going to work. KOAs are mostly 20 to 50 miles from any park you want to visit. And since I wanted to get up early or stay late to photograph the sky, that wasn’t working for me either. My recent trip to Death Valley, where I had to stay 1-1/2 hours outside the park in Lone Pine, really sealed the deal. I needed to up my game.
Long story short: after years of surreptitious research, I announced that I wanted an RV. Not just any RV, but one that could go off-grid. That meant something with enough water storage to last a week and solar panels to tease out a long stay where there are no hook-ups. Because my whole goal is to be out at the great remote campgrounds deep in the National Parks. My RV of choice: the Roadtrek Agile. I didn’t want to tow, I wanted four wheel drive and I wanted the smallest RV I could find (which I thought I could handle on the Blue Highways I usually travel.) The Agile ticked all those boxes. Add to that, several Facebook friends who had them and loved them and a very active users’ group that was very honest about the pros and cons.
So here I am, a new RVer. And completely overwhelmed. I’m trying to kit it out and finding there really isn’t that much room in it — when you subtract all the stuff you have to carry to maintain the RV itself. Probably not much more than I used to carry car camping. Well, that’s the standard I’m trying to hold on to. I’ve been on enough RV forums to know that the big danger with an RV is overloading it. So I’ve spent the last few days kitting it out, then editing and pulling stuff out. I’ll probably do a few posts on outfitting an RV — which long-time RVers will laugh at because I’m sure I know nothing. But I do know that, of the hundreds of sites I’ve read, everyone seems to have a bigger rig than me. I laugh when I see a post on packing your fridge and I see people putting in two weeks worth of meals and staples for a family of five. I’ll be lucky if I can get half a dozen eggs, a small bottle of extra virgin olive oil and a stick of butter in my fridge. I see a lot of oatmeal and beans in my future because I can stash Zip-lock bags of those anywhere.
So anyway, here I am an RV owner. And I still have a skeptical British husband.
Andy: I suppose you are going to start following NASCAR now.
Me: No. But I might get a CB radio.
Yeah! Ten-Four, good buddy!