As of today (August 18th) we have officially been on the road for 3 months! It is crazy to say that, because it feels like SO much longer. We have seen and learned so much already. I feel like Steve Martin’s character in The Jerk. “Well, Tuesday felt like 3 days…” I really do feel like 6 months has gone by already.
So, in honor of this mini-milestone, we thought we would share a little recap of our past 3 months.
Where We Have Been
Here is a screenshot of our route map thus far:
We have been to (links to posts where applicable):
- Salida, CO
- Pinedale, WY
- Victor, ID (outside Jackson, WY and Grand Teton National Park)
- West Yellowstone, MT (as the name implies, west of Yellowstone National Park)
- Gardiner, MT (north of Yellowstone)
- Bozeman, MT
- Canyon Ferry, MT (outside Helena)
- Lolo National Forest, MT
- Missoula, MT
- Columbia Falls area, MT (outside Glacier National Park)
- Whitefish, MT
- Eureka, MT (next to Canadian border, which we plan to cross today after work)
Next, after crossing into Canada, we plan to boondock for a bit (maybe a night or maybe a week, who knows!) about an hour north of the border. Then we will explore the national parks Banff and Jasper and likely visit Calgary, too. Then, depending on our data usage and how much time we have, we will either head west towards Vancouver or cut back into the US and head west towards Washington/Oregon.
What We Have Learned
We learned quickly that we liked to travel slowly and take in each place before moving on. We also learned that we do NOT like long driving days, we prefer to drive 2 or so hours at most. We have really enjoyed boondocking, despite its challenges, because of the beauty we can experience, the privacy we gain, and of course it doesn’t hurt that it is free!
Go With the Flow
With some practice, we have both gotten a lot better at going with the flow and trusting that things will work out. Of course we do a lot of planning, but we are getting better at knowing when to drop the plans do something different. Sometimes it’s because we want to stay longer in one place, sometimes it’s because a place just isn’t what we hoped, and sometimes there is an event/place/new friend that we want to spend more time enjoying. Basically, we are learning to find ways and reasons to say “yes” than to say “no.”
Find a Routine
This is key, and it took a little while for us to realize both the importance of a routine (both weekly routines, like moving and dumping tanks) and daily routines. This was especially hard for me, because unlike Nik, I only work part-time. For the most part though, I’ve settled into a routine that is something like running or yoga in the morning, then 2-3 days per week writing blog posts (for other sites mostly, but here too!), 1 day of chores (laundromat, groceries, cleaning, etc), 1 day “adventure” (like a long trail run). Then we spend the weekend adventuring together. I’m much happier now that I have a sort of schedule in place. To be honest, it was pretty hard the first 6 weeks or so until I figured out a structure that worked for me.
The Good Parts
- Local produce and cuisine (huckleberries and cherries are great here in Montana)
- We always have something to explore and see. We watch far less TV now.
- After an amazing day of hiking or whatever on the weekend, we get to sleep in our own bed!
- We are really in touch with nature (it sounds corny, but it’s true). I can’t remember ever before having such a good idea of how long the days are, how well we can see the stars at night, and what wildlife is around me.
- I’m always learning! We are always visiting new places. Without fail, I go home and look up things like local native tribes, the territory of wolverines, or wildflowers.
- We appreciate experiences more, even simple ones like sunsets. A simpler lifestyle has put our priorities in line.
- Because we live in such close quarters and are together almost all the time, we are very in touch with one another’s moods and feelings. There was an adjustment period in the first month when we were getting used to this, and now we generally feel very close in our relationship. We have also started saying things the same way or at the same time far more often, which is weird!
The Bad Parts
- This is the biggest downside: we don’t get to see our friends. This is especially hard when we want to be there to support them, but can’t. It’s also hard to get the deep connections I need on the road (I am a quality over quantity person in my social life), since you’ll only be spending a few hours or days in someone’s company.
- It’s not vacation. It can be really hard for Nik to have to work when we are in such amazing places. But, his remote work is what allows us to do this, so we are grateful.
- In some ways, it’s pretty stressful. At some level, we are always thinking about how to meet our basic needs.
- We aren’t really part of any one community. It can be hard to have a good sense of the places you are traveling through, and it’s more difficult to do things like volunteer on a local level. You do get a much better sense of the community than if you were purely doing “tourist” things, since unlike most tourists, you are in places like the library or the laundromat or the local rodeo, but it’s not the same as living somewhere.
So, all in all, we are still loving our RV life. Things are definitely getting easier as we go along. We have seen some great places already and we are looking forward to Canada and the Pacific Northwest next!