It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year since we packed up our house and crammed everything we thought we would need for life on the road. Just like the roads we travel, there have certainly been many up and downs, but I wouldn’t trade our nomadic life on eight wheels for anything.
It was late on a Monday evening when Joe got a call for a new job opportunity. This job just happened to be located on the other side of the country! This was the one he had been waiting for and it met all the criteria to support such a move: money, duration, location. So, after a final hashing through the pros and cons of such a large scale lifestyle change (there were many) we both jumped in wholeheartedly!
Tuesday morning we both spoke with our employers and turned in our resignations. For me it was quite simple as I was working as a waitress; only dreaming about writing again. I just had to hang up my apron. It was difficult on a personal level as I have made some wonderful friends working as a server in an upscale pizza restaurant that let’s just say has a very “Hollywood” connection. (A slice of heaven indeed!) There is something very family orientated when you work in the restaurant industry. The long shifts, close working quarters, and the bond that makes you always take your co-workers side when it comes to dealing with some of the high maintenance whack-a-dos that inevitably end up in your section nearly every day make your fellow servers just as much a part of your life as your “real” family.
For Joe it was a little more intense in that he is obviously the breadwinner in the family and he had a great deal of responsibility as a plumbing/piping superintendent for a major pharmaceutical company. However, after explaining the opportunity and his desire to pursue it, he was given a great recommendation and very complimentary exit review. Fwew!
By Tuesday night I was packing up our clothes and any odds and ends we felt we couldn’t live without and Joe was packing his gang boxes with the tools he would need for just about any occasion, both in the trade and emergency situations. Wednesday was quite literally a blur as we worked our way from room to room, garage, barn, and basement. Luckily we didn’t have to pack every single thing as my son Rob and his fiancé agreed to rent our house and act as property manager for the rental properties.
By Thursday afternoon, January 26th, 2012, a mere 72 hours after we got the call, we were on the road heading west; embarking on a 2780 mile journey and our new life together on the road. Everything we thought needed was crammed into every nook and cranny of the 2004 Ford F150… with 188,000 miles on it. Were we worried? Nah… Built Ford tough!
We didn’t start our journey with all eight wheels as you can see below. We only had four, but once those four wheels were rolling there was no stopping us.
It’s funny to think about how excited I was to “live” in hotels back when we first left. Eating out every night, maid service every day, whoo hoo! I thought it would be like living like the rich and famous people do… minus the addiction issues. Ha! Boy was I wrong. Needless to say, that excitement didn’t last very long.
Joe’s first work destination was Mountain Pass, California. The closest place to stay to that job was Las Vegas, Nevada. Sounds great right? Staying in Sin City, sitting poolside all day (in February folks! I’m from New England so that’s a big deal.), strolling The Strip at night… not too shabby huh? As it turned out, shabby was a pretty good description. We stayed at a couple of places that could have been used as a backup set for the movie “The Shining”
I’m sure you’re probably thinking well, you get what you pay for, and that’s absolutely true. The thing is, until we actually hit the road I thought we’d be able to get a decent room, not fancy mind you, just clean and safe, for around $60 a night. (You’re welcome for the chuckle.) I suppose you could get a room in that price range but I shutter to think of how many other guests (of the creepy crawly variety) would be staying in the room with you.
The need to find low to moderately priced accommodations is two-fold. First of all I tend to be a bit
cheap frugal and when you consider that even at only $50 a day, that comes to over $1500 per month, and that doesn’t really sound all that thrifty to me. The more important reason is that in order for this gypsy lifestyle to work for us, we needed to find a way to live on the road using only what Joe’s daily per diem was.
Not all projects offer the same daily amount so the range can be anywhere from $60 to $120 a day (+/-). So the goal is to always live on the low side of the average and bank whatever is left over. That’s where my frugality comes in, but more on that down the road.
We did manage to stick it out in some sketchy hotels for nearly the first six months. But in June, after spending too many nights in less than stellar accommodations, we decided to purchase a used camper trailer. I know what you’re thinking. Eewwww… a used one? But there was a method to our madness. We had given ourselves one year to really get a feel for life on the road. Even though we felt we were rapidly adjusting to it, we didn’t want to commit to a hefty payment and then not be able to get rid of it later on should we decide to go back to our house in Connecticut. Plus, a large monthly payment didn’t fit into our budget if we wanted to stick to the per diem plan.
We are sure now that going back to CT is not going to happen in any permanent way. Part of that realization came when we both felt completely “at home” in the camper. At some point I’m guessing we will want to upgrade our digs, but for now it’s perfect for us. We made a few little changes here and there, but for the most part our love shack on wheels is just as we found her.
As I mentioned, we’ve made a couple changes but not many. It works for us and the price was right. Having the camper has also saved us quite a bit of money while traveling from job to job as we have been able to boondock our way across the country and back. There will be more on boondocking in future posts.
The icing on the cake is that our life on eight wheels is comfortable and we feel “at home” when we are in it… no matter where the map dot says we are.
That’s all for now. Thanks for stopping by.