Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Thoughts and On the Road Again!

When we decided to hit the road in 2015, we really had no idea how our routine and travels would unfold.  We had lots of tent camping experience but had never towed a travel trailer.  Confidence wasn't a big issue, until I jackknifed with the teardrop, our first trailer, and put a sizable dent in the 4Runner.  That shook us up a bit.  The teardrop survived unscathed, but ultimately became too small for us when we adopted a cat in New Mexico!  Not part of the travel plan, but we couldn't resist Nevelle!  And then we happily traded up to our 20' Rpod travel trailer and adopted two more kittens!

So our first year brought those unexpected surprises.  It also taught us that there's more to consider living full-time on the road then traveling to really cool destinations.  Foremost, finances.  Never having done full-time traveling, we had no idea how to budget for expenses.  With so many variables, we had to travel for some time to learn what our costs would be.  Fuel, campground fees, entrance fees, recreational costs, medical needs, food, repairs, and on and on.  Expected and unexpected expenses are faced every month, just like you all experience.  We resolved the questions over time, although fuel and medical expenses still challenge us!

Secondly, thinking of resources that are national, not regional, like banks, vets, and pharmacies.  

Third, surprise medical issues, of which we've had a few!  We have used hospital emergency rooms and care clinics which can add up financially.  We do return to Texas in the winter for regular medical check-ups.  Health insurance has also presented its challenges!  Being Texans, I had to go through the ACA, and only one insurer is available, and this year my previous PPO is now a more restrictive HMO.  Michael has had the stability of Medicare.  Hoping for a healthy 2017.

Overall, we are still so happy with this lifestyle.  When we drive, we often take back roads so the scenery is mostly pretty.  Even on interstates we often pass through beautiful spots.  We like seeing all of these unfamiliar places!  But we're getting itchy to broaden our horizons.  For the last two years, we've followed a similar route so we could be in Melbourne, Florida in November for the Native Rhythms Flute Festival.  Then south to travel back to Texas for the winter.  It's time for a change!

We're skipping the flute festival this year, however we are in Florida, heading to Ft. Myers to visit Michael's father who is quite ill.  This weekend of March 17th we are meeting up with Michael's two brothers to spend a few days visiting.  We are then planning to head north up the east coast ultimately to northern New England.  Then we will travel west, either through Canada or the upper tier of the US. Canada's 150th birthday is this year and as a promotion a pass for free entry to their national parks is available (at no charge).  I received ours recently so we plan on visiting Canada at some point.  After that, who knows!  We have several travel options to choose from.

Recently, we were in Texas for annual responsibilities such as auto inspection, physicals, etc.  We had plans to work/camp at the Escapees campground in Livingston.  Without going into details, let's just say it didn't work out.  After several days we packed up and left for the Sam Houston National Forest, to a favorite spot where we have camped previously.  And an added bonus was having our friends, Charlene and Alan, camp with us!  They, too, are full-time RV'ers, whom we met last year in Texas.

It was both fun and relaxing so we stayed for about three weeks.  In addition to walks and drives around the area, we began hearing the songs of birds as they began to migrate through on their way to breeding grounds.  On the sunny, warmer days we felt spring had already arrived!  We also had our share of chilly and rainy weather which reminded us that we were still in the clutches of winter!

Black swallow-tailed butterflies were everywhere!

Curry getting used to being on a leash outdoors.

Last Thursday we departed Texas for our trip east to Florida.  We reached Florida a few days ago.  Along the way, we camped in a small RV park in the panhandle to charge up the trailer batteries and hook up to what's referred to as city water (great for long showers in the Rpod!).  We had noticed our batteries were reading a low voltage which could indicate a problem.  We posed some questions to the fantastic Facebook Rpod group and got lots of feedback about potential resolutions.  It was recommended that we get hooked to AC electricity to see if we could successfully charge the batteries.  Happily it worked.  Since we often stay a night at Walmarts and Cracker Barrel restaurants for free, we have to depend on our 4Runner to charge the trailer via a seven pin plug that runs from the car to the trailer.  Since this hadn't charged the battery, Michael checked around under the hood and thinks there might be a fuse issue.  We will be looking into this further when we depart Ft. Myers and reach Tampa for a visit with my sister.

For now we are camping in the Ocala National Forest (for our second time!) and with sunny skies we are getting a great solar charge for the trailer.  A beautiful spot!

Michael keeping our kittie Rice warm!  It was around 40 degrees this morning!

We'll be in touch soon.