It’s what you’ve all been waiting for – only slightly less rare than the “Guest Post by Melissa” spot – it’s an unusual sighting of the Lesser Spotted Statistics edition.
So we have lots and lots of numbers. In fact, it is veritable numbers porn. If you like that sort of stuff. If not, look away now…..
Number of places we’ve camped – 40 campsites, ranging from State Parks, to KOAs, to National Parks, to a casino, to an Indian reservation, to the US Forest Service land, to driveways, to a wine lodge carpark. Actually, by far the thing I dislike about the lifestyle is the research into working out where to stay all the time…… its tedious, time consuming and a little stressful. But we’ve found some fantastic places to stay, and in those 40, there’s really only one place that we wouldn’t go back to. Not a bad hit rate!
Number of states we’ve stopped in: 17 – NC, TN, KY, IN, IL, MO, KS, NE, CO, WY, MT, ND, SD, ID, UT, NV, CA. And as a follow on – our shortest stay in a state is our foray into Illinois with 1 night, and the longest time we’ve spent in a state is 36 nights – Tennessee. And – as a bonus – we visited a Walmart in every one of those 17 states.
Number of states we’ve volunteered in: 15 – we missed 2, IL and ND. IL we were only in for a night and couldn’t organize something in time. ND we just messed up and didn’t get our act together. So of course we have to go back. And yes, we have a spreadsheet of this (of course!), so here’s the quick run-down:
|Oakland, CA||Habitat for Humanity||Building playhouses|
|Napa, CA||Napa Valley Wine Trail||Planting Trees|
|Denver, CO||Rocky Mountain Food Bank||Packing individual boxes for distribution|
|Idaho Falls, ID||ReStore||Dusting, Vacuuming, Mopping, Pricing|
|Idaho Falls, ID||Idaho Falls Food Bank||Stocking shelves and making food bags|
|Corydon, IN||O’Bannon State Park||Trail scouting|
|Topeka, KS||Habitat for Humanity||Help building a house – siding, caulking|
|St Louis, MO||Campus Kitchen||Cooking bulk meals for people|
|Billings, MT||Billings Food Bank||Distributing food to people who come in|
|Omaha, NE||Open Door Mission||Christmas in July, distributing donated goods|
|Omaha, NE||Keep Omaha Beautiful||Picked up trash around the lake|
|McCarran, NV||Northern Nevada Food Bank||Filling boxes with donated food|
|Rapid City, SD||ReStore||Mixing and disposing of paint|
|Rapid City, SD||Habitat for Humanity||Replacing windows – Brush with Kindness|
|Salt Lake City, UT||Salvation Army||Food pantry handout|
Volunteering is one of those things that takes a lot of time to find an opportunity in the specific area that fits in with our dates and with our limitations (as we’re not around for too long we can’t do anything that needs a weekly commitment, or needs clearance or training (for example, can’t usually volunteer with children (need police vetting (which is different than police petting – that’s another website entirely)) or hospice (need training and a commitment to be around)). But it’s also one of those things that we’re so glad we managed to each time we do it.
Number of miles Fat Henry has towed The Shady Lady around the country – and the total number of miles we’ve driven – 13221. Here’s a little map of where we went on our trip in 2016. I didn’t add in the practice trip down to see Diane and Frank in Florida, but that’s because it was just a practice!
The number of times we’ve been glad for Fat Henrys heated seats – too many to count. Even when it’s not cold out, it’s nice to have a hot bottom. It’s sort of like a slow release warm fart, but less smelly.
Number of gallons of diesel Fat Henry has drunk – 1012 gallons, at an average cost per gallon of $2.323. That sounds super cheap now, as diesel has gone up – not too sure if its because we’re over on the West Coast, or if it’s gone up everywhere.
The cheapest diesel we got was in Sevierville, TN at $1.779 (which was incredibly cheap even for that area), and the most expensive in 2016 was in Wells, NV at $2.709. We use the app Gas Buddy, which has saved us a lot of money and driving around (but also caused more driving around, seeking the holy grail of low fuel prices). Now we’re in CA, it’s gone up even more, but you’ll find that out in February 2018 when I publish the 2017 stats.
Number of blinds mended/rethreaded – 5. Number of blinds broken that have to be mended – 1. Number left to break – 5. We finally gave in and instead of buying the blind repair kits, we just bought 100m of nylon cord to use to restring the blinds. So if there’s anyone else in the area who needs some 1.4mm nylon cord – we have 98.2m left.
Number of times Berts mended the bathroom sink – 4. And I think this time it’s actually worked! We had a slow drip from when Bert put a new mixer tap in in TN way back when (May, I think), and luckily we have a couple of plastic bins under the sink to store things in/catch any drips that might happen.
Number of repair/upgrade projects to do – again, too many. It’s a never ending list of things to do – rather like owning a house, but most things can’t be procrastinated for as long as when you own a house. Apart from the bathroom fan – that bad boy has been waiting for me to repair him since June. Oops.
Here’s the final financial numbers tally from the end of April (when we got on the road) to the end of the year
|Total 2016||Monthly Average|
|Membership/ club/ education||$430||$53.75|
As I look at this, the one number that jumps out at me is $106 doing laundry. What! The other number that I didn’t track is how long we spent in laundromats/launderettes (depending on your nationality and propensity to talk funny). Maybe that’ll be the next thing tracked.
So, although we were ‘on the road’ for 247 days in 2016, 47 of those we were away from the camper and did not have any campsite expenses. We had other expenses though – vacation isn’t cheap – but I tracked those separately (of course -why not put another tab in the spreadsheet!). We spent about $2800 for those 47 days, including food, flights to/from Europe, across the US and between countries in Europe, groceries, gifts, food, train travel, restaurants, rental car, food, hotels, snacks and did I mention – food?
As you can see from the list above, I didn’t include either health insurance or phones (we pay for those individually) and also truck/camper/umbrella insurance, which is an annual thing and we paid for before we got on the road. But in case any of you out there are interested in doing this full time, this is how much we paid for Health and Phones since we got on the road, and the insurance is for the whole year, not just 247 days. (Health includes insurance and medications, but no psych counselling over our inability to reverse in less than 38 minutes and 127 back and forth movements):
And here’s a pretty little pie chart that shows the above data in picture form, for you more visually oriented folks:
Of course, none of this includes the costs of buying the Shady Lady and Fat Henry in the first place, or the costs of getting kitted out to go on the road or getting our home ready to rent. But it gives us a good idea of how much it should cost in 2017 (extrapolating 8 months to 12 months) for us to live, if we keep doing the things we’re doing and without any major work needing to be done on the equipment. However, the one thing to note is that we have more control over our costs than often possible in a sticks and brick house. We can choose to stay stationary more (lower fuel costs). We can try to stay in more free campsites (email me if you have a long driveway………). We can eat rice and beans more (and that will give the added benefit of heating up the camper too!). We can drink less (Ha!). Or if we come into a small windfall we can choose to spend more money which means that we’ll be able to stay at nicer places (or even in San Francisco), and eat out more (and then have to join a gym to counteract that) or be able to visit Hawaii and Alaska (to finish off Berts 50 states).
In the flavor of Berts more ruminative posts, I will endeavour to add some personal feelings to go along with the Spock-like statistics. It’s been a great year, with a lot of ups and a couple of downs. Did I get out of my comfort zone this year – yes, definitely. Did the magic happen – yes to that one too.
This lifestyle is definitely not for everybody, but I’ve been surprised on how easy it has been for me/us to adapt. At first there was so much new information to know, and things to learn (what to do to avoid the ‘Pyramid of Poo’, for example – something you don’t get in a house with a proper toilet) that it seemed……. well, not overwhelming as such, but daunting. As a typical overthinker, there was so much to process, so many ways that so many things could go wrong or different things happen. But, as with a lot of things that seem ‘big’ when you first look at them, when broken down into bite sized chunks they’re a lot more digestible (like a brownie) and not really a big deal at all. Something that needed 30 or 40 written step by step instructions becomes second nature in no time at all. Experiences like this reinforce the notion that most things really aren’t that difficult if you dissect them into manageable chunks and spend time doing it. Even quantum physics – just break it down into quark sized bits (nerd joke alert).
But its funny – no matter whether we’re in a house or a trailer, life is just life. We still have to do all the same things – wash, do laundry, cook food, go food shopping etc.. Don’t have to mow the grass, but then in a house we don’t have to empty the crapper either….
I love going around the country spending longer with friends and family than we would have otherwise, and getting to know them a bit better. I was very thankful for the time we spent in TN, MO, CO, NV and CA. However, on that note, it also means that we didn’t spend any time with our friends in NC since being on the road (apart from a guest appearance from Tracy, which made South Dakota more special), and that’s the part of the lifestyle I suppose. We have fleeting conversations and meetings with a lot of different new people, but no depth of conversation that you get with well-established friends (note I didn’t say ‘old’ friends), so it can be somewhat isolating after a time. Usually the times we get into ‘meaningful’ conversation the most with new people is when we’re doing volunteer work, and we’ve met some lovely people, but we still have no roots in a community like we did in NC. Not meaning to sound morose – it’s been an amazing trip. But for me, that’s the one drawback of a nomadic lifestyle. It’s good for a season, and for this time in our lives, but if we were to do this permanently I’d have to make way more effort in keeping up with friendships remotely than I have done……… and I know how crap I am at that. Sorry everyone for my lack of communication skills.
That said – we’re not done exploring yet – like Bert has said before, it’s the trip of a lifetime and we’re going to make the most of it. There’s still more places to go, friends and family to meet up with and new friends to make. And a lot more food to eat. We are very grateful for the support from everyone, and love you all. xxx