Tuesday, August 5, 2014

#173 - It Makes a Village Online

Since rediscovering a love of camping more than eight years ago – after moving to Idaho – and then discovering an even greater enjoyment of life in an RV (recreational vehicle, for those not up on the lingo), I have had in the back of mind the goal of taking to the road full-time in an RV once my working days are done. The road and some of the places I see help to make more real the journey aspect of life.

The move to life on the road in many ways seems a natural for me and my wife. Our fathers were both truck drivers, as was my grandfather. I also have an uncle and a cousin who drive a truck for a living, so it seems a natural that we would take to the highway at some point. In addition, my wife has lived in at least six states for some period of time, and I have lived in nine states, so there is a bit of the nomad in our blood.

Roughly five years ago, I began exploring the notion of full-time RV living. I discovered that an entire subculture of “full-timers” exists, complete with blogs and organizations  geared toward RVing and RV life. One of the blogs I stumbled across in my research features a retired teacher from Georgia who had never done any RVing before beginning her grand adventure. RVSue, as she is known travels with her two dogs, known affectionately as “the Crew,” across the West mainly in her van and small travel trailer.

Although I read several blogs on full-time RV life, Sue’s is the blog I read most often and most consistently. Part of the reason is her entertaining writing style. An equally important reason is the fact that Sue does not write about typical destinations (state parks, RV resorts, and the like). She prefers to get off the beaten path, away from the crowd. It is the type of RV life I envision living, at least most of the time.

What perhaps makes RVSue’s blog the most entertaining of any blog I read is the multitude of comments from her readers (affectionately known as “blogorinos”) and their interaction both with Sue and with each other. The conversations that take place in the comments section are often as entertaining in their own way as the blog post that got everything started. Even though Sue’s blog does not contain flashy animation or graphics, does not usually feature videos or have interactive games, chat rooms, or a discussion forum, it is certainly much more than a static web page.

Comments, replies, rebuttals, and further responses, all help to make RVSue and Her Crew perhaps one of the most interactive sites on the internet. Her blog serves as an example of what good writing, done in an entertaining fashion, can lead to, even in our mile-a-minute, always connected world. The fact that her readers and commenters almost always get along and respond to one another with humor, respect, and civility further go to show that meaningful discourse is still possible in our electronic and often divisive world, the example of the current Congress notwithstanding.

In many ways, RVSue and Her Crew is a 21st Century carrying on of the long standing tradition of talking after dinner, a practice carried on by cowboys around a campfire, guests at a fancy dinner gathering in the drawing room after the meal to discuss the issues of the day, even such things as a girls’ or boys’ night out. More than that, Sue’s blog is an opportunity for people of different backgrounds, different incomes, different demographics, different locations to come together to discuss things they have in common, creating in effect an internet village.

The RVSue and Her Crew blog is a shining example of what the internet can be and all too seldom is, judging from the many comments I glance through on other web sites. Even though she looks to escape in some ways from civilization, Sue’s blog actually gives me a little hope for the civilization she seeks to leave behind. I hope to hold on to that hope, at least until I, too, can escape.


RachelDLS said...

This is lovely Walt. No wonder you made Sue cry.

Walt said...

Thank you, Rachel.

Anonymous said...

A great tribute to a very special blog. Those of us on limited retirement income with vagabond dreams salute you!

Anonymous said...

Walt, I am overwhelmed. I've read this post several times and each time I get a catch in my throat.

Thank you. Even if the topic weren't about my blog and its followers, I'd still say the writing is superb. Well done!


Walt said...

Sue, I'm sorry I didn't get to respond before now. I am unable to access my blog from work. I'm honored to have you visit my small corner of the blogosphere.

Paula Taylor said...

Hi Walt ~~ I just read your comment posted today on RVSue's blog. It led me to your blog. Very interesting! I'm going to keep track of you, just as I do with Sue. By the way, when are you scheduled to "escape" into the wilderness? My husband and I are retired and spend about 8 months on the road in the western US. We're in a stick and brick for the summer in Colorado, but plan to hit the road in the next couple of weeks. It's getting chilly in the Rocky Mountains. ~~ Paula

Walt said...

Thanks, Paula! As you can probably tell, my entries are a bit more sporadic than Sue's.

As far as "when," that is the $64,000 question. While mentally I think I was ready to escape "yesterday," a part of me recognizes there are some things we need to get squared away. In addition, my wife has a job she really enjoys and still has a few years before she qualifies for their pension plan. So my escape will have to come in smaller doses and bursts between now and then.

Paula Taylor said...

There are great getaways in Idaho, so enjoy the close-to-home short trips until your wife receives her pension. Take care.