Living Full Time On The Road Reality Check

This Month is our one year anniversary of living Full Time on the road and I thought perhaps I would do a reality check on how we really feel about it over the next few weeks.

Our First Rig, leaving for Florida, we lived in a tent all Winter
We had lived on the road for the last 5 years, but we still had a house and an "anchor" mentality. We did the satellite thing, we would strike out for a week, work, then return home for a day or so to do laundry, restock and then zoom off again. If we had time down, we would do household chores like mowing, cleaning and maintenance. We seldom took time to do any "touristing" or visiting with friends or family.

Our First Toy Hauler Home
When we were on the road we snatched fast food as we went, we would stop, gas up and grab the nearest edible item, as well as a sugar and caffeine laced beverage and run. While at the house we ate mostly prepared dinners, because of time factors and convenience. Everything we did was determined by how soon we could get home and get something there accomplished. 

For the last two years we had weaned ourselves over to the full time possibility and got to the point where we would pull the trailer in the yard and not even sleep or eat in the house. It took too much effort to move things back in forth. 

The property was still our main focus and concern as we traveled, even when we went to Florida for the Winter, we had to arrange to have someone look after the house, and I spent many a sleepless night wondering how my possessions were faring during several nasty snowstorms that knocked out power.

Our Old Home
It turned out my concerns were well founded as every year we returned to one crisis or another, frozen pipes, flooded basement, break ins.

Not that it was all bad, I loved my 1800's home and my beautiful antiques, walking through my front door you would think you were in a museum, (or "mausoleum", as my Sister referred to it). I loved the land we lived on, high on a bluff overlooking both the Mississippi and Wisconsin rivers, cattle and corn all around us. You could walk for miles in any given direction through the canyons, (or Coulees as the are called here), enjoying quiet bubbling springs and lofty shaded oak groves. It was what I call a "Climax" living arrangement, I had always dreamed of living in a place like this and at this spot I had what I always thought I wanted.
The View!

I also had 13 acres in Northern Minnesota of pristine forest land, with a small remodeled mobile home gracing it's hills. It was a Spiritual place that at one time had been a Native Village. I had been renting it to potential buyers, which, in the end, turned out to be a disaster. No need to go into the details here, lets just say that when my Nephew offered to buy it on Contract as is, I jumped at the chance and sold it to him with the clause that whenever I wanted to stay there, he would allow us to plug in and visit.

After two years of planning, we finally decided to chuck it all and try living Full Time sans home. We arranged for an Estate Auction, which essentially means that nothing is left when the auction is over, even if it doesn't sell, they haul it away.

A tough day, hard to say goodbye to stuff!
The sale went very well considering the economy and we took what cash we garnered in our tight little fists and went straight to the RV dealer of our choice, (after three years of research), and plunked everything down on a brand new Fifth Wheel Toy Hauler.

Switching homes, goodbye to an old friend

We had to rent a storage garage because of our business but other than that, we were now officially homeless. We even had our official first health crisis without underpinnings and came through it just fine, one doesn't have to have a house to get well, we found out.

Driving off in our new home
We struck out for Florida for the first time with no concerns or worries about what we left behind. We traveled slower and more thoughtfully because we didn't have to stay at the house till the very last minute taking care of winterizing it. We took two weeks to travel instead of four days. 

The first thing to change was our dietary habits. We stopped the "grab and run" eating. We bought fresh food and cooked it to our liking. Because of this we started feeling better and losing weight.

We stopped sleeping in Walmart parking lots and stayed at reasonably priced RV parks for the night and often stayed and rested two days or more. This was partly financially possible now because we didn't have household bills to pay.

Home Cookin!
We had also made a pact that if we were going to live on the road we were going to have some sort of quality of life. I began cooking from scratch and we stopped eating out. Period. We began taking Evening strolls and holding hands at sunsets. We woke up to sunrises through our slide out living room. This was beginning to feel GOOD.

We started meeting and talking to other like minded people on the road and Internet. This was tremendously helpful, we learned so much about potential pitfalls we hadn't considered in our planning. It was also just great to hang with people who understood where we were coming from.

Scrufty's in Florida
We decided the best thing for us was to have some kind of stability, so we set about researching the two main areas we work in, (Wisconsin and Florida), and found two places to lease a lot at less than $300 a month plus electricity that were within reasonable striking distance to the various Events we work at.

Hunter's Slough, Wisconsin
We also made sure they were the kind of parks that have our lifestyle in mind, both are rural, isolated and essentially fishing resorts that have fewer than 20 unit rentals. This might not suit others, but it's how we like to spend our downtime.

We spend our downtime visiting local attractions now, instead of doing household chores. Yesterday we went to the local ancient mounds that we have lived by for several years but have never had time to check out before.

We are currently living at our Summer lot on the Mississippi in Wisconsin. I am typing this as I look out my open window in the living slide out we remodeled to our liking a few months ago. The birds are singing, boats are drifting by and an occasional eagles swings into view. Not bad.

Caught just out our back door
Last night Doyle caught fish, we had a small fire and we roasted marshmallows. I brought out my ipod and speaker deck, I just couldn't resist putting on my Credence Clearwater Revival album and thinking back to when I was a young girl listening to this, my first record album ever bought with my babysitting proceeds.

I dreamed then of someday living on the river, as "Proud Mary" played on in the back round. To a 12 year old back woods reservation girl, this seemed an impossible and lofty goal, and yet, 45 years later, here I am.

"If you come down to the river,
Bet you gonna find some people who live,
You don't have to worry:
If ya got no money,
people on the river are happy to give.

Big wheels keep on turning,
Proud Mary keeps on burning,
Our Camp, official Marshmallow roasting headquarters
Rolling, rolling, rolling on a River....."

Wisconsin Scenes Pier Natural Bridge Park

If you have some time on your hands and you're in Wisconsin, take a drive to Rockbridge in Richland County.
It's one of those natural features that just beg you to get out of the vehicle and look around.

Nothing fancy, no toll booths or Park Staff, just a pretty good sized turn out and it's right next to the road so it's handicapped accessible.

A short walk and you're through the split in the limestone bluff and into a very serene wooded spot seemingly ages removed from the outside world.

There are plenty of things to sight see in the area, stop in at the little store nearby to get the local info on what's going on in the Countryside, there are Amish, small Festivals, Farmer's Markets and all that wonderful small town stuff nearby.

We like to stop by now and again, just to sit a while and sort things out. Of course there is primitive camping, very primitive, but the wooden walkway leads to a pleasant trail for a short jog in the woods.

it's one of Wisconsin's hidden jewels, so I thought I would share it with you all today, one of those places you just might wiz by if you don't know it's there!

Here's the information from the Park site:

Pier Natural Bridge Park is located along Hwy. 80 North, at Rockbridge in Richland County.
The park obtains its name from the Pier family, who donated the land to Richland County to preserve the site as a park.  The site has a very unusual geological feature - a half-mile long "finger" of blocked and layered sandstone rising nearly 60 feet above the flood plain of two merging valleys.  This narrow finger is topped by tall pines and covered with green shrubs.  The West Branch of the Pine River meets with the Main Branch underneath this rock formation, which forms a Natural Bridge. 

The Park has two historical markers - one indicating the unique rock formation and the other recognizing the significance of the Blackhawk wars in this area.  The park has a man-made tunnel which allows visitors to walk through the rock formation to the West Branch of the Pine River.   There are also stairs to walk to the top of the rock formation to view the surrounding area. 

This 10-acre county park has 6 primitive campsites, two shelters, picnic tables and grills, play equipment, and pit toilets.  Camping permits may be obtained for a minor fee from the Natural Bridge Store, located next to the park.  All camping is on a first-come basis.

For additional information, contact the Richland County Parks Commission or
the Natural Bridge Store in Rockbridge at 608-647-4673.

Back Injury Forces Rest and Food Musings....

OK, I hurt myself driving 2 foot tent stakes at the last Event. I have driven stakes many times, and it used to be my Husbands job, but since his surgery last Fall I have taken over this duty to prevent him hurting himself.

Hearts of Romaine Salad with Blueberries and Raspberry Dressing!
Normally we have been corralling the closest strong back we could find to do this nasty but necessary job, but this time we were on our own and I was feeling frisky so I drove them all myself and ended up pulling some muscles I wasn't aware I had until this moment.

On a scale of one to ten, this was an eleven, and forced me not only to bed, but prevented me from running the kitchen all weekend.

Our Holland Convection Gas Grill
So I sat in bed for a few days and caught up reading everyone's blogs and in general resting up, I couldn't even hold out my arms to type, so if you are one of my fellow bloggers, I have been reading with enthusiasm, but I could not post comments! You were a constant comfort for me and it helped me pass the time and forget my pain.

Sooo...with nothing better to do, now that I can sit up and type, I thought I would show off the flowers Doyle bought me...(he's been a doll through all of this and pampered me like a Queen).

Gluten Free One Dish Chicken Dinner
I also wanted to get some one dish Gluten Free Dinners out there for those of you who are watching their diet, I do most of my cooking in my Holland Grill, it's actually a convection oven and doesn't smoke the food unless you want it too, so I can even bake cakes in it!

This is a favorite recipe of mine Risotto Creamy Parmesan dinner with Boneless Chicken Breasts.

I love being able to bread meat with confidence, I can't trust the other brands of breading because of wheat and MSG.

I also used Classico Four Cheese Alfredo Sauce, all of Classico's Sauces are Gluten and MSG Free, including their Tomato Pasta Sauces. Being Gluten Free doesn't mean you have to suffer, if you didn't show people the labels, this dish would be Tops with any crowd!

To start, I mixed up the Risotto using the Alfredo sauce for most of the liquid called for, adding maybe an extra half cup of water to fill it out.

Ready to go in
I then threw on top a bit more minced garlic, some black olives, fresh broccoli and shredded Cheddar Cheese. I did not mix it up, just left it layered to hold up the chicken

I breaded the chicken and placed on top of the mixture, (make sure you add butter to the cornflake mix and some seasoning, otherwise it is a bit bland and will not brown up. It was the first time I tried the crumbs, so I forgot the butter and didn't season to taste, next time I will!

The results!
Then I popped it in the grill for one hour with no covering. I used a meat thermometer to judge doneness on the chicken, these days you can't be too careful!

The next night we had some hamburger patties left over from an Event where they wanted hamburgers, normally I make our hamburger patties from scratch, but when we have leftovers from an Event, I have to work them in somehow!

Frozen Patties dressed up!
This was a way to use them up that is pretty clever, I stacked two patties, put a slice of raw onion, barbeque sauce and some sliced pepperoni in between and wrapped the outside with foil to keep the good stuff from running out while baking.

Again, I threw it in the grill for one hour, flipping them at about 45 minutes to brown the other side and checking for doneness with the trusty meat thermometer again.

So, this is how we have been eating for the week, sure is nice to find recipes that are Gluten Free and just as tasty as as any dish you could find!

Reconstructing a Pre Contact Elk Hide Dress

We've had a week off, so I've jumped right into a project that has been years in the planning and research. I'm recreating an Elk Hide dress that hasn't been seen walking around in 300 or so hundred years.

I actually have three hide dresses in the planning phase, but this one just sort of came up when I got the hides and hung them on the dress form.

The hides were hung as they had been delivered, no cutting or trimming of leather was done to it.

It was supposed to be a Wampanoag over the shoulder dress, (Think Jane of Tarzan fame), but when I did the initial dress form fitting, this dress came out instead and insisted I make it.

Sometimes the hides just arrange themselves in such a way you just have to go with what they are telling you.

In early Native American Culture it was common to make a dress from the entire hide without cutting it in any way, just artfully arranging it to your form.

One second later, Slippers pulled the dress form over on top of her!
This was powerful medicine in it's day but was later modified to become a more taylored garment for a more active mobile lifestyle and redesigned to differentiate between different tribes.

What really surprised me is when I got things pinned up I began to see a garment that covered different cultures around the world also.

If one looks carefully, one can see the lines of the Kimono. If one squints a bit, a Medieval dress line appears.

Lets face it, at one time or another we all ran around in hides of one sort or another on every continent. We all wanted to look our best, (women have always been concerned about their looks, trust me on this, even in the cave there was some sort of fashion going on). 

I imagine considerable time was spent making the hides hang, "just so" instead of just tying a knot of any given smelly hide over one shoulder and marching on...that idea is abhorrent to women now as then.'s amazing to think that all long flowing dresses are essentially paying homage to the original two hide dress, the lines are obvious, the pattern clear.

We've just changed fabric for hides, added darts, zippers, buttons and cut away at the excess to reveal a modern line. It's nice to take a moment and take a good long look at our beginnings and see that even then, women had fine taste in clothing.

New Screen Tent and Fulltime RV Blog Musings...

We decided we needed to be outside more, but living on the Mississippi has its drawbacks, one of them being hordes of nasty mosquitos and flying insects that bite, bite, bite.

We settled on a great little unit from Gander Mountain, It's The "Combo Canopy" and so far it's fitting the bill nicely.

It features sun filtering screen and attachable inner walls to block wind and rain. It sets up easily, but the ten minute set up is not really realistic, being two very experienced canvas toters, it still took us a good half and hour to put together.

So far it's worked out great, we've decked it out as our outdoor living room, but Doyle just had a major shipment of bottles delivered for our upcoming Event, so the tent is full of cases of bottles needing labels at this time.

I noticed this morning that a profound change has taken place in my lifestyle. I used to get up and watch the morning news on TV.

Now I get up and turn on the computer and check the fulltime RV blogs we are following. It's the only news I'm really interested in now. It's sure nice to check in on everybody and see how they are handling things, it's almost like we are this great big extended family who understand each other more than anyone else.

We understand what it's like to wake and and wonder, at first, "where the heck are we and what day of the week is it?" We are the only ones who truly appreciate a long hot shower, a large RV Lot with a view and an easy traffic day.

We eye bridges and overpasses as if we are looking for snipers, seeing if that 14" clearance is for real. We view trees overhanging the road as potential enemies and laugh uneasily when we see that the last one was trimmed in the perfect outline of an air conditioner topped coach.

We watch for gas stations with a good approach and large parking lot, taking notes for the next time we pass through. We have an "Oh Well" attitude about gas prices, regardless, we must get there and whining won't change anything.

Our main preoccupations are weather, food and did I mention weather?

We have been, or are going through, parting with everything that at one time meant something to us.  We can tell just by hefting it, the weight of just about anything, and tell anyone who will listen where it could fit in our rig. We all struggle with finding a balance with our diets and exercise. We have problems with some or all of our families not understanding us. Some of us have had to leave the road and seek stable shelter due to health or financial reasons, among others. The rest of us are in it for better or worse, come hell or high water, this is our life and there is no going back. A house is a strange place to is now and holds no comfort or implied stability.

We are a new breed of nomads who are struggling to find a place for ourselves in this great country while not being tied to the traditional view of the American Dream. It is not as easy as it looks, nor as romantic as it sounds.

There are many obstacles to face, and many challenges ahead. But that's the whole point. We are moving ahead. Most of us won't (or can't ha, ha), back up.

To those of us who are still roaming and living the dream, I lift my morning coffee cup to you in a toast of Brother and Sisterhood. Only you can understand how I really feel this morning and I thank God for you all.

In his "Skeptical Essays" Bertrand Russell said "There is a stark joy in the unflinching perception of our true place in the world, and a more vivid drama than any that is possible to those who hide behind the enclosing walls of myth"

Mosquito Proofing an RV

If it's one thing I know about, it's mosquito's. I come from Northern Minnesota, the place where people have gone mad from swarms of relentless, bloodthirsty mosquito's.

Some nights you can hear the pathetic cries of tourists who are being hauled away to be drained of their blood in the middle of the night.

If there is any weakness in your armor, they will find it. When camping in an RV, there are two places to look when despite your best efforts, they are finding a way in.

One is the vent over the stove. There has never been a stove vent that had a tight seal around the little metal screen that covers the vent.

Get out your duct tape and seal it. I have never found a better way to deal with it, as occasionally you have to remove the screen for washing. Just scrub off the tape residue and re tape as needed.

Second is the fan vents in the ceiling. Look closely. If you can see even a sliver of daylight between the vent and housing, that's where they are getting in.

I always keep a roll of Rope caulk around the camper, it's handy stuff. Peel off a strip and carefully fill the gap. No more mosquitoes.

Except if you have your screen door open, then you have an altogether different problem. Between the door never fitting tightly against the gasket and the plastic door handle slides, you can't win. I keep the door closed during mosquito hour, (which is half and hour before and after sunset).

Lamplight Farms 22300 Classic Oil Lamp Frosted BaseFor outdoors and fully ventilated indoors, I have a really nifty way to keep them off on windless nights, I buy the "Tiki" lamp oil, but instead of putting it in a torch, (EXTREME fire hazard, besides being messy), I use a cheap hurricane kerosene lamp with the inch wide wick, (you know, the kind Grandma used). Trim the wick like your supposed to, (in a downward smile curve), and keep the flame below smoking stage. This really works. I guarantee it.

The only problem is that you have to completely empty the lamp to transport it, or find some way to truly secure it as kerosene soaks into everything when it gets loose and it doesn't come out, creating a fire hazard of a different kind.

Mosquito repellent doesn't work. never has. Mosquitoes drink it down and then wipe their mouths on your collar. Dress appropriately and more than anything else, stay calm and don't flail about. The more you panic, the more CO2 you give off. Call it the "Zen of Mosquito Charming" or some such Tom Fool name, but if you keep your head, you may just keep some of your blood. If you can't control yourself, stay inside during mosquito cocktail hour.

Cloud Watching and Shish Kabob, Gluten, MSG Free!

Prairie du Chien, WI:
We had a storm move in last night that looked menacing, but for us, it just sailed by without hardly a drop of rain and very little wind. It went on to Madison and caused some uprooted tree problems and such but at least it has helped the temperature fall from a heat index of 105 degrees to temperatures in the 60's today.
Klement's Polska Kielbasa

Since we have been back at our Summer home, we now have our Holland Grill out and with us. I sure have missed it, and I wont make the mistake of leaving it behind ever again!

Here we have a nice Gluten Free Kilbasa with no MSG, the brand is Klement's and it's marvelous! This is precooked, we ate it all before I could get a picture! It's on a bed of slice zucchini, summer squash and onion, with lots of butter.
Holland Companion PROPANE Portable Grill, No Flare-up BBQ Grill
Shish Kabob!

And here we have Shish Kabob with mushrroms, green peppers, and sweet onions, marinated in Gluten Free, MSG free marinade by Moore's Marinade.Its a great substitute for Soy Sauce and is low sodium too.
Moore?s Marinade, Original, 16-Ounce (Pack of 6)

Since we went Gluten Free and MSG free, we were limited in what we could find on the shelves to eat, we are delighted to find that there are more and more items being offered this way and at all the major outlet stores like Walmart.

You don't have to be a Celiac, (Gluten intolerant), to enjoy these foods, they are also very natural with little or no preservatives, something that is good for all of us!

We have had immediate health benefits, we are losing weight and feeling better all the time! So it's not just for Celiacs anymore, Doyle has benefited tremendously from my new diet also.

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