Home

What is “home?”

I asked the question, and a lot of you gave very thoughtful responses. Here are some of them, paraphrased and summarized.

Home is where you are heard and appreciated.

Home is where you feel the most comfortable to be yourself.

Home is where love is abundant.

Home is where you are relaxed and free.

Home is that soft place to land, where your heart smiles, and your soul shouts, “yes, this is where I belong.”

Home is different for everyone, and it can change over time.

Home is somewhere you look forward to going each day.

Home is wherever you put down roots.

Home is where you are authentically yourself, and loved unconditionally by yourself and others.

You can have more than one home.

My husband’s answer to what home is, was that it is anywhere I am. Although this caused a bit of friendly teasing from some of you, many of you know that when you have a partner in life, you can choose to go almost anywhere with them and make a new home.

We’ve been living in Hawke’s Bay for 6 months today; we’ve been away from Canada for a bit longer than that, but we’ve been living in this new place for half of a year now. To some that may seem short, while to others it may seem long. To me it seems perfect, because this is exactly where I have needed to be.

So when does it become home? We’ve been proactive at choosing to make this our home, right from the start.

Canada will always be our home. Saskatoon will always be our hometown. I still feel at home every time I visit the camp I grew up attending. I feel at home when we arrive at our favourite lake in Saskatchewan. I feel at home in our camper, wherever we may park it. Hawke’s Bay also feels like home to us now.

We don’t know how long this will be home, but for now, it is home to us. So when you ask us to “come home,” or when we’ll be “coming home,” the answer is, “we’re already home.”

Why You Should Try Walmart and Truck Stop Camping

I love Walmart Camping for several reasons. Years ago I saw the campers parked at our city’s Walmart, and it looked like such a fun thing to do. I’m really not sure what drew me to the idea, other than maybe how carefree and spontaneous it looked. At that time, the camper we had didn’t have a bathroom in it, which for me, is pretty important on my needs list.

Fast forward a few years to when we had a camper with a functioning bathroom, and a generator, and planned a last minute trip to BC – Walmart Camping became something I crossed off my bucket list! We had just been in the British Aisles that summer and it was so cold there, so we literally decided in the airport on our way home to head to Kelowna with our trailer for a week of hot, sunny weather before summer ended. We arrived home at midnight and left town by 8am the next morning! We had our camper on the back, and nowhere booked to stay.

We spent the first night at a truck stop, and the next three between two Walmarts in Kelowna, and it was great. Since then, our family members have started Walmart Camping a bit, and we’ve done it several more times. Here are the pros and cons to staying at Walmart and truck stops:

Pro’s:

1. It’s Free. This is a major plus, especially if you’re just driving through a place, and you don’t need to spend much time there. It feels like a waste of money to book an RV park just to sleep.

2. It’s Last Minute. This could be seen as a con for some people, but the benefit of sleeping at Walmart is that you don’t have to book ahead. We like to drive until we feel like we’re done for the day, and then find the next Walmart or truck stop, and pack it in for the night. We don’t always know how far we want to make it, so booking ahead is a problem for travel days. Last minute stops allow us freedom in our traveling and make it much more relaxing than, “we’re so tired but we have to make it to that city where our booking is tonight,” or “it’s so early, and we could have kept driving for hours if we didn’t have this booking here.”

3. You can shop! We often need either a couple small grocery items, or something for the truck or trailer, and Walmart has it all. Most have a tire shop too, which is great for being on the road.

4. Starbucks. So far, at every Walmart we’ve stayed at, there has been a Starbucks within walking distance for me to go pick up my mobile order in the morning. It’s awesome. Not to mention, there are usually lots of other stores and restaurants nearby as well.

There are a few downsides too.

Cons:

1. You’re not level, or set up. Since you’re not unhooking your vehicle for any length of time or at all, or putting your jacks down (or shouldn’t be) you can’t level out, so we sometimes sleep with our heads or feet higher than we’d like. Just do your best to find a flat spot when you park in their designated area. You can’t set up full camp either, so you’re living in limbo a bit.

2. It can be bright and loud. As it’s meant to be an overnight thing, don’t plan to sleep in. Walmarts are always in high traffic areas, so there’s going to be noise from that. They also have bright lights that illuminate the lot overnight. Patrons start showing up early to shop as well. We’ve had some Walmart mornings where people park right by us and are walking past on either side to get into and out of the store. Truck stops will be loud as the semi’s are coming and going all through the night, and most drivers leave their trucks running while they sleep to control the temperature inside.

3. You can’t leave your trailer there unattended and you shouldn’t unhook. (I know, in the picture just above we’re unhooked! On that day we did this to block the spot next to us because a super huge and loud motorhome bus had squeezed in beside us the night before and ruined our sleep and space. This is potentially another con – you have to deal with other RVers who may or may not be cool, but you do this at RV parks too). You’re really only supposed to spent one night, or maybe two, but they don’t want you actually camping in their lot. It’s meant to be an overnight rest stop.

That means that when we Walmart camp, we take the trailer behind us everywhere we go during the day. This gets to be a bit of a pain after a while. Walmart Camping is great for a few days, or for when you’re driving to and from your destination, but it’s not ideal for long term stays.

4. No hook-ups or dumps. This isn’t really that big of a con, but it needs to be mentioned. Make sure the appropriate tanks are full and empty before you go, and that you have a generator if you want power. There should be a dump at a service station in town somewhere. If you google it, you can find it, but it’s not likely to be at Walmart or close by.

Despite the short con list, the pros way over-deliver for us and we still camp at Walmart or truck stops on nearly every road trip.

We usually do steaks, or a nice meal for supper, and a pancake breakfast too, because who says you have to eat bad food just because you’re staying at Walmart?

One more brief, yet important point! Make sure you call ahead to ask for permission, because not all Walmarts allow camping! Many have terminated the offer due to people being idiots and leaving dog poop or trash behind, or even emptying their tanks in the lot! Who does that? Don’t be an idiot. Super-centres are a good bet to stay at, but we’ve gotten a courtesy ticket for staying at a Walmart in a mall before. Run inside to buy something or fuel up as a thank you if you’re sleeping at a truck stop.

Happy Walmart Camping!

Broken Down Lessons

I love that feeling when we first hit the highway, the camper’s on the back, we get a good song on in the truck, it’s dusk and we’re hitting the night driving, and my husband’s just cracked the bag of spits – now it feels like holidays.

Then the truck breaks down before we even get to our first option of where we want to spend the night…

I’m a very reflective person. I know I over analyze things sometimes. I’m always looking for the hidden meaning in every situation. “Why did this happen?,” is often the first response I have to anything unexpected, and perhaps that’s a normal response. I had some time to reflect while my husband was outside on his hands and knees in the engine with a flashlight pulling the truck apart last night. With the truck broken I am reminded of a few things that are symbolic of life to me. Here’s what I can learn from this hiccup in the journey:

1. We can make our plans but the Lord directs our steps. That seems simple to understand, although it’s not always easy to accept. No matter how much we think we’re in control, we’re never really in control.

2. It’s interesting how one part in a vehicle can break and it stops you completely. The truck can not run when even one small piece is broken or missing. That tiny piece not functioning in the way it was designed caused our entire journey to end until it was repaired. This reminds me of our overall health. When we let one thing go, even if it’s so small, it affects the whole of our being. When one area of our lives is out of balance or in disrepair, it taints our effectiveness in every arena of our lives. Even more, it’s often the little things that we wouldn’t think are a big deal that can stop us up completely.

3. It didn’t matter how many hours my husband spent working on the truck in the dark last night; when you need a part and don’t have it, there’s nothing that will work until you get it. We spent the night in a farmer’s driveway on the side of the road until our friend was able to come in the morning with the part. As soon as those guys had it in, it was so quick, and we were on our way again. Sometimes I try and do a quick fix, or I solve a surface level problem in my life without getting to the source and repairing what’s actually damaged. This ultimately is a waste of my time, because until the piece of my life that’s broken or off balance, or unhealthy is replaced with something new, whole and functioning, I’m not going to actually get anywhere. Also, sometimes you just need help from a friend.

4. The farmer came home and had to take an alternate route into his yard because we were in the driveway obviously having vehicle trouble at midnight. He did not come and check on us at all, or see if we needed a tool or any help. This makes me thankful for my helpful friends, and also, for my in-laws! They are such a helpful family, and if the situation were reversed, any one of them would have been out there helping the people with anything they needed, and telling them that of course they can sleep in the driveway! My mother-in-law would have likely invited them for breakfast, too. I’m thankful for helpful, kind family and friends in my life.

5. It’s definitely easier to fix vehicles in the daylight than in the dark!

Things I’ve Learned While Living in my Camper

My husband and I lived in our camper last summer for 5 months.  We rented out our house, fully furnished, and moved into our early 2000’s, 26 ft pull-behind camper trailer.  We based it at my in-laws’ acreage, but traveled to BC, California, and several other States with it.  We also had sleepovers in our friends’ driveways, and that was absolutely great to get to do as adults.  We were repeatedly surprised at how many people responded negatively to our lifestyle choice, and how forward, and frankly out of place, many of their comments were.  Looking back a year later, I’m so glad we took that chance; we learned so many invaluable lessons, many of which are posted below.  I kept this list of lessons on a note in my phone throughout the summer, so this blog post was composed over the course of 5 months, as each experience was occurring.  It is written in the form of me speaking to myself, as a reminder of what I was learning.  I left it unedited from what I wrote last year.


People can’t believe you would want to live in your camper. You will encounter criticism, sometimes from those you’d least expect.

Most people have no concept of what a camper trailer looks like inside or the amenities it offers. They DO think you’re eating leaves and berries and pooping in the woods (which maybe explains the previous point…)

When you do something in life that goes against the norm, people notice and comment. Some will be supportive and embrace you for who you are; many will be unsupportive. But do you really need to care? (You are learning that you don’t!)

Some people feel the need to spew their opinions about your lifestyle choices as though it’s affecting them directly. (You knew this beforehand).

You find out who your true friends are when they let you do laundry at their houses and offer to help you with anything you need.

You can go many days without washing your hair with the aid of dry shampoo.

Gym memberships are essential for showering and meeting drinking water requirements.

A ten minute commute into town is really not far; in fact, commuting gives you time to think.

You can live quite happily with many less things.

You don’t have to dress nice ALL of the time (even though you’ll never stop loving this).

Cities are freaking loud and bright! (You thought this in June… just wait. The people outside your camper are louder, and the city will seem quiet to you again after just a few months!)

You really like the area of town that you live in. Do not move far from this area!

You can appreciate quiet – real quiet, when you can actually hear nothing. (This is when nobody is around your camper – then it actually is quiet.)

There are a lot more stars in the sky than you think.

The Bachelorette has a ridiculous amount of commercials when you have to watch it online. You need Sarcan drop and go, to buy a new vehicle, and to travel to China. (No you don’t, but advertising works).

You don’t need TV nearly as much as you thought. You can enjoy relaxing in other ways.

Coyotes howl in packs at dusk every single night. (This terrified you at first, but you will miss them when you don’t hear them.)

Small spaces can be cozy.

You can be extremely crafty when it comes to things like water conservation, and organizing a fridge.

You will still find ways to fill your days and busy yourself, even if you’re not living with regular conveniences or in “the city.”

You are really good at planning your appointments and errands in town to line up nicely against one another.

Religion sucks; Jesus is awesome.

God can speak to you through wine at a winery, or even a Kesha song!

Those who you’d expect to support you might not, but other people will come out of the woodwork, people you maybe haven’t talked to in years, and offer such encouragement!

Decks are crucial to the enjoyment of summer. Yes.

Garden food is awesome if someone else does the weeding and harvesting!

You used to think the world was so black and white, when in fact, it’s very very gray. There aren’t as many hard fast rules to life as you thought there were.

PRIVACY – it matters. A LOT! You don’t know what you’ve got until its GONE. Think about where you live very closely.

Bugs! I hate you stupid little bugs! You were surely part of the curse on Adam and Eve.

Quads are loud and I don’t like that. Trucks and fork lifts and chain saws and other things with engines are loud and I also don’t like that.

People don’t realize that we’re not like they are.

You can be extremely flexible and adaptive, which used to be so unlike you! You’re growing!

You can settle in surprising quickly in different places and make them feel like home, and here’s why; you’ve realized that the actual structure doesn’t make the home a home. Wherever Greg and you lay your heads together at night is home.

Camper life is super awesome and you’ll really miss it when it’s over! You might shed a tear.