Living and Loving in 380 Square Feet – Our Life in a Motorcoach

Where's the Stripper Pole?

Home, it’s a great place to return. Albeit, September in Phoenix is still hot! Especially, after spending a summer where there were only a handful of nights that didn’t drop into or below the low 60’s. Our Phoenix home, still small at just over 1,400 square feet, seems huge as we settle in and once again gaze out from our dining table over downtown Phoenix. While we really enjoy life in a 380 square foot motorcoach, there’s a lot to learn about living and loving in those kind of close quarters. Here’s the “inside” story on life in BAM.

Tim’s Story

We left Phoenix in BAM in late May and returned to Phoenix during the second week of September. Deborah and I lived for 115 consecutive days in BAM’s 380 square-feet and happily spent 24 hours a day, 7 days a week together. In this space, you cannot hide anything. All bodily noises, eating habits, and teamwork efforts are fully exposed.

Back Home in Phoenix

Groans, Not The Good Ones

One morning, as I got dressed, Deborah was laying in bed, reading the day’s news on her iPhone. BAM’s bedroom is small, only about 54 square feet. Apparently, I made a noise that startled her. She sat up alarmed, and frantically ask, “Are you OK?” “Yea,” I answered, “I’m just trying to get my leg into my underwear!”

BAM’s space to get dressed is very small. There is one area, about 18-inches wide, between the bed and the dresser. There is another space, about two feet square, between the side of the dresser and the closet. This area is actually a raised platform, built over the engine compartment. It abuts the end of the bed and is about a foot above floor height. When you dress or undress there, you are afforded more room but you tower over the bed. All it needs to complete its stage-like presentation is a stripper pole and a DJ to spin some tunes. I used to mistakenly think the airline-issued sleep mask Deborah keeps bedside was for sleep, I think it might serve as more of a blindfold.

Eating Habits

BAM has a nice, large pantry and of course, Deborah is very organized. Personally, I could care less if the potato chips are on the third or fourth shelf. But, for some reason, Deborah has assigned the fourth shelf to my snacks. Very patiently, often in the morning, she reorganizes and repeatedly points out the proper shelf for things. Unlike Deborah, I eat at least four times a day. The extra time is around eleven each night when my choices on the fourth shelf include everything she conveniently puts there for me — popcorn, Snyders Nibblers, licorice, a variety of chips and of course, Oreos. Inadvertently, I often leave evidence of my late night snacking on the third shelf. Or in the bed.

At home, when I venture around the house at night, the pantry is the furthermost point from the bedroom. Deborah never knows about my late night meals unless, in the morning, she finds a popcorn trail leading back toward the bedroom. There is also evidence like empty bags, that don’t always make the trash, or a knife used to cut cheese left on the counter.

In BAM, not only is the pantry much closer, Deborah can also actually hear me eating. Not only that, but just from the sound, she can usually name what I am eating. It’s only the Oreos that violate the acceptable noise level, and objections have been voiced. Believe me, every noise is heard in the motorcoach.

Looking Back

Our trip home began in Seaside Oregon where Deborah and I had a reflective dinner. The next day, our daughters and grandsons would be arriving to join us for our final camping get-together of the summer. As we were waiting for their arrival, stories of this year’s adventures flowed. Deborah ordered a margarita before dinner and it became truth serum.

We discussed another summer living in BAM, our teamwork and some of the highlights; Mt. Baker, My Dill Adventure, Whale Watching at Orcas Island and of course, The Pirate Boat at Friday Harbor.

Here, Hold This

An Accidental Drenching – I swear

In a particular, reflective rant, Deborah shared what she perceived as some of her trivial duties aboard BAM. She reinforced her ability to take on important tasks and highlighted her community leadership, exemplary career and the thrill of building Risk Blossoming. I agreed.

People seek Deborah’s input and help when causes need to be accomplished. She organizes and is the ultimate team player. But, she felt, that in BAM, her primary responsibilities were so simplistic. In fact, she stated, it was mostly limited to my command of ‘Here, hold this’.

Occasionally, when I’m driving, I have no choice. I generally need to keep both hands on BAM’s large, bus-style steering wheel. But when parked and connecting one end of the water hose, handing her the other end and saying, “Here, hold this,” doesn’t fulfill her expectations of team work. She sometimes lacks concentration and commitment to such a trivial task.

At Mt. Hood, she actually had the end of the water hose pointed directly at herself while talking into it like it was a microphone. Her monologue, aimed at no one in particular, was in an octave several pitches above normal. I swear, I was laughing at her rant when I absentmindedly and accidentally turned on the valve at the other end.

Hand Signals

Deborah is not a quick reactor. There was some dramatics at the time of this soaking, but nothing else mentioned for weeks until this night’s margarita-fueled rant. She not only regurgitated this event but went even deeper. She continued to contrast her corporate leadership skills to her other important contributions traveling in BAM.

Deborah demonstrates her role with BAM

Deborah giving a textbook demonstration of her vital role in the operation of BAM.

Posted by Risk Blossoming on Thursday, October 4, 2018

“Here,” she said, “my most important contribution and skill-set seems to be standing behind the motorcoach and giving hand signals.” Her arms started swinging around to demonstrate left blinker is working, right blinker is working, continue backing, stop, and of course the cover her eyes signal.

There is a new ding in BAM’s back bumper because I didn’t realize that covering her eyes meant — ‘STOP. IMMEDIATELY.’

It was a fun dinner listening to Deborah describe her seemingly trivial duties. But it is exactly these teamwork efforts that make traveling in BAM so much fun. Our bond with each other is so much stronger when we are traveling. There is a dependency on one another for all things, right down to the most basic cooperation for seemingly simple tasks.

At the same time, we have plenty of time to work just as if we were in Phoenix. We still maintain a near 40-hour workweek and often find it is three o’clock in the afternoon before we even set foot outside of BAM. These are fulfilling days where mentally we explore, discover and grow just like the days when we set off for points unknown early in the morning.

“Trailer Meals”

“Trailer Meal” — Filet Mignon, BBQ Corn and Spinach, Cucumber. Avocado and Tomato Salad.

Seaside is a beautiful beach area just north Cannon Beach and just south of Astoria, Oregon. Daughters Tara and Brandi, grandsons Duncan and Colton and in-laws Steve and Jennifer joined us for this end of summer family get-together. The joy of watching the boys play on a beach brings us all back to our youth. Family camping, group meals, campfires, and card games help to create forever memories. There was a unanimous vote that this vacation, at this spot, would become an annual event.

Another “Trailer Meal” — BBQ Chicken over Grilled Pineapple, Sweet Onions and Cilantro.

We had a great summer and it was now coming to an end. However, our meals hereafter will forever be termed as “trailer meals.” Tara coined that term after enthusiastically eating three dinners we served on a camping get-together earlier in the summer.

These meals were made with local, fresh ingredients and are the best we have to offer. Her comment, a casual statement about sitting around and eating “trailer meals” kind of went by the wayside with little fanfare. About two weeks later, when she served us at her house, it became family folklore. I’m not sure who snickered out that her cooking wasn’t bad for a ‘trailer meal,’ but there hasn’t been food served since without the comment.

“You Two Need Some Alone Time”

The memories are probably better than the experience

The last two days in Seaside were rainy and we spent hours together in BAM. That’s two mommies, two grand kids and two grandparents in 380 square feet. The memories are probably better than the real-time experience. The goodbyes were tearful and we were truly melancholy.

As they drove away, Tara summarized the obvious, “You two need some alone time.” I think she was talking about the six of us, but little did she know how much it also applied to Deborah and myself. We effortlessly spent 24-7 together traveling for 115-days. We explored, discovered and grew together. But now, being home has presented some wonderful space and created some much needed individual time.

Still, I can’t wait for next May, when we will eagerly climb aboard BAM for another summer of adventures in our motorcoach. My goal this winter is to create some new ‘trailer meals’!

I welcome any new recipes you may offer so that Chef Tim can attempt to shake this summer’s moniker.

Deborah’s Perspective

I wish I had a dollar for every woman that has confided in me, that she has no idea how I can spend the 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, in such a confined space, with my husband in our motorcoach. With that kind of money, Tim could install his stage lights for his changing “platform” in the bedroom.

Most often these women will add that there is no possible way that they could do it. The truth is, their disclosure makes me smile for several reasons. First, I am grateful that I have a compatible partner that is pretty easy to get along with 98% of the time. And second, it didn’t just happen, we had to agree to make it work, and then work to make it work.

Tim and I refer to our personal and business relationship as a partnership. When we view it as a partnership, it seems to remind and motivate us to work together. When you boil it down, that means – it’s just the two of us, and there are going to be times that we have to do things that we don’t necessarily enjoy or that we might have delegated in our life before BAM.

Lessons Learned in the Motorcoach

We have discovered that we can’t let things fester and wait for a stack-attack. We have gotten much better with talking and sharing our feelings, and probably most importantly, listening to each other.

Talk and Listen

Then, on a few occasions, we have created  house rules (motorcoach rules?). Neither one of us like rules – so this is usually a last-ditch effort for remediation. As an example, take Tim’s self-proclaimed habit of being a late-night eater. He might have you think that popcorn or chips are his favorites, but every so often, he will get on a healthy kick and replace his normal go-to snacks with radishes, carrots, and celery. None of which are quiet snacks. Waking up from a deep REM sleep to the sound of celery can be very disturbing! So, we now have a no eating in bed rule.

The Magic

Tim’s sense of humor is a big part of the magic of our partnership. He seems to always find the humor in things. I love to laugh. He loves to make me laugh!  And, we do laugh a lot!! 

Gratitude and Appreciation

When he inadvertently soaked me with the water hose, and before I could even react, he was laughing and reaching for his camera! He instructed me to stay right where I was because he thought a photo of a dripping wet, fully clothed Deborah would make a hysterical addition to a future Risk Blossoming blog.  So I stood there. Ahhh ….what we do for the partnership. (The real truth is that I was incredibly grateful that I hadn’t been holding the sewer hose!!)

Besides the humor, I think that acknowledging gratitude and appreciation are an important component of our partnership. Both verbal and nonverbal.  Even as an accomplished career woman, I have to admit that I am not offended by “the little pat on my butt” by my loving partner. Yep, we do a pretty good job at making sure the other one knows how much they are loved and appreciated.

Trust me, it’s all good! But, it’s not perfect. There are times that we have to pause and remind ourselves that this is a partnership. But, so far, we feel blessed to share our “Life in a Motorcoach” where we joyfully live and love in our 380 square-feet!

Explore. Discover. Grow.

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