First Time Taking a Lyft

Our first few days in Vegas were pretty low key.  It’s hard not to spend lots of money here, so we mainly spent our time taking care of some housekeeping items and just relaxing a bit.  We did make a trip off the strip to the Chinatown section of Vegas to the wonderful Asian market and one of my favorite Vietnamese restaurants.  We also stopped at an RV dealership to get a couple of new window cranks (two of ours were stripped) and while we were there walked inside the new Open Range 3X.   Gotta say I was pretty impressed.  I loved the large kitchen in the back and the living room space and they have added tons of storage.  If we had the funds I might be tempted to upgrade, which is saying something because in four years I haven’t seen an RV that I was even tempted by.

Love this store, it has a fantastic selection of Asian specific spices and sauces at really good prices

 

On Wednesday we did decide to treat ourselves to a night on the town and decided we wanted to see Piff the Magic Dragon.  He was on America’s Got Talent a couple of seasons ago, and wow is this guy funny.  Part magician, part comedian, he has just the right level of irreverence, and added bonus the show was in a really small venue so we were up close and personal.  Despite the general seating we lucked out and had front row seats, and I haven’t seen Lee laugh that hard in ages.  Plus it was reasonably priced at only $50 a ticket and since I won $18 paying penny slots in the casino it felt like less than that.

All along the strip they have these new video walls which are pretty amazing in the clarity of the images

 

The show was in the Flamingo one of the older casinos on the strip

 

Mr. Piffles, who I am holding, was the best part of the show, and he was a super mellow little dog. The showgirl to the right was super funny and added a lot to the show and of course Piff to my left was hysterical.

The only downside was we decided to drive, and in retrospect that wasn’t such a great idea.  The parking garage had a clearance of 6′ 6″ so we barely fit, and with the dually it was tough to find a spot.  On top of that they charged us $12 for parking and all in all it really was a hassle.

I kept ducking as we squeaked under the cement ceiling. Our antenna hit multiple times.  Super tight.

Afterwards we walked over to the Bellagio and watched the fountains and then had to walk back to the garage to get the truck.  Lee couldn’t drink because he was driving and really the entire experience made us decided to go ahead and try the car service Lyft. The cool thing about Lyft in Vegas is you can get picked up or dropped off at any casino entrance.  So you can walk, see some things, and then when you get tired use a very simple app on your phone to call a car.  I really liked the app because the credit card information isn’t given directly to the driver, they had a cool graphic that shows exactly where your pickup car is, and it’s super self-explanatory.  Seriously this is one of the best apps I have used in a long time because it tells you exactly what to do.  But I’ll tell you more about using it later.

The song was Cher’s “Believe”

The next day I was supposed to spend some time with my Mom, but she picked up a bug somewhere and wasn’t feeling well, so we had another free day.  The campground at Circus Circus completely filled up and we watched as some beautiful Prevosts pulled in.  Again, a low key night with me making spaghetti dinner, although I did walk over to the casino and play penny slots for an hour.  I set a budget of $10 a day on gambling and can usually make that last over an hour.  I get a free beer when I gamble (I tip a dollar) so basically for $11 I am entertained and get a drink so even if I don’t win any money it’s a pretty cheap leisure activity.  Mom was feeling better on Friday, so Lee drove me down to the Polo Towers where she has a timeshare and we hung out for a while.  She was getting hungry so we walked down to Paris and had lunch, and then walked the Miracle Mile mall on the way back, stopping at Lush to get some of my face cream.  Vegas has darn near every store there is, so I always take advantage of being here to get products that are pricey on Amazon.

We walked through The Cosmopolitan, which is one of my favorite casinos. Love the giant chandelier in the center

 

Then went to Bellagio and saw the Atrium which had a cool fall them

 

The fairies had waterfall skirts which was really neat

 

We ate strip-side at Paris, and sat at a window seat on the other side of the green wall

 

Mom liked our seat!

 

The $21 seafood crepe was pretty disappointing. The seafood was fine but why wouldn’t it be in the crepe?? And the crepe was not so good. The scallop was delicious though and $25 for lunch in that location was pretty reasonable.

We timed it perfectly because we weren’t back at her room long before my sister got in.  Wendy has only been to Vegas a couple of times and we weren’t really sure what she would want to do, but when I mentioned there was a huge two story Ross right down the street her eyes lit up.  She turned me on to Ross Dress for Less a few years ago, and since she was looking for a dress for an upcoming cruise, off we went.  Mom hung back and rested and we spent a couple of hours trying on tons of clothes.  Fancy dress shopping is fun and even I tried a couple on although I have absolutely no where to wear something like that.

 

My sis, you can see she was having fun.

 

Afterwards she was starving and really wanted to try In and Out burger, which she had heard of but never been to since she lives on the east coast.  So off we went walking a couple of miles down to the new street section by the Linq, and she got to do some serious people watching since it was Friday night.

When you see this sign on the strip make a right…it’s a longish walk from there

 

This new street section next to the Linq is really nice because no cars are allowed

 

Someone really liked her burger!

 

While we were there Lee texted and asked what we were doing and not 15 minutes later he walked in the door.  He took a Lyft to Mirage and then was walking to Bally’s and decided to stop by.  Since Wendy had never played a slot machine in her life, we decided to see if she liked it and walked over to Lync and sat her down at a slot machine.  She was not a fan, and didn’t really get the appeal, so her and Lee wandered off to Bellagio to watch the fountains and I headed down the strip towards Circus Circus.  I walked for a little while and got lucky and saw the Volcano go off at the Mirage (they have added a ton more fire here) and then finally decided to use my Lyft and opened the app.  A ride was available in less than three minutes, and the only problem I had was not looking at the signs and going to the right place.  The app told me the cost up front, described the car, and the driver was very nice.  It cost $7.38 (I tipped an addition $2 using the app) and was completely painless. And the cool thing was I got to stop walking when I wanted to.

Next up my brother will be coming in later tonight and the three of us will be together as adults for the first time in a long time.  Excited about getting some pictures and hanging out together!


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

Heading to Vegas via “Area 51”

We got a late start (for us) heading out of Timothy lake around 9:52, because we were extra careful to double check everything before pulling away.  One thing we have noticed is the longer we stay in a place the more likely it is we will forget something when we leave, and we wanted to make extra sure that didn’t happen to us again.  Just a few days prior Lee had noticed that two of the nuts which secure the bolts which hold the hitch rails to the bed of our truck were missing.  That was a little scary, especially coupled with the fact that the other bolts were very loose, and really drove home the fact that we need to be checking these things.  Lee was able to pick up replacement nuts at the hardware store, and thankfully everything else looked good and we were on our way.

It was raining as we pulled out, and the trees were full of autumn colors, so it was a little surprising how quickly the landscape changed.  In what seemed like no time at all we were in the high desert, although we didn’t leave the rain behind.

 

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but when time allows we love to take a route we have never been on before.  In order to manage this I carry a Rand McNally Map  which I use to mark the routes we are taking.  I am in year 4 of doing this, and over the summer I actually bought a new one and took the time to refill in all of the colors over the last few years.  The exercise, which took a while, showed me two things.  We had been in a lot of places, but there was still so much more to see!  Because we had time, I decided to route us on a road less traveled and we took 95 down to Winnemucca and stayed at the New Frontier RV Park.  We have stayed at this RV park before when we were traveling through and it’s definitely one of my favorite Passport America parks.  $17 for up to two nights, neat as a pin, and the sites are long and level.  The only downside is to get the discount you have to take a back in site and because we didn’t like the first place we had stopped at it was dark when we got in.  We rarely pull into a place at night and if we do we usually get a pull through so don’t have to back in, but Lee was a trooper and did an outstanding job of getting us into the site.  I stood and held the flashlight as a point of reference for him, and with minimal effort he got us in.  Still amazed by it, because that is definitely not something he would have done even a couple of years ago.

Took a picture in the morning

So you could see how good a job he did! The sites are long but a little narrow.

Lee is also much more comfortable driving on secondary roads now (he was always super concerned in the past about getting fuel and other potential problems), so he was up for us taking a route that would land us on the extraterrestrial highway and into Area 51.   I like filling in my map…it makes me happy, but I will say some roads are less traveled for a reason.  Route 6 and Route 375 are both pretty boring and although we were able to find gas, there were VERY limited options on places to stay.  Well, let me rephrase that, there were tons of places we could have boondocked, but places with hookups were much harder to find.  Ultimately we ended up spending the night at Tonopah Station, which was a casino with some hookups.  Why did we spend $27 instead of boondocking for free? Well, finding a boondocking spot we feel comfortable staying in takes some effort and it’s never Lee’s first choice when we are traveling, and it’s an overnight spot.  Since he does most of the driving, I feel like it’s dealer’s choice, so I make use of Passport America to keep our costs down.  Unfortunately the one park in the area that was Passport America was super shady (that happens on occasion) and the casino was the best of several bad choices.

I have very mixed feelings about this location, because I thought the casino itself was kind of fun and the people were nice.  There was also a great local grocery store that was part of the casino complex and we had a nice breakfast at the restaurant.  The problem was the sites.  I can deal with being in a parking lot, but the sites were very unlevel.  One of the few benefits of the parking lot structure generally is flat sites, but these were uneven and too short.  That was a major flaw in my mind.

The hotel/casino had some cool antiques

 

Lee refused to pose under this bear!

 

I loved this giant Betty Boop statue

 

And this sign at the front desk made me smile

 

We had a nice (but pricey) breakfast here

 

A mound of country gravy smothered scrambled eggs, potatoes, diced country fried steak, and a biscuit. Lol..Lee really liked it!

 

The site though was just not good.  Significant down slope.

It was OK for one night and the next day we took our time leaving, because we had a pretty short drive to Vegas.  I was excited about the extraterrestrial road, but that turned out to be a total bust.  It was open range cattle country for one thing, and on occasion we had to slow down for the cows.  And we saw very little in the way of kitschy stuff, although we did see a few signs saying this was Area 51.  There was also a paved road with a sign stating Cedar Gate, which I later learned was an entrance to a military facility.  Still you really can’t see anything, although I guess these landscapes were used frequently in the show the X-Files.

Moo cows

 

The rocks got pretty towards the end.

 

No clue what this was about

 

But I did like this

We were both relieved when we got onto 93, although of course I took a turn driving right when we hit a 6 mile stretch of 35-mile an hour curves and 6% grade.  It was good practice for me and Lee talked me through it, but once he took over it was totally flat again…figures!  The one neat thing we saw was the Pharaganat National Wildlife Refuge.  It was a shock of green in the middle of the desert and we were excited to see that the Upper Pharaganat Lake had 15 first come first serve (and free) campsites along the lake.  These sites were holding big rigs and it looked lovely.  Definitely a place I would like to go back to and stay!

The picture doesn’t do justice to how green it was

Finally we arrived in Vegas around 3pm and made it with no major traffic issues to Circus Circus RV Park.  This is definitely NOT my favorite place to stay in Vegas, but Lee loves staying right on the strip, so here we are.  It is also a parking lot RV Park and a pricey one at that, but I will say they had done a better job of maintaining the grounds since the last time we were here, although I did find a pair of men’s underwear in the rocks next to our site.  I picked them up with a baggie and put them in the trash, and it was not an auspicious start to our time here.  Seriously, people.  We went inside and the tinkle of the slot machines caught my attention and we ate some McDonald’s for dinner (yes, there is one in Circus Circus) and caught the circus act which lasted all of 5 minutes.  Crazy right? Well, this is what Vegas looks like on a budget. Next up we will see my Mom and maybe do some fun things while we are here, but it is a balancing act for us (no pun intended) because this is our life, not a vacation. Well it’s sort of vacation because we aren’t working, but we need to watch what we spend…oh well, we will figure it out.

Our spot in the RV park.  The sites are long but narrow.

 

 


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

Lee Designs a New Workshop

The last couple of weeks have been really, really, really quiet here and we have had plenty of time to relax and recoup.  (Seriously, I have gotten in the habit of turning off my walkie talkie and turning it back on again because sometimes an entire day can go by with nothing happening. At all. Which is just creepy and weird. – Lee) Because Lee likes to stay busy he has spent most of his time finishing up the new workshop so I wanted to take a moment and talk a bit about that.  When we first arrived we saw the beginnings of a brand new workshop and over the early part of the season it took shape.  Designing the inside was a bit of a challenge, but something Lee was super excited about, and since no one else really wanted to do it he made it his season long project.  He talked to all the stakeholders, did 3D CAD drawings, got approval for the design, and ordered custom shelving.  Then he assembled the shelves, arranged everything, and really turned it into a beautiful place to work.  Everyone was super impressed, myself included, and he wouldn’t let me take pictures until yesterday when it was done.  So here is what he did, and I am super proud of him. (Aww shucks, ma’am. Tweren’t nothin. I just figure out where things want to be, and then put them there. Since we at this location last summer, I had no idea just how bad the old workshop/shed was. When we got here, I saw it for the first time. It’s an old building, about 10’x20′, and has been in use as the tool shed for a very long time. As a seasonal place, everything is closed down each winter, and although some people return year over year, there’s also a lot of turnover. So there’s a bizarre mixture of influences on how things were stored and placed inside. There’s also a LOT of stuff in there. The shop is used to store supplies for the lodge, and for the hosts of the individual campgrounds, and tools and parts and other supplies. And lots of stuff that only gets used once in a great while. Like most places like this, there was a lot in there that was leftover from many years ago, and some things that could easily be thrown away. When I first saw the inside my first thought was “This place needs to be cleaned and organized. But since I didn’t know what was useful and what was junk, I decided to wait. Plus, they were building a new shop right behind it, no point in doing the work twice. – Lee) 

 

(This is the view from the door. AS you can see, there’s a TON of stuff crammed into this tiny space. Over the years various people had tried to come up with new and interesting ways to fit more in. Some of these methods were clever, some just crazy. My favorite crazy one was the 10′ piece of bamboo from which someone had hung plastic hangers to hold up long things ding over the “workbench”. – Lee)

 

(As you can see, people had gone to some effort to keep things somewhat tidy and sorted, like the camp host supplies. No small feat in such a tight and crowded space. – Lee)

 

(One of the problems is that there were lots of shelves, but they were very deep, which invites just ramming more and more onto them, and invariably, stuff gets shoved to the back and forgotten. – Lee)

 

(There was also a lot old paint in spray cans, pint, quart, gallon and five gallon cans. Some were nearly empty, and some were so old they were unusable. Again, someone had kept them all together, but there was also other stuff mixed in. finding anything was a pain. – Lee)

 

(Lots of small boxes with stuff. Labelled, but mice love to live in and chew up cardboard. Since this building is closed up all winter, everything was covered in mouse droppings. – Lee)

 

(Another good example of fighting for space. The boxes on the left are different sizes of gloves, which were delivered to hosts each week. But they were shoved to the back of a shelf, and had to be rooted out weekly. Annoying. – Lee)

 

(Each fall a lot of signs are taken down, and shoved into the shed to be removed in the spring and re-hung. There were also replacement signs stored, and this was the worst, lots of signs mixed up and shoved onto a shelf in a corner, so the ones in the back were almost impossible to get to. – Lee)

 

(I actually liked this. Someone had put up a little shelf with holes cut into it for the power tools. However, the shelf was all the way in the back corner, and hard to get to. There were also piles of tools in soft bags and hard cases stacked on a table to the right of this photo. – Lee)

 

(And there was lots of this. Things hanging from the walls by nails, and bits of wire, and just sort of leaned against the wall and stacked up. Finding and getting things was quite the chore, and usually involved things falling and getting knocked down or over. – Lee)

 

 

(It reminded me a lot of someone’s garden shed or small garage that had been living there for 40 years. An attempt was made to keep it in control, but it was just too small a space with too much stuff, and nobody curating it. – Lee)

So imagine how happy I was to see this, just a few yards away! 


When we first got here, only the posts were up. I took a few pictures, but I can’t locate them. Then I was planning to take pictures of every stage of construction, but work and the fact that the builders would show up randomly and work for a day and then disappear for weeks on end made it all but impossible to do that. I did get some pictures along the way though. 

While I waited for the building to be finished enough to start doing things inside, I would stand inside and try to visualize the best place to put things, and just sort of daydream about having it stocked and try to figure out how to best use the space. Then I did some measuring and started building a 3D model. That was a lot of fun, I hadn’t done that since I designed a TV studio back in 2005.

One of the things I definitely wanted to do was utilize as much of the vertical space as possible. With a 20′ peak, there was a LOT of space to work with, and since much of the stuff only needed to be touched once or twice a season, it made sense to get that stuff up and out of the way. I ended up going with two types of shelving, both bolt-less for ease of putting it together. For long span shelves and workbenches I used pallet racking. I ended up buying a mixture of new and used stuff from an industrial salvage company, and all of it ended up costing only about $1500, which is CHEAP! Here’s a panorama showing the entire “shop” side of the building, as opposed to the bay side. The shelves and pallet racking on the left already have some supplies because I wanted to be able to start using it right away to make sure everything would fit and see if what I had imagined would work in practice. The nice thing about the shelves on the left is that they are accessible from either side, so you can grab supplies from the “shop” side and use the man door, or you can pull a truck up to the garage door and grab stuff from there and put it right in the truck. 

I had originally thought to set the shelf height for each shelf based on what ended up on them, working my way from the bottom up, but then I had a much better idea. 


These are the work benches, and the shelves I hung above them. The shelves I hung above the workbenches are 10″ deep, and from the left to the right they are 9′ and 7′, sop there’s a LOT of shelf space. The first shelf is easy to reach from the floor, but the top two require using a little folding three step. So frequently needed stuff goes on the lower shelves, less frequently used stuff goes higher.  The bench on the left I had them cut down in order to weld heavy duty locking swivel casters, so it can be pulled out into the middle of the room so you can work on something and have access all the way around it. I got to use it already and it’s a really nice feature to be able to walk around something large and bulky and heavy at workbench height. It’s also a great way to move a large number of things or really large heavy things from the door to somewhere else. It’s a workbench! It’s a cart! After a week or so of looking at it I decided to go back to the industrial supplier and add two beams across the bottom to make a shelf. It game me another 27 square feet of storage, and more stability to the bench. 

I also made the top 5″ deeper on the back side and notched it so it would slot in to the beam it sits against so there wouldn’t be a gap for things to fall through when it was pushed against the wall. 


Once the shelves were all done everything got moved from the old shed to the new. I used the floor of the bay side to pile everything up and then started sorting through it and placing it where it would end up living. That allowed me to take my time and throw away things that we didn’t need, and put things with like things. 

Here’s some shots of it mostly finished. Some of the shelves are empty because I hadn’t quite finished putting things on them. This is all of the supplies in place. You can also see the rolling steps I bought to easily access things from 14′.


Here’s the reverse angle of that shelf with some of the supplies taken away because it was the end of the season, but with the stuff on the shelves where it will live. 


Here’s my better idea for the shelves. All the shelves are the same height, and instead of loose stuff, I put everything in heavy duty totes, so they can be labelled and to keep things from just being scattered all over the shelves. the paint will live on the lower shelves, but it goes to a different building that’s heated in the winter.

Now the signs are much better organized and accessible. 

(By the way, take a look at that extension cord on the left. That’s what they look like after being coiled incorrectly a few times. They are ruined forever. There is a better way. You can coil 100′ or more of cable and set the coil on the ground, pick up one end and walk away with it, and it will uncoil in a nice straight line, with no kinks, loops, or knots. Every time. 100% guaranteed. – Lee)


I’m really glad I added that lower shelf to the rolling bench. That’s where the really heavy stuff will live. 


The long bench and the super short bench are bridged with the work surface to make a 12′ bench top. It’s kind of hard to see, but in the center I added a magnetic strip to hold commonly needed hand tools. All the other tools are in the tool chest below. The fans above pull fresh air in, and on the other side of the building another set push air out. Next Spring I will add a shelf at the bottom and middle of that small section on the right, and that’s where the various power tools that aren’t drill will go. The drills hang above the workbench, just inside the door, so they can be grabbed quickly and easily, along with a magnet that holds driver bits. 


My first project next Spring will be to label all the parts drawers. 

There’s some other stuff not pictured, and it’s still a work in progress, but I have all next summer to perfect it while it’s in use. Here’s the old shop empty and cleaned out. Right after we left they were supposed to start working on it to turn it into a bunkhouse for two or more college age summer interns, so we’ll see what it looks like when we return in April!

In addition to Lee finishing the workshop, Fred and Helen cleaned out the lodge and looked for missing items or duplicates.  People bring and leave things all the time, so we had a huge amount of extra cooking items.  This was kind of fun and we divided some of them up and donated the rest.

 

One night we went to Red Lobster dinner with our friends Sharon and Dan and had a terrific time.  Sometimes you meet people at these jobs and just click and that was definitely the case with us and them.  I really feel like we are going to be lifelong friends.

Sharon and me!

We also closed down the last two campgrounds, which went very smoothly, and then spent the last week tidying up loose ends.  I was thankful that I had lots of down time and feel much better rested.  Kari, one of our camp hosts, gave me some flowers on one of the last days which was incredibly sweet. They were absolutely beautiful and I was incredibly touched by the gesture.

 

 

Next up: on to Vegas to see my Mom, my brother and sister.   I am so excited about getting a BREAK and am definitely ready to go.

 


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

Reader Questions: JoEllen

We love getting reader questions, and one of us always take the time to answer them, but occasionally I find the questions interesting enough that I think they deserve a blog post.  That was the case when I received some questions from JoEllen a few days ago, and since I thought many of you might have similar questions I decided I would answer them in this format instead of directly to her. The questions themselves are in italics, and my answers are in blue. Lee’s comments are in red. (She’s not the boss of me. My comments are in bold orange italics. – Lee)

Tracy, I have emailed you before several times and learn a lot from you 2. Hopefully in 2-3 years we will hit the road and will need to work also. We have already sold our house and all our goods. 

Thanks!  Always nice to hear people are getting something out of this blog, and congratulations on completing two huge steps towards you new life.  (Yes, congrats from me as well, but in bold orange italics. – Lee)

  1. My BIG question is, “why” did you and Lee (almost) throw in the towel and stay PUT for a full time job that could change the direction of your life only after 4 years of being on the road? 

I don’t know if we got to the point where we were willing to throw in the towel completely, but we were having conversations about what this all looks like going forward.  For those of you who have read the blog for a while, you know I have found work kamping to be very challenging.  I, at least, am constantly evaluating risk versus reward and it is tempting when the jobs are particularly challenging to think about taking a break and finding something stable for awhile.  A huge part of that is fear, some of that is a “grass is greener” mentality, and some of it is just frustration.  There are trade-offs in this lifestyle, just like any other, and I think those trade-offs should be constantly weighed.  I tend to be more introspective than some people and more open about my introspection but I think most people have these thoughts at some point. (Believe it or not, while I understand where Trace is coming from, I don’t feel the same way. We’re very different people. For example, she tends to write in blue, while I tend to write in bold orange italics. But seriously, I generally feel like the idea of taking a break and finding something stable is a trick/trap. I don’t believe there’s any such thing as stable. I would rather experiment and see “what’s next” than sit around thinking I’m safe and secure while someone (without my knowledge) is deciding I make too much money, or I’m too old, or too bold, or italicky. I feel more in control of my own destiny now than I ever have in my entire life. – Lee)

I would like to make one more comment.  You say “only after 4 years of being on the road” and I found that interesting.  In this lifestyle 4 years is a long time.  I say that because it is so packed with experiences and living in the moment that I personally would say 4 years equals 10 in a more traditional life.  That’s my rear view perspective, but I stand by it. (And for me four years seems to have screamed by so fast I actually have to do the math in my head to make sure that 2014 to 2018 was actually four years. It feels more like 2  1/2 years to me. Except for Amazon. That felt like eternity. – Lee)

  1. Is 4 years the turning point to start thinking, “OK we have moved enough” let’s put more grass under our tires instead of asphalt? What I have noticed in keeping up with your age group (and I keep up with a lot of blogs) of starting on the road verses those 62 years old and beyond (who don’t work as much or at all) is that the 62 year old and beyond stay on the road LONGER. I know about Howard and Linda but their situation (not working all the time) is different than most people. I just read the other day about a couple I keep up with at times who are hanging up the keys, but he is 82 and been of the road a little over 10 years.

That’s a great question and opens the door for me to talk about a trend I have been noticing.  My short answer would be “Yes”, for many people four years seems to be a crossroads of sorts.  Many people I know are buying a piece of property and putting down roots at least part of the year. Others are coming off the road completely. Many of us who haven’t found a place we would like to settle are looking for a “route” where we can find a summer and winter “home.”  There are still lots of people I know who are traveling somewhat randomly, but almost everyone has slowed the pace from those first couple of years.  One point I would like to make though is using people who write blogs as the representatives of the lifestyle doesn’t tell the whole story.  I did the same thing by the way, but since we have been out here working we have met TONS of people that have been on the road for many, many years and the lifestyle of the working group is different than those who have lots of money in the bank.  (I also agree that there might seem to be a significant number of people that make some kind of major change to how they do this after four years. I think the reason for that might be that four years of heavy travelling or aimless wandering or racing from place to place can be exhausting for a lot of people. But I also think there’s no trustworthy data so I would have a hard time declaring anything. The scientist in me bristles at all that jumping to conclusions in the absence of verifiable facts. – Lee)

  1. Should “One” consider it safer to “WAIT” till in their 60’s and feel as if “this is now my NEW life?” Verses those in late forties early fifties who may consider the road as a “cool down period” then charge back into a daily grind?

My struggle has been finding work that is satisfying and maintaining a roving lifestyle.  The longer I get away from my old professional life the more of a gap I have in my resume and the harder it is to find that type of work.  I also find that emotionally I am less suited to a traditional 9-5 gig as time goes on and the postings I do see are much less appealing.   If I was 60+ I think I might care less.  At 52 I am looking at 13 more solid earning years and I hate to give up the money and satisfaction I get from working in my field.  If I had a job with a pension or had socked more money away I would probably feel differently, so really it is less about age than financial circumstance.  Simply put since I have to work, I want that work to have some meaning.  From a financial standpoint, I get nervous as our nest egg dwindles over time.  These are prime earning years and because of my lifestyle choice it feels like I am giving that away.  

All that being said I know several people who kept their corporate jobs on the road and even one who lost that job, found another, and is still living a mobile life.  I hear stories about the 30 somethings who work while on the road and they made sure they kept their corporate type jobs from day one.  My journey was a little different.  I wanted to try pure work kamping for a variety of reasons, but wasn’t really aware when I made that decision on how difficult it would be for me to jump back into my profession.  And to be clear I am not even 100% sure that I want to.  That’s the main conflict I am having right now. (I don’t feel the way she feels about career work. The work I did I could go right back to doing, although the last few times I did it as a freelancer I felt “not as young as I once was” for the first time. Show business is hard work. But I say the same thing to everyone I talk to about this; Do it. Don’t wait. People die or become incapable of doing this every day with little or no warning. The money will take care of itself. Be happy. At the end, we all go in the same size hole. – Lee)

 

  1. Again WHY did you 2 ponder such thoughts?

Lee rarely has these thoughts.  He had a career that required living in one place and he knew he might never work in it again.  For him the trade-off was more than worth it and he made the decision with that in mind.  I kept my job for the first year and knew that I had a skill set that was friendly to working remotely.  Because I have always done this lifestyle in baby steps, it has taken me longer to  come to terms with the sacrifices I might have to make professionally.  This summer and this job brought those things to the foreground and the subsequent job search has really brought those issues home.  I was stuck on the idea that I would have to spend the next 13 years working at jobs I didn’t enjoy because we wouldn’t stay in one place.  Those thoughts were in no way about not liking the lifestyle itself, but about not wanting to make that sacrifice.  I didn’t see why I couldn’t have both, and succinctly put, it was pissing me off. 

Then I had a conversation with my Mom. You know how sometimes your Mom can say the exact right thing at the exact right time? Well this was one of those times. Recently she lost her husband, sold her house and moved to her dream condo on the ocean in Myrtle Beach.  For the last several months she has been very happy, but misses what she gave up, living next door to my brother and one of her grandsons.  My Mom, who is a no-nonsense kind of chick, said “Best not to dwell on things you do not have when your life is so rich with experience.”  After I called her she went on to say that I have a pretty terrific life and better than many people my age.  Then she asked me why I would want to give that up for the possibility of something that I wasn’t even sure I wanted?  My answer, which came from the gut, was “fear”.  And really that’s what it comes down to.  Do I believe that it’s possible to find both meaningful work and continue to live the lifestyle? Yes. Do I think that is a certainty? No. Am I afraid the longer I do this the less likely it will be.? Yes.  

So I have three choices.

  1. I can give up on that and just take what jobs I get and find my peace with that. 
  2. I can continue to try to find jobs that allow me to stay on the road and give me satisfaction, allowing that it will be a ton of work and I will probably be disappointed quite a bit. 
  3. I can find a job, leave the road, and possibly reenter at a later time. 

These are all valid choices, by the way, and I have very close friends who chose one of these three routes in the past year.  For right now, I have decided to go with the middle option.  The downside for both of us is things remain unsettled.  The upside is we don’t have to settle. 

And if I can say one more thing and this is more to the general audience than just you, because I don’t want to assume anything.  When I started this lifestyle I thought it was an “all or nothing” proposition.  I thought the amount of time on the road mattered, and for me at least full timing was something I wanted to conquer and win in some way.  I don’t feel that way anymore.  It is an amazing and wonderful way to live sometimes, but it is not the romantic dream that I thought it would be.  Every year in November, I take stock of the trade-offs the previous year and decide if it was worth it.  I look at what we had to do for work, the mechanical issues we had, and the pictures we took.  The pictures tell the story and every year to date, this year included, the pictures (and the corresponding experiences) have won.  Some year they might not, and that’s OK.  Personally I don’t ever want to be in a place again where I am not living my best possible life.  What that looks like depends on lots of different factors, some of which are outside of my control. So that’s why I ponder these things, and I hope I continue to challenge myself to do so 🙂 (I don’t ponder these things at all, really. For me it’s mostly about practicalities, which I see as broken things to fix, or systems or processes that need tweaking. I already feel like I’m beating the system most of the time in this lifestyle, instead of the system beating me. I sleep better than I have in 30 years, I’m more relaxed, and I just generally feel like a better person most days. I’ll take that over how I used to feel any day of the week and twice on Sunday. – Lee)

Thanks for your time and sharing your life, and family with us.

Your very welcome.  Thanks for the interest and allowing me to share my thoughts with others. 

(Write in whatever color you want. It’s good for the soul. – Lee)

Trace


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

September 2018 Budget

With a concerted effort we did really well this month, spending only $2651.  We earned $3907 and ended up with a net gain of $1256, which was great!  For more details see below. 

 

Groceries – Really proud of this category this month because we only spent $321.  This was a concerted effort to eat what we had, partially to help save money and partially to lighten the load for when we started traveling. (Now watch October have a HUGE grocery expense because we are out of food and have to stock up. – Lee)

Dining Out – Most of this $70 overage was when we treated ourselves to the Red Lobster shrimp feast.  Some things are just worth it.

Memberships – We renewed our Work Kamper.com memberships and added a Working Couple.com  membership and resume.  We also purchased a years worth of Good Sam Roadside Assistance for only $40 (special), which I really felt we needed after we had the incident with the bearing going bad.  I am not a huge fan of Good Sam, but the few times we have needed it we eventually got the job done and the price was worth my piece of mind. 

New Equipment – We went over by $20 in this category purchasing items we needed for our upcoming move.  Lee completed a purge, which was nice, and in the process found some items missing or broken that needed to be replaced.  Since we are in a spot where we can receive mail we decided to take advantage of that.

Overall it was a good month, although I do want to mention we got smacked with a $4,000 bill for my biopsy.  This was a ridiculous amount of money for a procedure that took less than an hour and didn’t require an anesthesiologist.   When I called to discuss the bill I was told that we might qualify for a substantial discount because we don’t make that much money.  Since I thought the bill was crazy over priced to begin with I filled out the forms and sent them in and we will see what happens.  I wanted to mention it to be transparent, and will definitely update the previous post about being your own health care advocate.  I have the money in an HSA account to cover it, but I’ll be honest that high of a bill really freaked me out a bit. Hopefully the hospital will do the right thing and adjust it down to something reasonable.  Either way I’ll let you know. (Do not even get me started on how we have insurance and that this sort of thing should absolutely be covered, or I will yell at you for literally hours until you just give up. – Lee)


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

First Time Taking a DNA Test

For many years I have wanted to take a DNA test (for ancestry and health), but because of the cost (and a little bit of fear) I have put it off.  Recently my youngest daughter took the 23andMe DNA test and when I saw her results I decided to buy myself a birthday gift and get it done.  Although her main interest is in the ancestry, mine was for the health indicators.  In particular I have a grandfather on my father’s side and a great-grandfather on my mother’s side with Alzheimer’s, and wondered if I had the genetic marker.  Yes, I know the tests don’t tell the complete story, but since $199 was all I could afford (and that was a stretch) I decided to go ahead and purchase it.

The process itself was relatively easy.  I ordered the kit on Amazon and waited about a week until the kit came.  I thought I would swab the inside of my mouth, but you actually can’t smoke, drink, or eat for at least 1/2 an hour and then you spit into a test tube…which took longer than I thought it would.  You seal the tube and a solution mixes with your saliva and then you send the tube in a prepaid box to the lab.  I then waited another couple of weeks and then presto my results came.  While I was waiting I read quite a bit online about their site and read and agreed to 4 different release of information waivers.  I could have said no to all of them, but since my name would be kept private felt it was OK to release the info for research. I know some people would be nervous about this, but at my age I just wasn’t.

When the results came I was pretty fascinated and spent a couple of hours looking through all the data.  I will say I wish there were more tests that they were able to do, but found the ones they did pretty accurate.  To give you an idea of the types of things I learned I will share some screenshots here.  It is by no means comprehensive, but some of the items that really jumped out at me.

First I looked at my ancestry summary and found (no big surprise) that I am 99.7% European white.  This was actually a big disappointment to me, because we had some family lore that a great-grandfather was native American which turns out to not be true.   Personally I would have loved to have some more diversity in my genetic makeup, but it is what it is.

Next I looked at my genetic relatives, none of who I recognized, except for my daughter.  What was impressive to me was I never told them this was my daughter, they just knew from our genetic testing.  I am a little bummed that she is 50.1% Lee though.  Not sure how he sneaked that extra .2% in there! The most interesting part of the ancestry was the high amount of Neanderthal variants I have.  Being in the 98% of anything is always interesting and this was a surprise.  Turns out in Germany at one time there were three distinct groups of humanoids who cross bred.  The Neanderthals died out but their DNA did not.  Despite the large amount of markers the only thing they know they mean is I am less likely to have back hair.  I’m all for that, although it seems weird to me, but they are pretty honest that because they are working off old bones they don’t really know what a lot of these variants mean.  I’ve always had a pretty strong fight or flight reflex, so I am going with that being because of my Neanderthal variants.

 

I didn’t spend a ton of time in this section, and by the way, if you are only interested in ancestry my understanding is the Ancestry.com kit is a better choice. My mom did that one and is pretty happy with it.  The medical testing seems to be better with 23andMe and those were the reports I spent the most time on. First I looked at the Genetic Health Risks and I was thrilled that I didn’t have genetic risk factors for any of the items they tested for.  In a few cases I have one marker, but that wasn’t enough to have a risk and for many (Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s in particular) I have no risk factors at all.  To be very clear, other factors can contribute to getting these diseases, but it was really nice to see.

Super happy with this one, although it doesn’t rule out early onset Alzheimers

 

I also liked that it had a section for each one that talked about lifestyle activities that could lessen your risk

 

This was another good one to be cleared of

 

 

I found this particularly interesting because my great-grandmother on my mother’s side had macular degeneration so I was glad I didn’t have both genetic variants

After testing negative for all 9 items I looked at the carrier traits section. There were 43 of those and could impact my children so again I was thrilled to see no variants detected in every single category. Although many of these I did not recognize, I think it would be really good to know if you were a carrier…especially as a parent.

Next I looked at a Wellness report which was a little weird.  It talked about whether I was likely to have certain traits based on my genes and although it was all true I am not sure how important it is.  Each one had a more detailed description.  I was particularly happy to see I was under the average weight for my age and ancestry and even within the CDC recommended guidelines.  I need to cut myself a break on the mid life chubbiness.

 

 

Hoooray!!

 

This was even better. I cheated a little; my weight fluctuates between 135 and 140 but I’m still good either way!

 

I played sports in high school and both my parents were very athletic so this wasn’t a surprise but good to know. What it doesn’t take into account is how extreme nearsightedness and poor depth perception impacted my ability to play sports at an elite level.

 

The last thing I looked at was traits and these were definitely hit and miss. My musical pitch to my everlasting regret is not good, although all three of my daughters can sing, so maybe I was a carrier on that one.  I have a cleft chin, my big toe is not the longest, and I think mosquitoes find me particularly delicious.  Still, most of them were true, although again not sure how important these types of things are in the grand scheme of things. 

 

Overall I am really glad I did it and sent the results to my kids, siblings, and mom.  Proceed with caution though because those stories of people finding out things they didn’t want to know are absolutely true.  If you want you can actually skip the ancestry and just get the medical test done, if that is where your interest lies. As a curious person I am glad I did it, but then again there were no big surprises (neanderthal variants aside) in the results.  Knowledge is power, as they say, and I am happy to have this knowledge and whatever new tests come out in the future. That’s just me though.


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

When in Doubt…Waterfalls

Lee and I have spent the last few days trying to process what’s next for us, and work through a range of feelings.  When faced with uncertainty in this new lifestyle, we find it’s helpful to go back to the basics and reconnect with why we started this journey to begin with. So on Wednesday we decided to do just that. Early in the season I picked a book up at the local library sale called Romance of Waterfalls .

The book I picked up was written in 1998, and details over 100 waterfalls in our area, many of which we have never seen.  So we started out early in the morning with a list and what turned out to be some very weird directions.  Many of these waterfalls are lesser known and directions included things like “Turn left at the Meadows Ski Resort sign,” or “turn right near the Dell sawmill.”  Unfortunately things do change in 20 years (I am sure the newest version has updated directions) and that coupled with spotty cell coverage made our initial search a little frustrating.  Eventually we found our first spot and entered a closed and overgrown park that led to Punchbowl Falls.

We ultimately found this place by putting Punchbowl Falls into our GPS and came to a rusty gate and a beat up sign

 

Undeterred we entered the walking area of the gate and found this sign in much better condition

 

There wasn’t a clear path to see the falls and no viewpoint to speak of

 

But in several places you could walk to the cliffs edge and take a peek. This new diving sign was surprising

 

Because who would dive off that pointy rock into that!!

 

The falls themselves were just ok

 

But the views were awesome. Fall colors were starting and you could see Mount Hood off in the distance although it is hard to see in this picture

 

One of the most interesting things was across the way there was a derelict staircase that was falling apart in most places

We could hear a second set of falls and this is where the book came in handy because we knew if we kept walking we would see Dead Point Creek Falls.  The second set of falls was less than 50 feet away, but since it was so overgrown it was hard to get a good picture.  It is a shame because what little we could see looked pretty cool, but since we couldn’t see an easy way to get to the base of the falls, we had to be satisfied with our view from across the river.

Dead Point Creek Falls

Lee was just happy to be out, but I was a little disappointed.  Definitely not the wow factor I was looking for, but I decided to go back to the book and try one more place.  One of the exits along I-84 (Exit 55 east bound only exit) was supposed to have a waterfall less than 100 yards from the restroom.  Despite the fact that we were headed westbound and had to back track a little I decided to check it out, and wow was I glad we did.  I’ve passed this rest area at least 50 times in the last couple of years and never stopped there.  Although it is NOT big rig friendly, it is a charming place to stop, with a modern and extremely clean restroom and three (yes three!) waterfalls with easy access within a very short distance.

There is a State Park that borders on the rest area

 

Really terrific restrooms

 

And a paved trail to a waterfall and picnic area that is within 100 feet

 

Really nice picnic area

 

Initial views of the falls are obscured by two giant boulders which might be why this area doesn’t get more attention

 

 

But Lee walked the rough and wet path behind the rocks

 

And wow were we glad we did

 

There was a very cool group of cairns across from the falls

 

And another very close by

 

Lee’s pic

 

Plus we got great views of the very top which was two streams of water coming together

 

And we could stand on rocks super close to the falls and amazingly not get wet. That was neat

Great pics were possible because we could stand right below

This was what I was looking for and we spent a ton of time there before heading to the southwest corner of the parking lot and onto a second trail.  Again the book came in handy because it told us two other waterfalls existed within .2 miles of the rest area and since the road was a paved path it was definitely worth the walk.

In case you were wondering the creek got it’s name because a group of train travelers were stuck for three weeks here trying to dig themselves out. No one starved to death but they did get very hungry in the three weeks it took to clear the tracks

 

This sign near the trail shows all of the waterfalls in the area

 

Although it was too close to the freeway in many places the views of the river were pretty

 

This trail is actually part of historic highway 30 but this section is closed to cars

 

About a tenth of a mile we saw this sign to cabin creek falls, although you could see the falls from the road

 

 

The walk along the woods was absolutely beautiful

 

Since it was a beautiful day we decided to walk another tenth of a mile to Hole in the Wall Falls. I was particularly interested in this waterfall because a hole was created by engineers to change the direction of the falls since they often flooded the road.  I’ve never really seen anything like that and was so glad we walked the additional bit because not only was it a cool engineering feat but also a very pretty falls.

Make a left when you see this paved path. There was no sign but the falls are slightly visible

 

Another nice picnic area near the falls

 

Really pretty and a pretty little bridge

 

Lee got a great shot of the hole they created.  Amazing.

 

That walk and those falls definitely cleared my head. Afterward we went to Camping World (always fun for full-time RVers) where Lee bought a new chair and I bought a new light-up rug on clearance.  Then we ate at my favorite local restaurant Sweet Tomatoes,  I absolutely love their mushroom soup.  And finally we stopped at the Salvation Army and took advantage of a 50% off sale to get two new (to me) pairs of jeans and a flannel shirt.  Simple pleasures, simple life, simple time together.  It’s important that we don’t lose site of that.


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.