Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Roadrunner Reflections: Three Years and Going Strong

Believe it or not, we have been full-timing over three years as of last week.  Seems like a long long time ago since we left our big house and yard and neighborhood in Fairfax, Virginia.  We have been here in Virginia Beach for almost a month.  Interestingly, we actually bought our 2007 Allegro Bus from a private owner who lives about five miles from here...

Regarding how we feel about this lifestyle--in a few words, I'd say its been great and we can't think of anything we'd rather be doing.

There are quite a few things we like about this lifestyle:

Being together.  Pam is easy to be with and we have grown together through interesting times over the three years.  Some good, some hard.  All interesting.

Freedom.  We know what retirement feels like (although I work a few hours each month for pay…) and for us, it works well.  We are content to be able to chose to stay in an area to enjoy, volunteer, or to learn about the surroundings.  We love having the freedom to go or stay…and sleep in our own bed every night.

Adventure.  No doubt about it.  We like seeing new things, learning about different places and putting more of our nation's history into context.

Fitness.  Over the last three years we have adjusted to a routine where we can get enough exercise to feel better.   We also have enjoyed times of discipline to manage our eating and get it into some form of balance.

Old friends and family.  This lifestyle affords us the opportunity of seeing more friends and family in the last three years than we have connected with in the last 20.  It has been great and we have a renewed appreciation and fondness for our family and heritage.

Reading.  We both like to read but we have read a lot more than we thought we would.  I am in the middle of finishing, Killing Lincoln, by Bill O'Reilly with Martin Dugard.  Pam just finished reading, To the Last Man, by Jeff Shaara.

History.  From traipsing around the gravestones and homestead of my mother's relatives in Colfax, Washington to walking through Hemingway's House in Key West, we have seen some interesting and fun places this last year.

Surprises.  We really love Florida.  And Montana.  And Virginia Beach.  After spending the winter in Florida this last year we are ready to go back next year.  And we know it will never be like it was this year but

Has it gone according to plan?  For the most part I'd say so.  But not always.  Some of the items we have learned to deal with:

- Medical.  No doubt about it, our medical has cost us more dollars than if we had stayed put in our old house and been going to our old doctors.

- RV repairs.  Again, the simple fact is we way under estimated how much we would spend on repairs, upgrades and general maintenance on our RV.

- Spending more money than we would like.  We like being frugal and not spending a lot of money.  Having said that, we have not gone into debt over the last three years and we feel much more confident about our future on the road and how much it will cost.

But then on the other hand, we have had some unexpected plusses:
- Making new friends.  That has really been a source of enjoyment and satisfaction.  After three years, we have met many, many new friends who have become good friends.  That has been nice.

- Working more online and making enough money to live comfortably.  Another big surprise is that somehow, by God's grace, I have been able to work a little more online (25-35 hours a month?) which have really helped out financially.  It also gives us a good feeling that we are not only living off retirement and savings which is nice.  The time may come when we have to workamp or something, but in the foreseeable future, that is not necessary and we are most thankful.

What does the future hold?
Who knows?  But our faith and knowledge of being on the road for the last three years has taught us that we can do this and that we probably will be able to deal with whatever comes along.  A lot has happened.  And we have seen a lot.  And we feel really really blessed to be doing this and look forward to what comes our way.

For now -- we are planning a couple of weeks up in Washington DC before we head for the Northeast and Maine.

So-- Yes! We still love this and doing this and hope to continue for as long as we can.  We love the RV lifestyle after three years and are looking forward to the next three.

Until next time, thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Savannah before Virginia Beach

We were in Savanna after we left Florida.  That was at least three weeks ago.  But I wanted to note a few things about Savannah.  We spent about five days in the area because we had a friend who lives nearby (close to Hilton) and a couple (Rod and Lisa) who were going to be there for a few days.

We camped at Hunter Army Air Field (Lotts Island Travel Campground) on outskirts of Savannah.  It was very convenient (be sure to use the Rio Gate if you have a military vehicle sticker on your RV).  The campground was sparse but good enough for a few days.  It had new utilities (50 amp), water and sewer for $18/nite.  It had no wifi or cable and some campsites looked a little iffy because of the trees.  But ours was fine and it was no problem getting DirecTV.

We timed our visit to coincide with Rod and Lisa (from the Detroit area).  Rod was there for some commercial flight training and Lisa drove down for a few days.

One of the first places we visited was Wormsloe Historic Site.  They have a lot of weddings on the property because it is so beautiful.
In addition to being one of the first settlements in the area (it wasthe actual estate of Noble Jones who arrived in 1733) it is also very picturesque with the Georgia Live Oak trees.  We spent a couple of hours there and took in some of the history.
The great experiment they undertook was trying to establish a settlement without the aid of slaves.  The original English charter for Georgia banned the use of slaves.  Instead, indentured servants and their families and the settlers were the labor force.
They gave it a go but had some bad years.  A lot of people died due to sickness and the hard life and they introduced slaves after the ban was lifted in 1849.
Understanding a little more of the history was helped by the short video in the visitor center, the museum and the park ranger/interpreter out in one of the historic huts.

While in the Savannah area, we also went downtown during a bright and sunny day to walk around one of the many squares that Savannah is known for.  We chose Forsyth Park and it was beautiful.
I love the historical markers...
And then we came upon a very moving experience right around noon time.  An Army sergeant was re-enlisting in a ceremony right there at the park.
We weren't the only ones that noticed something special was going on.  It was awesome!  A small, dignified, very respectful and appropriate ceremony.  It was an honor to observe.

Also while in Savannah, we walked around River Street and had dinner at Tubby's one night.
The view was nice (bridge to South Carolina in the distance) and the dinner was great.  How many of you have tried cheese grits with shrimp for dinner?
It was VERY good!  The avocado slice was a bonus from Pam's salad since she doesn't do avocados.
We had a great time in Savannah with Rod and Lisa.
We will have to go back.  There are a lot of things to do there!

That's it for this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Thanks for joining us (it won't be so long until the next post…promise!)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Roadrunner Financials - April 2012

Roadrunner Recap

After our time at Patrick AFB we drove over to the Orlando/Kissimmee area to spend some time with Marg and Bill.  We also flew from there to Houston to attend Nephew Mark and fiancee Dean-na's wedding.
At the church for the wedding
  • Patrick AFB Famcamp, Cocoa Beach FL
  • Tropical Palms Resort, Kissimmee FL
  • Kings Bay Naval Station, GA
  • Hunter Army Airfield Campground, Savannah GA
  • Fort Bragg Smith Lake Campground, Fayetteville GA 
We also went over to Savannah GA and toured around the city and joined up with friends Road and Lisa who were there from Michigan.  Here we are in downtown Savannah at Tubby's:
I remember a couple of things about that meal:  the margaritas that Lisa had and the cheese grits I had for dinner.  The grits were the about the best I've ever had!

Later at Fort Bragg, I remember the new campground sites that had very big concrete pads with the sewer connections on the PS side.  What?  Sometimes you wonder if people who run or build RV campgrounds have ever seen one....

Here's an interactive map of where we camped during the month. Click on the letters (waypoints) to see locations:

Or if you prefer, a static map of travels during the month:

Here's a snapshot of our spending for the month:

Good News Areas We Are Under Budget
 We were under budget this month for RV Maintenance and Groceries.

Biggest Expenses
Wedding and golf and diesel fuel

Large One Time Cost Item
Car rental in Houston:  $94
Hotel in Houston for wedding:  $185
Golf with Bill at Legends GC and golf shirts etc:  $184

Monthly Average
Oops - tough month on the budget coming in at $1357 over!

 Our numbers were better than previous months but it is pretty clear we are well over for the year (May to June).

I have often said this is more of a tracking tool and an estimate than a budget -- this month's spending proves it.  That's what our spending looked like for the month.  Thanks for taking a peek.  Hopefully they provide help or entertainment of some sort...

If you'd like a free copy of the spreadsheet I use, drop me a note and I will be glad to send it along.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!