The Great USA Runabout — Week one review

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For those just finding the blog, I purchased a 1969 Shasta travel trailer on a whim, and now my family of three are exploring the nooks and crannies of the United States. I am a graphic artist and am working as we roll along. We departed Atlanta one week ago and are now in Southern Texas. Here are ten observations from the first week, presented in no particular order.

A 10 foot travel trailer is REALLY small. With three people, one of whom is three years old, our Shasta Compact feels cozy, to say the least.

Communication is the key. With a lack of routine comes lost car keys, misplaced cell phones, and plenty of tripping over the cabinets, each other, and our own feet. The more we talk about what we are doing, the more the details of the day start to smooth out.

Cooking even simple meals takes a lot of time, and cleaning dishes takes even more. Eating in the trailer is definitely the cheapest option, but the tasks of cooking and cleaning with a bored munchkin tugging at our pant legs can be a lot to face. We are starting to experiment with cold no-cook meals to save time and effort.

Work is more efficient without the distractions of home. As I am designing graphics projects in the trailer, there is nothing luring me away. We don’t even have a bathroom beckoning me for a five-minute ‘download’. Four hours of work in the trailer equals a whole day’s worth of productivity at home. This is awesome, because less work time means more family-fun road-trip action.

The heart of Louisiana is one of the greatest pockets of the USA. With unparalleled hospitality, fantastic food on every corner, and foot-stomping music every day of the week, our two-day stay in Breaux Bridge was one of the most unique and enjoyable getaways I have experienced. Heartily recommended.

Texans don’t brake for vintage trailers. We have nearly missed several exits and turns because Texan drivers never let us in. We have had the blinker on for as much as a full minute before we found a way to make a merge.

Campgrounds are bustling with families; RV parks are packed with seniors. We purchased a subscription to Passport America, a discount camping club that lands us in the range of $15-$18 per night of camping. That’s a great price point, but our son is feeling a little lonely among the blue hair crowd. We think we will occasionally choose a campground instead, even if the price is a little higher.

‘Wide open spaces’ takes on new meaning in rural Texas. Without hills and trees, the southern farm fields in this state stretch clear to the horizon in every direction, and the sky is a gargantuan, boundless mass of blue with perfect wispy clouds wafting in the strata. Inspiring stuff.

A vintage trailer will make just about anything else feel huge. We are staying at my wife’s brother’s house in Corpus Christi, Texas. This cute house may seem modest when compared to the mucky-muck Mayberry mansions, but the place feels downright palatial to us, even after only one week of roadside living.

This trip is not easy, but it is worthwhile. Clearly, staying home would have been the easier choice. But the excitement of the adventure, the quality of the family time, and the fun of seeing my son gain an array of experiences — from catching his first fish to live Zydeco dancing — is worth the investment of time, money, and energy. Not everyone is cutout for a trailer trip, but everyone needs to find their own version of adventure in life.

The weekdays are filled with work and travel. Needless to say, I am excited it is Friday. The coming week will hold tales from the road and highlights from San Antonio and Austin. Thanks for following along, and we’ll see you on the other side of the weekend.

What adventures haunt your daydreams? What holds you back from trying to turn those hopes into realities? I would love to hear from you — please fill me in using the comments below.

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14 thoughts on “The Great USA Runabout — Week one review

  1. I’m loving this blog – especially since hubby and I are now (as of a week ago) saving for a holiday in the USA. I would LOVE to see Louisiana and Texas, and am paying heed to your every word. I also want to see Colorado, Mt Rushmore and New Mexico, amongst other places. We are considering a round the world trip as opposed to just USA so at this stage have no idea how long we will be there. Our house also went on the market a couple of days ago, so if it sells for a half decent price, maybe we can do the long-over due caravan trip around Australia. That has been a desire of mine for a number of years now and I have been always putting it of as a ‘retirement’ thing… (yes, literally blue hair – when I retire my hair will be dyed as blue as the bright Texan skies… just because I can!) but I’m thinking I would love to do it now.

    I’d love a little more background info about your trip away! How long do you plan to go? Have you a set itinerary or are you just winging it? What have you done with the house while you are away? What possessed you to buy the vintage caravan in the first place? Was it really cheap or expensive? Are you going to go to Iowa and visit Frank and Mikey’s shop, Antique Archaeology? (sorry, but I love that show! lol, and I”m sure they would drool over your Shasta)

    • Hi StrawberryQuicksand — Thank you for giving me so many great ideas for upcoming posts. I only have a few minutes for the blog today as we have several family activities planned, but I will definitely answer all of these questions soon. In the meantime, I encourage you to try for your dreams and goals now. ‘Tomorrow’ is uncertain, and ‘today’ is really all we have. I say, “Go for it!” Thanks for writing, and keep in touch!

  2. I’ve done some reading online recently about people who are living in van conversions, camper vans, trailers, trucks, tents and cars… an alternative lifestyle. I’d be curious, if you came across any “full-timers” out on the road, to read about them and their accommodations and lifestyle choices. I’m sure you’re meeting some interesting souls along the way.

    • Indeed Beth — there are some CHARACTERS out here. Watch for the ‘plant’ story sometime in the coming week. We have met plenty of full-timers, though most have gargantuan RVs that look more like Greyhound buses. I am on the lookout for those few souls who have pared down to the basic elements, but we haven’t met any yet. Thanks for reading along!

  3. Here’s an easy, cold meal.
    Drain a couple cans of chickpeas. Mash roughly. Add pesto, plain yogurt, chopped red onion, salt, lemon (or lime) juice. Stir. Eat. Good on its own, better over salad, great in a pita.

    • That sounds fantastic Adam. Thank you so much for taking the time to share it. We are in Corpus Christi now with relatives. We’ll be back on the road Monday, and I have a feeling this is for supper. Cheers!

    • Thanks for the note. I am a graphic artist and working five days a week from the trailer. I work 4-5 hours in the morning, drive 2-3 hours after lunch, and finish the day’s work after supper. So far, it is working out pretty well. So glad you are following along. Cheers!

      • That’s really awesome. Sometime in the future, I’d love to work freelance while traveling, but I don’t have the network to do that yet. I’m really looking forward to reading about the rest of your journey.

  4. Hi friend –
    I am so excited to learn about this great adventure! It’s been my dream for years to visit the US in an RV or camper of sorts. The surroundings are your classroom – and as a homeschool mom – what better way to show the kids this great country of hours, but also learn the facts as well as the “soft” skills that come from different states and different backgrounds!

    I love your adventure and I am following your posts! So glad you posted this on Facebook! If I had heard about it when I saw you last – I would have drilled you with questions 🙂

    Blessings and all of our love. Onward!

    Janice & Marshall

  5. Forgot to tell you. When you go to San Antonio you have to eat at Mi Tierra. It’s close to the River Walk. Mexican Food. Fantastic! Love Mexican food or Tex-Mex in Texas – they have the touch! Happy eating! Janice P.

  6. Would you like me to send you my “please/thank you” ping pong paddle sign for those Texas merges? Works wonders in Atlanta (from shock value more than road manners).

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