First Time in Biloxi, MS

We have traveled by or through Biloxi, MS more times than I can count but since we are always in a hurry we have never had the chance to stop and actually see it. So when Lee asked what I wanted to do to get my Mississippi state sticker the Gulfport/Biloxi area was an easy choice. It’s a cool town with a mix of casinos, old school fishing port, and a long beautiful (if shallow) beach.

We spent a week there in the Southern Comfort campground which was OK but our site was right next to the railroad tracks. Unfortunately the train came through several times at night and blew their horns really loud. Other than that the campground was fine, but pricey.

Our site was on the end and was ok

One of the things I really like about the area was the old oak trees and beautiful old houses. The last home of Jefferson Davis is on the main strip and several other beautiful old houses have been turned into hotels. Then there is the more modern sections with Hard Rock and MGM Casinos. I actually preferred the off brand casinos and twice we had really nice buffets at them

Buffets aside though I got very excited when I saw there was a thriving Vietnamese community in town. Turns out many of them emigrated to work the shrimping boats and there is a Vietnamese Buddhist temple, Catholic church, and Baptist church in a small area. The shrimping area was really cool also and Lee bought several pounds of shrimp freshly caught which we now have in our freezer…I love me some gulf shrimp. AND we ate at a tiny Vietnamese restaurant, Vung Tau, where the food was absolutely fantastic. Second best Vietnamese I have ever had.

And what’s a seaside town visit without going to a big souvenir shop. We went to Sharkheads and took some really fun pictures, plus I got a great magnet.

It was a really fun week and although I wouldn’t have wanted to spend a chunk of time there I am glad I got to see it. I can add it to Atlantic City and Reno for smaller towns with Casinos we have seen and with the beach access it certainly stands up to those. And best of all we now have our state sticker. All that is left is Arkansas, Michigan, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. We are getting there.

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Finally the Alabama State Sticker

Despite having criss-crossed Alabama more times than I can count we never actually did anything Alabama specific so I never put the sticker on our map. This year though I was absolutely committed to checking that box and Lee was humoring me. He doesn’t care nearly as much about the state sticker thing as I do, but he loves doing new things so he was more than willing to go along. When he asked where I wanted to go he looked a little surprised when I said Geneva, Al but as always he was game.

Why Geneva? Well, that is where a show called The Cowboy Way Alabama was filmed and since I love the show I wanted to see the area. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, it is a wholesome reality show following the lives of three young cowboys and their families in southern Alabama. The show is filmed in Geneva and Robertsdale and I loved it so much I wanted to see the areas they live in.

Turns out there isn’t much in Geneva, but there is an awesome local park called the Robert Fowler Memorial Park that has some RV sites with water and electric. I made reservations (only $80 for 5 nights…that’s more like it) and we arrived on Monday. This is a very small town so we had to stop at the town hall and pickup the key to the gate before heading over. Once we got there we saw they were taking down the Christmas decorations and after several discussions with maintenance (and walking the path) we grabbed our spot. The spot itself is nice sized, it only cost $80 for 5 days, and best of all we are the only ones here!!

There are only 12 spots in the park and we picked one near the end.
This is one of Jack’s all time favorites as he had lots of room to run free
My work view for the week. Loved it!
They had a nice Christmas display in the park which they took down the week we were there

Actually that wasn’t the best of all, because the oldest tree in Alabama (over 300 years old) is a short walk away and it is beautiful. This is the most beautiful oak tree I have ever seen (and I’ve seen some beauties) and its right next to us. Plus the park is on a river and Jack can run free. Absolutely fantastic and a great way to start off a new year!!

What a beauty. Better than Angel Oak in South Carolina this tree is over 300 years old and in great condition
Gorgeous
Me for scale
I wish this picture could have come close to the feeling when you looked up
Only one branch was braced.
Jack likes climbing trees
So hard for one picture to do it justice.

In addition to the tree the park is at the junction of two rivers and has it’s own little swamp. Lots of room to walk and my only complaint is it is a popular local spot and there were people there all day and night until they closed the gate at 10pm. Lee did feel a little isolated, especially at night, but what a great place to just chill for a week.

I wish the surrounding area was as nice as the park but it was a bit of a bust. I had a list of places from the show I wanted to see but they were hard to track down. Really it ended up being just two small towns in rural Alabama and although I am glad I was there its not a place I would go back to. I did manage to track down the location of Bubba’s old house but unfortunately you can’t see much of it from the road so it was kind of bleh. They don’t even live there anymore so overall it wasn’t worth the effort.

You could barely see the house through the trees.

All that being said, the main goal of the stop was to finally get that state sticker and the 300 year old tree was enough to get us there. I felt great putting that stick on the RV and I am sure there will be much more to do at our next stop in Gulfport, MS.

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2021 Budget Summary – Year 7

Our 2021 budget shows what this life can look like if you don’t care much about what things cost. For the first time we just lived our life and as long as we made enough to cover it ( and we did) we didn’t worry much about what things cost. As a result we blew several of our budget categories and as usual I will be giving details below. In later sections, I will also show you the seven year averages and dig into how things look in various categories for us in general. So for all you data junkies out there, grab a cup of coffee and settle in. This is a long one.

Right off the bat you will notice we spent a whopping $85K. This amount by the way doesn’t include extra money we gave our kids (around $6500 this year) or any of Lee’s business expenses. As always health insurance premiums are not included although this year I did include medical costs we paid in cash (rather than our HSA) in Miscellaneous. We also didn’t include the $1K deductible we had to pay for the accident we were in, mainly because we are hopeful that the other insurance company will reimburse us. As always, this budget shows our basics and if you are using these numbers to determine whether you could afford to fulltime you absolutely need to put in the context of your life. Our 7 year averages are a MUCH better measure of what this lifestyle costs than the last year and I will cover that at length in the last session. For those of you who are already living the life and just want to feel good about what you spent this is definitely the section for you πŸ™‚ Ok on to the details.

I know its a bit of an eyechart, but I did the best I could with capturing it. These are the numbers for every month in 2021 with the minimum, maximum, average, and budget for each. Let’s delve into each one.

Campsite Fees – A great way to keep campground fees down is to work kamp or boondock, but since I was working my corporate job this year and COVID was still a concern we did neither. Instead we mostly stayed in campsites with full hookups and as many of you have noticed since demand has risen prices have also gone up. Our monthly average for the year was $1085 which was triple our seven year average of $388. This is definitely an area where your choices can impact your budget and you take into account how you are planning to travel when you think about these costs.

Groceries – Despite being on diets for most of the year we still managed to spend $9686, an average of $807 a month. Since our budget is $750 a month I feel pretty good about this category overall and I am thrilled that it went down $1K from last year. Many people wonder how we spend so much in this category so let me talk a little about that. Lee and I like fresh food and eat complete meals which adds up. This category also includes cleaning supplies and many other miscellaneous items that get picked up at Walmart. So it’s not strictly food. We also carry quite a bit of food with us. It’s a holdover from when we were young and broke, and a habit we can’t seem to break. Realistically we have enough food to last 3-4 weeks in the RV at anytime. Lastly this does include alcohol. We don’t drink much at all so that amount is minimal, but if you are a drinker and add food, household items, and alcohol all together your number might be close to ours. If its lower that’s awesome!

Home Repair – While I am making the corporate money, we decided to invest into some home improvement. Of the $12, 447 my estimate is only 25% of that was absolutely “must do”. Well, let me rephrase, it needed done but if our income was less we could have avoided some of it this year. Since we have the money and our RV is 8 years old it seemed like a good time to do some things. We include many things in this category by the way. Appliances, home decor, storage containers etc often get dumped into this category. The true repair amount was around $6K but remember that wasn’t all mandatory this year. Still, don’t think that just because you live in an RV you wont have home repairs. By my estimation they happen more frequently than in a sticks and bricks because you are moving your house and unlike house repairs you have a limited parts set and labor pool.

Clothing – We spent a ridiculous amount of money on clothing this year and our average was around $200 a month. We bought souvenir T Shirts wherever we went and I restocked a lot of my wardrobe. We came onto the road with a nice set of clothes, but you do tend to wear the same things over and over and eventually they wear out. It was time to stock up and the corporate money allowed us to do that so our totals were well over our 7 year average of $139 a month. Just so you know almost all of my clothes come from thrift stores, but Lee buys his new. We also wear those souvenir T Shirts we buy but you pay a premium for the logos that come with them.

Entertainment – I really need to raise the budget on this category next year because $100 a month is simply not enough. That being said the East is much more expensive than the west and we found ourselves doing more history tours than nature hikes. Those cost money and we went over our budget by 4X. Our seven year average is about $185 and I think a $200 a month budget is pretty reasonable. When we first started I was all about doing what was free or near free, but after 7 years I want to do what I want…within reason of course.

Dining Out – What can I say, this has been a struggle since day one, and as usual we blew the budget. Our monthly average of $700 was a bit ridiculous though and I would like to get it back down near the $362 seven year average. The big difference this year was we took a lot of people to dinner. When we were on a tighter budget it was always Dutch, but since I was making more money I wanted to share it. I would like to see what the number would be if it was just the two of us though, so maybe we can make that happen some months next year.

Travel Costs – This includes tolls, parking, rentals costs, and a flight to my Mom’s, and because we were in the D.C area (and the east in general) we paid for it. Another major difference between the east and the west where you hardly ever see toll roads and parking costs are minimal.

Truck Maintenance – This year was the first year without having a maintenance plan and it shows with costs of $4630. It was a variety of issues including tire replacement and since we use Ford dealers for service we paid for it. That being said our truck is crucial to our lifestyle and we don’t mess around with putting off repairs. It will be interesting to see what happens next year in this category to see if the trend continues.

Truck Fuel – I want to end this section on a positive note and say I am so proud of Lee for bringing in our fuel under budget despite rising fuel prices. He uses a combination of our TSD Logistics card, Pilot Card, BJ’s card, and Gas Buddy to get us the very best prices whenever he can. It takes constant planning and vigilance but it definitely paid off.

Ok so now that we have finished this year lets revisit the last few years. Keep in mind the categories are a little different because they are the original ones and I combine some of the newer categories to get the totals. The most exciting part of the chart below is the 7 year monthly averages. I think at this point they give a really great picture of what the lifestyle costs.

As you can see on average over the last seven years we have spent $4487 per month. I think that number is spot on and very realistic as long as you work kamp some months. Groceries has consistently been our largest monthly expense at $733 a month with home improvement at $536 a month coming in second. The least we have ever spent was $37, 568 in 2017 and the most was this year at $84,693. That is a huge variance and I can tell you there is also a significant difference in lifestyle.

When we work kamped all the time we spent much less, but we also didn’t have as much time to do things for fun. I also had less energy for it because the work we were doing was often very physical. Gifts, eating out, and entertainment were all areas where we cut our costs and since those are some of my favorite things it generally wasn’t as fun for me. Don’t get me wrong we saw some amazing things in those year, but the money pressure was near constant and at times it just felt like we were going from one job to another with no down time in between. Now with a steady stream of income we can relax a little more and do more stuff.

Every year is different though and as we head back west we will see how things go. Lee is work kamping this summer and I will still be working my job and we will see what that looks like. For those that made it this far…good for you. As long as you keep reading these posts I will keep posting my numbers.

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December Budget 2021

As of this posting I am working hard on the entire 2021 Budget which will be posted soon. Here is the December data. We spent $6854 this month and the details are listed below.

Campsites – The $1600 a month we are spending at the KOA is absolutely insane, especially considering the RV park itself, but it is also just a few miles from our grandson so we bit the bullet for a couple of months. These prices are definitely not the norm.

Entertainment – We went way over in this category again spending $585 dollars. A chunk of that was activities we paid for involving the kids and grandkid including two escape rooms we did.

Gifts – These were some last minute Christmas gifts we bought. I wanted to mention for those of you who have received a calendar in the past we decided not to do them this year. The price was double what I have paid in previous years (it would have cost over $500 all in) and I just couldn’t justify the expense since we had already blown our Christmas budget on the kids and grandkids.

Home Repair – When we are sitting in one place for a long time Lee tends to work on home projects. December was no different. My stance on these expenses is we should do them now while I am making corporate money.

Truck Fuel – Despite high gas prices Lee did a great job keeping our costs down in this category. Since there are no truck stops where we can take advantage of lower prices in Charleston we got a BJ’s membership and MasterCard which saved us an extra 10 cents a gallon off their already low diesel price. I really appreciate how Lee manages this category as it could be a big number for us if we aren’t careful.

As I stated previously next up is the annual budget with 7 year trend numbers. That should tell an interesting story.

Supporting our Blog

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Hanukkah and Christmas Farm

As I have mentioned before my son-in-law is Jewish and we love having the opportunity to be part of his culture. Oliver is going to a Jewish preschool and when they opened the doors for a Hanukkah celebration I was thrilled to be able to attend. It was really fun seeing all the little kids and although Oliver was somewhat shy that day he came out of his shell enough to show us around. The rooms were absolutely terrific and I loved the artwork and I was so glad we were able to attend.

Loved this

Lee loves taking Oliver on errands with him and when they are out and about sometimes they will stop by and see Grammy. Oliver is fascinated with my computer and loves to “type” things and I got this great picture of him contributing. They never stay long but its a wonderful treat on a work day.

I live for the weekends though when I really get to spend some time with him and I always try to find something special. Last weekend I came across a Christmas party at a local petting zoo farm and we decided to try it out. Initially it didn’t look that great but it turned out to be very fun although Oliver wanted nothing to do with Santa Claus. After a couple of attempts I did get him to take a pony ride though and that was an absolute blast. Nothing wears you out quite like keeping up with a two year old though and we were all pooped out by the end!

Kyrston really wanted a Santa picture, but that wasn’t happening. Thankfully they had an old truck with Christmas stuff and since Oliver loves trucks he was happy to pose some for us. We had a lovely time, although it’s weird being outside at Christmas with it being so warm. I do miss the snow (just a little) this time of year.

I don’t want to forget about Elliott though. He’s growing like crazy and Kat has been sending pictures and some video. Here are a couple of my favorites.

He loves this old fashioned keys Grammy sent him
They have LOTS of snow in Minnesota
Kat and Elliott in front of their tree

Supporting our Blog

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  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
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Oliver and Pappy and Grammy

When we first became grandparents I really wanted to wait for Oliver to pick a name for us. Unfortunately that didn’t work out so well, so we started nudging him in a general direction. Ultimately we landed on Pappy and Grammy and hearing him say our names is amazing!! While I was with my Mom Lee spent a ton of one on one time with him and that continued when I came back. There were so many small trips (each one really special) that I decided to share them all here. None of these are in any particular order but will give you a feel for the fun the last two weeks.

One of the reasons I cam back early was the participate in decorating the tree. Kyrston got a big tree for herself and Jeremy and a little one for Oliver and it was very fun helping him decorate. I guess after we left the ornaments went flying but it was super cool while it lasted.

One of the things Oliver loves to do is run errands. Lee took him tons of places while I was gone and we took him shopping a couple of times when I got back. The cool thing about 2 year old short attention span is you can literally buy the toy he just played with (put in a separate cart) and he doesn’t really get it. We always made sure to buy him something small he could play with so he largely ignored the stuff in boxes. The one thing I couldn’t find was an age appropriate pirate ship but Lee found a practically new one on FB marketplace and it only costs $15…SCORE!!!!!

The best trip though was when Oliver and Pappy went to the beach together. I was working that day and they were gone for hours. Time at the ocean and then some geocaching later. They had an awesome day and Lee wore him out! No small feat for a 53 year old.

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.

November 2021 Budget

Big UGGG for the month of November as we spent over $10K. The main reasons for this were I took a trip to see my Mom down in Florida and we decided to buy all of our Christmas presents in November because of concern of supply chain issues. The gifts alone were $2274 but if you take that (and the meals) out of the equation it was a pretty standard month See below for more details.

Campground Fees – We are spending a ridiculous amount of money on the KOA we are staying at but since it is only 4 miles from my daughter and there are hardly any places to stay here it is worth it.

Cigarettes – This category is actually for my Vape Juice and since the best prices I can find are here in Charleston I took advantage of pricing and discounts to buy most of a years supply all at one time. It will definitely save me money in the long run.

Travel Transportation – This $521 was for my flight and expenses associated with that travel.

Truck Fuel – Truck fuel is insane right now and even though we aren’t driving much we are still paying top dollar. Unfortunately there are no EFS truck stops near us so no big discounts. After doing some research Lee spent $55 on a BJ’s membership because their basic price is 30 cents cheaper than anywhere else. He also got a no annual fee credit card through them which gives us another 10 cents a gallon off.

Truck Maintenance – Lee took the truck in for an oil change and had some minor repairs done.

We don’t have too many months like this but they do happen. Thankfully bonus time is right around the corner and my company had a good year.

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.
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First Time in Venice (Florida)

Two years ago right before COVID really hit in the US my Mom moved from Myrtle Beach to Venice Florida. Closing on two houses in a 30 day period is no mean feat under normal circumstances, but she did it in the middle of a pandemic and despite the challenges managed to move to Venice right before things got really bad. Unfortunately although her brother lived there, right when she arrived no vaccines were available and everyone was social distancing so she was in a new place without any of the traditional means of meeting new people.

Thankfully the folks in her condo complex were really great and with some inventive social distancing (carport happy hour) she managed to meet some folks. Then over time they all got vaccinated so things loosened up even more and at the time of this writing she has made lots of friends, found a church, and has a schedule of activities that makes me tired!

Because of a variety of factors though I had not been able to see her new place, so when her plans opened up for Thanksgiving and I had a few extra vacation days I decided to drive down. Well that was my initial plan but it was going to cost $650 for a rental car for 5 days (4X the amount for a non holiday week) and despite my misgivings I looked for flights. Ultimately I found a round trip fare through Charlotte (no way was I messing with Atlanta) for $345 through American Airlines into Tampa and I booked it. Mom was nice enough to drive the 1hr and 15 minutes to come pick me up and over the next few days I got to see how she lived.

I absolutely loved her new condo which has a screened in front porch AND back porch and beautiful high ceilings. It backs up to a nature preserve so no one is behind her and at night we could hear the rustling in the wilderness. Made me glad we were on the second floor.

By choice we ate out almost every day (she cooked Thanksgiving dinner) and I tried several new places. We also had a chance to see my Dad’s sister and brother-in-law and my mom’s brother. I have family on both sides in Venice which is pretty cool.

Mom and I ate at Sharkey’s with my RVing friends Gene and Eileen. They settled in Venice a few years back.

Despite the evidence, we didn’t just eat though. We visited a very cool Amish farmers market (yes there are Mennonites who winter in Venice Florida) , we went to the ocean and the pier. We also went to a couple of thrift stores and even hit up the outlet store on Weds so I could get a new piece of luggage. It was alot of fun seeing the area and I really like that Venice isn’t super overdeveloped.

It was great seeing Mom and most importantly I now feel really comfortable that she is in a safe place. I know she thinks I am silly for worrying, but hey that’s what daughters do. At least this one does!

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  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
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Seventh Year by the Numbers

I have to start out by saying I am so pleasantly surprised that we made it to seven years as full timers. Initially I gave us a 50/50 shot of making it past three, but despite its challenges we are still going strong and are not seriously looking for an exit strategy. So lets start with our travel map for the year. It started in Welcome, MD

Again it was a weird travel year because of COVID. Because our “home base” is Florida and we really wanted to get vaccinated (and because we were really enjoying our time with Kyrston and Jeremy and Oliver) we ended up staying in Charleston for several months at the beginning of the year. Then we headed north for the birth of our second grandson, stopping in Nashville, St. Louis, and Kansas City along the way. Those were all new cities for me and I was happy to see them. After Minnesota we stopped in Shipshewana to have some RV work done and spent several weeks in Columbus. Once again this stay was extended because we were hit by a drunk driver and needed to wait until our truck was worked on. Next we headed to Connecticut (with a quick stop in PA to see Bill and Kelly) to see our youngest daughter Kay and spent a month in Connecticut before heading back down to Charleston for the holidays. Although we are thrilled to be able to spend so much time with our kids and grandkids, we both really miss the west and hope to spend next summer west of the Mississippi.

This year we ended up with 158570 miles on the truck. That was a years total of 17,874.

Major Home and Truck Repairs, Modifications, Upgrades and Improvements

January – We spent $320 on two matching rims and covers for the RV tires. At some point we got tires replaced and couldn’t get a fourth rim and Lee finally found one.

March – Lee bought a propane and CO2 detector to replace the one we currently have. Ours was constantly beeping and we ultimately had to disconnect it. This is not something you want to be without as it is a major safety issue.

April – We bought a toaster oven for $168 which allowed us to get rid of the air fryer and toaster. Absolutely love it and wish we would have had one sooner.

May – We spent $156 on a new office chair. The other one was literally falling apart πŸ™‚

June – We spent $260 on a new sound bar for the stereo (and hangers) which dramatically improved the quality of the sound while we are watching TV. We also spent around $200 on an herb garden for the front of the RV which both smells good and gives me fresh herbs for cooking. I also liked the toaster oven so much I broke the handle. Not great but I spent another $156 and vowed to be gentler with the door in future.

July – $1863 replacing power steering pump and gasket for truck. We spent $238 in additional fresh water drinking hoses to extend our reach and replace some old hoses.

August – We spent $310 on storage containers and rearranged our cabinets and our refrigerator. We also spent $750 on getting new showers doors and having all of our slide cables adjusted by a professional. Trust me that was a steal.

September – We were hit by a drunk driver and had a repair (which was done incorrectly) and a followup repair. We also had a rental car over two separate periods for a total of 40 days. Our out of pocket was $1K for the deductible and $440 for rental car over 30 days but thankfully the drivers insurance company will be reimbursing us for the costs. We also spent $253 on a new ice maker which was really hard to find in Columbus. Lee had to go about an hour to get one at that price. I also had to get a new (to me) Iphone when mine died suddenly. I found an older version for $499 which I thought was a bargain. I refuse to pay for these on a plan and instead we always pay one payment.

October – We spent $129 on a leaf blower to blow stuff off the roof and slides. We also spent $420 on a new surge protector after our other one was ruined by power spikes at a campground. Yes they are pricey but way cheaper than thousands of dollars worth of RV electrical damage. We also spent $128 on a new Dewalt drill when Lee’s old one died.

Top 10 Things We Did (In no particular order)

Meeting my new grandson Elliot. Ok this was the best thing for sure.
Hiked Kent Falls. It was really eight falls and absolutely gorgeous.
Lee absolutely loved visiting the TWA museum because his father worked there for 30 years
Visiting Monticello the home of Thomas Jefferson was a lifelong dream of mine
Touring Magnolia Plantation in full bloom. Absolutely beautiful
Winterthur Gardens and Museum was very special. We definitely want to go back and see the entire house
Visiting Studio B in Nashville where Elvis recorded many of his hits
Seeing the St. Louis Arch National Park
Going into the Bluebird cafe in Nashville gave me chills. They were closed for music but open on Saturday to look around.
Taking Oliver to the Charleston Sea Aquarium

Next up the emotional arc where I talk about how the year went for 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.

Seventh Year – The Emotional Arc

As I am sitting here having finished our seventh year of full timing, I am remembering the day we departed on this journey. As we left our little town on November 14, 2014, straight from closing on our house of 15 years emotions were high. Exhilaration, loss, and a healthy amount of fear were prevalent as we embarked on arguably the biggest change of our lives. Seven years later I find I have finally settled in. We are experienced full timers now, although I wouldn’t say expert (if there even is such a thing) and although the lifestyle still has its challenges (what life does not?), it fits me like a comfortable pair of jeans. I am proud of us that we made it this far, especially since I gave us a 50/50 chance of making it three years, and I am content to let this be our life until a better option comes along. Nothing is forever, but with three kids in three states this lifestyle is surprisingly suited to spending time with my grandkids. I would love to say I had the forethought seven years ago to know it would turn out this way, but for those who have read along it has definitely been a journey of twists and turns. I don’t know how many of you have read from the beginning, but as a favor if you could drop a note into the comments I would love to hear from you. I can’t express how much your support and encouragement had mattered over the years, so I will simply say thank you.

Let’s talk about 2021. COVID once again had a major impact on our travels. It wasn’t nearly as stressful as the 2020 impact, but we ended up staying in one place for five months while we waiting on our turn to come up for vaccination. Thankfully we were staying near our grandson and we made lemonade as we solidified our bond with him. On our way to see him we were able to travel down the eastern coast and visited several cities we have never been in before. One thing COVID has taught us is to pack as much as you can into the time you have and we stopped in Alexandria, Wilmington (getting our Delaware State sticker), Jamestown, Richmond, Raleigh, and Rock Hill along the way. Our original plan was to stay through the holidays and then head west, but ultimately we decided to wait until we could get vaccinated before moving on. Friends of ours had gotten vaccines in states they were residents of, but I really wanted to get my shot in the arm before headed out.

Life goes on, of course, even if you are staying in one place, and like everyone else we were shook by what happened at the capital building. My company also underwent another round of layoffs and as stressful as this was thankfully I got to keep my job. I should mention that work has been a lifesaver for me because we didn’t have to worry about money during all the COVID stress. Lee’s work in live events really dried up in 2020/2021 but I had a steady revenue stream. It has been stressful though because our group kept getting reorganized. In the last two years I have had 6 different bosses and survived multiple reorganizations. Still I really like what I do and am so glad I made the choice to go back to my former company. No idea what would have happened if I had taken another job. I should also mention that the prospect of losing my job bothers me a lot less than it would have in my old life. Minimal overhead, no debt, and knowing I could work a variety of jobs has given me a peace of mind I never experienced before becoming a full time RVer. That peace is a gift I wouldn’t trade for anything.

We did take advantage of the time, helping our daughter move from an apartment into a house and we explored Hilton Head and Beaumont…both new cities for me. Lee and I also spent some time in therapy. In 2020 we tried virtual therapy and although it was helpful Lee really wanted to see someone in person. This is very difficult since we travel so much, but we were able to find someone in the Charleston area and have some in person visits. I will say it was much harder to find a therapist than I expected, but the trauma of COVID on families and front line workers is real and almost every therapist I called was more than fully booked. I talked to a couple of them and they sounded absolutely exhausted and although apologetic just couldn’t take on anyone else. The person I finally found was nice enough and somewhat helpful but ultimately she wasn’t the greatest fit for us. Still any help is good and by the end of the five months I felt like Lee and I were in a better place. I wrote a post about Impact of Full-timing on my Marriage where I talked a little about the challenges we were facing.

Ultimately we were able to get our first shot March 27 on the day Florida opened to 50 and above and we drove 3 -1/2 hours each way to get it. April 27 we were completely immunized and were finally able to head north. Because our daughter Kat was due to give birth in July, we had to completely change our route and headed towards Minneapolis. Thankfully we had enough time to visit three cities I had never been in before and we had a great time in Nashville, St. Louis, and Kansas City. I think the middle of the country is undervalued and although there weren’t many nature things to do we saw lots of great museums and ate in some cool restaurants.

We ended up staying 6 weeks in Minneapolis, because Elliot was two weeks late and hung on to be born the same day as his cousin Oliver. We had a stressful 8 days while he was in the NICU, but thankfully we were able to be there when he came home and were able to see him somewhat settled. It was extremely difficult for me to leave my daughter, but we needed to head east to see our youngest Kay. Because of COVID we had not been able to see her at school and since Connecticut gets cold early we were on a deadline. This year was all about going from kid to kid (as you can see below) and although we found stuff to do along the way to be honest we missed the west. Lee and I have had lots of conversations about what this lifestyle looks like with three kids in three different places and we are still trying to find our balance.

On the way to Connecticut, we stopped in Shipshewana to get some repair work done and then again in Columbus to see my dad and Lee’s parents. Unfortunately right before we were scheduled to leave we were hit by a drunk driver and had to extend several weeks in order to get our truck fixed. This entire situation could have definitely been much worse but it was incredibly stressful and delayed when we could arrive in the northeast. The schedule again flexed and we gave up spending time in Rhode Island and Cape Cod so we could spend as much time as we could with our daughter Kay. We loved seeing her school and meeting her friends, but a couple weeks in Lee got the news his dad passed away. This is the first loss of a parent for either of us and Lee immediately jumped in the truck and drove back to Columbus.

Once he came back we spent a weekend with our daughter and then we lost power in our campground. We had to rush south so I had power for work and ultimately made it back to Charleston. Overall the year has been exhausting with a variety of family issues and scheduling changes. I am grateful that we were able to see some cool stuff in batches, but we have had to fight the schedule every step of the way to make that happen. I think we both thought that once I got the corporate job we would be able to explore more, but the last two years at least that hasn’t been the case. Still it is better than rushing from one work kamping job to another and I am grateful for the time I have been able to spend with my family.

Next year though we would like to have more balance and finding that is a priority for both of us. We are taking a cruise (Lee’s first) with some friends in February and Lee is actively looking for a work kamping job in a cool area. He is a bit hampered by wanting to have at least some of the weekend off, but if you know of anything please send us an email (camperchronicles @ gmail.com) and let us know.

As always I would like to leave off by saying how grateful we are to spend time with people along the way. Here are some pictures of the folks we were able to connect with and we hope COVID calms down and there are many more of these encounters next year!

Jeremy, Oliver, and Kyrston in matching Christmas PJ’s…so cute!
My sister Wendy and brother-in-law Josh
From left: Alec, Dad, Eddie, Mom, and Jake at my niece’s wedding
Kat and Baby Elliott
Sharon and Dave (so glad we got to see their cottage)
Kelly and Bill who we saw twice this year
Kat and Bert —We saw them twice as well
Our Daughter Kay
Celebrating my Dad’s 75th birthday with Cathy, Wendy, Lee, Don, Jimilea, Susie, Lex, and Eddie.
We went to a high school football game with Susan, Bryan and his parents
To see their daughter Sydney in the flag corp. She was great!
My sister-in-law Patricia and her mom Nanette
Had a wonderful lunch with Ted, who was the best man at our wedding and has been friends with Lee since high school.
So glad we got to see Marissa and her fiancΓ©e. I also got to see Elise, Sean, and Ian but didn’t get a picture of that.
I saw my friend Dawn for the first time in 20 years and got to meet her new husband.
Cori and Greg stopped by on their way to Pennsylvania. Unfortunately they missed Lee but I got an awesome birthday cake!! Plus Jack got to spend a ton of time with their dog Tripp who wore him out πŸ™‚

We also saw Lee’s Aunt Dorothy and his cousins Matt, Susan, and Mike . I was definitely falling down on the job those days, but we were really grateful that they took time to see us. Lee spent lots of time with Dede and Denny as well and again no picture.

As I finish this post I have the thought…Oh the Places we will Go and the People we will see rattling around in my head. We did both of those this year despite the craziness of COVID and I look forward to even more of both next year.

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