- Associated Press - Saturday, May 24, 2014

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - We’ve all been there.

It is March Madness time in Lawrence, and, except on the rarest of occasions, it never ends well. Those who bleed Crimson and Blue know that sometimes the real madness begins after the final buzzer on that final defeat of the season.

For Maria Scarpello, it was the NCAA Tournament of 2010, and No. 1 seed KU had just suffered a heartbreaking second-round loss to Northern Iowa.

“It was a horrible night,” Scarpello recalls.

But a friend of hers already had a plan to dull the disappointment. He was packing up his motor home and taking a three-month trip to some national parks.

“I thought ‘wow,’ you can do that?” Scarpello, now 31, says. “I always thought you had to be 65 to do that. The next month, we had an RV.”

Since then, Scarpello and her longtime partner, Brian Devine, have been to 40 states, 376 breweries and enough fairs, festivals and concerts that it has become burdensome to keep track.

Now, it is not uncommon to find the Lawrence couple stopped at a fork in the road with no particular plan, no particular direction in mind. They use a coin-flipping app on their smart phone. Heads right, tails left.

“That’s how we ended up in Charleston,” Devine says.

Wait a minute. Maybe we haven’t all been there.

Scarpello and Devine still call themselves Lawrence residents, but it is all relative at this point. Most years, they are back in town for just a few weeks - basically long enough to play in one of the leagues of Lawrence Parks and Recreation softball.

The rest of the time, it is Maria, Brian and Stanley on the road. Stanley is the name of their 1999, 29-foot, Ford Jayco motor home. (Named Stanley - no offense to those who share the name - because it sounded like an old man’s name, and the motor home often was cantankerous like an old man when they began to fix it up after buying it for $10,000 in 2010.)

Frequently, you also may find them at a beer bar or a craft brewery. No, it is not that they are just really thirsty. The couple operate a popular craft brewing blog called The Roaming Pint. They write reviews and travel tips for those who like to plan their journeys around beer. The blog pays a few bills - mainly beer tabs, Devine says - but both Scarpello and Devine have other jobs as well. Scarpello is in corporate communications for a web-based company. Devine is a web-based designer.

Sometimes, you may find them cussing the hot-water heater.

“You have to remember to turn the hot-water heater on at least 10 minutes before you want to take a shower,” Scarpello says of one of the bigger adjustments she’s had to make since giving up her Lawrence duplex for motor-home living.

Other times you may find them tidying up this or that.

“It is like your house is always in an earthquake when you are moving,” Scarpello says.

Perhaps you often would find the two at each other’s throats. After all, 29 feet only stretches so far. But both say that’s pretty rare.

“I tell people I have a really big yard,” Devine says.

Perhaps you think you would find them broke. Stanley only gets about 10 miles to the gallon on a good day. Often the couple will stay in a campground if they are going to be in a single location for a few days, but many times they sleep overnight in the parking lots of Walmarts or other businesses that welcome RVs. They insist that they don’t spend any more on fuel and camping fees than they would on a mortgage or utility bills.

Where you probably won’t find the couple is in the same place - at least not for very long.

“It is hard to get complacent,” Devine says of one of the things he likes most about this life. “If you do, that’s probably the sign that it is time to move on.”

When this started, it was just to be for a few months.

“We originally were looking for a new place to live,” Scarpello says. “Now we realize we can live five or six places a year. It is a lifestyle that works for us.”

How long will it work, though? The couple - they are each 31 and have no kids - don’t know. They do have one rudimentary barometer, however. Their bed is above the cab of the motor home.

“When we can’t climb into bed anymore, we may have to do something different,” Devine says.


Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, https://www.ljworld.com

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