Xscapers Profiles: Bert and Lupe

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Who is Traveling With You?

Albert Edward Minten Jr. (Bert) & Lupe Alvarez

How Long Have You Been On The Road?

We have been on the road since February of 2017. We bought the Airstream in July 2016 and stayed in a RV park in Austin Texas for 6 months to ‘make sure we had worked out all the bugs’. 

As it turned out, that was a good decision because we had a significant water leak under the sink and it took almost 2 months for Airstream to figure it out, order the parts and make all the necessary repairs.

Are You Part Time or Full Time?

We have been living in the trailer full-time since August of 2016 (except for the break discussed above) and started full-time traveling in February of 2017.  Our first trip with the Airstream, besides our 2016 maiden voyage to and from Tampa Florida to pick up the Airstream, was to South Texas to explore the World Birding Center and wildlife along the Rio Grande near Brownsville Texas. 

We had our first boondocking experience in South Texas and it was eye opening and our solar Worked!! We stayed at Falcon Lake county park (for free of course) and were surrounded by an amazing variety of birds and other wildlife, including ever-present snowbirds from Canada.  That county park is about a mile from Falcon state park, which we also explored while we were down there.

What Kind of RV Do You Have?

We purchased a new 2017 Airstream International Serenity and we call her The Tanya Tucker!  Our 2020 Ram 1500 is called Rambo – or Dolly depending on who you ask.  

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What Got You Interested In Living The RV Life?

Bert: When I was still working I started looking at what I would be doing in retirement.  I retired from the State of Texas in August of 2016 and by that time I had a plan.  I had been watching several families that were full-time on the road including Gone with the Wynns, Living in Beauty and Technomadia.  That lifestyle was very attractive to me, going to a new place every week or two and really having time to explore when you get there. I knew I wanted to see all the National Parks, Forests and Seashores. And a sticks-and-bricks home would not get me there without spending a lot of money on hotels. So, getting an RV seemed like the best way to do all that. We could have kept the house, but we really didn’t want the worry of maintaining a house we would only see once or maybe twice a year.   

Lupe: To be honest living in a RV had not ever been something I had thought about doing until Bert told me it was something he wanted to do once he retired. We talked about me getting my own place to stay in Austin while he was on the road. The thought of being so far from my family for an extended period of time was hard for me. The company I was working for had offered me a $6 a hr pay raise to help cover living expenses in Austin. Once Bert started listing all the fun things and places he wanted to do and see I knew this was something I wanted to do with him.

How Do You Fund Your Travels?

Bert: I’m retired after 24 years with the State of Texas and have a pension. That covers all our living expenses, travel costs and the trailer mortgage.  The Airstream is mortgaged for 20 years. To fund other travel expenses, like our new 2020 Ram 1500, we do workamping, see www.workamper.com and https://www.coolworks.com/ for jobs. That decision has changed our lives and given us a deeper understanding of each other. 

We live together in a small space and, for 6 months out of the year, we also work together.  It’s a beautiful world when you can workamp in National parks and forests!  My first ‘work’ was volunteering at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area near Fredericksburg, TX.  I really wanted to see if that type of job was for me.  And I loved it.  I volunteered for two Winters at E-Rock and made many life-long friends.  I also learned how a State Park in Texas is run and managed and how important the volunteer park hosts really are. Texas maintains a Volunteer Dashboard where you can find lots of opportunities to volunteer at State parks, natural areas, etc. 

Lupe: Since we have gotten on the road, I have worked online as an independent contractor doing Social Media Evaluation for companies like Facebook and Instagram. If Bert is volunteering in an area for a while, I have found local jobs as a host for a restaurant or as a sales clerk for retail shops while continuing my online work. I keep an excel sheet of what my bills will be for the year broken down by month and what they are projected to be for the following year. By doing this I’m able to put enough money into savings to pay for my phone, healthcare insurance, student loans, and other miscellaneous things for the following year by having the funds auto drafted from a savings account I have set up just for my yearly living expenses.

What is Your Camping Style?

We love camping off grid, with no hookups and close to nature, aka boondocking. We like to follow the https://livinginbeauty.net 4/3/2 rule: pull the RV for no more than 4 hours in a day, get there no later than 3 p.m. and stay for at least 2 weeks, if at all possible. That ‘rule’ doesn’t always work especially when you are traveling cross country or on a deadline. 

We do occasionally stay in parks with hookups. For example, this year we stayed at Dreamcatcher, an Escapee park in Deming, New Mexico, for a month while we figured out our travel plans for the year with Covid restrictions.  As it turned out, our workamping jobs were not canceled in California, and we got to spend another beautiful summer in the Sierra National Forest as park hosts near Shaver Lake CA until the Creek Fire got us evacuated. 

After that, we immediately got back to boondocking, joining Escapees/Xscapers friends camping near the Volcanic Ash Tabletop National Recreation area in Bishop California.  After that week, we headed to one of our favorite boondocking locations in Utah with those friends which is Lone Rock Beach in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.  We got to use our new paddle boards and hang with good friends on the beach sharing dinners, paddling, and enjoying the sunsets all while social distancing as best we could in our little pod. 

What Do You Seek Out When Traveling?

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When we plan our travels we will usually have a destination, like a National Park, forest, or seashore, or an event in mind, like an Xscapers convergence or Bourbon fest.  We might repeat a trip or see a location again, like Yosemite National Park, that we just need to see again or a place that we really enjoyed before.  

Or we might join a group of Xscapers friends that already have a travel plan and just journey with them for a month or so.  Our overarching, long-term plan is to visit all the National Parks in the United States and then start on parks in Mexico and Canada.  

After our South Texas adventure in 2017, we began our first major trip traveling along the East Coast of the United States to see Acadia National Park in Maine.  On that same trip, we got to spend time at Cape Cod National Seashore, Niagara Falls State Park, and Hot Springs National Park.  

In 2018, we worked in Big Bend National park for 6 months at Rio Grande Village as store clerks.  

This year, before Covid hit, we finished the convergence in Casa Grande and then spent time hiking Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde National Parks.   

What Has Been Your Favorite Experience So Far?

Bert: To be able to spend a significant amount of time in a National Park is something most people can’t do and, I’ve found, can only really happen if you are working there or living nearby.  The longest vacations I was able to take when I was working full-time for the State were 10 days at the most.  Living and working in Big Bend National Park has been, so far, my favorite experience.  That park is so far in West Texas that it only has a yearly visitation of about 350,000 people (whereas Yosmite and Zion have about 4.5 million, Acadia has about 3.5 million people!).  So, Big Bend is isolated, lightly visited, right on the Mexico border with a Federal Border crossing to Boquillas right in the park, and is the only National Park to contain an entire mountain range within its boundaries, the Chisos Mountains.

Lupe: It’s so hard to have a favorite experience because this journey for me has been so fun. If I had to break it down, it would be traveling along the coastline of Texas all the way up to Maine and telling people there are NO Moose at Acadia National Park. I was so disappointed when I found out so I had to let everyone else in the park know as well. Turns out the only way for moose to get there is the same way humans do, the two-lane road. 

The best day at an event would have to be the Halloween Bash starting with mimosas and a scorpion tequila shot, hitting the Atomic Duck, hosting margaritas at La Monja, seeing some live music, and then ending the night at Atomic Liquor. Don’t know how I remember that full day but I still do! Can’t wait till we can do this again.

What Has Been The Hardest Aspect For You While Traveling?

Bert: We knew going into this that we would be away from our families and friends.  And, yes, that is still hard for me because with children, even older kids, they do change and grow up more every year, and then come the grandkids! 

So, we schedule time in the Austin and Denver areas, where our families are, every year to see family and friends.  What we’ve found though is that since we are traveling full-time we are able to see and spend significant time with family and friends that are not in Austin or Denver, which we would rarely see if living in one place.  We actually can see more family living on the road than we would have had we settled in the Austin area permanently. 

Now, when you ask what else has been hardest, in four years, it turns out I really like having a home base.  Not a house but a familiar place to come back to when we just need to chill, a place to garden, a place to store our stuff, and a place that we can go to when there are no other places, like in 2020 when COVID concerns shut down a lot of RV parks.  Thanks to Escapees for keeping their parks open!!  That saved us this year. So we are looking at buying a small plot of land or a site in an Escapee Co-Op park where we can take a travel break when we need to.   

Lupe: The hardest aspect of traveling for me would be being so far from my parents and siblings all the time. My family is very close so not being able to see them makes traveling full-time hard. The way I get around this is we make time to call and video chat as often as we can. During the winter holiday, we spend as much time together as we can when back in the Austin, Texas area. They love that we are doing this and always want to see pictures of our travels. Most of my family has not really traveled like this so they are always interested and sometimes shocked by where we go and stay.

How Many Xscapers Convergences Have You Attended?

2018 Annual Bash

2019 New Years Eve

2019 Annual Bash

2019 Baja, Mexico

2019 Moab, Utah

2019 Halloween Las Vegas

2020 New Years Eve Bash

2020 Annual Bash

2020 Casa Grande

Are You Introverted or Extroverted?

Bert: I am introverted most of the time. I like working alone on family genealogy, learning new languages, and reading.  However, when we are together or in the same place with friends or family, I’m always out there ready for new experiences and wanting to spend time with people I love.  I think being an extrovert is a benefit when working with new or unfamiliar people, but it’s not a requirement.  For example, when volunteering or workamping, I will be the one to start the conversation or interact. So, there is some extrovert in me. 

Lupe: I am definitely the extrovert in the relationship! I love to meet new people and find the things we have in common. I can be out all night just talking and hanging out. I tend to wander so it helps with making new friends.

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Tell Us Something Weird or Fun About Yourselves.

Bert: An interesting, fun fact about me that new friends don’t know is that I’m an Aggie.  I attended Texas A&M starting in 1977 and studied Biochemistry.  I wasn’t in the Military Corp, which A&M is known for, but I was a Singing Cadet.  SQs, as we called ourselves, are the “Voice of Aggieland”, and we traveled the state and the country promoting Texas A&M.  I still have many close friends from the Singing Cadets.  I also was in the Singing Cadet’s Barbershop quartet for 5 years called the ‘Aggienizors’! I was a Baritone/Tenor at the time and loved singing and performing on stage over those 5 years.  It was absolutely agonizing!!   So, please don’t ask me to sing now-a-days! 

Lupe: I belong to a nonprofit organization called the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, an order of revolutionary queer nuns dedicated to the promulgation of omniversal joy and the expiation of stigmatic guilt. We devote ourselves to community service, harm reduction ministry, outreach to those on the edges, and human rights.

One of the benefits of being on the road is this organization is located all across the country so whenever we are in a city that has the organization in it, I get to pop in and see if they need any help or have any events. I have been lucky enough to bring quite a few Xscapers to some of the events.

Would You Rather Deal With A Leaky Sewer Hose or a Flat Tire on the RV?

Bert: That’s a tough one because we all love dealing with poop, right?!  I’ll go for the flat tire since we have lots of ways to get help with a flat and we always have a spare.  Thanks, AAA, BTW!  With that leaky hose though, no one including AAA is going to come around and help, and we usually DON’T have a spare hose.

Lupe: At this point, I think I would rather deal with a flat tire over a leaky sewer hose. I would most likely just toss the hose, I’m not sure how to remove the spare tire off the trailer just yet.

Do You Have Any Advice For Others / What is the Best Piece of Advice You've Received?

Bert: Be easy on yourself when you start this type of journey. 

Most people are very concerned at the beginning to pick the right RV and tow vehicle.  As it turns out, most RVers change their RVs multiple times in the beginning.  I have Xscapers friends I know who have changed their RV at least once a year for the past 4 years.

My first point is that you really don’t know what you are doing when you get started.  So, take a good guess and pay attention to how well the RV fits your style of travel.  Examples would be: do you like to boondock a lot or stay in RV Parks, do you like to drive a truck and pull a trailer or drive a Class A, B, or C RV, and do you plan on needing to fit the RV into tight spaces, like in National Parks?

My second point to new RVers is that your life will change.  You might acquire new fellow-travelers/family members after you get on the road, i.e pets, kids, girlfriends, boyfriends (you understand).  So, you don’t know all there is to know when you first start; take it easy on yourself and be willing to change rigs if you need to.  It’s not that big a deal. 

Lupe: Be a bit spontaneous and take the time to see things. If you don’t get to it this time it gives you a reason to come back! So if you have not figured it out by now, Bert is more of the writer so I’ll just say “Ditto” to what he wrote!

Where Can People Find You Online If They Want To Follow Your Travels?

You can find us both on Facebook.  We both have personal accounts there.  And we have a travel page so family and friends can keep up with what we are doing.  That’s https://www.facebook.com/austexguys

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One Response to “Xscapers Profiles: Bert and Lupe

  • Great article about you guys and your RV lifestyle. We are “semi” full-timers, or maybe a better term, “serious part-timers.” As you pointed out, many folks go through several RVs in their first few years in order to find the type that best suits them. We are in that category, and thankfully we’ve held on to our current diesel pusher for the last 4 ½ years.

    We hope to attend the Xcappers event in Wyomng in August. Perhaps we will meet you guys there. Tony & Dale.

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