fight about driving the rv

Our First (Huge, Giant, Irrational) Fight About Driving the RV

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This blog post about a rather ridiculous fight we had while driving the RV is an excerpt from a chapter I contributed to a friend’s book, Turning Tiny. If you’re interested in tiny houses, RVing, or minimizing your life, you can pre-order Turning Tiny this week! Over sixty of us tiny house (or tiny RV!) leaders came together to make this book a reality (see the full list of contributors here), so it’s bound to be the perfect inspiration if you want to downsize your life. This is excerpt is a story I never thought I’d share about Heath & I fighting about driving the RV from my chapter on Tiny Philosophy. Enjoy! 

fight about driving the rv

During our first month on the road (and consequently our first month of marriage), we made it all the way to the west coast from Austin to drive the Pacific Coast Highway. I was driving one afternoon, giving Heath a break after an already long day of sightseeing. We were talking excitedly about our adventure, the way newlyweds gush about their honeymoon, when I took a turn a little too fast and Heath’s coffee mug–which he left unattended on the dash, by the way–tipped over, spilling the dark liquid onto the floor.

“Ah!” Heath yelled. “That coffee mug has been sitting there all day while I drove and it never tipped over once!” His condescending I’m-better-at-driving-the-RV tone did not go unnoticed. (This is not a tactic I recommend in marriage.)

“You leave your coffee on the dash and it’s my fault?!” I retorted. My blood boiled beneath my skin. I mean really, it was four in the afternoon. Having your morning coffee still sitting on the dash at that hour has to be his fault. 

“Yes it’s your fault! You drive like a maniac!” He screamed.

I silently slammed on the brakes, parked the RV on the side of the road, and stormed away from the driver’s seat toward our bedroom. I walked straight to the door to our shower, which opens and locks into place to create a makeshift wall blocking off our bedroom from the living area, and threw it open in anger trying to separate myself from my husband.

Instead of locking into place, the door bounced back and closed itself politely, making me even angrier.

So I threw it open again, with more force, and it once again bounced back and closed.

I gave up on the dramatic door slam and opted to throw myself onto the bed crying hysterically that my newlywed husband hated my driving. What had we gotten ourselves into?

Later that night after we had made up from our fight, Heath continued driving us up the highway while we tried to find a place to park for the night. We had no cell service and every park we passed had giant signs outside saying “campground full.” The sun was 15 minutes away from setting and we started discussing sleeping on the side of the windy road. It seemed like that was our only remaining option.

“I’m just going to pull over and ask this campground if they really are full,” Heath said as we drove past another campground.

“We’ve stopped at campgrounds all evening and they all say full! There’s no way.”

“Look at this place! It’s right on the ocean, I can hear the waves, it’s beautiful. I just want to ask.”

Heath parked the RV on the shoulder and hopped out, crossing the highway and jogging out of view toward the host’s campsite. I sat and waited, making contingency plans. I wondered if all those no parking overnight signs we’d seen at scenic overlooks meant we might be woken up by the cops in the middle of the night.  

What felt like ten minutes later Heath opened his door and hopped back in the RV.

“So…?” I asked.

“So, the park host said these campgrounds book out like six months in advance.”

I groaned internally. Of course they do.

“But a guy booked three nights this week and never came. The park ranger was holding the spot in case he showed up, but it’s the last night on his reservation and he said we could have it.”

In record time, Heath parked and set up the RV while I reheated the fixings for tacos just in time for us to sit outside and catch the sunset over the Pacific Ocean. Our RV sat on the bluff and waves crashed rhythmically on the rocks below. The air was cool and refreshing after a long, frustrating day of travel.

When I think about why we still live full-time in an RV, I think about this day. It wasn’t an easy day. We fought at length about a spilled cup of coffee (which turned into a fight about doing the dishes, which turned into a fight about the small space, which turned into a fight about respecting each other–if you’re married you understand) and then we drove for hours not knowing if we would have a place to safely sleep that night.

But the next morning we woke up to the sound of waves and hiked down a small trail to the rocky coast. Sitting on the rocks getting splashed by the salty mist of the waves made it easy to wonder why we let ourselves get so caught up in the stress of traveling instead of enjoying the moment. If we wanted to keep going, to make it to all fifty states and actually enjoy our honeymoon, we needed to stop thinking about RV life as just a road trip and start thinking about our RV life as a mindset.

No matter where we lived, the fighting was inevitable. In a big house or modest apartment, we would argue about driving and messes and whose turn it was to sweep the floor. We chose to move into a motorhome and chase an epic adventure: to visit all 50 states in our first year of marriage. In order to do that we needed to stop focusing on all the things we didn’t have and focus more on what traveling in our motorhome could make possible.

It didn’t happen all at once, but after that particularly rough, yet exponentially rewarding day, we started to get the hang of our tiny lives in the RV. The more we traveled, the more we learned how to appreciate the small sacrifices we were making for ourselves. This meant no 9-5 job. No meaningless work. Definitely no monotony. We spent literally all our time together, but we created memories at national parks and rinky dink RV parks. We spent more time outside and watched less tv–and only partially because we couldn’t stream Netflix over the 1990s dial-up speed of RV park wifi. Every day was new and exciting in its own way. From there, we traveled up the coast, across the Rocky Mountains, and into the heart of America.

To read the rest of this chapter “Tiny Philosophy”, you can pre-order your copy of Turning Tiny online here. I don’t get paid if you buy the book, but this is the first time I’ve contributed a chapter to a book before, so it’s pretty cool if you ask me 🙂 So now that I’ve shared our embarrassing (pointless!) fight in the RV, I’ve gotten ask…

What’s the most ridiculous fight you’ve had while RVing?