I was asked some really good questions this past week about certain parts of our lifestyle. I thought I'd answer them in a post for anyone else out there that may be wondering about the same things :)...
1. My husband's travel to and from work... For anyone that doesn't know, he is employed in the oil industry. The company that he has been with for the past two years pays for the flights to and from their office here in the U.S. (the crews meet up at the office/shop and from there they drive company equipment out into the field to work). All he has to do is call in to the office one week in advance of when he will need the ticket and tell them where he will be flying to/from. As long as the flight is to/from somewhere in the lower 48, it can be a different place each time. And has been :)! From what I've been told, not many oil companies pay for flights and some of the other ones that do, want the airports to only change at most every few months because they buy the tickets way in advance. The company my husband is with only buys the ticket when he calls and tells them where he needs it from/to.
2. The weeks when it's just me and the kids... I wasn't sure how I'd feel about being alone with the kids in a camper for weeks at a time, but I was excited to find out :)! (Dan and I have been married for nearly seventeen years, until we set out on this adventure I had never spent a single night in a camper without my husband there with me.) We have moved quite a bit in the past several years for work reasons and up until last summer each move was into a traditional house. Sometimes to a city in a neighborhood setting, sometimes far from any town and surrounded by forest and mountains. I will be honest and tell you that there were nights that I did not sleep...I got "spooked" by some noise or other and in a big house (unfamiliar house in an unfamiliar place) it's hard to know what it was exactly, ya know? So, anyway...I wasn't sure how it would be at night in a camper. I'm happy to tell you that it's way less scary! The small space is a blessing when it comes to "bumps in the night". No spot in the camper is very far from where ever I am at any moment and it is super easy to figure out what made what noise. I think being so much closer to the kids while they sleep puts my mind at ease, too. I'm right there, literally feet from them, should anything happen.
3. Feeling secure in endless new environments... This one has been (and continues to be) a learning process for me. One neat thing about living in campgrounds is the general atmosphere. I don't know exactly how to describe it, but the people seem to sorta look out for each other. I have never felt threatened by a fellow camper. The only problem I have had, has been with an actual employee of the campground (crazy, right?). In that instance, since the problem was with the campground laundry, the solution was simple...I never went back in there. Instead, I used a laundromat nearby that ended up being way better all around :)! I have also learned to switch up my routine. The need to do this became evident when I had a man start chatting with me and the kids in town one day. He seemed nice enough until he made the comment "I saw you here last Thursday, too"...and yes, that day was also a Thursday!!! Fuh-reaked me out! A reminder that people are watching and paying attention, so I really needed to do the same! After that, I don't go to the same places on the same days each week...I mix it up. My best advice to you would be to just keep your eyes and ears open at all times. I'm not saying to be afraid, just be aware. If something doesn't feel right or safe, then simply leave.
4. How do we keep busy when Dad is at work... School, school, and more school :). The weeks that Dan is home we keep the actual book work to a minimum. This is for two reasons...so the kids can spend as much time as possible with Dad and also because that is the time when we are moving every couple of days and our days are really full. So, the weeks he is gone we really buckle down and work on the books. School takes up a large part of each day, but we find plenty of time for adventuring, too. Not every single day, but I'd say five out of seven, the kids and I do something fun and unique to our location. Sea glass hunting walks on the coast, local Jr. Ranger programs, swimming, things like that :)
5. Struggles... Like anyone, it's hard to be apart from my spouse for such long stretches of time. The first week when he has to go back to work seems to be the hardest, the missing him and counting days until the hitch is over begins all over again. That really is the main struggle. We have had some issues with our 5th wheel, but God has been so good to me! There has not been a single issue that I (with my limited fix-it abilities) couldn't handle on my own. The bigger issues have all seemed to happen the day Dan gets home...no way that's a coincidence!
6. Money... Maybe I should have listed this under struggles ;). If you are trying to figure out a budget for a trip like ours, I would suggest adding a few zeros here and there. *sigh* We had hoped to be able to save up a good chunk of money by living this lifestyle and so far it really hasn't happened. Everything just costs SO much! Even the price of groceries varies so much from region to region...
7. Use the internet!... Not really a question, just something I want to share with you :). We look up reviews and pictures of places where we are considering staying. Especially the places where the kids and I stay by ourselves. RV Park Reviews is a really good place to start when looking for a campground in an unfamiliar area. Dan will even look at a potential campground on google maps to get an idea of the surrounding area. Something that I use a lot when getting acclimated in a new place is Yelp. The reviews on there (I have found) are generally very accurate and to the point. I have also found some really great places by doing a search on Yelp that I otherwise wouldn't have known about.
Well, I'm about talked out for this evening :). It's getting really late and I told the kids we would go the the beach first thing tomorrow morning. This has been fun, though! I like to hear from ya'll and I hope the things I've shared help some of you. Let me know (in the comments) if you have any more questions, I'll do my best to answer them :)