Dec. 8, 2015: It’s funny how sometimes a simple single event can drop you down a rabbit hole of memories and revelations that take you places you wouldn’t have imagined at the outset.
When I began researching the idea of fulltime RVing way back in 2001, one of the first things I heard about was the Escapees RV Club. It was extremely helpful to me early on in learning the RVing ropes.
Over the years through my websites, blogs and social media, I’ve met many people online through a shared love of RVing. Today was one of those totally cool days when I was blessed to meet someone like that in person. About 5 years ago, Chris emailed to let me know he appreciated my websites and writing. A fellow Escapee, we communicated by email and then Facebook, but our paths had never crossed.
When I got to the Ashland area, I let him know and it turned out today was a luncheon meeting of the one of the Escapees local chapters, the Rogue Valley Rovers. Chris is the President and invited me to attend and meet some other Oregon Escapees.
Many times through the years, Chris lent email encouragement and supportive comments when I was going through difficult times, but I was really touched by the warm way he introduced me to the group today. Obviously, he had read a lot of what I’ve written and shared a little of my RVing history and highlights of my travels.
He invited me to sit at the head table with him, his wife, Karen, and Joanne, the Chapter Secretary. (But Chris is a bit hidden here next to Karen in white.)
Here’s a better shot of my old-newly-met friend Chris, his warm and wonderful wife, Karen and me.
After lunch, Karen handed out homemade bread and cards to the members and me as a guest, I thought a lovely gesture.
Since I plan to spend a lot more time next year in Oregon, I’m so glad to have met this couple and great group of Escapees. A little Escapees hug therapy is always a wonderful thing!
So, being thankful for this encounter today led to my mind going down this rabbit hole of memories from 10 years ago…
Fulltiming Graduating Class of 2005
January 2006: It was through an Escapees forum that this group formed of people who had begun the fulltime RVing lifestyle that year. Tab, one of the members who is now one of my dearest friends, helped organize this get together in what many consider the Mecca for RVers, Quartzsite. I had been on the road for about 4-1/2 years at that point, so I was considered an experienced old timer. Tab had been following my website and invited me to come share some of my experiences with the group.
There’s not much better to an RVer than to spend some time around a huge roaring campfire, laughing and swapping travel tales with other journeyers after getting stuffed at a delicious pot luck dinner.
This was one of those sweet, crisp, clear, incredibly starry nights.
Boondocking in my first motorhome “Inspiration.” While the desert is certainly not my favorite terrain, this rally still ranks as one of my favorite times meeting and making new RVing friends. I love it that I still meet so many of them on the road in different places to this day!
In reviewing what I wrote so long ago, here are some things I just reaffirmed to myself again from my Talk to the Group:
“I hope when you look around at yourselves you see what I see – a unique group of people who have given yourselves permission to live the way you want to live – despite what anyone else says or thinks. And don’t forget there are lots of people out there who are chomping at the bit to do what you’re doing.
It doesn’t matter what club you belong to – or what kind of RV you have – or how far you travel and how long you stay. We have created a community in the real sense of the word. We’ve all shared some tough decisions and choices along the way to get here. Deciding what stuff to keep and what to get rid of may have been tough, but leaving kids and grandkids behind was the toughest. Some have aging parents or our own health issues to deal with and sometimes the road gets quite bumpy.”
The next month, in a Post Quartzsite journal update, after thinking about what that meeting had meant to me:
“I had to start listening to my own advice to the class: Don’t forget why you started RVing – don’t lose your adventurous spirits – don’t take the wonder of travel for granted. See things with new eyes each time and don’t forget to give thanks for the unique opportunities you have to recreate your life each time you move. We don’t always have as much time as we think we do. And just like the bad times we’re glad to see end, the good times go too quickly.
Take lots of pictures and write down your experiences when you can. At least take clear mental pictures so you can relive them when you’re too old to do anything else but sit in the rocking chair.
Once again, I stand by my statement that one of the very best things about RVing is the open hearts of the people I’ve met, both online and in person.”
So today I examined my heart about these things, and after 14 years, I honestly still feel this way. It may not always be “living the dream” the way so many people comment when they hear how I’m living, but it’s still as close as I can imagine at this point – and it’s still the people I meet that help make it that way.
And for another recent Escapee connection:
I had just come from Sutherlin, where I had stayed a month at the Escapees park there, mostly in order to visit my old friend, Julianne Crane, who now publishes RV Wheel Life. I first met Julianne in 2005 when she interviewed me for the Spokesman-Review newspaper. We became fast friends and saw each other several times since then when our paths crossed in Austin, and we are now better than friends – I am officially her “little sis.”
It really is wonderful to have friends like this that no matter how much time passes between visits, it always feels like we can just pick right up where we left off like we had just seen each other yesterday. The added bonus was I was able to finally meet her significant other, Jimmy, and a couple of new friends she introduced me to, Thom and Dar, and I’m already looking forward to another meeting with this fun group. I also really appreciated their generosity in helping me with some things I needed done in the RV.
So, as I reflect on these recent new and old meetings, for those people who worry about me being lonely on the road, I affirm again that as a solo RVer, you may be alone, but you don’t have to be lonely. RVers are some of the friendliest people around and there will always be opportunities to make lasting friends if you are in the least bit open and receptive. And I still recommend being an Escapee!