Seriously, a whole year! I picked up Breeze, my Alto 1743 trailer from Safari Condo, on May 2, 2016 and my life hasn’t been the same since that day.
I remember being nervous about if I had the right hitch and wiring, what tools I might need on a daily basis, and, biggest thing of all, how the hell to drive with a trailer on the back of my Subaru. When I showed up on May 2, the Safari Condo person, Denis, was training two new guys so we all learned a lot that day! And then suddenly, the training wheels were off, and it was just me and Bella and the Breeze. I drove the mile down to the KOA campground completely out of my depth and more than a little freaked out. But I made it.
Because the Alto was in Quebec, I had to drive it all the way back to Seattle. Despite a little hitch drama and the realization that backing up into a site was nigh onto impossible due to my left/right confusion (the formal name for this is dyscalculia), I managed to make it back to the left coast and by the time I hit Seattle, I knew this was the life for me.
Breeze has gone 12,000 miles in the last year, covering 2 Canadian provinces (Quebec and Ontario) and 12 US states (Michigan, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, California, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado). We’ve stayed at 86 different campsites, averaging 7 different places a month.
I’ve spent a total of 337 out of 365 nights sleeping in my trailer (23 nights in 2016, all for business trips before I quit that gig, and then 5 nights in 2017), giving me a 92% “Nights in Trailer” score. (I am pretty sure I am the only one keeping score on this point.)
I’ve learned how to use propane, use up all the propane, and then how to get my tanks refilled. I’ve crawled under the Alto twice to put on pipe insulation: the first right after I got it when I was going to Yellowstone and snowy weather and then again just last week, when I was expecting below-freezing temperatures in Denver. I know how long my 15 gallons of fresh water can last me and that I can go just over a week before I have to make a date with the dump station. And, lastly, I have finally figured out how to back up into a campsite, after months of baby steps and parking lot practice sessions.
I didn’t know quite what to expect when I started out a year ago. I kind of knew it wouldn’t be all roses and perfume (especially the dump station part) but I didn’t know how much it would stretch me to be on my own so completely. I learned to reach out to friends and schedule regular phone chats to keep the friendships healthy, and I realized that I’d rather see family and friends than parks and monuments. I’ve had great adventures…
Seen amazing things…
And hung out with some really fun people…
Most of all, I’m learning to embrace the uncertainty and welcome the unexpected. Wake up to snow? Sure, why not. Go searching for cool geology stuff? I’m all over that.
I listen when locals suggest places to go because I’m never “from here” and rarely know more than where the cheapest gas and the closest Walmart are. One such tip led me to seeing huge flocks of sandhill cranes, which was a bucket list item I never expected to check off in Arizona, of all places.
As I look back over the last year, I am grateful to so many people for their support. My brother checks in at least once a week to see how I’m doing. My friends pick up the phone when I call and the long conversations we’ve had have helped me through everything from newbie fears to retirement blues. And the Altoiste group on Facebook has been a constant in this new life – I don’t know how I would have figured out stuff without them and they’ve supported my full-timing in so many ways. And I’ve made some good friends out of that group (so thank you, Alissa, one more time for such a wonderful idea).
Year Two starts today, and while I have some general plans mapped out, I truly have no idea what adventures are ahead, and I kind of like it that way. See you on the roads, my friends!