RV winter living is a “learn as you go” type of thing. Until we lived in a camper full time, and then a motor home, I never had the feeling of being exposed, being out here in the world, with weather and wind and temperatures always affecting our daily life. If you’ve always lived in a house or an apartment building you really can’t know what I’m talking about, because you’ve always been sheltered in a permanent structure. Maybe you’ve been camping, slept in a tent – that’s different. I don’t mean that we are open to the elements here – we do keep warm and dry, generally speaking. And you may have gotten close to it if you’ve ever lived in a mobile home, or a trailer house as some folks call them. But I’ve spent years in one of those too, and it wasn’t like being in an RV.
The first thing you tend to notice is the wind. In a house or an apartment, you may hear the sound of the wind, and it may rattle a window or two, but you will rarely if ever actually feel the wind moving your current place of residence. A camper or a motor home has a high profile, meanng it’s 10 to 13 feet high, and narrow, so it presents an obstacle to the wind that no amount of leveling and stabilizing can offset completely. We have been sitting on the Illinois prairie for a few months now, and even though there are houses and structures around us, sometimes the wind seems like it would like to knock us down! It’s a bit unnerving to feel the motor home shake, and to dread the next gust of wind. Rationally, I know that we are very bottom heavy and that we can’t tip over, but the movement we feel sometimes overcomes rationality. And don’t even get me started about the upcoming tornado season.
Rain, sleet and snow are also much more noticable in our little box on wheels. The sound of light rain can be soothing, but a heavy downpour in the middle of the night is far from pleasant. And sleet being blown by the previously mentioned wind sounds like bbs against the windows and sides. Snow is great, because it actually dampens the sounds from outside, and makes the world a little quieter. Of course, you’re always worried about leaks, but that’s pretty rare if you’ve done the basic roof maintenance.
The outside temperature is a real issue. A motor home is a drafty thing, with the windows always letting a little air in, and the engine compartment (we have an older front-engine rig) allowing the cold air to penetrate. There is a comfort zone down to about freezing where there seems to be no problem in staying warm with the propane furnace and electric space heaters running, but when the thermometer drops below 32 degrees and the wind comes down over the cornfields, it does get cold in here. That’s when we retreat to the small back bedroom, close the door and let the little electric heater warm up the room, put on a movie, and get some snuggle time in.
Maybe it all sounds bad, but it really isn’t – there are good things about being exposed to the outside world. When there’s sunshine outside the place is airy and well-lit, and a warm breeze coming through the windows is a sheer delight. But when it’s cold and windy here on the glaciated flatlands, we have to make our own private cozy space, and do some more of that snuggling. I guess RV winter living could be worse!
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