First Week in the Books

I started writing this brain dump on Friday, intending to post it on Sunday (my 1 week nomadiversary). On Sunday, I headed eastbound about 4 hours from my campground in Stuarts Draft, VA to my first Harvest Hosts stay in Prince Frederick, MD. I can’t even fully explain how different these two stays are from each other. But I’ll try, obviously, because this would be a real short post if I didn’t…

I stayed at Shenandoah Acres Family Campground from Sunday-Sunday. There were 320 RV spots, with about 1/4 of them being seasonal campers, 1/4 being monthly campers, and the rest coming and going on no particular schedule. I had full hook-ups (water, electric, and sewer – I’ll do another post about that later) and a pull-through spot, which cost me $285 for the week. During the week, I posted up outside and worked while my dogs sat under a tree, then we walked around the campground at night before cooking dinner on my grill and drinking a Truly while watching other campers drive and walk by. The campground was probably only about half full during the week but on Friday, RV after RV after RV started coming in until every single spot was filled. There were children everywhere and entire families piled into golf carts. On Saturday night, there was even a DJ for the campground raffle! It was madness! Anyways, now that I’ve set the scene, here were some of my thoughts over the week:

There is nothing better than the smell of campfires around you

When you don’t have to worry about all of your clothes smelling like fire, it’s so much more enjoyable. It smells like fresh air. Mmmmmm…

Slow life is good

Most people at a campground are here to enjoy a vacation week or weekend, or are retired and are permanently in vacation mode. I’m the only one up when I walk my dogs at 8am! It’s hard not to relax when literally everyone around you is in vacation mode – no rushing to work, no getting mad at the person driving slow in front of you, no stress. The mood is infectious.

Why does everyone wave?

I know that people are friendlier in the South, so I’m curious to see whether everyone at campgrounds in the North wave every. single. time. they drive or walk by. My arm is getting tired. Stay tuned.

Do I need a golf cart?

Having a golf cart at a campground is equivalent to having a boat at a lake. Every night after dinner, families hop on their golf carts and do their laps around the campground, checking out the new arrivals and waving to every dang person they see (I’ll get used to it). I see more people on golf carts than I see walking – and it’s really not a big campground! They’re fairly cheap and kinda cute and people even put their dogs on them, so maybe I need one??

It’s so cool how a place can quickly feel like home

When I was in my parents’ front yard, I slept and worked in my RV, but did everything else in their house since I was only hooked up to electricity. Now that I’ve fully transitioned to my RV, it really feels like my home. I have all of my necessities and everything has a place. I think renovating it helped a lot, too. Although it is only about 275 square feet, it doesn’t feel tiny since it’s organized and intentional. I was worried that it would take me a while to get used to my “permanent vacation,” but since I’m still working full time and my routine is the same, I adjusted quickly.

Okay, now onto my Harvest Hosts experience. When I was planning my upcoming adventures last week, I originally planned on staying in Wal-Mart or Cracker Barrel parking lots. I don’t have to be at my next stop until July 1st, so I had a few days in between to figure out where to stay. I remembered seeing Harvest Hosts in some of the blogs that I’ve read about RV memberships, but have been hesitant to purchase anything before knowing what kind of RVer I’d be. When I thought more about it, I realized I wasn’t dead-set on working from a Wal-Mart parking lot for 3 days, so I looked up Harvest Hosts as another option. And boy, am I glad I did! It’s only $79 to purchase an annual membership. On their app or website, you put in your route and it shows all of the participating wineries, breweries, and farms that will allow you to stay a night or two in exchange for purchasing some of their goods. I saw that and I said, “sign me up”!

On my route from VA to the Poconos (my next stop) via DC, I saw that Running Hare Vineyard was on the way. So I emailed them and asked if I could stay and they said absolutely! There are no hook-ups at Harvest Hosts sites, since it’s usually just an open lot or field. Therefore, you’re “boondocking,” meaning that you are completely self-contained, relying on water from your fresh water tank that you fill beforehand, and your generator and propane tank for electricity and appliances. In one week, I learned how to hook up all of my hook-ups but also how to go completely off the grid. Let’s just say YouTube is my best friend now (sorry, Lee).

Anywho, when I pulled up on Sunday afternoon, I saw another RV was already set up, so I claimed the space beside them. I was kind of hoping for some peace and quiet after a rowdy Saturday night at the campground, but I am so glad I met Erin and Monica. They are travelling nurses and they travel with a Great Dane puppy, an older Great Dane, and a Belgian Malinois. Oh.. and 4 chicks. Erin and I went to the winery to get wine slushees and a beer so I could mark Maryland off my map (1 local beer = 1 state sticker). After that, our 5 dogs ran around the open field that we were parked in until they were too exhausted to run anymore.

Completely different scenario, right?

I loved being on the campground and feeling like I was part of a community, but I also loved meeting someone my age doing the same thing I’m doing. I hadn’t spoken to anyone in person about full-timing, so sitting with Erin with a gorgeous vineyard backdrop and sharing our experiences (I’ve had a lot in a week!) was something that I didn’t expect but greatly appreciated. One of my biggest worries was becoming lonely while on this journey but my first Harvest Hosts stay washed that one right down the drain.

Final thoughts now that I’ve experienced both a campground stay and boondocking:

Happiness is loving where you are

Location, milestone, state of mind. If you don’t like where you are, make a change!

Humans adapt

In 6 months, I went from having never even been in an RV to driving a 33′ Class C with my Jeep on the back around the country. I had no idea that there were even different types of RVs, and now I know more than I ever could have imagined. And I still don’t know much! I learn something new every single day. I adapt as need-be.

Scratch the golf cart, I need solar panels!

In order to get electricity, I have to have my generator on. It runs from the gas in my gas tank and is very noisy. If I had solar panels, my energy would be free (thanks to Mr. Sun), and I would be able to charge my laptop while enjoying the sounds of nature outside of my window. The only catch is that solar is pretty expensive and I have no idea how to get it. To be continued…

I’m a badass

Y’all have said this to me on a few occasions, but I chalked it up to the fact that I’m doing something out of the ordinary, something that people would love to do (and can!), but don’t. It wasn’t until I sat down on my first night alone in the motorhome that I own that I connected to full hook-ups all by myself (having never even camped before) that I realized how far I’ve come, simply because I had a goal. I’m 25 years old and I own a rental property, work a full-time job that I love, and am travelling the country all alone. Okay, yeah, I’m sort of a badass.

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