Saturday, April 30, 2011

April Report

Pleasant Surprise!

I actually had some $ left over at the end of this month even after paying for more landscaping, annual golf cart fee, car insurance, and having the Miata painted.  So I'm happy to say my RV fund got an unexpected boost this month. 

fundraising ideas

Spent part of this afternoon test-driving tow vehicles in case I get a small travel trailer.  More about that later ....

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Stepping Back

Well, since I made the offer on the View, I've been in such turmoil (culminating in a sleepless night last night).  For many reasons, I emailed the seller and told him I was withdrawing my offer.

It took me so long to make up my mind about the View - that should have been a warning flag.  And then when I made the decision, I was feeling more dread than excitement.  To put it simply, paraphrasing Frank Sinatra:

It's the right rig
At the wrong time.                               

I've decided to stick to my original plan and continue saving until December.  There's no reason NOT to wait as I can't even travel now longer than a weekend.  I need to refocus now and finish my dissertation this summer.  And I keep forgetting one small detail - I don't have a permanent job yet.

I felt very sad & defeated when I (un)made the decision this AM.  Like I was giving up on a dream.  But I guess I'm just postponing it.

BTW if anyone wants a good price on a fantastic quality-built one-owner-babied motorhome, let me know and I'll post the link.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Inching Closer

Thinking seriously about this 2006 24H Winnebago View.  Though I will be 6 months ahead of schedule and way behind on savings.  On time and over budget. 

35 K Miles.  Clean, clean, clean!

My favorite floorplan

Anyone have experience with these Skinnie Winnies?  I'd love some input.  My research turns up nothin' but good stuff.  People rave about the Sprinter chassis and its resultant mileage.  The original owner has done a lot of upgrades.  It's the right size, right price, right mileage.  Unfortunately it is 8.5 hours away so I'll have to do some heavy-duty logistical planning if I decide to test-drive/buy. 

Speaking of research - I have a big announcement.  Drumroll ........................  I passed my oral comprehensive exam today!!!  I'm officially a PhD candidate.  I'm also officially RELIEVED!!!

Stay tuned, Winnebago-wise!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Complex Decision

Whew!  Is there any more complex purchase than an RV?  So much research required - including that into one's soul! 

This eBay rig looked like a likely prospect

2004 Forest River Lexington 235S GTS with 16 K miles
In fact, I was planning on driving to Atlanta tomorrow to see it and stopping at Camping World on the way to see their used rigs.  I even cancelled a meeting so I could leave town.  But now 1-2 inches of rain are forecast for the area and I'm pretty sure those Volkswagen claims about floating are unsubtantiated.  (This is a great excuse to show off my bug again so I will).

"Tell me about the 60's again, Dad" 
Back to the RV.  Love the price, miles, seller ratings, and floorplan.  I'm concerned about the quality though which is why I'm thinking I need to explore the Winnebago line-up.  There is a dealer a couple of hours away and 3 other dealers I have visited in the past along the same route.  (Anybody have any experience with the Lexington - direct or indirect ?).     

I got some sage advice from one of my full-timing cyberbuds - thanks Denise!!! - who advised me to think of this first motorhome as a "starter home".  There is a lot of wisdom in that, particularly considering my use will be. unfortunately, light until I retire.  And I haven't ruled out a Roadtrek yet either.  Availability is going to be a big factor. 

But I'm fortunate that I can buy now or 6 months from now.  So RV shopping continues to be my hobby.  But that's OK as I'm in a position now with school to take some weekends off and travel to dealers.

After my comprehensive oral exams and final stats final next week, I'll have some breathing room.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Song of the Open Road

I’ve always treasured the well-known Walt Whitman poem. Here’s an exerpt:

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.         

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
Strong and content I travel the open road.

The earth, that is sufficient,
I do not want the constellations any nearer,
I know they are very well where they are,
I know they suffice for those who belong to them.

In fact, I used to keep a copy of the poem in my glove box and read it often when I was on the road (and more often when I wasn’t).

With some unexpected down-time today, I took a longer bike ride than usual. As always, the logjam in my cranium was blasted apart by the “slow thinking” that a mental time-out brings. Slow (creative) thinking unlike fast (analytical) thinking opens one's mind - a mind that must be gasping for air sometimes. But our fast-paced lives leave little time to indulge in this seldom-traveled but enriching cognitive path. This process is akin to reflection (the focus of my dissertation, BTW).

Note:  for an interesting book about the slow living movement, I recommend In Praise of Slowness 

So, as the poem was sucked into the vacuum of my conciousness, I pedaled and reflected on the words. I realized I identify with it more now than ever. I, too, am ready to be done with “indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms.”
I’m definitely feeling the pressure of completing my doctorate in 27 months. A grinding pressure that has resulted in a low-grade chronic stress. I long to "postpone no more". 

My impatience to take a break in order to gain some perspective mounts as I faithfully read the blogs of the "strong and content". Barbara - who after much dreaming got the RV meant for her; Sassy – the reliably delightful hog-rider currently exploring the Carmel coast; Glenn - the composer who seeks inspiration wherever he and his cat Emily happen to be at the moment; Brian - spending a glorious day recently at the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado. And Judy - the quiet activist who is a devoted volunteer at wildlife refuges across the country.  She lives her values everyday.   

I’ve considered renaming my blog or even closing it down until I’m actually traveling.  But I probably won’t because I need something to keep me on track until I, too, am afoot and lighthearted.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

March Savings Report

This will be a brief post.  March savings = nil, nada, not nuthin'.    

I was so looking forward to putting a couple thou in my undernourished RV fund.  But 2 things drained the bucket - paying our landscaper and having the 20-year-old Miata repainted - both expensive endeavors. 

April's not looking too good either - the annual golf cart fee and tuition will most likely eat up any surplus $.  Surely I can regain some traction in May!   

It's frustrating because I thought I was so focused on meeting this goal.  But maybe I'm not as much as I could be.  Hmmm .... I'll have to think about that one.

On the bright side, my oral comps are scheduled for 2 weeks from tomorrow.  And I finish up my coursework this month.  After that, I will officially be ABD (all but dissertation)!  So although my RV project has hit a temporary brick wall, I'm really making progress in school!  

Monday, April 4, 2011

Link: Sisters on the Fly

I’m no cowgirl and I’m certainly no joiner, but I admire the spirit behind this group:  Sisters On the Fly.

Here’s an example of some of the members’ trailers.

1957 Fireball
1957 Jewell

1964 Papoose
1985 Scamp

Here’s the complete trailer gallery. All 66 pages.

The group's philosophy is compelling.  There are only 3 rules 1) no kids, 2) no men, 3) no dogs. They just want to not be responsible for anything or anybody else. They just want to fish.

What a wonderful time and place to be alive when you can express yourself in this manner!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Camping Manifesto

This was posted on a Casita forum I frequent.  The author's username is Arainngirl and she published it on the forum in July 2009.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. 

A Solo Woman's Camping Manifesto

It’s a simple enough concept: you want to go camping, so you do. You want to see the world, you want to see your country, you want to see your home state, and this is the easiest way to do it, you think. You went camping as a kid, so this isn’t a foreign world. You’ve traveled internationally by yourself, so that’s nothing new. You’re a single woman, thirty years old, who wouldn’t trade her solo life for anything.

As with the rest of life, reality is a lot more complex. But who wants a boring life?

You trade in your Ford Escape for a Jeep Liberty with a tow package. Your father gives you an extra stinger he has no use for. You know what you want—a 13-foot Scamp, the camper you’ve wanted for years. So you stalk Craig’s List, eBay, and a few RV sites, waiting. You find a few, lose a few. But then you find one that’s perfect and it’s only two hours away. Thirteen feet, AC, furnace, fridge, the whole shebang. Before the week is out, it’s sitting in your driveway.

Everybody around you worries for your safety, some more than others. A few think it’s just a really bad idea. And for a while, you buy into their worry. You consider getting a dog, but you’ve got two cats already and a dog wouldn’t fit in your apartment, let alone the camper. You download a barking app for your iPod instead. You think about taking a baseball bat for protection, but then realize you don’t have enough room in the Scamp to swing it to protect yourself, so you sleep with your Maglite under your pillow. But you’re not stupid. You know how to listen to your gut—and if you don’t feel good going to the campground bathroom in the middle of the night, well, then, that’s why God invented the Porta Potty. But after the first night, you don’t even think about this stuff anymore. You’re aware, yes, but the paranoia goes away, completely.

You feel like everybody’s staring at you as you’re driving down the road and you wonder what they’re thinking. You think that they’re thinking that a woman alone is ludicrous. There’s no way a woman could handle camping like this on her own. And that puts some more steel in your spine. You can do all of this with your eyes closed. You know exactly how to hook up your camper, level it. You know how to use your WD-40. You’re so good at backing up the camper that people actually compliment you on it. You know exactly how to build a fire and how to cook your dinner on it.

And then you start to mess with your Scamp, to make it more functional—because you know exactly what you want out of it, just like you know exactly what you want out of your life and you’re not willing to compromise that. You know that you’ll be traveling with the cats, so accommodations need to be made for them. You need a dedicated writing surface, because the Scamp’s main function is as a mobile writer’s retreat. So you build yourself a front dinette. Your father helps and it’s a good memory-making activity for both of you. You come from a long line of tinkerers, and camping tinkerers at that. You build closet shelves out of PVC and plywood. You build a drawer under your bed to take advantage of the space. And when you’re done, you stand there, look at what you’ve accomplished with your own two hands and know it couldn’t be any more perfect if you tried.

People will never understand why you do it, you finally realize. Don’t you get lonely? No, you don’t. Don’t you ever feel afraid? Not yet, you haven’t. They might eventually understand what compels you to travel, but they’ll never understand what compels you to travel alone.

They’ll never understand what it’s like to travel with your home on your back, that everything in the world that you need is hooked to your hitch. They’ll never understand the absolute joy that comes with stretching out in your zero-gravity chair with a book in the middle of the afternoon, next to a piece of scenery you’ve never seen before. They’ll never understand why you’re so happy, standing in your camper in the morning, deciding what kind of tea you want to greet the morning, then sitting on the picnic table and doing nothing except drink your tea and breathe. Even the things that don’t go right aren’t that big a deal. Setting up or tearing down in the rain? It makes a good story. The time when [insert story here] happened? Good conversation for later. How about all the leaking that the windows were doing and how much silicone it took to fix it? That’s what it’s all about, right? Stories and memories?

It’s pure, undiluted, absolute freedom. The freedom not to have to compromise in this one area of your life, because the rest of life is all about compromise. The freedom to get up when you like, go to bed when you choose. To do everything because you want to—and because you can. And if you want to just stay around the camper, there’s nothing wrong with that either.

In your first summer of Scamping, you log a couple thousand miles. Ohio to Mackinac to the Apostle Islands to your parents’ house in northern Minnesota. William O’Brien State Park, down by Stillwater, MN. Itasca State Park, the headwaters of the Mississippi, a place you haven’t been for years. The trip back to Ohio, which takes you from the Minnesotan North Shore to Copper Harbor, Michigan, to St. Ignace, to your own driveway in Ohio. It’s a good first summer and you’re looking forward to even more miles put on those tires, more pages written in that camping journal of yours. This is what it means to really live your life, you think.

Sometimes, when the Scamp is parked in your driveway and you don’t have any plans in the works to take it out of the driveway—because life has interfered with your camping—sometimes you just go in there, lay down on the bed, fold your hands behind your head and smile. This is what it feels like when you actually live your dream, something that’s been nebulous for so long. This is it. This is it.

Beautiful!  Here's the original post if you want to see the discussion that followed.