The Virtual Campground wants to create community among those who love RVing as much as much as you do. Our series, “Inside the Rig,” lets us introduce you to your neighbors on the road so we can get to know each other better and learn our stories. This week, we talked with Teresa and Brian Ott who run a wordpress business. Full disclosure – they work on this website among others! We enjoy talking and hanging out with the Otts and think you will too. Read how Teresa answered our questions.
Tell us about yourself and your travel companions
I’m a writer and website designer, and have been both of those things for most of my adult life. Brian handles site care and maintenance, SEO and assorted project management tasks for our business. He’s had a more colorful past than me in most respects including career.
He used to “sell people” (this is what he told me when we met) for a technical staffing firm. He founded and ran a successful gunsmithing shop for about 10 years, until we hit the road. And he spent a decade in the US Army, as a legal specialist who was later “voluntold” to be a recruiter.
Before we met, we each raised our two sets of kids mostly single handedly. It was not always fun. We did almost no traveling unless a family member had died, was dying, or getting married. There was no time or money, because everything was on us.
Just the two of us share the rig. We do accommodate the occasional overnight guest who doesn’t mind sleeping on an air mattress under the dining table. When we decided to go full time, we had two Greyhounds. We lost one during the time leading up to full time RVing. We took off with Buddy, the last in a long line of Greyhounds who’ve owned us. Within a year, he was gone, too.
We do miss having a dog, but have decided it’s best for us to wait on adopting another one. You gain a lot when you give a dog a home, but you also give up some freedom.
How did you decide to RV full-time?
After the kids moved out, we found ourselves with a suburban McMansion in a neighborhood we’d come to dislike. Not only were we not into *that* neighborhood, but we were questioning everything else, too. The town we lived in. The county and state. The way we lived. Neverending home maintenance on a house we didn’t love or need. So we just gave ourselves permission to do something different.
There’s a crazy story about how we stumbled into RVing, but it’s a long one. So until I finish writing that book, I’ll just say that it started with a firehouse in the extreme northeastern US.
What were the reactions of your family, friends, etc?
Since we unintentionally used the old “ask for more so they’ll settle for less” tactic, it went great! It’s amazing how wonderful living and traveling in an RV sounds when our first plan involved moving 1200 miles away, to a place no one wanted to visit.
Also, even though we aren’t all that old, we are the “elders” in the family. Not that any of our parents would have been the types to question us anyway, but we have no one trying to guilt trip us out of anything. Or, for better or worse, no obligations to act as caregivers for elder parents.
What kind of RV do you have?
We have a Class A 41-foot Newmar Dutch Star. She was fancy in her day.
When we decided a motorhome would work best for us, we started looking hard for an older Class A from a manufacturer with a solid reputation. Older because it would help with the price, but also because there’s apparently a sweet spot in model years between too dated and shoddier workmanship.
What did you do with all your stuff? How did you downsize?
The short answer is, after getting rid of about half of it in a way that made me want to cut myself, we discovered that you don’t have to be rich and dead to have a successful estate sale, where someone else handles everything, then hands you a check. So that’s what we did. If only we’d done that in the first place, instead of trying to handle it all ourselves. I’d be saner and richer.
Brian basically parted his entire shop out and sold it bit by bit, mostly on eBay. Two things you should know to appreciate this (besides the fact that it required a stupid, stupid amount of persistence): 1) a screw that goes into a firearm automatically makes it worth 57X what anything else in normal life is worth; and 2) eBay has rules that you can sell parts to repair firearms, but not firearms, and constantly confuses the two.
As a result of eBay’s confusion, Brian spent a significant amount of time in eBay jail, and arguing with eBay, over the months it took him to sell off his screws, bits and bobs.
[ Note: For more on the Ott’s downsizing, visit https://wanderingporcupine.com/downsizing-to-an-rv-how-to-get-rid-of-your-crap-without-losing-your-sht/ ]
Have you done any renovations on the rig?
We really haven’t done the kinds of things most people think of when they hear “renovation.” Mostly we’ve replaced stuff, or added things. I’d like it if there were less brown, and hard flooring throughout, but it’s such a pain and ridiculously expensive. So we live with it.
Brian just got done spending 2-3 weeks, off and on, scraping Diamond Shield off the front of our rig. Since there was mildew trapped behind it, it was like uncovering a new paint job.
We have replaced nearly every bit of gold in the rig. Brian replaced all the cheap plastic faucets. I broke the kitchen sink and we had to pay a guy $550 to cut it out of the counter. But now we have an amazing stainless steel sink.
I put up SmartTile backsplashes. Most of them look great, but it was a huge pain to put up. I’m in the process of covering the bathroom walls with a very thick paintable wallpaper that looks like beadboard. It is not going well.
How long have you been on the road? Do you see a finish line?
Two years full time in the rig as of this month; a year and a half since we left our former home state. Every time I think about owning a house again I cringe. Brian is the same. If we did need to stop traveling maybe it’d be a tiny house somewhere.
Right now, we see no finish line. Brian says “Eventually one of us is going to die. That doesn’t mean the other one has to stop!”
What is the absolute best thing about full-time travel?
We haven’t even visited most bucket list places yet, but we seem to find things to appreciate wherever we go. Breweries. Farmers markets. Weather we like. Food that’s to die for.
No place has it all. It’s a mixed bag. And that’s OK. There are things you love. Things that annoy. And then you move, and start over!
Brian says it’s the people we meet.
What is the worst thing?
Honestly, the worst thing about full-time travel is trying to plan it. We have subscriptions to what are supposed to be the best trip planners. They are seriously lacking. We have to use at minimum three different apps or websites to plan. And then, we have to call most campgrounds and try to book. Depending on the area or the time of year, that can be another challenge. We minimize this downside – and save money – by trying to reserve a month at a time.
Have you found a favorite place yet?
I haven’t. I did really like the Badlands in South Dakota. It was the only truly bucket list place we’ve visited so far. But we visited during weather that wasn’t so great, and under stressful circumstances (our dog was back at the RV, and not well).
Brian really liked Pigeon Forge. It was at once the tourist trap of the south and a really fun place for us. We were there all summer in 2019, not far from family and with our friends the Schnakenbergs camped nearby. We got to do a lot of fun things, including climbing a crazy-high mountain, visiting numerous craft breweries, spending time with family cooling off at the water park. But his answer is where he’s at at the moment.
Honestly, the best part of this whole journey so far has not really been about the places, even though I hope to see many more amazing locations. It’s the random conversations, or the times you’re able to gather with friends you haven’t seen in months, or having the most crazy-delicious food in a place you’ll probably never visit again.
What are your favorite kinds of destinations?
We don’t travel for any particular reason other than that we can, and we’re making up for our too-responsible youth. We do enjoy craft beer so like visiting breweries and Brian enjoys mountain biking. In fact, we recently were on a podcast talking about beer and bikes with April and Ken Pishna.
What have you learned on this journey and what are you still seeking?
Brian says this is too introspective a question for him! “I’m just going moment by moment,” he adds.
I’ve learned that I’m still me, and I still have to make myself put on pants and go outside. But I do step away from the computer a heckuva lot more than before we got on the road. I’m seeking the kind of balance that does this by nature.
How do you fund your travels?
We run our business, A Fearless Venture, from our rig. We design, build, fix and maintain websites full time – almost exclusively WordPress (or helping people move from something else into WordPress).
We also earn a little from affiliate commissions, but since we only recommend what we use and what best serves our clients, we’re not ballin’ on $65 bad hosting money.
Brian is the CFO personally and for our business; he helps save us money when we do have to spend, which is as important as making money.
How do you live together in such a small space and not drive each other crazy?
“We were already crazy to begin with,” says Brian.
95% of the time we are both chilling. Either doing the same thing, or doing our own things, side by side. Or taking off for solo time. A bike ride or walk. Or running errands.
5% of the time, this rig ain’t big enough! But, these times pass.
What is the most exciting thing on the horizon for you?
We have been seeing friends and family. We went to Clearwater for a family beach house trip that ended up getting cancelled due to COVID. Then, it was rescheduled – hooray! Then we headed to Colorado to visit our kiddo who lives in Colorado Springs and met up with good friends on a boondock adventure. Now, we are headed up to Yellowstone and Reno. Brian and I are both so excited to finally get out west with our rig. Who knows where we will be in 2021!
How can people find you on social media or a blog?
On Instagram, I’m @thewebwench and Brian is @rv_life_of_brian.
Our personal blog is Wandering Porcupine. It’s neglected compared to A Fearless Venture, our business site for people running an online business. But there’s good content on either one – just pick your interest and dive in.