Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Roadrunner Financials - Aug 2014

Roadrunner Recap
We spent the month of August in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
We started out the month in the Washington DC area at Fort Meade, MD.  We stayed at the Army Travel Camp there while visiting Adam and Melissa, then left toward the middle of the month to see friends Mike and Sue in Lancaster County, PA.  We stayed at the Beacon Hill Camping campground. Next, we made our way back down the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia, first spending a few days at Assateague State Park - MD, then on to Kiptopeke State Park - VA where we finished up the month.

Good News Areas We Are Under Budget
We were under budget in most areas and got our averages down to where we like them.  Our year fiscal year starts in June, so for June - August, we are averaging a little over $300 Under Budget.

For August, we are under for:

  • Diesel
  • RV & Car Maintenance (thank goodness...)
  • Groceries (which means we didn't do a lot of entertaining)
  • Misc spending
  • and 1 Time Costs

We like months where we are $1,241 under budget!

Biggest Expenses
Our biggest expenses this month were for campgrounds.  I upped our budget from under $25 to a little over $28 and we actually spent on average $31.54/day.  This is to be expected since it is high season for campers and we stayed in some State Parks (which are normally a little higher than what we pay at commercial or military parks if we have the choice.)

Large One Time Cost Item
None this month.

Monthly Average

We pay our car insurance quarterly so that will change next month.  Most of our other monthly expenses look pretty good.

That's a snapshot of how we're feeling about the cost of things on this Full-Time Journey.  We are in month 63 of doing it.

Hopefully, some of the thoughts and figures are of some interest/value/curiosity.  If you'd like a blank spreadsheet of what I use I'd be glad to send you it at no charge to do with what you wish.  

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day Weekend at Kiptopeke State Park

Kiptopeke State Park is one worth visiting.  It provides a great place to camp, go on short hikes, visit a nice beach, launch a boat and see groups of folks getting away for once last vacation during the summer.

Our time here began on Thursday last week when we left a nice campground in Assateague State Park MD.  Driving here was pretty easy and once again, along some good roads and scenery down highway 13 on the Eastern Shore.

I don't remember the last time we stayed at a Virginia State Park but our time here at Kiptopeke has been a good experience and one we will look back on favorably.
This is another big and different campground.  It is big because it has a lot of campsites and open areas.  I like their system here when we checked in.  We were instructed to go find an empty spot we liked and take it.

We needed 50 amp and had a number of choices.  Arriving on Thursday before a long weekend was a good move too.  We were all set up and could watch everyone else over the next couple of days get set up.  That in itself is interesting.

Here we have a big mix of tents and campers.  Most of the campers are trailers with a smaller percentage of motor homes.  This campground is noteworthy for its large sites and ample acres of grass--all freshly mowed.  This is my idea of a great place!

I was surprised at the wide camp sites and only later realized it was because it allows people with boats to park them along side their trailers at the camp site.
Another plus this campground has is a laundry with a washer and two dryers.  I don't remember seeing that at a State Park but it is a nice option.  When the crowd goes back home maybe... but not on a Labor Day Weekend...
As to the crowd -- it really was a nice mix of people and we saw a number of individuals as wells as large groups camping.  Many were in pairs or threesomes with a few like us.  As far as we could tell (or guess) there were few full-timers.

Pam and I took advantage of the trails nearby and went on a hike through the woods and onto the beach.   The trail we chose was very well maintained and a good walk to see some different areas.
We went past the Butterfly Garden, across a ravine, along the beach and back through the woods to the campground.
There is a lot of history and Nature's Beauty to learn about in the area and we will need more time to explore the area further.
We've enjoyed our time here and even had the chance to get a campfire going with some s'mores one night.
That's always a bonus!

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles.  Hope you all had/have a great Labor Day and be safe on the roads!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Few Days at the Beach - Assateague State Park

On Sunday we had a beautiful drive from Beacon Hill Camping in Lancaster County PA down the Eastern Shore to Assateague State Park.
We avoided major highways and had excellent country roads.  It was great!

We arrived about 11:30 AM and had to wait until 1 PM to check in.  So we parked and went for a hike down to the campground to check out our site which was about 1.6 mi away.

Wow - this is a big campground! In fact it has loops A through J with 20-30? camp sites on each.  Most were a mix of tent camping, trailer, and motorhomes.  We made reservations about 3 months ago.

The biggest attractions to the park are the wild horses (and deer), the beach and the Assateague Seashore NPS which is almost co-located. By car it is about 3 miles to the Visitor's Center.

After check-in we got set up and walked on the beach.
The horses are not everywhere but are frequent visitors to campsites.  They walk around like they own the place, which they do.
They are beautiful creatures but ones that bear watching.  One has to remember they are wild and though somewhat used to people, they could be still dangerous.  Plenty of signs and warnings are around but you know people...

Gladly we did not see any problems with people getting too close.  On the other hand, we saw ponies nudging their noses through picnic tables and coolers.  But to no avail-- nothing handy to eat that we saw.
We liked our campground a lot.
It had plenty of space between neighbors, was close to the beach access and the restroom/showers and came with a fire ring.
The camp hosts drive around selling firewood and plenty of people took them up on it.  We had a good one blazing.  There is just something wonderful about a campfire!

There are no hookups for campers at this campground.  It was really no problem, we love to boon dock and chalked up another one.  We ran the generator in the morning and evening and had all the power we needed.  We monitored our black and grey tanks and had to fill up our clear tank when we arrived.  I took showers in the campground facilities and we will be dumping our tanks when we leave later on today.

The beach is a great one.  It is long and has plenty of wave action to mesmerize one for hours....We went to the beach everyday with a book, chairs and our shade umbrella.  We also went for a couple of long walks and really enjoyed it.
Back at the campsite a couple of days it was a bit breezy, if not windy, so we didn't ever pull out our big awnings.  We only pulled out the over-the-window awnings.

There was no shade unless you brought your own.  We are looking for a good end-of-season deal on a folding canopy that is on the smaller size.  We will see how that goes.

We liked it here because of all the campers.  Most folks are friendly and stop to talk and are here getting in one more vacation before school starts.  We had a couple next to us from Michigan three nights that were on their honeymoon.  Across the way, a couple were here for a two weeks that had been doing this for 16 years.  Yesterday morning a guy with three small boys came by and asked if they could tour the Roadrunner.  I said sure! and learned a little about them.  Wished I had taken their photo.

Time to move on down the Eastern Shore.  Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles.  Until next time...

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Some More Things Before We Left Lancaster...

We will have to come again to Lancaster County.  We were only there for five days and there is more to see.  Some more things we got to see while there included:
  • Flower and Home Marketplace  
  • Factory Tour at New Holland Haytools Plant
  • New Holland Summerfest Pennsylvania State Championship BBQ Cook-Off

Flower and Home Marketplace
We stopped by here to see a relative of Mike's who works there and to see the huge inventory.  This is like a Micheal's or Hobby Lobby on steroids!  It has a lot of inventory and is a very big store.  Tour buses park in the back and people could get lost in here!

New Holland Haytools Plant
This was a real treat!  I love factory tours.  This was in some ways similar to a tour at Red Bay to see Tiffin motorhomes being made.  Here, we saw some world class manufacturing going on with some hug metal bending machines and welding.  

The plant is on the outskirts of town and the New Holland Campus covers over 340 acres.  The plant itself is over 700,000 sq ft.  Inside they process over 47 million pounds of steel.  The 600 person workforce is non-union most work there a long time:  Average length is 17.6 years.

This particular plant is where they make the Roll-Belt Round Balers and Square Balers.  Most balers are now round but the square ones account for about 20% of their sales.

No pictures were allowed inside but it was a great tour!

New Holland Summerfest Finale - Pennsylvania State Championship BBQ Cook-Off
We got there mid-afternoon on Sunday to walk around the booths.  Some were still creating their dishes for the judges.  It was really a sight to see.  And it smelled really good!
Hundreds gathered for the awards in the late afternoon.  They had about 10 categories and awarded lots of trophies, cash, and ribbons.  
The above photo is not the grand champion (who was from Fairfax, VA this year) but he was happy with his large trophy!

We ended the week where we started - at the City Park.  Today instead of the band playing, hundreds of people came to see the awards for all the different varieties and tastes of Kansas City BBQ.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

10 More Things We Did in Lancaster County

We love going to Lancaster County and spending a few days there.  I remember hearing about it from friends Mike and Sue
back in the early 1990's when we first met them after moving to Fairfax, VA.   We learned they had recently retired back to their home town of New Holland, PA and we planned a trip to go see them.  It was a great week!

In fact, we saw so many things I could write a blog about each one.  Instead, I thought I'd post a picture or two of some the things we saw:

1.  Produce Auction (New Holland, PA) Old order Amish and Mennonite's selling vegetables, fruit, flowers, etc

(which also included pallets of flowers)

2. Martin's Furniture (New Holland, PA) local factory and showroom

3. Wilbur Chocolate Factory (Lititz, PA)

4. Sturgis Pretzel House (Lititz, PA)

5. Mennonite Information Center (Lancaster, PA)

6. Amish Farming Tobacco

7.  Mowing the Fields (Amish Farm)

8. Covered Bridges (Lancaster County, PA) We only saw a few - there are over 25 in the area. Click here to see where else they are located.

9. Gourds at an Amish Farm

10.  New Holland Museum

Our week was a full one during our time at New Holland and there is more to share.  See you next time on the Roadrunner Chronicles!