Romance in a Roadtrek…or how to keep it sweet on the road…
Hmmmm. how to write this, how to write this…
Well, one definition of romance is “a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love.”
A capitalized usage, Romance, refers to languages with a common origin in Latin, the language of ancient Rome.
Nope, not even close…
Another says that romance is “a quality or feeling of mystery, excitement, and remoteness from everyday life.”
WOW! That fits in so many ways….
And now you’re wondering what the heck this is going to be about. Well, it’s about Roadtreking, traveling, exploring, living together and sharing it all; and Love Offerings.
Through the almost five years of our serious Roadtreking we have developed some rules for a less stressed, and potentially romantic life together. These rules which we try to think of as Lover Offerings, when followed as closely as possible, or maybe not at all, might help keep your travels harmonious, or they might not. (Disclaimer:The rules are ours, being discovered by us, and used by us. They may or may not be useful to you. And certainly if you are a Roadtreker and you trek with a partner, you have your own rules.)
At a premium in our sticks and bricks house before we hit the road, I was petrified how we would work out the problem of space. At home, my space was defined by my desk, my tools in my garage and various piles of clothes, papers and stuff everywhere that I leave as territory markers. (Rhonda calls me a puppy marking my territory.) The Roadtrek has WAY LESS than the 1,600 sq ft of our home sweet home. Less room for clothes, for food storage, for refrigeration, for tools, for outdoor equipment, for lounging, for showering…well, you understand the idea and the problem…
But we found this problem to be a different one from trying to pare down our earthly possessions– which is what we have been trying to do since we retired. This was starting over with a purpose. We only had to choose what to take on the road, not what to throw away. Simple, right? We listed what we wanted to take; packed it into the Roadtrek; and examined our work. Soon we realized there would be no room for a driver, much less a passenger, so we cut the amount by half. Then, realizing that seeing the floor in places and actually looking out three windows was only slightly better, we started over.
We got smart. We listed what activities we would do and what food we would like to eat. Using these, we were able to define what we needed and packed that up. We cut THAT by half and–
We were able to get into van, look around and see none of our belongings left out. It was showroom perfect, including our quilted Moose and Alaskan Themed Bed Roll Cover. Even better, we had tons of room left over in the drawers and cupboards.
So this became the basis for our first mutually agreed on rule:
#1 Strive to keep the Roadtrek perfect inside.
A rule like this is very beneficial to Roadtrek owners. At the drop of a hat, we Roadtrekkers, more than any other RV owners, are asked to give demonstration tours, inside and out, of our wonderfully unique vehicles. We’ve given tours in campgrounds, in rest areas, in parking lots from Florida to Alaska, and in our front yard (but I guess all of these could be considered our front yard –eh?).
A second part to the rule:
#2 NEVER just put something down-put it AWAY really helps in rule #1. It takes maybe two seconds longer to put something away so that you won’t have to spend much longer looking for it later.
Looking back, you can see I must have had to change my ways pretty quickly. But the change wasn’t instantaneous or harmonious. That took some work.
First we had to mutually determine where everything belonged.
My most obvious best place was not always the same as Rhonda’s. F’rinstance, I like to have a clean rag handy in case of spills (live with me awhile and you'll recognize that as a necessity.) I would put it directly under the passenger seat so I could get it easily as we entered or exited the coach through the side door when we were parked. Well, that spot actually ended up being the best location for the dog’s food and water dishes. How that happened is a long story, as I can get pretty passionate about my ideas pretty quickly. But, long story short, we decided to store at least one clean rag in the driver’s door pocket. Though awkward, this process didn’t take too long, but it got easier with different things and it did give us two more rules.
Forever Home —When something was going to be put in a place the other might not find it, we both would watch as it was placed and mutually labeled as the “Forever Home” to the item. Using that somewhat unusual term helped us establish memorable locations for nearly everything.
Personal Space–Quickly enough each of us decided that the very large door pockets in our Chevy-based Roadtrek would be our own to fill, clean and maintain. My door holds driving related tools: window cleaners, squeegees gloves, basic simple tools, tire gauge etc. Rhonda’s door holds maps, bird books, and other things (?).
Decorations can very quickly overpower a small space. Minimalists and French Canadian Descendants need to compromise.
But space has to be shared in every way. At home, our sticks and bricks kitchen is what we call a “three butt” kitchen—three people can work easily in the space. But our Roadtrek galley is more a “three cheeker”–considerably tighter. So when we cook together I will stay at one end of the galley, while Rhonda stays at the other. When something is needed from the fridge, we don’t try to pass each other or reach around, we simply ask for it and wait the extra second or two until it arrives. Listening and patience work wonders here. We need to be willing to momentarily suspend what we are doing to become the hands for our partner. That’s the unheralded side of romance: cooperative consideration.
Timing is important, though. I now know enough not to ask for the butter from the fridge exactly when Rhonda is whipping eggs by hand, or draining a hot spaghetti pot into a colander, or releasing steam from the Instant Pot.
It’s a process. For men this is not intuitive. We have to work at it, but it’s worth the effort.
It is said that most of married life consists of yelling, “Huh?” “What?” from one room to another. A problem which gets only worse as we get older. The one room efficiency apartment style of a Roadtrek cuts down on this problem greatly, but you do have to recognize that the many soft surfaces and perhaps outside noises do limit how far voices travel. So it’s still best to have eye contact with each other when conversing.
The Roadtrek 210 floor plan suggests different living areas. We defined these even further:
FOYER/MUDROOM: Our driver door opens into the foyer. This door is accessible whether the awning is up or down and allows me a place to enter with sandy shoes or muddy boots. We have replaced the carpet in the cab area with tough, easy to clean outdoor carpet. I climb in, remove my shoes, swing my feet around and stand in the:
SALON where the passenger seat is swiveled to face rearward and the entire interior opens up to be larger. The passenger seat faces the third seat in our 210 Popular and coffee and conversation is cozy. Slide the driver's seat forward and reaveal
BROOM CLOSET which holds a short broom, a vacuum, a box of rubber gloves for Macerator DUMPING DUTY, an umbrella, and two fly swatters, one regular and one “Super Duper High Output, Fry ‘Em In The Sky” brand Bug Zapping Racket. Then quick sidestep and we enter the
KITCHEN, the most popular room in our house and RV. The kitchen is central to our lives. In the 210, it is central to the floor plan. To our kitchen I have added a few things to help keep life in the RT simpler.
- A three tiered hanging basket above the stove holds a variety of must have easy access items, from fruit to coffee pods. And because it is a basket, it holds these items well.
- I cut a section off the top of a lower cabinet door to make the facing of a pullout shelf to provide additional sturdy work space and cutting board. I am not overly pround of the workmanship here, but the pull-out counter is just so darn useful!
- A Velcro strap system keeps our filtered water pitcher, a 600 watt tea kettle, a bottle of coffee sweetener, and our CafeJo, (from CafeJo.com–which uses K-cups to brew like a French press) in place on the kitchen counter against the wall while travel. It’s secure, but still available for those much needed quick coffee stops.
PROPANE NOTE: While we love propane and use it on our three way fridge and furnace when needed, we prefer not to have an open flame inside the RT. This means we cook with our Electric Instant Pot and large and small electric frying pans and a small tea kettle. Everything but the large frying pan runs off our 12v system with 1250 watt inverter. The closed down stove cover really adds to the available counter space. To keep from having to plug and unplug electrics, I installed an additional 110 AC outlet near the original in the upper right hand corner of our galley. This draws power from the same circuit as the microwave, so we do have to balance our use between them. We cook while on shore power, or in rare instances on generator. We can make coffee anytime with our CafeJo and the 600 watt tea kettle.
RECYCLING NOTE: To us, the obvious convenience of K-Cups is offset by the amount of waste they produce. Rhonda is an avid recycler, so we have found recyclable K-Cups with pretty decent coffee in them at ALDI’s. We sip our coffee then pedal or walk on down to the recycling center to drop off the plastic shell and to the composting heap to drop off the used coffee sacs. At home the grounds go in the garden.
- An early addition was the replacement of hand held shower head with an aerating model which boosted the power of the water stream so our Aisle Shower could be better enjoyed.
- A nylon mesh shoe rack was hung next to the toilet to hold shampoo, brushes, creams and such.
- The toilet stool was replaced with a brand new one of the same model. All smells have gone and flushing down the sides has vastly improved. Plus, a shiny white bowl is just plain reassuring.
- Our 2004/5 210 is one of the first 250 210’s built on the newer Chevy chassis (2004 and beyond.) It has a king sized bed created by placing a ladder-like roll of slats between the benches to fill the gap. This stores easily under the bed and, if you want to keep a civil tongue about you, is IMPOSSIBLE to install when you are tired…which the time you need to create a bed. These wonders of engineering prowess were replaced almost immediately by a piece of ¾ inch plywood we store under the driver side bench cushion. This replaces the larger dining table which is now stored in my garage. We use the foldout table designed for the front.
- The bed cushions were made thicker by adding a 2in. layer of foam glued to the top of each of the five cushions that make up the bed. The new thicker cushions were recovered with matching material to the original RT. Our bed is now 6 ½ inches thick and WONderful to sleep on.
ELECTRONICS OFFERINGS (AND, WELL, SORT OF MY KIND OF THING)
- A USB charging hub installed in the dashboard
- A cell signal booster for better cell service including:
- Streaming onto our new smart-tv ($139) on Netflix, HULU and the web.
- Unlimited Plus Data package from Verizon
- A 7 in. tablet attached via Velcro to the dashboard. This acts as GPS, A WiFi hotspot, and Audio player for books on tape.
- An indoor/outdoor remote thermometer station for the fridge. Using it we can always see how our refrigerated food is doing.
SOLAR PANEL OFFERS FEWER WORRIES
- A single 135 watt solar panel mounted atop the roof keeps my two AGM batteries topped off. We no longer have to worry about charging them through the winter or after a brief usage for cooking and coffee, or after using them all night to run the furnace. If there’s even a partly sunny day, before long we are recharged.
TOWING & ROAD HAZARD INSURANCE COVERAGE OFFERS PEACE OF MIND
- Good Sam and other providers offer a degree of confidence for your voyages and take some of the fear out of breakdowns.
We do these things to make life easier in the RT. We figured out what we had and what we wanted. We tested our installations on the road. We’re still working on it. Our three way fridge cools differently in each mode and at different outside temps. By keeping little annoyances at bay, we find it easier to face large ones when they arrive. Until they do, life is easier and allows us to keep the romance, the ‘ quality or feeling of mystery, excitement, and remoteness from everyday life..
OTHER RULES FOR MEN(*NOTE: or “women” “husbands” or “wives” or “partners” as each may apply, but this comes from a man to other men)
If you ever hear “What would you think about doing such and such…” This is an opportunity for men to express their opinions in ways that suggest the idea is a marvelous one. Women are sensitive to our needs and try to fill them when they can. Women rarely state their own needs and their desire to fill them. They give you a chance to think that giving them what they want is your idea. Seize that opportunity!
Every task in a mobile household has what feels like its “natural owner.” I tear down the bed (room) and make the dining (room), while Rhonda puts on coffee and walks the dog. I pack up the outside to get ready to depart, Rhonda does the inside. It just works that way for us. In spite of this “natural ownership,” men should find ways to help with the tasks that don’t feel like their own. This is not being “hen-pecked” or “whipped” or demeaning to your manhood. This is cooperation, caring and compassion. This makes you sexy to your wife. This is a good thing.
Every good idea does not have to come from you. What’s for lunch, or which route to take, or where to store the WD-40 may seem to be naturally your domain, but you are not the only one with an idea. Listen up. So what is wrong with a Petosky Stone pull-out counter? Take a suggestion. Give in and follow another route. It’s only one meal or a few minutes or miles. The new things you learn may just enrich your life, and they sure will enrich your partner’s. You don’t have to be wrong, but you do have to not always be right. Bite your tongue a bit. That droplet of blood now and then goes a long way toward avoiding a bruised relationship.
Trust. This is a person who wants to have a nice time just as badly as you do, to explore the world and enjoy life with you. Trust her.
Enjoy that quality or feeling of mystery, excitement, and remoteness from everyday life, that's romance.