November 20, 2012

Boondocking and Isolation

Those two words in the title never seem to leave my thoughts and today came back into the mental scene like a high speed storm. Sell everything, hit the road and figure things out on the way.

How's that for a wide range of thinking?

I have 4 days off from work after tomorrow, the 21st, and plenty of time to shampoo my carpets, wash down the walls, a thorough cleaning, more downsizing and put that brand new "for sale" sign in the front yard. Yes, I know it's the holidays, I know its winter and maybe it will not sell during this time ... but at least it's a start and if I were to get lucky with a sale, then I hit the road.

I am not sure of the reason for the sudden change in thinking.

My favorite college basketball team is #1 until they get beat and they will get beat eventually ... maybe tonight. Yet, I know I can watch them anywhere in the USA with my Directv dish and transfer my service.

All I thought about today during a slow day of work ... was boondocking and sitting somewhere with warm weather, a slight breeze, sun and 3 hounds napping outside on a rug.

So we will see. I think I am going to be very productive these next 4 days and that will get me back in forward motion of clearing my house out, selling it and hitting the road.

What if it doesn't sell?  After a period of time where I give it a chance to sell, I'll buy a trailer, head west and see what the future brings.

RVsue's story has always been very interesting as well as her current blog posts. When I read last year, the reason she decided to sell out and hit the road I could see we had similar reasons.

Stay tuned.

November 19, 2012

Is Sadie a Hold Up in the Decision?

As much as I love my hounds, I wonder sometimes if my 80lb bloodhound Sadie is subconsciously keeping me from making a decision. Two "low level" basset hounds are much different than 2 basset hounds and 1 large bloodhound. Plus a "hound" is much different than those smart never run away shepherds. I would have to have all 3 of my dogs on 3 different retractable leashes because even with the older Winston (8yrs old), when they get on a scent, they are off and all 3 can run much faster than I can.

I know this from past experience in the hayfield walks in the afternoon and an unexpected deer shows up within their scent range ... and I know how slow I am chasing them.

So when I see pictures of other travelers hiking with the dogs unleashed, and they stay around without running off, I know that is not possible with the noses of my hounds.

With a tow vehicle that I am currently driving daily to work, that puts me in the range of a small trailer. The more I think of it, the more I could see me and 2 basset hounds doing it comfortably but that 3rd 80lbs of fumbling tumbling hound INSIDE something only 16'-18' makes it seem hard to imagine.

So that is why I asked, if Sadie, my big bloodhound has been the reason I have not been able to make a decision, when I am use to making decisions pretty quickly on other topics.

All through my google searches over the past 13 months, I have not found anyone RVing full time with a bloodhound or even a large dog with 2 other dogs. Definitely not inside a smaller trailer.

Based on weekend observations, my hounds sleep A LOT during the day while I am at work and also while I am around on weekends. Those naps could be on a rug inside a portable fenced area like RVsue uses for her two smaller dogs but when the winds are howling and the rain is flying, the big girl with the 2 basset hounds and I would seem to be pretty cramped inside a smaller trailer when I think about it.

Does that move us back to a Class C or a 32' - 34' Class A?  Even in times of $4 gas?

I have done all of my gas estimates with different types of RV's at $4 per gallon fuel in the past year. I am pretty close to an estimate of 8,000-9,000 miles traveled in a year, maybe less if I stay in places I like longer. Having lived in the west in the past for 20+yrs, I have seen a lot of Calif, Washington, Idaho, and Arizona. So I see myself doing less traveling than maybe some others I read about.

Still, I keep coming back to traveling full time with 3 hounds and 1 of those hounds being 30" tall at the shoulder, packing only 80lbs and a tail that can clean off a coffee table with a couple of tail wags. I will not even get into the drool

I could do a Class C or A and used my current tow vehicle as my toad.

More and more to think about.

November 18, 2012

Nothing New Except the Morning Temps

As you see on the left side of this post, I follow a few blogs of others either snow-birding, RVing fulltime and a few that camp when they can get time. I follow more than what is listed to the left in Google Reader, so I do have a wide range of travelers and a wide range of ideas and thoughts.

Still, I remember to remember that each of us has their own situation in doing what we do.

Over the past month I have had time to think of what a typical day in retirement would look like if I chose to stay here in this house on a fulltime basis. A couple of days off during the week plus weekends gave me a glance into the future and one that turned out quite boring. I had thoughts asking myself "is this what you really want to do?" when I decide to retire and stay in this location? When imagining doing what the people do that I read daily about I asked myself the same question "is this what you really want to do?" I saw more positive images and thought "yes" to that question about traveling.

That thought process led me to take a look at the way I am always changing my mind more than I like in making this decision. Add in the comments on this blog, the stories of others in their blogs, the few private emails I receive about what to do and it keeps me in the mode of not making a decision.

I realized over the past 13 months since this urge of RVing fulltime hit me, my mind consistently changed with the change of seasons, situations at work and/or when I was just plain bored. Tired of the same routine that I and others in the workforce follow.

So really the answer is in all of this analysis I have been going through, I will not know until I just do it. Seems simple.

I have decided instead of jumping in 100% feet first by selling everything and hitting the road with my hounds and just the bare necessities and figuring it out as I go ... That I will keep my house, continue to downsize, buy a trailer and hit the road.

The date to hit the road is still undetermined but the search for a travel trailer is on as well as buying the things I will need to be off the grid in my travels.

I do know that the temps (20's) I wake up to and drive to work in makes it so tempting to buy something soon and leave but I don't feel like I am fully prepared to make that move yet.

Through my reading I am seeing more pulling off the road and staying in one spot longer. Are the fuel prices this past summer a factor? I know that fuel cost are very flexible and can be controlled by the amount of movement from one camp site to another. I have no doubt that I will be more of a boondocker than a traveling tourist.

In my case when comparing the 2 options of keeping the house and traveling or selling the house and traveling, my NET monthly expenditures are within $200-$300 of each other. Not a big difference. In either case I already have my tow vehicle.

As one friend told me "you only need shelter".

October 13, 2012

Feeling Content

I have to admit that the fall season is one of my favorite seasons here in southern Indiana. Great daytime temps of low to mid 70's and night time temps down in the 30's. There has been just enough rain to make up for the lack of last summer, so there is still the yard mowing every week. Attending football games at IU is great. Not a lot of wins but it's great being outside in good weather watching one of my favorite sports and teams.

During this change of seasons, I noticed a change in my urgency to "sell out" and hit the road. I didn't feel that "rushed" feeling of getting a bunch of things done so I could put the For Sale sign out in the yard. I'm still downsizing, took another huge load of clothes to the goodwill just last Monday and have disposed of a lot of things that I had not used in years. So the downsizing is still progressing. A couple of blog followers emailed me to tell me they thought all I needed more than anything was a vacation away from my home and local area. I thought about that on my daily dog walks through the field behind my house. They might be right. I haven't had more than a day or two vacation days off from work in 7 years and that includes the time I was working at home with my online business.

I also noticed a trend in the blogs I read. More and more people were saying how they were either looking for or had a 2nd location so they were not traveling every week or two constantly. Some had already returned to their winter locations where they will stay in their RV's or trailers until next spring and then travel during the spring and summer. A few that I follow are traveling and will travel full time during the winter, moving to different locations every few weeks.

I liked the honesty recently in a few blogs I follow. They each brought up things in my "con" column on my analysis spreadsheet for which of my 4 options to choose. I have always wondered how much I would be willing to compromise while living smaller on the road. I have always wondered about my short attention span and how that would affect traveling on the road full time. How soon would I tire of it and want to do something else? Or would I tire of it at all?

So I think I am back to my original plan that I had even before the thought of full-timing and RVs were ever a thought in my mind. That original plan was to keep my house that is paid for as a "base camp", and travel in warmer climates during the Midwest winter's or travel when the urge hit me and for as long as I wanted. Then follow whatever I felt like doing.

I am still wanting the travel trailer/truck/SUV combo.  I'll decide on either a Casita, an Escape, Bigfoot or the Lance 1575 towed by my H3 and visit the places I have been to in the past or the new locations I read about on my blog list. During those travels I believe all the questions I have had about what to do will answer themselves and only then will I know if I should "sell out" and hit the road full time or keep a couple of locations to stay at.

I am still sure that when I do travel I want to boondock more than anything and get off the grid as far as possible. With 3 hounds possibly my largest quantity of my supplies will be drinking water...for me and them. Who would have thought that water would be possibly the biggest quantity of all the stuff I would take with me? Yet it would have to be based on the water consumption of myself and 3 big dogs. (granted 2 of them are short but over 60lbs).

Thank you for the Amazon stories, I now know I would never want to work there.  :)

So in summary, not much going on here. I feel the "hibernation" stage approaching. In some ways I am like a bear once winter hits.

Next week will be 2 years ago when I read about Glenn on the Yahoo Business page and started my curiosity of RVing full-time.

September 30, 2012

At This Point in Time

I survived my grueling hours of watching college football yesterday. My favorite team lost as usual but they made it exciting after coming back from being down 27-0. During all of this viewing, the thought of "bordem" floated through and I wondered if I watch that many hours because there is nothing else to do in the area I live, and what would I be doing if I were in a different on the road.

In today's tv land, and I am not a big time tv watcher, I could (can) watch a ballgame live anywhere I have an internet connection on my iPhone or iPad or iMac. That opens up a lot of possibilities. Yet, I remember a few years back when the NFL was on strike and games were not being played, I spent every Sunday (weather permitting) outside doing something. I did not miss the games as much as I thought I would.

So maybe the massive amounts of time I spend watching ballgames is more about my location, being bored at times, except when my favorite team is playing.

How does all of this rambling tie in with RVing full-time?

I found out yesterday (again) while watching too many hours of football, that I would rather be parked out in the "boonies" somewhere, outside enjoying the environment around me rather than being inside vegging out on the couch watching football. The thought of sitting in the dark night around a campfire, in a jacket for cooler temps, sounds much more enjoyable than sitting inside a house bored.

So as the title of my post says today ... At This Point in Time ... I prefer the Truck/SUV and a small trailer combination. Right now, and I know it could change in the future, but right now I need to get as far off the grid as possible and for as long as possible. I can do that best with a 4x4 and small trailer.

That desire of being off the grid and the blogs/pictures I read/see on a daily basis, keeps my desire strong for selling all I have an hit the road full-time.

September 29, 2012

The Mind is a Dangerous Thing

It all started last night when I was organizing all of my bookmarks, deleting the old/unused ones, when I ran onto some older bookmarks leading me to RVs for sale.  Some of these were on eBay, Craig's List, Mfg Websites, etc. I started searching travel trailers then moved to the Class C's. The Class C looked like a large house after spending the past months looking at different travel trailers. When I jumped to the Class A's, they looked as large as a mansion on the inside. All that additional room scrambled my brain cells.

I then remembered a comment on one of the blogs I read "A Class C can go anywhere a truck and trailer can go" when boondocking. That comment scrambled more of my brain cells (what few are left).

My mind turned to being dangerous, thinking back to my original plan of a Class A or C and towing a 4x4. I stopped looking or thinking and logged off for a few hours of sleep.  You cannot get a lot of hours of sleep if you are a night person like I am, so it's always just "a few" hours of sleep.

So this morning with a couple of cups of Seattle's Best Coffee, the thought of a Class C pulling my H3 popped back into the possible plan.

I spent the rest of the morning updating and adding new email addresses to my Facebook account, so the email would tie into this blog domain name. I guess I have a few new ideas after last night, all leading in the direction of full-time living on the road. I might try a few new ideas online for producing some monthly income. Working online fulltime from 2005-2010 makes you always remember how nice it was to work at home and not going to a job.

The rest of today and night (Saturday) will be spent satisfying my addiction to college football with almost 14 hours of viewing pleasure. At the same time I will see if my dangerous brain cells will calm down a little bit about what to buy.

Did anyone else have this much trouble trying to decide what RV, truck or trailer to buy?

September 26, 2012

Escape Travel Trailer

I spent some time tonight on a forum of owners that travel in the Escape Travel Trailer. These are made in Chilliwack, BC Canada. You have can have them made to your specs and even some owners had the factory install different accessories they bought from companies other than Escape. I am interested in the 19' model along with the option of having a large range of ideas they can install. Highly recommended by a friend that has years of experience in full-timing in small fiberglass trailers "off the grid".

Looking at the pictures of where these people are camping, got me motivated back into action. Just like the decision of tow vehicles, I can feel the options of different trailers narrowing down to 2-3 different ones, the list is getting shorter.

On this forum I also saw people my age that were full-timing, telling others that were on the fence trying to decide when to retire, and start the travel journey ... to do it now, don't wait.

I have heard that before from some of my readers.

It gives me something to think about while at work tomorrow. The end of my fiscal year at work is coming to a close soon, so the pace should lighten up a little to where I can do some thinking at work about how to get out of here.  Maybe even a little online research on trailers.

Maybe I could get a job as one of those part-time NFL officials.

September 25, 2012

Still Alive

I have had a few people email me asking me if everything is ok since my blogging seems to have taken a vacation. At the end of August I had huge amounts of motivation and action. Then Labor Day weekend hit with a lot of plans to get closer to putting the house for sale, downsizing and hitting the road after finding a tow vehicle and a trailer.

I hit a gigantic wall that weekend.

Did nothing on my list, watched a lot of college and pro football, mowed the yard once, did a lot of thinking, reading and looking at pictures of different setups and spent time around the house with the hounds.

I haven't done anything since.

I've been looking at google images, reading forums and talking to a few people that fulltime or have in the past with an SUV and a small trailer. As far as trailers I have narrowed it down to the Escape made in BC Canada, the Lance 1575 and the Bigfoot 17'-19'...possibly a Casita.

While I am still able to with good health, I want to travel to locations that are way off the path. It's the only experience I have in camping, but those were short stays, camping in a tent after backpacking in the Cascades in Washington. Still I want to be able to take a trailer/SUV as far back as possible and stay there. Also have the ability to stay on BLM or National Forests.

I chose to trade my Mini Cooper for a H3 Hummer, even with the low towing capacity of 4,500 pounds.  I am using the 75% of the max weight to find the trailer that will fit those limits while traveling in the west. I don't mind going slow in the truck lane, but I liked the comfort of the ride and if needed they can climb anything. It has low mileage, serviced regular at the dealership and in my price range. Currently just driving in the local area not towing anything, I am getting 19.2 mpg. The Toyota FJ Cruiser was my other option and a hard decision to make but I couldn't find one with less than a 100,000 miles within the price that I wanted to pay. Each has it's pro's and con's.

If I get out on the road and decide all of this does not work, then I'll go from there and buy something bigger. This combo gets me out on the road the fastest and without touching my savings. Also I have never wanted to take a bunch of stuff with me and fit the rv/trailer around what I was taking. I have wanted to buy the trailer/rv that I want and then decide from there what I would take. I have always said I can and have traveled light.

What about the hounds??? They are going with me just as it has always been the plan. Once I am on the camp site I will not be spending a lot of time inside the trailer. Bad weather sure, we all will be inside until it passes, it will be much bigger than a tent!! They don't take up a lot of space inside based on their sleeping habits. From the people I talk to that live full time on the road with dogs, they say a trailer 17-19' will be ok. I have done some testing here at home by using the smaller 2nd bedroom I use for my office/bicycle trainer/dog kennel and two desks, just to see how cramped that space would be with the hounds. It's doable without any problems.

I know it's a big change than what I have looked at, wrote about and questioned in the past 11 months but everything feels good in this.

All is good here in the tropics of Southern Indiana!

August 27, 2012

I Clear Out More I Find More

Since my last post telling you about test driving different potential tow vehicles, I have moved more things to recycling.  I have pulled more clothes from the closet for my next Goodwill run to the larger town 25 miles away. During this time of doing a room at a time, I find more things I would do to the house if I were staying here. So I really need to do them and I think some things can be done while the For Sale sign is in the yard.

I am not a "pack rat", never have been nor will be ... but it is amazing how one person can collect so much stuff over the years. I do a lot of downsizing on an annual basis, so this is why it is so surprising to me as I move through each room, just how much stuff has accumulated.

The next thing to sort are books, my music collection and my IU sports collection. What do I do with them? When I say books, I am not talking a lot of books but these are the books that survived the last time I went through and cleared out books. My music collection is nothing more than obnoxious. Ranging from LP's (vinyl), to cassette tapes (over 300 ea), to CD's (close to 400), a dvd movie collection and a collection of IU football and basketball games on VCR tapes and DVD's, dating back to the first VCR player/recorder in 1985.

So I guess I am at the hard part of getting rid of some things that I really like, still listen to, still read or look through ... I am not sure what to do with them ... storage is not an option.

Throughout my busy day at work and the time home in the afternoon, one thought kept moving through my head pretty consistently. That was, a Toyota Tundra Pickup, with a cab high bed shell and a trailer. Still when I went back and looked at some Class C's along with the BT Cruiser that I had bookmarked.....I like the advantages of them and wanted them just as much as a truck and trailer. LOL

Even though I have gotten rid of a lot of stuff this weekend, I still have a lot to do and it's like a never ending battle. I did sell one of my bedroom chests within hours of texting the pics to my friends. I am having no luck selling my spare set of wheels and tires on Craig's List, except the Nigerian that wanted my name, address and phone number so his company could send me a check and his shipper could stop by this small out of the way Midwestern town to pick the wheels and tires up. In a reply to his email I just attached a link of his name that I found on google showing he was from Nigeria...never heard back from him.

Someone at work today asked me if I thought you could RV full-time on a "shoestring budget". He and his wife would love to do that but being cash strapped due to life, I'm not sure it would be a good idea. I told them I have no experience in RVing so I couldn't answer that but to me traveling in anything across the country on a full-time basis, on a "shoestring budget" is pretty dangerous. I told him to talk to another co-worker that had the huge Chevy dual axle pickup and the 38' 5th wheels for the RV experiences, not the monthly expenditures.

So, the thought of the day ... do I want to get on the road the fastest way and that is buying a truck and a trailer for less than I would spend on a Class C. Or do I need to wait? I don't want to touch my savings, like I have said before. Now I do have a savings for just RVing that has been increasing, but the best way to raise cash is selling the house.

Truck / Trailer or Class C towing a small 4x4 vehicle? Or just a Class with no toad?

I wish I would really make up my mind ... very very frustrating.

August 25, 2012

Test Driving Tow Vehicles

After taking a load to the local recycling center, I headed to Bloomington IN about 25 miles away to test drive some Toyota Tundra's, FJ Cruiser, Ford F-150 and a H3 Hummer.

One thing was consistent about all of these vehicles ... I found myself staying at the speed limit with ease ... something I don't experience a lot in my Mini Cooper. That was a good thing!

I started with a 2008 Tundra Crew Cab that had an long bed, something you don't see a lot of. Drove with the comfort of the Cadillac while I headed to the lake down a road that was narrow with hills, curves and blind spots. It had a 5.7 Liter V8, 6 speed transmission. A whopping wheelbase of a 165". Loved it but a few things bothered me, over a 100K in miles, the crew cab seats pulled up and would have been a pain to set up some sort of bench for the hounds to lay, sleep or sit on while traveling. Tow capacity of 10,200 lbs, new tires and new brakes. Clean carfax. Thinking after I left, it may be a little bit more of vehicle than I want/need pulling a smaller trailer.

Out of curiosity I drove a 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser. A friend has one and has 4-wheeled everywhere, literally, in it and has pulled a small trailer. She warned me it did not have enough cargo space and hard to see out the back and both of those warnings were true. Yet, it drove really nice, I loved it, could have bought right on the spot .... still reality was...not enough room for cargo storage and traveling with the hounds, if I chose a trailer. Plus it had come from NJ, showed a lot of rust in the engine bay and underneathe the truck. I am assuming that was from all snow removal on the highways with salt and sand in the winters, that's also a favorite combe here in Indiana.

Stopped by the Ford dealership to drive a 2009 F-150 ... basically just didn't like it period. No offense intended for any Ford owners reading this.

Stopped by just to talk, with the owner of the lot I bought my Mini Cooper from. He had a nice 2007 Toyota Tundra 4x4 I was interested in driving but it sold on Thursday. I told him what I was wanting to do and what I was looking for in a tow vehicle. Possibly a Tundra like he had last week. Most of the trucks he had on his lot were dual axle, couple of Fords for $35K, a couple of Dodge Ram 2500 & 3500's, a H3 Hummer and a FJ Cruiser where someone had spent the money to max it out on 4-wheeling accessories.

I picked the H3 to test. It was rated with a 112" wheel base, 9" off ground and a towing capacity of 4,500 pounds. The tow package was trailer ready with a 7 pin connection for the trailer lights etc. It road better than the FJ, a little different ride, felt better on my bad lower back (important). I have to be honest, I like this vehicle as being one to tow a smaller trailer, enough 4x4 to get me a little further off road (just not to the end of the earth) and enough room to store cargo for a solo traveler and some hounds. For the hounds, the back seats slid forward and then you had the choice of folding the backs forward or leaving them up. If I had that vehicle I would change the roof rack and buy the 3/4 length one to hold more storage on top. My old '63 VW had a great rack like that just for the VW bus. It had a 2 owner clean car fax, 74K on the odometer.

So that was the range of my test driving today. A truck and trailer is a big switch from what I had been thinking a month or so ago, with the Class A pulling a Mini Cooper, a Class C alone and then towing a toad of some sort. I have always had the urge to be able to get a little further off the beaten path in my stays.

The Big News is ... I bought a new stand to attach a new "Home For Sale by Owner" sign to.  The last one I had up for a short time last spring was destroyed by one of those high speed winds and thunderstorms you see in the Midwest. I am not sure how far down the highway it flew before it was slammed into the turf.

The more I think, even for full-timing as a solo traveler with some hounds, the rigs get smaller. RVSue has been on the road for a year in a Casita, seems to love that set up. A couple of others have been in a Casita for over a year and they all like their set ups. Maybe that's something to think about. Really take the minimizing your lifestyle to a whole different level and still see the same beautiful country a 40'er does.