Other People’s Houses

If we’d have walked into a 5th wheel after this last road trip instead of going home, we’d have been blown away as if entering a grand palace, even when comparing it to the one full-sized ranch house we stayed at.

It started out as a trip to attend a family event and we toyed with the idea of Bear flying out alone because it was so far away, but instead we turned it into a major road trip.

First we drove 911 miles to Lawton, Oklahoma and stayed 3 nights in a hotel. Then we drove 409 miles to Roswell, New Mexico and stayed in a ranch house for 3 nights. Then 55 miles to Carlsbad, New Mexico and stayed in a KOA cabin for 2 nights. Then 676 miles to Conroe, Texas where we stayed in a “tiny house” for 3 nights, and then home 795 miles to Georgia. All told we drove 2,846 miles not including sightseeing, taking approximately 52.5 hours for the road trip portion including potty and food stops. We never lingered at these stops. We left Georgia on May 10th and returned on May 21st, so all of this travel was crammed into 11 days.

The trip was manic — completely and utterly manic — and it hammered home how much I hated staying at Other People’s Houses meaning hotels, cabins, cottages, and the homes of friends and family even though we didn’t stay with any of our people this trip, though we did visit family in Oklahoma and Texas.

There was NO rental that felt like home or that was wholly comfortable. The ranch house had a big comfortable bed, but the cabin had a sinkhole in the middle of the bed and the bed was too small. In the tiny house we slept sideways with our feet hanging off for more elbow room.

Only one of the four showers had sufficient shelf space for both of our toiletries. Even a shower/tub combo failed us because the ledges were so narrow that our bottles fell off, and the two corners only had room for a single bottle apiece. Soap wouldn’t stay in the soap holder and we were forever chasing soap and toiletries which had fallen into the tub.


It never should have been that way. It should have been so simple. We had a full size bottle of shampoo and conditioner, two bars of soap, and a small travel bottle of shampoo, and yet we were severely challenged. It sounds like small potatoes, but when you’re traveling it really grates to be hit with a never-ending stream of annoyances and frustrations where you can’t just step into the shower and get on with business.

Some didn’t provide a place to hang our bath towels. One had a toilet that sat so high that my toes were perched tiptoe on the floor, and the seat didn’t fit the toilet so we were partially sitting on the toilet rim. That was the same toilet that didn’t flush the paper down, and several times I had to reach down into it to move the used toilet paper so that it would flush.

One had a freezer so tiny that we could only fit three plastic bottles in it. Since we travel with a cooler on long road trips, we refill empty plastic bottles with water and freeze them to ice down the cooler.

Only one offered a washer and dryer and I packed with the plan to wash a load there, but the water reeked like a skunk and it left my travel clothes unusable. After washing they stank, bad, and it wasn’t sulfur water either. I don’t know what it was but you could smell the stink even outside the cabin where the soaking hose watered the garden, and it left me with no recourse but to wear a sweatshirt in temperatures ranging from 95-104 degrees Fahrenheit outside.

Granted bad water wouldn’t be limited to rentals. It could be encountered at campgrounds in our own RV so I’m not sure that should count in the For-Against columns, but at least I’d have had all my clothes and wouldn’t end up in dire straits because our plan was to spend most of the year in the RV since we both telecommute.

The tiny house didn’t have a kitchen table, but instead a small round high-top table and two high chairs that were difficult to climb onto, and with our laptop computer on the table there was no room to eat so we didn’t have a place to sit and eat. Due to the difficulty of the small-seated high chairs, I stood up while using the computer to check email.

One rental had water so hard the the soap didn’t suds up at all, and the soap rinsed off before we could even rub it on because it was a tiny square shower with no place to get away from the water spray.

The ranch house and the tiny house were adorable being all decked out with throw pillows and knick knacks to be cutesy. That’s great to show off a place online to rent, but the reality was that throw pillows took up the entire couch and half the bed, and in the tiny house there was no closet to shove them in to get them out of the way.

All of the knick knacks and baskets and whatnots took up most of the counter and end table space leaving us with no way to unpack, and there was no place to set a suitcase for easy access.

My comfort level includes an extra bed to lay out all of my suitcases and bags allowing me to keep clothes sorted during a trip, and for easy access to everything I’ve packed, which being a packaholic is major.

None of the rentals provided night lights in the bathroom for those of us who don’t sleep through the night, so we had to move lamps because the bathroom lights were too bright with the door open. When you’re in a strange place, you don’t want to be groping in the dark to find the bathroom.


The best house with the extra bedroom was near perfect except for being in the World’s Worst Neighborhood, and I don’t say this lightly. Our rental was an oasis in the middle of what looked like a war zone. I honestly worried that our truck would get stolen while we slept, or that we’d get carjacked at the gate because we were fenced in with a gate and padlock, but you had to get out to unlock the gate, drive out, and then lock it back up. The fencing gave a sense of security but I knew that one minute with a pair of wire snippers was all that stood between us and them.

I’ve seen a lot of neighborhoods in my years including driving through some pretty frightening neighborhoods in Atlanta where we live, but this one gave me the creeps bad.

The entire surrounding neighborhood consisted of houses and trailers with blown out windows which were covered with bedsheets or cardboard… and yards full of junk and trash bags from end to end… and sunken rotted roofs that leaked like sieves. One house had a gaping hole where the front door should have been and yet it looked as if people were living in it.

These houses and trailers should have been condemned, but instead they formed a thriving community for denizens of the back alleys and it was frightening to be staying in the one decent house completely surrounded by squalor. It made us a target.

The fear factor and broken glass kept me from taking Sierra out to walk the yard, so only one out of four rentals gave us ample opportunity to walk the dog, that being the tiny house with the feeble-flush toilet and no kitchen table where we slept sideways, but it had a gigantic private yard with green grass and a frog pond from which the frogs sang to us every night.

I’ve got to give them a thumbs up for being well stocked with colas and a bag of ice. The latter was the most welcome offer, allowing us to pack the cooler when we left.

That and the ranch house had fridges so fully stocked that we barely had room for what we’d brought and we had to rearrange the refrigerator. When you’ve only got two days to see the sights, every delay ticks into your time. Maybe it boils down to this: People like me do better in our own rolling houses.

We locked ourselves out of the tiny house with its automatically locking door and had to call the landlord and await his arrival. He told us that these had been slave quarters prior to the Civil War and we saw several similar houses nearby.

The slave quarters were bigger than the KOA cabin that we stayed at in Carlsbad, a cabin which we speculated was smaller than our living room at home. I had to pile all of my luggage on the bottom bunk of a bunk bed and kept hitting my head digging through the suitcase and bathroom bag and dog bag. Half the bunk bed was blocked by the kitchen table so I had to lean way over for two of my bags, and we couldn’t move the table out without blocking the way to the bathroom and kitchen sink since we’d set up a dog pen.

The bathroom didn’t have its own sink, but there was a small counter with a sink and microwave and some cabinets and a mini-fridge which made up the kitchenette area. It was all in good order, though the sink was too high and set back for a five foot tall person to comfortably brush their teeth, and another box got checked in favor of traveling in our own RV.

The highlight was the porch swing, and the clear sky which let us see more stars than at home. I got a big surprise when I used the bunk pillows to cushion the hard wooden kitchen chairs, and my chosen pillow filled with air between sittings so that when I sat down it whooshed air like a whoopie cushion, nearly rolling me off before it flattened out.

Another surprise came the next morning when we opened the door to take Sierra out and it set off a screeching underneath the cabin. Our poor dog backed up, not wanting to go out to do her business. There were feral cats living up under us and apparently they were fighting. One sounded as if it was being killed, and shortly afterwards a cat ran out looking disheveled and missing some hair.

Outside we had dirt crawling with giant ants, and prickers limiting where we could walk Sierra since we didn’t want to walk through the RV section. She’d had a bad scare with unleashed dogs rushing her during a previous trip.

The ants did not bite or bother with me at all in spite of wearing flip flops. Green grass was the exception in the regions we traveled through.

I made a checklist of things that our RV absolutely must have, one being a king-size bed. I’d thought a queen would be big enough but this trip proved otherwise.

I learned two things from our trip: that the main reason AGAINST traveling in an RV was now moot, and that I absolutely detest staying in Other People’s Houses.

We’ve rented beach houses where the ocean and beach were our back yard, or lake houses where a beautiful lake and dock were our back yard, homes where we felt safe, comfortable, happy, and had plenty of places to walk the dog. Just going outside was pure joy. One of them I loved so much that I could have stayed there all summer.

But these were high-dollar rentals, off the charts dollar-wise in their cost-per-week, especially after all the add-ons they tack on to the rental fee. Neither of us were comfortable paying that much money for a week somewhere, especially when one week out of 52 weeks just doesn’t seem like much of a vacation from working all year.

These high-dollar rentals were the main argument AGAINST traveling in an RV, because we’d be replacing gigantic private yards and docks with a parking lot full of RVs.

But now that we’d taken a trip where even the private rentals didn’t give us an acre of leisure for us and the dog, another box got ticked off for switching to an RV where at least indoors we’d have all the comforts of home, because we’d already decided on the bigger 5th wheels with island kitchens, separate living rooms, bigger bathrooms, and a 2nd bedroom. We were leaning towards having a 2nd bathroom as well.

And if a discomfort or lack bothered us, being ours, we could remedy it permanently. We wouldn’t be stuck living in Other People’s Houses with all of their discomforts and frustrations ever again. You don’t work your whole life to travel in frustration, and while we knew that RVs came with their own gotchas, it seemed as if at every turn, life was steering us toward an RV.

* * * * *

Follow along with us as we share the full lead-in for the Big Change to full-timing in an RV, and to what lies beyond… Currently we are preparing our sticks and bricks house to sell, and leaning toward buying a small house for storage and a home base, though we expect to stay on the road for most of the year.

In the meantime, join me on a very different journey with Alien Nightmares: Screen Memories of UFO Alien Abductions. Experience my memories and dreams relating to personal experiences with extraterrestrials, along with the little-known UFO flaps from the time periods which swept me up into an extraterrestrial neverland of high strangeness.

  • Alien Nightmares

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