The last month before closing on our house was a whirlwind of selling, giving, storing, and cleaning. We were up at 5 a.m. and didn’t lay our heads on our pillows again until 10 p.m. With all of that finally behind us, we can get on with our dream—traveling the U.S. by motorhome.

This isn’t a new dream. It began when our girls were young and it included homeschooling while we traveled. We could build lessons around whatever we were doing, I thought. At the time, it wasn’t an affordable option, but the girls are grown and we’re retired, so it’s time.

We left Denver on August 1 after my last day of work, stopping in Longmont, Colorado to say goodbye to friends who gave us a lovely send-off. Our first day was only two hours away–my brother’s place near Curt Gowdy State Park out of Cheyenne. Parking beside their home overlooking Granite Lake in the park, we enjoyed a lovely week of canoeing and hiking and eating freshly-caught trout in our tacos.

Peace entered our souls and soothed our minds after our frenetic selling-the house-and-moving-pace.

But before I get too far, let me introduce us. Thom is my husband and the driver. He’s an all-‘round trouble-shooter and fixer of broken things. This trip couldn’t happen without him.

I’m Carol, the nagivato . . . er, I mean navigator and cook and former communication assistant for the Rocky Mountain Conference. I love to write, edit, travel, read, and explore. This trip is a dream for us both.

We bought our rig, a 1999 diesel pusher Newmar Dutch Star, from friends who are long-time RVers. Now we’re ready to follow in their footsteps like many other Americans.

Nomad Land

“Nobody knows exactly how many people in the U.S. are living the nomad life,” says Jessica Bruder, author of Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-first Century. “It’s literally a moving target.” But, if it’s any indication, we’ve seen many, many RVs of every type on the road just in the last two days.

Behind our motorhome, we’re pulling a 1997 Jeep Wrangler for getting around easily at places we want to explore. We’re also carrying our bicycles for quick trips around campgrounds.

After an enjoyable week at my brother’s place, where we learned a lot about boondocking, or free camping without amenities or hookups, we headed northeast to South Dakota where we established residency after just one night in Americas Mailbox campground in Box Elder. There we were able to register our vehicles, and obtain driver’s licenses and insurance, all at a savings. WIN!

With all of those things behind us, we drove to Deadwood, where we camped two nights in a campground where campers can rent fishing poles to fish in the nearby stream and cook up their catch in the evening. There, we enjoyed the beautifully green Black Hills as we drove through Custer State Park just south of Deadwood, explored a late-1800 museum in Custer, and the historic town of Deadwood where Wild Bill Hickock was killed in a saloon. The history here is ubiquitous.

Lessons Learned

So, what have I learned during the very few weeks we’ve been on the road? I’ve learned it’s good to live a simple life. Having fewer things translates into less stress. Not owning a home means no mortgage, no lawn to mow, no property taxes to pay and less to clean. I’ve also discovered that my needs are fewer and my desires have changed. With only so much room, I can’t buy a lot of stuff.

So far, the RV life agrees with me, but as one recent acquaintance predicted (he’s been on the road for a year) “You have a lot of horror stories ahead of you.”