This is the story of our two year preparation to become fulltime RV'ers, and our big, new adventure that began on May 31, 2015. It's just the two of us, and the "fluffy dog", off to see this beautiful country with only the seasons as our guide. What a grand adventure!
and dusty to soaked and flooded – we do NOT mess around here in
California!SoCal is keeping up its
practice of extremes with downed trees, mudslides, neighborhood evacuations,
and multitudes of car accidents.And
although we are experiencing the worst drought in centuries you can bet the
vast majority of all this wonderful precipitation is rushing down the concrete
Los Angeles River and into the ocean…..leaving behind very little relief.I’ll never understand our pathetic water
management in this state, and yet I remain hopeful that some brilliant
earth-minded college student is figuring it out as we “speak.”They better be quick because the reservoirs
are at 15% and the Colorado River tribes are going to cut us off.
not, we seldom get enough rain to ever get sick of it.It sounds nice here in town, but when it’s
raining I want to be either on the coast or in the desert – actually I want to
be in those places when it isn’t raining too – but I love watching a storm cross
the plains, valleys, ocean. Seeing that dark wall of clouds and moisture and
wind moving toward you, smelling it before feeling it, then feeling its power
overtake everything around you……incredible!
the desert most of my growing-up years I remember storms being such a big
deal.We would pile into the truck and
head out to a small rise where we could see 50+ miles in three directions, and
watch the power move across the valley.A one-time funnel cloud sent us hightailing back to the house and not
long afterwards two of the Cessnas at the little private airport were
destroyed.One storm brought snow and
ice and turned our brown home-world into a completely different planet of white.For some reason I don’t remember (if I ever
knew) the big sprinklers in the park were on and their 12 foot high spray froze
in the air.One of the creative moms
sprayed food color on them and 50 years later I can still see the wonder of
those ice sculptures in our little desert park before they melted the next
day.Winds were crazy and there were
many that brought very dangerous dust storms with zero visibility.Coming home in the dark from a monthly
90-mile grocery run with my best pal and her parents we got caught in one on
the two lane highway.It was terrifying
when her mom had to walk along the side of the road with one hand on the
passenger door window while feeling along the edge of the blacktop with her foot
to tell where the road was and direct her husband’s steering.The sand on the side of the road was soft and
deep and if we had pulled off we would have been stuck in seconds.It was the sound of the metal sign banging in
the wind that led us to our turn off for home.There were other bad dust storms but fortunately none I spent on the
road – and I don’t ever need to experience another one!
I only had
to see one storm move in from the Pacific Ocean to know that they were as
powerful and magical as those in the desert.Partying with other twenty-something year olds at a beach house and when
the storm started building on the horizon we grabbed our chairs and all just
sat quietly and watched it come to us.We were all soaked and happy when we returned to the house.Rain and wind and lightning over miles of
We are so
looking forward to being “out there” in the weather.Right now the sky is a weird yellow and must
look amazing where it isn’t just a peek above theneighborhood.We aren’t so naive as to think there won’t be
times we’ll be trying to outrun it, or hating the cabin fever it causes, or
dreading the jacks stuck in the mud…….but I believe we will embrace the storm
more often than not!
On the home
front the storm is adding to the doggy drama that is “Potty Watch 2014”.If I’m not standing out in the rain in the
front yard, Tessa just stands on the porch with me – because it’s cold and wet
out there and she’s just as smart as I am……So I walk out on to the grass, and she goes inside – because it’s cold
and wet out there and she’s smarter than I am……..
This is not
the first rain we’ve had since she came to live with us.She will go outside and do her business in
the rain.In the backyard.In her backyard.In private.The rain may also prolong the return to said backyard as some of the
seeds are swimming in small ponds.Oh
well, I’m sure we’ll be mowing it this summer no matter what.
suspected for a while that our dear fluffy dog Tessa is a member of the “Nopoopinpublic”
tribe.On road trips she will rarely go
potty while on the leash, and then she has to be far away from other people. Last
weekend we re-seeded the backyard which means no doggy paws on the lawn for
several weeks.We have a front lawn with
trees and Tessa can be out there without a leash, but she will rarely do her
business.She still lets us know when
she needs to go outside, but once out there she is more likely to just lie
down. Especially when it is light outside!Or if there are people or other dogs around……Are you kidding me??
Nice, but not nearly private enough!
It seems that the majority of fulltimers are animal-lovers like us.Dogs are most common, from tiny pocket pups
to big labs and shepherds. These dogs have wonderful lives, spending lots of
time with their humans and having the same marvelous adventures.Many of their names are as recognizable as
their owners’, and their antics make for great story-telling in multiple
blogs.Some of the most touching posts I’ve
read have been about the loss of beloved doggie family members. We are very much looking forward to Tessa being a part of our new life.
Unless it is a well-kept secret, I think all of those traveling doggies go
potty outside of a fenced yard, in the daylight, even when there are others
around.I’ve tried explaining this to
Tessa.She seems skeptical.Or maybe it’s stubborn.Maybe there was a tribal oath at birth.
You're making that up!!
Regardless of her motivation there will have to be a change in this area
over the next year.I suppose it’s a good
thing we learned this now and not after we were in our first camp site.Not taking her with us is NOT an option so we
will have to figure it out.
Maybe an intervention before we hit the road.I think Polly or Bridget or Sasha could
probably set her straight – maybe we can set up a conference call on Skype and
they can all explain it to her!
is a wonderful pastime that many of us enjoy.Having spent many, many hours waiting in California airports (and a few
others), stuck in traffic on multi-lane highways, and just the general
hanging-around in customer lounges and retail lines I have certainly done my
share.In fact once I learned to just
observe others around me I found real pleasure in these otherwise irritating
pauses to my “schedule.”Many of these
observations are of humorous situations and some are heart-warming interactions
between strangers.Yes there are the
annoying “I can’t believe they just did that in public” moments, but I’ve
become pretty jaded over the years and little surprises me in that area
anymore.There is a reason that shopping
carts have signs telling parents not to let their kids stand up in the cart
So we’re all
out there together being human with our actions and interactions on
display.There are a lot of us and even
those who stood out in a single day quickly fade from our memories.We may remember and repeat to friends the
incident or the outfit or the words, but these disappear eventually.Unless we capture them in a photograph.
interesting and make for great photos.Some of those photos win awards for major photographers.Most of us have taken our share of candid
shots for a number of reasons.Recently
I came across some pictures taken at the old Riverside Raceway (now the Moreno
Valley Mall) of strangers in the stands and in the pits.Nothing particularly moving about any of
them, they captured a fun t-shirt logo or a cool silhouette or a cute
child.The usual.They were in a box in the attic.No one but a handful of family and friends
ever saw them, maybe nobody but the photographer.They were taken before (long before) the
photographed the person in that t-shirt, the photo went from my camera to the
developer to the box.In essence the
person was only seen by those at the raceway that day.They chose to go to the event, to be seen by
all the other people who would be there; in Riverside, California; on a
Sunday.Here’s the question:
What if it
wasn’t safe for them to be seen somewhere else?What if they were in California because it was far away from a
threatening ex-spouse, a stalker, a malicious person who they got far, far away
from?No problem when the candid photo
goes in a box in the attic.
different story when a candid photo is posted on the Internet?Are there unknown consequences for that
person because I captured them and sent their location out to the whole world?
tens of millions of photographs on the Internet.Google Images is more crowded with humans
than all the entertainment venues and sports arenas in the world combined.If I were looking for someone I wouldn’t know
where to begin to search on the Internet for their picture.It may be impossible without facial
recognition software (but don’t those scary malicious people always have that
the flip-side is the happy ending of a separated family being reunited…….of a
good and loving person finding them.
It is surely
a ridiculous thing to worry about, sparked by too many Lifetime movies in my
past.For some reason though, in the
last few weeks when I see candid shots of people captured for a blog post, I
wonder…….were there unforeseen consequences?
For the last
several years, for a couple days in April, we have joined our friends from high school
in Laughlin/Bullhead City.The last two
years we went in our Hyundai Tucson.Not
this year.We won’t be going anywhere in
Tucson in Utah
the numbers, or is it crunching them? - I don’t like numbers in general - we figured
that unloading the car now was the best move.Although the “experiment” was shorter than planned, it was long enough to
know that we don’t need a second car
when only one of us is working.It will
require more planning and consolidating but those are good habits to have
Because I love to drive I tend to do it for entertainment, which adds up in gas costs and wear on the vehicle……and of course if I’m out anyway I might as well stop in there and see if they have something I should pick up! My spending habits have changed significantly during my first year of retirement but when I look at where the money goes I still see places I can cut back. Only having a car a couple days a week will make that pretty easy.
that was the monthly car payment, insurance and XM Radio subscription will
now expedite the payoff of the tax bill and the last credit card, getting us to
debt-free by our deadline.For that
reason alone it feels right to have gotten rid of the car!Reducing our personal impact on the
environment, fixing lunch at home every day, increasing the time I spend walking and riding the bike, parking the Jeep in the garage……..these are all
added bonuses that have us feeling really great about the decision.
I made sure
I included all this in the blog so that in a few weeks when all this
self-righteousness is wearing thin and I want to go get another car, I’ll have
a reminder in my own words of why it was a good idea J!
We took some
great road trips in our Tucson, including Highway 1 along the coast and
Monument Valley.We visited family in
and out of California, and took some family to see other family. It helped Brian move twice and took all of Jeff’s belongings to Seattle.It got great gas mileage,
was always reliable, and had that really bitchin’ chocolate brown interior! I’ll miss the XM radio until I figure out the
sound studio in the Jeep.
No Tucson in Arizona for us this year - time to start making new memories in the Jeep and getting closer to our dream!
Ouch!We knew we were going to take a big hit this
year due to some movement of investment accounts and final payments from my
employer that rolled into 2013.Still,
those big numbers really sting.Certainly as we look back at 2013 it doesn’t feel like we “made too much money.”Compared to what/who?Alas, it is
actually a relief to know for sure what we owe and that next year we will be
just fine without making any adjustments to the income we have moving
forward.It will slow down the payoff of
those final pesky bills, but we will make it work.As I told Bill: it’s just money, not a cancer
good news this week to somewhat offset the tax numbers.First, I went to CarMax as planned and was
very pleased with their offer-to-buy.It
is much higher than the online calculators gave me, and enough to “nearly” pay
off the car loan.Second, housing prices
have risen 21% since we bought our place in 2011 and are expected to increase
another 8-9% by the end of this year.This, coupled with very few houses on the market, gives me more
confidence that we can afford the rig we want once the house sells.Will keep an eye on things between now and
then, but the projections are good!Finally, I received positive confirmation on a question regarding the
impact of Bill’s retirement next April for Richie’s (our youngest still at
home) health coverage.Thanks again to
my BFF Janis for the heads up and the necessary kick.She always says I’m lucky that things go my
way, but she forgets that a lot of time she is the one responsible for that
good “luck.”I know I’m blessed to have
her in my life J!
completely separate note…….
admitted blog/forum junkie I’m enjoying the comforting similarities and
differences between the hooked-up RV parkers and the unplugged
boondockers.I try to live my life with
responsibility and respect: responsibility for my own actions and respect for
others.As we prepare to completely
untether from our current lifestyle and join the growing number of full-timers,
I am encouraged by a similar common thread that seems to run through those “out
there”.While the “how” they do it is
vastly different, the “why” is nearly identical.It is like one big organism with many brains
and one heart.Whether they are always
connected to full hookups with multiple amenities available, social events
every day and night, close to major towns, and comfortable parked close
together; or living on solar panels with bi-weekly moves to a dump station,
days and weeks without other human contact, far from any conveniences, and
feeling safe completely alone in the wilderness; or a combination of both –
full-timers seem to support and truly
enjoy each other!A great example comes
from reading regular bloggers’ posts and comments on the big January show in
Quartzsite – sort of like Miracle Whip, hate it or love it - with strong
generally know where others stand on the Quartzsite fence and have good-natured
fun lobbing a few zingers back and forth for a couple weeks.Still, even with strong differences just on
this one topic, it is clear that in a crisis those cables would be unhooked or
those solar panels lowered, and without hesitation help would be on its
way.I’ve “seen” it happen several times,
with people who have never met in person, being there for each other on so many
levels.Even politics and religion, although
rarely referenced, are handled with tolerance and good humor.
bloggers are special and the rest of the full-timing community is a bunch of
jerks who will burst my bubble the first night we open the slides……..but I don’t
think so.It’s also a lot of pressure –
so much to live up to!!
of where they park their home, all will be able to relax come April 15 when the
government receives our check and is once again in the black!
We started Week 2 of Operation One Car yesterday. I just don't know. Maybe it was a bad week to start. Bill worked late a couple evenings to complete inventory so I didn't keep the Jeep any of the days. The wind made getting out on the bike or walking the dog too uncomfortable <insert wimp here>. So the first week I was admittedly a tad bored and feeling like a slug. Then I ran the numbers on the car loan against the current resale value of the vehicle. Hmmmm, maybe we can't sell it yet. Yes, that would have been a good place to start rather than thinking of it after starting the experiment. Oh well.
But I did say we started Week 2, so what's the plan?? Before throwing in the chamois I'm taking the car to CarMax to get their we'll-buy-it-from-you-and-you-don't-have-to-buy-one-from-us amount. I'm pretty confident it will be lower than we need but maybe another creative solution will present itself that can save us some money now and help get us to debt-free by next year. I even drove Bill to work this morning in keeping with our pretend-one-car-lifestyle :-).
If nothing else comes of it, we probably saved a gallon of gas - woo hoo!!
When is "snow" on the ground a sign of early Spring?
Where the cool picture would go if I had thought to take one!
Our neighbor's fruit tree has been an over-achiever when it comes to "getting its flowers on" for the last two years we have lived here. The huge sycamores that line our back wall are bare as are the other trees in the neighborhood. However the little some-kind-of-faux-fruit tree next door is full of white flowers with small leaf buds ready to pop. While still early, the flowers usually show up the middle of February. Not this year. I noticed them a few weeks ago when we were in the high 70's and low 80's - you know, like less than a month into Winter! So when the cold winds came last week our backyard was covered in hundreds of small white flowers - spring snow! You just never know what you're going to get in Southern California.
Not sure what triggered the sudden increase in blog hits this last few days but it's very exciting! In case anyone comes back for more I'll attempt to keep the posts stimulating and educational - like this one :-)!