First Time Gate Guarding – Days 38 -39

Day 38

Last night was nice and slow, which was good, because it got down to 40 degrees.  It actually felt warmer than the night before though because the wind finally died down.  After doing some recipe book work I watched some TV and finished up this mini-series I have been watching Leah Remini Scientology and the Aftermath. I only started watching this because I am a fan of hers and think she is a straight shooter, but I ended up being really impacted by what I saw.  If you haven’t seen it, I definitely recommend it. Judge for yourself, but I think what they are doing is important.  On the lighter side, I have also been watching an older show called Fringe.  People had recommended it to me, so I decided to try it and now I am hooked.  There are 5 seasons, so it’s a great way to kill some time in the early mornings.  If you like science fiction set in a modern day setting, I really recommend this show as well.

Lee has been non-stop all day (well, with stops to open and close the gate) on one long compilation video of a diving trip we took with his parents and our kids to Anthony’s Key Resort in 2001. Most of the videos he’s been editing have minimal edits, just to remove stretches where nothing is happening, or particularly bad camera work, but he felt inspired by the diving video.  So he took about 20 hours of underwater footage shot by himself and his step-dad, and made a highlights reel with Pirates of the Caribbean music as part of the sound track.  When he’s doing commercial work he can’t use copyrighted material without getting legal clearances, but since this is only for family he can, and it adds some fun to all the underwater stuff, which didn’t have sound anyway.  When he’s doing something creative he really gets in the zone and it’s like there is a bubble around him.  That’s not the best scenario in such a small space, but I try to give him as much space as I can when he is feeling creative.

Watching the video made me remember the trip and I briefly mentioned I would like to go again.  He looked at me kind of strangely and said “You can’t really plan a $5,000 vacation when you are only making $125 a day”.  OK, good point.  For a moment it bummed me out, but then I remembered that we rarely did things like that.  We took some nice vacations with the kids (Grand Canyon, Washington DC, Prince Edward Island, and Honduras), but those were almost always in conjunction with parents or friends.  The entire time we were married, as a couple we took one vacation to Prince Edward Island, twice  scuba diving to Honduras, once to Florida,and  twice to Vegas.  Since we didn’t live near our family, we had to combine our vacations with our parents having the kids in another state so it was always pretty complicated.  We took separate vacations a few times.  I went to Hawaii with my mom and Lee did some traveling out west, but together there were relatively few instances.  We saw more traveling for work and extending our schedules through some weekends, and both of us got to see some pretty cool stuff that way, but never together.

It wasn’t just the kid thing though.  Vacations are expensive and when you only have a limited amount of time to take them, there is quite a bit of pressure to get them right.  You lose a day to travel, then a frenzy of activity (Lee used to vacation like it was an Olympic sport), then travel day home and a day to recuperate. The only time I can ever remember really relaxing on a vacation was when my mom, sister, and I went on a cruise together.  Don’t get me wrong, the other vacations were enjoyable experiences, but the combination of being a mom on vacation, working on vacations, and one notable case where Lee got a compression fracture to his back on vacation rarely added up to stress-free time.

And I think it’s important to mention that, because even in situations like these where we are experiencing a long stretch of time with nothing “fun” happening, we know this job will end.  No, this lifestyle is not a vacation, but it has more pure “vacation moments” than my old life ever had.  Part of that of course is we have changed.  It’s just us now, which makes it easier and neither of us feel that we have to cram every experience into every moment.  This was a major change for Lee in particular and certainly didn’t happen overnight, but after 2+ years on the road we can definitely savor the moments.  If nothing else, watching these videos he’s making has helped me remember that.   I never had much of a poker face and watching these videos reminds me of how things used to be.  That’s important, because I (like most people) tend to romanticize the past and it’s easy just to remember the highlight reel.  That doesn’t mean I don’t want to go back and scuba dive again.  I would love to go especially now that we have changed our mindset on how we explore the world. (My parents used to go Anthony’s Key at least once a year, for probably twenty years, and we went with them three times. Once with the kids, again without the kids, and that second time was when I fractured my back. Buy me a slice of pie and ask me about it, it’s a great story. Anthony’s Key is really one of the best kept diving secrets in the world, and I’d love to go back again, especially with my parents. It’s not as much as $5,000, the prices are actually pretty reasonable, considering it’s all inclusive and includes a TON of diving. Actually, now  that I’m writing this I see on their website that for 2017 they’re offering a two-for-one promotion that includes the room, three meals a day (their food is spectacular, and plentiful), 3 dives a day for the week, 2 night dives, all for $1400 per couple. And you can get a direct flight to Roatan out of Miami for about $600. Hmmmm. I might not be in a big hurry to spend $5000 on a vacation, but I would definitely spend $2500 for a week at Anthony’s Key. Anyway, if you dive, this is the place to go, hands down. If you don’t dive, research it carefully. It’s a very nice place, but it caters to divers, so you might be bored. If you do go, please tell them Lee & Tracy said
“Hi!” –  Lee) 

Traffic has been pretty steady and I did ask one of the regular drivers what phase we are in.  They are still drilling, and the big trucks are either bringing in drill bits or taking away the dirt and oil mixture they are uncovering.  Frakking is the next phase, and we are not there yet, but we are seeing more salespeople coming in and out so maybe that will be soon.  The pump out for our tank was a day late this week (they had a truck break down) so it required some conservation towards the end as both the portable tank and our grey tank was full.  I opened the grey tank once he started sucking the stuff out so we were totally empty.  He asked me how many extra gallons I had put in, which I think was kind of silly since they were late, but what are you going to do?  He also mentioned that the guy at his last stop had come out of his RV and started yelling at him because he had parked to close to his antenna.  Honestly this guys job is crappy enough (no pun intended) I don’t think he deserves to get yelled at.

Things did slow down a little so we finally tried to watch Walking Dead tonight, but  unfortunately I had to get up for trucks 6 times in the 42 minutes of the show.  One of the problems with scheduling something is you really never know when traffic will come, and tonight unfortunately the time we selected was somewhat busy.  I still enjoyed the show, but it definitely detracts from the experience and although I know that’s the job it’s still a bummer.  I also worked on the recipe book and discovered quite a bit about fonts.  I am using a program called Book Wright and it has been very helpful because it shows errors as you are putting together your book.  I vaguely knew that different tupes of fonts were better for ebooks than printed books but I did not know some fonts are copyrighted and others were not.  The list you are given shows all available fonts and unfortunately I chose Garamond for the recipe names and then found out tonight that is a copyrighted font.  Go figure.  So I went through and changed the font on all the titles.  Kind of a pain, but better than paying royalties on a font. And I chose Arvo in case you are interested which seemed easy to read yet slightly whimsical.  Font selection is definitely more art than a science.  Where is Brick from The Middle when you need him???

Day 39

Before I start on today  I wanted to mention there had been a lot of discussion in the community about a very cheap rural data plan with AT&T.  Lee and I discussed it but when he called this morning they had already closed the loophole.  Apparently AT&T sent a memo out and only people with a home address in one of a few select rural zip codes is now eligible.  A couple people we know got in on the deal before it was too late and since that would have saved us $200 a month we are a bit bummed.  Still, I really think it’s for the best.  Personally I am not a huge fan of these back door deals because you never know when they will be yanked and since we are grandfathered in on a plan at least we know we are in good shape.  That’s just us though.  Lots of people successfully get creative in that area, and good for them.  It’s just never worked out well for us in the past.  I am holding out hope that continued pressure from the Millennials will solve this problem once and for all.  Verizon has taken a step in that direction and given time I think the market pressure will resolve the issue.  In the meantime we will just keep doing what we are doing.

OK, back to the day.  I woke up a little depressed this morning.  I start to get “hitch itch” whenever we are in a place for this length of time and sometime it bums me out.  So I had a cup of coffee and sat down to read our blog comments and what I saw really changed my morning.  First, we heard from a couple we had met at the last RV-Dreams rally we attended.  Bert and Kat have been on the road for the last 8 months and just posted their financials to date.  They have done a fantastic job of controlling costs and they have volunteered in 15 of the last 17 states they have been in.  Volunteering on the road is something most people want to do, but it can be complicated, so I was really interested to see that.  Plus they are a great couple and I was so happy to hear from them and have a way to follow what they are doing.  If you want to check out their financial summary check here.

Then I read from Don about a recent post by Wheeling It comparing 10 couples.  That sounded interesting so I went and checked it out. Nina did an excellent job of breaking everything down and showing comparisons between long time full-timers and there is quite a bit of variation, which I think is a realistic view.  There are so many factors that go into an individual budget it’s not surprising that the numbers vary so much.  Anyway, I was interested, and if you are in research mode I definitely recommend you check it out.  You can see it here.

OK cool.  The coffee was kicking in, I was enjoying myself, and then I got a comment from “Silver” which said, “It is time that you quit acting like a couple of kids that don’t get there way.” My mental response, which occurred in rapid succession, was the following:

  • Wow…alrighty then
  • There may be some truth in that
  • Screw you

That all happened in milliseconds, so now that I had had a little time to think it through let me break it down a little.

  • I am really lucky that almost all of my comments are positive.  Seriously, I have only had a handful that were on the rough side and usually even those come from a place where the person is trying to help.  But since I was barely awake and had little coffee I was not mentally prepared for this one. Stung a little.
  • Which led me to thinking there was some truth in it.  And to be fair there probably is.  I am self aware enough to realize that words only have power when they strike a nerve, so obviously a nerve was struck.  So I thought about it a little.  First off, you have to take the “kids” part our of it, I mean seriously I am 50 years old, but because we are younger than many people in the lifestyle we do get that sometimes.  Since it’s almost always from a good place I try to ignore that mostly, plus it isn’t the worst thing in the world to be a kid.  The second part about not getting our own way…well that is true. This is absolutely not what we envisioned when we started this.  In some ways it is better, in others it is worse, but sitting here at this dusty gate day after day was certainly not our dream picture when we first started out.  I suppose that some people get into this lifestyle with a very realistic picture of what they are getting into, but we were new to all of it and just didn’t know what we didn’t know.  There was also a certain amount of self-delusion as well in the beginning.  I will only speak for us, but I think a certain amount of that is necessary to make a change this big.
  • Which leads me to the screw you.  First off, when folks make comments like this it would be nice to have some idea of who they are. If you are going to offer judgement on my life then I need to know something about you to put that judgement into context.  Without that knowledge I am sort of forced to review the comment in a vacuum and it’s hard not to just dismiss the negative out of hand.  But I really try not to do that, because I believe wisdom comes from unexpected places, so I try to at least think about it.  So the screw you in this case is really based on the statement in conjunction with our situation.  And as these comments become more frequent as we pick up more readers, it’s probably about time I go on record how I feel about comments like this.

We voluntarily changed our lives.  We weren’t in dire financial straits and this isn’t the result of a series of bad decisions.  We chose to do it then and every day we stay on the road continues to be a choice.  I started writing about it mainly because I wanted to pay it forward, and since the best responses have come from my most honest blog posts that’s where I try to live.  It’s not always easy, and balancing between being  honest and being too negative is tough. Mainly because what I am interested in exploring usually involves some conflict, either internal or external. That being said I love that this feels like a conversation.  I love that people reach out to me, publicly or privately, I can’t even tell you how much that means to me.  Even though the medium is the internet it feels much more personal than that to me.  So here is what I would say to Silver if they said something like this to me in person.  “You do know that I don’t get paid for this right?  I made $369 last year, and so far this year I have made $99.  As much as I appreciate the support, balance that against the hundreds of hours I spend and obviously this is a labor of love.  You might say since I am am putting it out there, you get to judge.  That’s fair and part of the reason I do this.  You get to judge how something like this would impact your life. Think about what you would do in a similar situation.   What you shouldn’t do is judge me.”

But hey, I get it.  I’ve been guilty of it many times myself. I’ve been mean spirited and felt superior.  I have looked at others’ bad choices or bad luck and thought “I would never have done that”.  We are all human and we all fall prey to it.  What I rarely do is communicate those emotions to the people I am feeling them about.  It has happened on occasion and every time I do I regret it.  I regret it because it says so much more about me than them.  I regret it because there is ALWAYS some piece of information that I am not privy to that changes my perspective. I regret it because I consider myself a Christian and that behavior is the antithesis of my Christian principles. Mostly I regret it because it doesn’t help the person at all.  It puts them in a position where their only response is to say “Screw you”, and rightly so. If your intention was to have me think about something or to talk about something, you might want to find a better way to communicate that.  If you are just throwing stones, then I would really like to see the glass house you are living in.  And for the record, saying it through the internet doesn’t change any of that.   All that being said  I will say Silver that this is not all about you.  I’ve been sitting on this mini-rant for a while and unfortunately your comment brought it out of me. I am sure you are a perfectly nice person and your heart was in the right place.  And I do appreciate your reading and caring enough about what I wrote to try and say something about it. Take care.

(I’ll go ahead and throw my perspective in here as well, since I am one of the kids in question. The whole point of the blog is to maybe help someone out there who is where we were when we first started thinking making this decision. For both of us, a blog like this one would have helped us avoid some moments of weapons-grade crazy.

I mostly agree with everything Trace has said, although I think she’s letting it bother her more than it should. My immediate reaction to comments like that is usually annoyance, and is usually followed quickly with wondering if maybe I’m taking it the wrong way. It’s impossible to tell with crazy internet people, isn’t it? But in this particular case my first thought was “Who the hell likes NOT getting their way???” Don’t most of us like to have things the way we want them? Why on earth would anyone be OK with not getting their way. assuming they have a choice?  Didn’t I read somewhere once that I was endowed by my Creator with the right to pursue happiness? Am I to assume that Silver, and his/her ilk are suggesting that I should resign myself to a life of misery and despair and not to seek to improve my lot in life? If so, I’m pretty suspicious of that mentality. After all, what does it matter to them? I’m a lot happier than people think, even though I’m almost always dissatisfied by everything, because (and here’s what I think the secret to happiness is) just about anything anyone ever came up with anywhere at any time was due to a level of dissatisfaction high enough that they decided to do something. Silver might consider that the next time he/she is outside when it starts to rain and reaches for an umbrella. Also, be nice to my wife or I’ll bop you right on the nose, unless you’re a female, in which case I shall make disparaging comments about your shoes. – 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 We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog. Thank you.   Search here

14 thoughts on “First Time Gate Guarding – Days 38 -39

  1. Brought back some good memories for me reading your blog. My husband and I also dive, and we took a group of divers to Roatan to Anthony’s Key. We were kind of unlucky that year, the weather wasn’t so great and it rained a LOT. But it was beautiful. We stayed in one of the huts on the water. Maybe we’ve met before 😉

  2. Well said, Tracy and Lee! I always wonder about the miserable and cowardly lives these mean spirited people live….how sad that the only way they may feel a modicum of personal power is by denegrating another anonymously….

  3. I’ve been reading since the beet harvest and I’ve learned so much! I do like your decision process — waffling about how to handle the problems with refills, or the gate swinging, and it scared me for you when you fell in the gate. I’m older than y’all are, and won’t have the financial cushion, but it is so good to get real information. That way I can make better informed decisions when (if?) I get to hit the road. Keep on keeping on, and thanks!

  4. You are way nicer to internet low-lifes than I would be🎉 Someone needs to remind Silver of the Golden rule, one of the reason I am so proud to call you my friend is that you are so good at expressing yourself, even your frustrations. THANK-YOU for all the effort you put into this blog!

  5. I appreciate the unfiltered nature of your blog. If people want all rainbows and unicorns they should go someplace else. Keep up the solid job! I wish I had the guts to do what you two do.

    • Thanks!! The rainbow and unicorns part cracked me up because I did tend to put a Pollyanna public face in things for many years. Sometimes it takes effort to be open. Its gotten so much easier though and if nothing else this whole blog experience has really helped me to own the way things are. Major personal growth 🙂

  6. On the positive side, Tracy, your site traffic must be growing. ☺When that happens, you start to get “naysayers” and some times even “haters”. Some of them may upset you, some may make you think, but many times it is best to try to ignore them.

    You write what you feel and if folks don’t like it, there are a ton of “life is all roses” blogs out there. That is perhaps what they should be following. It’s your blog AND your life. Do it your way!

    • Thanks. After I wrote the post I felt kind of bad about it. I know I should take the high road and going forward that is my intention. I just felt like I should say it once but that’s definitely not want I want all this to be about. Up until this point I think I have only deleted 1 comment in 2 years, but not every comment is worth responding to just like not every conversation is worth having. Some people are just mean and I never had much use for that in my life.

  7. Thanks so much for the ‘shout out’ Tracy – you guys are the first I look for on my RSS feed every morning (or evening now you’re working vampire hours)!

    • Oh that’s so sweet. We were so glad to hear from you guys. We’ve been thinking about you. Keep in mind when Lee was editing Howard’s video your voice was in my house alot. We have now started saying we follow people “but not in a stalkerish kind of way” all because of you!! If you have time I’d love to chat about your working on the road a bit. Really starting to think through what consulting will look like for us next year and how that will work with Lee while I travel and I’d love to chat. Pop me an email with your info if you would like to talk.

  8. I very much look forward to each of your posts. I feel like you are very fair in your comments and trying to look at things from various perspectives. YOU are telling a story about YOUR travels, jobs, joys, disappointments, etc; not anyone else’s. Love the job you do. Keep it up.

  9. I make sure to check your blog every couple of days and really enjoy both of your perspectives. You provide such great information, particularly for those of us thinking we’d like to do what you’re doing (we’re working on it…). Don’t let the naysayers tell you how you should think, feel, act, write, etc., because your content is honest, good, and extremely helpful and impactful. And, we really appreciate your transparency. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.