Last time, I covered where we stayed and why. Now then, what do three vegans eat and do during a week-long camping road trip across the Midwest?
Suppose there were a simple way to save from a few to a few hundred dollars a year, and to leave the Earth a better place for your children. Well, there is. This week’s lifestyle tip should surprise none of you who know what I do for a living. But I’m going to say it anyway. In non-emergency situations, it’s time to stop buying bottled water.
Owning fewer things makes me feel more free inside. I get joy from carting useless or underused stuff out of my house to the local Goodwill donation center. Having clean sight lines in the home is a pleasure, and I can see and better appreciate the things I choose to keep when there are fewer of them.
So, today’s lifestyle tip is really a work in progress: if you don’t need it, get rid of it.
Lindy and I have been working our way through Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. We’re not nearly to the point of saying everything we own sparks joy, and I don’t know if our socks are feeling their life force because of the way they’re folded and stored. But I’ve written much and plan to write plenty more in this space about minimalism: not owning more than you need, enjoying what you have and focusing on what’s most important in life.
As an early pioneer of online technologies, I realized pretty quickly that digital clutter is a pervasive threat to a minimalist lifestyle. It’s just like stuffing everything behind a closet door: you can’t always see it, but it’s still there.
Here’s the first thing I do to keep my online life tidy: Inbox Zero.
I’d like to introduce you to Roxanne. She’s our new second car, or our tiny house on wheels. She is a Flame Red 2015 Winnebago Travato 59G, built on the Ram ProMaster platform. We’ve just returned from a brief road trip to North Carolina, where we picked her up before stopping for the night at a campground outside Richmond, Virginia.
Much earlier today, Lindy and XY enjoyed a hotel breakfast while I took to the trail. On a perfect 50-degree morning in suburban Hartford, I pounded out nearly seven solitary, fast and enjoyable miles. I had Cory Booker in my ears, and only the occasional baby squirrel or passing cyclist for company.
Moments like these are why I run.
Image by Allie_Caulfield from Germany – 2010-10-30 Geeste, Moormuseum 032, CC BY 2.0.
On the subway yesterday, on the way into the office, I stole an appreciative look down at my constant traveling companion in my lap. It’s true: when I’m on the go, my gear bag is with me more often than my dog, my wife or my daughter. It comes along to work and on nearly every trip.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. Yesterday evening, I ran out and got XY some Chinese takeout for dinner before the babysitter came over. Why? Because we couldn’t get into the kitchen to feed the kid. We’ve been having the kitchen floor re-tiled, which is a three-day job. The last-minute scramble, minus the tiles, probably sounds familiar to a lot of working parents. But it’s a very unusual thing for us, by design.
Avoiding situations like last-minute takeout food, with its high cost, extra packaging and often dubious nutritional value, is exactly why we make a meal plan every week.
Stripping life down to its barest essentials, so you can focus on what’s truly important. That was my premise for founding I Am Hopeful a couple of weeks ago, before my family and I stuffed several days’ worth of gear into suitcases and headed out on a cross-country RV trip. It’s time to return to the promise of that premise with my first lifestyle tip: wear a uniform.
First of all, everyone is fine.
We’re all back home in the DC area and have returned to school and work. I realized from re-reading the end of my last post that I left the door open for more daily updates. Then I didn’t post again until now. We heard from a couple of relieved friends and family members after contacting them directly when we got back. I’m sorry if I left anyone with the impression that we’d gone Fastball or Alive. Really, it was a wonderful trip.
Shortly after my last update, we took off for another several hours of driving through the flat cell phone dead zone that is most of Nebraska and eastern Colorado. Then we suddenly realized we were in the mountains. It wasn’t long before we ended up at our destination in Boulder, where the RV sat in the driveway from Saturday afternoon until we returned it Monday. We had a great time catching up with old friends for a couple of days.
So… back to the RV.
I was able to fill up the propane at a local U-Haul outlet in Boulder, two gallons for the three days of refrigerator use along the way. The RV return was uneventful, and the technician who checked me in was kind enough to note that we weren’t the first customers to point out a detached dinette table in a Cruise America RV. He seemed thankful when I told him the screws were in the cupholder.
If you’re curious, here’s what the inside of a small Class C RV looks like. There’s a bunk bed on top of the cab, which is where the two grownups slept. A dinette converts into a second bed, which is where the kid slept. In larger models, there is also a permanent bed in the back. We didn’t have this. A small kitchen with microwave, two-burner cooktop and refrigerator-freezer are in the back, along with a wet bath. For the uninitiated, a “wet” RV bath has the toilet, sink and shower in a single room that gets wet when you take a shower. A “dry” bath has a separate shower with a door or a curtain. Ours was the wet kind, owing to the small 19-foot size of the RV. Dry baths are much more common in Class Cs, while wet baths are almost always found in the smaller Class B campers. None of this mattered on our trip, because the freezing nighttime weather meant we couldn’t run any water through the shower anyway. The two campsite showers were plenty roomy and hot.
All three of us emerged from this trip wanting to drive an RV again sometime, and leaning toward trying to buy one someday. I learned I wouldn’t want to own a conventional Class C because the cab-over design — which hasn’t changed much in decades — makes for terrible aerodynamics. This means the windy driving peril I described in my first post, and gas mileage that never got beyond the single digits. I’d prefer a B or a “B+” like the Winnebago Travato or Trend.
My favorite moment on the road belongs to my daughter, as so many moments do these days. You’ll recall we got to our first campsite very, very late. She was already asleep for a couple hours when we pulled in and parked. Lindy and I fumbled around with the dinette and got it converted to the bed, then moved XY over from where she had been sitting. She slept some more.
Then suddenly, as I was putting away some luggage in the cabin, she woke up with an urgent need for information that apparently couldn’t wait for morning.
Her: “Where’s Mama?”
Me: “In the bathroom.”
Her: “And who’s driving this RV?”
Fair question. She must’ve liked the answer, because she was asleep again seconds later.
After our road adventure and two days in Boulder, we had an uneventful flight from Denver back to the DC area and got back to life as usual.
Thanks for reading! I’ll have my first post about a lifestyle tip — clothing, in fact — in a couple of days.