Saturday, February 27, 2016

2nd Anniversary and Quartzsite Wrap-up

Two years ago this week we drove out of Wisconsin for the last time as residents. It is hard to believe we have been on the road for two years. We have traveled from east coast to west coast and Mexico to Canada several times over. We have seen some incredible sites and met some great friends. If you were to ask us two years ago what we expected in this new lifestyle, we would have almost described what really happened to a “T”. So far it is pretty much what we envisioned. Year one found us traveling way too much racking up over 11,500 miles. This past year, although we slowed it down a little, we still covered just over 7,000 miles. This is a few thousand more than we had originally planned.

But plans change… you may recall, we started out this year planning to workamp in several western states mapping BLM roads with some friends of ours. Within a few weeks we determined two things; one, we just weren’t happy with the thought of doing this for 20 weeks. The work as not bad and we really enjoyed spending time with our friends, but not something we were ready for. In hindsight maybe we should have stuck it out. But the second factor was pulling us in another direction….the lakes and woods of Ontario were calling us. The thought of not spending the summer fishing and exploring the north woods were too much so we pulled up stakes and headed to our home away from home Pasha Lake Cabins. This little “detour” added over 2,000 miles to our annual total.

One of the biggest unknowns before hitting the road was how much we would spend each year. I always appreciated it when I found someone who shared their expenses so we will share ours for those who may be interested. Expense-wise we overspent our budget again spending over $58,000 this year (March ’15 to March ’16). This is about $10,000 more than we had originally budgeted.  Our single largest expense was truck and trailer payments. This is one thing we struggled with before hitting the road, to pay off these items or make payments. We met with our financial advisor….. since the interest on these loans were so low (1.48%) we decided to leave the money invested. Our next largest expense was our grocery store/Walmart/Target expenses coming in at $7,400. Our other larger categories included; Fuel $6,300 and Health Care $5,200.  Campground fees was a win again this year totaling $1,668 or $4.57/day. The solar system is really paying for itself!
We continue to ask ourselves the question….How long are we going to do this? So far the answer has been the same. For the foreseeable future. Right now we have tentative travel plans through 2018. That said, we continue to evaluate each area we visit to see if it is where we would like to settle down when the time is right. One thing we do know is that we would still travel part time. Another question we ask ourselves is do we want to travel primarily in the winter or summer? The answer will definitely influence where we look for property. After all, who wants to summer in the south and travel north during the winter? This question seems to be answering itself……As there are only two areas so far that have made our “short list” those being back to Wisconsin and the Black Hills of South Dakota meaning we would travel in the winter.

But back to the present….We have come to the end of our 10 week stay here in the Quartzsite desert. Overall it was a great experience. We had an initial plan to stay in the area for 4 weeks than move on to Joshua Tree, Salton Sea, Tucson and a few other areas to break up the winter. We even went as far as putting these locations and travel dates on our calendar. I was looking at our calendar the other day and told Barb, “We are supposed to be in Joshua Tree!”  We were enjoying our time here so much that we totally forgot that we were going to move.

Not only were we busy and enjoying ourselves, we saved some money along the way. Over the past 10 weeks we saved $2,000 over of what we would have normally spent. We did not scrimp or live meagerly, we still went out to eat about once a week, where we saved most of our money was in fuel costs. We only spent $210 total in the past two and a half months here where our average the rest of the year was $610/month.

Will we come back here next year? Yes! Our advice to anyone thinking of spending more than a few weeks down here…… bring a jeep or 4 wheeler. We explored hundreds of miles of BLM roads while geocaching, heading to hiking areas or just plain exploring. Without these, it would have been difficult to impossible to do many of the things we did which would have been a much longer winter!

The most surprising thing about the past 10 weeks was the friends we met and reconnected with. We never imagined how social staying in Quartzsite can be. We could have literally planned something every day with others if we wanted to. From happy hours, hiking, geocaching, road trips to things as simple as going shopping or doing laundry. You really have to pace yourself otherwise you could overdo it and burn yourself out.

Speaking of social events, I think this past week may have been the busiest of all! Lee and Tracy, Greg and Cori have returned bringing with them Bill and Kelly who we had met last spring in Florida! They arrived Tuesday afternoon so Red and Pam hosted a neighborhood wienie roast to welcome them. (Thanks to Steve and Dianne for the pictures!)
Red grill'in with Pam posing in the background!

Wednesday, Barb, Lisa, Pam, Dianne and Kelly went to their last line dancing class. These weekly classes were a lot of fun, they did not take it too seriously and spent most of their time laughing at themselves. That afternoon Barb and I went on the Palm Canyon hike with Lee and Tracy. They had wanted to do it last time they were here but time got away from us. This time we were going to make it happen! They were not sure if they wanted to go all the way to the palms or just to the lookout area. They said they would decide when they got there. This is the 4th time we have made this hike and the beauty and enormity of this canyon never ceases to amaze us. It is fun to take other people there for the first time and see their reactions. Lee and Tracy did not disappoint and they were equally as impressed. We made our way to the palm lookout. As we were looking up at the palms in the distance, Lee said “Let’s go for it!” So up we went! Contrary to what Tracy might think, I did not try and push her off the cliff or roll a boulder on her....It was a great hike and one I don’t think they will forget soon. (Thanks for Tracy for these pictures!)
Barb and Lee headed up

Tracy squeezing through a crevice

Almost there........
Barb was all smiles......
Tracy really liked this rock!

Made it!!!!!
That night we took Steve and Dianne out to dinner at Grubstake as kind of a thank you for everything they had done for us over the past 10 weeks; watching Daisy, the 4 wheeler rides, geocaching adventures and showing us the ropes during our first year here at Quartzsite. Grubstake has good food and reminds us of a typical bar back in Wisconsin! (I did a horrible job taking pictures this week, I stole almost every photo from Steve and Dianne!)

You would think that those were enough events for the week right? But wait, there’s more!!!!! Thursday morning found us getting ready for our last 4 wheeler/geocaching ride with Steve, Dianne, Red and Pam. We found 35 caches, Pam got her first trackable, we brought our total caches to 313 and Steve and Dianne broke 1,000! It was a great season with these guys.
Barb, Daisy and I riding by!

Red and Pam off to find another one....

Celebrating Steve and Dianne's 1000th cache!
That night was the 200th episode of The Big Bang Theory so we had a party! (I know, any reason to have a party) We all gathered at Greg and Cori’s for appetizers before the big event. At 7:00 we all gathered around their outdoor TV to watch the show. A great time was had by all!

Everybody gathered around Greg and Cori's rig waiting for the big show

Harry, Bill and Kelly getting some grub
Show time!
 Friday found Barb doing laundry while I started packing things up around the rig getting ready for our departure. That evening Dino and Lisa made us dinner consisting of a rack of ribs, baked potatoes and tater tots! I had mentioned that I was craving tater tots so Lisa baked up a batch.

Saturday, our last day here went out with a bang. Another couple, Ben and Jo arrived in our little community. We met then last year in Florida as well. That night everyone (and I mean everyone) got together for a taco/margarita/80’s dance party. I think Tracy was trying to convince me that 80’s music was not so bad after all. Bill was the official bartender and made sure that nobody's  drink ever went empty.

Lisa getting a margarita from Bill

Welcome to Jo (Payten) and Ben

Tracy, Kelly, Pam and Cori out on the "dance floor"

Dianne taking care of some bills she recently received in the mail!
We actually lasted to the end of the party and were not the first ones to leave having an absolute blast!!! It was a great way to say goodbye to all our friends, goodbye to our familiar landscape with Abe and the running horse and to our little rock yard which had been our home for the past 10 weeks…..until next year…..


  1. The Quartzsite experience is like none other! Happy 2nd anniversary!

    1. Thanks guys, we had a blast and it was great seeing you two!

  2. It's been a blast spending this winter and getting to know you guys. We look forward to showing you guys around our digs when you get to BC.
    Safe travels!

  3. What an excellent recap and I really appreciate your sharing your budget numbers and costs. It's great to know we are in the same ballpark as other people. It was very nice getting to know both of you some over the last few weeks. And happy anniversary. Two year is an awesome accomplishment and I wish you many more.

    1. You go into this lifestyle thinking you can get by pretty inexpensively and although I know we could do better, it certainly is not cheap!

  4. Can't imagine what the days ahead will be like without the two of you as neighbors. Travel safely till we meet again....

    1. I suppose it looks pretty empty behind you right now. Let us know how it goes in Texas!

  5. What a life! Jim, your making me want to upgrade to solar and buy a 4 wheeler...

    1. I doubt the solar will eve actually pay for itself but it does allow us to get off the pavement a bit more. I would like to find a way to put the Ranger behind the 5th wheel so Barb and I could drive together.

  6. Well said. We will miss you guys. And Daisy doing the sit and spin on our rug. Oh, yeah, rug for sale, cheap.

  7. Happy 2nd Anniversary! It is interesting how each year you travel less miles. You finally figure out that this isn't a vacation where you have to be on the go every day all day. You need those days for just "living," cleaning, wash, grocery shopping, etc.

    You certainly have had a great stay in Quartzsite! Happy safe travels on the road ahead:)

    1. Thank you! We are only traveling about 90 miles today but it is good to be back on the road.

  8. Looks like a great trip, love the doggie.

  9. I was great meeting you guys in Q and look forward to bumping into you again. With luck before Q next winter.

    Dave & Diane

  10. It was a great week for sure! Thanks for being a part of it for Bill & I!
    See you in AK!