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…..as 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!
|Barb and Lee headed up
|Tracy squeezing through a crevice
|Barb was all smiles......
|Tracy really liked this rock!
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.
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
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.
|Barb, Daisy and I riding by!
|Red and Pam off to find another one....
|Celebrating Steve and Dianne's 1000th cache!
|Everybody gathered around Greg and Cori's rig waiting for the big show
|Harry, Bill and Kelly getting some grub
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.
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…..
|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!