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The Road to the Road

Updated: Nov 8, 2019

This morning, we woke up in a Walmart parking lot. Mat got up early and watched the sunrise. Rachel woke up slowly to the curves of mountain roads as he drove. And then we stopped for coffee, breakfast, yoga, and a swim before hitting the road to get to our next destination: Rapid City, SD.


Route 191, Utah, September 6, 2018

It’s a luxurious life we’re living. One where not many plans are required. One where any place we can legally park can become our home. With large water tanks and solar panels on our roof, we can sleep, cook, bathe, and live comfortably pretty much anywhere.


But the road to the road was every bit as tricky as the switchbacks of the back country roads we’re traveling. And far more precarious.


Soon, this blog will be full of the realities of our new life. But before that, we want to share what it’s been like to get here; what it’s meant to dream of something our whole lives, and then suddenly decide to jump off the cliff. Some of the challenges were emotional (how could we give up our beautiful LA home and the incredible community we had there?), but to be honest, most were logistical. What would we do with our stuff? How do you get mail and health insurance as a nomad? What kind of vehicle do you live in when you’re traveling for a whole year?


And so the journey began. Like pretty much everything else in life, we handled it by doing research, making decisions, and then taking action.




Step 1: The Research.

In those first few days of July after getting engaged, we began the obsessive research that’s gotten us here: watching videos and reading blog posts from the nomad community into the night. We learned what it would take to build out our own custom van or school bus, we learned about pretty much every kind of RV and trailer, we learned what states offer easy vehicle registration and mail forwarding, and all about insurance for people who live life on the road. It was inspiring, entertaining, and utterly overwhelming.


Step 2: Oh So Many Decisions.

Lots of the blogs we read and videos we watched shared stories of people who worked on their road-life plans for months or years. Well, due to a number of life circumstances, we had a lead time of eight weeks. Decisions had to be made fast. Enter incessant pro con lists, endless budgets, a giant production calendar on our wall, a number of existential crises, and lots of sleepless nights. But with each decision we made, every successive one got easier. We decided to buy an RV because we didn’t have time for a custom build, and because for two large humans and a dog living full time for a year, it felt like the most practical choice. We decided which RV we wanted (a used Winnebago Navion or View from 2008 or later) because of the powerful engine, the maneuverability, the price point, the quality of the coach, and the layouts they offer with great kitchens, adorable dinettes, and stationary beds. We decided we were going to establish residency in South Dakota as it’s one of the seven states that don’t charge income tax, and they’re exceptionally friendly to RVers, with lots of mail forwarding services and other handy amenities. Plus, it’d give us a chance to see Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Memorial, the Badlands and more. We decided to get health insurance through the RVer Insurance Exchange, because they offer plans with nationwide coverage for self-employed people. The list goes on. Maybe, at some point, we’ll write about all these decisions at greater length in the hopes that they help somebody else on their journey, but today is not that day.


Step 3: Getting Sh*t Done.

With the big decisions made, all that was left was to actually get it all done. We scoured websites for purchasing used RVs and ultimately found ours (Betty) at a dealership outside of Phoenix. Buying Betty was a process that involved multiple trips to Arizona, lots of time standing on a concrete lot in 115 degree heat, and a test run to the Grand Canyon. Then we brought the RV back to LA and things got intense as we prepared to leave our former life behind. We sold, donated and gave away about 50% of our possessions. We sent Rachel’s car, full of items for storage, back to New York in the care of a close friend who’s using it to make his own adventure. We ran errands, saw doctors, purchased RV supplies, and did the countless other things that big life transitions require. We said see you later to friends and neighbors. And then, about 30 hours after we planned to (thanks 2 day hangover from our goodbye party), we hit the road.


Now, we’re off to become residents of South Dakota (weird, we know), but we had to get there fast to get our vehicle registered. And while we’re beginning to adjust to this new life of ours, we’re definitely ironing out some kinks. We still can’t find half of what we brought, we’ve learned that our radio has a mind of its own, and we’re itching to make the cosmetic and mechanical upgrades that will truly make Betty feel like home.


Basically...it’s been a very long two months. We’re exhausted and a little beat up. We have pulled muscles, stuffy noses, and sore throats. But we did it. Somehow, with the support of a whole lot of you out there, we actually made this all happen. And we’re so profoundly grateful to all of you and to each other for that, because it’s going to be one heck of a ride.


As always, we welcome your questions and feedback in the comments below. And to all who are celebrating the Jewish new year tonight (as we will be, in Rapid City, SD), as well as to those who are not, we wish you a year of adventure, fulfillment, and the realization of your own personal dreams, whatever they may be.


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About Us

Hi! We're Rachel Ishofsky & Mat Axelrod, and we're celebrating our engagement/marriage by traveling the country with Whiskey the dog and our RV named Betty. Want updates? Subscribe to get our latest blog posts delivered to your inbox.  

 

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