Thursday, October 2, 2014

Three Months, 20 States, 3 Canadian Provinces, and 7,000 miles later...

Most Americas get two weeks of vacation a year.  Is that really living?

One reason I started this blog was that I am basically lazy.   I'd rather just sit and stare at the sky than get up out of bed and commute to some gawdawful cubicle, making someone else rich, just so I can have a new smart phone and a leased Acura as a reward.

This seems like a pretty simple concept to me, but you'd be surprised.  Most folks like to talk about chucking it all and enjoying life.  But most folks chose the cubicle, the smart phone, and the Acura.   And it is a choice.  The cubicle job can be a means to an end, not an end in and of itself.  Most folks do the latter.

So what has all this penny-pinching done for me?   I've cut my expenses to the bone.  Done without cable TeeVee and smart phones.   I've cut my own hair, switched from coffee to tea.   You name it - if it saves us a penny, we've tried it.   And I've written about it - at length - on this site.

We've dumped the status possessions which were fun to have, but expensive and time-consuming to own.   Yea, I had two houses, six cars and two boats.   And I had to make $150,000 a year to support it all - working at least 40-60 hours a week, with little time to enjoy all that crap.  And I spent all my spare hours washing and waxing vehicles or cleaning gutters or repairing toilets.   It was a lot of work, and in retrospect, not worth it.

So we downsized.  Instead of a vacation home, we spend over three months of every year on the road, touring America and Canada.   And it has been fun, too.   This year, we covered more than 20 States and two Canadian provinces, driving over 7000 miles (an average of 100 miles a day - less than some folks' commutes!).  We visited Mystic Connecticut, Provincetown Massachusetts, North Hero Vermont, Montreal, Buffalo, Saugatuck Michigan, Elkhart Indiana (ground zero of the RV world) and of course Nashville, Tennessee.   We drove the Natchez trace from one end to the other and are now in New Orleans.

In another week, we'll be home, and hopefully most of the hot weather in Georgia will be behind us.   But we won't be staying long.   We'll probably plan a trip to the Keys this winter, and despite my reservations about cruises, will take a "repositioning cruise" across the Atlantic to Portugal, Spain, and Italy, and then spend a few weeks in Europe before flying back.   And then next summer, when it gets hot, we hitch up the trailer again and head North.   I've always wanted to see North Dakota.   Maybe this year I'll go.  It will be cooler than Georgia, that's for sure.

We meet a lot of people traveling this way.  Most have huge RVs that are larger (and more costly) that many people's homes.   Most - more than half - never venture more than a few hundred miles from home.   At five miles per gallon and with only two weeks vacation, they can't afford to travel far, in terms of money and time.   And I marvel that they spent a quarter-million dollars on an RV that they use only a week or two every year.  Is that really worth it - to be able to say you have the most bad-ass RV in the park?

(Funny thing, too.  We'll be parked next to a half-million dollar Prevost "motorcoach" with our little Casita, and people come up and say, "you have the cutest trailer! Can I see inside?" and they marvel at it.  Meanwhile the Prevost guy is fuming because he has an outdoor kitchen and flip-up 55" TeeVee on the side of his rig, and no one is paying attention.)

When they ask us where we are from and we say, "Georgia" the inevitable reply is, "You drove all the way here?"   Their mindset is, you get two weeks vacation, so you drive "straight through" - often 12 or more hours behind the wheel - to get to vacation destination X and then return within a day or two.   When I try to explain that we've been traveling for months, well, it is like talking Esperanto to a cat.

There are some retired "full timers" who are traveling this way.  "We've sold our house and bought this bus motorhome!" they chirp.    But I'm afraid they've yet to discover the cost of such a lifestyle.   

We do run into a few people who "get it" - folks like us who climbed over the wall of the cubicle and made good our escape.   They travel in simple rigs that are inexpensive to buy, easy to own, and don't use much gas.   And they spend months at a time, just traveling, or just staring off into space by a nice lake somewhere, during the week when the park is empty and all the "weekend warriors" with their buggies have gone home.

We enjoy this life, and we can afford to do it, as we don't blow all our money on status things like rock-star buses or smart phones or whatever.   And the nice thing is, having spent so little money on our RV (and having paid cash for it) we can easily sell it and move on, when we decide that we want to do something else, or just settle down somewhere.

But other folks have different values.   That's their choice of course.  But they don't seem happy with their choices - always complaining about money or bitching that they are living "paycheck to paycheck".   They look at my lifestyle and think, "Gee, that sounds like fun!  I wish I could chuck the cubicle and just do whatever the heck I want!"

And I say to them, "Gee, nice smart phone you got there!"  - as they show off the shackles that bind them to the cubicle.

We all have choices in life.  Don't bitch if you don't like the choices you make - make different choices.   It can be done, even if your fellow mouth-breathing cubicle dwellers think you are "weird" for not following "dancing with the stars" and going ga-ga over the latest iPhone.