Life is a Detour

It’s been a crazy ride since March 2017, eight months of non-stop changes.  Here are my thoughts on the whole experience.  

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When I started this blog, I committed myself to being honest concerning the experiences we endured during this camper life journey. The good, the bad, and the indifferent. It’s been a crazy ride since March 2017, eight months of non-stop changes. Here are my thoughts on the whole experience.

Confined Spaces and Cabin Fever.

Cabin in WinterEven the hardiest people of sound mind will find it difficult to create enough entertainment to keep yourself busy. There is only so much reading, crafting and internet activities to keep the mind active. There will be days when you will question yourself, “What am I accomplishing here”. Not to say the solitude is bad, but it will run its course over time. Human beings are social by nature. Look out for extended periods of time when you are feeling blue or indifferent. These could be precursors for mental health issues in the future.

The O’ Mighty Dollar.

As frugal as we may be, there will always be a need for cash. Finding enough income dollar-726881_960_720to buy food, clothing, medicines, or fix breakdowns is inevitable. The majority of the population is depended on the Capitalist way of living, no matter what your personal political beliefs are. We need service providers and stores to make it month to month. In order to make the camping lifestyle a success, there must be some form of residual income to depend on. Be it retirement, pensions, social security and the likes. Don’t think you will make a dependable income from the mass amounts of people out there wanting your services. Yes, you will make a little, but a little won’t cut it. It takes much more than you think.

What about all those successful YouTubers you’ve been watching? They all have their own story to tell. If you pay attention, many of them have residual income; are they receiving a disability check, food stamps, other forms of benefits? How do you know? You don’t. Many I have watched have not given up their homes. They have stability, or they circle back to their familiar stomping grounds, aka hometown.  They are not going it alone. Enough about that.

Creature Comforts of Home.

Pink_and_black_bathroomHere is where we get down and dirty. Are you willing to forgo your daily bathing routine? Yes, I have heard, “I have a shower and water hook up”. What happens when you can’t find suitable utilities, aka campgrounds? Don’t kid yourself, it will happen. Do you know how many gallons of water it takes to bathe in a bucket, not a shower? I do… five gallons if you have short hair. Add a couple of gallons for long hair. It takes a half a cup of water to brush your teeth. How about using the toilet?  Have you ever pooped in a bucket? You say, “WHAT”! Yes, a five-gallon bucket with a Lug-a-loo.  What if I have to pee? Well, ladies…an empty gallon jug and a plastic funnel works just fine. Guess you never thought you would stand up to pee. Now you can. Disposal is always an issue. One word of advice, don’t go digging around in trash cans and dumpsters. Ask any truck driver, they can teach you a lot. Enough said on this subject.

Food Preparation and Choices.

We have a decent size refrigerator in our motor home. It holds approximately a weeks worth of food for two people. With that said, it does not leave enough space for cold soft drinks and the top shelf is used for a large block of ice to keep everything from spoiling. That doesn’t leave room for fresh veggies. Meal planning has changed 3345850330_f85ba44d10_bdramatically, more canned very thing. Not that it is bad, but it does get mundane after a while. Not to mention trying to get the nutrition that is needed to keep one healthy. How many ways can you cook hot dogs, eggs, canned veggies till it doesn’t appeal to you any longer? I long for my kitchen gadgets.

Moving, Moving, and More Moving.

The four M’s. Is this really realistic? Sounds great in theory, but every story has an end. For us, the end is no more moving. I may have told you all before that my husband and I drove an expedite truck across country for five-plus years. We were paid to move freight long distances. We saw almost all lower 48 states multiple times. Lived in a 96-inch sleeper, slept at truck stops and rest areas alike. 100_1097I’ve showered and laundered our clothes in so many small towns across North America it would make your head spin. I have enjoyed fine dining and greasy spoons from Laredo, Texas to Minot, ND. So our need to see the country has been fulfilled, our adventurous streak has run its course. This Camper Life was just another extension of that lifestyle that needed to be explored, and we did it. One more check mark off the bucket list.

Recommendations:

So you still want to give this uncertain lifestyle a chance? I’m not here to convince you otherwise. We did it, we survived. Who am I to tell someone, “You’re crazy” for trying. If there is a burning desire for you to get out there and experience an adventure then do it. Just know what you’re in for and plan accordingly. You may find yourself right back where you started from.

For us, we are putting roots down again. Our curiosity has been quenched and our longing for permanency has taken over. We’re on a new path, new career, and a new start. I wish all of you the best of luck in your adventures and God Speed.

Laura at San Refael Reef, Az

*In the near future, this blog will be incorporated into my personal blog, Dotty’s World. I will continue to write about new experiences mixed with my interests, events, and hobbies. I hope you will enjoy reading my discoveries because there is always something to be said.*

 

 

 

This Life in a Camper

No matter how much strategizing life has a way of doing its own thing.  This summer has proven that to be true.

The Best Laid Plans Goes Astray…

No matter how much strategizing life has a way of doing its own thing.  This summer has proven that to be true.  I would like to get real here for a moment or two.  Sharing our setbacks and changes in plans.

Here is the truth, we are getting older.  At fifty life is much slower and (not to be a downer) less exciting.  The things that used to excite and move our emotions just don’t do it for us anymore.  Every morning takes a little more effort to motivate.  Life is not anew, it’s that same old hat. old_age_quote_3 I now understand how elderly people become crotchety, the grumpy old man syndrome.  I feel it peeking its head out every now and again.

Reality set in when we realize there is no way of getting around some type of permanency.

A stable place to call home.  Whether it be a campground, small piece of land, even BLM land (semi-permanent).  It’s still quasi-permanent.  Even nomadic people had a migration pattern.  So do we.  Knowing we needed a steady income in the near future, we had to back up and punt.  We are not pensioners, collect social security or independently wealthy.  There has to be some form of income at some point. Here is where the problem lies.  How to put down roots as cheaply as possible, remain somewhat mobile and reduce expenditures in today’s economy.

I frequently read on Facebook group posts (full-time camping threads) questions concerning making a living.  How does one do it, traveling the country and making money?  I won’t say it’s impossible, however, if you’re a prideful person I will say you will have a tough go at it.  Changing jobs frequently is stressful, wondering if you are going to work today or tomorrow is stressful.  thumb_stress_reductionDo you have enough money for the limited bills you do have, is stressful.  Our age doesn’t provide us with the flexibility to constantly change our situation on a whim.  We are on a two to three-year cycle.  Not bad for our age.

So we have stayed put for the past couple of months taking care of multiple doctor visits (old age got us again).  Battling out the aches and pains (where did that come from?) and learning what we can and can not do.  Our YouTube site has been stagnant due to lack of content. Permanency doesn’t provide for interesting videos.  Neither does waiting on doctor visits and surgery.  Life is rather boring that way.  It does allow for reflection on what is to come.  Now we are back to the permanency thing.  A ‘Catch 22’ or a full circle quagmire.  We are damned if we do and damned if we don’t.

quagmire-word-nerd

Limitations of income don’t allow for rent payments or mortgage (not that we want them).  Moving to an area that allows full-time camping removes us from the labor force. So now what?  What is good for the goose may not be good for the gander.  This goose doesn’t want what comes along with brick and mortar housing.  We like our simplistic life with all its navigational problems.  This is most likely the most challenging change we have made yet.  As the seasons change maybe we will have an epiphany that will set us on the right course.  Until then more waiting and more reflection on this life in a camper.

 

Oscar Wilde     “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
― Oscar Wilde

The Great Camper Hunt

It was another cold and rainy day in Southern Michigan, pressed for time and home sold, we needed to find a motorhome quickly.   Hours and weeks were spent looking on-line looking across the state for the perfect, or nearly perfect, camper.  With a few dollars in our pocket, the pick’ns were slim.  There was plenty of motorhomes to choose from if you wanted to take out a mortgage and drive a bus around the country.  That wasn’t our idea of downsizing.  We needed something dependable and cheap.  No leaks, mold and a solid motor, something we could work on and repair without breaking the bank.

We left early in the morning and headed about two hours north in the cold windy rain to view our first potential option.  The GPS took us down wet, pothole-filled roads to look at the first possibility.  We found this gem on Craigslist, pictures looked good, description gave us hope…until.

Pulling into the rutted driveway we knew this was a no go, a rust bucket from hell.  A lot of front end rust and crooked camper shell gave it away.  We knew this one had a lot of problems.  We didn’t need to drive it, though we did, to know it should have been in the junkyard.  We politely declined the sale and went on our merry way.

Rather disappointed, we started our way back home, then the light bulb came on!  Call it a coincidence, however, I don’t believe in coincidences, pulling into a local grocery store, my husband checked Craigslist one last time.  Sha-zam…there she was, a half an hour away.  This was a must see.  A quick phone call and off we went to check another possibility.

I have to say the drive was better, paved roads and all.  The first impression was very hopeful.  This motor home was taken care of.  No rust to be seen, no sagging, brand new tires, refurbished motor and only 45,000 miles.  She was clean.  We spent approximately an hour or so with the owner, going over the many details of this 1975 Cruise Air.  He was obviously proud of the renovations he had done.  The inside was “sweet”.  All wood cabinet, reupholstered benches and cab interior.  The only damage we could find was minor roof leaks that had been repaired.  We needed a test drive.

Down the street, around the block and a smile on his face, I knew we had just bought a motor home.  This vehicle would be just what was needed to get us down the road.  A little more time spent with the owner talking about what was repaired, replaced and needed work, money was exchanged and title in hand, she was on her maiden voyage back home.

Forty to fifty mile an hour winds didn’t make for easy driving.  It was a test, her first test, and she did great.  Suspension needs work and carburetor needs tweaking but all in all it went very well.  We made it home with no incidents and very pleased with our purchase.  I hope she serves us well during our travels, we shall see.

Saying Goodbye to Big Jane

I remember many evening discussions with my husband contemplating selling our 1996 Ford 250 4×4.  Did we really need her?  She was a beast of a truck, 7.5 liters 460 engine.  Need I say terrible gas mileage but could pull a house down.  She could haul anything.  We bought her when we were living in Northern Michigan, out in the sticks.  Hauling wood was a necessity, two cords of wood at a time, no problem.  Collecting water at the local spring, no issues. Plowing through the snow in four-wheel drive, easy squeezy.  I loved her.  She was my truck. She was dependable and safe, just a gas hog.

After deciding to go back on the road in camper style, I knew we couldn’t keep her.  Oh, she could pull the biggest camper we could afford, but she would run us broke keeping her in fuel.   We had to look for a motorhome that would do the job.

When we decided to put her up for sale, we really didn’t try very hard, a couple of adds here and there on Facebook was about it.  We never even put a ‘For Sale’ sign in the window.  She sold none the less.

I don’t believe in coincidences, I have always believed events happen for a reason.  Selling of Big Jane was one of those events.  The day she was sold, my husband and I decided to try to sell an antique dresser at a local dealer.  The dresser sold and the delivery man can and picked it up.  He was a nice, young fella who wanted to know our story so we told him the plan.  Big Jane came up in the conversation and “Bingo” he had a friend who he knew would be interested in the truck.  Later that evening he came back with his friend and sealed the deal.  Not much effort on our part, just honest conversation and a positive outlook on our plan.

It was hard seeing her being driven away but I knew she was in good hands. A new owner who had great plans for her.  Thanks Tony for the sale and hope you have many good years and memories from our, “Big Jane”.

How to Downsize from a House to a Camper, Family and Friends Give a Way…Part Two.

This past week was a busy one.  Our home is quickly being emptied.  Items we wanted to sell were posted on local Craigslist and Facebook groups.  Most items sold but we still have a fish stand that needs to go.  I also had the idea to peddle my goods at a few local antique shops/resell shops.  This worked well, as we had pictures on the phone that helped seal the deal.  We also were able to sell the Ford pickup, “Big Jane”, to a friend of the young fellow that picked up the furniture that we sold.  It was networking at it’s finest.

We contacted friends and family who we knew may want various items.  We wanted to give a good home to items we have collected over the past two years.  Oh, and did we collect stuff. We also discussed leaving items that may be useful to the new owners of this home.  A young couple with a baby.  They were grateful for whatever we donated, furniture, tools, etc.

It’s looking like we are getting closer to our goal.  Rather scary but exhilarating at the same time.  Next step, closing on the house, locating a Motor Home and can’t forget to sell the Sterling.  We have also secured a place to lay our heads and park the camper as we work on it.  It’s great to have such giving friends.  You all are so much appreciated, words can not describe.

How to Down size from a house to Camper, Part One

How often do we really take a good look at the “stuff” we’ve accumulated in our homes? Most of us probably go day-to-day ignoring the stuff in our homes.  Overfilled cabinets, drawers, and closets.  Not until we are faced with downsizing are we really aware of what we own and collected over the years.

Wandering through the house, I wonder what am I going to do with all this stuff?  A better description would be, “Where did all this crap come from?”.   In my last post, I described my husband and I as over the road truck drivers.  Living in an 8×8 sleeper, we seriously downsized and rented a storage unit for the items we couldn’t live without.  Not this time, there will be no added expense of paid storage.  We had better leave our emotions out of it and dump, sell or donate what we can.

It was hard at first, staring at the walls, furniture, nick nacks, I knew they had to go.  We started slowly, very slowly.  My first step was clothing.  It seemed emotionally the easiest to handle. We bought a big box of yard trash bags and went to work.  Most of the clothes were in good shape, needless to say, if I didn’t wear and wash it at least once a week, it was donated.  Same goes with shoes, purses, belts and don’t forget all the numerous winter garb stashed in the front closet.

We agreed to clean and weed out something, a room or a closet, every day.  Small steps made it easier to let stuff go. If we couldn’t weed the rooms we took trips to the local donation center or the dump.  After a few of these trips, it became easier.  The weight on my heart and shoulders lightened.  I could see progress.  I didn’t need all this stuff.  By the way, “where did all this crap come from?”  We now have a chance to live lightly, more freely without filling our lives with stuff that really, in the end, doesn’t make us happier, only more cluttered in mind and spirit.

I won’t kid you and tell you this process was hunky dory and I had some grand epiphany. Each time we touched an item it took a lot of consideration and retrospection.  The family items were the worst.  But when it comes down to it, the kids really don’t want this “crap” you saved from their school years.  It’s just more stuff to take up space in their lives.

At this point on our timeline, we are still weeding rooms and taking trips to the dump.  I do know this though, every time I look up any item online or handle some new shiny toy in a retail store, my question will be, “will this end up in someone’s donation bin or laying in a buried heap in a landfill?” The answer will most likely be,” yes”.

A New Journey After Fifty

This blog will document the events of this journey, good or bad.

Here we sit, stunned and confused.  No work…not again.  No freight to transport, no money to be made.  This is not the first time work has dried up for this couple.  It happened about seven years ago during the housing crises.  It was a time for a change then and once again, time for a change now.  We drove as OTR “Over the Road” truck drivers in the expedite trucking world.  Over the road for five years delivering “just in time” freight.  All kinds of freight.  You name it, we hauled it.

It was a sort of a precursor for what we are to embark on this go around.  Life on the road.  This time will be different.  We won’t be sharing an 8×8 sleeper.  Not that it was all that bad.  Although cramped, it had all the comforts of a small camper a refrigerator, microwave, TV and can’t forget the Xbox.  We’ve done this before.  This time we’ll gain regular sleep and an eating schedule on our terms.  This time it will be a camper’s life on our schedule.

After three weeks of fighting off anxiety and mild depression, we came out of our stupor like a waking giant.  It was time to make a plan.  How did we wish to live?  It was our choice this time.  What were our dreams and ideas the last time this happened?  We muddled with the idea of Workampers before.  Before the job offer of OTR trucking.  How would we make it work, what would be our income?  It took many, many hours of online research to make the decision a reality.  We could do this.

So here we are, selling our home, pick up, the straight truck and anything that we can.  There are many people who have given us courage and well wishes.  Even those that wished they could do the same.

This blog will document the events of this journey, good or bad.  All truth and nothing but the truth.  There are many other fellow travelers who only tell the happy end of the story.  We are real people with real encounters.  We will tell it like it is.  Hope you will join us, cheer us on and leave us constructive comments as we “do this one more time”.