Maggie Hanna is a full-time teacher and part-time traveler who loves going on adventures with her husband Paul and their black lab Salvador. Guided by her Irish roots and her passion for storytelling, she stumbled upon Storyhouse and knew immediately that she wanted to contribute. While home over the holidays, she took some time to interview one of her aunts who took to the road after she lost her husband. This is Maggie’s first of many contributions to the Storyhouse on the Road series and we couldn’t be more delighted to have her on board.
In Phoenix, all roads seem to lead to RV parks. Concrete mazes are lined up with rigs of all shapes and sizes with an equally wide variety of residents: part-timers, full-timers, snowbirds, over 55ers, even families with home-schooled kids in tow.
At Storyhouse we have been working on some plans to take to the road and bring the stories to you starting later this year. But seeing all of those shiny fifth wheels and RVs when we were on vacation made us want to hit the road a little early. That is precisely why we were so pleasantly surprised to hear that my dad’s sister Anne, a longtime RV full-timer, would be in Phoenix at the same time. Having lived across the country for much of my life, we haven’t had too many opportunities to sit down and chat. Nevertheless, she welcomed us into her space with open arms and plenty of road wisdom. An hour or so later, we left with full hearts, a few shaky phone videos, a disc of old family photos she gave us, and a better understanding of where we are heading.
Q&A with Anne
MAGGIE: Why did you choose RV living?
ANNE: Maybe 20 years ago I was in a mechanics waiting room looking through an old RV magazine and saw an ad for Workampers. It showed me the possibility for a way to nurture my inner Traveler. For being able to see this country and be able to pay for it.
MAGGIE: What have you learned along the way?
ANNE: Many things: Carry a pry bar in the car when being towed. Double and triple check the rig before leaving a spot. The kindness of strangers is alive and well.
MAGGIE: What advice do you have for others considering the RV lifestyle?
ANNE: When possible take at least a weekend and if necessary a rented RV or 5th wheel to actually experience what the limitations and confined space are like. And if it's bad weather on your trial weekend all the better because it's not all sunshine and rainbows.
Research your new home as much as possible. Make a list of must haves and then be prepared not to find them all in one unit. (I considered a full size kitchen sink to be one of my must haves. But I have never really missed it)
All adults must be able to drive the rig and know how everything works.
Be open to seizing the day. Schedules can and at times should be broken.
MAGGIE: In the video you mentioned Allen, your late husband. Did you ever talk about hitting the road together?
ANNE: Allen wanted to get back into photography and we were brainstorming a different way to make money. As an Air Force vet he would have been allowed to have a small concession at national parks. This is before digital mind you. For example, we would take pics of people in front of Old Faithful and develop them in the RV.
As with most dreams we allowed the perceived problems ( no RV, no money, small child on and on ) to sway us against the idea. Go for it!
We thank Anne for her willingness to let us pull out our phone camera and capture her image, voice, and story. Appropriately, this first edition of Storyhouse on the Road connects with my own family.
We can’t wait to hear from yours.
See you on the road.