A&A Celebrate One Year Of Full-Time RV Living | Nomadiversary
End of Week #52
Gualala River Redwood Park, Gualala CA
Miles traveled since last week's post = 0
Total miles traveled to date = 7,955 with trailer
Happy Memorial Day from us to you! If you are a veteran, thank you for your service to our country. Today did not feel like a 'holiday' for Adam and I, as all of the workampers here at the park started a more official schedule for work today. As of last week we are now officially working and getting paid through the park, however it is still very uncertain and unclear if the park will get to open on it's projected date in June. In the time being we are going about things 'as mostly normal', but everything still solely relies on the state of California and Mendocino County in terms of what is decided for transient lodging.
For now we will each be working around 17 hours a week doing various things in the park. So far I have started to help out with office duties and scheduling/cancelling reservations in our system and Adam has started out doing a lot of maintenance duties outside. It definitely feels weird to us to be "working" under a certain structure again, but at the same time it's been over a year now since we have and it sort of feels good to have a purpose right now too!
But in other news...
A&A Celebrate One Year Of Full-Time RV Living
We made it to the year marker you guys, I can't even believe it! It's honestly quite shocking how fast one year really goes. Especially when you spent the entire thing FAR outside of your comfort zone, conquering fear and new terrain and all kinds of new challenges and things to get used to. But here we are, and we are stronger than ever and loving every minute of it all. In a lot of ways I still feel like we are just getting started with everything and like the whole year of 2020 so far has been at a lot slower pace than we would have ever imagined it to go. Covid has caused us to slow down in more ways than I would have liked, but it's also teaching us the importance to not rush through something so amazing that we have turned into our lifestyle, as it's not just a "vacation" away from reality.
To welcome in our first #nomadiversary we had a group bonfire with the other workampers and managers here in Gualala, CA - having far too many drinks and celebrating our coworker's birthday as well. Then over the weekend we took a nice long day drive up to Fort Bragg, which you might have saw me post about on my Facebook. It was an absolutely beautiful day to explore the newly opened beaches in Mendocino County, and the ocean was the breath of fresh air we were looking for. We also treated ourselves to sushi, something we enjoyed a lot in our 'old life' and haven't had in over a year now!
But now that the first year is done and out of the way, I wanted to go through some fun stats and analytics with all the things that got us to this point in time of where we are now.
So here we go! In our FIRST YEAR as FULL-TIME RVers...
We slept around ...
Total # of places we camped at in one year: 42 !!
Family land: 2
RV Parks: 18
KOA campgrounds: 1
Hotel "parking lot/RV parks: 1
State Park campgrounds: 8
National Park campgrounds: 5
Recreational land: 3
We hiked & RV'd across the USA
Our route to date: Here is the link to the updated map of our travels thus far - ROUTE.
How many miles & how many states: We come in just shy of 8,000 miles, at 7,955, traveled across 11 states!
Longest destination and shortest: We stayed just about 9 weeks in Camp Verde and have pulled a few 1 night stops throughout our first few months of travels. Nowadays we try to keep the 1 nighters to a minimum, but in total we have done 6 of them so far.
Most amount of miles traveled in one day: 411 miles from Big Bend National Park (Texas) to White Sands National Park (New Mexico).
Least amount of miles: 24 miles from a place we were boondocking at in the Badlands to grandma's front yard.
Favorite campsite(s): To date, my favorite campsite is still the one we had near Grand Teton National Park, in the Bridger Teton National Forest at a boondocking campground called Atherton Creek. Adam's favorite campsite is still the location at Bear Lake State Park, on Bear Lake in northern Utah. Other great campsites we have had include the one we are currently at, in the Redwoods on the river and off the coast of California (Gualala River Redwood Park), Great Sand Dunes National Park, the Colorado National Monument, and the boondocking location outside of the Badlands.
How many hikes (& miles): Over the course of 1 year we have recorded 54 HIKES and a total of 183 MILES explored across so many different mountain tops, multiple desert lands and magical forests. My favorite hikes are mostly still the ones we did in Sedona (& Arizona), but everywhere we explored in Utah and Colorado, and even Wyoming and Texas, were nothing short of spectacular!
Shout out to amazing people we met:
Renee and Gary from Ohio - we met them in Ten Sleep, Wyoming in August 2019 when we were making our way to Yellowstone and they were too. We both went to the same little restaurant in the very small town and ended up sitting with each other at the bar. Renee and I still keep in touch to this day.
Isabel from California - we met her in Zion National Park in southern Utah in September 2019 while we were taking a shuttle to go for a hike. We ended up hiking Angels Landing with her and Isabel and I still keep in touch to this day.
Tim from Connecticut - we met him and his girlfriend in December 2019 at the RV park in Galveston, Texas. We connected over social gatherings all month long and still keep in touch on Facebook.
Al and Lisa from Wisconsin - we met them in Camp Verde, Arizona in February 2020 and were next door neighbors for a whole month. We hung out with them at the pool a lot and shared some cocktails together in their rig. We still stay in touch on Facebook.
Amanda and Kyle from Iowa - we met them in Camp Verde, Arizona, in March 2020 back when the pool at the clubhouse was still open and ended up hiking with them, going to bars, and having campfires too. Amanda and I still stay in touch and will forever be bonded over the same name and red hair!
What we did for holidays & birthdays:
In July, on my birthday, we left Stone Lake, WI and traveled to Sturgeon Lake, MN, where we went to my dad and step mom Carrie's campground to hang out and celebrate with them.
We did not do anything at all for Halloween and traveled most of the entire day.
For Adam's birthday in November we were in Burleson, Texas and treated ourselves to In & Out Burger.
On Thanksgiving we were still in Burleson, Texas and cooked up a huge meal in the rig, cooking the most amount of food at once that we had done yet to that day. We did not miss out on any of the classics, except for turkey - which the grocery store was all out of. But we did have some very delicious tuna steaks!
For Christmas we were in Galveston, Texas and had ourselves a big seafood meal with catches from the local seafood shop in town - freshly caught from the Gulf. We also went to a Christmas party at the RV park full of all the traditional treats and goodies!
We also spent New Years in Galveston, Texas and celebrated by ourselves in our rig, talking to friends and family and watching Netflix.
On Easter we traveled again, and arrived in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. We did not do anything to acknowledge this day.
And today, on Memorial Day, we worked our first "real day" at our jobs and Adam made some incredible pan fried tacos!
Visits from friends & family:
Our good friends Tasha and Zach (& little Eli) first visited us in Moab, Utah last September 2019.
My mom and her friend Kae surprised us in Burleson, Texas in November 2019.
Our friends Tom and Tania visited us in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico in February 2020, and then later that same month they visited us in Camp Verde, Arizona.
My dad and step mom Carrie visited us in Camp Verde, Arizona in February 2020.
And we are still mourning the loss of our planned visit to meet Tasha and Zach (& big boy Eli) in Palm Springs, California in April 2020.
We lived the budget life with our finances
How long did our proceeds from the sale of our townhouse last: Until about the end of April, beginning of May 2020, for close to a total of 10 months. We originally estimated 8-12 months so we were right on track with our predictions!
Average amount we spent on campgrounds per month versus what mortgage would have been:
Moving on the go-go-go all month long - $800-$1,000 (which would be MUCH lower if we did more boondocking).
Staying put in one place for a whole month - $650 total for rent, electricity and water. (Would be MUCH lower if we did more boondocking.)
Previous monthly mortgage bill and HOA fee - $950 mortgage + $300 HOA = $1,250.
Average amount spent on food per month: $300-$500, mostly depending on how many Costco trips we make and how much liquor we purchase... we have been spending on the higher side of things lately as we have been over indulging through good and alcohol more than we should. But the good news is that when we do buy in bulk the majority of things last us over a month and we don't have to get much else throughout the month, just a few product items.
Current bills: Monthly cell phone and mobile hotspot bill ($150), every 6 months we pay insurance for the trailer and the van ($700), and we are still paying monthly on the trailer as well ($280), as we financed it when we purchased it.
Total average cost of bills & rent: About $1,000 per month (which would be MUCH lower if we did more boondocking), and then the only additional money is spent on gas to travel or explore and money spent on other odds and ends supplies, cat food, if we ever eat out, and any memberships or special passes we get on a seasonal or annual basis.
Current streams of income: Our first workamping job in Gualala, California, and my online business selling medical grade water ionizers with Kangen Water. (We also received the same stimulus checks that everyone else did this spring, and we also came out pretty well through this years tax season.)
Future plans for income: Continue to work online with Kangen Water, do other remote digital jobs, cash jobs, and source various workamping jobs at campgrounds across the country.
We stocked up goods to last us a year, or beyond
How long did our stock piles last: (from things we bought before we sold our house)
Deodorant - still have enough for at least another year.
Toothpaste - still have enough for at least another year.
Hair products for Amanda - just about to run out this summer, so they lasted over a year.
Shampoo & conditioner - still have enough for at least another year.
20 lbs of rice - just about to run out this summer, so it lasted over a year.
Protein powder - WOW I haven't even opened any yet...
Makeup for Amanda - barely have worn any all year, and will have supplies for a LONG time.
All the tequila we got from our 'See You Later Party' - well it only lasted us a few months, but hey - don't judge! :)
On average we get propane about every 3-4 months now as we don't utilize it for a heat source any longer, only to cook with. (We used to use it for the furnace at night too before we bought a space heater.) We stock up on instant organic coffee every 6 months or so, and organic avocado oil for cooking about every 4-5 months. We purchase dry cat food in bulk about every 5 months and monthly I purchase wet food for them. Cat litter is purchased about every 3 months, and toilet paper is purchased about every 6 months in bulk from Amazon.
We had a few issues/damages to travel trailer
Minor issues: While we were camping in Yellowstone in August 2019 we had a water leak inside the trailer from our spray port cracking. Throughout the year we have also had a lot of trim fall off the walls and screws fall out of the window coverings and outdoor side skirting.
Large issues: Thankfully we have only had the one larger issue that most of you already know about when our tire stripped on I5 traveling north through California at the end of April 2020. The tire strip damaged the underbelly of the trailer and ripped up the side skirting.
We have not had any issues to date with Frank the Tank, AKA our express van.
& We had some super significant lessons & memories
Buying a travel trailer - we would have maybe explored more of a motor home idea and kept my car to tow with us. It would have made traveling with the cats a lot easier and easier to eat lunch or have snacks while we drive (or even for Amanda to take a nap.)
The extreme whirlwind of moving out of the town-home and putting it for sale all in the same weekend - in hindsight we would have went to pick up our trailer and moved it to Stone Lake, WI with some of our belongings a week or so before we actually moved out of the house. We may have also tried to sell our house with things in it instead of it being empty. With the garage sales in Woodbury, MN, we would have done more research to register ourselves with the city and have more marketing and promotion for our sales to help rid more.
Storms - while in South Dakota specifically, ended up causing us a LOT of anxiety and trauma. There isn't much we could have done differently except maybe adjust the time of year we went to this area, but weather in general is so unpredictable. Mostly it has just been a huge shock to how extreme the weather really when you are dealing with it in a trailer and if there were ways to prepare more mentally for it I would have!
There were certain supplies we didn't know we needed right away, even amongst all of our research, and this included a space heater and a dehumidifier. Both of these products have absolutely changed our lives for the better!
With our tire situation the lesson that was learned was that you should maintenance and service your rig far under the suggested timelines to do so.
RV parks are definitely costly and that cost eats away at your budget. But at the same time certain luxuries have started to become non negotiables that we just don't want to live without. In the future we need to set ourselves up better for more boondocking to save money, as originally was planned for our journey anyway. Ways we can do this include investing in solar power, getting our kitchen slide fixed and finding boondocking places that have 4G cell connections.
CATastrophes in the beginning with the bengal cats and how they have since adjusted more over time... we really did not spend enough time in the beginning in getting them used to riding in a moving vehicle and exploring the different ways we could cage them in the van while driving. In the first few months on the road we utilized like 5 different carriers and handfuls of products with Roscoe, when in hindsight we should have properly explored better options with a vet. Roscoe has had severe anxiety the entire journey and it's gotten better through repetition and gabapentin but it's been a LONG ride.
That last night in the townhome, sleeping in a completely empty 2 story, 1500 square foot place on an air mattress with only our essentials left to our name. It all still feels so surreal and so long ago. It was hard to picture a year later when we were only just beginning. It was even hard to believe it was all real in the moment when it was SO real.
That moment our 'See You Later Party' turned into a surprise engagement party in front of all our family and friends... still can't believe Adam pulled that off!
Leaving Lake Elmo, MN and making our way across southern Minnesota while trying to reach South Dakota. The drive was so gruesome with the cats and how slow we were going we ended up having to find somewhere in a rush. We landed in Springfield, MN and ended up running into a good friend from my dad and Carrie's campground and it relaxed me and made me feel like I should put more trust in the process and let things be as they will be.
Being on the farm in the Badlands with my grandparents and Aunt/Uncle/Cousins was some of the most fun we have had in this entire year. We still continually share so many stories from that time frame with anyone and everyone willing to listen to us.
Hiking in the Teton Mountains in Wyoming when we saw a bear on the hillside and didn't know if it was going to come at us on the trail or what!
Continuously outrunning snow for months, all the way from Yellowstone to Texas, and then within the first 12 hours in Texas - it snowed on us hard and we got over 4 inches.
That moment when I went to the door in Burleson, Texas and saw my mom smiling at me on the other end. I was in complete shock for at least 3 seconds until I could process it as real life. She pulled off (ONE of) the greatest surprises I could ever hope for.
Seeing a live bobcat in Big Bend National Park, Texas!
Traveling to Mexico (from Texas) on an expired passport.
The moment I told Adam that Kobe Bryant had died...
Seeing a dirt/wind storm as we left Texas and got to New Mexico.
Hearing a mountain lion growl loudly in a canyon when we were hiking in Sedona, AZ.
Taking the most beautiful engagement photos in Sedona, AZ.
The moment #covid19 became a phenomenon on the news...
The second we got to highway 1 on the northern coast of California... and entered the Redwood Forest.
So what does the future hold?
Ultimately, we are more than happy with our decision to change our entire lifestyle and go full-time with RVing and traveling, and we easily see ourselves doing this for another handful of years. (Or even longer than that depending on how things continue to go!) At the moment, or biggest long term goal is to invest in land, ideally still in an area we are very familiar with - in northern Wisconsin, and set up a homestead there for whenever we would like to use it. With that in mind, we would continue to avoid winters at all costs and we would love to continue RVing in the summer months, while still having the homestead to go back to. There are already so many places we have fallen in love with that would make great spots for land, but it's hard to beat the sentimental value of a summer in north country with the lakes and forests. Plus it would be a lot more cost effective, and closer to friends and family to set up there while still having the ability to continue to travel wherever we please.
All of this could still change down the line as we continue to explore new places and fall in love with new states, but this is what we currently dream about!
Nevertheless, we are both very excited to see where another year will bring us in our nomad journey through the United States, and maybe even Canada. ;) ... Plus someday we will have to plan a wedding or something too! <3
WOW, we will already be welcoming in the month of June! In the spirit of all things RV living right now, next week I want to go over 10-15 things that no one tells you about what it's like to RV full-time. The secrets will be coming out, so stay tuned!
*Currently under construction and paused at this time.*
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