Flexibility is key

I’ve discovered that there’s a major difference between going on vacation versus living a mobile lifestyle.  A vacation has a definitive beginning and ending with very little to no flexibility.  A mobile lifestyle offers oodles of flexibility.

"Life is a beautiful ride" I enjoyed window shopping at La Canterra

“Life is a beautiful ride” I enjoyed window shopping at La Cantera

As a matter of fact, flexibility is key to enjoying this full-time RVing lifestyle.  After all, we’re pulling/driving our home full-time and arriving to our next destination safely and fully intact is always the goal.  With that said, a key component to a long travel day is the weather.  The ability to change travel plans on a whim based on the weather is wonderful.

Al and I had allowed ourselves fourteen days to travel the 1,165 miles (1,872km) from Rockport, Texas to Phoenix, Arizona.  That gave us the flexibility to roll with the weather, as well as give us options; get to Phoenix a week early, or take our time Rockport egretmeandering along the way, or extend our stay in Rockport, which we seriously thought about – considering I wasn’t quite ready to bid farewell to the scenery OR the birds.

But that weather…. winter weather at that, made the decision for us.  We hit the road while good road conditions prevailed.  Plus, we usually prefer driving through major cities on a Saturday or Sunday.  Sunday morning (January 31st) had us navigating through San Antonio, Texas toward the northwest part of town without issue.  We settled into the Elk’s Lodge for what we thought would be a quick overnight stay.

That evening, we easily made a change of plans while reviewing the weather and road conditions for Interstate 10.  High wind warnings accompanied by brown out conditions (blowing dirt) followed by freezing rain along Interstate 10 in west Texas and New Mexico had us hanging out in San Antonio for an extra night, then two.

Shops at La Cantera, San Antonio, Texas

Shops at La Cantera, San Antonio, Texas

Ah, what’s a gal to do parked in a less than scenic parking lot without a vehicle at her disposal?  How about visit the Shops at La Canteraneighboring mall for a little retail therapy and architectural photography?  The Shops at La Cantera did not disappoint.

The weather was gorgeous which allowed me to hike this beautiful outdoor mall a couple of times.  While strolling the mall, I enjoyed the window shopping, the trickling sounds of water features, and the fragrant smell of all the lush vegetation. Shops at La Cantera

Although the mall had all the usual stores, the architecture was anything but boring.  There was a unique feel – a combination of new, yet old.  I think it was the blending of materials and angles that attracted my attention.  One minute I was walking on concrete, then the next I was moseying across cobblestone pavers, then it was on to ceramic tile, or stone, or slate…. and that’s what was happening just under my feet.Shops at La Cantera

Overhead was another visual delight; a combination of canopies, overhangs, or open blue sky adding another layer of ambiance.  Each store front had its own special detail, wall color, and finish.  Some of the stone used throughout the outdoor mall had a resemblance to that of the Alamo.shops at la canteraI must admit, for a split second I felt a little guilty about being in San Antonio and spending all my time at the Shops at La Cantera.  This city offers so many fabulous things to see and do, but since we weren’t unhooking the truck from the 5th wheel, driving anywhere was not an option.  Plus, during shops at la canteraprevious visits to San Antonio, we’d already visited the River Walk, Alamo, and Missions.

The Shops at La Cantera is a rather large mall, which allowed me to get in plenty of exercise, but lead to working up an appetite.  The day before departure, I retrieved hubby, and we were off to visit Penny at the Cheesecake Factory.  Their large size entrees are perfect for taking half the meal home providing lunch on the road the following day.  Yum!

Our flexible schedule allowed us to avert inclement weather, and extend our stay in San Antonio.  The delay was indeed pleasurable and I might have even pulled out of town with a few new items in my already full closet, but I’m not admitting anything  😉Shops at La Cantera

With blue skies and dry roads, we were on the road again.  And for anyone who has ever driven across Texas knows, it goes on for what seems forever.  We try to avoid staying in Van Horn, Texas, but we were on a mission to head west as quickly as san antoniopossible in an attempt to avoid the next wave of weather expected to hit this part of the country.

It was a 6-7 hour travel day between San Antonio and Van Horn, Texas (431 miles or 694 km).  We found a less than memorable campground to overnight in since the Walmart is out of the question.  Yep, no overnighting at the Walmart allowed in this town.  Van Horn? –  you know the saying, “if you can’t say anything nice……..”.

The next morning, we along with the rest of the RV’s were quick to exit Van Horn.  We made it through El Paso and into New Mexico and I was hugging rocks by early afternoon ……

Adios Texas - until we meet again!

Adios Texas – until we meet again!

 

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65 thoughts on “Flexibility is key

  1. We’re getting closer to full-time, yea! But one of my worries about being flexible is the reservations that you make way in advance and then need to adjust due to different delays and/or weather, etc. While part-timing/vacationing in our RV, we’ve racked up hundreds of dollars because of having to arrive late or depart early, or cancel in advance altogether. I guess that’s part of full-timing, or at least trying to find campgrounds that don’t have crazy cancellation rules and costs?

    • My first year out, I was always concerned about where we’d stay if we didn’t have a reservation. Back east I think I’d still have that concern, but in the west, there’s always someplace to park. Yes, RV Parks do fill up during specific time frames, but then there’s BLM land. So I’m never homeless. One just has to have an open mind and be resourceful. There is a fine balance in there somewhere which just takes time to navigate and adjust to. And you always have fellow RV bloggers to lend a little helpful advice 🙂

      • Thanks so much for your comments. We talk all the time about how are we going to do this. But we’ve been adventurers our whole life together and feel the pull to do this!

        I am so happy to have found your blog. BTW, we got a contract on our house. Full-timing is going to happen first of April! 🙂

  2. Ah, Van Horn……I have to say that I have a pleasant memory of old Van Horn, Texas. We were on our very first long trip with a very new Beluga heading to El Paso to meet friends. We were moving down into Mexico from there. We were green newbies then. We pulled into the campground, and as we were checking in, the gal in the office told us they were doing bbq brisket, asked did we want dinner? We were exhausted and stressed, dinner sounded good. Half an hour later a golf cart drove up and delivered our brisket dinner complete with vanilla pudding! Never was a meal more welcome! I remember the owner had ostriches in a back paddock……So, Van Horn isn’t all bad.

    • Sounds like you had a very nice experience. It always saddens me to see these towns run down and struggling. Thank goodness for the traveler’s stopping over and helping their economy.

  3. Glad you missed all the nasty weather. If you ever have time in San Antonio, visit the Mercado and the King William historic district. While at King William, eat breakfast at the old Pioneer Flour Mill on a Saturday or Sunday morning, especially if the weather is nice. The old mansions in that area are just a beautiful site to see! 😉

    • Thanks for the info. This visit we were kind of antsy to hit the road and didn’t unhook. We’ll need to take our time next go around. I’m already looking forward to our return visit to Texas 🙂

  4. Being flexible while living on the road is the key. And as your photo suggests, Life is a beautiful ride, it truly is if you know how to change plans at moments notice. And that what brought us to Mexico, flexibility and the ability to make adjustments and arrangements in a short time.
    We have stayed at Van Horn, but not sure if we went on the same one you did. And the RV park was the first one we stayed in TX, not a great way to welcome you to the state.

    • Al and I were discussing that we didn’t think you guys made mention you were planning on Mexico, thus we figured it was a last minute thing. Looks like a great decision. We love making spur of the moment plans…. always an adventure 🙂

  5. Flexibility does sound wonderful. Vacations can be limiting. We had a hard time renting an RV on skis to go on vacation at the South Pole. The insurance rates were astronomical, and we had to watch the seasons carefully so as not to get trapped there and have to wait for a rescue ship or plane. Frost bite can be a slight problem when trying to eat an ice cream sundae outside with gloves off. I like your pictures — it looks very warm.

  6. It can be much harder to find the beauty in the city. You have to look harder at details on a small scale. We have never been to San Antonio but it does look like it has a lot to offer.

    • We’re close to completely year 3 of full-time RVing, and I can honestly say, we roll with a much more relaxed attitude than we did during year one. I’m sure your gals can relate to my pain hanging at the mall LOL.

  7. I would like to see San Antonio. I hear it is a beautiful place to visit. I too envy your flexibility. One day I hope to have that opportunity but will need to relax to allow it to happen. I have been know to focus on the destination and not the journey

    • The first year full-time RVing was a huge learning curve with everything scheduled out. Now, I still plan but I’m a lot more relaxed about it and allow more flexibility built-in.
      I highly recommend a visit to San Antonio. Lovely city!

    • You can count on me to be patiently waiting to offer my tour guide services. I went to a seminar this morning at a Marriott and they had the most beautiful grounds 🙂

  8. I’m not a bit fan of shopping, but those shops would make it worthwhile just for the interesting setting. I am a big fan of the Cheesecake Company – great food there and as you said…with more to have later.

    • The extra days hanging out in San Antonio messed with my meal plan thus the Cheesecake Factory offered up the best option and a delicious one at that. There were several other interesting restaurants that we also considered 🙂

      • Toronto has had a crazy mild winter up until this last week, Ingrid. Thankfully I’ve been here in Vegas for 8 days already, so I get to just watch the FB posts of friends and family complaining about the temps this past week. 🙂 I’m here in the desert through the end of Feb.

    • How exciting. July will be here before you know it. The first year of full-timing was a little mixed for me, but now, I can’t seem to pull the trigger on any real estate. I’m torn; what I want to live in versus what’s a good rental/investment don’t line up 😉

  9. Love the photos and your fun adventures. Flexibility is the key to travel. Otherwise, you will let one in a lifetime opportunities pass you by.

    • Thank you. When we used to travel by air, there wasn’t much margin for flexibility. We’re hard pressed to book a flight anywhere and this coming from a former Flight Attendant married to a former pilot 🙂

      • When you are catching flights yes, time is limited. When we travel by air to some other place, we like to stay several days if not weeks in the same location so we have the flexibility to do spur of the moment activities.

          • We spent 5 weeks in France in 2013. Two weeks in Aix-en-Provence, and three weeks in Paris.

            We were exploring Aix one afternoon and I noticed a sign that said Art Exhibition, and we walked through the passageway into a private yard. It was strange being in a private yard but the owner came out and greeted us. We said we saw the sign and he showed us to a shack in the yard that had paintings in it. We looked at the paintings and talked to the man about art and all kinds of things. As we were getting ready to leave he invited us to a reception for the artist the next day.

            The same day we were in one of the old churches, and while I was looking at some of the literature, a woman who volunteered at the church came up and asked me if I had any questions. We started talking about the church, the services, life in Aix, where she was from (Brazil), what she did when she wasn’t volunteering and so on. In the end, she invited us to go to the main cathedral in Aix the following evening for a confirmation service which she was involved with. She also said the Archbishop of Aix would be there.

            We changed whatever plans we had at those times the next day and went to meet the artist. She and my wife really hit it off, and I met and talked to other people who recommended places to see in the region. At the service that night the music was wonderful, the service interesting and we got to shake hands with the Archbishop. Those are the rare opportunities that you miss if you are not flexible and not willing or able to change plans at the last minute.

  10. Ingrid it is the flexibility you have that one day I very much look forward to. No matter what kind of travel it would be nice not to be on a tight itinerary. I know one shouldn’t wish time away but i do look forward to that.

    • During a drive from Texas, Al and I talked about traveling with an RV is addictive. I can’t imagine traveling any other way. I love toting around my own bed, a fully stocked kitchen, and my very own ‘clean’ potty 😆

  11. Interesting distinction you make between the finite nature of a vacation vs your rving lifestyle. Do you have a timeline in mind for when you might settle down somewhere? Great photos – I might have been tempted by some of those San Antonio boots😉

    • I did walk away with a pair of western looking booties…. exactly what I was looking for. I always look at real estate (as a former home builder and realtor it’s in my blood) but I’m not ready to pull the trigger on anything especially since I’m not sure where I want that home base to be. I do miss ‘my stuff’ and occasionally a yard, but just not ready to settle down YET.

  12. Wisdom comes from experience…such a well planned trip! I’m guessing there were a few oops along the way that helped garner that wisdom. 🙂

    I’m not a shopping person…but that mall is beautiful!

    • I don’t enjoy shopping like I used to, but this is a beautiful property that I wanted to spend some time checking out. I most definitely am better at planning our travels and even more relaxed about, but that took time and a little trial and error to get to this point 🙂

  13. Now you’ve piqued my interest. I have never heard of Van Horn, TX but I am curious as to why you ( & apparently others ) try to avoid this area. Is it a high crime city? Very poor camping facilities? Too crowded? I’m being nosy for future reference. I’m also curious to know if you make reservations as you travel or just wing it, or a little of both. I feel I should be more flexible as we travel but always fear not having a spot for the night & end up making reservations months in advance.

    • Van Horn is in the middle of barren west Texas with no scenery. It’s a very poor and run down community. The town is a rather sad sight and campgrounds are merely gravel lots with hook-ups; perfect for a quick overnight but not worth lingering.
      For monthly stays, I always make a reservation and during the summer at popular state parks, it’s a must. We do not make reservations when transitioning between locations and I always book plenty of extra driving time to allow for weather or interesting sights. Our first year out, I was concerned where we’d overnight, but I now have the confidence we’ll find something. Since we’re morning people and usually stop driving around 3:00, campgrounds along interstates usually have room. If not, there’s always a Walmart, casino, or truck stop for a quick overnight.

      • Thanks for the reply Ingrid. Not sure if I have your faith & courage to wing it as much as I’d like to. I’m not sure if Don could handle it either. He doesn’t like the unknown variables of this lifestyle. Maybe with time that’ll change.

        • Confidence builds the more you roll. My husband used to stress a lot more that first year out, but even though he’s much better now, he still prefers dealing with familiar territory. I’m the wild one ready to throw caution to the wind 😉

  14. Welcome Back to glorious Phoenix! As of right now we are warmer then the rest of the nation! Woo Hoo!
    You found a fabulous mall to walk around.
    and…Once Again “Fantastic Fotos” that mall should contact you for photos for their welcoming brochure.

    • I think I can credit the blog for my interest in searching out new sights and wanting to find post material. And then of course, enter photography and I’m always on the lookout!

    • Yep… sometimes we roll and sometimes we don’t. We’ll hang in Phoenix for at least a couple of months and savor time with our children. Once the desert heat arrives, we’ll be moving north!

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