The Trailer Way
Written By: Geneva Damico
Photography By: Sean Naugle and Jon Naugle
The start date for my first contract as a travel nurse was November 17th so that meant we had two weeks to move out of our old place in San Diego, get rid of everything we didn’t actually need, pick up our new trailer from the dealership, move into it and find a place to park/live around the Oxnard, Ca area for the next 13 weeks. Fortunately Sean’s dad allowed us live on his driveway temporarily while we wrapped up odds and ends in San Diego. Getting our truck dialed in, getting together with friends for fair wells and getting our butts moved north seemed to overshadow the fact that we had still not decided on where to park next. Sean did a lot of research, it was beginning to become clear that any RV park or campground would end up costing just as much as renting a decent sized apartment. Well that was not the kind of money we had been hoping to spend for hookups. Getting down to our last couple of days before I had to start at a new hospital, our stress was at an all time high….oh yeah, and this would be Sean’s second time pulling a 25 foot travel trailer (his first time was picking it up from the dealership and driving it 30 miles to his dad’s).
Now to take you back to the moment we decided to buy our trailer new. This was quite the debate, new or old, vintage vs. new technology, to take out a loan or to pay cash. There were so many benefits to both sides of the argument but there were many more reasons not to buy an old trailer to restore like those beautiful airstreams that make small space living look romantic, classy and authentic. The decision was made the day Sean drove me across the boarder for my first ever visit to Mexico. It sounds like the beginning of a scary movie….respond to an ad for a rundown airstream on craigslist…..the airstream is actually in Tecate, Mexico…..oh just meet me at the border and I’ll take you to see it…..by the way it’s parked at an orphanage and I forgot the key at my house, just follow me…..REALLY!?!?!? Fortunately, even with the surrounding circumstances, we made it home safe and with a pretty firm reminder that anything that needed work at this point was beyond us. That thing was basically in need of a full on overhaul with the definite possibility of having to tear it apart down to the frame. If we had the skills, knowledge, tools, money and time to work on this massive undertaking, sure, but in our situation it would have been a horrible move. We settled on a new toy hauler for a few specific attributes; tall ceilings, I’m 5’8 and Sean is 6’0 so it makes it feel roomier; huge holding and water tanks and solar panels for living off the grid, we can live without hookups for approx two weeks; the droop door, it’s like having a sliding glass door in your living room; office space, for obvious reasons; and the warranty!
With our fancy new house in tow, we settled on staying at a campground that was on the cheaper side, a little further away from work and much more isolated than many of the places we were looking at in Ventura and Oxnard. After some white knuckle driving through LA traffic and only one wrong exit we arrived at Lake Casitas Sunday evening, without incident, as all of the weekend warriors were packing to leave. By the time we found our spot, the campground was deserted. We spent the rest of the evening trying to unpack even though, in the back of our heads, we knew this was a far from a semi permanent situation. The first two weeks, while we were all transitioning and settling in (or not settling in), were rough. The dogs were on edge and unsure of their new surroundings, we were still in parking our trailer-house limbo, no internet, partial hookups and I could not for the life of me figure out how to take a decent shower, therefore, washing my hair was quickly losing priority. To top it all off I felt completely lost at work. I thought for sure we were doomed. Then Thanksgiving weekend came around and, oops, it didn’t even occur to us to make reservations that far in advance. After a little scrambling we fortunately found one spot left within the same campground just over a little hill, under a huge tree, without hookups. This meant we would be spending a week living and working without electricity, sewer, a water source or solar power (because of the tree). During this time I was working the late shift, not getting home until after 1am sometimes even later. This schedule left Sean sitting in the dark starting at 5 in the evening unable to use a computer or do anything that he wanted/needed to do. We managed ok but quickly realized that just because we can live off the grid doesn’t mean we should, at least not in the middle of winter, in the middle of no where while I’m working 12-hour shifts. As our week of fast lessons came to an end a “massive” storm rolled in bringing rain that the poor dried up land was craving….all at once. We struggled to get out of bed the next morning while enjoying the sound of steady rain. A sound not often enjoyed in Southern California. Ahhh! Bed, snuggles and body heat! Then the sudden realization…we had to move in the rain and the sooner the better. A mini flood of ankle deep water made for an interesting escape. Next stop, Foster Camp.
Although we found another campground we still faced rules regarding length of stay which meant we’re looking at having to move every 14 days. During Sean’s diligent research and many discussions of realistic options he came up with the possibility of becoming a Camp Host. It seemed too good to be true. The typical Camp Host works about 20 hours a week doing maintenance and helping out around the camp area, in return they are provided with a place to park and (in most cases) full hookups. Yes! The answer was YES, let’s do it! This would be ideal….if a spot was available and they didn’t mind having two young hippies with their dogs hanging around.
After some struggle with second guessing our decision making skills and internal battles with “Is this the right move?”, we settled right into our new home. Home is truly the right word for it. We wake up everyday to the sound of birds chirping, sometimes pecking on our windows, an ocean view, the happiness of our dogs and love for each other that grows and evolves daily. We definitely made the right move. Our life is incredibly simple yet we still manage to have more than enough. Everything we love and work for is unfolding right in front of us and we couldn’t be more excited. Follow our journey and share your stories with us as we continue to simplify our lives, travel the globe, learn and teach!
Are you living/working on the road? We want to hear your story!
Questions about this new lifestyle? Ask! We love to share.
Where we are now: Emma Wood State Beach
Where to next? Joshua Tree Music Festival May 14-17th, then ????