Saturday, October 16 – WOW…it has been one year since we left Ohio on our full-timing adventure! We can’t believe how fast this past year has gone by. As we reflect back on the past year, we would like to share a few thoughts and some interesting statistics.
So what do we think about our first year on the road? This has been one of the larger, more risky adventures we have taken in our life time. I suppose it would have been easier to remain in Canton, Ohio and live out our lives there. But Paul, for one, needed something to add excitement to his daily life, and Marsha consented to tag along. The idea that, his life is not winding down at age 60, but refreshing, was inspiring.
Full-timing is certainly not for everyone. It requires some risk taking, overcoming fears of the unknown, saying good-bye to family and friends, and doing some things that may not seem wise. You have to be flexible. Paul admits, that one of his biggest full-timing faults is, he has difficulty “rolling-with-the-punches.” He has to relax when things go wrong. He must assume that something is going to break sooner or later, or eventually you're going to get lost, or the campsite you planned on staying in is a dump. This lifestyle is NOT one big vacation. It's difficult, frustrating, and more expensive than we were lead to believe by our research. Luckily, Marsha is pretty good at keeping a positive attitude and gets Paul back on track when necessary. He is working on it and will improve with time. Hopefully, Marsha will remain strong.
Marsha finds that the most challenging thing is not looking back so much. She loves to reminisce and this leads her to get a bit melancholy. Sometimes she cries about missing her dad, family and friends back in Ohio. She knows she can pick up the cell any time and call anyone she chooses. She uses her email and texting abilities to keep in touch with so many at home. She is working on living in the present and knowing that everyone back home will be there when she gets back…Christmas is right around the corner. She already has her ticket!
We have certainly learned, we don't need an abundance of things. Much less than in our previous lifestyle. Getting rid of a lot of stuff and living within our means is gratifying. We've become more frugal. We now think about most purchases. We track our expenses carefully and have monthly goals.
We have had more repair expenses than we imagined before beginning this adventure (are largest budget expense). I guess we would have had repairs with a home, but nevertheless, this lifestyle can get expensive, at times. Our other five largest expenses have been Medical Cost for Paul’s Surgery, a 3M Freightliner Service, an automatic satellite dish (hey....we need TV), an air-conditioner replacement, and upgrading our refrigerator. Next year we'll need to replace our tires and maybe our batteries. Our day-to-day expenses have been just about what we expected. Over-all, we are living much cheaper than when we lived in our home and are seeing this awesome country of ours.
We've learned having a great campsite every night is not that important. In fact, only a few of our sites have been memorable. But most campgrounds have been fine - or better! Having the ability to follow the sun is an amazing feeling. Being able to be outside in warm weather 12 months of the year keeps is a wonderful feeling. We've met some wonderful people and made many, many new and amazing friends. We look forward to making more friends and enjoying more of this beautiful country. Speaking of beautiful country, we have seen so many gorgeous sunrises and sunsets. What an amazing scene!
We did have an unexpected “bump” in the road, this first year. Paul ended up having spinal fusion surgery on March 1, 2010. The results have been VERY satisfactory, but it did anchor us in Livingston, Texas for three months and, of course, cost us quite a bit of money we hadn't planned on spending (our second highest budget item). But, we learned that an unexpected medical problem can be over-come and certainly won't force us off the road.
When in Canton, Ohio, our home church is St. Stephen Martyr Lutheran Church, but when on the road we have enjoyed worshipping with many different denomination and at nondenominational churches. We have participated in services with Methodist, Presbyterian, Cowboy, outdoor, MEGA churches, Baptist, etc. Each experience has given us a new outlook on what makes up our different religions and cultures. We look forward in being better educated and open to all types of worship. One thing they all have in common is the Love for God and His son Jesus the Christ.
We've really enjoyed being able to spend time with our two daughters, Kelly and Carrie. What wonderful young ladies they've become. We are so proud of them. We were able to spend the holidays, birthdays, Texas night clubbing, and just relaxing afternoons with them. That makes the whole year worthwhile! We love you Kelly and Carrie.
Our Blog has been a HUGE under-taking, but has been enjoyable too! It's fun to share our adventure with family, friends, and the unknown “new friends” out there. The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta has brought us the most “comments” in our daily writings. That's gratifying, because Marsha put a great deal of time in publishing those balloon daily reports. Paul's DIY replacement of our refrigerator, also produced many comments and visitations to our Blog.
Regrets.....yeah, I suppose we have a few. Marsha really misses her family, especially her dad, but is persevering. All-in-all, it's been a wonderful year. We've learned a lot, enjoyed each others company (that 24/7 thing hasn't been too bad :=), and we look forward to sharing our lives with each other for another year.
Oh....we can't forget Bella (our cat). She has taken to traveling quite nicely and continues to bring us “great joy.” She seems healthier than ever and is quite popular in the campgrounds with the “cat-women” walking her around the park. People are constantly amazed how well she does on her leash. And boy, does she enjoy seeing all the animals out her window.
So, thanks for visiting our Blog. We hope you've enjoyed reading it, half as much as we've enjoyed living it! Please stop back often and leave us a few comments.
FIRST YEAR INTERESTING STATISTICS:
Starting Date: 10/17/09
Miles MH Driven: 12,357
Miles Jeep (toad) Driven: 22,186 (does not include towed miles)
Days of travel: 52
Number of Paid Campgrounds nights: 291
Private Campgrounds: 87
Escapee Campgrounds: 141
Nat'l Parks/COE/BLM: 33
Casinos (with fee): 11
Repair (with fee): 11
Elks (with fee): 8
FREE CAMPING/BOONDOCKING: 74
Repair Shops: 9
Texas Rest stop: 1
Balloon Fiesta: 12
Number of different CG's/stops: 52
Average Daily CG Expense (includes all nights): $ 12.80
Total Gallons of DIESEL Fuel: 1677.86
Average price for Fuel: $2.84
Average Miles/Gallon: 7.36
Best MPG: 9.57
Worst MPG: 5.53
NOTE: These MPG figures are only approximate due to difficulty filling fuel tank to same amount at each refueling stop.
Longest Driving Day: 465 miles…9 hours
Shortest Driving Day: 3 miles…6 minutes
Number of States Visited: 16
Paul's Top Ten Favorite Places but not in any particular order:
New Orleans, LA
Bay St.Louis, MS
Carlsbad Cavern, NM
Albuquerque, AZ…Balloon Fiesta
Houston, TX…USS Texas Memorial
Marsha's Top Ten Favorite Places but not in any particular order:
Joshua Tree, CA
Houston, TX…USS Texas Memorial
New Orleans, LA
NOTE: We did not include the visit to Ohio in July or Amelia Island in August. These are our very best stops…visiting family and friends.
Our Worst Experience:
Day we were towed from Columbus, TX to San Antonio, TX
Bella's Worst Experiences…she has a couple:
Christmas at Aunt Kelly's with those kittens
Cowpens Park in Gaffney, SC left in car.....the heat! OPPS!
Rainbow's End in Livingston, TX = 73 days (Paul's surgery)
Flynn's in Augusta, GA
Chippokes Plantation State Park, Surry, VA (visit Williamsburg)
Largest Budget Expenses:
MH Maintenance, Medical Deductible Expense, Groceries, Campgrounds, Diesel Fuel, Gasoline for Jeep