Year Two of Full timing was another year of great change so I thought it was worth several posts summarizing the experience. At the end of year one I wrote a “by the numbers” post Year 1 overview and a post on the emotional aspects. I liked that formula and plan on doing the same thing this time. Also, since I am tracking our budget based on the calendar year, there will be another post covering Year 2 expenses and revenue in January.
I tried several ways to create one map showing our route, but finally just gave up and created two. The first picture shows the first part of the year and the second shows Alaska and the return back to the states.
Truck Miles – The trailer traveled 15,558 miles in Year Two. This year we did not have a second vehicle for the entirety (I turned in my company car last year) and the truck traveled 33,710 miles. Thus, we traveled an additional 18,152 miles with the truck alone. For those who are interested, the new engine (which was replaced right before we started Year Two has 33,915 miles on it (since being installed) and the truck itself (which is what the warranty goes by) has 58,743 miles. The number of miles we put on the truck is a concern, but since the Alaska trip caused a spike in both the trailer and truck numbers, we really think we need at least another year to get a feel for what this will look like over time. (I’m not concerned about the truck miles so much. It’s a diesel, and I’m told that they go trillions of miles. – Lee)
Travel Pattern – We still like to pick an area and stay in it for an extended period of time, but this year we spent more time than expected traveling to get to places. The main cause of that was business and family obligations on the east coast that necessitated a cross country trip right before Alaska. We don’t regret that decision because it allowed us to attend my nephew’s adoption party and an RV-Dreams Rally, but from a travel perspective it certainly added some additional miles. This may not be an unusual occurrence though as we prefer to travel in the West, but most of our family resides in the east. Again we will need to see how that plays out over time. Despite the often crazy travel schedule though we did get to spend chunks of time in different areas, and those are listed below.
- Weott, CA – 4 weeks volunteering at Humboldt State Park in the Redwood Forest
- Quartzite, AZ – We spent roughly 5 weeks in Quartzsite (we left, then came back)
- City of Rocks, NM – We spent 10 days with Cori and Greg at the City of Rocks which was a major bucket list item of mine
- Glenallen, AK – We spent almost 4 months in Alaska work kamping, fulfilling one of Lee’s major bucket list items
- Sidney, MT – We spent 39 days working the beet harvest
- New Braunfels, TX – We will be spending almost 2 months selling Christmas trees.
In between these stays we mostly traveled, with usual pattern being 300-350 miles a day and an overnight stay then moving on. We did spend a couple of weeks last March exploring the Tuscon/Benson area with Cori, Greg, Bill, and Kelly. And we spent some time exploring New Mexico on our own, but mainly we just traveled to get from point A to point B with a few stops to see friends/family along the way. This is not necessarily our preference, by the way, but so far a couple of factors are driving that. First and foremost, our schedule of commitments has been tight and necessitated long travels days with minimal meandering along the way. But to be completely honest we (or I should say I) am not that great at just wandering aimlessly. I would like to be, but when I was faced with a full month of travel days to get from New Mexico to South Carolina, I almost immediately started to fill that time up with friend visits. It was wonderful, we saw tons of people as we went across the country, but Lee was a little disappointed that I didn’t leave more open days. I tried, I really did, but was really uncomfortable without a schedule of some kind. Eventually though we would both like to see what traveling with no set schedule is like, I’m just not sure when I’ll be ready for that to be honest.
Truck and RV Repairs and Upgrades
Although I will be covering this in the financial summary as well, I think this discussion also deserves a place here. The amount of Truck and RV Repairs in Year 2 was more frequent that I expected. I shouldn’t have been that surprised as we put more mileage on the trailer in one year than some people put on one in it’s lifetime, but we both were. Our two year manufacturer’s warranty on the RV expired in May and we developed several issues right after that expiration. Although we have an extended warranty that covers some of the costs, not everything (as you will see) was covered.
- January – We spent around $300 this month on a fresh water pump and portable fresh water tank (along with other miscellaneous repair items) while we were in Quartzsite. We needed those items to boon dock comfortably and they were one-time expenditures we were expecting.
- February – Lee accidentally left our surge protector in the parking lot campground of Circus Circus. We called as soon as we realized it, but it was already gone, not surprising in that atmosphere. It was going to cost around $200 to replace, but Lee wanted to upgrade and hardwire the surge protector and voltage regulator inside the rig so this could never happen again. The upgrade cost us an unexpected $500 in total, but we never have to worry about them being stolen and it saves Lee time during his setup process.
- April – We bought 4 new rear dually tires because their treads were too low for the trip to Alaska which cost $1,013. Lee shopped around for these tires and ultimately got the best deal possible (we ended up using Costco), but anyway you slice it, it’s not cheap. I was surprised that the tread was worn that quickly, but we had put over 40,000 miles on the truck at this point.
- May – Right after we replaced the dually tires the shackle strap broke on our RV. Since the manufacturer’s warranty ran out, we relied on our extended warranty, but that would only cover the one broken strap. We, in conjunction with our repair tech, felt an upgrade on all straps was called for, especially with our upcoming trip to Alaska. We paid for the non broken straps to be fixed. Our cost was $747 and this was totally unexpected. Worse, this repair cost us a week of travel and stopped us from spending that week with our daughter. The time bothered me more than the money, but ultimately I felt grateful this happened in a campground near my sister and not in the middle of the Yukon.
- September – The truck air conditioner died and we were having problems with the alignment on the truck. The AC unit was covered under warranty, but the alignment was not, which ended up costing us $448. This repair was incredibly stressful, because the truck was 3 hours away in Wasilla and we were in a rental for a couple of weeks and we had a VERY hard time getting a commitment that the work would be done by the time we needed to leave Alaska for Sidney. On the plus side, it turned out that a tie rod was extremely loose and if we hadn’t had the alignment checked, it is very likely we could have lost that tie rod and done significant damage. And again this could have happened on our trip home, possibly in the Yukon. I mention the Yukon specifically because there are VERY long stretches with minimal services and that is one of the worst places I can think of to have a major repair issue.
Overall we had $3,208 in incremental costs this year and that is with an extended RV warranty, full truck warranty, and truck maintenance plan. And unlike last year I don’t feel this is anomalous. Rather, I think over time these costs have the potential to increase as everything gets older.
Top 10 Things We Saw
- The Redwood Groves. We started the year with fulfilling a childhood dream of mine. Touching those trees was simply magical. I have never felt closer to nature than in those moments. Yes, we spent a month there and it rained for 10 straight days, but those first few days in the groves were priceless.
- The Rose Bowl Parade. Another dream of mine since childhood and it definitely did not disappoint. I have watched this parade every year since childhood and Lee even talked me into getting our first big screen TV by talking about watching football and the Rose Bowl Parade on it, so it was a big deal to me to see it in person. (I’m not stupid. I know my audience. -Lee) What made it even better was we attended the event via an Escapees HOP we met some great people and attended some events we probably would not have seen under other circumstances.
- Seeing and then walking on Worthington Glacier, fulfilled a major bucket list item for me. Lee said it was one of the Top 5 things he had done since we started the lifestyle. What made it very special, was it had a surprise waterfall inside the glacier. For us it was the perfect day.
- The Lost Coast was one of our long drives that unexpectedly ended in a magical place. The Lost Coast of California is wild and isolated and the herd of Elk put the experience over the top. I am not a tent camper, but if we had one, I would have happily pitched it and spent the night there it was so wonderful.
- There are so many amazing moments in Alaska, I could fill this list with them, but my favorite was the Denali Hwy. It was wild, it was vast, and it was untamed, and we did it together.
- Spending my 50th birthday with friends on a Glacier Cruise and seeing the glacier from the sea was incredible. The whole reason I wanted to go to Alaska was I wanted to spend my 50th birthday somewhere cool, and having Kelly, Jo, Bill, and Ben to experience it with made it so incredibly special.
- Seeing the Very Large Array. Because this really isn’t located near anything else you have to work to see it. Lee really wanted to go so we made a special route just to see it. Personally, I wasn’t that interested but once we got there it blew me away. The size of it was amazing, the price was reasonable, and it had an excellent walking tour. Many things in life don’t live up to their press, but others exceed the experience you think you will have. This fell in that category.
- I am still a little kid at heart and visiting North Pole, Alaska was a real treat. Yes it was kitschy, but it was also really, really cool and I love how Lee not only let’s me have those kid-like moments but also delights in them with me.
- Camping in the City of Rocks was a mental picture I had of what this lifestyle should be like. The weather wasn’t the best, but the campsites were amazing and experiencing it with our friends Cori and Greg made it a special experience.
- We saw 7 Different Wild Mammals in one day. The drive to and from Canada was pretty rough for us, but each way there was one magical day that was packed full of bears, moose, and other critters. That day made the long trip worth it both times.
When people talk to me about the lifestyle they often ask “Is it worth it?”. I am going to talk about that more in the emotional arc post. The numbers do tell a story though, and in a nutshell I think they show that from a sheer experience standpoint, so worth it. In one year I saw more amazing things than I saw in many years during my “old” life. Not only that, I spent quality time with friends and family that would not have been possible in my old life. So yes, Year 2 was totally worth it.
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