Transitioning from the Traditional Life to the Full-time RV Lifestyle

Donna with the Bighorn in Onset, MA

Three years ago in November, 2014, I was preparing for one of the biggest changes of my life – Moving from a traditional home to my new Full-time RV lifestyle.  I had no idea what laid ahead for me on the open road.  It was a big leap of faith, and a step into the unknown.  The excerpt below from my book captures the transition to my new life on the road. 

Donna’s latest book can be found on Amazon.com  and as a Kindle E-reader, Click here to go to the Kindle store.

BookCoverImage

Editorial Reviews of Living the RV Lifestyle

“As the title indicates, this is a book with a lot of practical advice and personal experiences gleaned from living full-time in an RV…Her book details how to buy, prepare and afford the RV lifestyle of your dreams. This book would be especially helpful for newbies, but would also serve as reminders for experienced RVers.”

Marcella Gauthier, columnist of, From the Bookshelf in the Escapees Magazine (www.escapees.com)

 “Whether someone is considering a full-timing road trip as a permanent way life or a temporary adventure, Living the RV Lifestyle: Practical Advice and Personal Tales from Life on the Road is filled with the author’s many valuable tips for making the most of it.  Trying to balance domestic chores with the RVing learning curve is a challenge for most people. Toss in the need to earn a living while constantly changing locations and the business of learning how to be a nomad turns into a full-time occupation. For anyone who needs to manage all of these lifestyle factors, Donna’s new book lives up to its promise of providing practical advice for success.”

Rene Agredano, columnist for RV Life Magazine (www.rvlife.com)

My new book, Living the RV Lifestyle:  Practical Advice and Personal Tales from Life on the Road is a combination of practical advice on RV living as well as personal stories from life on the road, giving you an idea of what it’s really like to live the Full-time RV life.

The excerpt below is from Chapter 4:  Transition Time:  Leaving your Traditional Life behind for Living in an RV

In the midst of this busy time in your life, you probably haven’t had a lot of time to reflect on what this big change will mean for your life.  Once, you make the decision, and begin the process of getting ready for the RV journey, there is so much to do that you can keep busy and not have to think about the impact of this change on your life.

Being a counselor, I’m familiar with how big changes can affect people.  First, you begin to think about the change, and then work through the issues such as listing the pros and cons of your pending decision.  Then, this big decision may begin to affect you emotionally especially as you go through the belongings of your home, deciding what to keep, and what to let go of.  You may begin to feel the impact of this decision which can bring up sadness and loss.  Letting go of your home, your community, and your whole lifestyle as you’ve known it is huge.

Like any loss, you can find yourself going through the stages of grief – Denial (This isn’t really that big. I’ve moved before.); Anger (How did I let my husband/wife convince me to do this?!); Bargaining (We can always come back and visit our old hometown.); Depression (I miss my old life, my home, my family, my friends.); and hopefully, you’ll get to Acceptance (I finally am enjoying my new lifestyle of Full-time RVing.)

The timetable is different for everyone.  We all go through loss in our own way.  Some of us will keep looking in the rear view mirror until we start to see the new road ahead.

My husband and I did go through this whole process differently.  He was ready to let go of his corporate career, and kept busy with all the arrangements of moving cross country, and handling our family estates.  I had a harder time with the move.  First, there was the leaving of California where we had lived for 17 years, leaving behind a dream home that I loved along with my home-based counseling business, and a community of friends and neighbors that had become like family.

As I prepared to leave California behind, I was still grieving the loss of my parents who passed away within a couple of years of each other.  I was heading back to Cape Cod to my family home to help with the process of getting it ready for my sister to move into.  I was also helping Jim with the loss of his last parent, and getting his family homes ready to sell.  For me, the losses kept piling up.  I thought I was dealing with them one at a time, but the busyness of selling homes, and moving kept me occupied.

The losses caught up with me once my husband and I headed out on the highway for our new Full-time RVing life.  Jim was excited to leave his corporate life behind, and to live a freer lifestyle.  I wasn’t quite ready to give up my work, and tried to continue my counseling work over the phone, and in person when I could, but it was challenging.  It probably took me about six months to get used to living on the road.  Returning to California on our trip around the country helped a great deal to re-connect with all of our friends, and have an Open House at our new Bighorn home.  Once, we left there, I began to find a rhythm with my new lifestyle.

My message would be to not downplay how big this lifestyle change can be.  Many of you are going through similar changes such as retiring from life-long careers, selling businesses as well as homes, and moving away from your support systems of family and friends.  There are many ways to stay in touch on the road with cell phones, internet, and occasional visits in person.  You’ll develop your own rhythm in time, and your own community of support on the road.  What also helped me is knowing that I would continue this Full-time RV lifestyle as long as it was enjoyable and working for both of us.  At some point, we could always go back to a traditional lifestyle.  Full-time RVing doesn’t have to be a forever choice.  In the final chapter, I talk about having an exit strategy for the future.  My personal story at the beginning of the RV journey is next.

The Adventure Begins – Preparing for the Trip of a Lifetime

It’s now about six weeks before I will be starting my new lifestyle on the road.  I have been waking up over the years in traditional homes, but in the coming year, I will be moving all around this incredible country.  I will be waking up in different places from a month’s stay to a few weeks, and in some places, only a one night-stand. 

Honestly, I am anxious about this journey on the road.  I waver between excitement to what was I thinking?!  I am traveling with my new RV home.  Like a turtle with his shell on his back, I am bringing my home with me.  It will be my only home.  I don’t have a home to go back to.  This is it – my turtle shell.  I am sharing this shell with my husband who happens to be a Cancer, the astrology sign of the crab.  I think he may be more comfortable with this idea of living in a shell.  I am a Libra, and enjoy living in a peaceful and beautiful space.  I am certain that I will find some of those spaces on the road, but then I wonder about those nights, spent in the Wal-Mart parking lot, or a few miles away from the Mardi Gras celebration of New Orleans. Will I find peace and beauty in those moments?!  Or will I have to dig deep into my personal tool box for self-help tools and resources, and remember to be present with all that is happening and unfolding around me in the moment. 

In this coming year, I know I will be challenged and stretched out of my comfort zone.  I also know that I will be held spellbound by the immensity and beauty of this great country that I live in.  From the rolling, emerald hills, to the stark, sandy deserts, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and everything in between, I know I will be marveling at the scenery of this country.  I know I will treasure those simple moments of having breakfast in a diner in the Midwest, to eating alfresco by the Gulf of Mexico.  I will relish hearing all those different accents, and laugh when they try to pinpoint my own New England accent especially when they see the South Dakota plates on my vehicles. 

In time, I will find a way to share my story of where I came from, and how I ended up on this cross-country journey, feeling too young to be considered a retiree, and too old to be traveling around the country to find myself.  I have spent years finding myself, and know that it has nothing to do with where you’re living.  The self-discovery journey is definitely an inner journey, and the one, I will be taking this coming year is an outer journey, but who knows?!  It may be a combination of both. 

By Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A. © 2017

Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A., CHT is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Western Astrologer and Author who counsels clients through her business of Iris Holistic Counseling Services on the road at http://www.DonnaFisherJackson.com. She has published the self-help book, The Healing Path of the Romantic: Type Four of the Enneagram Personality Type System and a novel, Clara & Irving: A Love Story of Past Lives, based on the true story of a Romantic. And now her latest book, a travel adventure book, Living the RV Lifestyle:  Practical Advice and Personal Tales from Life on the Road.  All of her books are available in a print and Kindle edition on Amazon.

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Choosing your Home State – all part of the Full-time RV Lifestyle

Donna walking Zeus at Camp America in Salem, SD

Choosing your home base is part of the Full-time RV journey.  For over three years, I’ve been a resident of South Dakota (SD).  SD has been my home state even though I have never physically lived there, only visiting the state on three separate occasions.  My driver’s license, my car registration, my health insurance, and my address are all in SD.  The excerpt from my book below covers how you choose your home base.  It’s all part of Living the RV Lifestyle.

Donna’s latest book can be found on Amazon.com  and as a Kindle E-reader, Click here to go to the Kindle store.

BookCoverImage

Editorial Reviews of Living the RV Lifestyle

“As the title indicates, this is a book with a lot of practical advice and personal experiences gleaned from living full-time in an RV…Her book details how to buy, prepare and afford the RV lifestyle of your dreams. This book would be especially helpful for newbies, but would also serve as reminders for experienced RVers.”

Marcella Gauthier, columnist of, From the Bookshelf in the Escapees Magazine (www.escapees.com) 

 “Whether someone is considering a full-timing road trip as a permanent way life or a temporary adventure, Living the RV Lifestyle: Practical Advice and Personal Tales from Life on the Road is filled with the author’s many valuable tips for making the most of it.  Trying to balance domestic chores with the RVing learning curve is a challenge for most people. Toss in the need to earn a living while constantly changing locations and the business of learning how to be a nomad turns into a full-time occupation. For anyone who needs to manage all of these lifestyle factors, Donna’s new book lives up to its promise of providing practical advice for success.”

Rene Agredano, columnist for RV Life Magazine (www.rvlife.com)

My new book, Living the RV Lifestyle:  Practical Advice and Personal Tales from Life on the Road is a combination of practical advice on RV living as well as personal stories from life on the road, giving you an idea of what it’s really like to live the Full-time RV life.

The excerpt below is from Chapter 3: Preparing for the Full-time RV Journey

Choosing your Home Base

Once you decide to become a Full-time RVer, then you have to decide where you would like your home base to be for such purposes as receiving U.S. mail,  your driver’s license, registering your vehicles, paying taxes, purchasing health care, where you’re registered to vote, where your will is drawn up, etc.

When you no longer have a permanent traditional home, then you need to choose a state for your legal domicile which is different from residency.  You can be a resident in more than one state, but you can only have one legal domicile.  In that one state, you have to establish contacts through such items as getting a mailing address, a driver’s license, etc.  The more contacts that you make in one state, then the state is more accepting that it really is your domicile.  If you try to have your driver’s license and vehicle registration in another state, then that state could claim you as a citizen of their state, and require you to pay their state property taxes and income taxes as well.  Since you are simplifying your life, it’s probably wise to pick one state, and have all your “contacts” there so it’s clear that this is your legal domicile.

Many people decide to stick with their current home state out of convenience.  Perhaps, you still have family there who can send you your mail, and you already have your driver’s license there, and your vehicles registered there.  But if you’re interested in moving to a less expensive state with no income taxes, and lower property taxes and insurance rates, then you may want to shop around for your legal domicile.

State Income Tax can be one of the key deciding factors.  The states with no state income taxes include:  Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington state, and Wyoming.  (New Hampshire and Tennessee also do not have a state income tax on salaries and wages, but they do have an interest and dividends tax which affects many retirees.)

Many Full-Timers find Florida, South Dakota and Texas to be the easiest states to choose as your domicile for the no state income tax rule.  You may still want to compare the states because insurance premiums and property taxes, along with driver’s license fees and vehicle registrations can vary a lot to see what the best deal is for you.

Personal property taxes vary from state to state, and some can charge a lot for your RV, and vehicles.  Vehicle registration fees also vary, and are worth checking out especially if there are any requirements on regular vehicle inspections such as once a year. You probably don’t want to drive back every year at a certain time to take care of the inspection.   Some states also charge a tax on the value of your vehicle when you register it. Usually you will get a credit for sales or use tax paid to the prior state, but not always.  It’s always a good idea to check out driver’s license regulations, and how long they are good for, and if you can handle license and vehicle renewals through the mail.  Most of the information can be found on an individual state’s website, and it’s best to check before you decide on a state.

Insurances such as Health, RV and Vehicle Insurances are also important to look into before choosing a state.  Get some quotes from insurance agencies in your chosen state.  If you happen to have your health insurance under a government program or retirement program where your state of residence doesn’t matter, then it will be a lot easier.  The Affordable Care Act made health insurance affordable for many, but was also more challenging for some Full-Time RVers depending on the state they lived in.  It’s wise to check your health insurance rates based on different states to get the best plan for the best price.  You may also want to seek out a national system of “in network” health providers so that your coverage is “portable” from state to state.  This website may also be helpful in your search for health insurance – www.rverhealthinsurance.com

Escapees RV Club also has mail forwarding services in the three favorite states of Florida, South Dakota, and Texas, and they are very helpful in explaining all the details to Full-timers. The club has many membership benefits, but there are extra fees for the mail forwarding service.  For more details, visit, www.escapees.com

Why we chose South Dakota as our legal domicile

Since my husband and I were leaving California, and had no plans to return there to live, we decided to look for a state that was the easiest and one of the least expensive states.  South Dakota came out on top for us.  First, to establish the state as our legal domicile, we found a mail forwarding service in South Dakota, and there are several to choose from.  The one we chose was recommended by a fellow RVer, located in Madison in the eastern part of South Dakota.  In hindsight, I may have chosen a mail forwarding service in one of the larger cities in SD like Rapid City or Sioux Falls, but Madison is a college town, on a lake, and very quiet and rural so it has been nice to call Madison, our home base.

After we established ourselves with the mail forwarding service, we received our address with our own private mail box (PMB) number.  We now get in touch with the service by phone or via email.  The mail forwarding service will send your mail to any location that you give them which could be where you’re staying at a campground or a relative’s home.  In addition, you can set up the mail forwarding based on your own preferences such as weekly, biweekly, and monthly.  The mail service also can help you with registering your vehicles, and recommending local insurance companies for your vehicles.

Once we secured our mailing address which we arranged while we were still in California, then we stopped in Madison, SD, and stayed for a couple of nights.  All you need to do to get your driver’s license and register your vehicles is to get a PMB for your local address, and to stay in SD for one night, showing proof of your stay with either a receipt from your hotel or from your campground.  Then go to the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in SD http://dor.sd.gov/Motor_Vehicles/  to take care of your driver’s license and vehicle registration. The mail forwarding service also helped us with the DMV paperwork. The driver’s licenses are good for five years, and then you would need to return in person, but you can handle vehicle registrations, and insurances through the mail.  (The state of SD now requires you to sign a Residency Affidavit which you also bring to the DMV.)

Ahead of time, we also contacted a local insurance agent for the vehicle insurances including the truck and Fifth Wheel, and to determine what the property tax would be on both.  The rates were very good, and reasonable, especially compared to California.

The main reason we return to South Dakota every year has been for the health insurance.  Being only in our 50s, and not having any other health insurance, we chose insurance through the Affordable Care Act, and it has been a great insurance plan.  www.AveraHealthPlans.com  in Sioux Falls, SD is our company, and the doctors and services have been outstanding.  Avera is one of the companies in SD that didn’t have any issues with Full-time RVers.  The way health care is changing, it’s hard to say what the future will hold.  We’ve only traveled back to SD once each year to see our primary doctors, and coordinated our trips around the country to pass through SD.  We’ve also been able to have questions answered, prescriptions filled, etc. while we’ve been living on the road.  We haven’t had any major health issues, but for those who are 65 and older, you probably could handle your health insurance needs through Medicare, and with a supplemental health insurance plan.  If you’re under 65, then it does take some shopping around for the best plan.

After choosing South Dakota, we actually considered switching to Florida when we were looking at buying property there, but between their rule of having to live in the state for six months and a day along with the higher vehicle insurance rates, we decided to stay with South Dakota.  We didn’t really look into Texas, but with the Escapees RV Club based in Texas, they would be a big help in assisting with locating your domicile to their state.

Returning to South Dakota every year has begun to feel like returning “home.”  We still sightsee around South Dakota, visiting sites like the Corn Palace with artwork entirely made out of corn, and the Wall Drug Store, a wonderland of western art and photo collections with a restaurant and unique retail outlets.  The incredible national memorial and parks of that state have also made it well worth our time to visit every year.  We have our favorite campgrounds, and our memorable experiences like driving right through Sturgis, SD during the 75th annual Biker’s Rally in 2015.

By Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A. © 2017

Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A., CHT is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Western Astrologer and Author who counsels clients through her business of Iris Holistic Counseling Services on the road at http://www.DonnaFisherJackson.com. She has published the self-help book, The Healing Path of the Romantic: Type Four of the Enneagram Personality Type System and a novel, Clara & Irving: A Love Story of Past Lives, based on the true story of a Romantic. And now her latest book, a travel adventure book, Living the RV Lifestyle:  Practical Advice and Personal Tales from Life on the Road.  All of her books are available in a print and Kindle edition on Amazon.

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The Search for the Perfect Bed for My RV from the book, Living the RV Lifestyle

Winslow, Arizona

My Perfect Bed arrived while I was standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona.  Just one of the personal tales in my new book, Living the RV Lifestyle.  The story of the search for the perfect bed for my RV is below.

Donna’s latest book can be found on Amazon.com  and as a Kindle E-reader, Click here to go to the Kindle store.

BookCoverImage

Editorial Reviews of Living the RV Lifestyle

“As the title indicates, this is a book with a lot of practical advice and personal experiences gleaned from living full-time in an RV…Her book details how to buy, prepare and afford the RV lifestyle of your dreams. This book would be especially helpful for newbies, but would also serve as reminders for experienced RVers.”

Marcella Gauthier, columnist of, From the Bookshelf in the Escapees Magazine (www.escapees.com)

 “Whether someone is considering a full-timing road trip as a permanent way life or a temporary adventure, Living the RV Lifestyle: Practical Advice and Personal Tales from Life on the Road is filled with the author’s many valuable tips for making the most of it.  Trying to balance domestic chores with the RVing learning curve is a challenge for most people. Toss in the need to earn a living while constantly changing locations and the business of learning how to be a nomad turns into a full-time occupation. For anyone who needs to manage all of these lifestyle factors, Donna’s new book lives up to its promise of providing practical advice for success.”

Rene Agredano, columnist for RV Life Magazine (www.rvlife.com)

My new book, Living the RV Lifestyle:  Practical Advice and Personal Tales from Life on the Road is a combination of practical advice on RV living as well as personal stories from life on the road, giving you an idea of what it’s really like to live the Full-time RV life.

The excerpt below is from Chapter 3: Preparing for the Full-time RV Journey

Moving into your New RV Home and What to Pack for Life on the Road

Surprisingly, one of the heaviest items in the RV was the original queen size mattress that came with the Bighorn RV.  In keeping with lightening our load, my husband decided to order a Sleep Number mattress made especially for RVs which is an adjustable air mattress.  I did miss my comfortable bed from my traditional house, which now rested inside the storage shed. The message from my bed story following this section would be:  Make sure you find a comfortable, light-weight bed, hopefully, before you leave the driveway.  If you can live with a queen size, great, but if a king-size will only do, then it will cost you some space in the bedroom.  There are some concessions to be made down-sizing into a smaller space. You do have to leave some of that extra stuff behind for safety on the road, and also, because you just don’t have room for it all.  One of the realities of living in an RV: You are now living in a Tiny Home, and sometimes, that means adjusting to a new bed.

 A Sleepless Adventure – When did I become the Princess Sleeping on the Pea?!

The search for a comfortable bed had become almost laughable.  Like the princess who could feel a pea under her stack of mattresses, I had Jim order a variety of pillow top covers for the bed with none feeling as plushy as my former bed.  Finally, we tossed the mattress that came with the RV into a landfill in Arizona.  While other people remember Winslow, Arizona as the town made famous by the Eagles song, Take it Easy (written by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey), I will remember Winslow as the final resting place of my RV mattress. 

My new Sleep Number mattress made specifically for RV homes arrived at the Meteor Crater campground in Arizona where we stayed that week.  My sister, Doreen happened to be visiting that memorable week, touring around the national parks with us.  In between visiting the Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest, and Sedona, my bed arrived.  Anticipating a good night’s sleep after a rocky three months on the road, I collapsed onto the bed, experimenting with the range of sleep numbers.  Beginning at a higher number closer to 100, I quickly lowered the firmness of the mattress until I was only left with number 5.  The bed didn’t go any lower, and it still felt too firm for me.  I had become the princess sleeping on a pea. 

After spending all that money on a new queen-size bed, I couldn’t justify buying another one so I piled back on all the pillow top covers until I sunk into a cushy crevice.  Now, I sleep on one side of the bed with a hump in the middle while Jim sleeps on his side at his favorite sleep number.  We both miss our soft-sided king size waterbed.  Perhaps, there is no bed that matches the comfort of our former bed.  I can only think of one bed more comfortable, and that was a feather bed at the Winslow Hotel in Melbourne, Australia where the English royalty stayed when they were in town.  I guess I need a bed fit for a King and a Queen. 

As you can see, I am not really roughing it on this grand circle of the country.  As I tell people on the road, I am not on a camping trip or even a summer vacation, this is my lifestyle now.  If this is going to be my only home, I want to be comfortable.  In the past, I gazed at those long, luxurious RVs, and scoffed that that wasn’t really camping.  Now, I understand why they were living in those wheel estates.  They, too, had probably progressed from the tiny tent to the pop-up camper, and then to the van camper, and finally upgraded into their 40 foot plush palace.  Once you’ve lived in one of these comfortable caravans, it’s hard to go back to sleeping on the ground in a tent with morning dew dripping on your face.  That may be fine in your 20’s, but in your 50’s and older, comfort is what a King and a Queen need on the road.

Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A., CHT is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Western Astrologer and Author who counsels clients through her business of Iris Holistic Counseling Services on the road at http://www.DonnaFisherJackson.com. She has published the self-help book, The Healing Path of the Romantic: Type Four of the Enneagram Personality Type System and a novel, Clara & Irving: A Love Story of Past Lives, based on the true story of a Romantic. And now her latest book, a travel adventure book, Living the RV Lifestyle:  Practical Advice and Personal Tales from Life on the Road.  All of her books are available in a print and Kindle edition on Amazon.

 

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Traveling with your Pets from the book, Living the RV Lifestyle

BookCoverImage

Donna’s latest book can be found on Amazon.com  and as a Kindle E-reader, Click here to go to the Kindle store.

“This book is a fabulous resource for anyone considering travelling this beautiful country for recreation, or as a mobile temporary or permanent lifestyle. The author embarked upon the latter with her husband and cat in tow, leaving their traditional life in Northern California behind, and as a result have seen and experienced 36 national parks during their first 3 years. Not only does this book contain invaluable information regarding the lingo, procedures and logistical aspects of a life on the road, but provides the many options available for those who have various interests and motives for considering doing so. Each informative chapter closes with a tale experienced during their travels, which are insightful and provide a personal perspective. This book contains so much information on this subject and is a pleasant and enjoyable read!”    Posted by an Amazon customer

My new book, Living the RV Lifestyle:  Practical Advice and Personal Tales from Life on the Road is a combination of practical advice on RV living as well as personal stories from life on the road, giving you an idea of what it’s really like to live the Full-time RV life.

The excerpt below is from Chapter 7Traveling with your Pets

Many people choose the RV lifestyle because they always wanted to travel with their pets.  Some can’t imagine going anywhere even on a cross-country trip without their pets.  As I’ve traveled around the country, I’ve seen so many different breeds of dogs come bounding out of RVs – from Great Danes to tiny Terriers.  Sometimes, I’ve seen people walking three or four dogs around the campground, and head back to their RV where they all piled onboard.

The RV lifestyle can work for many dogs, and even other pets, but it’s probably wise to take some test runs with your pet to see how much they enjoy traveling.  Some dogs ride all the time with their owners in their car, but it’s still a good idea to take them on a week-end trip first in the RV to see how they do, and what they might need.

Some of the essentials are a collar with name tags (even if the pet does have a microchip), a harness, and a couple of different leashes – a shorter, four-to-six foot one for busy areas, and a longer, 10 – 20 foot retractable leash for open areas in the country, and at some campgrounds.  All campgrounds seem to require that pets be on a leash at all times, and most don’t tolerate animals being tied up outside the RVs except when you’re sitting outside with them.

My husband worked as a Camp Host one summer season in Utah, and one of his biggest pet peeves (pardon the pun) was having to remind pet owners about keeping their pets on a leash at all times, and picking up their pet’s poop.  You would think that most people are used to those rules even where they live in more traditional neighborhoods, but it seems some people seem to “forget” the rules when there is no one around watching them.

Anyway, I’ve had the most fun taking my cat, Zeus out for a walk on a leash around the campgrounds.  It seems that a lot of people have not ever seen a cat walking on a leash.  Zeus is now 17 years old, and has been walking on a leash for about 7 years.  His outdoor adventures began at my last home where he was mainly an indoor cat with an occasional outing on the back deck until I decided to try walking him and his brother on a leash.  They were about 10 years old at the time so it did take some practice, but they quickly learned that this was the way to go outside.  At the end of this chapter, I have included a story of Zeus’ travels on the road.

Some campgrounds might insist on keeping your pets’ vaccines up to date.  Some do have you sign forms that attest to this fact, but it’s best to bring along their health records, and extra supplies of their medications just in case of an emergency.

Other items that can make pet travel more comfortable are outdoor bedding, and indoor pet beds; outdoor exercise pens for smaller dogs; favorite toys; a collapsible crate or pet carrier; portable water dishes for hiking and long walks; pick-up bags; first aid kit; dog shampoo and brushes; flea and tick spray; muzzle; orange vest with reflectors for night walks, and hunting season; paw boots for rough terrain, hot sand and cold weather; and a life jacket for swimming and boating.  If they have special food needs, you may want to stock up, but watch the weight in the RV.  Those pet food cans, and large bags of dry food can add up fast.

Having your pet along can make you feel more at home especially as you transition to the Full-time life.  My cat, Zeus has been a great companion and a comfort while we’ve traveled, and one lucky cat, to be able to see so many places in his lifetime.  I think Zeus might have more than nine lives.  Here’s his story.

Pet Adventures – Traveling with My Cat, Zeus, the Road Warrior

Zeus on his perch at Holiday Hills

Like John Steinbeck with his dog, Charley, Jim and I were fortunate to have a traveling cat – not just a cat who tolerated traveling, but who seemed to even love it, more than me at times.  In California, I never took my cats with me on vacations, or even on road trips.  I always called up a friend, and later a pet sitter to keep an eye on my cats while I was away.  I didn’t think of bringing them with me because I usually stayed in hotels or resorts that didn’t allow pets.  I didn’t realize that that was why many people traveled in RVs so that they could bring along their pets on summer vacations and week-end getaways. 

When we finally sold our home in California in June 2014, we decided to drive back to Massachusetts, and take Zeus on his first major road trip.  We had taken him away for a long week-end once, and he did well.  But traveling cross-country was the big test.  Zeus did better than I could have ever imagined.  Most of the time, he quietly sat on my lap, or on the back seat, only getting antsy when he needed to eat or take a bathroom break.  I even got out his leash, and walked him at rest areas if he wanted to go outside.  At most campsites, Zeus couldn’t wait to get out and sniff around just like all the dogs we saw at the campgrounds. 

Eventually, we did see other cats.  But most of the time, they stayed in their RVs, and slept in the big  front windows of the Class A Mobile homes, or peeked out of windows in the Airstreams.  Zeus also claimed his favorite spots in our RV – sitting atop his scratching post next to the dining room table, or on the back of the recliners, and even in the cubbyholes of the RV.  He liked to try new spots so that he could have different views of the outdoors. 

At first, Zeus didn’t mind moving around every week, or two.  But by the end of our first grand circle of the country, he started to grow tired of the constant moving.  I could usually tell when he was sleeping on the bed, and opened one eye in the morning, and gave me a look on moving day.  “Like you gotta be kidding!  We’re moving again.  Didn’t we just get here?”  Okay, maybe, that was me speaking through Zeus.

I think Zeus was as happy as me to arrive on Cape Cod, and stay in my sister’s driveway for a couple of months.  Now, we’ve been staying in more places longer which gives him a chance to really get to know the campground even if the neighbors and their pets keep changing.  At each campground where he’s stayed longer, Zeus has created his walking routine which varies slightly, but most of the time, he checks out the same spots, usually ending up on the picnic table, waiting for a brushing.  I guess cats are also creatures of habit.  Right now, as I write about Zeus, he’s waiting for his nightly walk.  Morning and night, and sometimes mid-day, he ventures out, ready to see the new arrivals at the campground, and to check out the local birds. 

Zeus’ presence on this journey around the country has been a calming influence at times, and comforting when I’ve been moving around so much.  His constant loving attention has been reassuring especially when I left behind many of those creature comforts that make up a home.  Living more simply was one thing, but living without Zeus was never an option.  He’s made the trip more entertaining even with his challenging moments.  Zeus began this trip at age 14, and is still going strong at 17.  I’m hopeful that Zeus will be with us into his 20’s.  Traveling wouldn’t be the same without him.

By Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A. © 2017

Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A., CHT is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Western Astrologer and Author who counsels clients through her business of Iris Holistic Counseling Services on the road at http://www.DonnaFisherJackson.com. She has published the self-help book, The Healing Path of the Romantic: Type Four of the Enneagram Personality Type System and a novel, Clara & Irving: A Love Story of Past Lives, based on the true story of a Romantic. And now her latest book, a travel adventure book, Living the RV Lifestyle:  Practical Advice and Personal Tales from Life on the Road.  All of her books are available in a print and Kindle edition on Amazon.

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Hiking Tales from Living the RV Lifestyle

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Donna’s latest book can be found on Amazon.com  and as a Kindle E-reader, Click here to go to the Kindle store.

“This book was a great find for me, my husband and our two cats! Ironically, not knowing the writer at all before I stumbled upon this book, we lived in the same town. This book crossed off so many great points. If you are in the market to sell it all, buy an RV and travel, or like us just looking to buy an RV incorporate it into our traveling lifestyle with the possibility of it becoming full-time down the road this is a great read. In this book, Donna has given us so much to think about, what avenues and options that may be out there for us for the short-term/long haul. The check lists, omg those are the greatest! There is nothing worse than ruining your vacation over a thousand dollar mistake and these checklists are ways to help you to “try” not to do that…

And last and for the best part, Zeus, the cat. Yes people, cats… they are very great travel companions and trainable. Donna confirmed that our two who are leash and harness trained will be welcome on the open road and at campgrounds across the US. Phew… that’s all that we needed to know. So as Willie Nelson chimes in to the radio before we hit the road folks… ‘On the Road Again’ Safe travels and I sure do hope you enjoy this book as much as we did.

Posted by an Amazon customer

My new book,  Living the RV Lifestyle:  Practical Advice and Personal Tales from Life on the Road is a combination of practical advice on RV living as well as personal stories from life on the road, giving you an idea of what it’s really like to live the Full-time RV life.

The excerpt below is from Chapter 13 Hiking:  Our Favorite Pastime about one of our favorite hikes in Washington state. 

Skyline trail in Mount Rainier NP

Skyline Trail in Mount Rainier National Park in Washington State

Having visited Washington a few years ago, Jim and I had been to the Olympic NP on the coast, delighting in a mountain ridge hike, but we had missed the inland Mount Rainier NP.  Driving from our campground in Silver Creek, Washington, we headed to Mount Rainier NP, anticipating more evergreen forests, and historical sights, but not expecting to be blown away by another spectacular hike. 

Winding our way up to the Henry Jackson Visitors Center, we ventured outside to discover the trail head for the Skyline Trail.  Looming above us, the peak of Mount Rainier at 14,410 feet, the highest mountain in the Cascade Mountain range, was shrouded in a ring of clouds.  At first, the trail descended down, leading us towards the Myrtle Falls.  We strolled by fields of wildflowers, admiring a summer day in the mountains.  Gazing down at the falls, we contemplated going any further.  It was mid-afternoon on a brilliant blue sky day with hours of daylight to go.  I am so glad that we decided to continue the climb. 

As we hiked higher and higher, the flowers grew more in abundance, and flowed down the hillsides in a rainbow of colors from the purple lupine to the magenta and scarlet paint brushes, from the pink monkeyflowers to the white lilies.  With the high peaks above us still covered with the remnants of ancient glaciers, we were greeted with green vistas of fields and evergreens wherever we looked.  The Tatoosh Mountain range glowed in the distance like a ribbon of fairy tale castles.  Its rocky pinnacles didn’t seem real like a mirage of mountains.  

Along the path, animals and birds greeted us.  Stellar jays with their brilliant blue feathers and distinct voices swooped down from tree to tree.  A solitary eagle circled over the cloud-covered peaks.  A young doe ate her late afternoon lunch by the side of the trail.  Furry marmots meandered through the fields of flowers, munching off the tops of flowers with a relish for their colorful salad. 

At the height of summer in the mountains, rivers sprung from the slopes, and wound their way down through brilliantly colored mosses of green and gold.  Wherever you looked, you could see rivers circling into pools of water, and then spilling over edges into waterfalls.  In the distance, rain poured down on a hillside, and in the midst of a sun break, a rainbow broke through the clouds, spanning across the green hills.  It made me wonder if there wasn’t truly a pot of gold beneath its colorful ribbons.  On our drive back down leaving the Skyline Trail behind, I looked up, and through the clouds, Mount Rainier showed her weather-beaten face.  It was the perfect ending to a day spent honoring that mountain. 

Every time, I turned a corner on the Skyline Trail I wondered what miracle I was going to see next.  It was one of the most magical hikes I’ve ever been on.  Since it was a Sunday afternoon, there were quite a few families out on the trail, and groups of college students.  All different nationalities and cultures walked along the trail.  And everyone greeted each other with similar amazement at all the natural beauty that surrounded us.  It made me hopeful that the national parks could have a higher purpose of bringing people together from diverse backgrounds in coexistence with a mutual love of nature.  It could certainly be a starting point for Peace.  If we could all stop and really see this planet Earth that we call home, knowing that it’s up to each one of us to take care of our planet, and in doing so, we would be taking care of all living beings including humankind.  As John Lennon once sang, “Imagine.” 

By Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A. © 2017

Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A., CHT is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Western Astrologer and Author who counsels clients through her business of Iris Holistic Counseling Services on the road at http://www.DonnaFisherJackson.com. She has published the self-help book, The Healing Path of the Romantic: Type Four of the Enneagram Personality Type System and a novel, Clara & Irving: A Love Story of Past Lives, based on the true story of a Romantic. And now her latest book, a travel adventure book, Living the RV Lifestyle:  Practical Advice and Personal Tales from Life on the Road.  All of her books are available in a print and Kindle edition on Amazon.

 

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Living the RV Lifestyle – my new book is now available

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Donna’s latest book can be found on Amazon.com  and as a Kindle E-reader, Click here to go to the Kindle store.

“Guide books have their place and uses but I love personal stories and the feelings that are evoked from personal images and favorite things. Your stories, Donna, take me places and allow my mind to paint its own pictures that are colored by your descriptions and perceptions. I feel like I’m with you in your RV in Utah and all over the USA, and that’s fun! You’re a good writer. I look forward to reading more.” 

Susanna D. from California

My new book has been born –  Living the RV Lifestyle:  Practical Advice and Personal Tales from Life on the Road.  This 167 page book is a combination of practical advice on RV living as well as personal stories from life on the road, giving you an idea of what it’s really like to live the Full-time RV life.

The excerpt below is from Chapter 13 Hiking: Our Favorite Pastime about my time visiting the lowest and highest points in the contiguous 48 states, and how they were only 130 miles apart.

An Adventure from Sea Level to over 10,000 feet

In my travels around the country, I knew I was going to see many different landscapes and seascapes – from the desert to the mountains, from the cozy harbors of the Atlantic to the expansive beaches along the Pacific.  But I really didn’t think of the depths and heights that I would be exploring in this great country.  In this month of May, I have seen Death Valley, the lowest point on the North American continent, and also glimpsed Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous 48 states.  Who knew that they were only about 130 miles from each other?! 

In the past month since leaving Utah, I have traveled through Nevada and into Southern and Central California.  From the mountains and high desert of the Utah national parks, I have traversed into the lower terrain of this country into the arid desert.  Never having lived in the desert for any length of time, the desert has been a new experience for me. 

The desert in the spring was likely the most beautiful time to be there.  The temperatures were certainly cooler, and the cacti were blooming with their strikingly simple flowers in bright fuchsia and golden yellow.  Hiking through washes (riverbeds with no water in them) alongside reddish and golden boulders, I was in another world at times.  Some of the desert landscapes resembled the face of the moon, and others looked like a tempting oasis with all the different vegetation. 

At first, I enjoyed the desert hikes around Las Vegas, and then into Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California, but then the temperatures rose.  The days in the 90’s became more common, and the challenges of desert living became more evident.  Staying in an RV park near Joshua Tree NP, I saw the number of people in the park dwindle.  The RV Park, a winter retreat for many people from the northern states, had a fitness center, indoor pool and spa, and big clubhouse.  While I was there, they were almost completely empty.  It was time to move north again. 

After a week, I traveled north by the Mojave Desert, and onto Highway 395 which is also called the Eastern Sierra Scenic Byway, winding its way through some spectacular scenery with the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains on one side, and the Inyo National Forest on the other side.  As I left the desert behind and gazed upon the mountains, I could feel the shift in my spirit.  The mountains had become my other home when I lived in California all those years.  I had driven this same route from the north, but never, all the way to the southern end. 

Now, I would finally discover where this incredible highway started in the desert.  I had seen the signs for Death Valley National Park, and I knew I had at least one more desert experience in my near future, but I had no idea what this park encompassed.  Driving from the west led to a more diverse experience.  As I traveled towards the park, I rode through hills that then turned into mountains. Driving a winding road through the mountains, I dropped lower and lower into the park, and finally the desert valley opened up before me.  After the steep descent into Death Valley, there were windswept sand dunes, golden canyons and salt flats that shimmered like mirages.  The temperatures skyrocketed.  Stopping at one of the visitor centers, there is a permanent large thermometer outside the door, recording the latest temperature.  A perfect picture spot.  When I was there in mid-May, the temperature fluctuated between 90 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit.  I can only imagine what it’s like in the summer. 

Of course, that wasn’t the temperature of the lowest point in the park.  Driving further down into the park, you arrive at what is called – Badwater Basin, another salt flat with some puddles, but best known as being the lowest elevation on this continent.  At 282 feet below sea level, I had reached a new low point, and didn’t realize how close it was to the highest point in this country. 

Staying in Lone Pine, California right off of Highway 395, I camped in the town closest to the highest point.  After exploring the town and visiting their film history museum and the Alabama Hills where many westerns and sci-fi films have been filmed, I decided to explore the highest point in the contiguous forty-eight states – Mount Whitney, a snow-capped peak in the Sierra Nevada Mountains at 14,495 feet. 

On a clear morning, it appeared to be a perfect day to drive into the mountain range for a hike.  Driving up a road on the outskirts of town, I traveled higher and higher on switchbacks, lined with rocky cliffs, and purple lupine.  That’s when the clouds drifted across the surrounding peaks.  What appeared to be a calm day in the valley turned into a snow squall in the mountains. Snowflakes drifted down onto the windshield of the truck.  It looked like I’d have to postpone my mountain hike. 

As I crested the peak, the elevation rose to over 10,000 feet and the temperature dropped into the 30s with Mount Whitney hidden by the clouds.  I thought about turning back, but not before, looking around this mountain top plateau.  And what do I spot under some trees?  Not the wildlife I expected to see, but some weary hikers, loaded with backpacks.  A couple of minutes later, they are loaded into the truck for the ride back to town.  It turned out that they were hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, and ran into the stormy weather so they needed to take a break to warm up and refuel. 

With my own travel plans in mind, I had forgotten about the many people who venture out each year to tackle the challenge of the Pacific Crest Trail which runs all the way from the Mexican border to the Canadian border, over 2,600 miles.  The hikers usually begin in the spring, and hike all summer, and sometimes into the fall.  The trail starts in the desert which I had just left behind, and follows the mountain ranges beginning in central California, and then up through the Northwest of Oregon and Washington.  I had no idea that I was also following a similar route with my Bighorn RV.  Hearing these three hikers’ tales was enlightening.  It was also a good reminder for all the conveniences that I do live with, traveling in an RV with most of the comforts of home.  Even with my love of hiking, I don’t think I could take on a challenge like them though I did enjoy hearing about their own adventures.  The hikers called us their “PCT Angel” so hopefully, we can help more hikers along the way who need a break from the trail, or a ride back into the mountains.  After that meeting, I followed the Pacific Crest Trail more closely as I made my way north, and crossed the trail a few more times in Oregon and Washington.  Admiring their courage, I still wonder if those three hikers completed their goal of finishing the PCT all in one year.

By Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A. © 2017

Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A., CHT is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Western Astrologer and Author who counsels clients through her business of Iris Holistic Counseling Services on the road at http://www.DonnaFisherJackson.com. She has published the self-help book, The Healing Path of the Romantic: Type Four of the Enneagram Personality Type System and a novel, Clara & Irving: A Love Story of Past Lives, based on the true story of a Romantic. And now her latest book, a travel adventure book, Living the RV Lifestyle:  Practical Advice and Personal Tales from Life on the Road.  All of her books are available in a print and Kindle edition on Amazon.

 

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Living the RV Dream – My New Book on the RV Lifestyle coming soon

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Bryce Canyon National Park – Photo by  J. Alan Jackson

This Spring, I will be releasing my new book, Living the RV Dream, a mix of practical advice for Full-time, Part-time and Anytime RVers along with personal stories of my adventures from living on the road.

After almost three years of Full-time RVing, it seemed to be the time to share what Jim and I have learned from this experience of living without a traditional home.  Since 2014, we’ve made a couple of grand circles around the country with some crisscrossing.  We’ve traveled over 34,000 miles, visited 43 states and 35 national parks altogether while camping in 65 RV parks, 3 Wal-Marts, One casino, and a family driveway.  It’s been a journey of many different experiences, and I’ve captured some of the most memorable ones in this book.

The excerpt below is from the chapter entitled – National Park Tour.  I’ll be sending out an announcement soon when the book is available.  Now, pack your bag, and get ready to visit the National Parks – the best entertainment value this country has to offer.

The goal of many Full-time RVers is to visit the National Parks around the country.  It is one of the best bargains that you’ll find on the road, and one of the best gifts that you’ll ever give yourself.   The National Parks are as varied as the states are, and yet, they all capture some unique aspect of the natural beauty of this country.  As of 2016, the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, there were 59 National Parks.  Of course, over time, they do add new ones when a National Monument, or another National site gets upgraded to a National Park (NP). 

The National Parks pass is definitely worth investing in if you’re touring around the country.  It’s been our favorite pass – giving us access to not only NPs, but federal recreational lands as well.  The entrance fees for the NPs range from free to over $30 each, making the pass a great deal.  If you’re over 62, you get the best deal of all with a lifetime Golden Age Passport for $10. You can purchase these passes right at the NPs entrance gates.  All the details are at www.nationalparks.org   (Another benefit of visiting the NPs was finally being able to recycle plastics, aluminum and even cardboard.  Most campgrounds only had limited recycling programs or none at all.  Hopefully, that will change in the near future.)    

Jim and I have been fortunate to visit 35 National Parks as of 2016.  Living in the west, we visited several National Parks, and then when we became Full-time RVers, we’ve seen many more NPs.   People always ask us what our favorite parks are, and it really is hard to answer.  The most well-known, and usually the largest NPs are in a class of their own – Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Hawaii Volcanoes are legendary. They are not to be missed, and seeing them more than once in different seasons is extra special.   The National Parks of Alaska, eight altogether, are also incredible, and I hope to make a trip to see them someday.   

One of the biggest surprises was the National Parks of Utah.  When I began this journey, I had no idea that Utah had five parks.  Each Utah NP is remarkable– Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion, all in the southern portion of Utah.  The parks are part of an area known as the Grand Circle, an area in the Southwest with the highest concentration of American scenic parklands in the country.  Jim and I were fortunate to see all five Utah parks over several weeks, giving ourselves time to explore each park, and have seen a couple now in different seasons.  Jim’s favorite is hands down, Bryce Canyon; and mine is Zion, for all the different parts from the towering rock cliffs, to the lush river valley; and the amazing views wherever you walk and hike.

When we first started Full-timing RV, our goal was to visit National Parks, and other places of natural beauty.  We began our NP tour in Florida, and visited the Everglades NP, never realizing how many more parks we would see over these years on the road.  When we plan our travel route, we check out what NPs are on the way.  If we have to make a detour we will because the parks are so worth it.  

Before visiting a park, I’ll read up on the park in one of my guidebooks like the National Geographic’s Guide to the National Parks of the United States while Jim reads up on-line about that park through the www.nationalparks.org . We then have a general idea of what we want to see in the park along with any hikes.  Once we arrive at the entry gate of the park, then we go over the map and brochure that we receive to get a feel for the right hiking trails.  If we have time, we always spend at least a couple of days exploring a National Park.  For the larger parks, like Yellowstone and Yosemite, we spent a lot more time – five days in Yellowstone with still more to see; and five separate trips to Yosemite in all the different seasons when we lived in California. 

For us, it’s about savoring the experience – seeing the major sites in the park along with doing a couple of hikes.  I’ve seen people on the news with their selfie sticks, racing around the country to see as many NPs in a year as they can, but they are really missing out on the experience of spending time in nature.  It’s not so much about doing, but more about being. To see the sunrise over Haleakala Volcano on Maui; to stand at the base of Bridalveil Fall in Yosemite in the springtime; to walk along the rim of the Grand Canyon any time of year; or to hike through the rock formations of Bryce Canyon, gazing up at these amazing sand castles.  These are moments not to be missed, or rushed through.  Take your time with the National Parks, and you’ll be rewarded with memories that last forever. This is one of my favorite National Park memories… (Just a preview of what’s to come.)

By Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A. © 2017
Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A., CHT is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Western Astrologer and Author who counsels clients through her business of Iris Holistic Counseling Services on the road at http://www.DonnaFisherJackson.com. She has published the self-help book, The Healing Path of the Romantic: Type Four of the Enneagram Personality Type System and a novel, Clara & Irving: A Love Story of Past Lives, based on the true story of a Romantic. Both books are available in a print and Kindle edition on Amazon.com.  Donna will  be releasing her new book, Living the RV Dream in the spring.  ♥

 

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Two Years of Living on the Road

rv-with-donna-and-jim

This October, Jim and I completed our second circle around the country, and our second year of full-time RVing.  After traveling all these months in our only home – a 39 foot fifth wheel RV, I think I’m ready to complete my book.  I’ve been compiling stories about our adventures on the road – some amazing, others overwhelming, and a few just too funny to forget.

Since our Bighorn RV became our full-time home in October, 2014, we’ve traveled over 34,000 miles, visited 45 states, 34 national parks, and 65 RV parks.  The first year of travel, we moved around a lot, staying in most campgrounds only a week.  We began our journey on Cape Cod, and made a huge circle around the country, traveling down the Eastern seaboard, and then across the Southern states, up through California to the Northwest, and then across the Northern states, back to Massachusetts.

In that first year, we wanted to see as many national parks as we could that we’re on our travel route – that came to 25 parks with still so many more to enjoy.  In the second year, we’ve spent more time in two places – staying in Florida for 5 months during the winter, and then traveling to Utah where Jim worked as a Camp Host for 4 months during the summer.  In between, we visited a handful of national parks, but began to see more historical sites with continuing to visit family and friends along the way.

After all these weeks of living in an RV, Jim has gathered a huge amount of technical experience and common sense about the RV lifestyle.   This past summer, he worked as the main contact at a campground – guiding people to their campsites, taking care of the landscaping, maintaining the campground and keeping the peace among the campers and all their pets.  Five days a week, Jim was on call for sometimes 12 hours a day.  His efforts did entitle us to a free campsite with all the benefits as well as collecting a paycheck after being semi-retired for about two years.  During those four months, he learned a lot about the camping experience, and what to do differently the next time around.

His hands on experience also gave me the idea that more people would be interested in a book on the RV lifestyle if it included some practical advice, and handy tips for those newbies on the road.   I can still remember my first weeks on the road, and how nervous, I became if we had to back into a campsite, or stay overnight at the Walmart parking lots.  Now, I can stay in just about any campground, knowing that I can always move if I want a different view or another experience.

I can honestly say that I never saw myself as the most adventurous person, but so many people commented on how adventurous I must be, to sell my home, and get rid of most of my belongings to live full-time in an RV.  It has certainly been the experience of a lifetime.  I can picture myself continuing to do this part-time for several more years especially when I have a more traditional home again.

In December, Jim and I will be heading south once again to a new place, a campground near Ashville, North Carolina.  Jim will be working part-time for the winter at the campground, handling special projects that require more of his carpentry skills – all in preparation for what’s to come in the spring – when we build our home on Cape Cod.  I’ll be continuing to do my counseling work, and working on my next book on the RV lifestyle.    And so the journey continues…

By Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A. © 2016
Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A., CHT is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Western Astrologer and Author who counsels clients through her business of Iris Holistic Counseling Services on the road at http://www.DonnaFisherJackson.com. She has published the self-help book, The Healing Path of the Romantic: Type Four of the Enneagram Personality Type System and a novel, Clara & Irving: A Love Story of Past Lives, based on the true story of a Romantic. Both books are available in a print and Kindle edition on Amazon.com.  Donna is currently working on a new book on the RV lifestyle.  ♥

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My Cat, Zeus, the Road Warrior

Zeus, the tree climber

Like Steinbeck with his dog, Charley, Jim and I were fortunate to have Zeus, a traveling cat – not just a cat who tolerated traveling, but who seemed to even love it, more than I did at times.

In California, I never took my cats with me on vacations, or even on road trips.  I always called up a friend, and later a pet sitter to keep an eye on my cats while I was away.  I didn’t think of bringing them with me because I usually stayed in hotels or resorts that didn’t allow pets.  I didn’t realize how many people traveled in RVs so that they could bring along their pets on summer vacations and week-end getaways.

When Jim and I finally sold out home in California in June 2014, we decided to drive back to Massachusetts, and take Zeus on his first major road trip.  We had taken him away for a long week-end once, and he seemed to do well.  But driving cross-country was the big test.  Zeus did better than I could have ever imagined.

Since December, 2014, we’ve been traveling full-time around the country with Zeus. Most of the time, he quietly sits on my lap, or on the back seat in the truck, only getting antsy when he needs to eat or take a bathroom break.  I even get out his leash, and walk him at rest areas if he wants to go outside.  At most campsites, Zeus can’t wait to get out and sniff around just like all the dogs we see at the campgrounds.

Eventually, we have seen other cats.  But most of the time, they stay in their RVs, and sleep in the big windows of their Class A Mobile homes, or peek out of windows in the Airstreams.  Zeus also has claimed his favorite spots in our RV – sitting atop his scratching post next to the dining room table, or on the back of the recliners, and even in the cubbyholes of the RV.  He likes to try new spots so that he can have different views of the outdoors.  Of course, the outdoors is his favorite spot.

Zeus on his perch at Holiday Hills

At first, Zeus didn’t mind moving around every week, or two.  But by the end of our first grand circle of the country, he started to grow tired of the constant moving.  I could usually tell by when he’s sleeping on the bed, and opens one eye in the morning, and gives me a look on moving day:  “Like you gotta be kidding!  We’re moving again.  Didn’t we just get here?”

Now, we’ve been staying in more places longer which gives him a chance to really get to know the campground even if the neighbors and their pets keep changing.  At each campground where he’s stayed longer, Zeus has created his walking routine which varies slightly, but most of the time, he checks out the same spots, usually ending up on the picnic table, waiting for a brushing.  I guess cats are also creatures of habit.  Right now, as I write about Zeus, he’s waiting for his nightly walk.  Morning and night, and sometimes mid-day, he ventures out, ready to see the new arrivals at the campground, and to check out the local birds.

Zeus’ presence on this journey around the country has been a calming influence at times, and comforting when I’ve been moving around so much.  His constant loving attention has been reassuring especially when I left behind many of those creature comforts that make up a home.  Living more simply was one thing, but living without Zeus was never an option.  He’s made the trip more entertaining even with his challenging moments.   Zeus began this trip at age 14, and is still going strong at 16.   I’m hopeful that Zeus will be with us into his 20’s.   Traveling wouldn’t be the same without him.

By Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A. © 2016
Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A., CHT is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Western Astrologer and Author who counsels clients through her business of Iris Holistic Counseling Services on the road at http://www.DonnaFisherJackson.com. She has published the self-help book, The Healing Path of the Romantic: Type Four of the Enneagram Personality Type System and a novel, Clara & Irving: A Love Story of Past Lives, based on the true story of a Romantic. Both books are available in a print and Kindle edition on Amazon.com.  Donna is currently working on a new book – a travel memoir of her life on the road.  ♥

 

 

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Saltwater in my Blood

Jack Conway - Two

(The view of the Weweantic River in Wareham, Massachusetts.)

As I traveled towards the middle of the country, I followed the highway in my Rand McNally Road Atlas, loving the big picture view of my trip.  When I opened the page to the map of the whole country, the town of Junction City, Kansas was literally in the fold of the map.  I traveled there to check out an RV that was on my husband’s wish list.   

Entering Kansas, Jim and I drove on a meandering road that went up and down over small hills with cornfields unraveling off into the distance.  We were visiting Horizon, a specialty RV manufacturer that only made custom mobile homes.  The company was near Junction City, Kansas.  After our tour of the plant and checking out a couple of used mobile homes, we went out to dinner in town.  It was a college town so there were several restaurants and bars, more than I would have expected.  But the whole time I was there, smack in the middle of the country, I had a claustrophobic feeling that the ocean was too far away.  I haven’t always lived near the ocean, but in the Gold country of California, I could get to the San Francisco Bay in a couple of hours. 

Staying in the middle of the country made me realize that I really needed to be closer to the ocean.  When you’ve grown up in a place like Cape Cod, it’s challenging to live without all those bays and beaches that line the New England coast.  Away from the ocean, I always did feel like a fish out of water which makes sense with a name like Fisher. 

My Father, Donald Fisher, grew up literally on the water with the high tide washing up under his house in Spile City in Onset, Massachusetts.  This ramshackle collection of homes was named for the piers that they perched on alongside Broad Cove, leading to Dummy Bridge.  Another curious name which described the dummy cars that once ran along that bridge.   

The seacoast village of Onset was part of Wareham which is considered the Gateway to Cape Cod.  Later, I found an old magazine called, The Compass which wrote about a stone marker that had been placed in 1739 on the border of West Wareham and Rochester, MA.  This stone rock engraved with the words, Cape Cod, marked the true beginning of Cape Cod where the soil turned sandy, and the scrub pine trees popped up, replacing the taller pines. Of course, this marker came along long before the Cape Cod Canal which was a man-made division for the Cape, and obviously not the original beginning of Cape Cod.   I wish I had found this magazine earlier when I was in college, and one of those “summer people” on Cape Cod told me that Wareham wasn’t part of Cape Cod.  Now, I could share this bit of history with her.   

My Mother, Doris Fisher, also came from Cape Cod, having grown up in West Wareham and Rochester as a young girl.  Her childhood home literally sat on the border of the two towns, where you could cross the street and be in Rochester, or cross back, and be in West Wareham.  Even though she had grown up that close to the ocean, she hadn’t spent a lot of time at the beach.  Her parents both had to work to make a living, and my Mom was left in charge of her siblings to make sure they did housework as well as homework.  Her childhood wasn’t a carefree time at the beach like my Dad who called his childhood in Onset like “living in one big playground.”  His life wasn’t idyllic either, having lost his Mom when he was not even two, and losing his own Dad in a sense since he wasn’t around a lot.  Lucky for my Dad, his grandparents raised him well even if they did give him a great deal of freedom as a boy.   

My Father, shared that love of the outdoors and the ocean with his three daughters.  And truth be told, I do believe I inherited saltwater in my blood.

That’s why, my dream is to spend the summer and fall on Cape Cod.  Living near the ocean once again would be like heaven for me. 

By Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A. © 2016
Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A., CHT is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Western Astrologer and Author who counsels clients through her business of Iris Holistic Counseling Services on the road at http://www.DonnaFisherJackson.com. She has published the self-help book, The Healing Path of the Romantic: Type Four of the Enneagram Personality Type System and a novel, Clara & Irving: A Love Story of Past Lives, based on the true story of a Romantic. Both books are available in a print and Kindle edition on Amazon.com.  Donna is currently working on a new book – a travel memoir of her life on the road.  ♥

 

 

 

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