I've been aboard full-time since factory pickup in Sept. '04. With great effort, I disposed of thirty years' worth of furniture, possessions, papers, books, clothes, etc. Shortly after that I gave my keys to my agent, who manages my house as a rental property, until I decide I might need it.
I have had a 15W solar panel
bolted on the roof for about a year now. It provides ample power almost all the time, the five or six darkest weeks of winter being a little thin (furnace fan). 30-40W would be ideal, and I'll probably upgrade eventually.
is easy to find, cheap, and about as hard to refill as your car's gas tank, so I have ample energy for fridge
, hot water, and furnace
. One tank lasts a week in winter, three weeks in summer. Fresh water is easy to find, and it is fairly easy to find a dump station for the black tank...RV dealers, cleanouts in the yards of family or friends, state parks with dump stations, etc.
has held up very well...a few popped rivets, a new igniter for the furnace
, new tires
to replace the short-lived Marathons, and new valves at the waste gate are about all I've had to do. The only real mods I have done are the solar panel
, and several different configurations of boards to replace the rear table, to provide a desk/drawing table.
All that said, how do I like full-timing? I LOVE it!!
I work three days a week in Winston-Salem, about two hours from my hometown, and I usually stealth camp for that. The rest of my week, NC, SC, & VA are a playground. I try to spend at least one or two nights a week in a state park or national forest, especially in the good weather. I'm a YMCA member, and can swim laps and work out in any town that has one.
My parents are at Lake James, sisters are at Hickory, Greensboro, and Raleigh, so I have handy ports-of-call over a wide range of the state. (The added plus is getting to see family often!) My company is in Raleigh, Durham, Winston, Greenville (SC), and also Santa Fe NM, (where my brother lives), and I can pick up work shifts at any of these locations or about 190 others with a phone call. I still haven't made the New Mexico trip, but could easily work full time in Santa Fe for a month or a season.
For the first year or so, I was working full time in Raleigh, so I usually stayed in the driveway of sister's house there (with shore power). After I went solar
, things really opened up, and nowadays I am rarely in the same place more than one night. Being mobile allows me to spend one or two days at my parents' almost every week, to help out with the house and yard and vehicles (They're 80 & 76 and in great shape, but it is a lot of house and yard and vehicles!).
Before I had my Casita
, a trip that would take most drivers 5 hours could easily take me 10 or 12 hours, due to my touring-backroads-no-map-stop-at-everything-interesting style of driving. With the Casita
, I noticed something different...One Sunday evening last year, I left Winston intending to travel to Marion (which should take about 2 hours). I finally arrived at 9PM Tuesday night!!!
That is the great luxury of full-timing: a trip to the beach? just turn the wheel the right way! Blue Ridge Parkway? Pisgah Nat'l Forest? East this week? West? Decide when you get to the freeway ramp! There's a warm, cozy retreat with food and a hot shower waiting for you at an infinite number of destinations.
You will find yourself a welcome guest of the most harried of households, because your hosts won't have to do a thing to accommodate you; you have brought the guest room/guesthouse with you.
You can even treat your hosts:
"Would you like to have dinner at my place?" you ask
"Sure" they say
"OK, I'll be there about 7" you reply
The Casita attracts a lot of attention from the people who know what they are looking at, and it is gratifying to surprise people with the fact that I live aboard in complete comfort.
Because it is small, and this is XXL America, no one can get their head around the fact that there is a kitchen, bathroom, furnace
, AC, two beds, and plenty of storage, not to mention TV, movies, radio, wifi, and PlayStation! It sure is funny to park near one of those big BUSES and imagine how much maintenance and expense those folks endure. I saw one last week that I'm PRETTY sure couldn't go through a 9'0" clearance ATM like I can.
I'm single and not particularly dating, so the Casita has no space issues for me alone. Occasionally I'll take a friend along for an overnight trip and haven't felt like it would be uncomfortable for two to be based in such a space. Like everyone else says, you spend a lot of time outdoors and doing other things.
I love the fact that things are topsy-turvy and "through the looking-glass" - the first couple of weeks were disorienting because you are used to the sun rising through the same window every day...life aboard the Casita can make it seem like time is running backward! Also you can flip flop the routine by doing things like waking up, driving to work, making coffee, having a shower, and getting dressed...in that order! Or, if you have a closing shift back-to-back with an opening shift, just stay there!
I am very concerned with using fewer resources and reducing material consumption, so the Casita really facilitates that. I've got no power bill, very small energy costs (apart from the 1981 gas prices)(bio diesel will be my next TV), minimally prepay my telephone, log on to wi-fi for free, and recycle as much litter as I can pick up along with my own recyclables. I generate about one supermarket plastic bag-worth of trash per week; everything else is recycled.
I hope you are able to make the extended trips you want to. Full-timing is fun fun fun.
I had wanted a FGRV since I was a teenager, and finally made the leap with the Casita almost three years ago. No regrets, and I still am excited every day by the fun of it all, and I most definitely turn my head back and admire the thing when I am going off somewhere on foot. I wish I had better photos to post, but I realize that I usually am snapping the trailer and not the surroundings!
Here's a place I camped last week, in the Pisgah National Forest just below the Parkway and above Old Fort, NC, on Curtis Creek:
Go for it and Happy Trails!!