A couple years ago, I (Margot) started using my Instagram account @margotbai to actively follow full-time RVers and post about RVing (see our blogroll on the right). It was a tool to learn more about the RV lifestyle from a full-timer perspective but also a link to a community of like-minded people with whom we hoped to one day connect IRL (in real life). By January, our set itinerary of reservations hadn’t crossed our path with anyone in this community. We had been happily making friends with the people we met along the way, including the vibrant winter guests during our month long on Jekyll Island. We also loved visiting our good friends Jeff Martin in North Carolina and Sean and Victoria in Jupiter, Florida. Still, we were missing the many wonderful friends we left back home and craving more: being constantly on the move had made new connections harder to form. By the time we arrived in the Florida Keys, we were itchy for a conversation beyond, “Where are you from?” and “How long is your trip?”
I noticed that @drivedivedevour were in the Florida Keys before we arrived and messaged with our travel plans wondering if we could meet. Happily they replied and we discovered we would be at Long Key State Park at the same time. Yippee! Well, the morning they were to arrive, I was walking Sadie on the road when we saw a couple walking toward us. Sadie wanted to go right over and meet them because they were smiling at her. Chatting ensured: “Where are you from?” “We are full-time!” “Oh cool me too! Are you online?” “Yes… we are @aluminarium and @campendium” “OMG… I follow you both! What are your names?” “Leigh and Brian” “Good to meet you, I am Margot, hubby is James, we are The Tortoise and the Hare” “Great… and our friends are coming…” “Yes I know Brandon and Kerensa of @drivedivedevour” “Yes!”
The next few evenings we enjoyed the engaging conversations that naturally flow when you find new friends with whom you have so much in common. We bonded over shared pina coladas, key lime pie and mojitos with 8 of us, including Cindy and Mike of @tinyredcaravan. The full-time RVer community is diverse but many share common concerns such as living nomadically, transitioning from sticks and bricks to a small space, being away from family, being “working age” in a space that is largely occupied by older adults, and working to fund their travels. We felt immediately at home with this group, especially since I already knew so many people in the community whom I have never met but some of whom have befriended me anyway such as @findingmarshall, @rvchickadee, @rv_outlawz. As our various travel plans drew us apart, we felt socially refreshed and excited about meeting up in the desert next winter, if not before.
More Serendipitous Connections
During our week at Juniper Springs Recreation Area in Ocala National Forest, I was cycling with Sadie around the campground when I passed an airstream with 4 tilted solar panels on the roof. Hmmm. When I saw a young man walking on the site, I suspected I had stumbled on another working age full-time RVer and had to ask. Sure enough, Tim @livinginatinfoilhat and Ivana @nomadbutt had transitioned to full-time RV life this past summer 2016 just like us, but hadn’t yet connected with other full-timers. Tim was packing up as they were moving to another campground 20 minutes south so I got their IG handle and followed them right away. We were able to plan a fun Saturday evening get-together at their site with potluck and happy hour! 6 hours flew by in what felt like 3 as we shared our experiences transitioning to life in a small box on wheels.
Planning Works Too!
Meanwhile, I had been chatting with Leigh on Messenger as we knew they had gone north from the Keys ahead of us and there was a chance we could connect again. Sure enough, we had 3 days free after Juniper Springs while they were camping an hour away at Gamble Rogers State Park. We were lucky to score a cancellation and were able to join them there, just 3 sites down for 3 nights. More fun evenings ensured with Leigh cooking dinner for us (Thanks Leigh, next time I cook!) and happy hours.
While there, Brian was going to scope out possible campgrounds for Campendium, their awesome RV campground review website. We were interested in the same sites as we needed a place to camp for our weekend at Daytona Bike Week. So we made a day of it together, me riding in the truck with Brian so we could chat and James riding his motorcycle because he loves that! We found 3 great, new, hard-to-find campgrounds for Campendium, one of which (Tram Road Equestrian Camp) we later camped at during Daytona Beach Bike Week. As we parted ways, it was with the happy confidence that we had found some really amazing people with whom we have much in common and hope to be friends with for a long time.
While staying at Tram Road, I noticed @learningbanks Beth and Taylor were camping along our route back to Cedar Key. A quick message on IG to @fuckyeahtaylor got a reply and we made plans to stop for a visit on our way. We found more like-minded working age full-timers, and our short visit on their afternoon work break wasn’t enough. It was easy to simply stay for the night, also taking the opportunity to snorkel in the beautiful Devil’s Den Prehistoric Spring, a cave-like swimming hole with the afternoon sun filtering through an opening above. We enjoyed campfire together with a group of 6 of us, including @veganrvr Laura & Kevin, with more time for visiting the next day.
By chance, we happened to meet up with Beth and Taylor again during our day-visit to Manatee Springs State Park. We were there to swim in the spring and see the manatees in the river, while they were actually arriving to camp but came over to check out the spring. Walking the boardwalk along the short spring run, we were lucky to spot deer in the cypress dome and a manatee by the dock.
I continue to be amazed by the interesting, intelligent, thoughtful people who are purposely pursuing the full-time RV lifestyle. Connecting with this community completely reinforces our confidence that making this transition was the right decision for us.