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Our Hardest Month as RVers

Our Hardest Month as RVers
And why there is still a lot to be grateful for.
By: Heath & Alyssa Padgett 

 

Ellie and Heath sitting on floor of Forza in front of fireplace

My plan was to lay around on the couch and do nothing all day. 

Alyssa and I had spent the past week re-planning and hosting our entire RV Entrepreneur Summit online (because COVID) and we were exhausted. It had been a year of work leading up to the event and it felt anticlimactic to host from a remote location. But given the situation, we were grateful for having been able to still throw our event at all. 

Nonetheless, a relaxing morning with our daughter hanging out at the campground sounded like the perfect way to spend our day.

Then we got the call. 

Our campground was about to flood and we needed to leave. Immediately.

Calling around to local RV parks on higher ground, every spot was full. Not wanting to drive around during a time when we were supposed to be still, we were unsure of what to do.

Finally, we ended up finding a park one town over and immediately parked. We paid, hooked up, and laid down our ten-month-old daughter to take a nap.

An hour later, Ellie woke up with a 104-degree temperature. 

As first-time parents, we were told that we’d likely feel the inclination to take her to the doctor for something as small as stubbing her toe, but this was the third consecutive day of fever and we are a thousand miles away from Ellie’s pediatrician.

Going to a local clinic during a global pandemic sounded like a disaster. 

I called the only local place that caters towards infants and toddlers. They weren’t allowing new patients. While on the phone I looked over at Alyssa and thought about how we were about to have to make a mad dash to Texas - during a worldwide pandemic, stay at home orders, and with a very sick baby.

It felt like one gut punch after another. 

Finally, after sitting on the couch next to Ellie (who was crying) and telling them how we were full-time RVers sheltering in place for the month given the news and that our doctor back home advised us to see a local doctor, they subsided and allowed her to come into the office.

Turns out it was a basic viral infection (non-coronavirus related).

The next day was finally going to be our day to relax. I was ready for a Harry Potter marathon afternoon.

Then the tornado sirens went off. 

Forza parked on gravel with dark skies overhead

I pulled out my phone and saw there was a large and very real threat of a confirmed tornado headed straight for our RV park. 

We ran over to the campground’s bathroom where we proceeded to watch other people file into the handicapped bathroom we were already inside of. It’s never comfortable to file into a family style bathroom with ten strangers, but during a pandemic when you’re supposed to be keeping six feet away, it’s even more uncomfortable.

But we had no other choice. 

Until our friend Lucas messaged us and said we had a ten-minute window to drive to his basement to weather the storm (an offer we happily accepted).

He also had beer, which helped.

This all happened in a matter of days, while the economy and world was collapsing around us.

Maybe I’m being a bit dramatic, but in the moment that’s kind of how it felt.

When I sat down to write this blog, I had planned on sharing some of the highlights from our first few months in our Winnebago Forza (of which we’ve had so many). 

I planned to write about how epic it’s been to work at our six-foot long desk or how great it’s been having tons of floor space for Ellie to learn to walk.

Or perhaps, how I previously thought that having a washer/dryer on board an RV was an excessive luxury - only now to realize that it’s actually amazing and incredibly useful when you have an 11-month-old who goes through several tiny outfits per day.

But as much as I wanted to share the highlights, I also wanted to be real about what’s going on in our lives and in the lives of many other full-time RVers. 

This has been one of our hardest months we’ve ever had as RVers. Some RVers have struggled to find a place to stay and others are displaced. Some are facing judgment by locals who see RVers as purely tourists. (Read more about how other full-time RVers are handling these challenges here).

I wanted to share today’s post not to complain about our difficult moments, but because I felt that writing a blog post highlighting only the good moments from the past couple months felt tone-deaf to me. We often get the highlights on Instagram, but sometimes it’s simply helpful to know that we aren’t alone and others are working through a similar situation. 

One practice that Alyssa and I have every day is to share three things we’re grateful for. This has been a particularly challenging month, so I wanted to outline some of the things I’ve been incredibly grateful for during this time, with the hope of hearing some from you as well.

If you feel like participating, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. I feel like we could all use a moment to hear gratitude from others.

What We Are Grateful For

Here are a few things I have been particularly grateful for over this past month:

A place that feels like home.

Alyssa and Ellie smiling while eating at dinette

Even though we ideally wouldn’t be in tornado country in April, one thing I’ve been grateful for this past month is a place that feels like our home. The Forza has room for Ellie’s bed, a place for us to work, and space to lounge and relax. 

There’s even a place for Ellie to play when we take breaks on drive days (which we haven’t had in a while). We’re able to latch Ellie’s car seat into the dinette in the Forza as well.

Ellie sitting of Forza sofa holding a toy

We’ve spent a decent amount of time in smaller motorhomes over the last few years and right now I’m very grateful for space and opposing slide outs. Most of us don’t live in an RV for the sake of living in an RV, but we do it because of the places this home can take us.

In a moment when we aren’t moving, I’m so incredibly grateful for an RV we can live in (and one that can also take us to cool places once it’s safe to do so).

Community (even if from afar).

Alyssa sitting in a chair in front of Forza with two friends sitting in chairs at a distance

The past month, some of our friends hunkered down at the same campground as us in northern Alabama. We never went in each others’ RVs, but we occasionally had socially distant happy hours together at sunset. It made a world of difference to not feel alone. 

A major reason we’ve continued to travel since 2014 is the people we’ve met on the road. To have a couple of them around helps remind us that we aren’t going through this alone.

Those who have stepped up and led during a hard moment.

Winnebago Facebook post about sewing masks

This is a bit of rah-rah Heath speaking, but the amount of people and companies who have chosen to go out of their way to do good makes my heart feel warm.

From Winnebago sewing masks (pictured above) to John Krasinki’s Some Good News on YouTube (which I highly recommend), the past month has created opportunities for our communities and companies to lead in a positive light.

Specifically, in the RV industry, I’ve seen so many people move quickly to help address the needs of RVers. Below are a few examples.

  • The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) & the Canadian Campground Association are both advocating on behalf of private campground owners across the continent. (Some of which have faced mandatory closures and other obstacles during this time). 
  • RV park directories like Campendium and CampgroundReviews have been tracking park closures to help broadcast who is currently open. 
  • Outdoorsy recently hosted a webinar to help share the “state of the industry” and have an open conversation on how things were going. 

Being able to work and be a small part of an industry that cares is something I’m grateful for.

Lastly, I’m grateful for the outdoors.

Padgett family on a hike with Ellie in a stroller

During the first two weeks of quarantining, we faced a lot of nasty weather and rain. It almost felt like the weather was reflecting the state of the world and how so many of us felt. 

Then, it cleared up and we had 70-degree days and sun. 

Our local friends recommended a series of hiking trails and we started going in the mornings. Almost immediately, we felt better.

For us, being outside was the primary reason why we started RVing in the first place.

We wanted to explore some of the most beautiful parts of America from the comfort of our own home. We didn’t plan on continuing this life indefinitely and this year we didn’t plan on a pandemic. 

But despite all the obstacles we faced this last month as RVers, I still genuinely believe we’ll continue RVing for years to come. There are still so many national parks and hidden gems that we want to explore for ourselves and share with Ellie (just not this month).

Amidst this hard moment, I hope you’re finding the little things to be grateful for. 

If you feel like sharing, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. What’s been one or two things you’re grateful for right now?