What’s new? What’s the same old, same old? During our recent 4-day road trip across New Mexico and Texas we got to talking about the differences and the constants in our rving lifestyle over the past nine years. Since memory is challenging and in case we want to revisit this in another nine years, I think I’ll write down a few of those recollections. (We would welcome hearing other people’s experiences, too.)
First of all, technology plays a larger role in our day-to-day lives than in 2004. For sure! Just to go with the flow, I decided to try using only photos I took with my Galaxy SIII smartphone for this post. I think the phone did pretty well. But I’m not going to include some of those on the highway at 65 mph through the buggy windshield. Yuck! My conclusion: the Canon digital camera is still the winner, even if less convenient.
Speaking of phones, in 2004 when we started our fulltime rving we had one dumb cell phone with limited minutes. We even used a calling card sometimes for long distance. In order to communicate by email we found the local library. We tried using the Verizon Internet service through our cell phone, but it was so slow you could prepare and eat dinner while the email downloaded. Within our first three years, we found first the Hughesnet satellite Internet dish and then the Verizon air card, amping up the speed and convenience as we went.
Here I sit using the Internet through our air card in the motorhome, while Jerry reads his Twitter account feeds and Instagrams…very quickly. Oh, now I see he’s watching Netflix on his iPad! And we text with our family and friends whenever we feel like it. I know, everyone relates to this stuff! Having two smartphones, two iPads, two laptops and two GPS devices for one couple of Baby Boomers is probably just a sign of the times, right? We notice that we now consider whether a parking spot for more than one night has good Internet reception. Also, we were noticing as we traveled I-10 and I-20 in Texas this time, after a couple of years break, that the digital signs along the highway have this message: “You Talk, You Text, You Crash.” That’s a new one. But not surprising.
Also on I-10 in Texas we were required to stop at one of the border patrol stations. (Not near the border.) There we were asked if we were American citizens. Do you remember when you could drive across southern Texas, New Mexico and Arizona without someone stopping you to ask that question? My question is: What if I’m not an American citizen? Can I not travel on that road? Will I have to prove my reason for traveling there? Oh, this is not a political statement….just thinkin.
Another sign of the times that we specifically noticed between Pecos and Fort Worth, is the booming oil exploration. We stopped at the Escapees RV Park in Pecos. Previously we would have been one of four or five rvs parked there. We wondered if the park would survive. Now, it is bulging at the seams with trailers housing workers, and additional parks have sprung up. Pecos used to be just so sleepy, but this industry has given it a wake up call. The affects of the pumping rigs stretching along that path of west into central Texas are everywhere. Business must be improved for many. Although judging from the trash along the highway and folks working at the rv park, all the change may not be welcomed by some residents. Our accommodations were adequate. We just had more company.
The next overnight stop in west Texas, at a WalMart in Eastland, reminded Jerry of an early change we made that progressed our rving lifestyle considerably. That’s solar energy. We learned within the first few months that we wanted to have solar panels so we could be free to park without hookups, “boondocking.” By the time we switched from our fifth-wheel to a motorhome in 2006 we had 640 watts on the roof. Solar energy definitely made a difference, brought us to many more convenient and scenic places… comfortably. Not only one-night stopovers along the highway, but we couldn’t have had the same experiences soaking up the scenery in all parts of the U.S. and Canada without it.
What about other changes on the road? Costs have risen, but we’ve developed money-savers as well. When we sold our “stick home” and became gypsies fuel was about 1/2 the cost that it is today. This has resulted in some people traveling less, or not at all. For us, although our savings account isn’t as high as it might have been, we wouldn’t trade the experiences for the extra bucks. On the other hand, since we began this lifestyle we’ve learned a lot about how to save on overnight parking fees. Not only do we sometimes stop at WalMarts for quick overnights and shopping, but we joined the Elks a few years ago and enrolled for Jerry’s “Golden Age Passport” as soon as he became 62. We find Elks lodges in many towns that are convenient, friendly and reasonably priced or free.
Using the “old guys pass” (as Jerry calls it) at Corp of Engineers parks can be a double plus. It allows 1/2 off the regular fee and we haven’t found a park yet that wasn’t roomy, clean and pleasant. Right now, we’re in the East Fork Park at Lavon Lake near Wylie, Texas, where our full hookup spot is $14, just up the hill from the lake. (See photo right. This photo was taken a little late and distant for the smartphone camera, but you get the idea.)
Lastly, we can’t end our thoughts on parking without mentioning the uncounted number of special parking locations that generous rving friends have shared, helping these nine years develop in many directions. These gems have not only saved us money but made these years that much richer from the experience.
Well, that’s all the contrasts, then and now, that we came up with as we traveled this section of the road. We’ll probably add to the list as we continue on our way in a couple of days. But one thing is surely clear. One of the best changes in these nine years are all the great people we’ve met. Thanks RVers for being friendly, sharing and fun.
Thanks for visiting with us at Hurley Travels!