Personal Project; The RV Digital Darkroom; Takin’ It On The Road Page 2

From House To RV
The process of transforming from house to motorcoach took several years. The idea formed in my mind because of my work with night photography. I wanted to be far away from city lights but retain the capacity to run a hefty telescope drive and process my images. My wife learned that she was half Apache in 2001. This stunning identity shift gave her a yearning to explore the Southwest. We started with a tent and a Jeep. It was clumsy, painful, and inadequate. Our learning curve evolved with each new rig. In ’04 we purchased an old 19-foot Class C camper. It was a little too old. This vehicle, which acquired the name Yertle, provided us with enough adventures to fill a book.

Every national park has an RV campground. One of our life-altering experiences happened in the campground at Arches National Park. We clanked our way from San Francisco, California, to Moab, Utah. At the entrance to Arches National Park, we paid the ranger $10. Then we drove 18 spectacular miles to the campground. It was perched on a scenic bluff overlooking a vast landscape of rocks, buttes, and bristlecone pines. As I turned left to pull into our campsite I noticed a man standing atop a motorcoach the length of a submarine. He was aiming a camera at the vista that was spread before us.

The moment I finished parking Yertle, I walked over to the big coach and looked up. “What are you shooting with?” I called out.

“A 20D,” he responded. “I just got a super-wide lens, and I’m seeing what it can do.”

I took my 20D from my bag and waved it at him. “I’ve got some interesting lenses if you want to switch around.”

He climbed down and introduced himself. He handed me a card that said, simply, “K’vandis K. K’vandis.”

“What’s the K stand for?” I asked, impishly.

“Oh, that stands for K’vandis,” he answered with equal impishness. His wife emerged from the coach to greet us. Her name wasn’t nearly so exotic.

Lighthouse; the 300-odd steps were closed for repair.

Solar panels atop our coach.

Apache shaman drumming on rocks.

Star trail stack over RV in Arches National Park.

We had never seen anything like their coach, with its slide-out extra rooms, solar panels, fridge, shower, washer-dryer combo, and flat screen TV. That was the turning point. K’vandis had a complete digital darkroom. My wife and I were convinced that we could make the transition. Within a year we had tossed or stored all of our extra stuff and were living in the coach we now call home.

Our maiden voyage in the big coach was a 4000-mile drive the length of I-10 from Florida to California. This was only weeks after the Katrina disaster. The coastal zone of four states had turned into a gigantic RV campground.

I keep a supply of business cards and small signs, with which I advertise when passing through a campground. Our stay might be just a day or two. No matter. I get calls from people who need vacation portraits, group shots, or perhaps a consultation on using Photoshop with their new D-SLR. When we stay longer, there’s time for lasting relationships to develop.

In RV Land, every owner of an RV is your friend. If trouble comes, help is never far away. The same principle holds for Photography Land. That gives the lifestyle a formidable edge for people who can adapt to living in a solar-powered tepee on wheels.

Art Rosch has written about his RV adventures in a new book titled Avoiding the Potholes: Road Stories in a Changing America. To learn more, visit his blog at or e-mail him at