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From Two Acres to 28′

Moving from two acres of Montana land and a sprawling three bedroom home into a 28′ roaming RV is a big change. We were grateful for the sweet years in that mountain-view home with a young family, but here’s a blunt look at how things change in the transition.  Fess up:  we have a 12×10 storage unit and a few other things scattered around back home, so we’re not entirely sardined.

A permanent, sizable home has some advantages:

  • Space for wrestling – our family used to chase and wrestle every day and those options are limited in some ways now.  Same goes for dance parties.  The reliable space to practice yoga, stretch, exercise. We can practice sometimes while camping but it’s uncertain, sometimes lumpy, or unprivate, although usually inviting. I suppose this would include the sorely missed space for an exercise ball.

  • Local, reliable foods – we really would rather know where our milk and eggs and veggies come from.

  • A full sized sink.  A full sized counter, easy for cooking and concoctions and preserving.

  • I’ll eventually miss planting and enjoying a garden, although I’m really a much better wildcrafter than plot-tender.  And I deeply miss teaching yoga.  Maybe that can be part of this winter’s income.
  • Easy composting – we never know where we’ll put it now and sometimes have to throw it out

  • The space to all spread out and do our own thing – even with all the outdoors available to us, our together time is magnified. Each of us enjoyed a little time playing and learning on our own almost every day back in a house, and here it’s a little harder to carve out the space. There’s just not quite enough personal space to easily ignore each other. We are adjusting our balance and rhythms as a family to regain this valuable quality. * As the this new life has worn on, the kids have become much braver about spreading out and exploring comfortably on their own, and playing nearby rather than underfoot.*

  • Space for projects – piles, stacks, tubs, thinking space.  The kids miss a few of their bigger toys that are being stored in Montana for them, I miss my massage table, and Trent misses a few tools
  • I really thought I would find it hard to go without my long, nightly hot shower, but have been surprised as to how easily we’ve adapted to reusing shallow basins of cold water, or none at all.  I hardly miss it, except every six days or so when my hair starts feeling gritty.  We seek out warm showers at campgrounds about once a week.
  • And the most deeply felt one BY FAR – we all miss our relationships, our family and friends we left behind in Montana. We are so busy that the kids have been entirely focused on this life rather than the one we left behind, but once in awhile it sinks in and we realize we’re going to need to live in two places.

And living in a tiny roaming space has some definite advantages:

  • Housekeeping, hands down. Housekeeping in our tiny home, although very frequent, can be done in from five minutes to half an hour. Maintenance continues all the time – just like in any house, something is always breaking that needs to be fixed – but at least it’s a smaller area to cover.  We find that our to-do lists are always full just like before, but that we actually cycle through the list:  fewer stagnant tasks linger, and we have the possibility of actually crossing everything off, if only for a day.
  • Being outdoors more, mainly because of “hardship”#1, very little housekeeping or space for indoor projects. Our health is excellent because of this factor too.  And we love cooking outdoors.  Next spring we plan to build a decent little solar oven to try – my tinfoil attempt was pathetic.
  • Familiar and exotic plant allies beckon to me, from unique eco-pockets day after day.
  • Running!  Blissful, ecstatic, through varied and memory-making new territory each time.  These bits of blue sky, canyon and woodland and ocean, serotonin and endorphin, freely stretching and pumping arms and legs, soaring heart: I’m storing them all like recordings in the bellies of my muscles and behind my eyes for the days when I can no longer run.
  • The primary benefit: We are so shifted into a natural rhythm, and so interested in our surroundings that there is very little time for self-pity or neurosis or broken records. Our personalities seem… cleaner. Speaking for myself, there is not any of the carrot-and-stick self-scrutiny I used to spend much of my energy on. I fit my life right now. Living in an environment that’s unsuited to you will cause your personality to clog, and living in a way that fits your needs cleans the personality right out. So I’d say the primary benefit for me personally has been distinctly psychological and spiritual. Trying to maintain the material goods around me has always been an unnatural fit to my abstract and esoteric mind, and now there is simply more time for the important part of life – the relationships and health within our four family and the new things we’re learning. Mazie Jane seems to particularly thrive this way too.
  • Our intuition is increasing. Travel brings opportunity for serendipity and synchronicity and Trent and I are both reaching deep and finding resources from within and without.

  • Trent points out that he has enjoyed just going with the flow rather than trying to plan and control. We end up meeting a wide variety of people and we never know what the conversation will bring – very often just the information we needed, or a great idea, or the surprising news that we know someone in common. Living on the road you have a wide variety of people to meet, much wider than in any one static location, and we never know what delights and wonder the conversation with a new person will bring. Often it’s an opportunity to be of use.  Likewise, the need to find somewhere beautiful and undisturbed to sleep, tests our instincts daily and often delights us.

  • The kids have opportunities to interact with such a changing variety of people, and are becoming extremely adaptable at playing with all ages and imaginations and their always-strong skills of talking with adults are increasing as well.
  • There is something satisfying about knowing exactly how much energy your home is using.  By necessity, we use just exactly enough water, just enough electricity, just enough space for storage.  These inherent boundaries simplify and relieve.

What didn’t change that we expected would?

  • The kids have always had huge imaginations and lots of pretend play. I thought this new life would increase their fantasy play, but they get less time alone, separately and together too, and are, from proximity, dependent on us more.  So although their imaginations have much more food for thought, and contain more fully fleshed out details about a variety of the terrain and scenarios from this year, the kids are not really spending a whole lot more time on pretend like I thought they would.  In fact, because of the intense parental presence, they’re more dependent on external entertainment (ie Mama and Papa) than they were at home.  **As I spend an increasing amount of time working on creative projects that will ultimately make us fabulously wealthy, or at least may allow us to squeak by without personal financial tragedy, and as we have needed to drive more this past two months than our leisurely pace of summer, I notice that Mazie Jane and Holt are now fully enthralled with new imagination games they’ve spun and are eager to get to them.**

3 Comments leave one →
  1. MomE permalink
    October 3, 2009 6:38 pm

    Love your thoughts and insight about your journey! You know I have always loved your writings, and now you are becoming quite the photographer. You have a great eye!


  2. December 29, 2011 3:34 pm

    thank you for sharing your thoughts, realizations and experience.

    our family has been traveling part time for the past two summers, but we just bought a used rv and plan to become full-time by may 2012 with a home base in west virginia and florida.

    we have two young boys. my husband is a life & parenting coach and i teach yoga & zumba. i worry i’ll miss teaching my classes, but i’m too excited about life on the road to let that stop me.

    • December 29, 2011 4:05 pm

      Ananga – I’m excited for your family! We have had the richest years of our lives because of this move. I think yoga and zumba skills are probably in demand everywhere and may serve you well as traveling gigs. And if your husband can start leaning on a web presence and long-distance coaching there’s no reason it can’t keep working on the road. Take care and check in as your plans get closer! Cami

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