Reflections on One Year Living Full-Time in our LMTV / Bliss Mobil RV

We’re approaching (April ’19) one year of living full-time in our LMTV / Bliss Mobil RV! It’s a good time to re-introduce ourselves and reflect on the experience so far.

Family portrait

Who are we?

We’re a family of four, Lily, Xen, Lorelei and Darrell. Lily, Xen and Darrell travel full-time in a custom adventure RV. Lorelei joins us when she can and in between is traveling the world by backpack. We last lived in Oakland, California, USA. Lily, Xen and Lorelei are California natives. I was born and raised in Texas and migrated to Cali in 1990. I’ve come full circle as our home base is currently Texas.

La Cueva del Pirata

Why are we doing this?

I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in early 2015 and endured six months of chemo and six weeks of radiation. During this stressful time, Lily and I watched adventure travel videos and dreamed of a better future beyond the chemo infusion room. We stumbled upon Bliss Mobil videos and website and fell in love.

It was also during this time that we adopted a ketogenic diet as an adjunct to conventional cancer treatment. We continue to adhere to keto as much as we can. Check out Lily’s great article on our keto journey.

Upon receiving the first clean PET scan, we decided to use the cancer as a catalyst to re-prioritize what was important. We’ve always loved to travel, both within the U.S. and internationally. We also love the outdoors and off-grid camping, previously from our Tacoma truck. We chose to combine our loves and pursued building an adventure camper based on the Bliss Mobil habitat.

In the beginning we weren’t sure where this would lead us but as the LMTV / Bliss Mobil combo neared completion it became clearer that we wanted to quit our full-time jobs, get rid of most of our belongings, sell the house and live in the RV for a while. The main goal being to break us out of the rat race rut and take us out of our comfort zone, sleep-walking through life.

Where have you traveled?

It’s funny to think back that when we started we had a grand vision of driving our RV from Alaska to Argentina. What we discovered after a couple of months is that we are very S-L-O-W travelers and not destination focused. If we love a place, we’ll stay a week or more. If we really love a place, we might return to it.

We rarely have a travel plan and usually don’t know our next destination until the day of departure. In fact, as I write this, on a Sunday, I have no idea where we’ll be, tomorrow, Monday. Will it be more Baja? Or the ferry to mainland Mexico? Who knows…

At first, this style of travel was stressful. Not having a plan or knowing where we’d be in a day or two caused everyone anxiety. But we’ve since settled in to it. What helps is that even with having no idea of our next stop, everything has always just “worked out”, so the anxiety is for naught.

Since mid-April 2018 we’ve traveled most U.S. states west of Colorado. In late January we entered Baja California, Mexico. As of this post (mid-March 2019) we are hoping to catch the ferry to the Mexico mainland next.

Ojo de Liebre

Are you guys just LOVING it?

It took a while. Like life, there are times when it’s total bliss. And times when it’s not. Speaking for myself, in the U.S., my happiest times were when we could boondock in complete isolation. As we’ve entered Mexico, the relaxed vibe and warm, friendly people have made every destination enjoyable, whether isolated or not. In fact, in Mexico we’ve spent more time in areas with others nearby than not. Some of our favorite experiences in Mexico have been camping near like-minded folks and making new friends. Not that we didn’t do some of this in the U.S. but it’s been easier here. Maybe because with each day this “RV life” gets a tiny bit easier and more comfortable.

The Good, Bad and the Ugly

In the interest of keeping this post short, here’s a list of observations and reflections. And many/most of these deserve their own post. Let me know in comments what you’d like to see in a separate post!

Anza-Borrego Desert

The Good

  • Better health – Some or all aspects of being outdoors, quitting full-time work, moving away from a large metro, paying mortgage and property taxes has caused some health markers to improve. For example, my blood tests always had high inflammation markers and I suffered from eczema – all gone now. Also, I was balding and my hair grew back! Just kidding…I’m still balding.
  • Our family has grown closer – We’re together 24×7 and there’s tense moments when we get on each others nerves. But overall, we’re spending a lot of quality time with each other that I’ll never regret. For example, learning and speaking Spanish together as a family. Another obvious one are outdoor activities like cooking together, riding bikes, SUP board paddling or swimming in the sea.
  • Our marriage / friendship is stronger – Lily and I have grown much closer over the past year.
  • Living more cheaply – Our “rent” is now diesel fuel and the occasional RV park fee.
  • Meeting awesome people – We’re introverts. So naturally we built a completely unique adventure RV that is anything but stealthy and draws people in like a magnet.  😜 In all seriousness, for me, this has been one of the highlights of our travels.
  • Sun, fresh air, and nature – Lots of this. Especially fun is experiencing so many different macro and micro-biomes over the past year. Desert, plains, mountains, coastal and everything in between
  • Minimalism – We’ve dramatically downsized our lives and have learned to live with less. We appreciate the little things more and it’s amazing how little I need to be happy.
  • Exploring new cultures and customs – We’ve only just entered Mexico but the cultures and customs are exciting and refreshing. To a smaller extent we experienced this in the U.S. between cities and states.
  • Neuroplasticity – Research has shown that novelty promotes new neural connections and improves brain health.
Redinger Lake

The Bad

  • Lack of personal space – We’re living in a tiny home that is roughly 8 x 15 feet large (120 sq ft). This is particularly hard for our young teen.
  • Conflicting schedules, priorities – It’s harder to live our separate lives in an RV. We are required to coordinate all of our schedules and needs. This affects “driving days”, cell strength at a destination, etc. Some of our best arguments have ensued from this!
  • Cell/WiFi strength is muy importante – Lily and I both work part time and our son stays in touch with his friends online. Being off-grid for stretches longer than a couple of days has been difficult, if not impossible. Ironically, these off-grid times have been some of our happiest and best times as a family.
  • Maintaining routines is hard – Life on the road makes routines more challenging.
  • What can go wrong will go wrong – Things wear out, break, or go wrong on a regular basis. In every case, things “work out” but can be stressful as it happens. I’m working on my reactions to minor disasters…
  • I have a love/hate relationship with social media – There’s a lot of interest in our rig, our story and what we’re doing but I hate this guilty feeling I sometimes get from not posting often. That said, I’ve met some awesome like-minded people through Instagram who I probably would not have met otherwise.
Cactus bloom

The Ugly

  • Teen angst – Our young teen was on board for the first 10 months but recently he’s been pushing back hard. He misses his friends and wants a room of his own. This is no surprise. We’re trying to figure out the right compromise since moving back to our old way way of life is not an option. This is our biggest TBD…

What a cliff hanger!!

5 comments

  1. Sooooooo many questions for you all, but I don’t want to “be that guy” poking and prodding. So,just a few for now if that is OK? So, what appears to be an app on your iphone marking the camp sots what is that app? Maybe you’d be up for posting the locations of some of your favorite camp spots along the way ( if you are OK sharing them)? Maybe even a page with them all listed , but that may be a lot of work. You are right in that every one of your good and bad points in this article are worthy of being posts in and of themselves. Maybe you could put more up on the things that have broken along the way? ( on the truck, on the camper, etc.?) The piece you did on building the waste water hoses was GREAT for example.

    Anything else on the gear you ; don’t use, need and didn’t get initially, want to get, etc..

    Love hearing about how you all are changing as you spend time on the road the growth you mention in this article for example.

    Can’t thank you enough for letting us follow you all around as you go. FYI I’ll will read every post you put up , but please don’t let guilt make you do it. When it is no more fun , just don’t we will be OK I promise.

    1. Greetings Chris! I’ll use your suggestions as the next few posts. The app is iOverlander and it’s a must! Campendium is another great app but it’s mostly limited to U.S. iOverlander is used globally, especially by world travelers of all modes. We’ve been using it to find campsites, laundries, restaurants, agua purificada, military checkpoints, etc.

      Thanks for the support on the social media – I was in a “mood” about Instagram when I wrote that! I’m considering writing more here on the blog anyway and the posts are merely directing people here.

      Anyway, thanks again…

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