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Have RV, Will Travel

1998 Roadtrek, the RV of champions!

1998 Roadtrek, the RV of champions!

So it’s finally happened. After spending over a month in Raleigh, NC, and experiencing the ups and downs of the used recreational vehicle purchasing world (which in this case happens to be Craigslist) , we have finally found our van. It was an arduous struggle, but as you can see, it paid off.

We are now the proud owners of a 1998 Roadtrek Class B recreational vehicle. And because I’m going to be spending the next six or so months in this thing, I might as well give you a tour.

My husband made this 3d printed slinky Buddha for the dashboard. Namaste!

My husband made this 3d printed slinky Buddha for the dashboard. Namaste!

But first the specs. Our RV is a conversion van built on top of a 1998 Dodge truck chassis by the Roadtrek company (located in warm and sunny Canada, for those who are interested), and it comes equipped with a large Queen sized bed, a shower, a toilet, a TV, a sink, a microwave, a refrigerator, a stove, an AC unit, and a heater. It has full electrical hookup, and when it’s not hooked up, it runs on either marine batteries or it’s own built in generator. It has a fresh water tank, a grey water tank, and a black water tank, all of decent size, as well as a water hook up. (and in case you’re wondering, yes, “black water” is a euphemism for what is otherwise known as “porti-potty punch”, and it rightly deserves its own tank.)

So in other words, this baby has EVERYTHING. Including the kitchen sink.

Sitting in the back looking   towards the cockpit.

Sitting in the back looking towards the cockpit.

As you can probably gather, with all the afore mentioned awesomeness squished into a little (in RV terms) van, there’s not a lot of room for cavorting about. To quote Genie from Disney’s Aladdin; “PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWERS!…itty bitty living space.”

The back of the van.

The back of the van.

Ryan and I have been half-living in the RV for the past couple weeks- sleeping in it at night and doing repairs/cleaning/packing during the day as it sits in my parents driveway- and I can attest that the living quarters are cramped. The bed is HUGE (its bigger then a queen, but smaller then a king), but everything else is tiny. The little hallway that runs down the center of the vehicle provides access to the kitchen and all the storage space, but it also literally becomes the shower with the help of a curtain and a drain in the floor. You could potentially fry an egg on the stove while sitting on the toilet if you wanted to, it’s that small inside.

Our HUGE bed.

Our HUGE bed.

But with that smallness comes something really special that I call the “Polly Pocket Factor”. When I was a little girl, I used to be fascinated by Polly Pocket toys- you know, those tiny doll play sets that fit inside compact plastic clam-shell cases- I didn’t really play with them, but I would spend hours trying to figure out how all of the minuscule parts fit together. The RV is really the same thing but on a larger scale. Everything is miniaturized and fits together just so, no empty space is wasted. If possible, things fold away when not in use, or serve multiple functions. And there is something about that form-follows-function design that gives me a great sense of pleasure.

Welcome to our new Polly Pocket lifestyle!

Welcome to our new Polly Pocket lifestyle!

I find myself trying to complement the RV design when choosing objects to fill the drawers and cabinets. Never before have I cared about the ease of stack-ability when purchasing plastic dishware, never before have collapsible measuring cups and bathroom organization caddies even been on my radar. But now that I’ve committed to the Polly Pocket lifestyle, everything must fit, and it must fit neatly. Suddenly, The Container Store is my friend.

My handsome husband Ryan, behind the wheel.

My handsome husband Ryan, behind the wheel.

Those that know me know that I am not generally a neat person. In fact some might describe me as *ahem* messy. As an artist, my studio often resembles a disaster zone. My art itself is about chaos in nature and the entropy of the mind. So all of these things taken together might lead one to believe that I am not a good candidate for the Polly Pocket lifestyle.

But I beg to differ.


Moi, giving thumbs up.

There is something beautiful about living simply, there is something elegant about living small. When your world is like a raindrop clinging to a leaf- a microcosm of life in a small space- you can cut through the unnecessary bits and enjoy the purity of just being. And that’s what I want to do. That is what I hope this vehicle and this lifestyle will allow me to do.

With that hope in mind, my husband and I have named our van “Tide-pool”. Tide-pools are transitory by nature, and they contain within them a small sampling of the greater environment. They are microcosms. Each one is a tiny world unto itself, a world of great beauty and delicacy.

We want our RV, our new home, to be just that- a microcosm. A microcosm on a journey of discovery and wonder.

Our vehicle's namesake.

Our vehicle’s namesake.

I’ll be writing more about our van and the RV lifestyle later, especially as I begin to move my art practice into the limited confines of the van. In the meantime, check out this custom bumper sticker that Ryan and I came up with- it’s based on the popular Joseph Ducreux meme- enjoy!

Old timey speak for "if the van is a rockin, don't come a knockin".

Old timey speak for “if the van is a rockin, don’t come a knockin”.


About Elizabeth Shupe

My name is Elizabeth and I’m a visual artist and a writer. I recently graduated from a MFA program in NYC, and while I was there I realized that there has been a lot written about the art scene in NYC, but not a lot of attention paid to the equally brilliant artists working outside of the sprawling metropolis. With this blog I hope to rectify all that. My husband and I are buying an RV and taking a long trip around the country, and on that trip I will be dipping my toes into some local art scenes and discovering the artistic talent that exists far outside of the art hubs of Bushwick and Chelsea. Please join me, and hopefully together we can find some hidden gems!


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