T-Minus 2 Days to Launch

Wow, it’s already been a month since we escaped the city! We officially hit the road as full time RV’ers this Thursday, August 31.

I’m excited, antsy, nervous, twitchy, impatient, and dare I say, a touch anxious. The weight of our life choices is finally starting to hit – having been so preoccupied with leaving New York, I haven’t fully had the time to process what this next phase means or will look like in any kind of focused detail.

Now my synapses are firing with all kinds of thoughts – what will I miss about being in a stationary home? What will be stressful or frustrating? What if we blow a tire, uggggh? What will be the best part? The worst? What will it be like to be in a new place every one to four weeks? What if the Fill in the Blank doesn’t work? What will it be like to constantly be figuring out how well wi-fi or cell phone signals work or how many quarters we need for laundry or where everything is located? There’s a certain restfulness that comes with not constantly asking yourself these questions – and I’m a big fan of it, to say the least.

My rational mind knows we’ll figure these things out as they come. My emotional, Type-A planner mind is feeling a little frazzled but I’m putting her away for now – she worked overtime last month anyway. I know we can’t know it all, though there is some trepidation that comes with knowing nearly nothing about how RVs work (can’t wait for that first dump of the blackwater tank).

Thanks to genetics (dad: master wizard at taking things apart and putting them back together again, be it automobile, small electronics, or hell, the human body – dude was an emergency room doc for nearly 20 years), family members with experience (Uncle John, a mechanic and RV owner; great Uncle John Henry and his wife Sally, also seasoned RV owners), and super helpful YouTubers like LoLo Honeymoon and Keep Your Daydream, we have more than enough resources to help us prepare and help along the way.

Things I already know I’ll miss are long, hot showers, making jewelry/wax carving in my spare time, having a reliable internet connection that 1) allows me to not get stressed AF during work (my job requires/relies on internet connectivity) and 2) allows for streaming All The Things…I loooove movies and Game of Thrones, you guys. I’ll miss the peace and quiet of our West Virginia hilltop sanctuary.

I’m nervous about maintenance – basically paranoid that something will break down, all the time, and we haven’t even left yet. I’m nervous about getting stuck somewhere (probably that driveway incident has something to do with it), inclement weather, driving the damn thing (still haven’t), losing the cat (got this GPS tracker), not having enough time to go everywhere, having a living space that is even smaller than our Brooklyn apartment was. These are all first world woes – I know.

I’m most looking forward to visiting friends and family, spending more time outside, seeing more stars, meeting new people, reading more books, having the freedom to make random stops, and seeing more of the country and its national parks (got the annual pass, YASSS). I’m excited to constantly be learning new things, even if it’s exhausting and hope to cross more than a few things off of my bucket list.

Wish us luck and keep following the journey – thanks for coming with us. Next stop, Pohick Bay Regional Park in Lorton, VA!

 

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But what shoes should I bring?

The packing process has started.

The nice thing about moving into an RV is that I know I won’t need most of my stuff. That means getting rid of or storing non-necessities is a no-brainer. But ugh, what about shoes, you guys? And I don’t mean this in an “OMG you guys I just canNOT live without ALL MY SHOES” way but in a “How the heck do I know what is practical and necessary for the next year” way.

I have a couple weddings to go to over the next year, which means at least one pair has to be wedding-worthy.

Hiking shoes/boots and flip flops are mandatory, of course. And sneakers. That’s already four pairs, but not so terrible.

I’m adding at least one pair of leather ankle boots and some cold weather boots. Okay that’s six.

What about rain boots? Will I need those? I’d love to NOT bring them because they’re bulky, but can’t imagine we won’t get stuck in rain at some point and I don’t wanna get stuck inside because I don’t have footwear that can slosh through puddles.

What about Toms? Great, easy slip ons for outdoors. Croc Mary Janes? Lightweight, also great for anything involving water. Slip on Vans that I wear all the time? One sensible pair of flats for anything potentially work-trip related? That’s at least 11 contenders and feels like far too many for RV living. I dug my 10-year-old Tevas out of a bag yesterday, too. Do I need those?!

Help me, internet. What are your tips for a well-curated shoe selection when it comes to RV Life?

10 Things I Will Miss About New York

So obviously my last post needs it’s companion. It’s easy to bitch about New York City. It’s also easy to wax fanatic. Just watch me – in no particular order:

      1. Diversity. Like I said before, I was raised in potato country. And despite it’s natural beauty, it’s about as diverse as well…a potato. But ermahgerd NEW YORK! A literal and figurative rainbow of people of all colors, socio-economic backgrounds, genders, races, places, perspectives. New York is where you can truly be yourself, let your freak flag fly, find a community, perhaps even find yourself. For anyone who has lived in less-than-diverse communities and yearned for more, consider NYC your new bread and butter.
      2. The food. I probably don’t really need any qualifiers here – despite overpriced “fancy” Mexican restaurants, you just can’t find better food options for your money. I can set my mouth to drool just thinking about all the options….from Ethiopian to fresh, hand-pulled Northern Chinese noodle dishes to all-things-chocolate cafes to the best neighborhood Salvadoran Pupusa food truck (best $6 meal, hands down), it’s all here. And it’s all fucking delicious. 🤤
      3. The people. Duh – the hardest part for me about leaving anywhere is leaving friends and co-workers. I’ve been leaving friends every few years  since I left for high school shintysome years ago – choosing to live in different places does include this very large con. I will severely miss all the lovely friends and colleagues who have made my life so much better while living here. Sniff.
      4. Neighborhood Strolls. There’s always somewhere you can go for a stroll, whether it’s your own neighborhood or someone else’s. I love going for walks around Red Hook because it’s never crowded, I loooove hunting for Beriah Wall’s infamous tokens, and the Valentino Pier is an amazing spot for watching sunsets. Oh, and I can also go to Ikea on my lunch break and just buy some placemats and a cinnamon bun if I feel like it. #Convenient. I love tottering down Court Street because the Expert Appliance Center has the best bodega cat in Brooklyn. I love walking around Carroll Gardens because you can almost always find some amazing street treasure (I get my treasure hunting inclinations from my Grandma Dorothy, TYVM), not to mention the amazing street art and graffiti you can find all over the city. I’d be remiss not to mention the numerous beer bars you can stumble across too – the Other Half is a great find as long as they’re not releasing a new brew (think: lines around the block and then some), while going to Folksbier on a nice day is the perfect reason to go for a walk. And speaking of all that walking…

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        Salesman of the Year, showing off his bean toes.

      5. Public Transit. For all the huffing and puffing we do when we’re stuck on the subway or running late and the train just happens to be running late too, it’s so nice to not need a car to get around. In New York City we walk more than most and can get just about anywhere on public transit (except anywhere on the G or F most nights and weekends and L train for the next two years, wamp) . This isn’t an option in other big cities or small towns, and I am forever grateful for it, even if it is almost $3 per ride.
      6. Easy Access to All The Things. What’s your hobby or industry? Whatever it is, you can find it in New York. Wanna take circus classes? No problem. Learn to make stained glass windows? Sure. Learn to cook French cuisine? Okay. Learn taxidermy? Yep, we’ve got that. Crave live entertainment? It’s everywhere. I was able to take jewelry making classes and launched my own Etsy shop because it was something I always wanted to do and wasn’t easily available in other places.
      7. People watching. For all the moaning I do about crowds and crowded places, I have to say I just adore people watching. It’s amazing and never disappoints, thanks to all that diversity. Between what people wear or amazing hairstyles or trying new trends (hoverboards, lol) or just the funny things people do in general, it’s better than television.
      8. Cohesion. New Yorkers know how to band together and get shit done. Now I do hate crowds, but if you’ve ever experienced any kind of march, protest, or parade you know that shit feels powerful – coming together with hundreds or thousands of humans in the name of a bigger picture ideal is something that brings on the feels in such an overwhelming and positive way. I’m really happy to have been a part of that.
      9. The swagger. I’m sorry (not sorry), but living in New York definitely adds to your #BAMF factor. Anyone who is here, living, and surviving automatically makes you a badass. Adding “in New York City” at the end of any statement makes achievements sound like goddamn feats of impossibility, thanks to the Hustle factor I was bitching about in my last post. For example: “I’m a professional pianist…in New York City.” “I just bought an apartment…in New York City.” “I went to the pride parade…in New York City.” “I just auditioned for a musical…in New York City.” In most cases, it basically adds an exponential #BAMF factor of about 10.
      10. Crazy weather. This probably pertains to anywhere I live, but I will definitely miss the crazy weather that can happen here – not hurricane Sandy-level crazy, but the rogue snowstorm or sudden, monster rainstorm in the middle of the day is always something I’ve loved. Unless it’s the wind in any season other than summer – I rather disdain non-summer wind. 💨

       

    1. Have you lived in New York City and left? What do you miss about it?

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      5 years worth of collected Beriah Wall tokens.

10 Things I Won’t Miss About New York

I had a hard time deciding whether to do this post first, or the next one – 10 Things I Will Miss About New York.

I think most people who live in New York will probably relate to some of what I’m about to say. I think everyone who has lived in New York and left will definitely relate to everything I’m about to say.

Without further ado, here is what I won’t miss about living in New York City.

    1. The crowds. What can I say? I grew up in the corn fields of Idaho, guys. Walking through the streets of Manhattan turns me into a quick-stepping, no-motherfucking-patience-for-anyone foot motorist with a need to get out of street throngs as fast as humanly possible. I don’t begrudge anyone for being there – except for people who suddenly stop to check their cell phones in the middle of the dang sidewalk (seriously, have common sense courtesy: step out of the human traffic before getting balls deep in your phone on a public thoroughfare). It kind of starts feeling like being in a video game (one that sucks) what with all the dodging and bobbing and weaving.

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      #nope

    2. The smells. Have you ever walked through Chinatown on hot summer day? Or absentmindedly stepped into the ONE empty subway car? I rest my case.
    3. The cost of certain things. Okay not *everything* is mad expensive in New York. All that close quarters business makes for some decent competition when it comes to things like pizza by the slice, nail salons, Groupon options, taxi fares, and dollar stores (don’t judge – cheap packing tape and gift bags, FTW) to name a few. But things like getting to the airport ($8 on public transit, not bad if you have the time) cost at least $40 which I’ve dejectedly become numb to forking over in the name of speed and efficiency. The cost of goods is just higher here, because businesses have to subsidize their stupid-high rent costs. I don’t even bat an eye at a $10 burrito anymore (especially if that burrito is from Calexico, because it’s fucking delicious). Don’t get me started on the cost of Mexican food in general here, but here’s a hint NYC: YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG. I don’t want your $26 enchilada plate, pshhh.
    4. The noise. See number one about growing up in the corn fields – corn fields are pretty quiet, save the occasional tractor. My lucky country bumpkin ass grew up to the background sounds of crickets at night, distant train whistles, chirping birds, and wind through the oak tree leaves. I’ve lived in other cities before (Boston, Barcelona) and got used to the new ambient noise and figured NYC would be the same. We live in Red Hook, and as far as Brooklyn neighborhoods go it’s chill AF. And yet, thanks to the industrial spirit that is still alive and well here (and IKEA and Fairway and several construction projects nearby), the soundtrack of my sanctuary on Van Brunt Street consists of bus air breaks about every 10 minutes (gotta love the convenience of that bus stop but what an awful sound to wake up to), huge transfer trucks roaring up the road in first gear every day starting at 5am, a smattering of horn honking that happens whenever one of said trucks double parks in front of the bagel shop across the street for 15 minutes at a time, random car alarms at all hours (do they ever actually prevent theft?!) and people YELL TALKING as they stagger out of the restaurant across the street late at night or enjoy a dramatic relationship spat on the sidewalk. As someone who wants to stab you if I can hear you chewing (it’s a Thing, it’s called misophonia, look it up), I consider myself extra sensitive to noises I don’t like. The conclusion here? I’m basically a moron for living in NYC. I take full responsibility for this.
    5. Random meltdowns with strangers. You haven’t lived in New York until you’ve either witnessed or participated in a screaming match between people. Travis has had a couple of these – I’m too chicken to go whole hog at people mainly because you just never know who you’re dealing with. I did recently see a woman in line at Subway go ham on the sandwich maker for not putting cheese on her toasted sandwich, even though she definitely didn’t ask for cheese to begin with. I know because I was standing right next to her when she ordered. She lost it and screamed at the woman for not listening and stormed out the door. What an asshole! I get it, assholes are everywhere but they’re more concentrated in New York – being an asshole is almost a survival skill here.
    6. The concrete jungle. Blaming this on my rural roots again – the city skyline just doesn’t make me swoon. It’s impressive, no doubt, but I’ll take a sunset over mountains or water or prairie or foothills or desert any day.
    7. The hustle. People come here to WERK. It’s amazing – New York has the most driven, ambitious, talented humans. I respect that – but it’s non-stop. It electrifies the air – both in a good and exhausting way. If you’re not always on, you’re falling behind and missing out. I’m 35 now so I’m getting too old for that crap – pass me a chill pill and put me out to pasture.

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      I’ll take all of these, please.

    8. The weather. Summer has been my lifelong favorite season…until New York. The blazing heat of summer on top of humidity on top of the buildings that radiate more heat on top of the public pool that is so close but always closed because someone took a dump in it (sorry, it’s called a “fecal incident”) on top of no moving breezes makes me want to just live underground for two months. There’s no escaping it, which is why the smart NYC natives leave the city for much more pleasant environs (read: The Hamptons, upstate, etc) until fall hits. Then it’s winter and that humidity is no. Fucking. Joke. My experience with snow all my life is that at least you can get out in your snowsuit and play in it – we’ve had one or two storms like that here in NYC since I’ve lived here but for the most part? Snow fall turns into a huge white, then eventually brown, mess. It’s not magic. It’s a pain in the ass that you can’t sled on or ski down.
    9. The traffic. Oh man. Just, no. The BQE? Come on. The bottom line with bridges is they are all just synonyms for bottleneck. Check out NYC traffic on Google Maps on a Friday at around 5pm in the summertime to see what I mean. The map looks like its bleeding profusely and should get to the ER, stat.
    10. The lack of time. There’s never enough time – I’m convinced that the days have fewer hours in NYC – between work and bars and restaurants and shows and friends and hobbies and errands and anything else in between I just always feel like I could use a few extra hours every day to get life done. On one hand, I think it means I must be taking advantage of at least some of what New York has to offer, but on the other, I’m not sure that is how I want to feel all the time – it’s physically and mentally exhausting.

Also, turns out writing an opus about leaving New York is A Thing, so I’ll be reading Goodbye to All That – Writers on Loving and Leaving New York.

Who else has lived in New York City and left? What don’t you miss?

 

How we plan to downsize

Downsizing for tiny living/RV life is probably one of the more fascinating aspects of the planning process for me. As an admittedly Type A planner, I’ve tried to do all the research I can on what other people do with their stuff before moving into a small space. It seems to be a pretty straightforward formula:

Assess your living space room by room (or pile by pile, if you’re on the KonMari train), eject all non-necessities, proceed with yard sale and/or donation station. This makes sense for those looking to commit a relatively long term tiny living lifestyle. To be honest, that’s not what we are doing.

We are elated and grateful for the opportunity to live as nomads for a while – that being said, we do have dreams of living in a reasonably sized, non-McMansion-size house one day. Travis does still want to build a tiny house on wheels – and no, that would not be our perma-home – though originally our plan was to live in it while we house hunted somewhere. I respect the tiny living movement – I love the concept of taking a space and making it extremely efficient – most living spaces today have oodles of wasted space.

However, our perfect world scenario has a few things that tiny living wouldn’t really allow for in a way we (or at least I) would be comfortable with. For me, that’s namely some kind of workshop space for Making Things (think: a space with a big table, my magnifying lamp, a pegboard for tools, and lots of little drawers for supplies) and one area of clear floorspace where I can stretch out on the floor like a starfish without hitting something with my arms or legs. Also, a kitchen that has drawers – right now everything in our kitchen lives either on an open shelf or on the wall. For someone who loves putting shit away it’s torture. What can I say – living in NYC for 5 years has taught me what I really want in a living space.

That being said, two things are true: one, we currently live in a lovely, but small apartment in Brooklyn that’s all of 400 square feet. We just don’t have that much stuff to begin with (okay mom, I know there’s still some stuff in your basement but it’s not that much!). We plan to axe most of our furniture (a shitty futon, an Ikea bookshelf and dresser, a couple shelves, desk) and donate our plants to willing friends. From there we’ll split up what to keep in the RV vs what we want to put in storage. We just got married last year so I’m just not gonna toss the nice dishes I finally own (adulting!) or my rock collection (nerd alert).

So we’ll be putting mainly clothes, kitchen items, a couple small furniture items and lamps, and all our art and tchotchkes in storage while we’re traveling, since we plan to settle somewhere and buy a house. To me it just doesn’t make sense to toss everything we own even though it’s replaceable. Travis’s mom and stepdad have been kind enough to let us store what we want to keep while we’re on the road, so while we do recognize the logistics of getting it from them in West Virginia to wherever we end up in on the west side of the country could be a headache, it’s probably easier than literally re-buying all the useful items we already have.

In the meantime I’ve started making a list of things that I know I want to have with us in the RV – for example, a tent, hiking shoes, an extra set of sheets, towels, etc.

I’d love to know what your can’t-live-without road essentials have been, from clothing to kitchen supplies to anything else. Let us know in the comments!

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Our RV kitchen may have more storage space than our current kitchen…!

The journey begins…

Well some of you know that our original plan for escaping the city was to build a tiny house. For those of you who don’t know, now you do.

In searching for a truck to tow said tiny house, we found someone selling the Ford F350 Dually we wanted for the job…but they were also selling a Fifth wheel along with it – and it was a deal that was too hard to pass up.

Now, Let’s Go Tiny House is Let’s Pause Tiny House for the time being, and Ready, Set, RV! is where we will chronicle our journey throughout the contiguous U.S., to the best of our abilities.

Who are we?

Anne: I work for a tech company that switched to fully remote at the beginning of this year, which means I can do my job anywhere. Yay! I’m originally from Idaho, half from Colorado, and have been living on the East Coast since 2008. I spent five years in Boston going to graduate school at Emerson College and have been in NYC for 5 years doing the tech thing.

Travis: is a classically trained pianist from North Carolina and spreadsheet wunderkind. He’s been playing piano professionally for 5+ years in New York City and will be taking a break from piano while on the road. He’ll continue doing remote consulting work while on the road.

Monkey: is a 10-year-old brown tabby who probably won’t know what the hell to think of this whole thing, but we’re optimistic she will adjust relatively quickly. Truth be told, our fifth wheel is massive and our Brooklyn apartment is tiny. Shouldn’t be a massive downgrade…!

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