Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

The Sea Change

Originally posted 8/20/2012

In our journeys through life, not everything works out as we hope it will. I’ve been called inordinately tenacious (among other things) but sometimes, hunkering down and doing the best you are able during the bad times isn’t enough. Of course, the greasy underbelly of “tenacious” is “stubborn” with just a hint of “dullard” thrown in, but let’s stick with “tenacious” because it sounds more like a positive quality.

Obviously, not every decision is ours alone to make, not every event is within our control, and not all of us are equipped to properly handle the full scope of life’s challenges. Doing the best we can sometimes gets us through, and sometimes not. I’m a slow learner, but at least I’ve finally managed to pick up on the full depth of the very first verse of Proverbs 17, which offers, “Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.” I’m opting for peace and quiet. And the dry crust with it.

So, this is where it gets bizarre. With two very notable exceptions, leading a conventional life and meeting conventional expectations hasn’t really worked all that well for me. With two possible paths to follow from this point on, I’m finally opting for the less sensible one. With no more remaining responsibilities or legacy obligations/duties to finish out, I’m going on tour. That’s the good news. I’m going to, in fits and starts, fulfill a life’s back-of-the-mind dream to see and experience a goodly portion of what this nation’s landscape has to offer. Not the commercialized crap, but the sights, the terrain, and the people that I have always wanted to discover for myself, firsthand. Not according to schedule and plan, but by whim and gut feel. Where am I going, people ask. The Southwest, because of the need to follow more temperate weather. Beyond that, I don’t know. I’ll find out when I get there.

The exhilarating potential of touring full-time in an ancient mid-sized travel trailer is tempered by a budget squeezed so tightly that President Washington’s head may pop off at some point. Over $1,100 of my $15,000/year budget goes for liability insurance alone. Diesel fuel rounds out to 40 cents per mile traveled. Quartzite is 2,000 miles each way, which equals $800 just to get there. Moving the vehicle on any side trips at all adds up quickly, particularly in remote areas. Food ain’t cheap, and I’m needing to avoid the Burger Boy/processed food/fat and sugar-laden trough for health reasons. RV camping? It’s considerably cheaper to live full-time in a Motel 6 than it is to stay in commercial campgrounds, which are designed and priced for the occasional weekend camper who’s happy to pack his rig in like a sardine along with all the other campers, hook up to electrical power, water and sewer, and be somewhere other than home for a couple of days. If you do the math, you’ll find that $15,000/year comes to just $41.10 a day, and things ain’t gonna get any cheaper in the future, are they?

Mind you, that also includes camper repairs, disabled or worn tow vehicle repairs and maintenance (diesel oil changes cost $90-$100 each, and cannot be put off), meds, dentist and doctor visits (without a speck of health insurance), emergency room, cellphone, clothing, hobby, park or event tickets, shoelaces, everything top to bottom, no exceptions.

The first year will be especially stringent, in an effort to discover precisely how much financial trouble I’ve gotten myself into. Later years will hopefully allow a little more leeway. If the U.S. Government is still solvent in 2016, I may be able to afford some interesting side trips and less-traveled back roads.

Mind you, experienced hands caution that not everyone is cut out for full-timing in an RV or travel trailer. They especially caution not to just turn around and start full-timing. There’s too much to learn all at once, and the potential to needlessly waste resources, burn down your RV, or discover that there’s no place like home is significant. I wouldn’t do it either, but my situation is more of a now-or-never thing. It would be much easier and more sensible to wait a couple of years. But, I can’t guarantee that I have all that much time to put it off. Many if not most full-timers eventually come to a place where their advancing ailments prevent going on with it, and I’m no Spring chicken. I’ve become pretty good at patiently waiting in general, but that has also made me a big believer in the adage, “If you wait until the perfect time to do something, you’ll find that it never comes.” For me, the time is now. Not perfect – just now. When life hands you lemons…

Is this ridiculous plan feasible? A $41.10 a day average? Seriously? I’m going to have to find out – the hard way. And if you decide to keep following this blog, so will you.

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