Some might say, “I can’t do what Bob’s doing, isn’t he’s praising himself for his own achievements?” Or some might say, “He’s awfully proud of himself; his vehicle, his life, his adventure!” Well believe it or not, I get it! I’m not a shy guy! But my intent is not to speak too proudly or sound snobby or self important. I simply want to share our adventures, share our insights, praise God, and practice my writing skills; and of course have a fun, extended, vacation!
Honestly, it is both nice and humbling that more of you than just my mom, have “followed” my blog. (Worthy mom’s always read their son’s blog’s, thanks mom) .
We have, all of us, worked our butts off for many years and when it comes time to retire or repurpose our lives I know some of you may not be blessed by means, but you should certainly be blessed with time when you are no longer working.
As for our trip funding, Jackie and I are trying to be as frugal as possible. In hipster terms, we are trying to be as responsibly efficient and economical as possible. In old fashioned words, our retirement funds are not endless. Note, we are sleeping together in an old van, possibly an old icecream truck or bread truck with our dog! Most of the retired “campers” we have run into have 30+ foot air conditioned rigs with slideouts and big screened TV’s which they use to sit inside and watch golf. Go figure!
For you who have not retired yet and are wondering sbout the economics of such an adventure (like ours), Well, it has not been cheap even by our standards. Our old van gets about ten miles per gallon and so far we’ve traveled about 4,300 miles (we are only half way). The van takes premium gas at an average price of $3.10 per gallon, so that means we have spent about $1,333 on gas. We have had about $200 dollars in repairs. And we are finding that “camping” sites can be very expensive! Most KOA sites run between $40-$110 per night! We have been on the road for more than a month, you do the math. That’s right, campgrounds cost sometimes more than hotels! Fortunatly, state or National Parks are typically $30-$40 per night, but we have found that it is almost impossible to get one of tbese sites unles you reserve them a year in advance, the best locations anyway. We were fortunate to snag four of these sites along the way by being early season campers, or by driving into the parks and hoping for cancellations. One night we spent in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel because nothing was available.
Then there is the food. Eating out is expensive in popular tourist destinations, but you knew that. Tonight, to save money and not drive to find food, we had three day old bread we bought from a store in Savannah. We added peanut butter and jelly, and had beef jerky and water to drink! Other nights we have had dinners with our friends or we decided,”To heck with the budget, that looks so good,” and we splurged on food we could not get at home in Montana! (We have avoided as many chain food resturamts as possible).
So here we are! I’m not trying to defend the fact that this is a hugely fun and relatively expensive road trip or that it might seem like I enjoy being the center of attention by having my own blog. I know some of you cannot afford such luxuries or have not yet had the freedom to do what we are doing or just do not like your personal lives to be so exposed. Therefore, if or when you have the time and just some small amount of money, come visit us. A few nights at the Graham’s will be very cheap and I won’t post photo’s without your permission,
Now, if you don’t already know, let me give you some hints on how a less expensive trip could be for you if you don’t want to stay with odd people like us. First, don’t buy an old van that’s cute! Cute, like getting old, has its drawbacks and vans such as ours can drain your pockets dry. Second, buy a good camp mattress and tent camp! Most tent sites are much cheaper than rv/camper sites. Or just stay at a airbnb and get livestreamed (not funny). And finally, go west! This east coast camping is ridiculously more expensive. I’m not asking all of you to come to Montana, because we have enough tourists, but camping, the way we like to do it is still free out west. In most state forests or BLM land you can drive up, park, and stay up to two weeks free of charge. I’m talking about a beautiful spot on a creek in the middle of nowhere.
So, am I braging about our blessings? Am I posting “too much information or too often?” I hope you don’t think so! We feel very blessed that we can do this and we’ve sacrificed much in years past. Still, it has been fun so far. Of course it sometimes feels like I should keep my mouth shut and not post pictures of us on the beach when you still have a foot of snow on the ground or because you have not had a vacation in years and you are still slaving to just pay health insurance and taxes. I get it! For us, retirement and this trip, has helped us reflect on our blessings. And, I think, God may be helping us focus in on what our life will be like after we return home. Right now we can only see dimly what retirement will look like; we are simply enjoying the moment. No schedules, no deadlines! We do know our future will full of adventures, and this retirement tour is only the beginning.