You Must Be Crazy

Wagons in West Yellowstone

Wagons in West Yellowstone

Lately there’s been a lot of comments and e-mails from new readers who are just starting to look into the RVing lifestyle (welcome!). Back in March I wrote a guest post for another blog (CheapRVLiving), and it occurs to me I’ve never shared that content with all of you here at IO. I thought it might be a good pick-me-up for those of you jumping the early hurdles on your own road to full-time RVing – its a story about my early days on the road. I hope you enjoy!

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I use to wince when the alarm went off on weekdays. Dragging myself out of bed to get ready in the dark felt like torture. When I’d drive to work I wouldn’t even notice the beautiful sunrise because I’d still be half asleep. Then I’d work for 8.5 hours or more, just counting down the time until I could leave. I’d always rush home to try to get chores done before supper, and then stay up a little too late trying to squeeze in some down time and regain my sanity. Then it was off to bed, and dreading the next morning.

I should have been happy. This job was in the field I’d gone to college for. It paid well, and was steady work. The kind of job that would allow a young go-getter to put a good down payment on a first house. But I was miserable.

It didn’t feel like living. It felt like some vast sort of cosmic trick played on humanity, to make us feel like we had lives when really we were little more than slaves to the routine. But at 26 years old, it was all I knew. Everyone my whole life had been telling me that this was the correct thing to do. You graduate from college, get a high paying job, get married, buy a house, have kids, raise them, retire, and then you could have fun.

A lone bison surveys Firehole Lake

A lone bison surveys Firehole Lake

When I first landed on a blog not so very different from this one that said you really didn’t have to go along with the status quo, It felt like I’d received a second lease on life. I didn’t dare tell any of my friends or family yet about my plans to escape ‘the real world’, because I knew what their response would be, it’s the response I myself would have had a few months before, back when I thought the only options were to either be a cog in the machine, or be destitute: “You must be crazy.”

Once I started looking for other ways to live, I found full-time RVing, and knew that was what I wanted to do. I quickly discovered that the big motorhomes and fifth-wheels that most people went full-timing in would be way out of my price range. I’d have to go small, but that was fine. Living with less would leave me more time and money to do what really mattered to me. I found the popular RVing forums, and started asking questions about living in a small travel trailer. All the replies from the retired couples with their 40+ foot monster coaches were the same: “You must be crazy.”

More pictures from the Upper Geyser Basin

More pictures from the Upper Geyser Basin

The day eventually came when I traded in my cute little car for a mid-size truck that could pull my future home. It wouldn’t be too much longer now. By this time, I was sick of my job and there was nothing to keep me from quitting. They needed me more than I needed them. I knew about budgeting and had calculated that I didn’t really need the extra money and certainly not the high stress that came with it. When I informed my manager that I was quitting and going to be taking a lower paying retail job instead, she cocked her head and gave me a funny look. She didn’t need to say the words aloud, I could read them in her face: You must be crazy.

When it was getting close to launch day, I finally started telling my relatives of my plans to be what amounted to a modern day gypsy. I was able to stave off most of their objections by explaining in detail how I planned to make a living on a road by taking seasonal jobs, and other logistics like health care, insurance, mail forwarding, and staying in touch. Their biggest concern though was that I would be traveling solo. “You’re young and female, it’s not safe to travel alone.” You must be crazy.

The view from Dunraven Pass

The view from Dunraven Pass

Six short months after that, I quit the retail job and hit the road in earnest to see more of this wonderful country. On my maiden voyage from South Carolina to South Dakota to set up residency there, I camped in beautiful state parks, went hiking in the middle of the work week, parked overnight in Walmart lots with nary an issue, and generally went where I wanted when I wanted. Freedom at last.

At one point I happened to drive through St. Louis during rush hour, and got bogged down in traffic for a time. No worry, my 17′ trailer was no wider than my truck and changing lanes wasn’t nearly as hard for me as RVers with big rigs. I had no deadlines to meet, nowhere to be at any particular time. So I enjoyed the view of sunlight glinting off the Arch against a crystal blue autumn sky outside the passenger side window, and shook my head sadly at all the poor sops leaning on their horns looking frustrated, no doubt in a rush to get home and squeeze in some chores before supper. “You poor people, living like that. You must be crazy.”

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A raven waits on the Old Faithful benches for the next eruption

A raven waits on the Old Faithful benches for the next eruption

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47 Responses to You Must Be Crazy

  1. GB in norcal July 10, 2015 at 9:24 pm #

    Good for you & great that you realized what you wanted while you’re still young. People that say “you’re crazy” about not working are really projecting, and envious, usually because they are unhappy & afraid to make a change in their situation. Fear holds most back from making changes & what they fear is difference. They fear that something different is going to be worse, because it’s unknown.Change is always different, but something different can turn into something better, but unless you face your fear & try it, you’ll never know it.

  2. Jerry Minchey July 10, 2015 at 10:18 pm #

    Becky,

    In this article, you’ve captured the “You must be crazy” concept better than I’ve ever seen it done before. I especially like your story about being in a traffic jam in St Louis and not feeling frustrated like everyone else.

    I experienced the same thing today. I was in a hardware store, and there was a long line at checkout. When I finally go to the cashier, she apologized for the long wait. I had not even realized that I had been waiting a long time. I wasn’t in a hurry, and it didn’t matter.

    As you said, “I had no deadlines to meet, nowhere to be at any particular time.”

    I think the whole full-time RV experience is summed up by the title of the Christmas classic movie with James Stewart, β€œIt’s a wonderful life.”

    • Becky July 11, 2015 at 9:52 am #

      Very appropriate Jerry. The spare tire cover on my Casita is disintegrating and it’s time to get a new one. When I order my new tires this summer I really want to order a tire cover that has that “Life is Good” slogan on it. πŸ™‚

  3. frugalrvgals July 11, 2015 at 5:37 am #

    Very well put! I am dealing with the same reaction from friends and family. I am just now starting the process of downsizing and working toward full time RVing. I found your site and am going back and reading all your posts. Great site.
    frugalrvgals recently posted..StartMy Profile

    • Becky July 11, 2015 at 9:55 am #

      Welcome to IO frugal and glad to have you here. I hope you find a way to help talk your family and friends through it. I responded to GB above and linked an article I wrote when I was preparing to hit the road about how to deal with the various ways people might react to your decision to go fulll-timing. When you get to that one, hopefully it’ll give you some ideas.

  4. MIke July 11, 2015 at 6:40 am #

    Great post. Thanks for sharing your journey to freedom. Very inspiring.

    • Becky July 11, 2015 at 9:56 am #

      Glad you enjoyed this Mike.

  5. Cathy P. of KS July 11, 2015 at 7:13 am #

    Awesome post. I so understand it. But, at 60 years old, I have done a lot of things that people thought were crazy but those things were the absolute best decisions that I made in my life with the biggest payoffs, not financially but money just isn’t everything.

    Enjoying the photos. Gosh, it sounds really fun and like a whole new world there to explore.

    Thank you and all my best to you on your adventure there.

    • Becky July 11, 2015 at 9:59 am #

      Thanks Cathy, glad you enjoyed this.

      I guess what it comes down to is you can never know what’s in another person’s heart. Trying to tell someone else what to do with their life is such an arrogant behavior. And it goes both ways too. Having found my freedom, I can’t imagine why everyone wouldn’t want to live this way, but I understand that for some people the standard life path is truly what they want. Live and let live.

  6. Shelly in Durham NC July 11, 2015 at 8:15 am #

    Becky, the reason you may have new comments about full-time rving is that on the “Casita Owners” Facebook page there was a question from a woman wanting more info. She knew about rvsue; several of us referred her to IO and your EBook. I guess others are now taking a peek into your lifestyle.

    • Becky July 11, 2015 at 10:00 am #

      Ahh, mystery solved. Thanks Shelly. πŸ™‚

  7. val July 11, 2015 at 8:49 am #

    Thank you Becky for having the Courage to go Crazy! Love this post and admire you fiercely!
    val recently posted..Antique & Vintage FURNITURE SALE ( Mid Century Modern too!) fort worth antiquesMy Profile

    • Becky July 11, 2015 at 10:00 am #

      Glad you enjoyed this Val, thanks for reading. πŸ™‚

  8. Lee July 11, 2015 at 8:55 am #

    You seem like one of the saner people on the planet, not the crazy one. I’m in week 3 of my full-time solo RV adventure & loving it. Yes, it’s unconventional, but being footloose & debt-free is far from crazy. Thank you for your inspiration & wise words.

    Lee

    • Becky July 11, 2015 at 10:06 am #

      Congrats Lee! What an exciting time you’re at, when everything is shiny and new and probably just a bit nerve wracking. Safe travels and happy trails.

  9. Dawn from Camano Island July 11, 2015 at 9:37 am #

    Awesome post, Becky! You’re crazy–like a fox! Or is that smart like a fox? Well, whatever! You are wise beyond your years! Loved your Yellowstone photos. I’ve begun a campaign to convince my hub that we should volunteer at Yellowstone one of these days. Enjoy your day.

    • Becky July 11, 2015 at 10:07 am #

      Thanks Dawn. I’ve heard that term before, but am not familiar enough with it to know if this was the correct use or not, haha.

      If you and hubby get out to Yellowstone I know you’ll love it. Just don’t visit during July is my recommendation, busiest month of the year and the traffic has gotten really bad.

  10. Jim Schmechel July 11, 2015 at 10:24 am #

    I hope this post inspires people to consider alternate theories of how we should live our lives! I feel such a connection to this post.

    After high school, I went to college. Not because I wanted to go to college, or had any interest in school, but because that is what “we are supposed to do”. It was a huge mistake for me to listen to society’s “wisdom”. For me, college was nothing more than getting drunk, and re-learning that I hated school.

    I thank God that somehow I was able to find my way out of “how we are supposed to live” and in so doing, actually start to live my life.

    I also am extremely thankful that I have found other people, like yourself, who are living their lives. Living them before they are old! You are fortunate to have discovered this at a young age. I’m sure you are ever so thankful πŸ™‚

    Thank you for sharing this with us!
    Jim Schmechel recently posted..Ruegsegger FarmsMy Profile

    • Becky July 12, 2015 at 10:12 am #

      Glad you enjoyed this Jim, I’ve discovered thankfulness is something best practiced regularly.

  11. Jodee Gravel July 11, 2015 at 10:37 am #

    Crazy is the new courageous – you represent it very well πŸ™‚ Love the waiting raven. Proves the magic of Yellowstone never gets old, even when you live there.
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..Somebody Pinch MeMy Profile

    • Becky July 12, 2015 at 10:13 am #

      It is very hard for people to step out of their comfort zones, but often very rewarding. Glad you enjoyed this Jodee.

  12. Jerry Minchey July 11, 2015 at 11:23 am #

    In your article, “Don’t Listen to Naysayers,” you said that people fear what they don’t understand.

    My grandmother put it this way. She said, “People are down on what they’re not up on.”

    • Becky July 12, 2015 at 10:15 am #

      Very clever way of putting it Jerry. πŸ™‚

  13. Ron in Tx July 11, 2015 at 12:04 pm #

    You must be crazy
    (LIKE A FOX)
    Just keep being crazy and posting for the rest of the wannabes.
    Ron

    • Becky July 12, 2015 at 10:15 am #

      Glad you enjoyed this Ron.

  14. jim July 11, 2015 at 2:10 pm #

    Yeah spending 5 months at Yellow Stone enjoying life does sound pretty crazzzy. Keep an eye out for the guys in white coats I’m sure if they’ve heard about you they are on their way. As always be safe,

    • Becky July 12, 2015 at 10:17 am #

      Luckily there are so many traffic jams related to animal sightings these days (and a higher than average number of visitors) that it’ll take the white coats a while to get here. πŸ˜‰

  15. Oystein Thorsen July 11, 2015 at 3:01 pm #

    Becky, your an amazing women and your living your life with happiness. Most people I know are stuck in the same old daily life. Now for some that works fine, but truly living is seeing what’s out there. Most people are so afraid to make serious changes and even thing about living outside their comfort zone. You keep on doing what your doing.

    • Becky July 12, 2015 at 10:18 am #

      Glad you enjoyed this Oystein.

  16. Ron July 11, 2015 at 9:42 pm #

    Like!!!

  17. Ken July 12, 2015 at 9:16 am #

    Thanks for your inspiration! It’s so hard to take the path less traveled. Even if your heart and soul tells you to wander off the beaten path. Congrats on your journey.

    • Becky July 12, 2015 at 10:18 am #

      You’re welcome Ken, I wish you the best on your path.

  18. Paul Dahl July 13, 2015 at 9:59 am #

    Yeah, people told me I was crazy, too, but then you could see it in their eyes as they thought it over. After explaining things like residency, mail, workamping, etc. I’d get the comment from them: “Gee, I’d love to do that!”

    Too bad so many never take that first step to do it.
    Paul Dahl recently posted..Simply RollingMy Profile

    • Becky July 14, 2015 at 8:29 pm #

      Indeed Paul, their loss.

  19. case July 13, 2015 at 11:08 pm #

    i must be crazy.4 more years seems like a life time.

    • Becky July 14, 2015 at 8:30 pm #

      Hopefully it goes fast case.

  20. Lacy July 16, 2015 at 10:45 pm #

    Great article, I had to laugh. It reminded me of an ancient biology teacher that used to tell us “be careful when you point your finger at someone…..you have 3 others pointing back at YOU”.

    • Becky July 16, 2015 at 11:04 pm #

      Hehe, sounds like quite the character Lacy.

  21. Angela July 17, 2015 at 8:01 am #

    I love how you ended the post!

    “How in the hell could a man enjoy being awakened at 6:30 a.m. by an alarm clock, leap out of bed, dress, force-feed, shit, piss, brush teeth and hair, and fight traffic to get to a place where essentially you made lots of money for somebody else and were asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so?” – Charles Bukowski, Factotum, 1975

    When my friends/family ask what my future plans are, part of me just wants to direct them to your site. THAT. That’s what I want to do.
    Angela recently posted..SailingMy Profile

    • Becky July 18, 2015 at 10:02 pm #

      Glad you enjoyed this Angela, and that you’re finding IO so inspirational. πŸ™‚

  22. Cate August 6, 2015 at 3:13 pm #

    Hi Becky,

    How’s THIS for crazy? I discovered that I could take my full Social Security benefit check starting this January and only lose $85.00/mo by not waiting another year. As I plan to continue working for another 1-2 yrs, I plan to bank the full amount of the SS ck to save up for my rig. When I’m ready to launch, I should be able to afford a small travel trailer without financing. The crazy part…giving up the $85.00/mo and paying slightly higher Federal Income taxes as the ss ck will be taxable income until I retire. Can you believe people think that’s a big sacrifice? To me its a small price to pay to have my physical and financial freedom sooner!

    Love your blog and the inspiration it provides. Wish I had broken out of the conventional way of thinking/living much earlier in my life, however, better now than never, right?

    thanks Becky,
    Cate

    • Becky September 8, 2015 at 9:38 pm #

      So sorry I missed your post when it was fresh Cate. I think your choice was the clear winner between those two options, What’s $85 a month compared a whole year of freedom?

  23. Tim August 31, 2015 at 8:57 pm #

    Hi Becky. I came across you while watching the Techomadia channel. Full timing is in my future, and I am trying to decide on the “rig”. I already have a Ford F150 which I love. Most singles seem to like the Class C and I have been looking at them but even decent used ones seem just a little more than I want to spend – I want to keep as much of my nest egg as possible. Then of course I would need to tow a car (I have a jeep wrangler too).

    But after reading your posts and a couple other solo you-tubers, I am now seriously considering a Casita 17. I am familiar with RVs and camping, so that is not too much of an issue, but I like the idea that I could keep my truck and tow a light, easy to maneuver Casita and not need a toad. My truck has a cap similar to yours, so I can store lots of things in there. My complication comes in that I have 2 cats. I am not sure there would be enough room for us and a litter box πŸ™‚ Any advice?

    • Becky August 31, 2015 at 9:44 pm #

      Here you go Tim!

      http://www.interstellarorchard.com/2012/06/04/cats-in-a-small-rv/

      I’ve lived with my best friend and her cat in my Casita on two separate occasions. The litterbox went underneath rear dinette/bed, we bought a plastic tupperware container with walls just short enough to slide under there and cut a hole in the side to be the door in and out, made it easy to see if the box needed cleaning with just a glance through the side.

      The food and water bowl went underneath the small dinette/bed on the side of the trailer. Both of the cats she brought with her to live in the Casita (was a different one each time) were older and not terribly active so the small space didn’t bother them, although neither liked riding in the car much.

  24. WhitherWeWill September 7, 2015 at 9:45 pm #

    Finally decided to take the plunge. Wish I’d done it a few years earlier. Asking myself if I’m crazy XD

    Scary but exciting. Hope I can make it work as well as you have. Good luck out there.

    • Becky September 8, 2015 at 9:39 pm #

      Congrats Whither! You must be very excited, and I definitely understand the case of nerves.

      Just work on it a little every day and don’t panic, it’ll all turn out in the end. πŸ™‚

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