Ken and April were on TVC LIve and shared their passion for craft beer with us. We asked them to share more about their RV life to share with you. We suggest reading about this wonderful couple with a brew at hand!
Tell us about yourself and travel companions:
We are Ken and April Pishna, adventurous craft beer lovers fed up with the pace of the world. So we made it slow down. We left our kids the house – they can clean the pool, mow the yard, and pull the weeds – and we moved into our new home, one on wheels. This was two years ago, and while I wouldn’t say we made the world slow down; we, in fact, made it move even faster – there’s so many people to see, trails to ride, and craft beer to drink. Yep, we did not slow down, but we now move on our terms, not somebody else’s. We love travel, the outdoors, snowboarding, hiking, mountain biking, connecting around a good beer at the local brewery, sampling the local fare, and just plain living an adventurous life.
How did you decide to RV?
Years ago when our youngest was in high school, we planned on moving to the mountains of Colorado once he started college. He graduated high school, we started looking. I could not find a job that would support our current house and a new house in the mountains in very expensive Summit County, Colorado. We got irritated that we were allowing someone else to dictate where we decided to live. So one day, on my 45 minute commute to work through Denver’s atrocious traffic, I stumbled across a podcast, The RV Entrepreneur, and the wheels started turning (figuratively and literally). Knowing absolutely nothing about RV’s (we’ve always tent camped), we decided that since we’ve always loved to travel, why not move into an RV and create our own jobs?
What were the reactions of your family, friends, etc?
I think they were surprised we didn’t do something like this sooner. Nobody was shocked by our decision and everyone was supportive. Our kids were proud of us. You can read exactly what they said two years ago when we first embarked upon this adventure.
In their words:
“Honestly, when my mom asked me to write this, I didn’t want to because I didn’t know how I could write about something they’re doing. But then I looked at it again and that’s exactly what I could talk about. When I tell people what they’re doing, everyone is so amazed and excited for them. I myself feel exactly that. Most parents sit around in their house talking about how they wish they could take a long trip or live somewhere nice, but never take action and do it. Well, here my parents are doing what they’ve talked about almost my whole life, and I could not be more proud. While this is a really big change for me, I can’t imagine how big of a change it is for them. After an unreal amount of years in one house, the same place, always staying still, an adventure out onto a road that never stops moving will be so different. I know they will find a place on it and do something that really opens their minds to something bigger than Colorado.” – (6/4/18, Owen Pishna, 19, now 21)
“My parents have never been content to fall into one lifestyle forever. My dad began working graphic design straight out of high school, and contrary to his explorative character, stayed with that one job for many years. He was first following his bliss, and then later embodying his nature of doing what must be done for his family at that time. But something definitive of his and my step-mom, April’s, personalities is that not only do they believe in doing what it takes to make yourself happy, whoever you may be that year, but also having the courage to reset and actually do the steps it takes to get there. Over the past year, they’ve been putting in the work of scheming and remodeling their new home on wheels to make the life they know will make them happy. But hand in hand with the beauty of the rebirth of a lifestyle, is the difficulty of letting some of the good parts of the old lifestyle go. Luckily for them, they won’t have to sell their old home of many years. And luckily for my little brother, Owen, and I, we will be the ones to take over our childhood home that, though familiar, will enable us to build our idealized future of making art and following whatever career paths we can dream up. We plan to make a music hub of the home, and in following in the footsteps of our brave parents, use what we have to create a future what will make us happy. If we have even a fraction of the courage they do, that should be no problem. I, for one, can’t wait to follow my bliss while always being surprised to hear what new thing my parents are doing to follow theirs. – (6/4/18, Zakk Pishna, 27, now 29)
What kind of RV do you have?
A 24 foot BTouring Cruiser named RAIF (after the wonderful man we bought him from) – small enough to get us almost anywhere – and therein lies the problem – it’s quite hilarious if you ever get to watch us do a 50 point turn because we thought we could get up that one lane mountain road. I think we need a van!
What did you do with all your stuff? How did you downsize?
We’ve never been ones to keep a lot of stuff in the first place, but still downsizing a house that we lived in for 26 years was no easy task, although it was also not as daunting as we thought. Here you go, step by step:
- We threw out a lot of junk that nobody was going to miss – have no idea why we ever had it in the first place.
- Gave a lot of clothes, trinkets, a few dishes, and just some random stuff to Goodwill
- Gave things that we wanted to keep, that had special meaning, but couldn’t bring it with us in the RV, to family and friends, whether they wanted it or not.
- Offered more stuff to anyone who wanted to take it.
- Here’s the cool thing that made this downsizing task easy for us. Our kids were staying in the house. We told them we would leave whatever they wanted: furniture, dishes, pots, pans, etc., but if we left it, it was now theirs. They would have to get rid of it when they were done with it. Basically we moved out of the house and they moved in (even though they were technically already there). And moved in, they did. Before we even took off, they had painted one of the walls with black chalkboard paint and created a recording studio in a closet in the basement under the stairs, where they now record and have live FB events appropriately titled, “Live from the Studio Under the Stairs.”
- We rented a very large dumpster and got rid of all the furniture and large stuff that nobody wanted. We filled it up.
- And finally, we packed our years and years of family photos that we couldn’t take, into about six boxes and stored them in the basement with the Christmas, Halloween, and Easter decorations that now belonged to our boys.
- RAIF was (and still is) packed to the gills!
Have you done any renovations on the rig?
Our brother-in-law welded us a handcrafted, one-of-a-kind metal storage box that is our piece de resistance. It houses our backpacking gear, our snowboarding gear, and our home brewing equipment. When we gave the house to our boys, we meant it. We took everything with us, including our mountain bikes that fit quite nicely on the hitch surrounded by our big metal box decorated with hundreds of stickers.
And in true April Pishna style, I yanked out the shelving above the cab – it was ugly and wasted space that only held a small TV (our TV is my laptop) – and told Kenny, “Fix it.” Fix it, he did. We now have more storage to hold extra clothes, extra beer (for when the shower is full), more home brew equipment, a small box of Christmas decorations, photography gear, and extra blankets for those cold, snowy nights. It is now a beautiful centerpiece handcrafted by Kenny himself, made from pine-beetle kill wood adorned with my photos from our trip to Italy years ago.
And the last little thing, our rig is full of color, so we recently added more color and transformed our cabinets from dull, cheap brown wood, to vibrant blues and reds to match our colorful collections from our travels around the world.
How long have you been on the road? Is there a finish line?
Two years on June 5, 2020! We are finished when we are done. And we’re not done. And we don’t know when we will be done.
What is the absolute best thing about full-time travel?
You can go anywhere. And just because we live and travel in our RV, we’ve learned that you can park the RV and catch a plane and still live the full-time travel life. Full-time travel does not mean full-time RV.
What is the worst thing?
You can go anywhere – We (at least I do) have serious FOMO, and while I learned to be ok not going everywhere, I still want to go everywhere.
Have you found a favorite place yet?
So many favorite places, and Colorado is always one of them despite the growing population. We like to play a game. It’s called, “Could we live here?” From that answer, I think we’ve discovered a few favorite places: Whitefish, Montana; Boothbay Harbor, Maine; Steamboat Springs, Colorado; Silverton, Colorado; Baja; Mazatlan, Mexico. Those are just a few. Remember, we’re not done yet.
What are your favorite kinds of destinations?
We travel for craft beer. We’ve built a lifestyle around this community because of the community, actually, more than the beer. Quite often we find ourselves sitting at a brewery in a small town talking to a local person sitting next to us at the bar and the question comes up, “Where are you staying tonight?” Kenny and I look at each other and shrug with a smile, “We don’t know.” Which then results in a variety of responses ranging from, “You can stay in my driveway,” to “You can stay here at the brewery,” to Good Luck!” It’s quite awesome. And, of course we are Harvest Hosts members.
I think we would be quite the sight to see when it comes to planning our next stop, which is usually planned the day of. Out comes the phones, the travel apps, the mountain biking apps. I don’t know what people did before the world of apps.
To make a long story short, we seek out the small town breweries with the stories, and do our best to find mountain biking trails paired with free campsites in the middle of nature. Our business is to bring people closer via great beer and great adventure, so we better do the same.
What have you learned on this journey and what are you still seeking?
We already knew this, but traveling has further enforced it, “People are good!” Everywhere we go, we connect with people. I suppose that has something to do with one of our mantras, “Say hi to strangers; they often become friends.” We love visiting new places, returning to old ones, and just traveling in general, so I suppose from that we will constantly be seeking new adventures. Our travel will continue overseas, maybe in an RV, maybe not, but this world has so much love and beauty to offer, and we do, too. So, why not share?!
How do you fund your travels?
Before we started traveling, I was a middle school teacher. I quit teaching, for now. Someday I might return to it. I might not. Kenny was (and still is) an editor for a mixed martial arts website. He now only works part time, but he can do this job anywhere. This was our sole income source for a while.
We thought since we cut our living expenses in half, cutting our income in half would work just fine. Turns out, while we boondock and rarely spend money on lodging, we love to travel, and gas – even though quite cheap now – takes up a huge part of our budget.
For a while, our credit card took a hit, but then we landed a content creator contract for a malting company (malt means beer you know), started making a tiny bit of income off of affiliate links and selling t-shirts from our store. I also recently took on a position as a writer and assistant to a fellow RV entrepreneur. We’ve written a few stories for industry magazines, and I am also an outdoor educator, so have done some seasonal work with that, as well.
Oh, and we wrote a Craft Beer Adventure Journal. You know of those real books that you actually have to write in and record your thoughts.
It’s not easy, but it’s definitely more interesting than the same thing day in, day out. For now, our multiple income sources are working. Later? We’ve got a few things brewing (pun intended). Let’s just say if you are in need of a beercation, we can help with that. Stay tuned. Life is pretty exciting!
How do you live in such a small space and not drive one another crazy?
Oh, we drive each other crazy! We are each other’s best friends, and since we’ve been together for 28 years, I suppose we are too comfortable with each other, saying exactly what we want, when we want, how we want, and that does result in some arguments, but our relationship is also great because of all that. While we are running a business together, we also have our own jobs outside of this, so having that bit of separation helps. We love visiting breweries and sitting at the bar. This allows us to have conversations with other people while on the road. Although, lately that piece has been a bit difficult with COVID restrictions in place. But there may be no seating directly at the bar next to a stranger, but we’re pretty good at conversing across the aisles.
What is the most exciting thing on the horizon for you?
Traveling again. We rarely stay in one spot for more than a week, so these past few months have been strange (written at the time of COVID). We think we have decided to head to the Pacific Northwest for the fall. Just thinking about that possibility gets my heart racing with excitement, breweries, hop farms, huckleberries, mountain biking, snowboarding! Yep, pretty sure that’s where we are heading next.
What advice would you give those thinking of joining this lifestyle?
Don’t wait for the perfect time. You’ll never leave. And when you do leave, take little mini-trips to get to know your rig before heading out far away from everything you know. If you’re like most RV’ers, you’ll probably name your rig. Ours is RAIF. If you’re going to name it, you should know it. Know how it drives on the highway, how it corners, how it turns around. Can it handle the cold? The heat? Can it handle you? Now, get out there and live your Stout Life!
How can people find you?
We’ve got it all!
The Craft Beer Travel and Adventure Podcast anywhere you listen to podcasts.