Friday, December 9, 2022


Finding “alone time” in 300 square feet


By Chuck Woodbury
Gail and I live in a 32-foot motorhome. With one full-wall slide-out and a smaller one in the bedroom, we have about 300 square feet of living space. There are three rooms: main cabin (dining room, kitchen, living room all in one), bedroom and small bathroom. A sliding door separates the main cabin from the bedroom.

We lived in the RV for two years in 2017 and 2018. Then we bought a home. A year later, last November, we loaded up the RV for a two-month trip, just to get away in our comfy little mini-house with a stop at my aunt’s home near Fresno for Christmas.

Then the virus hit: The nursing home in Kirkland, Wash., where more than 40 people died, is only a few miles from where we live. It was not a good time to return home.

So, now, more than five months since we departed, we are self-quarantined in Kingman, Arizona, in a sleepy little RV park just off Route 66. We’re booked here through May.

Living in our small space is easy for us because we get along so well. Still, we both enjoy “alone time.” One way to get it is to walk the dog in the nearby neighborhoods, or on trails in the nearby desert. In warm weather we can relax outside on lawn chairs. I do a lot of reading out there.

Home sweet home along the Oregon coast.

But in the RV itself, we have a great system. Gail is a night person and I am definitely a morning person. So, what we do is this: I get up early in the morning, close the bedroom door, brew a pot of coffee, and begin my day. She usually sleeps for another two hours or so, which gives me time to think, reflect, plan, and do some writing. Sometimes I just sit and stare into the distance, and I don’t think there is much on my mind at all. I remember a poster from my college days. It said: “Sometimes I just sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits.” That would be me.

The opposite happens at night. I go to bed early, where I read for an hour or so and then with the lights out do a little thinking before heading off to sleep. Gail stays up for another two or three hours and reads, watches videos, or plays solitaire on her tablet. Then she comes to bed.

So, in a typical day, we each have at least a few hours all to ourselves, where we can do whatever we wish, without interruption. This works great for us — plenty of time together, but private moments as well. You might want to try it.

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Tom Gutzke
2 years ago

My late wife and I were married over 52 years. Since retiring 20 years ago [firefighter] I’m usually in bed before 11 PM while she stays up to read until 1 AM. I’m up by 7 and catch the morning network news programs while she would sleep until after 8. We work together cleaning as needed. I did things like windows, reaching higher levels [she was confined for 15 years to a wheelchair due to an above-knee amputation following a knee replacement] while she cleaned the sinks, inside the ‘fridge, etc. We enjoyed sightseeing, playing a myriad of board- and card-games, visiting with neighbors, and just enjoying life. Not sure how things will go now but she made me promise that i would continue to travel and see things we had talked about seeing but didn’t get to yet. She said that, when I see things, she’ll be able to see them through my eyes while she’s in heaven. The first four months alone have been difficult but i’m getting used to it now. Being a “stay home – isolate” situation isn’t making it any easier but as spring makes a slow appearance in Wisconsin I’m now getting things done at home that I’ve been putting off. I’m looking forward to attending another Handicapped Travel Club Annual Rally just after Labor Day in Albuquerque, New Mexico and then spending the winter in Benson, Arizona. Next summer I hope to get to the Williamsburg-Jamestown-Yorktown area of Virginia. That was high on our list of places to see. Then it’ll be on to more sites across the good old USA.

2 years ago
Reply to  Tom Gutzke

Tom, I am so sorry for the loss of your wife. I can’t imagine losing someone I was married to for 52+ years; it must be like losing your right arm. Suddenly, everything is different. But, it sounds like your very wise wife had excellent advice — take those trips you’d planned together. I can’t think of a better way to honor her. My Dad did the same after my Mother passed. Very difficult at first, but each trip became a bit easier. He said she was always there in spirit, and that provided some comfort. The very best of luck to you as this chapter of your life unfolds!

2 years ago

Your living arangement sounds very familiar. I am a morning person and my wife a later at night person. Mornings, I get my coffee, read catch-up, then set ip for breakfast. At night I hit the bunk while she reads then tidies up anything that requires it. We have been together since 1963, married for 49 of those years and still enjoy our private time as everyone does. We have no problem spending our summers in our little motorhome. Hoping to get back to ‘normal’ soon but for now, staying home in our stick house and praying for a vaccine, staying in touch with friends and family thru social media, and chatting with neighbours from a safe distance.
Be careful, stay safe! Sorry to read about Gary, l know that you were good friends. Again, stay safe and all the best to you and your family.

2 years ago

I enjoyed your article about alone time. We have downsized from a 36′ fifth wheel, then a Class C and now a small, pop=up truck camper that has a wet bath. We use it in the summer for traveling to cooler climates. We have the same schedule as you and your wife and it works quite well for us. A few years back we traveled for five months in the truck camper with this same arrangement. It works well. We both value our alone time and found it’s possible in less than 90 square feet.

Captn John
2 years ago

We are the same and different. I’m the night owl that requires no more than 5 hours sleep. I’m also the early riser. With 41′ and 5 slide outs we have a little more room. Wifey goes to bed hours before me and I’m up hours before her as she reads for an hour or more 1st. She also likes 8 1/2 – 9 hours sleep. Maybe that is how we have stayed together more than 50 years.

jerry Olson
2 years ago

Would like to hear experiences of Newmar 3911 & 4311 accessible coach owners as to reoccurring maintenance issues, reliability, finding parks with required clearance for handicap lift extension & chair access, what would you change and do you have buyers remorse you invested in RV life style?

Donald N Wright
2 years ago

Things to re-examine in life. Muslim women clothing, the burka, with head and face coverings. Tiny house communities for the homeless, and designing a new suburb of small houses instead of Mc Mansions. Writing of your experiences long ago with the VW camper bus.