Fifth Year – By The Numbers

Numbers by Lee…..

This year we did a total of 7,334 travel miles on the trailer, and 18,874 miles on the truck!

For the first travel map, we started out at Cori & Greg’s and from there went to our first gate, near Encinal, TX. Then a brief few days off between gates and on to our second gate at Los Angeles, TX. That’s where I had my heart attack, and then we went back to Cori & Greg’s. From there we went to Phoenix, and then on to Surprise where we had a little work done on our rig. Once that was done we headed to Lone Rock Beach for a quick stay and then on to Bryce Canyon and Torrey, UT with Steve & Deb and Cori & Greg.

 

We also did Goblin Valley and then everyone went their separate ways and we headed up to Promontory Park and then to Timothy Lake for the summer. After that we came right back down the way we came up, until Salt Lake City where we headed east to head south!

We went through southern Wyoming and saw Jo, and then across a bit of Nebraska before heading down to Oklahoma to see Dan & Sharon, and then on down to Cori & Greg’s place again! And from there we headed east once again to Charleston and then up to Rock Hill and back down to Charleston.

Here’s the complete travel map-

Started in San Antonio. Went to Utah and up to Timothy Lake. Came back to San Antonio via Wyoming, Kansas, and Oklahoma and then over to Charleston.

 

Other Numbers

Total number of days “workkamping” where our site was provided:                   195 (55%)
Total number of days “moochdocking” where we stayed with friends or family:  58 (17%)
Total number of days “boondocking” where we had no campground fee:           11 (  5%)
Total number of days of paid camping:                                                                 78 ( 23%)
Total amount spent on campground fees: $ 1,504

Total data used for the year: 3.64 Terabytes (3640 GB). Our total data costs for the year were $1,380, which works out to about $ 0.38 per GB, which is not too shabby. This is a fantastic value for us because we use that data for internet, obviously, as well as every TV show and movie we watch.

We took 16,505 pictures totaling 76 GB. Here’s how that compares to previous years:

2015 – 24,436
2016 – 28,929
2017 – 20,087
2018 – 15,246

Repairs, Upgrades and Major Expenses Five Year Summary

2015

  • Solar – $5,400 Whether or not solar is worth the expense is debatable to some. For example, if we spread this out over five years, it’s $1000 per year. If we go with an average of $30 per night for a campsite, we’d have to boondock for over 30 days each year to “get our money back” on the solar in that five years. My problem with that is that when we do boondock, it tends to be in places that either don’t have campgrounds or RV parks within what I would call a reasonable distance, or because they are in such demand, they would be worth WAY more than $30 per night.  Also, I think that the intangible value of a view or solitude also goes WELL beyond $30 per night. And finally, our AGM batteries have a life expectancy of 6-8 years, depending on how much the batteries are discharged, and how many times, and how fully they are recharged. I estimate that they will last even longer than that, but we’ll have to see. In any case, having solar and being able to boondock is more of a lifestlye choice than anything else, so it’s really impossible to calculate return on investment, but for us, I think it was worth every penny.
  • 4 New RV Tires & 2 Front Truck Tires and Installation – $1659 Trace commented at some point recently that it seems like we’re “always” getting new tires, but as you will see throughout this summary, we have actually only replaced all 10 of our tires twice. Remember the first trailer tire replacement was in November of 2015, and we were only replacing the junky “China Bombs” that came with the trailer at around 10,000 miles because we had already had a blowout. Those 4 tires lasted us until we replaced them this past April at 44,395 trailer miles, so we got 34,000 miles out of them. I’ll talk more about this later in the summary.
  • Surge Protector and Voltage Regulator – $1100
  • Sea Eagle Inflatable Kayak – $840
  • Camera and accessories – $499
  • TPMS – $490
  • Blue Boy” and Waste Pump Kit – $475
  • Dyson Slim Vacuum – $400
  • Magma Stackable Cookware – $400
  • WeBoost – $400
  • Electric Dump Valves – $300
  • Stenciling for the camper  – $300
  • Heated water hose – $ 163
  • Weber Q Grill – $200
  • Flagpole Buddy –  $205
  • Valve Extenders for Tires – $167

2016

  • Fresh Water Pump and Tank – $300
  • Replacement Surge Protector – $200
  • 4 Rear Truck Tires – $1,013 These were replaced at 41,000, of which around 15,000 were towing miles. I feel that this is a reasonable amount of wear for the tires.
  • Repair & Upgrade RV Suspension Shackles – $747 This is where the unusual wear and tire on our tires started, although we didn’t know it at the time.
  • Repair Truck AC – $448
  • Deductible to replace truck engine due to putting diesel fuel in tank.  We got off cheap on this one as the total cost was $15,000.  We only paid $1000 and insurance paid the rest.

2017

  • Front tires and alignment – $592 These were replaced at 60,000 miles and were last replaced at around 16,000 so we got a good 44,000 miles.
  • Kayak motor mount and trolling motor – $200
  • Mor Ryde Suspension and disc brakes for trailer – $5391 – which you can read about here.
  • First attempt to repair the furnace and repair fridge slide. –  $380. The mobile tech who worked on the issue was in a motorcycle accident and was unable to finish the repair before we moved on to our next job. The slide got fixed but the furnace did not. We still had to pay $380 in various fees even though it was all supposed to be covered by our extended warranty.

2018

  • Furnace repair $310 – After one full year of not having a furnace we finally got it fixed in Columbus, Ohio!  Just in time, because we definitely needed a working furnace for all the boondocking we did in Utah.
  • Underbelly Heat $150 – We dealt with frozen pipes in the rig for the first time and Lee added some insulation and a heat source to help with the problem.
  • Toilet $242 – We replaced our toilet with a standard sized one, which by the way I still really love, and is one of the best repairs we have ever made!
  • Valves $150 – Lee put in valves on the fresh water tank vents.  Seems like a little thing, but for him it made things a whole lot easier.
  • Slide Repairs $1200 – We also spent a few days having our slide floor replaced.  We found a great RV tech in Texas who had previously worked in Indiana at the Open Range factory and he did a terrific job.
  • Steps $160 – Lee (with Bill and Ben’s help) replaced our steps and did lots of other small repairs while we were at the reunion rally.
  • Landing Gear $1024 – We had one of our front jacks fail and Lee had to do an emergency repair.
  • Truck Bearing $435 – A front truck bearing seized up and we were stranded on a mountain road.  The whole thing turned out OK, but it was pretty stressful. We paid for the tow and a deductible.
  • Door $281 – Our entry door window glass broke in a wind storm in Utah and Lee replaced the window portion of the door in Texas.
  • Quilt $200 – Something a little more fun, we got a T-shirt quilt made from shirts we had collected in our travels.

2019

  • Bluebonnet $314
  • 2 Truck batteries $360
  • Living Room TV $400
  • Bedroom TV $140
  • Workstation for Tracy $350
  • Replacement WiFi Hotspot $216
  • Dog Platform $250
  • Convection Microwave $ 370
  • Cooktop $300
  • Exterior Wall Repair $1725
  • Trailer Tires $1556 – After the replacement of our shackle and hanger the tires started to wear in a really bad and unusual pattern. We finally replaced them but still managed to put a LOT of miles on those tires before we did. I’ll be very curious to see how long these new ones last.
  • Kitchen Vent and Cover $334
  • Rear Truck Tires $1120

Patterns I am Seeing- By Tracy

Five years ago we started out on the road with a large group of fellow travelers.  Over the years we have done a good job of staying in contact with one another which has allowed me to notice some general patterns as the years go by.  As always these are just impressions and not backed up by statistical data.  In year five I see two major trends emerging.  First, several people we know have bought a piece of land.  Some are using this land to winter or summer and others are staying in one place more often and traveling part-time.  Consequently several people we know have sold their larger rigs and are now traveling in a smaller setup.  Having a piece of property makes total sense to me, but we don’t have a place yet we want to settle.  If we could agree on a place I would 100% start looking for some land.

The second trend is several of us are becoming first time grandparents.  It makes sense as many of us had children around the same time and are kids are hitting 30 and deciding to have babies.  I know of five couples personally who are in the new grandparent situation and each one of us needs to decide how that will affect our travel long-term.  Where the babies are matter of course as RV’s don’t do great in winter locales and those of us who work have to factor that in as well so its a balancing act of family needs and the desire to keep traveling.  How that turns out long term I don’t know but I am extremely glad we have five full years of travel before we had a grandchild to balance things with.

Top 10 Things We Saw 

 

Hole in the Rock required several hours of rough driving down a dirt road but was totally worth it.

 

Bryce Canyon.  Some things absolutely live up to their press.

 

Giant land grab statue in Oklahoma City

 

Goblin Valley.  We wouldn’t even have known this place existed if it wasn’t for our friend Deb.

 

Arizona Desert in bloom.  Thanks to Guy for loaning us his buggy.  I’ve never seen the desert so green and it was beautiful.

 

Lunar eclipse in the middle of nowhere Texas.  In an oil field far away from any lights it was a spectacular sight.

 

Snake River where Evil Knievel attempted his jump.  An iconic moment and place for those of us who remember it.

 

Slot canyons in Utah…super cool love hiking those.

 

Zoomies in the desert, in the forest,  in the grasslands, and finally, at the ocean.  Jack’s zoomies are amazing everywhere!

 

The absolute best though was Oliver’s smile. Being a grandma rocks!

 


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  • As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Search Amazon Here
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Fifth Year – The Emotional Arc

Before I go through what happened in our fifth year, I wanted to take a moment and recognize that we made the Five Year Milestone.  To be honest, I was pretty skeptical about the sustainability of the lifestyle when we first started and I would have given us less than a 50/50 chance to still be on the road five years in.  I was completely convinced that we would have run out of money by now, and I am more than pleasantly surprised that that hasn’t happened.  That being said, it’s fair to say this lifestyle is not exactly what Lee and I thought it would be.  We had a romanticized vision in our heads and the reality does not always match.  I wrote a post this year called Original Expectations Versus Reality to talk about some of these differences.

My friend Kelly started her fifth year summary by answering a few questions and I thought I would take a moment to do the same.  For those of you who haven’t read the whole blog this will give you a high level overview of where we are.

  1.  Do you regret your choice to go on the road?  Absolutely not.  At times I have regretted my decision to quit my job, but never to sell our house and go on the road. (Not even a tiny little bit. – Lee)
  2. What is your least favorite part? For me it has been the jobs we have had to work. I have been pretty honest about how much I have struggled with most of them. This year I have taken steps to solve that problem and I hope it is better going forward. (For me it’s that I thought we would have more time off. We’ve still done way better than before we hit the road with the work/play ration, but 50/50 was my goal. – Lee)
  3. What is your favorite part? I love, love when we are out in nature.  When I think back on the last 5 years it evokes a series of amazing images that no one can ever take away from me.  Plus Lee and I are at our best when we are exploring.  There is less of that than I would like, but more than I originally thought would be possible. (Seeing awesome things. Not just majestic vistas, but largest balls of twine. A close second is not being in any one place for too long. – Lee)
  4. Do you miss your old life?  For Lee that answer is not at all.  He felt confined in his old life and although this one is not perfect it suits him much better.  The answer for me is more complicated.  I miss parts of my old life.  I definitely miss the type of work I was able to do in my old life (although I do not miss the stress).  I miss seeing family, especially around the holidays.  I definitely miss having easy access to consistent medical and dental care.
  5. Is it a fair trade??  Again Lee would say absolutely.  My answer is most days.  I do get frustrated with the fact that I cannot have the things I mentioned above and still be a full time RVer, although I am continually striving to find a balance where that is possible.

I wrote a post called Compromises on November 26, 2104, two weeks after we went on the road. Five years later, I don’t think my (or Lee’s) perspective has changed all that much. Here’s an excerpt:

“One of the things about this lifestyle is it involves many compromises.  In our sticks and bricks we had created a life that really suited our day-to-day needs.  Obviously it wasn’t good enough or we would never have made the move, but we were comfortable. (I’m never actually comfortable, the best I can shoot for is minimally uncomfortable. – Lee)  Going out on the road is an exercise in getting out of your comfort zone and it seems every decision we make involves compromise of one sort or another.  Compromise is not bad in and of itself, (yes, it is – Lee.) but you really have to be honest with yourself and each other about what really matters to you.”

So let’s talk about this year.  It was a turbulent one and in many respects this year has caused us to go full circle.  We spent the beginning of this year in Texas with our friends Cori and Greg and this year it took over a month for us to find a gate guarding job.  We really weren’t expecting such a big delay and we took a hit to our financials as we waited.  On the plus side we celebrated our first “Friendsgiving” and we able to reconnect with Kelly and Bill.  We finally got a job in December and ended up spending Christmas working in the oil fields.  It wasn’t totally terrible, but certainly not the best Christmas we have ever had, but at that point we were happy to be working again.

On the plus side after Christmas I finally published my autobiography.  I had been working on it for a couple of years and after editing and re-editing I finally was ready to pull the trigger and put it out there.  It was much more nerve wracking than I thought it would be but the response was generally good.  In particular it was nice that my brother and dad both read it because neither of them read the blog.  I learned a lot through the experience, mainly that I love writing and hate editing.  Since I can’t afford a professional editor, I need to do that work myself and that process more than anything else would make me hesitate to do it again.  There is a higher standard for writing a book than writing a blog and my “stream of consciousness style” didn’t really serve me well in that format.  All in all, I’m super glad I did it, not sure if and when I will ever do it again.

Right after the holidays I started seriously thinking about Finding a Consultant Job that fits our lifestyle.  I knew I was unhappy with the status quo but wasn’t exactly sure what type of job would fit.  I knew I needed to loosen up on my criteria though, and started looking for something in the San Antonio area.  I got really far down the path with one company but unfortunately the job was pulled before they hired anyone.  They tried to find me something else in their company but I wasn’t the right fit for any of their openings.  The whole experience really bummed me out especially because I was interviewing while trying to work overnights and scheduling interviews was complicated.  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.

We were still trying to dig ourselves out of a financial hole though from all that time off so after a few days we started at a new gate.  We were both happy that this one was farther away from the border and we quickly settled into a routine. I kept thinking that the best time to deal with what was happening with us was when we had our month off in April, so kicked the can down the road until then.  When you are gate guarding one of you is always working and its really not the best situation to have serious relationship conversations.  I did write a post, which I never published, called “Cracks in the Foundation.”  I don’t delete many posts without posting them, and when I do it’s definitely not a good commentary on my state of mind.  Here is some of that post:

 

“As the days drag on at the gate, I’ve found that I have lots of time to think.  It’s been hard to put those thoughts into a cohesive post of any kind, which is why I haven’t written in awhile…  I’ve always been a person who looks for patterns or themes in my life, in part to figure out what God/the universe is trying to tell me. But as I stated it’s been a bit chaotic and the only idea that keeps occurring is the concept of foundation… We each have building blocks, and we can assign a simple designation to each of them.  Mother, Wife, Christian, Employee, Traveler, Photographer, Writer are just a few of mine.  These designations make up the unique personality of who I am and form my foundation.  In theory, those foundation blocks should be completely portable… For me, however, it hasn’t been that simple…  There is something about this life, often lived at its most basic, that strips away the noise and shows the core…

When we are traveling there is lots of distraction.  In the beginning, in particular, there were so many pretty and shiny things to look at, that the foundation was largely ignored.  Eventually things slow down and the less pleasant realities of the lifestyle start to appear.  RV repairs, money concerns and family issues all bring a dose of reality to the fantasy, and in many cases impact the foundation… There have been other events that have shown me cracks I didn’t know existed.  Or to be honest I had some inkling, but really didn’t want to look to hard.  If the basement isn’t actually flooding, who cares about the occasional minor leak?  The last month a series of events has me taking a really hard look at several bricks in my foundation. I’m not going to get into the specifics, because they are deeply personal and for the purposes of this post don’t really matter. The point is that at times like these I wonder if those cracks could be addressed easier if I lived a different lifestyle…

In the past when I had difficulty with a portion of my life I would focus on something else.  Marriage issues…work more. Kid trouble…spend more time with husband,  Work problems…focus on home.  I am fully aware that playing hot potato with my problems wasn’t always the best choice, but it was effective.  Things pass, issues work themselves out over time, circumstances changes. All of those things are true. In this stripped down life, that doesn’t feel like an option.  The problems are front and center and in this incredibly small space it is hard to shuttle them to a corner.  There is no unoccupied place to put them…In a perfect world I would love to just fix the cracks and move on. Sometimes that’s not possible.  Sometimes it’s just too painful. Sometimes it’s too scary. Like I said,  I just don’t know. It’s tempting to blame it on the lifestyle, that would be the easy way out.  But I brought this foundation with me. The life is simply the basement stripped clean.”

 

That post was written on February 24th and on March 4th my life turned completely upside down.   Lee had a heart attack.  It wasn’t expected and we were absolutely not prepared.  The one purpose it served was to completely shift the focus and provide a warning shot that we needed to lead a healthier lifestyle.  We quit smoking, went on diets, and both of us started seriously reevaluating our lives.  I also experienced PTSD, although I didn’t recognize it for what it was and didn’t receive help until later in the summer.  It also put on hold any plans about looking for a job.  We needed the time off in April to relax and it made the most sense to return to our jobs in Oregon for the third year in a row.  Lee really wanted to go back and although I was dreading it, I wanted him to have whatever would make him the most comfortable.  So we scheduled our time in Utah and then made plans to head that way.

Utah was the absolute best part of the year.  This was our second month in the state, and we were able to finish seeing several areas we missed the year before.  We saw Bryce Canyon with our friends Deb and Steve and explored Goblin Valley with Deb & Steve and Cori, & Greg,  The absolute best thing that we did was go on a 10 mile hike in Little Wild Horse Canyon.  First, it was one of the best experiences we have had on the road, and just as importantly it showed Lee that he could still be physically active post heart attack.  He actually did better than I did and for both of us it was a big accomplishment.

Right after we arrived at Timothy Lake Jack turned one.  I can’t stress enough what a joy he has been through a very difficult year.  Even when Lee and I weren’t communicating very well with each other, talking about the dog gave us something to work on together.  Jack has taken to the RV life very well, but it has required some adjustment on our parts.  Overall I am so very glad that we got him, but it definitely has changed the way we do things a bit.  Timothy Lake itself was not great.  We met some really nice new people, but there was more of a barrier between seasonal workers and full time employees than ever before.  I thought this year I would be able to work on some special projects, but very little of that actually materialized.  I felt underutilized and once again started thinking about next steps. My daughter was also expecting our first grandchild and I really wanted a job that would enable me to spend more time with her and the baby.

I started looking for full time or long term jobs at the beginning of August and finally in mid August I flew out to see Kyrston and to meet Oliver.  My feelings towards the baby were so strong from the moment we met and I knew I was on the right track looking for a full time position with remote options.  When I went back to Timothy I was honest with my boss and Lee about what I was doing and I worked really hard at work to fully transition my job to a new person since I knew we wouldn’t be coming back the nest year.  I helped select the right person, trained them, and documented everything I could.  I also kept looking for work, although it was definitely more difficult than I initially thought it would be.  Right when I felt I was starting to make progress we got the word that they were letting some couples go from the Work Kamping job and we were one of them.  I was told that because I had trained my replacement I had “pretty much done it to myself,” and we were given a few days to pack up and move on.

Needless to say that experience was the low point of a really crappy year and we were both very angry at being treated that way after three very loyal years of service.  These things happen for a reason though and I firmly believed God had a plan so we headed back down to Texas to see if we could get a gate guarding job to tide us over until I found something permanent.   I should stop here and say Cori & Greg were an absolute lifesaver this year.  Not only did they give us a place to stay several times, they were also unfailingly supportive friends through all this craziness.  We both learned on them pretty heavily and I am incredibly grateful that they are in our lives.

Once we got down to Texas things started heating up.  I was interviewing with multiple companies and Lee was much less resistant to me having a full time position than he initially was. Between the delay in getting a gate, the heart attack medical bills, and getting let go early from PGE we definitely were in a hole and we needed something drastic to dig our way out of it.  He definitely still had his concerns, don’t get me wrong, but he was more open to me working full time again.  To be clear I think eventually we could have worked our way out of it with gate guarding, it just would have taken much longer and for me at least would have been much less rewarding.  Finally on October 7th I started a full-time position and I felt like I could breathe a sigh of relief.

Originally we were going to stay with Cori &  Greg until November 1st, but we had a Facetime with the baby and we both decided on a whim to leave earlier and head east.  We made the drive in three days, got settled in and then went to see the baby which was very special.  The next morning I received word that my nephew had committed suicide and we packed up and moved a few hours inland to be close to my sister near Charlotte.  Having a home on wheels was a blessing in this scenario and having a job even more so.  My new boss was very understanding about my need to be with my family and as a full time employee I got paid for bereavement time.  We stayed with my sister through the week and then came back to Charleston and into the same RV spot.  Our plan is to stay here through the holidays which will allow us to spend time with Oliver and be close in case my sister needs us. We are also working through what our life looks like now that I am working full time again and Lee is figuring out what he wants to do with his time.

Overall this was a year of extreme highs and extreme lows.  Things are by no means perfect and we are still working it out, and considering the year we have had things could definitely be worse.  At this point I am living very much in the here and now, and taking things day by day.  Thank you all for following along, and here are some of my favorite pictures from the year.

Jack helps Cori with her emails.  They are good buddies.

 

Celebrating Kelly’s birthday

 

Merry Christmas

 

We got the fantastic news that our daughter was expecting!!!

 

Jack stares down a herd of cattle in the oil fields

 

Greg fixing Lee’s oxygen. He kept all of us in good spirits.

 

Hobie keeping Jack company

 

Visiting the donkey sanctuary with Linda.

 

Dinner with our friends in Arizona from left: Deb, me, Steve, Guy, Sue, Harry, and Vicki

 

Guy let us borrow his four wheeler to take a ride.  What a terrific experience.  We both loved it.

 

Seeing Bill and Nancy at Lost Dutchman State Park

 

Deb and Hurley at Lone Rock Beach Campground.  It’s one of our favorite boondocking spots.

 

Deb, Steve, Lee and I at Bryce Canyon. It was just as amazing as people say it is.

 

Hurley and Jack playing in Goblin Valley

 

AMAZING boondocking spot outside of Goblin Valley

 

Cori in a super cool slot canyon in Little Wild Horse

 

Deb, Cori, and I at Calf’s Creek Falls

 

Greg, Cori, Lee and I at Devils Garden on our way to Hole in the Rock

 

Shoshone Falls in Idaho was an unexpected treat.

 

Jack goes to Good Manners Class

 

Lovely spot near Bagby Hot Springs

 

My daughter Kyrston and Oliver. I adore this picture

 

My sister Wendy, niece Bailey, daughter Kyrston and me

 

Mom’s first great grand child

 

Dad’s first great grandchild

 

Olivers first fancy dinner.  He was nice and slept as I had one of the best meals of my life with my son-in-law Jeremy, daughter Kyrston and my Dad.

 

Jack got to meet Peyton and Sammy when Jo came to visit!

 

Adding to the giant ball of twine. Bucket list check!!!

 

Seeing our friends Dan and Sharon in Oklahoma City…another state sticker!!!

 

Oliver hangs out in the blanket I cross stitched for him.

 

I adore this child!!!

 

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Search Amazon Here
  • 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.

Jack’s First Time at the Ocean!!!!

Ever since we got Jack I have been wanting to take him to the ocean, but something kept getting in the way.  We know he loves sand because of our time in Utah and we thought a dog friendly beach would be a really fun day with him.  Weather didn’t cooperate while we were in Oregon, so the first chance we got we decided to go to a beach in Charleston.  It didn’t take long to find out which beaches were dog friendly and we settled on the Island of the Palms County Park.  We thought the off season policy was morning and evening off leash was OK, but I have since learned that really wasn’t the case.  That probably explains why some dogs were on leash and others were off.  After doing more research it looks like Kiaweh Island has specific off leash times and areas.  Next time I will go to the city site rather than relying on third party websites.

Seasonal Dog Leash Area: From the Critical Habitat Area west of Beachwalker County Park to the eastern boundary of the Beach Club.
March 16 – October 31 Dogs must be leashed at all times.
November 1 – March 15 Dogs are allowed to be off leash.
• Dog Use Area: Dogs are allowed off leash year round in the designated “dog use area” located between the eastern boundary of the Beach Club and the Ocean Course pedestrian access provided they are under control. Off leash stipulations: The owner must remain with their pet and have in their possession a leash. Pets must be leashed if requested by another beachgoer or by Beach Patrol.

We weren’t really sure how Jack would do so we found a stretch of beach without any people and put him back on leash whenever other dogs walked through.  This worked OK and he had a good time especially sniffing a crab body he found and running up near the grass.  He didn’t want anything to do with the water, although he wasn’t afraid of it.  Like Timothy Lake he just wasn’t interested.  The best part of the day was when a couple brought a 4 month old puppy by to play.  They had a blast running around in circles and Jack was the first one to call it quits.  If you have met Mr. Energy Jack you know how rare this is.  We got some awesome pictures and Lee made a great video that I wanted to share with you.  Wonderful experience and well worth the 45 minute drive each way to get to the beach.

 

Heading to the ocean

 

Surprising number of people on the beach

 

Lots of flat space to run around.

 

Seriously look at that happy face

 

This was the picture I wanted !!!

 

First time drinking from a doggie water fountain. Once he figured it out he lapped it up.

If that wasn’t enough we decided to stop and see Kyrston on the way home so Jack could meet her dog Finn.  We have been introducing people to each other, saving the dogs until last but it turned out really great.  Jack and Finn got along really well which will make things much easier if we spend long days with them.  Plus it was fun for Finn who has been a little cooped up with new baby.

So happy everyone was buddies

 

Finn was happy!

Nice doggie day and good for everyone.  Super relived it all worked out.


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    • As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Search Amazon Here
    • 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.

Kelly and Bill, A Fair, and a Flea Market

Now that things are settling down a little Lee and I wanted to make sure that we were getting out on the weekends and doing some things.  We started the weekend with Kelly and Bill stopping at our campground on their way to Florida.  We had talked weeks before about them rerouting themselves to see us, and as always I am touched by the effort people will go through to see each other in this lifestyle.  The daily rate at our campground is NOT cheap, but they happily paid it and got in around 1:30pm on Friday.  I was working, but Lee was able to go over and hang out with them, and then Kyrston drove over with baby Oliver to meet them.  She met Cori & Greg and Steve & Deb before we ever hit the road, when they came to visit us in Keene, but she had never met Kelly & Bill.  Kyrston used to be a bartender so you know what she and Bill talked about, and Kelly loved meeting Oliver.  It was a great visit and I was so happy everyone got to meet, even if it was only for one day. We’ll take it!

Bill and Kelly

 

Kyrston enjoying all the grandparents on baby duty

 

Bill is the baby whisperer

 

Jack likes Oliver

 

But the full face puppy kisses may be a little much!!

The next morning we all got up early and went out to breakfast at a little place near us called Eggs Up Grill. It’s a regional chain down here and the food was fantastic!! When we got back to the campground Bill & Kelly started to get ready to leave, but Bill had an issue dumping his black tank because there was something blocking the sewer pipe in the ground.  The KOA staff made it right by helping him solve the problem with a bucket and comping his stay.  I have to say I really like this campground.  In the winter season (starting Nov. 1) it is $675 for two people with no additional money for electric.  Considering the park that’s five minutes from Kyrston is $900 a month that is quite a bargain.  The staff is excellent, and the folks staying here are really nice.  We get plenty of one or two nighters of course, but our neighbor is staying a month.  They have three dogs that Jack loves to play with and on Halloween they brought over a treat just for Jack.  It was the sweetest thing and very representative of the types of people who are staying here.

From Left: Kelly, Bill, me and Lee

 

Check out the sweet note and treat from the puppies next door…Jackson, Allie, and Teddy!

 

After breakfast Bill and Kelly were heading out so Lee and I decided to stop by the Coastal Carolina Fair.  It is only a couple of miles down the road and we like local fairs.  We got there pretty early to beat the crowds, and paid the $12 each to go in.  Overall we felt the price was kind of steep and we were disappointed that their weren’t more 4H activities and animals.  The craft building was spectacular though, and we particularly liked that there were people sitting in each section actively doing their craft and available to answer questions.  That was the best part for us.

Flower and plant awards

 

I loved the section of hats made from natural materials

 

And necklaces

 

Loved seeing old school awards for canning

 

Gorgeous quilts

 

Loved, loved, LOVED this ceramic truck and camper!

 

I do needle work and the difference between this picture and the stuff I do was amazing. Loved talking to the cross stitchers

 

Our favorite part was the people crafting that you could ask questions of

 

Lee spent a ton of time with this wood carver

 

Lee’s absolute favorite section is photography

 

Kyrston, this reminded me of some of your work. You should enter next year!

 

The art section was also amazing especially the youth section. I loved this picture by a 17 year old

 

Amazing job by a 12 year old

 

How much do you love this pizza by a 6 year old?

 

But my absolute favorite was titled “The Day the Crayons Came Home” by Hasaan age 6.

(Here are some of my favorites from the photography exhibit – Lee)

 

Quiet Trail

 

Reflections

 

Sunrise At Botany Bay

 

Lorem

 

Still Motion

 

Together

 

Reaching

 

Zen Falls

 

Blue Light Sunrise

 

Fall Mountain Stream

 

Glade Creek Grist Mill

 

Before It Fades

(Here are some of my favorites from an exhibit if art made from recycled materials. – Lee)

This was a HUGE starfish, probably 3 feet across, all made from junk picked up on a beach. By a 7th grader.

It was a bit downhill after the art area.  There were a couple of buildings of commercial vendors, but their selling tactics were pretty aggressive.  We finally found one animal area, but it was really small.  I love the 4H pieces but the only thing we saw was a few people showing goats and rabbits.

I wonder what Jack would think of this guy.

The layout was interesting as the space had a giant pond in the middle and they rented boats for people to go on.  The largest section of the fair was the midway, and it was blocked off so only wristband wearers could go in.  The wristbands were an additional $27, bringing the total cost for families up pretty high I thought.  What we did see a ton of was food.  I mean lots and lots of food trucks, and because it was the south some things I have never seen before.  You will be happy to know that we walked all around and did not buy one item of food.  It was close a couple of times but we ended up eating lunch at home.  Yeah us!!

The pond was in the middle of the fairgrounds

 

Never seen this before

 

Or this …a surf and turf sundae yikes!

 

Gators and taters!

 

And a huge candy store. That almost got us but we both walked out!!!

 

The only thing that even looked healthy was this vegetable stand. Of course since it was all fried it wasn’t but it was cleverly portrayed to look healthy.

After we walked over the fair we went outside the fairgrounds footprint, and realized the flea market was running.  This is a huge area every weekend and has over 14 buildings and lots of outside vendors.  We did the fresh fruits and vegetable area and a few buildings but I got pretty tired.  It’s nice to know its there though because the vegetables were incredibly priced and looked great!

 

We came back to the house and took a break because we were both tired from all that walking.  But since it was a beautiful day we got our second wind and we headed to the beach with Jack.  That’s going to be a separate post, so see you next time!

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Search Amazon Here
  • 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.

October 2019 Budget

When I saw these numbers my immediate reaction was WOAH we spent $7600.  I had said we were going to try and keep with our previous spending even though I had gotten a job, but obviously that didn’t happen.  In all fairness though it was part not needing to worry about budget for once, part traveling across the country, and part the week we spent with my sister for a family emergency.  We did things in a hurry, and that always costs more.  I’ll go through the details below.

Campground Fees – Previously we were spending less than $200 a month in campground fees.  That will probably change with my new job especially because the places near Kyrston’s house are NOT cheap.  Lee may mitigate this some through volunteering, but then again he may not.  I do know that we make adjustments to categories in January and this one will definitely go up. These fees include coming across the country.  The weekly rate at the KOA (Monthly rates start November 1st) and a daily rate at a county park near my sister.

Dining Out – This one we just went crazy on.  We took Cori & Greg to dinner to thank them for letting us stay with them.   We bought food for people when we were at my sister’s house.  We also ate out as a convenience while traveling.   What does that look like?  Blowing the budget by over $500.   The biggest reason we will probably stop this is we spent a ton of money and we both packed on the pounds.  Eating out is usually NOT healthy.  It is cheaper and easier on the waistline to stay at home. That being said this is an area we haven’t been able to splurge in for a long time.  I’m not going to feel guilty about going out a bit now that I am making more money.

Entertainment – I had to go back and see what all this money was.  A chunk of that was paying for the RV-Dreams rally in April.  We are planning on attending with our friends Kelly & Bill (Bill does solar installations and will be there doing estimates and presenting at the rally) so if you have been thinking about going to a rally but keep putting it off, come to this one!  Aside from experiencing what may be a life altering event you get the bonus of meeting us and getting a walk through of our RV, as well as the RVs of lots of other people. That’s one of the highlights of the rally. We really can’t say enough about how much information is packed into these rallys, and you will meet lots of like minded people. For the record we are not getting compensated in any way to attend the event.  We find them valuable and enjoy going to them when our schedule allows.

Truck Fuel – This was San Antonio to Charleston then to Charlotte and back to Charleston, plus all the running around in between.  We always look at this as an annualized amount and YTD we are $472 to the good.  Since we aren’t planning on taking any more long trips until the next year we should be really close to budget.

Truck Maintenance – We spent $368 on two new truck batteries.  One was pretty old and had weakened the other one so Lee just replaced both of them  That was an unexpected expense but thankfully it happened while we were with Cori & Greg so it didn’t cause any trouble while we were traveling.

Healthcare – We spent $244 on healthcare out of pocket on medical bills.  Our HSA account is wiped out but we are now putting money in a new one.  This was a bill that came in between.

Clothing – I spent roughly $300 on work clothes, new bras, and workout clothes this month.  Lee also bought some clothes to wear to the funeral.  I mention the bras specifically because when we first came on the road five years ago I had extra bras and underwear I brought with me that Lee stored in the “basement” and I just grabbed them when I needed them.  That “stock” lasted a full five years and finally needed to be replaced.  Have to say that was one of the best things I did and I highly recommend if you are going on the road and will be on a budget stock up on that stuff prior to leaving.

Cigarettes – This category is now for my e-cigarette. Lee completely stopped smoking but I still use an e-cigarette. The cartridges are three for $15 and last roughly two weeks.  Yes I have seen the news reports and no with everything else that has been going on I am not ready to stop doing that yet.  It is definitely the lesser of two evils.  Speaking of smoking it took an act of extreme will to not buy a pack of cigarettes the week I was with my sister,  I do not regret at all heavily relying on my e-cigarette to get me through that.

Gifts – One of the first things I did when I got to my sisters was give her teenage kids $100 each.  It was gas money and fast food money for them and something I have done occasionally for other teenagers who have lost someone close to them.  If you are ever in a similar situation I highly recommend slipping the kids some money.  They will appreciate it.

Home Equipment –  If you have been following along you know that when we get a little extra money I eat out,  and Lee does home maintenance.  It’s a pretty familiar pattern and this month was no exception.  Take a little extra money and being in a place you can work on stuff and you can bet Lee will get cracking on his list.  This time it was adding a convection oven and several other repairs which are detailed in this post.  All these cool mods Lee does are NOT cheap!!

Miscellaneous – This $178 was to rent a car one way from Charleston to Charlotte,  I went to Enterprise and they were great about getting me out the door quickly but it really bothers me how much they charged for one day.  Certainly I could have looked for coupons and bargain shopped, but it was an emergency I just needed to go.  I feel I got gouged in price and frankly think less of them as a company because of it.

So that’s where we are. It will take a couple more months to really get a feel for what our new normal looks like…if we even do that.  Our goal is to live reasonably and sock some money away but we also are going to loosen up a bit.  We have been on a VERY strict budget for five years and need to discover how things settle in.  I’ll report that honestly as we go along, but I am definitely not feeling bad about it.  🙂

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • 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 Joining a Gym on the Road

Before I started this post I wanted to take a moment and share the series of events that led me to be near my sister when the recent tragedy happens.  I mention it because this is why I personally believe in God/Higher Power and also I think it’s important to take a moment and acknowledge how this lifestyle can be a benefit.  Back in August I started looking for a job to be closer to Charleston where my daughter lives and I knew it would put me closer to my Mom in Myrtle Beach and sister in the Charlotte area.  The search came down to two job offers which I received on the same day.  I prayed quite a bit about which job to take and ultimately chose the one that allowed me more freedom to travel. The other job was working on cutting edge technology and would allow me to travel internationally (a dream of mine), but I made the choice based on being closer to family and giving Lee more options.

Initially we were going to stay in San Antonio through November 1st and then head to Charleston.  After having our first Facetime with Oliver though we decided to head this way early, even though it meant we would have to pay an extra $700 in campground fees for two weeks.  The monthly rate at the KOA doesn’t start until November and we both winced at the high weekly rate, but we wanted to be there.  IF I hadn’t gotten a job we would have been gate guarding and that wouldn’t have been possible.  If I took the other job I would have spent the first month in London and Lee would have stayed.  Instead we made the unusual choice to spend the money and drove 1200 miles in three days to get to Charleston. Originally we were going to take four days to get to Charleston.  We arrived very late, setup and the next day went to see Kyrston and Lee met Oliver.  Tuesday morning I got the news about my nephew.

I grabbed a rental care and was able to get to my sister within 4 hours.  Lee called the campground close to her and snagged their last available spot.  We needed to stay through Halloween weekend and the campground was packed.  Lee packed up the rig, followed behind me, and was with me by 3pm.  Through all of this I didn’t need to worry about my job oir money because I was now a full time employee with bereavement pay and my boss was someone I had known for twenty years.  It was not lost on me that the other position would have put me in London and I don’t know what I would have done.  If we were gate guarding we could have packed up and left, but we would have risked upsetting the company we worked for and it would have taken days to get there.

It was a horrible tragedy and something no one should ever have to go through, but I am so grateful that God put me in a position where we could support my sister and her family.  I just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge that.

After the funeral, we came back to Charleston and were lucky enough to get our same spot back.  In general I am not a huge fan of KOAs but the Ladson/Charleston Holiday KOA has been amazing.  Their monthly rate is extremely reasonable($675 for two people) and we absolutely love our site.  All of the people we have met here have been super friendly as well, and it’s close to grocery stores, laundromat, etc.  When we got back and set up I jumped on the scale and saw that for the first time I was over 160 pounds.  Menopause took me to 140, and stopping smoking added another 20 pounds.  I knew I needed to do something and I looked around to see if there was a gym close by.

The reason I chose a gym was I had stumbled across a video on weight loss from a doctor who was my age and she talked about the need for resistance training.  According to her, I could do all the cardio in the world, but at our age we needed to convert the fat to muscle.  Many, many years ago I worked out in a gym and I liked it, so since we were going to be in the same area for a couple of months I decided to give it a try.  Initially I felt hesitant, but I went at lunch and signed up at a gym 3 miles away and last night I had my first workout experience.

The gym is 24/7 which is important to me, and has lots of machines.  The cost is $35 per month with no contract required, and they gave me half off the activation fee which ended up being $30.  I am sure I could have found a better deal somewhere, but I liked how close it was, and the woman I signed up with was very nice and low pressure.  The only unfortunate thing was when I put on the one pair of gym shorts that I own I discovered they had a huge hole in them.  So I had to go to a nearby Kohl’s and grab a couple of items so I would have something to work out in.  The best part of that trip was that I saw a Donato’s right near the Kohls!  We absolutely love Donato’s which is a Columbus based company, and had no idea they had them in Charleston, let alone so close by.  I grabbed us a couple of subs, which were deee-licious, and then I knew I was definitely going to need to start working out.

When I went into the facility, I went from one machine to another and tried them all.  Thankfully there were small explanation cards on each one and most were self-explanatory.  I could have gotten help from one of the trainers if I needed it, but I preferred just working through it on my own.  People seemed to recognize that and respect it and folks just gave me space.  I didn’t feel ignored or anything, just allowed to do my own thing which I appreciated.  I focused mainly on my upper arms and did not push it.  I lightened the weights on each machine to the point where I felt some resistance but wasn’t straining  and tried to do at least 20 reps on each one.  I also spent some time on the treadmill and the cross country ski machine, just to throw in a little cardio.  I was there a little over an hour and I feel pretty good today.  A little sore in the upper body, but nothing too terrible.  My goal is to go a minimum of three days a week and more if possible.  Between work and spending time with Kyrston and Oliver I am not 100% sure when the best schedule times will be, but I am not putting too much pressure on myself.

Any exercise is good exercise!  I am also walking the dog and walking when possible while I am on conference calls just to keep myself moving.  The other side of the equation of course is eating.  I am trying to reduce carbs and reduce processed sugars but I am not eliminating them completely at this point.  Now that we are settled I need to get back to making healthy meals for both of our sakes.

That’s all for now but I do have some pictures of Oliver to share.  He has been such a blessing during all of this.  Holding him has been the best comfort.

My brother meets Oliver for the first time

Oliver meets Jack

I love how he sticks his tongue out. His grandpa does that too

Checking out the mirror I bought him

 

Then showing me how he can roll over now

Grandpa trying to get him to scootch a little

 

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog. You can help by doing any or all the following:

  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links.  There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds help support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here.
  • Purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • 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.

Providing Support For Loved One After a Suicide

When we received the call that my nephew committed suicide we were thankfully only three hours from my sister and were able to be with her within a few hours.  The next week was incredibly difficult but I am proud of how we came together as a family to support her.  There are so many moments that can make things worse or just a little bit better.  I don’t think we got them all right, but while it was fresh in my mind I wanted to share what helped.  I am not a therapist but these are a few things that I found to be true in our particular situation.  God forbid you ever find yourself in this situation, but if you do I hope it is helpful.  Note: I asked my sister to review this post to make sure I got it write and she agreed.  I post this with her permission. 

The very first thing I did when I got the news was call my friend Kelly.  She lost her nephew a few years ago and I knew what she had been through.  When I called I simply said tell me what to do to not screw this up.  Her reply was simple but incredibly helpful.  “Say as little as possible.  Do as much as possible”.  Those words stayed with me through the week and the best that I could I tried to live them.  When I am upset or nervous I tend to chatter, so I had to keep a tight grip on myself.  It is very easy to allow nerves to push you into saying something really stupid so the less said the better.  I will add one caveat to this.  DO NOT say “I don’t know what to say”.  Think about what you want to say in advance.  If you just don’t know you can always say I am so sorry for your loss.  In my case I had a long three hour car ride to think about what I would say.  When I saw her I just said, “I’m Here” and I held her. Everything else felt false so I kept it simple.

  1. DO NOT ask how they killed themselves.  People want to know.  I get that, and before this experience that was my first question as well.  But ultimately it doesn’t matter because the person is dead.  The only thing that does matter is who found the person and in what state.  There is trauma associated with finding a dead body that goes above and beyond normal grief.  Understand that the person is in shock and dealing with that trauma FIRST.  Asking them how  it happened makes them relive that trauma. If they want/need to tell you the story listen and be as supportive as possible. Keep your judgement to yourself.  If they wish to keep the details private respect that. If they do share with you be very careful about who you share those details with.
  2. DO NOT assign blame.  There is plenty of shame, guilt, and anger in these situations that you do not need to add to them.  If the person you are comforting feels angry by all means accept that, but DO NOT heap your own feelings on top of theirs.  This is tough because there are endless questions of Why.  Some of those questions may never be answered. #EndTheStigma.
  3. Remember it’s not about you.  Tell yourself that over and over again. It’s about the people closest to the person and everyone needs to put their grief away for a little while and take care of that family.  There is a concept called The Ring Theory that I kept thinking of.  Based on your proximity to the person who has died you comfort inward and dump emotion out.    My sister, her husband, and their kids were at the epicenter.  Everyone else was on the outside.  I tried to take care of everyone in the center and had to let everyone on the outside of my ring go.

 

4.  Feel how you need to feel but try to not hurt anyone.  I am a big believer in the fact that people grieve in different ways.  That being said it’s important that people don’t take those feelings and hurt others with them.  Being kind to one another in grief is one of the best things we can do.  If kindness is not possible then removing yourself from the situation is the better choice.

5.  Be present as needed.  This is a tricky one.  You want to be present to do things for the people you love but they also need space.  It’s a delicate balance and asking doesn’t always provide the right answer.  Even in a horrible situation, people have manners and they don’t want to ask for what they need because it would be rude.  Try to be as intuitive as possible.  Remember it’s a marathon and not a sprint and you can only take care of others if you take care of yourself.  At the first hint that people need left alone try and accommodate that.  If you are present and nothing is actively needed just sit quietly and wait for an opportunity to present itself.  Constantly asking what can I do to help is often not helpful.

6.  Pay attention to the small things. When people have undergone trauma and grief it is very difficult for them to think clearly.  There are a myriad of details that need taken care of in these situations.  If you are not tasked with taking care of them make sure the person has water and if possible food.  It’s unlikely they will eat much but it is very important they stay hydrated and helping them remember to drink water is a small thing but very important.  Walk the dog, feed the fish, make sure there is food for people to eat.  These are all small things that may get forgotten that still need to be done.

7.  When bringing food think about the long term.  It is incredibly nice when people bring food, but it can quickly become overwhelming.  Non perishable items like snacks and bottled water are nice and any meal item that can be frozen for later is excellent.  If the person has a favorite restaurant item think of bringing that to tempt them to eat and keep in mind any dietary restrictions.  Eating healthy doesn’t go out the window even in a situation like this and its good to have some healthy alternatives.  The best thing we received all week was one of those fruit bouquets.  I always thought they were a little silly, but it was a healthy snack that everyone could pick at which was wonderful to have.

8.  Think about the children.  If there are small ones in the house babysitting, bringing them a special toy, or taking them out to play is one of the best things you can do.  With older kids I recommend giving them some gas/fast food money so they don’t need to worry about having some money if they want to get away for awhile.  The teenagers will likely miss quite a bit of work and won’t necessarily have a ton of money in savings to make up for that.  They will need/want to be with their friends as much as possible.  Try not to take that personally.  Offer rides if they don’t drive and be supportive of their need for space and time to process.  NEVER put your expectations of behavior on them.  If they want to wear their favorite pair of jeans to the funeral let them.  Allow them to pay tribute in their own way.  They are dealing with the same emotions that we as adults can barely handle.  Give them space.

9.  If you see an opportunity, pay for things.  The person will reflexively try to pay for everything which both pulls focus from what is important and could result in a ton of unexpected bills.  Paying for a meal or any unexpected expenses is both kind and something you can give to that person.  If they resist simply say, “Please let me do this”. If they still resist by all means let them pay, but whatever small thing you can do…do it. Life Insurance may or may not pay out in these cases so it is unclear what funds will be available to help cover the cost.  Be sensitive to that.

10.  Lead with Love.  Try and put your anger away.  It is normal, but needs to be dealt with away from the family.  Put as much love as you can into every moment.  Say it frequently.  And talk about how you love the person who committed suicide.  Share a sweet and silly moment you had with them.  Talk about them as a person you loved and not a tragedy or statistic.  Stand up for them as a casualty of mental illness.  This can be hard.  I kept thinking if he had died of cancer I wouldn’t feel this way and it helped.  Mental illness is an illness.  If we believe that we should believe there is no fault in a person succumbing to the disease.