After successful evasion for 10 months, we succumbed to the pandemic, leaving us confined to our tiny home.
To pass the time, I hung out in my office doing some freelance writing, assembling jigsaw puzzles, researching boondocking stops for this year, and even interviewing for jobs. Bob played video games and watched “Dr. Who.” We came together every day to eat and watch movies.
Thankfully, we only had mild symptoms and no fevers, but we still felt pretty cruddy for more than a week. Our symptoms seemed to come one after another without overlapping. One day I had a sore throat. The next day a dry cough plagued me. Diarrhea and abdominal pain appeared, followed by three days of excruciating back pain. Then I felt normal for a day, but it was short-lived.
Down to 3 Senses
The following day, major congestion assaulted my sinuses. This lasted for a number of days while visions of tasting and smelling danced in my head. Yes, I lost my sense of taste and smell for 10 days at the time of this writing. I’ve been getting hints those senses will be fully restored soon. Bob has had his all along.
You don’t realize how much you take things for granted until they’re gone. I haven’t been able to tell if my clothes pass the sniff test or if the scent of flowing propane indicates a burner on the stove went out. On the other hand, I haven’t been subject to unpleasant odors.
Food lost its appeal for me without being able to taste it. I cooked some meals thinking they sounded good, but I couldn’t taste them to see if they had enough flavor. I was left to “taste” based purely on texture. Did my grilled cheese have a nice crunchy exterior? Did my mashed potatoes have a creamy consistency? And things like that.
Our laundry piled up, and dust accumulated, and we didn’t have the energy to address it. Congestion gave way to a headache and ear pain. We took over-the-counter medicines to help, such as Tylenol, DayQuil, Robitussin DM, and NyQuil. We drank Throat Coat Tea to soothe our ailing throats and to bring some relief to our stuffy noses.
Despite our tall ceilings that made confinement to our tiny home tolerable, it felt like the walls were closing in on us after a while. To cope, we carried our dinner outside one evening and ate it on our concrete pad. We took short walks away from people to stretch our legs and get some fresh air.
After more than 14 days, I felt mostly back to normal and ventured out to restock our dwindling refrigerator and pantry inventory, thankful our food supply lasted the duration. I also visited a local laundromat and caught up on our overflowing hamper of dirty clothes.
And then, I cleaned the entire trailer after two weeks. It’s wonderful to have a clean home again — and to be on the other side of the pandemic.
Amazingly, we didn’t get sick of each other but rather found the close proximity of one another comforting. It gave us assurance we were in this thing together.
We’ve been in the same lot at a mobile home/RV park in the Phoenix area for three months and have another month to go before moving on. It’s been interesting staying stationary for this long after our eventful summer and has made us realize a number of advantages and disadvantages of being anchored for a time. First, let’s look at the pros. Then, we’ll move on to the cons.
Pro #1: Cheaper Rate
When you commit to an extended period of time at a park like we’re at, the park often gives you a bigger cost break. Because we signed up to stay here four months, our daily rate — including utilities — adds up to less than $20. We likely couldn’t stay at a campground for that price.
Pro #2: Active Members of Society
Our park has both permanent and seasonal residents. Because it’s gated, it’s kind of an entity unto itself, making for a community atmosphere. As a result, we’ve befriended fellow RVers, as well as permanent inhabitants. Everyone we’ve encountered here has been quite friendly.
Not only do we feel like an active part of this society, but we also contribute to the society outside our park instead of being transients passing through. For example, we’re able to volunteer at the Commemorative Air Force weekly, visit family in the area, and regularly frequent the same grocery store.
Pro #3: Package Delivery
Being in a single location makes it easy to stock up on supplies. By staying in a city, not only can we visit local stores to purchase items we’ve run out of, but we also have a shipping destination for supplies we order online.
A word of caution: Some campgrounds don’t allow campers to receive packages. Be sure you check the rules of where you stay.
Pro #4: Chance to Do Bigger RV Projects
Just as a house requires regular maintenance of key systems, so does an RV. When traveling, it’s hard to find time and a spot to tackle some of those larger projects. Having a designated lot for a period of time allows us ample opportunity to take care of them. For example, we were able to grease Tagalong’s wheel bearings and axles, an important step before embarking on our next journey.
Again, many campgrounds don’t allow for maintenance-type activities, so be sure to check before attempting a project like this.
Con #1: Accumulation Creep
The collection of our things has undoubtedly grown while we’ve been stationary. Without packing and closing the trailer regularly, the added accumulation hasn’t been as noticeable as it might otherwise be.
Some RVers are careful to follow the “one in, one out” rule to avoid this, meaning for every new item they introduce to their RV, they remove one. Because we haven’t been diligent about that, we’re playing catchup to eliminate the things we don’t need or haven’t used before we hit the road again.
Con #2: Lackadaisical Attitude
Knowing we’d be in one area for a while put us in kind of a procrastination mindset, thinking we’d have plenty of time before leaving. Now that we’re down to one month left, we’ve realized (and made a list of) all the things we need to accomplish before we set out on our next adventure. Lackadaisical attitude, be cursed!
Con #3: Reliance on Modern Conveniences
Because we have full hookups — electric, water, and sewer — we’ve found ourselves liberal with how much we let our water run for dishes and showers. Here, it’s not a commodity like it is when we’re boondocking. However, if we don’t take measures to curb this habit, we’ll be sorry when we find ourselves with no hookups and have to keep close tabs on our water usage.
Similarly, we’ve grown accustomed to having constant access to our microwave. It’s definitely a luxury item that doesn’t work when we’re not plugged in. So, we’ll have to make some adjustments before heading to a location where we don’t have shore power.
Con #4: Out of Practice
“Repetition is the mother of learning, the father of action, which makes it the architect of accomplishment,” said author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar.
After being stationary for three months, we got out of the repetition of packing and closing our trailer to hook it up to Gulliver. We found out just how out of practice we were when we had to revisit those steps in order to carry out some needed maintenance. It’s a good thing we keep checklists so we don’t miss anything.
After 2.5 months of staying in the same spot, the adventure bug hit. So, we heeded the call and jetted to Las Vegas to celebrate 30 years of marriage, leaving Tagalong secure in the mobile home/RV park we’re at through mid-February. Gulliver stood sentinel at the Phoenix Airport economy parking for four days, watching cars, trucks, airplanes, and passersby.
The hotel we stayed at in Las Vegas, Treasure Island, upgraded us from a deluxe king room with a view of the Strip to a petite suite with the same view, for no additional charge. This suite housed two bathrooms, both of which had a toilet, sink, counter, and closet. The larger of the two bathrooms featured a jacuzzi tub, while the smaller held a shower.
Living in a fifth wheel, we’re used to sharing one bathroom just big enough for one of us, with a decent-size shower. The large bathroom alone spanned more than the living room in our trailer.
Our typical RV showers consist of turning on the water, getting wet, turning off the water, lathering up, and then turning on the water to rinse. That’s it. And that’s after turning on the water heater and waiting a half hour or so for it to generate warm water.
Living in the Lap of Luxury
As you can imagine, we lingered in the luxurious tub, soaking up every minute of it. We could have stayed in our hotel room for the duration of our trip and been just fine, other than needing to go out for food on occasion, but we could do that anywhere. Since we were in Vegas, we took the opportunity to do some sightseeing.
This was the first time we stayed more in the heart of the Strip rather than at one end or the other. We visited the “Avengers” interactive exhibit in our hotel and enjoyed seeing costumes and props that were actually used in filming the movies. (Don't worry, we used hand sanitizer before and after touching any of the exhibits.)
We also roamed the Forum Shops of Caesars Palace, the Grand Canal Shoppes in the Venetian, and the Fashion Show Mall — all of which were within walking distance of our hotel. We walked to the Bellagio and watched the fountain show, toured the Paris hotel, observed the volcano show at the Mirage, and ventured to various restaurants when our tummies rumbled.
We commemorated our milestone anniversary at our favorite restaurant in the area, Battista’s Hole in the Wall. After learning about this gem on our very first Uber ride (years ago), we try to visit it every time we’re in the area. It had been closed when we were stuck in Vegas in the spring to get Gulliver’s new shoes, so we were thrilled to find it open this time.
When we did hunker down in our room, we streamed the “Avengers” movies I hadn’t seen yet, inspired by the exhibit we had witnessed and beaming with excitement whenever we spotted one of the props we had seen.
We’re glad to have gone on another adventure, but that old saying holds true: “There’s no place like home.” Although we may miss that glorious jacuzzi tub, we’re happy to be back in our own space with our own things, including our many windows that showcase the beautiful desert scenery around us. But mostly, we’re thankful we have each other to enjoy this adventurous life journey with.
This is the travel blog of full-time RVers Bob and Lana Gates and our truck, Gulliver, and fifth wheel, Tagalong.