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Old 01-05-2015, 10:02 AM   #15
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Battle Lake , Minnesota
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Good post Ray. Sounds familiar, left the Navy (first time) in 1969 and went to school on GI Bill as well. But I missed the Navy life, travel and adventure and went back for more.

Traveled widely in in this country those following years, tents and VW bus campers. It was easy to pull off somewhere, almost anywhere was near a place to camp. Yes it's different now. Increasingly, corporations own the land and the government. And they are not generous.

We still travel much of the year with our Airstream, daily fees are the norm when away from home. Our interests are history, architecture and art, local cultures, interesting people. We hike and bike. We seek natural environment, woods, desert and mountains, lakes and the coast.

It's good to have a home port, a place of our own with our own stuff to return to. Our own simple, somewhat rural lakeside place. It could be a place in the mountains or on the prairie, but it's home and we live as we like and don't pay rent to do it.

That's freedom to us.

Doug and Cheryl
2012 FC RB, Michelin 16, ProPride 1400
2016 Ram 1500 Laramie Crew Cab 4X4 Ecodiesel 3.92 axles

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Old 01-08-2015, 02:37 PM   #16
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formerly of Tustin, Huntington Beach, Dana Point, and Laguna Beach , California
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Wonderful story Ray and sage advice. Your experience in the long ago west reminds me of that great old western song, Coyote, by Don Edwards:

"Well, he cursed all the roads and the oil men
He even cursed the automobile
And he said, "This ain't place for an hombre like I am
In this new world of asphalt and steel"

Then he'd look off some place in the distance
At something only he could see
He'd say all that's left now of the old days
And them damned old coyotes and me"

Everybody has a different backstory and degree of comfort with life on the road in a limited space. It comes down to how much one yearns for space and adventure versus the accommodation of a "home base". We are a mere 3-1/2 months into our full-time experiment and I wonder sometimes how long the sense of adventure will last for us. Right now every day brings yet another opportunity to see something or meet someone new - an opportunity not easily found in our old apartment life in a city. I can't compare my young adult life with yours - you were truly living on and off the land while I was working the mundane (at least to me) routine of earning a paycheck amongst the thousands, millions of fellow southern Californians. You filled your cup, probably many times over, and we're just taking our first sips. But you're right - at some point we'll slow down and our plan was to use our travels to pinpoint a landing spot for a more stationary life in small town in the west. Our, and others like us, measure of fulfillment will vary with mileage and in some cases, like you mentioned, may result in misery. Now there are some miseries that are truly a dead end but I would venture that not having tried and always having that unanswered question would be the greater misery, at least for me. Before my wife and I left, I shared my worry to a close friend about failing but he countered that if we only lasted a year or even months, we'll at least have succeeded in making one dream come true, albeit even for a short period of time, and in doing so, making an attempt most people are either afraid of or just incapable of doing so, for whatever reason, and that in itself would be worth it.

It really came down to this, for me - a quote that grew all the more evident as my window of opportunity appeared to close, almost imperceptibly at first but after life-changing surgery, crystal clear:

Death is always on the way, but the fact that you don't know when it will arrive seems to take away from the finiteness of life. It's that terrible precision that we hate so much. But because we don't know, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that's so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.

― Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky

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Old 01-27-2015, 10:39 AM   #17
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Providence Village , Texas
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That is us... Have the house- retired from work (in my mid-40's) sold three cars (toys) left a multi 6-figure job to play, travel, and have time with my 3 boys (14,11,6) - giving them an experience of a lifetime traveling the U.S. And Canada. If it works it works, if not I can always make more money - but the "break" is needed on my/our part.
Luckily we have a farm house if everything goes to **** to stay to rebuild everything- but I am highly doubting it - have mapped everything out but the travel.
Currently in the process of selling 80-90% of our "crap" that we have amassed over the years - will rent/lease the house out and finish remodeling of our 76 31' Excella 500.
I am soooooo looking forward to the adventure, but still keeping feet on the ground.
Hope to see/meet some great people on the trip....
Let's party with Pirates and Ninja's.....
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Old 04-22-2015, 04:33 PM   #18
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Making the Full/Part Time on or off the Grid Decision

We have spent several weeks in February in Quartzite, AZ to Lake Meade Boulder, NV campground and had business in southern Nevada and camped another two weeks in April at the Lake Mead Boulder campground. Senior Park Pass into Lake Meade gets you in for no charge and the campsites are nice, flushing restrooms, water, picnic table, view of Lake Meade just upstream from Hoover Dam, Las Vegas Strip within 35 miles- $5 an evening with Senior Pass, $10 without. No power, which you will need in July and August for Air Conditioning, unless you have adjusted to dry heat...

We met many singles and couples who were FULL TIMERS. Thirty days and they would move to another RV Park, as that was the stay maximum. They knew where all of the best deals were to be had. They also had a routine of campsites... on and off the grid. Many knew one another. This was the same at the State Park at Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. The majority were retired or on some compensation, be it Social Security or Disability.

Some retirement aged couples SOLD their home and possessions and seemed happy and content full timing.

Some retirement aged couples KEPT their homes as a base and spent more time on the road, but needed a place because of family or were not ready to make a final decision about becoming full timers without any home base.

Some individuals were divorced, mostly males, and were full timing. Those I spoke with had no regrets as full timers. Usually larger RV's, more than ten years old.

Some middle aged women were camped in large tents in the tent area. They were there when we arrived and two weeks later, still camped.

Even those full timers needing power could get a reduction in rates for 30 days of about 35% from the daily price at the RV sites to the south of the Lake Meade dry camping sites. Neither required a reservation and it was "as available". There was a daily coming and leaving traffic. Weekends for locals filled most of the RV Park.

I have discovered that some married couples that the spouse or both were/became/or retired have a bit of difficulty seeing their spouse every hour of the day. This would not be the time to discuss Full Timing, as it probably was not going to work out too long. One couple when the spouse retired early still needed "their own time", so obviously some transition better than others. I just bring this up from my observations.

When my wife was bought out of her position running mortgage servicing operations for the third time... we did not want to leave Castle Rock and called it quits. I thought she would have a hard time making the transition of being home... full time. Not only was I was wrong, but we bought the 2006 Airstream and hit the road. She was thrilled to get out of the corporate world of mortgage servicing BEFORE the meltdown that she predicted was coming and we are now both free to travel anywhere at anytime. We, or more myself with my collections, need a home base to work from. As a geologist I bring lots of "things" home. In addition to my library of 25,000 volumes, whittled down from 35,000 and working towards 5,000 to 10,000 volumes eventually.

Each individual is unique in the Full Timing arena. Couples can find the idea... scary at first and should try tent camping first, before investing in an expensive trailer or RV. I see too many 1 or 2 year old RV's For Sale because it just seemed like a good idea... and it was a horrible experience.

Personally... WE as a couple find a reason to pack up the trailer and leave for a week, a month or whatever time we want. Having a "purpose" is important. For me, the exploring and hunting for some elusive treasure (in my mind) that usually ends up as a great adventure in places we never would have found on a website as the Airforum. We invested wisely, learned to live below our means and actually can make a living on the road if it ever came necessary.

Not everyone has the personality or interest to even take the first step to test a month on the road. It IS scary for many. My wife loved camping, and much of my youth was spent with my Forest Service father... "camped" in Forest Service cabins in the forests of Montana, never giving it a second thought that there were people in a town that lived any differently. Where else can you step out of a cabin, catch your trout limit as a youth as a regular routine? We lived without most all conveniences but when you do not know about conveniences, they do not exist. Do they?

I call myself lucky. Could it get better?

Nope. When I post of the Forum, it is because I do what I say. I might be gone for weeks at a time, but find time to see what is happening on this site. Will be leaving again next month for high country exploring... as the snow line is receding up the peaks and everything is in bloom and leafing out. Could I imagine a better way to spend our remaining years together? Only if I had figured this out twenty years earlier...

Test the spirit first. If it works, take small steps for a purpose. You will know what option(s) work for you. You will not have to ask anyone for an opinion... otherwise you are not ready or confident enough. It the time in your life is right... you will look in the mirror and see a different person and it is time to explore. Good luck and just keep the gasoline topped off when you take that turn onto the gravel road.
Human Bean
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Old 04-22-2015, 05:17 PM   #19
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Very nice, Ray Eklund.

You have to really like, and really love, your partner in order to enjoy extended travel together.

Those who do, really seem to cherish it.

We did.

🏡 🚐 Cherish and appreciate those you love. This moment could be your last.🌹🐚❤️
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Old 04-22-2015, 08:41 PM   #20
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Westcoastas... What we discovered after eight years, we seem to have run out of places we have not been to or near. Of course we run primarily between the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains to the East front of the Sierra Mountains from California to Washington. We are leaving the west coast for the future...

All it takes is a sack of Western Americana books for those of us who like the high and dry air country. Once you begin to read about cattle being driven from Texas to Wyoming in the 1860's to 1880's you become curious. Even small towns in western Kansas become... places to explore. I gave this particular book to a rancher in Wyoming, where we have camped a number of times on the property. He was surprised to read about Texas longhorn cattle and the open range wars, etc, etc. Just one book opened up a purpose to go visit these places, long forgotten.

I have five large cartons of Western Americana to read. From Folk Lore of the West to towns I never thought still existed. One book discussed that most of the buildings in Ely, Nevada were from mining towns in the late 19th and early 20th century that went bust. The departing citizens took their homes and buildings apart, moving the whole works to Ely, Nevada! Wow. That is an example of how Americans "use to be". That is why Full Timing is so attractive to some of us... Freedom to go where we please. Even Ranches I use to visit in western Nebraska are now not open with the new owners buying up the small ranches. Times change and my wife and I will not miss out on the Public Lands that become more and more restrictive as to rules and regulations. Which is probably to be found in a number of books available today.

I have always enjoyed exploring for anything that can be found. Reading a geological map sure helps to find the general area to begin. A book can open up more opportunities to travel when you think there are no interesting places left to visit. It need not be a RV Park. A vacant parking lot to Boondock in a small mining town, close to the local restaurant and sidewalks can make instant conversations IF you spent some time to read up on the area. Tonopah, Nevada is a good example of not knowing what you will find wandering in town with plenty of "free Boondocking" if you "smell" the vacant lot, a service station providing the back lot for travelers, etc.

At first you feel a total lack of confidence. Probably expecting someone to rob you on sight, or steal the wheels off your tow vehicle. You will get over that after awhile. It takes a few weeks of just finding a comfort zone. Inquire with the locals for any options and be seen. Next thing you know, you stay a few days and have a reason to come back in the future.

Camping in the National Forest or BLM takes some courage, but early settlers had a wagon, several horses and thought nothing of the five day trip into a town with nails and some lumber to add a room to their "dwelling" near a spring in the woods. I was at home off the grid, but your experiences in California in the tall pines can be a bit of a shock if you have not tried it!

It is important to find a "purpose" to your traveling. Driving 400 miles is no more of an exciting place as 35 miles from your home. Some towns, three miles and you are really between nowhere and somewhere.

We will never be Full Timers, as when winter comes at elevation... you either head into the Southwestern desert country, or to some shelter to sit the next four or five months out.

My Philosophy of Life today:

"It is best to have tried something and failed, than did nothing and succeeded."
Human Bean
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Old 04-26-2015, 09:50 AM   #21
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Hi Ray

Just found the mail you wrote in January. Have read it a few times this morning. Truly appreciate your sharing this experience. I have no aspirations to full time, but do want to wander a bit. Am picking up my Airstream on Tuesday. Have read absolutely everything about the lifestyle and its ups and downs. My impression is that I will see wonderful places on my own schedule. Along the way, I hope to meet some fascinating people. I expect there will be more good days than bad and my plan is to look for the positive side of everything that happens out there. Retired a year ago and have thought about this for a long time. Can't wait to get started!
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Old 04-26-2015, 10:03 AM   #22
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Dreams can be a nightmare

As a father, I have been accused ( when the kids were younger ) of being a bubble burster. Luckily the kids now usually know to think things out. Even still, reality doesn't always measure out to how things look on paper. I think Ray gave good fatherly advice on why to think twice and try it before you commit.

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