I have now lived in my tiny house on wheels for a year. It is a gypsy wagon also called a vardo, lovingly built by John Kaznecki of Maine. We set it on a Ford F150 truck with 5’x8’ bed last March.
How did this happen?
Well, I retired from work at the Department of Mental Health of CT last July. I was used to the routine of getting up at 6:00 am, and I found myself wandering aimlessly ‘round my little home looking for ways to find my own rhythm. I thought of getting a part time job but felt deeply a new freedom and dreamed of traveling. I had lived in Europe and traveled there in my youth, however, I have never traveled around the United States. I really wanted to see the different cultures and awe-inspiring nature in this great country of ours so I asked my daughter to give me two years for a great adventure, then promised to settle down to assist with raising my delightful granddaughter.
To start, I had to decide how I wanted to travel – What did I want to see? I knew I wanted to see the wide-open spaces, the blue highways of undiscovered America, nature at her purest, the West you see in films. I found the National Parks give a discount to seniors, anyone over 62 can get a lifetime pass. So this was the first thing I did. Then, I scoured Craigslist and RVtrader to find an rv to suit. After a long time searching, I found my little gypsy. I traded in my car and bought a secondhand truck, attached the tiny structure and painted her. I named her The Wandering Rose.
I followed some blogs of women rver’s and tiny house people. I bought a large US atlas at Walmart and set off down the Skyline drive through Virginia onto the Blue Ridge Parkway. In Gatlinburg Tennessee, I drove through fires, entire mountains on fire. I stopped at the 8 mile loop of amazing craftsmen in leather, wood, weaving, pottery and gemstones, but left in a hurry when hot embers started to rain down on the roofs of the buildings around me.
I drove as far away from the fires as I could get and found myself parked right on the sand of a beach in South Padre Island, Texas. This was my first experience with the Gulf of Mexico and I delighted in beach-combing and talking to the local vendors. I met lots of wonderful folks, caught up on the internet at the town library and visited Mexico with a group of women who offered to take me along on their trip.
From there I went to Big Bend National Park – my first experience of big sky and in my humble opinion, the most beautiful of National Parks in the US. I stayed there for 2 weeks parked in the desert, far away from all the hustle and bustle, learning about animals, vegetation and especially the stars. The stars in the desert are so amazing, you can see your shadow by starlight, even without the moon!
Then I visited Quartzite,AZ for a couple of months, an unbelievable place. Around the second week in January at the crossroads of Interstate 10 and Rt 95 they host an RV show. There are all sorts of rigs, shiny new, old hippie ones, some just off the factory floor and even antique Toyotas from the 1970’s, about 50,000 of them. RVs in the desert as far as the eye can see. This is the place to go to learn about this kind of lifestyle and to find any sort of rv related gadget you might desire. There is very inexpensive Bureau of Land Management parking which provides fresh water and trash cans not far from town. Mineral rock hounds abound as well as all sorts of activities for seniors and retirees.
Many different groups meet up here, my favorite being Sister’s on the Fly, women who organize fun events, I was shocked at how many people live this way, snowbirds even from Canada.
I dipped down into Mexico again and discovered a town called Los Algodones, a five-block area of dentists, pharmacists, optometrists and all sorts of Mexican hand crafts. Beautifully colored blankets, carved wood jaguars, outdoor fire pits called chimineas, and fanciful metalwork.
On I drove to the West Coast and dipped my toes in the Pacific at Carlsbad, CA, this is a fun little town with points of interest like Legoland and the Gem Institute of America. Then off again to the Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree National Parks and a Navajo reservation to see the little houses called hogans. I took my niece to the artist Georgia O’Keefe’s home called Ghost Ranch and we had a blast climbing the canyons.