with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

On the Road Full-time with Beauty and the Beast

Our trailer on a long winding curved road in Arkansas, photograph by Lorelle VanFossenNot long after our arrival here in Mobile, Alabama, we ran into Rita and Bob, a couple not much older than Brent and I who gave up their “American Lifestyle” to hit the road full-time about a year ago. Rita and I crawled into the truck for an all day excursion to the Fairhope Arts and Crafts Festival on the other side of Mobile Bay.

It was fasinating to talk to someone so much like me and yet new with this “living on the road” business. It brought back tons of memories of our first year on the road, innocent and naive and yet determined to survive and overcome every obstacle the road threw at us. And the road threw a LOT at us. Rita spoke of learning to give up “stuff” and constantly fighting her passion for books (books are weight!), and streamlining their lifestyle down to a trailer a tad smaller than ours.

We laughed and cried about the struggle to stay in touch with friends and family, the hideous lack of Internet access, and the fun and woes of life on the road. We shared some of our dreams and expectations about what life on the road would be, and how reality was a harsh slap in the face, but also better than we ever imagined.

Rita keeps a log of their journeys at On the Road 8×30;24×7 and describes their life on the road as:

In 2003, Rita and Bob began the process of leaving behind a 30-year lifestyle of full-time employment and home ownership. Our goal is to retire and hit the road as full-time RVers in a 30-foot Lakota travel trailer (The Beauty) pulled by a Chevy Silverado 2500HD (The Beast). We are so close we can hear the hum of our tires on the road as we prepare to see the Americas one square mile at a time! In true Jimmy LaFave spirit, we want to be in a permanent “Highway Trance.” We are ‘living the dream’ as of March 1, 2004! We hitched up for the first time and headed for places unknown:-)

Rita and Bob are golf FANATICS, heading out daily to play at the many golf courses around Mobile and along their traveling path. Rita also collects post cards and I’ll share her information in another post, as that deserves its own story. And it makes sense, she laughs, to collect something like post cards as you travel. You get to go to all these neat places which have post cards, including a wide variety of antique and collectable shops, and post cards are lightweight and take up little space in a small trailer.

It was great to connect with another “on the roader”. “On the Roaders” are different from “Full-timers”. People who claim to be “living on the road full-time” are usually better described as “snowbirds”. They travel south in the winter and stay in one place and then travel north in the summer and stay there, often in homes outside of their trailers and motor homes. Some full-timers move from place to place, but they tend to stay in one place for several months, staying in the driveway or near family rather than moving around randomly.

our trailer parked among trees and set up to not move in Mobile Alabama, photograph by Lorelle VanFossen“On the Roaders” go where the road takes them. Decisions are made while on route, or with some vague kinda plan to be in Texas for May for some event, but along the way, go through Montana, Arizona, Florida, and Kentucky, in that order.

Yes, I know that we haven’t been “On the Roaders” for a while now, but in our hearts, our five years in Israel meant leaving the country about every three months to renew our visas and head into Europe or to the States for short trips, so we weren’t “settled” though we were. Here in Mobile, we are settled, but if the hurricanes persist to be as bad as they have been so far this year, I think we are going to be spending a lot more time this summer back “on the road”, wandering desperately “away” from the latest hurricane, than sitting still in Mobile. So we are “part-time on the roaders”. Does that count?

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