February Budget

We went over budget by around $1700 in February, but that was largely due to the wedding.  Because the monthly rate was cheaper in Charleston, we double paid for a week of campground fees and eating out and gifts all had extra expenses as well.  But it’s not every day that your niece gets married so it was what it was. For more detail see below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Campsite Fees – We went over by $370 because we double paid for one week. 

Clothing – Lee had “outgrown” his dress clothes so had to purchase new shirts and a jacket.  The funny thing about these clothes is we rarely wear them so it seems like every time we have an event we have to rebuy.  I used something I had purchased for work which worked for me, but Lee lives in jeans and rarely wears anything else.

Dining Out – We went over by around $450.  This was partly eating on the run and also dinners with friends and family.

Home Repair – We have had mismatched RV tire rims for some time now and it was driving Lee crazy.  He got new rims and paid to have them mounted.  He also bought a jack so he could remove the tires himself.  All in we spent about $1K in this category in February.

Truck Fuel – Despite all the running around our truck fuel stayed below budget which was nice.

That’s all I have for this month. Lee’s normal stats will be up in a few days after we help our daughter’s family move!

 

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

Attending a Wedding in a COVID World

Last week my niece got married and despite COVID decided she wanted to have a reception.  This put me in an awkward situation because I love my niece dearly but frankly did not agree with her decision.  My choices were further complicated by the fact that my husband and I share a 400 square foot RV so social distancing from each other is simply not practical.  I was keenly aware that any decision I made was also a decision for him, so we definitely needed to be in agreement.

Despite my love for my niece I probably would not have attended except for two things.  First and foremost, my sister was a HUGE help at the weddings of two of my daughters, and I wanted to be there for her as she was for me.  Second, this family has experienced significant loss from the suicide of my nephew a year ago, and I knew this event was a way for them to try and move forward. Thankfully my brother, mother, and father had all had their vaccine shots so really it was just Lee and myself in my immediate family I needed to worry about.  All three of my daughters had declined to come.

After talking it through and being very open with my sister, Lee and I decided to attend only the portions of the event we felt were safest.  None were completely safe, but we did what we could to mitigate our risk and tried to keep things as close to how they would be for us if we didn’t go. We left Charleston and went back to Rock Hill on a Sunday with the intention of spending a week helping her as we were able.  On Thursday many of the other family members came into town and we all went out to an Italian dinner.  The restaurant put us at two long tables, but Lee and I requested a separate booth of our own.  It was kind of a bummer being that far away, but at least we were able to be in the room, and this was no different than if we had gone out to eat on our own.

We are on the right you can see my head poking out

 

My brother-in-laws family

 

My family

The next day we went to the venue and helped set up the reception hall.  I took the day off to help as much as possible and Lee and I spent most of the day assisting.  I felt really good about that, because we were able to provide some value.  About 25 people were in a space that holds 150, but at times it definitely felt tight.  The helpers were pretty good about wearing their masks, but the families not so much.  Lee and I did our best to social distance as we did our tasks, but it was hit and miss.

The venue was a converted barn, really pretty

 

My brother was there as well and he is always a huge help at these things. His daughter is only 12 but he gets the help next 🙂

 

We spent a ton of time ironing tablecloths and setting up tables

 

My brother and my Dad

 

It was wonderful seeing Josh (my brother-in-law) and his sister laughing together

 

The groom, his mom, and my niece

My sister is super crafty and there were lots of loving little touches everywhere.

All the grown cousins together

After setting up they all went to the church for the rehearsal, but Lee and I met up with them for the rehearsal dinner.  The restaurant was really great and had awesome decor and once again we were seated at a table all to ourselves, which was nice.

This was the coolest thing, it was a bed frame hung on the ceiling with lights in it

 

And we loved this light fixture at our table

Abram loves Lee and he did a wonderful job of keeping his mask on when we was around us.

 

My brother, Mom, and Dad

 

Josh’s sister, future son-in-law, and daughter

 

We had a choice of three different entrees and my steak was delicious.  The pork chops were even better.

The next day they decided to have the family back at the reception venue for wedding pictures prior to the ceremony.  The kids were doing first look at the venue which made things a little easier, but the taking of pictures was awkward.  It was pouring down rain and we only had a small outside spot to work with plus of course the pictures were without masks.  We probably shouldn’t have taken them at all, but who wants to be that person and at least we were outside in the fresh air when we did it.

My super cutie patooty nephew Abram.  The sneakers and suspenders were awesome

 

Jake and Abram

My nephew Alec. Wow he’s almost grown up

Josh’s family

My family

Mom and Alec

The classic car that ferried the couple back and forth all day

My sister

The church itself was very safe as masks were provided and it was immediate family only, about 40 people.   I was disappointed that no one on the grooms side wore masks but everyone wore one on our side and we had a pew all to ourselves, with an empty pew in front of us and behind us.

Bailey was stunning walking down the aisle

And I absolutely adored her dress

The happy couple Bailey and Preston

After the ceremony we went back to our RV, because the reception was just too risky for us, and we left to go back to Charleston the following morning without seeing anyone else.   The kids had a wonderful time I heard and I was able to get a picture of their first dance from my Mom.  Looking forward to seeing the video and thankfully as far as I know no one got sick from the event.  It is a difficult time for so many things and we all just have to make the best choices we can.  I wanted to share it with you all though because this has been a big part of the last couple of weeks

One last thing I would like to say.  Culturally accepted behavior around COVID is extremely different in the rural versus city areas.  As we have traveled we have seen that it is less north versus south rather it is rural versus urban.  These two different worlds are starkly different when it comes to the virus and as best we can, Lee and I are trying to navigate both.  I am sure many of you are in the same situation.

When Lee looked at this post, he immediately noticed how few people were wearing masks in the pictures.  It was definitely a mixed bag and as the weekend wore on less people did.  He asked me what I was trying to say by this post, and I guess the answer to that is it is hard.  It is easier to always make the safest choicest when there are few demands on you, but when you have something you really want it is much tougher.

Objectively should I have stayed at home…yes.  Am I glad I went…yes.  And I am trying to reconcile those two very real emotions. I imagine many other people are doing the same.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t get judgmental about those people who throw caution to the winds.  I do. And you certainly have the right to get judgmental about what I did.  But keep in mind that at the end of the day we all have to live our life in a way we can live with ourselves.  I needed to be there for my sister, and at the end of it all did the best that I could to honor that and stay safe.


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

First Time on a Podcast

Recently Lee and I had the privilege of participating in the Work Kamper Show podcast.  If you would like to hear the interview click on the picture below.

Tracy and Lee Perkins talk about their six-year adventure on Episode 108

If you are new to our site and not sure where to start, I will recommend a few links.

  • One of the most popular features of our site is our budgets and to see six years worth click here.
  • Interested in our work kamping experiences?  Check out our summary page here.
  • Want to know how we made it all happen?  Here is our Becoming Fulltimers Step by Step page
  • And finally for those of you who are interested in our take on the emotional experience, I have written numerous posts on the emotional journey.  Here are the links to annual summaries to get you started.

I strive to write the blog that I wish I could of read and hopefully it is helpful.  Any questions, please feel free to contact us at camperchronicles@gmail.com.

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

 

#Baby Breakout

One of the coolest things about being a grandma is grabbing your grandchild and having a day of adventure.  Unfortunately we don’t have a back seat in our truck so in order to take the baby we needed to borrow Kyrston and Jeremy’s car.  Since it is a new one, they weren’t crazy about that idea (I get it), but finally one morning they both agreed to let us take Oliver out just us. Needless to say Lee and I were super excited!!  We decided to go to the Children’s Museum downtown and scheduled the first available timed slot.  In order to control crowd size all the slots were prescheduled and we were happy to get a slot.

Grandpa pushing the stroller.

In a pre-covid world this would be packed on a Saturday but barely anywhere there

The Children’s Museum has five large rooms (each themed) and a terrific toddler area.  We allowed him to roam the place at will although we ended up spending most of our 2 hour window in the toddler zone.

Grandpa can science

Pirate Ship!!!

I loved the grocery area but unfortunately the bins were a little high for Oliver

The tool center had lots of cool tools

And a 3D printer

Lee got VERY excited about the theater area

I loved the paint area

Especially the table with toddler seats

We painted a picture

The toddler area was the best

 

He loved this Melissa & Doug Cutting Fruit food playset so much I bought him one of his own

After the children’s museum we decided to get Oliver a pair of big boy shoes.  I knew Kyrston wanted to get them so decided to take that task off her plate.  I have to say I miss Payless because we went to three different places before we finally found the pair we wanted.  He was super patient with the whole process though and he loves his light up Paw Patrol shoes. 

Watching him watch his feet light up was amazing

And last but not least we had to get McDonald’s.  Our first Happy meal and a great way to cap off the morning!!!

Absolutely fantastic grandma and grandpa morning and we loved every minute of it!!


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.

First Time in Beaufort, SC

As we travel across the country we have the opportunity to visit places we would probably never go.  We will pass by a relatively small town that we have heard of in our lives and will stop by just to see what it is like.  Sometimes these small towns don’t have much  of interest (Roswell, NM comes to mind), but it’s nice to check the box and say we have been there.  So when I was looking for something to do last Sunday, we decided to go down to Beaufort, SC.  

I knew the town name from one of my favorite authors Pat Conroy (Prince of Tides, Great Santini) but I didn’t know much about it.  Still it was nice to get out and it was a pleasant drive.   And sometimes when you just drive something really wonderful happens.  Turns out that Beaufort, SC is a VERY old town with streets that originated in 1711.  And the houses…wow just gorgeous and we spent some time just driving around the small side streets looking at the most amazing restored homes. 

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It wasn’t just the houses…it was also the beautiful old oak trees.  I have never seen anything quite like it in a residential area and even with the rain it was absolutely beautiful. 

I have never seen a tree crossing a road like this.

Clearance was 10 feet

Everyone has heard of the beautiful old homes in Charleston and Savannah but these were just as great.

This was my favorite…built in 1850

The working gas lights in front of many of the homes were amazing

Tidalholm was used in the movie The Great Santini and The big Chill

Interspersed throughout the home were beautiful channels and marsh

And several small park areas

And right next to the historic neighborhood was an old armory that is open to the public.

After leaving the neighborhood we drove through the small downtown with shops and stumbled across a Pat Conroy museum.  I had no idea it was there and better still it was actually open open a Sunday.  So we parked quickly and went inside.  It was a small building (free to enter) and was a treasure trove of artifacts.  

A jacket from The Price of Tides movie

The jacket from the Great Santini movie

Pictures of Pat

They even had his writing desk and allowed people to sit in his chair …gave me chills.

Pat’s hat when he went to the Citadel

A beautiful quilt

A note board which is lovely

They had many items for sale including these great small wall plaques

What a lovely surprise this day was, and the Literary Center was amazing.  To cap the day off, we took Jack to Fish Hall beach during a break in the rain.  This beach is the Gullah area on the outside of Hilton Head and is very dog friendly.  

We did see this sign when we entered which made me worry a little bit for Jack 🙂

Love…love this picture!

One last thing..we were super close to Parris Island so we drove right up to the gate.  We could have gone farther but neither of us thought that was a good idea, but it was neat to see Parris Island…at least the entrance to it.  Lots of cool stuff in this area. 

 

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.

Impact of Fulltiming on my Marriage

     Today Lee and I are celebrating our 32nd wedding anniversary.  It is also the 6th anniversary we have had while on the road and I thought it might be a good time to stop and take stock of how this lifestyle has impacted our marriage.  Although I have touched on this issue many times, I have been hesitant to write a post solely dedicated to the subject.  Which is weird because it was one of my main concerns when going on the road. I understood instinctively that we were playing with live ammo when it came to that and that level of change would be significant, for good or ill.  

So why have I shied away from talking about it?  Well, it’s highly personal, for one thing and I didn’t want to open myself up to judgement.  Also everyone’s marriage is very different and I hesitated to draw conclusions in case they were misunderstood.  At this point though I feel confident that the folks who read this blog can make the distinction between my life and theirs.  And I am extremely lucky that my readers mostly keep their judgements to themselves 🙂  So draw whatever conclusions you wish to from this post and I will do my best to be as honest as I can stand. 

Those who have been reading for awhile know that I like to look at patterns and timelines, so let me go back to the beginning and see where that takes us.  My very first post about this subject was in Feb 2015 and it was creatively titled First Anniversary on the Road.  I wrote a nice summary of our life together and then wrote, “…if it wasn’t for Lee this wouldn’t be my life.  I would never have had the vision or the courage to completely turn things upside down and start this adventure.  He brings those things to our marriage and I am so incredibly grateful to him for it. Plus he can still kiss me in a way which makes me tingle which is a really good thing 🙂 And he makes me laugh…oh, how he makes me laugh…”

This was written during our first three months on the road and although there was lots of change and stress around that change, Lee and I were a bit giddy and more passionate in our relationship than we had been since we were kids.  I can’t speak to other people’s passion, but I can attest to numerous people I know getting very giddy from their newfound freedom right after they start full timing.  It is definitely a rush with lots of excitement and for us at least some of that emotion translated into passion.  It was also the first time in 25 years we had no children in the house which didn’t hurt either! 

Unfortunately for us those early feelings didn’t last and as more time passed in the lifestyle, that side of things calmed down.  In April I wrote a post called Changing Relationships that talked about what was happening in our marriage.  I wrote, “There are lots of reasons people start full-time RVing.  The desire for adventure, wanting to live with less rules, the need for simplicity in their life, there are a myriad of reasons.  But for me the absolute number one reason was a desire to strengthen my marriage….It has been hard on our relationship these last few months but it’s also been great for our relationship.  We are talking more to each other than we have since we were young together and trying to figure it all out.  We are challenging each other to be better. And most importantly we are loving each other more deeply.”  

Even that early on I recognized that something very important was happening.  I used the blog as a means of writing about those feelings and to help me understand what was happening.  Looking back I am pretty proud of how much time we spent on our marriage during this time period and how we kept it front and center during the transition.  This changed as I grappled with whether or not to quit my corporate job and I spent more time thinking about myself and the marriage took a back seat. I talked about these struggles in Changing the Way I Define Myself and Identity Crisis.  My work was a huge part of how I defined myself and giving that up had a huge impact that took me a few years to deal with. 

During this time period when we were trying different jobs and figuring out how to support our lifestyle working low level positions, I really struggled.  At times I would fall into the trap of blaming Lee for the path our lives had taken and would have to pull myself out of that mindset because I knew we had made the decisions together every step of the way.  In some ways it didn’t help that things were so uneven.  What I mean by that is some jobs were just fine and our time off was great, but when we had a miserable job it was miserable.  In those times, it was hard not to be resentful that I had left a perfectly good job and the benefits of the lifestyle didn’t always outweigh the challenges.  

One thing I realized pretty early on is I needed more in my life.  This caused some friction with Lee.  He was largely very content with our life and the jobs we had and didn’t understand why it wasn’t enough for me.  I knew I was hurting his feelings, which wasn’t my intent, but I was trying on a new suit of clothes and everything felt too tight.  I missed the respect and mental challenge that I experienced in my old job and needed some outlet for my creativity.  Lee has always been a person who finds ways to be creative in everything he does, but for me that ability came late in life and I sorely missed it.  To meet that need I became more involved in the blog (which eventually led to my book) and I started cooking more.  Lee often felt that those activities were ways to avoid being with him, but it really was about me trying to steady myself. 

And to be honest it was a tough transition to spend so much time together.  We went from both working long hours and my traveling to us working and living together all the time.  For both of us this was a transition, because the kids had been a buffer of sorts for many years and now it was just the two of us.  This is a pretty common phenomenon as people go through empty nest, but few people simultaneously are living together for the first time in a 400 square feet of rolling space. In retrospect I think it would have been good to work through some empty nest issues prior to going on the road, but at the time we thought the adventure would help us. 

And it did in some ways.  The constant change of scenery was a welcome distraction and we always did better when we were in new places, but you take who you are with you wherever you go and unless you are willing to constantly travel sooner or later you will be in a place long enough for those distractions to not be enough.   I want to be really clear here this was simply our experience and everyone is different.  For us though a new place was very much a shiny new toy and since we didn’t want to ruin the experience we often kicked our marriage issues down the road….literally. 

One of the reasons I was really struggling was for the first time in years I didn’t feel self-sufficient.  I wrote a post called Solo Strategy that summed up my dilemma if something should happen to Lee.  I wrote, ” Our lives are completely entangled in each other now, in a good way, but what I never really thought about was how vulnerable that would make me. I spent years working myself into a position of independence.  Not because I didn’t love Lee, but because I needed to know I could stand on my own two feet. Over the last three years I have intentionally given most of that away. ”  The combination of not making enough money to support myself and living in an environment that I couldn’t manage on my own really got to me.  I know I am certainly not the only person in the lifestyle to worry about this but I also know that this is not a problem for many people.  As hard as I tried I couldn’t think my way out of these feelings and my unhappiness was really impacting our marriage.  

In January 2019, after a particularly disappointing Work Kamping Job, I decided to seriously pursue consulting work.  Lee was willing to let me try anything that would   make me happy but there were several restrictions around the type of job I could take.  Those restrictions coupled with a “hole” in my resume made the task much more difficult than I thought it would be.  It didn’t help that we were gate guarding and I was working 4pm – 4am shifts and scheduling phone interviews when trucks were rolling by was not easy.  When I wrote our five year summary in January I mentioned our 30 year anniversary and stated, “It didn’t help that in the middle of all this we had our 30th anniversary and even though we luckily had a few days off work we didn’t do anything to celebrate it.  Milestones are important to me, but not so much for Lee, and generally we manage to find some middle ground on celebrating them.  This time though nothing we could do felt right and we ended up doing nothing which really bothered me.  I knew I was unhappy with the way things were going and it became obvious that Lee felt the same way.  I had been so focused on myself and my own feelings I didn’t see that he was also struggling.”

I didn’t really understand at the time how bad things had gotten, because I was really focusing almost solely on myself at that point. Things were not fine from Lee’s side of things, but it wasn’t until the anniversary that I really realized how bad things were.  Since we were going right back to working opposite gate guarding shifts until our break in April, I didn’t think there was much we could do about it and then in March, Lee had a heart attack .  This was a major catalyst event in our marriage for several reasons.  From my perspective some of my worst fears were finally realized and I was traumatized by the fact he had almost died in front of me when we were alone in a remote area.  He woke up knowing just how precious his life was and committed to no longer living in a way that did not make him happy.  

The next year was one of the toughest of our entire marriage.  We weren’t communicating, we both were dealing with individual PTSD and our attempts at counseling in Oregon did not go well.  The one positive event in this year was we became grandparents and that event did help remind us of why we were together.  In September,  I was finally able to get a corporate job and for me at least it was a major step in getting myself back together.  Our marriage though was in trouble, but oddly the thing that probably helped us was COVID.  For one thing it forced us to stay in one place for 7 months and since we were with friends we had to maintain a certain level of politeness with each other.  It also provided an opportunity for us to find a virtual therapist.  Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy, but I am not sure we would have gotten serious about therapy unless we were forced to stay in one place for such a long period of time.  

It’s worth noting that the therapy has progressed much slower than I expected.  Seeing people virtually has its challenges and it took awhile for her to really understand our lifestyle.  More importantly the damage that had been done on both sides was more severe than either of us realized and 32 years of stuff can take awhile to get through.  We are making progress though and now that some of the financial pressure is off I think we both feel a bit better.  Things will probably never be the same as they were before the heart attack though, and for both of us that’s a good thing. I often miss what we were, but as Lee reminds me I do tend to look back with rose colored glasses. 

You know I started this post by talking about how the lifestyle impacted our marriage and I have to say that I am not completely sure that things wouldn’t have worked out the same regardless of where we lived.  Certainly the lifestyle makes it harder to hide from each other, and for what it’s worth promotes a certain level of practical co-dependency.  For example, we have to talk when we are getting ready to move, or arriving somewhere, because mostly that’s a two person job. We have to sleep in the same bed, because we literally do not have anywhere else comfortable to sleep.  We have to be sensitive on how we are sharing space because there is so little of it.  

So I guess, yes, it has changed our path.  No way all those things couldn’t impact our marriage.  Long term how it will turn out, who knows?  I am past the hubris of believing our marriage can survive anything.  I will say it has survived a lot, and despite it all we still love each other.  More importantly we enjoy traveling together.  But for me at least it can’t just be about heading to the next shiny thing and I don’t think that is enough for Lee either. The core of who were are is independent of our lifestyle.  That’s what we need to mend. 

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.

 

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.

January 2021 Budget

       Every January Lee and I sit down and we adjust our budget target numbers.  Generally we use trending data to make those decisions, but that was tougher this year because of COVID and our new way of traveling.  It was a good conversation though and Lee added several new categories because he wanted more data.  If you look at the picture below the new target numbers are in the middle column.  We went over by roughly $1,000 but these expenses were for the truck and new rims for two of the trailer tires.  Since those categories are based more on annual numbers, we are doing good so far!   Please see below for more information.

E- Cigarettes – I finally found a new solution for this and it should cost much less for the year.  I invested in two new dispensers and stocked up on juice locally, because I found a flavor I liked that is only made here.  Instead of spending roughly $5 a day on cartridges I will be filling my own and the juice is  $15 for two weeks.  

Groceries – I wanted to up our grocery budget but Lee wanted to leave it at $750.  We will see how that goes 🙂

Home Repair/Replace – Two new rims for our trailer wheels.  We have had non matching rims for quite some time and Lee finally found exact matches. 

Truck Maintenance – Oil Change and New Wipers 

As long as we are bringing more in than is going out I am good for 2021.  We keep putting a little bit back in savings every month which is great.  


Additional monthly data from Lee…

For December we used 429 GB of data on our AT&T unlimited plan, across all of our devices. (Total for the year is 429 GB, since it’s the first month!)

We took 836 pictures, mostly of Oliver!

This month we stayed in one place, and paid a monthly rate which worked out to $ 30.83 per day.

We didn’t move the rig at all this month, so we didn’t put any miles on the trailer. 

We put a 666.8 miles on the truck.

We burned a total of 49 gallons of diesel, and averaged 13.6 mpg. 

There’s no travel map for January, since we didn’t travel.


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.

Playgrounds Galore

One of the downsides of COVID for young first time parents is they face tough choices about socializing their kids.  Many of the normal things you would do are now riskier and thought needs to be put into whether or not to stay inside.  Our grandson is in that group of only children who have largely become mobile in a COVID world.  As a grandparent I really want to take him places and do things, but every choice is a conversation with his Mom and Dad about risk versus reward. That being said I think socialization is incredibly important at this age, so we have been able to take him a few places while we have been here.  Playgrounds seem to be something that works and for the indoor variety we go early in the morning and leave when it starts to get crowded.   It’s not perfect by any means but it has been fun for Oliver and allowed him to be in proximity to other kids his age.  

I wanted to share some of the pictures, because well he is a cutie patooty. These moments are not grand, sweeping nature vistas but they are just as precious to me. 

I finally got to go to Inslide Out…loved it

And I picked out his first build a bear

When he gave his new stuffed kitty a kiss…goodness full heart

Going by bye’s with grandma

he loved this really cool bell clanger

Lee sticks his tongue out like that 🙂

Swinging with grandma

When it got crowded we went and ran around in the baseball field

 

My beautiful daughter !

Finally we went to busy bee

This one is much larger and has a nice little restaurant

I’m ready to get in there !!

Grandpa is not a huge fan of taking his shoes off, but he will do it for Oliver

Oliver has no fear of the bigger play area which was fun. We got a work out following him

The individual play areas were really great.  Once again the grocery store was his favorite

Grandpa liked the movie theater

After all that hard work we were all hungry so left (again as soon as it got crowded) and went to an early lunch at Olive Garden.  It was Oliver’s first time and he did great!!

Took him a minute to appreciate the breadsticks

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.

An Unsettling Week

As a general rule I am not a huge fan of the first week of the New Year.  There is too much pressure on making resolutions, which I am not a huge fan of, and it’s also the time when people (news outlets) complete a retrospective on the closing year.  In general I am a person who likes to look forward, so I am not a big fan of that, and for 2020 in particular the retrospective is pretty depressing.  Personally I think Lee and I did the best we could with the information we had, and thankfully to the best of our knowledge we managed to avoid COVID.  This is no small feat considering how much travel we managed to squeeze in this year and some of that is due to luck, but it is also due to the extreme precautions we have taken. 

Maybe because of the year, or maybe not, we actually made a joint resolution this year.  We were watching a morning show and heard about picking one day a week as a “non-spend day”.  It sounded interesting and since our costs have been steadily going up we decided to give it a try.  We picked Monday, and its too early to tell if this will have any impact at all on our overall spending, but its an interesting experiment. 

I also committed to finding a cheaper solution for my e-cigarettes.  I was surprised to learn I spent more last year than both of us were spending previously on real cigarettes, and am attempting to switch from cartridges (which are expensive and sometimes difficult to find) to Vape juice. The added benefit of switching also adds “friction” to the system.  I listened to a really good NPR story about breaking habits and they have done scientific studies to show adding friction matters.  Their example was people whose gym is less than 3 miles away go 5 times a month, where people who have to travel 5 or more mile only go 1 time a month.  Essentially, people are kind of lazy, and if you make things harder they are less likely to do it.  I certainly resemble that remark, so having to fill a vape pod manually adds friction to the system, which will hopefully help me quit over time. 

All of those types of thing paled in comparison to the upcoming layoffs at my job.  One of the negatives of corporate work versus work-kamping is layoffs and restructuring are pretty common.  It was general knowledge that COVID was continuing to impact our business and right after the holidays is a pretty common time for changes to be made.  Normally in these circumstances I assess my position in my group (based on what my boss values) and I have a general idea of whether my number will come up depending on how deep the cuts go.  Unfortunately in my particular group there has been a ton of turmoil over the last several months and I really had no idea where I stood. 

In situations like this our lifestyle can really help us.  Having proven to ourselves we can live on far less money makes keeping my job less of an imperative than it would have been as a home owner, and we are truly mobile which means I can look for work anywhere.  The only downside is depending on who I am working for there may be a bias against all my travel.  Although I am getting better at explaining the lifestyle to my bosses, it takes time to prove to them that it really won’t impact my productivity.  As I often say, you shouldn’t notice anything other than a different view from my window, but that’s easier to say and takes some time to prove.  I am currently presenting the situation as a fact rather than an ask which has helped lower my stress rate quite a bit.  Since I was hired in with this understanding and we all work remote anyway to this point those conversations have gone well.  An unspoken bias against the travel could exist though, which might put me higher on a list of people to lay off.  I really have no way of knowing.

So that was my situation on Weds, when word started trickling in that people in my group were being let go.  After a few tense hours it became clear that the management team were the only people directly impacted and I called Lee to let him know.  His response was “have you turned on the television?” and that’s how I found out about the people being in the capital building.  Normally we don’t have TV in places we are staying, so I never have it on, and I was shocked when I saw the images.  I have to say at that point my brain just sort of shut down.  I have very strong feelings about what happened in the Capital, but I was also talking to people I cared about who had suddenly found themselves out of a job.  Since there wasn’t anything I could do about DC I focused on the people closest to me, and it took a couple of days for what happened in DC to really sink in. 

As someone who for the first time in her life participated in a peaceful protest this year, I was horrified by what I saw.  I will also say that when we marched to the Supreme Court building we couldn’t get anywhere close to the doors and we were largely a group of middle aged women.  That being said, there was no way the police could have kept us out if we really wanted to because there were so many of us and few of them.  What stopped us?  Patriotism.   

This is what it looked like when we approached the Supreme Court.  They wouldn’t let us anywhere close.

 

We certainly had enough people to push through this barrier.  Instead we peacefully protested outside it.

 

Contrast with this scene from last Weds (picture from Vox new site)

 

I am going to leave it at that.  I am grateful I still have a job.  I am saddened and disgusted by what I saw on Wednesday, and I fervently hope that 2021 is better than 2020 for all of us.  

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.

2020 Annual Budget

2020 was an unusual year.  Not only because of COVID but also because this was the first full year since 2015 that I had a corporate income.  Both of these factors impacted our spending, but overall I was somewhat surprised at how little the costs varied.  There were some big changes of course, but it wasn’t as stark a contrast as I thought it would be.  Before diving into 2020 in detail I wanted to show the comparison between the years. 

I think the most interesting fact is the averages.  When looking at trends, when we made more we spent more, and when we traveled more we spent more, but the averages take all that into account.  The six year view is not perfect, btw, as not all expenses are included in the main categories.   An example of an expense left off was when I paid for my daughter’s wedding for example, but the basic costs are all included.  In my opinion, that makes the $4,058 average monthly costs figure pretty accurate.  You can certainly use that figure as a base cost if you live frugally and do some volunteer/work kamping along the way.  If you would like to see detailed posts for previous years you can access that on our Budget page here

Below is a summary of this year, with some high level details.  As always we will be adjusting our budget going forward using past data. 

 

Campground Fees – This year we spent an all time high, $6,266 in campground fees.  This is actually pretty similar to what we spent the first year when we did minimal work-kamping.  It is definitely a concern though because we spent this in 6 months.

Groceries – This year we hit an all time high of $10,521 in groceries.  This was absolutely influenced by COVID as we stocked up on groceries several times when there were empty shelves.  We also paid what we had to for a variety of items we wouldn’t normally buy (ie: sanitizer, disinfecting wipes).

Gifts – This year there was a huge spike in this category, mainly because of my new grandson.  I expect another big year in 2021 because I am having another grandbaby.  Obviously this is completely discretionary (as you can see from prior years ). 

Healthcare – If you are seeing a difference between the 2020 totals here and in the year over year comparisons this is a big reason why.  Generally I do not include healthcare expenses in the basic categories because it varies so much from person to person.  I did include additional healthcare expenses in our budget this year though, because those costs have gone up for us as we have gotten older. 

Home Improvement – We have seen a stark uptick in the costs we spend on home improvement over the last two years.  Part of this was  voluntary improvements, but the other factor was things starting breaking at the 5 year mark and they keep breaking.  I will be interested to see if the bulk of the items have been taken care of at this point or the trend will continue. 

Tolls and Parking – This is another item that is absolutely an anomaly. Because there is very little of that in prior years this total of $1039 is also not included in the year over year comparison.

Truck Fuel – This figure was also absolutely impacted by COVID.  We did VERY little travel the first half of the year and it shows in the all time low spend of $3616.  

So that’s the main information.  I have included a more detailed view including Min, Max, and Averages for the year. 

 

For those of you who made it this far, I hope this was helpful.   Will be interesting to see what happens in 2021!

 

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on iTunes.