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Five plus years of dreaming, planning, saving, researching and minimizing have brought us to this date. The one year anniversary of our life as full-timers! In some ways it still feels surreal, like we will wake up one day and have to go back to work. In other ways it seems like our careers were a lifetime ago and we wake up and wonder where we are!A combination of circumstances, hard work and luck brought us to this point.
Circumstances……Did we know 29 years ago when we got married that we wanted to retire in our 50’s and hit the open road? No. Did we have this in mind when we were planning our family? Kinda….We knew we wanted kids young so we would be in our 40’s when they became adults. There are many obstacles and obligations that could have stopped us from where we are today. Family is probably the biggest factor that keeps people from taking this step. Our kids moved out west shortly after graduating and unfortunately both of our parents passed away.
Hard work and luck……Money and healthcare are also big factors. We were both fortunate enough to have great careers with pensions, a 401k and an excellent retirement health care plan. Although we did not live as frugally as we could have we did start saving for our retirement at a young age.What we did not know was that all these factors would roll together to where we are today and a change in any one of them could have stopped us in our tracks.
There are downsides to this lifestyle. Probably the hardest thing for Barb was selling her horse Scout which was born and raised on our property. But she is happy that she sold him to a very nice family that takes good care of him and still gets to watch him compete in videos on the internet. Both Barb and I miss our friends and family that we do not get to see as often as we would like. Maintaining friendships with some of our friends “back home” is more challenging as you do not see or talk to them every week. Email, texts and phone calls are great substitutes and a lot of our friendships do not require weekly contact, we could see them once or twice a year and pick up right where we last saw them. Half of our friends still think we are nuts…..how can you sell everything and spend that much time with your spouse?The upsides definitely outweigh the downsides. For us, it is not seeing the sights, it is being able to spend all this time together. Seeing all the sights is really secondary. In addition, we have meet a lot of great people that we would have never had the opportunity to meet. We have absolutely no regrets in trading our stationary lives for this mobile lifestyle.
Learnings……..We really did not keep track of mileage as well as we should have but according to our Travellerspoint site we traveled about 11,500 miles, way too much. Although we spent 4 months in Canada and two months in Utah, we moved way too often in our other locations. I think the most we spent in one location was 4 or 5 days and often had 2 day stays, not nearly enough to fully explore an area. We also spent way over our initial budget. For the year we spent a total of $50,700 or $4,225/month. Within that we had several large one-time expenses ($11,000 on solar and $6,400 on suspension/brakes) that we will hopefully not incur again. Fuel was our largest recurring expense at $7,400 while our campground expenses totaled $1,813 or $5.00/day.
|Blue 2014, Green through 3/9 2015|
In Year Two we are going to do things a little differently, the biggest change is we took the workamping job described in our last post. We did this for a couple of reasons; 1) it was something that we were really interested in, 2) we will be staying in one area for 2-3 weeks and then move, 3) the money will certainly give us a nice cushion. The next biggest change is that we plan on spending the entire winter in the SW with at least two months in Quartzite Arizona. This will not only allow us to thoroughly explore the area, it will save fuel costs as well.As I said earlier, we have absolutely no regrets and plan to do this for the foreseeable future. How long? We don’t know, 3 years? 5 years? 10 years or longer? We have no idea. All we know is that we are definitely blessed to have this opportunity and will not take it for granted.
What exotic location are we on this momentous day? Some warm location with our toes in the sand sipping on an umbrella drink? Ah…..no, we are in the exact same spot we started this adventure one year ago, Spring Valley Wisconsin! You see, our good friends, the Anderson’s were nice enough to store our Jeep and Polaris Ranger for the winter. The plan was to pick them up on our way to Canada in May, but as you know, plans change and we needed these items in Utah in mid-April.As you will recall, we were a might overweight when we were weighed recently. What does one do when they are overweight? Go on a diet? No, you buy larger pants! We had been watching the weather since leaving my sister’s place in Fort Myers for a few good travel days so we could make the run up to Indiana to get our Mor/Ryde suspension installed before heading to Wisconsin. If you have been watching the weather you saw that Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana were getting pounded with snow the past few weeks. After our stay at some friends in Alabama it was time to get up to Indiana. We had planned on splitting the 680 mile trek into two days but a quick check of the weather showed one day of good traveling followed by freezing rain and snow the next day. So we hit the road early Monday morning and drove 13 hours arriving at the Walmart parking lot at 11:00pm. We had stopped along the way and winterized the water system and it was a balmy 25 degrees when we went to bed. When we woke up the rig was getting pelted by freezing rain, although it was a long drive we were happy we made the decision to do it in one day.
Our first stop that morning was at Duncan RV were we got the motor replaced on our rear awning. We had a recall notice recently and made the appointment to coincide for when we were up here. We received a tour of their facility. There was a 5th wheel that had rolled over and another Class A that had $85,000 in damage from a front tire blow out! The awning motor was replaced in about 20 minutes and we were on our way.We called Mor/Ryde to let them know we were in a day early and if they could get started today. They said: “Sure bring it in, not a lot of people are bringing their rigs in this time of year” (imagine that…..). So we headed over and pulled the trailer into a service bay which is where we spent the next three nights (one of which was Barb’s birthday!). The overnight temps were in the teens but we were nice and toasty in the shop. We ended up getting the 8,000# suspension system and upgraded our brakes from drums to disc brakes. During our stay they gave us a tour of their facility and provided lunch everyday.
They finished our rig about noon on Thursday so we hit the road and started our way to Wisconsin. We had debated two routes, one that brought us through Chicago and one that took us south and bypassed Chicago. Since it was noon when we left we decided on the Chicago route since it would be 2:00 when we passed through we would miss rush hour traffic right? Wrong! I should have remembered that there is no good time to drive through Chicago. The GPS keep trying to take us onto the Express Way where trucks were prohibited. It fooled me the first time but we soon got off and followed the truck route which was adjacent to the Express Lane. You should have seen us driving the rig in the Express Lane with hordes of traffic almost bumper to bumper going by at 70mph. It was almost impossible to change lanes. Once we got onto the truck route the pace was slower……much slower. All this fun and we even got to pay for it, over $40 in tolls between Indiana and Illinois. Oh joy! Note to self NEVER take that route again!
We had it as far as Wisconsin Dells where we spent the night in the Walmart parking lot along with 10-12 semi-trucks. . Would you believe we were the only RV there? The temps were in the single digits and all sane RV’ers were far far away from here. We found a nice little spot in the corner of a lot by a big snow pile and turned on the furnace to a whopping 50 degrees. I figured we would just get the chill out of the air and then turn it up from there. Next order of business, calling Domino’s (less than 2 miles away) to see if they would deliver a pizza. “We are in an RV in the Walmart parking lot” You would have thought we asked them to deliver to the moon. After being on hold for what seemed like forever someone else answered and said; “Where are you?” “We are in an RV in the Walmart parking lot” “Please hold”………holding……..holding……holding…..Finally someone comes back and says “Where in the parking lot are you” I wanted to say “WE ARE THE ONLY FRICKING RV IN THE PARKING LOT, YOU WILL SEE US!” But instead calmly explained where we are and in 30 minutes we had a pizza. The night was a long one, the furnace never hit that magical 50 degree mark and ran all night long….except for the time around 5:00am when I heard the ignitor clicking which means we ran out of gas. I look over at Barb and all I see is a red nose sticking out through the pile blankets. Daisy? I think she was that snoring lump under there somewhere. So outside I go to switch gas tanks (yup it is still cold out). We went through an entire 30# tank in one night? I don’t know how the people who live in their rigs in colder area do it….or afford it.Our destination for the day was the Anderson Farm in Spring Valley but first we went to Roberts Wisconsin to drop off the rig at their other place where it had easy in and out access. We had put our Jeep and 4 wheeler in their shed last fall. At that time they asked “When do you need it out?” “Not until May when we go to Canada” I replied. So we buried it in the far back corner when the shed was empty. Well when our plans changed I got a hold of Gloria and asked her what the chances of getting the Jeep and wheeler out in April? “No problem” she says…….she lied. Well, we will tackle that tomorrow.
|The red arrow in the back right is where the Jeep and trailer is!|
That night we went to dinner with Greg, Gloria and the three girls Renee, Ronda, Rachel as well as her husband Jeff. We drove into Hudson to Azul they had a special on their margaritas, buy three, get one free! I think their scam is they don’t think most people are going to drink the 4th margarita. Well, we showed them!
|The Anderson gang|
Getting the Jeep and 4 wheeler out really wasn’t too bad, moved 3 trucks and two cars and they slid right out. They both started right away which was definitely a bonus. You just never know after things have been sitting for several months. I did notice a trail of some kind of oil trailing the Jeep when we pulled it out, going to have to get that look at before we head west.
The next night we met up with our former neighbors from Bone Lake for dinner again in Hudson. We had not seen Brian and Chelle forever and it was really nice to catch up.
|The 4 of us at Pier 500 in Hudson|
A big thank you to the Anderson's as well as Brian and Chelle for their hospitality and generosity!
From here it is off to my brothers in Taylors Falls for several days of doctors, taxes and other appointments and prepare the Jeep, 4 wheeler and trailer for our journey out west to our new jobs!