Full-Time RVer Stories

Our Little Green Adventure: Gwen and CJ

Our first conversation about starting this monumental adventure was somewhat in passing. It was in February of 2018. I remember I was sitting in front of my vanity in our old house in the Bay Area one Saturday, getting ready for work. C.J. was perched on the edge of our bed. Our two dogs, Killian and O’Malley, were curled up and serenely sleeping at my feet. C.J. and I often worked opposite schedules so we were spending the morning together, discussing what trip to plan for our 2 year wedding anniversary that spring.

Somewhere in our planning, our conversation had drifted from where it was actually possible for us to go now, to all the places we wanted to go in the future. There was just one problem, and it was that this fur mama hates leaving her two dogs and one cat at home while she’s on vacation. I worry about them constantly. In fact, it almost ruined our honeymoon.
As I was expressing these concerns to C.J., he was quiet for a moment.
“Maybe we could bring them now.” He finally said. My eyes found his in the reflection of the vanity, one of my eyebrows raised skeptically. He continued. “We can’t bring them to other countries but maybe we could buy an RV or a van, travel around the United States, and bring them with us wherever we go.”

Silence. We froze, eyes still locked on each other. I remember the weight of his words sinking in. Resonating. It felt… right. Like every piece of this giant puzzle that we had been fumbling with shifted one place over and clicked seamlessly into place. That was it. We decided that we had to do this. It was for us and we had to make this happen.

We continued the conversation for the rest of the morning and continued to plan the weeks after that. We would go on long hikes on Sundays (often the only day we both had off) and talk about how we would be able to hike all over the country when we started this new life. We were ecstatic but also worried that we would just fall back into being busy and never actually get around to doing it. Because of this worry, we eventually committed to taking the leap by 2020.

We started Pinterest boards and began following people who were making it happen on Instagram. We dreamed about a small class C RV painted the same green shade as a 70’s VW van. We weren’t making big moves, but we started telling close friends about these 2020 plans- something we don’t really do unless it’s a sure thing.

The Universe, however, had a different idea. In May 2018, C.J. reached the tipping point with his job. He was miserable and exhausted. This, combined with our working opposite schedules for so long, had taken its toll. He was not happy, and it was beginning to show. The bright-eyed boy that I’d fallen in love with 6 years prior, now had constant dark circles under his eyes. The only thing keeping him going was the web development side hustle he was building; to ensure this exit strategy we had planned for 2020.

I knew he was conflicted. He wanted to continue to make a steady income and support us, but at the same time, he was not fulfilled by his work, in fact, it completely drained him. Our lease was up in September. We had some money set aside- originally intended to buy a house on some land one day. We had long conversations on the matter discussing the pros and cons of every available option. Do we wait it out? Wait to be sure that this is the right move for us? Stick to the 2020 timeline and make sure that we have our ducks in a row and a steady stream of income before setting out on this journey? Or do we leap? Without everything being fully planned to a T and just believe that things will fall into place? Do we trust that our guts are right, and this is exactly where we are meant to be? I know Y’all. Stomach heavy and light at the same time, butt cheeks fully clenched kind of decision. However, diving in is and always has been our M.O., and our guts haven’t let us down yet.

We decided to go for it. C.J. quit his job and began finding clients for what has now grown into our website design and development business, Little Green Development. I cut back my weekend hours as a Personal training manager at an Anytime Fitness and began the process of transferring my clients to other trainers. I started diving more into my original advertising and graphic design background in order to become a better asset in our new venture. We bought our RV in June, started selling and donating our stuff, and spent every weekend until September, renovating our rig, Adelaide, into our own tiny home. Since September we’ve been to 10 states, and haven’t had a single regret.

Picking The Right RV

While we originally wanted something smaller, around 23 feet, we didn’t really fit in the ones we saw. (We are both over 6′ tall). We may downsize in the future. We have a 32-foot class C that we renovated and painted 70’s green and we tow a jeep wrangler behind us.

Our Jobs Help Us Experience Communities

As a website design and development duo living on the road, we are able to find and connect with new clients in each town we visit. Being that small business are often our customers, we get a chance to truly see and experience each community we visit a little more intimately.

Truly Enjoying Life On The Road

Our traveling has brought us many things- a sense of community with other travelers, the freedom to choose what we devote our time to, many, many lessons on patience, persistence and everything in between. I think that our favorite thing we’ve been able to experience in the last 4.5 months is a newfound perspective for the earth and land around us. We appreciate the sun more as we get our electricity from our solar panels. We appreciate water more since we spend 90% of our time boon-docking and need to conserve it for long periods of time. We’ve been to new states and places and found tiny, hidden away corners of the earth that are pure magic. We’ve returned to places that were ‘home’ for a time. Old stomping grounds, only to find that beauty and enchantment had been right in our backyard the whole time, we just hadn’t been able to truly see it.

Learn From Our Lessons

The first week or so fully moved into our RV was rough, to say the least. We were behind schedule up until the last minute. Both when it came to finishing our home installed solar panels system, and with moving out of our house. Our grand embarkment started with a 48-hour grind to get everything packed into the RV, which we’d only been able to work on and keep at a friends property about an hour away, not at our actual house. (Remember when I said that diving in with full faith was our M.O.? Procrastinating and not being fully prepared is an unfortunate side effect that we are working on, but haven’t quite conquered yet.) It turned out that we’d overestimated how much could fit into our RV. So the last two days were spent obtaining a storage unit and trying to piece together what sentimental things could actually make the trip with us. Of those 48 hours, we slept maybe two of them. It was around 2 a.m. on September 1st, that we finally drove our fully packed Adelaide away from our empty house, to our highly anticipated first destination in our new home, the local Walmart, to get some much-needed sleep. The next morning, we awoke, slightly embarrassed that we had been so ill-prepared but relieved the hard part was over and ready to finally get to the fun part – the adventure. Our trip that first day consisted of learning two valuable lessons.

1. Just because google maps says it’s the best route, does not mean that’s the route you should take. Especially if there are narrow bridges involved and your step is not cooperating with your newly installed solar and won’t retract. You will probably smash the step on the bridge and it will never work again.

2. Do not drive with the house windows down or the soil from your houseplants will blow through the entire house coating it with a lovely brown film.

After two more nights spent in hardware store parking lots while C.J. finished troubleshooting the solar, we finally made our way to Tahoe and found ourselves a campsite. This allowed us some much-needed relaxation before making our way up to Oregon. (We had to bypass much of northern California due to the wildfires.)

It was in Oregon, 9 days into this new life that we got hit with a rear double tire blowout. It happened somewhat in the middle of nowhere, on a Sunday night, when the only big tow truck available was asking $3k for a tow. We finally had to make the call to leave everything we had left in our RV on the side of the road, before safely getting us and the pets to a hotel room in Bend, Oregon for the night. Hard as that was to do, we got the tires replaced in the morning and replaced the rest of them for good measure before making our way to a little snow park (always a great place to boondock in warm weather) in Sunriver, Oregon.

I know this all sounds like it was hell on earth, but I’m being completely honest when I say that not a single second passed where we regretted our decision. Sure, we wished we’d prepared better, but at least we were here. We’d done it, and we’d done it together. Each night, when we would make our way back to our little nest of a bed, covered with fur babies and illuminated by battery operated fairy lights, we were grinning from ear to ear with the knowledge that everything we love was right there with us in this home that we had built. We would hug our warm pups close, letting the soil-stained soles of our feet brush up against each other, (yes there was still soil all over. Don’t drive with your windows down people!) and fall soundly asleep knowing full well that no matter how hard this may get, or how far out of our comfort zones we were pushed, this was exactly where we were meant to be.

Do This For You

The best advice I can give to those who are considering a life lived on the road is to do what will make you happy without worrying about what people will think. It can be hard to live outside of the box and it can feel like people may disapprove or judge you for your decision. It will be harder because you have kids or responsibilities or whatever you’re tied to; but, there are people in very similar situations making it work for them. Trust me when I say that you will figure it out, that relative will come around, and you will find and connect with a badass tribe of people who hold the same values dear. This lifestyle isn’t for everyone, but if it’s right for you, leap. If you do leap, don’t wait until the last second to pack up your house. Or do. It’s all part of your story.

Nothing But Adventure

Our plans for the future are open. We have a general direction to drive in, a business that requires us to have cell service, but not much else planned. For now, that works for us. We know we eventually want to buy a plot of land to park on, and eventually build a completely off-grid house on it. Maybe downsize again to allow us to park and live in more wild places. Until then, we’re figuring it out one day at a time and living with full faith that even without knowing the final destination, traveling with our guts as our guide, we’re at least always on the right side of the road.

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2 comments

  1. What a dazzling story! And helpful to see that it’s okay that some people can’t fit into a tiny little van. Y’all are inspirational.

  2. I love how life just got it’s way and said now was the time. Some things you shouldn’t wait for. I’m glad you both are enjoying the RV life!

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