Saturday, July 6, 2013

Looking Backwards and Forwards

Here are a few miscellaneous photos from my recent Badlands/Rocky Mountain trip. 

World's smallest?

Jacqueline atop Jackalope

Drive-in somewhere in South Dakota

1930's Park Ranger counting buffalo.  I was doing the same thing the day before.

What a great time! 

The financials were disappointing.  I traveled 5,292 miles in 5 weeks and spent an average of $268 a week.  Too much!!!  The goal was the spend $225 per week or less.  I only spent $106 on 6 nights for hook-ups, so it’s obvious what the culprit was.  You guessed it ….

Still can’t figure out why regular costs more than premium in the middle of America.

Gasoline accounted for 89% of my travel costs. 
The solution is simple – I need to drive less. 

As a result, rather than going to the southern Utah National Parks this fall as planned, I’ll visit Washington D.C. sometime after Labor Day.  By mid-September, my online teaching job will be underway and I can hit the road.   

As many times as I’ve visited Monument City, there is much I haven’t seen, for example   

And I want to spend a lot of time at the National Archives.

In the meantime, I've leapt irrevocably into our long-needed kitchen remodel project.  We will be tearing everything out from the 30-year old space (with original appliances) and starting from scratch. 

The plans are almost finalized and the cabinets will be ordered next week.  However, it may take up to a month for the install to happen. 

I’m excited about the impending birth of the new kitchen. I’ll post before-and-after shots when all is completed. 

Until then, there is not much to blog about.  Perhaps I can squeeze in a short trip or two between now and September. 
I’ll let you know!


  1. Visiting our nations capitol is always an emotionally charged time for me. I spend half my time with a lump in my throat and tears coursing down my cheeks.

  2. I haven't seen a drive-in since the 60's! Was fun to see your picture. And I loved the ranger from the 30's counting buffalo.

    I would lose myself in the National Archives, probably. That's one I will really enjoy following! :)

    A new kitchen! How exciting! Looking forward to seeing photos!

    1. I just happened to spot the drive-in when I made a u-turn in a realtor parking lot in some tiny SD town. It was way out behind the business. A total fluke that I even saw it. Makes me wonder what else I miss!

      John and I went to the Archives many years ago and I was amazed at the stuff they had on display. A page of the Constitution, Watergate burglar devices, and the Rosenberg's infamous torn Jell-O top. I've wanted to go back and spend days inside ever since!

  3. The discrepancy in the gas prices??? I think maybe the LABEL has been placed in the wrong line since they are in the wrong order.

    Your budget may look a bit better if you spent two nights in place once a week.

    Your average daily distance seems to be about 150 miles. That's really quite a lot. Doesn't sound like much - gee, just three hours of driving - but two relaxation days per week would bring the average down considerably. Using your figures, it looks like if you could cut down an average of just two gallons of gas per day, you would be within your budget.

    1. I thought the signs were mislabeled the first time I saw the difference in prices. But this was the case time and again. I should have asked the question at the pump. (I was there enough!).

      For 4 of the 5 weeks, I stayed in one place either 2 or 3 nights. It's just the cumulative cost of a 5,000+ mile trip. My next should be about 1,600 miles round-trip. Like going around the block!

    2. As for fuel costs, well, I'm impressed at how far you must have driven on travel days! I'm exhausted just thinking about it. It was fun to follow along on your trip and enjoy the photos that you posted. Thank you for sharing with us! ;->

      You did everything right, so it must be, just as you say, the cumulative miles. I guess I think still in "fulltimer miles", which is more like thirty to fifty a day, if that. But to be fair, fulltimers usually put miles on their auxiliary vehicle too, so a direct comparison wouldn't be accurate for you, who used one vehicle for both traveling distances AND sightseeing.

    3. Yes, it's apples and grapefruits. My actual mileage was 25% greater than my projected mileage. That 25% was accumulated looking around town, trolling for food, getting lost (which I still manage to do even with GPS).

      It sounds exhausting but it's all I have to do all day so 3 hours of driving, and 2 of sightseeing is completely doable. Though I don't do that every day.

  4. I have finally started to track my expenses. I expect groceries to be the biggest expense (as God and Nature intended).

    1. I tracked my grocery expenses but didn't count them, if that makes sense. I looked at our total grocery bill for the month and it was within our usual expenditure. In other words, I spent as much on food on the road as I would have at home. I bought some value meals on occasion but paid cash.

      Again, my cash expenditures were the same as they would have been at home so I don't consider cash purchases as travel expenses.

  5. I tracked on our last trip. I have a huge excell file just waiting for us to full time. For the first fe months everything will be broken down to exact catagories. I want us both to get in the habit of putting all recipts in one place (the drawer next to the driver) and then I can enter them every day or so and either toss or file the recipts. After a few months, this will get old and I will simplyfie it, but that will be bettertan not eeping close count. With the sale of the house, I know we will feel really flush, but I want to live within some sort of budget. My goal is to average $30 per night. In California that means boondocking several times a month. We like full hookups. We do not have solar.

  6. I think your budget is very very reasonable!...You are not spending too much...if you want to spend / see less you would camp in your I saw a documentary today on PBS on Mount Rushmore...very interesting about the sculpture / artist...thought about you

  7. Yikes! 89% for fuel. All in all not to bad $268 a wk for a 5 wk vacation is still pretty reasonable. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Last winter I sent my spending amounts to Dave who put them into the budget. But he didn't keep my records separate from his so I don't know what I actually spent. I'm thinking about keeping my own records this coming winter. Just to know for future planning.

    If I was going to see all I'd like to see in DC I'd have to move there. But, few people actually go see the things where they live. Catch 22?

  9. Nice recap of your trip. Good job tracking expenses; I can't seem to get there!

  10. If you head up to DC, let me know. We are planning a few trips together and I've got some solo trips planned for all. I'm 2 hours from DC. It would be great to meet you. Don't forget the eastern seaboard of VA -- SO much history here. And I've got a nice driveway to park in :-)

  11. Gas can easily eat up our budgets if we do a lot of traveling, which is why I stay put so much. Of course, I'm not on vacation, just enjoying living in The Palms in different locations, so I just stay in each location as long as I can, or until I feel the itch. I spend $225/week, and that includes everything. RV payment, food, gas, savings, gifts, medical, insurance - everything! Some months it's hard, and other months I save more than I budgeted.

    I've never lived within a budget before; I started in earnest January 2013, and am enjoying the challenge! :)

  12. At my first fill-up in South Dakota, I had the same perplexing observation: the station offered 3 grades of gasoline octane, with the lowest grade costing more than the mid grade. In most states, only 2 grades were usually offered, and of course the higher grade cost more.

    I thought it was a mis-price, but when I observed the same phenomenon at other gas stations, I paid a bit of attention to the labels at the pump, and discovered the answer.

    The mid-grade gasoline was less expensive because its octane was boosted by blending in ethanol, while the low grade was pure gasoline. And ethanol was cheaper than gasoline, hence a higher octane grade using ethanol would cost less than one with a lower octane rating.

    So, what's the drawback of gasohol? Ethanol has a lower energy content, hence will result in a lower gas mileage compared to pure gasoline. A beautiful free-market principle was preserved; an lower-quality product was priced lower than one of a higher economic value, the way it should be. I love it.

    On the other hand, the top grade achieved its high octane rating using pure gasoline, and deserved to be priced higher as it would not decrease gas mileage. Note that a higher octane rating by itself has to do with prevention of engine knocking, and offers no benefits to engines with a lower compression ratio, all other things being equal.

    So, I did an experiment by filling up one time with one grade, then the next tank with the other grade, and was going to compare the mileage. However, I then realized that I was driving in a mountainous region, and could not draw any conclusion if the driving conditions were not identical with the two tanks of different gas.

    1. Interesting. Thanks for the info.

  13. Gas will definitely eat up a budget but it's hard to put a price on memories!! Glad you enjoyed your journey!! :-)

  14. I have been paying $1.39 to $1.59 per liter in Canada to figure per gallon price multiply by 3.8. That is $5 to $6 per gallon. Ouch
    Glad to be back in USA. Just starting to back track across Montana to Wyoming. Will see Badlands again by next week. To save on costs I have been boondocking 99% of time. If the wind ever stops blowing it will become obvious that I need a campground for laundry and a hot shower. As we all know the wind never stops blowing in South Dakota. So it will be a State Park camp again. Best wishes, Bill


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