BRYCE CRIPE & CAMILLE ATTELL
Bio: Bryce and Camille are born and raised West Coasters (Oregon and California, respectively), who met at work, fell in love, and married in 2014. Bryce is a corporate financial analyst, while Camille is a professional trainer and project manager. Before hitting the road in September, 2016, we were living the typical suburban life in Orange County, California.
Some would say we were living a disappearing American Dream: employed by a large corporation with a great culture and good benefits, challenging and mostly fulfilling careers, great friends, nice vacations, and a pathway to retirement.
However, things started shifting when the financial crisis of 2008 forced our employer into its first layoffs in nearly 80 years of existence. While we both survived these cuts, the illusion of secure careers began to crack. We were both already workaholics, but the demands at work became even greater. Then we both moved into new, unfamiliar job positions. Finally, after a two-year period of chaos, we were both beset by health issues (Bryce with recurring lower back pain and Camille an almost never-ending series of sinus and respiratory infections).
It seemed the Universe was sending us a message and we responded in kind. It was time to figure out our own American Dream. We were in our prime earning years, but felt like birds longing to fly from a cage of our own making. A friend thought we were in the throes of a mid-life crisis, to which we responded, “No, it’s a mid-life revelation.” We made a plan, resigned from our jobs, and were on the road in six months. See the whole story on our blog.
Our journey is now about personal and professional reinvention. We’ve traded in our corporatist lives for the unfamiliar–and often uncomfortable–paths of entrepreneurs. As we approach our first full year on the road, we’ve learned invaluable new skills and are on the cusp of creating new income sources that we hope will sustain our travels for years to come. We’ve traded in the security of suburbia for the freedoms and ever-changing rhythms of the open road–we wouldn’t want it any other way.
Our Rig: After much research, we decided to purchase a new, gas-powered, 34-foot Tiffin Open Road Allegro Class A motorcoach. Being new to RVing, we both felt overwhelmed by the technical and mechanical complexities and decided that a new coach with an extended warranty provided us with peace of mind.
As we’ve met other RVers, we’ve had the opportunity to see quite a few of their RV setups. Many have made really cool modifications to meet their specific needs. This has caused us some RV envy, as our rig remains completely factory stock. Fortunately, we’re generally happy with its layout and functionality.
Recently, Camille has made rumblings about wanting to downsize further into a smaller Class B rig for increased travel flexibility and boondocking opportunities. This talk makes Bryce quite nervous as his feet keep slamming into things in the current rig. Stay tuned!
Our Pets: We turned our two cats’ lives upside down when we brought them along for the ride—upending their laid-back suburban lifestyles for an ever-changing panorama of windshield views. Both are rescue cats found through Facebook.
Bianca, her siblings, and mother were abandoned in a county park. We adopted her in 2014 at six-weeks old. She’s a petite, muted tortoise-shell with a personality that belies her beauty. Relationships (both human and feline) are on her terms, but we’ve managed to work through her furry veneer to find her good-hearted, kind soul.
After seven months on the road, we experienced heartbreak and grief when Bianca escaped into the night at a woodsy RV park in Texas Hill Country. Several days of frantic searching yielded nothing but her collar and an eerily similar-looking local stray. Our search has since moved online, and we hold out hope that we will someday soon be reunited with our beloved kitty.
Now we ride with Parker, a two-year-old orange tabby. We rescued him from a garage living with 30 other semi-feral cats. It took him awhile to let his guard down, but he has developed into a love-bug, lap-cat that soaks up as much attention as he can get. He’s a very “talkative” guy who loves naps, playing with old earplugs, and regular supervised outdoor time.
Camping preferences: Our camping preferences are situational. It’s case by case depending on how long we are staying and what we need to accomplish. For instance, if we’re staying somewhere for a while and need to do laundry, get some work done, etc., we’ll opt for an RV park that offers amenities. We try to keep our costs down by staying at less expensive parks. We also boondock when it’s a couple of nights and we’re full-up on water and empty on tanks. On occasion, we’ll boondock for longer for events such as Xscapers convergences, so that we can spend time with friends.
Full Time RVing Experience:
We moved out of our house in late August, 2016 and hit the road at the end of the summer travel season. Our time has felt like a blur and we never find ourselves saying it feels like we’ve been on the road forever. We’ve visited 20 states so far and have seen so much beauty and met an incredibly interesting and diverse mix of people.
Initially, we were spending around three nights at each stop and felt we were barely scratching the surface on what each place had to offer. After about six months, we decided to slow down and settle into places for a little longer. We’re now staying for about a week—and still finding we’re leaving with a list of things to come back and experience. With our first year of full-timing within sight, we’re just about to top 15,000 miles on the RV odometer.
One of our biggest adjustments to RV life has been our transition from having ‘regular corporate jobs’ to trying to become entrepreneurs and develop small businesses. The learning curve is steep, but we’re making progress—we just have to tell ourselves to be patient sometimes. We’re optimistic that in our second year on the road we’ll find a path to financial sustainability within this lifestyle.
UH OH!: The worst thing that’s happened to us on the road is like eating cold pizza; it’s still not that bad. After about a month on the road, our bedroom slide would not open or close fully and was sticking out about three inches. We frantically tried to resolve the issue as we were set to drive about 200 miles that day. After many calls to dealers and the manufacturer, we had a work-around.
A couple of days later the work-around no longer worked, and we were left with a slide that refused to budge. The collateral damage was not having access to clean clothes as our bed butted up against our drawers. After much pleading with a local dealer, we got the coach in for repairs two weeks later. A half-day fix turned into a four-day stay in the dealer’s repair bay, and we lived in the same clothes for about two weeks. At the time, we were pretty shocked and dismayed with our situation. In hindsight, it was not the end of the world when compared to stories I’ve heard from other Rvers.
Top Spot: Our Shangri-La was one we almost never found. We were making our way from Texas to Arkansas by way of Oklahoma. Since we were just passing through, we wanted to boondock to save money and avoid hooking up for one night. We found a Walmart on our route and headed there. A long drive day put us in the Walmart parking lot just before sunset. Unfortunately, the parking lot was small and places for RVs were right next to the main street. It didn’t help that not one other RV was there. A week earlier we had lost our cat Bianca and after days of grief, combined with the funky feel in that lot, we just desperately wanted to go somewhere else. We quickly looked on Campendium and found a recreational area not too far away at a place called Hugo Lake.
Within minutes of sunset, we arrived at this place of unexpected beauty and made our way to a scenic camp spot on the lake. Hardly anyone was there, it was so calm, and the weather was just right. A feeling of relief and safety washed over us and we were so grateful to be there. Sometimes it’s not only the location that makes a difference, it’s your head and heart space that brings everything around you to life.
Most Memorable Moment: It feels like cruel and unusual punishment to choose a single memorable experience from our journey to date. Ultimately, we finally agreed it was our first New Year’s Eve on the road spent in the remote Sonoran Desert border outpost of Naco, AZ.
We were staying at an RV park no more than 150 paces from Mexico. We had met a fun couple from Kansas City that winters in Arizona, and they invited us to go with them to the only bar in town…right on the border. We were invited into a private birthday party and treated like family—plied with complimentary adult beverages and a spread of homemade Mexican food. We got into the spirit, dancing up a storm to a live band playing Latin Banda and Cumbia music. We could not have felt more welcome in our new, albeit temporary home.
We returned to our RV just before midnight. We had heard that the residents on the other side of the border enjoyed ushering in the New Year by shooting their guns into the air. Knowing what goes up, comes down just as fast, we retreated to our RV and braced ourselves. Sure enough, we were “serenaded” by hundreds of rounds of automatic weapons fire. We lived! It was definitely the most unique New Year’s Eve either of us had ever experienced.
Why we Decided to RV: We decided to live in an RV because we didn’t want to buy furniture for our house. Seriously! We had just experienced a couple of years of overwhelm and the tipping point was trying to furnish our house. We wrote a whole post about it on our blog. Digging deeper beneath the surface, we just weren’t living a fully engaged life for a lot of reasons, and decided to pursue something different for a change. The most difficult decision was letting go of all the things that defined us: our jobs, our neighborhood, and friends and family that we wouldn’t see. In exchange, we were headed for a big adventure.
The transition to living on the road was quite challenging and overwhelming. We set a deadline that we worked feverishly toward every day for about six months. You can read about that on our blog. Our only regret is that we didn’t follow enough full-time RVers online or get into RV Facebook groups sooner. We simply didn’t know they existed. Otherwise, we would have learned tips that would have saved us time and money.