I get asked this question quite a bit. Usually, I answer, “I didn’t have any real expectations.”
But that is not the truth, is it. I had some expectations, especially after years of watching YouTube videos and seeing posts on Facebook, something had to rub off. We tend to set our expectations to match the glamorized life of RVing seen online, but then reality isn’t always glamorous. It can be beautiful, it can also be tough.
Here are a few expectations from when we started:
1. Fear and anxiety of towing and backing in, a realistic expectation for many newbies.
2. The opportunity to visit places we only dreamed of and to discover places we didn’t know existed.
3. Expected to have more free time.
What people should be asking is, “What didn’t you expect? What were the unanticipated surprises, things you didn’t know when you started.” It is quite astonishing the unforeseen that happens, things you had no idea would exist.
Read about what we didn't expect....
In the blink of an eye, something happens by chance — when you least expect it — sets you on a course that you never planned, into a future you never imagined. — Nicholas Sparks
Life changes course over time, routing us toward a new direction, meandering along a different route, flowing and ebbing as the seasons and life change.
Back in March, just as we were starting this RV life, I wrote about Flexibility being Key, little did I know how flexible we were going to need to be.
I have never been one to shy away from change, but I am older now and change is a little more challenging than it used to be. Selling everything we own and planning a life on the road has been a BIG change, bringing an end to a long chapter with so much history. Now, we are starting the beginning of a new chapter, not yet written, yet with so many possibilities and unknowns.
Like many new RVers we had so many plans, so many dreams, so many places we wanted to visit. But life and the power of time often interfere with plans and dreams. We also recognized our limitations until we gain more experience and comfort in our abilities. We learned a lot about ourselves and what we were comfortable with on our first long journey from Anacortes to Michigan, because of this we decided to change our plans, once again.
Our original plan was to be in the northeast corner of the country by September, but we had a late start in leaving our hometown of Anacortes, WA, and didn’t make plans in advance.
We realized as we approached South Dakota that we didn’t feel quite ready for the east coast. We had rushed to get to Michigan and did not want to rush through the east coast, too. And with it getting a little too close to the winter season, we decided to change course.
“Sometimes, it’s the journey that teaches you a lot about your destination.” — Drake
Our end goal was to be in the Smoky Mountains by mid to late October, which we do have planned and reserved for the last week of October. Like I said in my article, Route Planning, I usually pick a Point B and work backward to fill in the spots. Since we are no longer going to the northeast for Fall colors and instead heading to the Smoky Mountains, it made sense to change course once again. We decided we needed to meander for a while, slow it down a bit, enjoy the road, what better way to do that than to follow the Mississippi River.
We started our Mississippi journey at Clark’s Ferry Recreation Park in Montpelier, Iowa. This park is an Army Corp of Engineer park. We chose this park after reading some great reviews online and the bonus of it being right by the Mississippi River.
The park was everything the reviews mentioned and more. A delightful park with nice concrete sites, well laid out, and views of the Mississippi River. The park does not have full hook-ups, each site has power 30/50 amp, access to a water spigot, and there is a dump station conveniently located by the exit. We were there for five nights, so it was time to test our ability to conserve. Luckily the park had a building with clean and well-stocked restrooms and showers, so we used them, which saved our grey and black tanks from filling up. We used mostly paper plates so dishes were few, adding to our conservation.
Since we have started our travels I have found that some parks just “feel” right. They soothe your soul, provide a relaxing atmosphere, and you just feel comfortable and right at home, that was this park.
Unfortunately, we had to move on so we found a spot for two nights in Canton, Missouri. The Mississippi River RV Park is managed by the town of Canton. It is not much to write home about, but it does have full hook-ups on most of the sites, you can’t beat the $20 per night, and the VIEW makes it all worthwhile! You walk out your door and there is the Mississippi River plus the added bonus of the Locks and Dam #20 so you can watch barges do their jobs. This was a short stay, but well worth it.
Next destination… St. Louis, Missouri. Since I was a child I have been fascinated by St. Louis and the Arch. I don’t know why? Or, when it started? This was a destination that had to be on the Bucket List, so here we are. We found a spacious and well-laid-out city park, ran by the city of St. Peters, just outside of St. Louis. The park is named, 370 Lakeside Park, and is a large city park with a lake, an RV park, and so much to do. Another great find thanks to great reviews online. We liked it so much here, we extended our stay and added four more days.
My husband often tells people, “we don’t have plans, we have intentions” he read that somewhere, and we have found it to be so true. Our next intentions were to continue our journey down the Mississippi, ending in Memphis, but that intention is now waning. We are thinking of taking out journey through Kentucky and then down to Nashville before we head to our final destination by the Smoky Mountains.
Some days, I find it frustrating and stressful not planning ahead, not knowing where the road may take us, but part of this journey is learning to let go, to unwind, and just enjoy the route, knowing the destination will be fabulous when we finally find it.
“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” — Ernest Hemingway
As we roam the roads and highways, looking for that next fantastic stop, keep track of our travels in our Airstream - Betty Jo