Travel Trailer Life in My Vintage Fan Camper

RootlessRoutes Travel Trailer Life

About a year ago I decided to create a life devoted almost solely to travel. Become… a Digital Nomad so to speak. Somehow I planned to diminish my expenses so that the majority of any future income could be directed to my travels.

Now I knew I wanted to live my life on the road, but had absolutely no idea how I was going to achieve that. Having already sort of ditched my home, I knew I was part of the way there, but when my random and impulsive purchase of a 1971 Fan Lee Liner occurred, my journey towards living a travel trailer life began. I was that much closer to my dream.

Although I am not even living in the damned thing as of yet.

RootlessRoutes Travel Trailer Life
Vintage Fan Lee Liner 16 foot Travel Trailer / Travel Trailer Life RootlessRoutes

Preparing for my Travel Trailer Life

It has taken far longer than I ever imagined for the stars to align and allow me to move in and start this new travel filled life.

Since I had little plan beyond that which existed in my head, I am not actually off schedule. But I’m ready and it is certainly time!

RootlessRoutes Travel Trailer Life
Entrance to my 1971 Fan Lee Liner Travel Trailer

I left the camper with the guy from whom I had purchased it until April, due to weather. Although I picked the travel trailer up as intended, I ended up heading back to Scotland for a month again. That’s twice in one year now. Since that time, I have been across the US numerous times. East to West, North to South and diagonally covering every existing coast on the mainland.

You just cannot visit Scotland too many times. Ever!RootlessRoutes Scotland 2018

Scottish Highland sheep 2018

Dundonald Castle 2018
Durness Beach RootlessRoutes
Durness Beach 2018

Rootless Routes Scotland Road Trip 2017Traquair House grounds 2017

It is not the trailer restoration that has taken so very long, but the typical extenuating circumstances of life. Sort of the expected, unexpected, that we all know will happen but do not know what they will be.

With little warning I had to pick up Roadie from the dog sitter. This was about a month earlier than intended. Roadie was located over 3000 miles away. I was missing her terribly anyway.

Roadie the dog RootlessRoutes
Roadie An Australian Cattle Dog living the Travel Trailer Life

This put me back on yet another cross country US road trip, right at the time I had planned to be selling off my shit and fixing up the trailer. It also ate up a large amount of my budget well ahead of time. But it was just part of life’s expected unexpected.

Not being one to miss an opportunity to travel. I turned this diversion into a travel adventure, albeit also a bit out of a necessity.

I flew from Virginia to Portland, drove to Seattle pick up the dog, and back to Portland I went.

Drove from Portland to Austin, Texas and then from Austin, Texas to Providence, Rhode Island, booking AirBnBs in the places I wished to explore. I did indeed get to explore and visit friends and family. But I was far away from the travel trailer that was meant to be a part of these journeys.

Planes, Trains, Automobiles, Dogs, Cats & Kin

When I found out that I had but days to pick up Roadie from the dog sitter in Seattle, I was staying in Virginia Beach.

Having left my SUV at my sons place in Portland when I left for Scotland, I had to book a last minute flight to Portland to pick it up, then drive to Seattle to pick up the dog. But of course, the travel trailer was still in Virginia Beach. Most of my belongings are in storage in Pawtucket (near Providence) and my Mom was feeling lonely in Austin.

RootlessRoutes Lincoln Aviator
My trusty steed that shall be the forefront of my travel trailer life

My 92 year old Mom was depressed and needing to see me, so after visiting with my son for a bit I headed to Austin Texas.

Dew the cat
Dew the cat

Jameson, my son had been watching Dew the cat while I was away and was not at all thrilled that I was not taking her with me. But the dog was sick, the journey ahead long and I just could not drag that poor skittish cat on another journey until I had the travel trailer ready for her.

I must make note that the dog nearly died in Baker City, Oregon. At 16 she is already quite elderly. An amazing vet saved her. Alika Fisher figured out it was a resurgence of an infection from a tick bite shed experienced in 10 years earlier. If you ever have an ailing pet in Baker City Oregon do not hesitate to stop at Baker City Animal Clinic. They saved Roadies life.

So we’ve covered planes, automobiles, dogs, cats and kin. There were no trains involved. Sorry.

Selling Off Your Life

It takes forever to sell off all of your shit. Especially if you’re living nowhere. Staying with friends and in AirBnBs until your home (travel trailer) is ready to move into kinda sucks.  You cannot help but feel that you are putting those involved out. Being home is never really being in YOUR home, which puts a lot of ones routine on hold. You stay on perpetual visit mode.

The money consequently runs out pretty damned fast. And you get to the point, after staying far longer than intended, that you feel as if you’re walking on eggshells. No matter how welcoming the people hosting your stay may be, it is indeed their home and not yours.

With my writing, photography, online shops and GoPro editing I need a fair amount of space to work and it is quite difficult for some to share their space in that manner. I don’t tend to just visit, I need t spread out in order to work.

Although my friends in Virginia have been remarkably kind. I have lived amongst them on and off a great deal in the past year. They have become like family to me. A family more accepting and appreciative of me and my lifestyle than one I have ever known.

They have offered me understanding and support. Given me unending space and freedom to live as I wished within the confines of their home. Lent a hand at fixing up the camper and with helping me move about. I will miss them when I go and cherish everything they have so selflessly offered me.

Travel Trailer Life

My 1971 Fan Lee Liner RootlessRoutes
My 1971 Fan Lee Liner Travel Trailer

Yesterday, my 1971 Fan Lee Liner went into the shop to complete the things I could not do myself. Soon I will be on the road doing a cross country test drive. Nothing is even close to ready. Yet the travel trailer is ready enough for me to live in. I will finally truly be living on the road nevertheless.

My travel trailer life will begin.

Well sort of.

I still need to head back to Rhode Island to try and sell off more of my shit yet once again. But at least I can stay in the trailer and not bleed out money to an AirBnB. I suppose once living in the travel trailer, no matter what I am doing I have at least met this one goal.

It’s ironic that getting to the point that I can begin my travel trailer life lifestyle, may be harder than actually living it. Once I finally start living in the damned thing.

I read so many blogs about the travel trailer life, the RV life, Van life but I have yet to read about what a pain in the ass it is getting to the point where you have cut enough ties from stuff and expectations to actually move in and start… well living the travel trailer life. But I am close, so very close!

If you wish to find out how it all shakes out. Follow my blog and we can experience it together.

Madrid New Mexico | Part III | Desert Oasis

RootlessRoutes Madrid New Mexico 2018

Overwhelmed with relief to see the sign ‘Welcome to Madrid’, I knew my turn onto Back Road was close at hand.

No longer any need for the low tire pressure warning since now there was no doubt that the tire was entirely flat.

Madrid New Mexico RootlessRoutes
Hello Madrid New Mexico August 2018. It as a Hell of a ride getting to you.

After turning on Back Road it was only one half mile left to the AirBnB.

The night was even darker, but it did not take me long to realize this was yet another unpaved road, laden with huge gaping potholes.

FUCK!

Hello Madrid

Here we are, actually in Madrid and subsequently what I thought would be the end of our ordeal. But now I was driving on a pitch black, unmarked dirt road, riddled with fissures and huge holes.

I started chanting again.  “Come on baby, you can do it”.

The shaking of the SUV caused Roadie to sit up and try to peer out the window.

“Lie down dammit!” I yelled, worried she’d get hurt flying across her bed, even within the doggie hammock.

A nice comfy bed was ahead of us. I just needed to make it. Only one fourth of a mile to go.

I envisioned sleeping in a bed as I traveled down the  mild grade of the unlevel and poorly maintained, muddy road.

Before me the rent in the road was wide, deep and on the same side as the flat back tire.

There was little room between the cars parked on either side but nothing was going to stop me at this point.

Slowly I pulled forward, the front right tire fell into the unavoidable hole causing the SUV to lean dangerously to the right.

Unpaved Roads & Anxious Dogs

The dog fell backward (I had told her to lay her ass down) and clunked her head on the door.

Thankfully, once we made it out of the hole she sat up, after a bit of struggle to get her ground and started panting like the happy dog she is.

RootlessRoutes
Waldo Mesa Road Madrid New Mexico

How could .3 miles take so long. I swore the GPS was stuck.

As soon as I got close to what looked like the turn for Waldo Mesa Road, the map would expand showing it to be further ahead.

One more gaping hole in the road, of course it was also on the right. We made it through and were once more on level ground. Now making our way up a mild hill covered with huge sharp, rocks for gravel. (don’t they know what gravel is in New Mexico?)

We completed the last turn in the road and the roadway mellowed.

Flat dirt, no holes and I was pretty sure the light shining up ahead was the light for our AirBnB.

As we got closer though I groaned. The house was just as pictured, but subsequently on another fissure ridden hill.

“For fucks sake!”

I turned onto Waldo Mesa Road and stopped in front of the gate. I got out and took a deep breath. It may have been quite a challenge getting here, but I was in the New Mexico desert and it was beautiful.

Grateful in Madrid

I was so grateful to have made it I could have kissed the sand below my feet.

I took a few moments to appreciate my surroundings and remind myself how lucky I was to be here at all.

The AirBnB was adorable and it was surrounded by the scrubby, rolling hills of New Mexico.

Even in the dark it glowed with a tinge of pink. If I had to have 2 flat tires, then better in this place. I was infinitely glad to be there.

Roadie whimpered. She had to pee.

Leaving the SUV on the road I helped her out of the back seat and escorted her to our new digs.

The key was on the table as promised, so I let her in and went back down the hill.

Pulling the SUV in was not easy. The Aviator sat at a precarious angle but I really wanted to get into bed and sleep.

After hauling everything we needed for the night, I loaded the cold stuff into the fridge, washed up, changed and fell fast asleep.

Madrid New Mexico. About as bleary a picture as I felt

Madrid, New Mexico.

Good night!

Madrid New Mexico | Part II | Google Maps Hell

Madrid New Mexico

Only 7 miles from Madrid and I was most certainly not the carefree dog in the car hammock. (click for Part I)

I was driving a heavily loaded SUV with a dangerously low tire along an unfamiliar roadway with sharp turns, steep inclines and little between myself and the edge.

The dog was snoring. Swaying without a care in the world in her hammock in the back.

Madrid New Mexico
A dark entrance over the pothole covered unpaved road into Madrid

It was after 3am. The dark of night before me was nothing more than what looked like an empty abyss.

Highway 14 coiled up a steep grade with little between us and what was a likely harrowing end below.

In the pitch of night it was impossible to see more than a few feet around, but easy to surmise the depths that lay beyond the edge of the tenuous roadway.

Only 6 miles to Madrid.

The console indicator kept demanding attention to its unmitigating message “Air pressure dangerously low”.

We weaved down to more level ground and I breathed a sigh of relief.

Just 5 more miles, just 5 more miles.

I Curse Thee, Google Maps

The tire had gone flat earlier in the day.

Against my better judgement I filled it with Fixaflat and headed back out.

With only 16 miles to Madrid, I figured it should at least hold that far.

It was after 1am. I’d covered well over 900 miles that day. An unplanned detour added 4 hours to the drive but I thought it worth the experience.

Skyline Drive took me miles out of the way in Utah. It was also likely to blame for instigating the troubles we were experiencing now.

Skyline Drive, Manti-La Sal National Forest, Utah
Skyline Drive, Manti-La Sal National Forest, Utah

Well worth the added miles and the trouble, but trouble I was now in, nevertheless.

With so few miles to go, we just had to make it. Just HAD too.

Almost To Madrid

I drove with care towards Madrid, switching from my preferred WAZE to Google maps, just in case I lost signal out there in the middle of nowhere.

I love WAZE. She has directed me safely across countless cities and unfamiliar continents, but she is limited when signal is lost.

Google Maps allows you to preload maps, so if signal is lost you still have a map to follow.

But then Google Maps did what it does and put me on 57A, a gravel road, full of potholes the size of gullies.

I do not see how at 1am, in the middle of the desert, this was a better option than the paved highway only a few miles out of the way.

57A between 25 and 14. is not a worthy shortcut, remain on the highway and go the extra few miles to go around.
57A is not a paved road. It is a farm road for local use and not to be trifled with via anything but a 4WD or off road vehicle.

It is not the first time Google Maps has pulled this shit and it is why I prefer WAZE. WAZE acknowledges that easier and safer is at times better than faster, far more than does Google.

Only 3 miles to Madrid.

Digital Nomad Scam | Pyramid Schemes without Pyramids

So you want to be a digital nomad? Pay me and I will tell you how!

Osprey backpack Digital Nomad 2017
Osprey backpack on a train from DC to VA

It is big business and it is a scam. This new “travel the world” “digital nomad” MLM industry is outright treachery. These people travel the world by making money in a pyramid scheme. A scheme selling information to others about how they can travel the world without “working”. 

Essentially a pyramid scheme that will likely not help very many to ever see the Pyramids. Although the shithead to whom they have just paid their hard earned money might.

Become a digital nomad they promise. All by selling the same story of how to become a digital nomad to equally unwitting but hopeful souls. In the end they make money on the concept of an idea, by getting others to sell the concept of the idea, to others who dream of that concept of an idea coming true.

But being a digital nomad by squeezing dollars from the backs of others with similar dreams, by promising them independence is… well not independence at all. It is being a money grubbing shill by making others beholden to you with something not likely to ever actually give them what they believe they are getting.

Sure you may actually pull it off. Make enough money to travel and live the life of a digital nomad. Then sell similar ideas to others that in turn might sell these ideas to others.You may even make a fortune from it.

But most will never find a way to put in the time needed, and in the end it is not a sustainable career, nor is it conceptually or otherwise actually what it claims to be. It is a scam and even if you are successful at it, YOU are a scammer.

Deep down, I know you fucking know it. Maybe you don’t care. Good for you. You’re living your dream. Isn’t that what America is all about? Living your dream off of the backs of others? Fuck yeah!

A True Digital Nomad

Ok, so maybe some of those working hard to sell this idea, do not see the harm in it. Afterall, it only claims to be what it is. Yet, hot blonde, bikini clad beauties, standing ankle deep in azure seas, on a desolate beach, drink in hand, buff boyfriend at side is not realistic.  It happens, but it is NOT for sale.

Life on the road is neither that pretty, that easy, nor is it anywhere near that romantic. Half the time it sucks!

The sun is shining, the waterfalls are calling, the birds are singing and I’m sitting in my shitty hotel room trying to get a half decent post written with dodgy wifi and a churning stomach from the shit I should not have eaten the night before, but there was nothing else available when I arrived at 3am.

I haven’t had a decent nights sleep in days, my Mom is upset she hasn’t heard from me and AT&T means nothing over here. My credit card is expired, there is a hurricane heading my way and the ferry I already booked and paid for may not run to bring me to the AirBnB I also already paid for and booked. YAY!

Being a true “digital nomad” is finding a way to make things work for yourself.

Living free of the constraints of the day to day rigors of a typical life. But it also means, lost luggage, missed planes, stolen passports and wandering the streets for hours in search of a decent wifi signal. Horrifyingly discovering the best wifi is in McDonalds.

So there you are, in this beautiful fucking exotic place, sitting in McDonalds a place you would never go to at home, picking at french fries that disgust you, and you would never eat at home, while snotty faced American kids run around with coke products erupting from every orifice, screaming like banshees.

You never see pictures of an exhausted, pale faced, chubby brunette, sitting in McDonalds. Their broken laptop taped together with duct tape, hair knotted, dark circles under their eyes, in stained and dirty clothes now do ya?

Ferry ride on the tail of a hurricane 2017

A life full of travel is full of wonder. Amazing people, glorious food, beautiful landscapes and awe inspiring experiences. It is also, flat tires, false promises. Being sick in a country where no one speaks your language, money lost, money stolen, broken cameras and no cellphone signal.

Sure the digital nomad life is a form of being a free spirit. Seeing the world, meeting amazing people and it certainly has its moments of toes in white sand watching a sunset.

But it is hard work before, during, after and everywhere in between of your travels.  It just IS.

Bikini Clad Instagram Babe

It is an enticing concept. This pretty, young girl hits you up on Instagram asking you if you would like to join her Facebook group of fellow travelers. The group explodes with people seemingly just like you. Traveling or dreaming of travel, trying to find a way to make their dream come alive or working their way through a similar dream and finding it hard as Hell.

There are the pictures of her firm, thin, young body, next to her buff boyfriend on some veranda. The sun setting. Wind blowing her long blonde hair. Maybe she is yoga posing on a rock. Or shot from behind, her straw hatted head looking into the horizon of the setting sun. Behind her some exotic landscape looms.

Yeah right. It took 50 shots and an awful lot of outtakes to get there. Most beaches like that are crowded as Hell. Where the fuck is she anyway? And is her boyfriend a professional photographer? (likely YES!)

It seems so easy. For only $150 or $350… Hell one was $1500. You too can learn how to convince others to hand over their money to learn what you will soon pay to learn.The money will roll in and you will set out on your nomadic life.

Your waist will thin, your hair will grow. Sand will never find its way between the creases of your tight ass.You will skip through the jungle with ease. Your groovy, bearded boytoy at your side. Some… a very few some I might add. Will make a veritable fortune and maybe even travel the world. Albeit on the backs of the suckers they drew in.

Rationalizing their bullshit con job, by convincing themselves that they are truly selling an idea that will help others. Or just not giving a shit how they make their money so that they may travel.

Well FUCK YOU!

Many just won’t be heartless enough assholes to pull it off. Only to be left feeling like hopeless losers instead of the likely better people that they are. Certainly better than the shit heads that lured them into their web of deceit in the first place.

The AMWAY of Digital Nomad ing

Selling promises via MLM marketing is the same or even worse than some of the shittiest products sold via MLM out there.

In the end, at least with AMWAY or Cutco Knives, you end up with an overabundance of unwanted and unneeded product. As well as does half your family. But with “how to be a digital nomad” concept, all you end up with, is advice and the dashing of a dream.

Maybe a shitty book or better yet, an ebook. Advice on how to bilk others out of their money by promising them a streamlined path to their dream, so that they too can become a piece of shit like you and bilk others out of their savings and their dreams.

Yes you can travel the world and be a digital nomad.

No! It isn’t easy.

Being a “Digital Nomad” is not NOT working. How do I know this? Well because I am one. Not working while traveling is really fucking hard unless you have money already in the bank! And… that shit goes fast so you better have a fucking LOT of it!

It is working your ass off doing things you LOVE in order to help support your dream of travel. Or creatively finding ways to cover you as you work your way across the world.

Selling your half assed self help books or pyramid schemes while living off of the dreams of others may be fine for you. It certainly is not illegal. It is in and of itself pretty hard work. But what do you gain? A beautiful instagram, a chance to travel, money and an empty black heart!

Don’t get me wrong, there are good books and advisors out there. Nomadic Matt or Trey Ratcliff and quite a few of the early innovators in this space are fantastic sources for ways to make things work.

There are new and innovative digital nomads discovering new ideas and sharing their ideas every day. Some at a small fee. But it is practical and helpful advice and it never suggests anything like what these pyramid scheme hucksters promise. But for every one of these truly valuable resources there are thousands upon thousands of absolute crap.

If it seems to easy to be true. In fact if it seems easy at ALL then it is bullshit.

If there was some secret way of making such a life work, it would not be a secret for long. Trust me!

The Successful Digital Nomad

Some people get the formula right. Others just get fucking lucky. They ALL work hard enough to get their blog to a point, where they experience money coming in.

This often entails at the very least 4 to 8 hours of work 7 days a week, working on something that may never bring in a dime while traveling and will likely take at least a year or two to hit if at all. Which is really fucking hard.

You have to understand the semantics of social media, write well, understand SEO, take good pictures, be consistent, be tireless in hitting up people to help sponsor, connect, link or 5 million other things you must do to succeed.

Other people have careers that allow them to work remotely. Some are writers, photographers (real photographers not just good picture takers). Programmers, nurses.There are a lot of great careers and or skills that will make such a life easier to obtain. But, the life itself… it just is not easy. Freedom is hard, fucking hard.

Living outside the realm of what is considered “usual” is even harder. Many of the alternately successful people. Those who more quickly than is common built up a way to survive on the road, often have a background in SEO, writing, advertising, journalism or communications.

A knack for storytelling, writing and are skilled at web building. They are organized, committed, focused and realistic. Many saved money for years before hand.

There are world travelers living life on the road who do not go digital but find odd jobs and work here and there. Some dabble in buying and selling or trading their way across continents. There are so many legitimate ways to get by on the road. Hard work, creativity, passion and dedication are the keys to all of it.

But selling an idea to the hopeful to pave the way to your dreams. Knowing full well that most of them have no chance of ever making any of what you suggest could happen is just the opposite of being a free spirit.  It is being a money grubbing, scammer.

Of course you may travel the world. You may even get rich doing it.

But no matter how far you travel, how much you see. You will never really see the absolute beauty in world like those more true to heart.

I know how hard it is and I’m ok with that. You will never see the glory of the world I get to see! There is no glory in living your dream off the backs of others.