Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Traveling Full Time by the Seat of our Pants!

It was impossible to keep the expenses of traveling where they needed to be with the amount of money we had been spending. From the time we left Edgewood, New Mexico, on June 14, to Williams, Arizona, on August 8, we had spent $2014 on gas and food. Gas expense alone was $1254.24, and grocery expense was $760.24, which did not include bottled water or pet food; fortunately we did not have any expenses for eating out. However, it did include other “sundry” expenses, but not everything.

This equates to over 4200 miles traveled in a period of 55 days, which averages out to 76 miles per day. However, at an estimated $2.25 per gallon for gas, this equates to 557.44 gallons of gas multiplied by 7.6 miles per gallon, which is the highest miles per gallon average calculated for this motorhome over a stretch of 2000 miles. We also used engine gas when running our generator on non-sunny days to keep our batteries charged, so 4200 miles might be a little high for miles traveled, but it is the best guesstimate I have. In those 55 days, we had boondocked several free nights in Walmart Parking Lots and the free night at the RV park in Nebraska. We paid $126 for a week (for FHU) at Escapees Rainbows End RV Park, paid $234.36 for camping 10 days (for FHU and Electric only sites) at America’s Mailbox campground, and $70 for 14 days (for FHU) at Blue Mesa Ranch.

Our expenses were exceeding our travel budget and the monies we could afford to pay per month. Adjustments would definitely need to be made or I could see us having to find a place to set while we play catch-up.

Why didn’t we Decrease the Number of Travel Days to meet our budget? 

That is a very good question, and we might have been able to enjoy more days with the beauty that surrounded us. Adjusting the distance we traveled might have helped, but…

Plans had already been made to meet another boondocker in the Flagstaff area to do some work of installing their solar panels and moving ours from the trailer to the RV. That is where we were headed with a deadline to get there. The route we took to get there had the least wear and tear on the brakes of the RV. While coming out of the Rocky Mountains back into Montrose, we became aware that a brake job was going to be inevitable. It was just a matter of time and how far out we could stretch before “needing it” advanced to  “metal to metal” and making it a “having to” priority, which did happen further down the road.

Forest Camping Site 

We grabbed a burger meal at the McDonald’s when we arrived at the agreed-upon meeting site. Then we were off to locate a site that would be convenient to perform the work.

On our way to locate a boondocking spot in the National Forest
We chose a clearing in the Pines with sufficient space near the base of Mount Humphrey.

The campsite we chose in a clearing
On sunny days, the sun would hit our solar panels. But no one checked to see if we could get internet and cell signal. As it turned out, the internet signal was terrible for accomplishing any of the listings for eBay. The Verizon cell signal was not the greatest, but could be found from strategic points. To get a decent TracFone signal, I had to walk the forest road for at least a half a mile and stand in one spot; walking three-quarters to one mile brought in a stronger signal, but either way, I had to walk back to the camping spot.

The forest road was dirt, but convenient for walking as long as we detoured around the holes that filled with water on rainy days. Angel loved the walks we took.

Angel and I enjoying our walks on the forest road
Making Friends is not always easy

There were only three of us, plus Angel. John had gone across the road to visit. After some time, maybe forty-five minutes, having no phone and no internet, I decided to wander over and join the conversation. What happened next I was totally unprepared for. The third party looked at me and very rudely said, ‘What are you doing over here?’ He insinuated that I was being nosey and just wanted to know what they were talking about!

This was not the only time he was rude. Another time a boondocker on his bike stopped by. Also another boondocking couple stopped and I thought we were all visiting. When I stood up to leave as the group seemed to be breaking up, I thanked him for his hospitality. His sarcastic comment was ‘Well, what was I supposed to do. You just came over and plopped your a__ down.’

This ended up being only the tip of the iceberg!  

The Elk

What a fantastic experience! It was late afternoon and off to the right of our motorhome was a herd of Elk grazing their way through the pines. They appeared on several different days. They minded their business, and so did we. I had never seen big Elk that close. We all remarked that these are the experiences that make our travel experiences worthwhile! What a day! Wow!

Elk grazing their way through the pines to the right of our RV
Worried Sick About Angel

One morning when we woke up, Angel was throwing up. We took him out and he went potty. When we brought him back in, he was ready to eat something. Before an hour, the process repeated itself, and it continued... I was very worried that he had somehow eaten mushrooms, been poisoned, and was going to die. I was so worried that I could not stop crying for fear we would lose him.

When his condition did not get any better, John located a vet, and we called to see if we could get him in. The vet looked at Angel, talked with us, and did some tests. The fact that he had a bit of diarrhea seemed to be a clue that he somehow had contacted a virus. We ended up with pills that John ended up having to shove down his throat to get him to swallow them for about ten days, but he improved, for which we were very thankful.

We would highly recommend the vet at the Westside Vet Clinic in the Flagstaff area. She knew how to make Angel feel comfortable and was able to work with him to get results, and knew what kinds of questions to ask us to get to the root of the problem in a reasonable amount of time. In addition, the next day, their office called to check on Angel. Our bill was $313.34.

Flippin’ Mountain Bikes can be dangerous 

It was a beautiful sunny day. John and I decided to open up the back of the trailer and take out the bicycles. The forest road called to us, so we hopped on our cycles and headed out to explore. We passed the big old dead tree and crossed over the iron cattle guard. At the fork in the forest road, we went left because it had rained and the fork to the right was nearly impassable due to water.

Beautiful sunny day for a bike ride
On one of our walks, Angel and I had passed the old dead tree and seen the cattle guard up ahead.
Up to this point, most of the terrain had been level, but up ahead was an uphill climb with some wash areas visible. The uphill climb was steeper than I felt comfortable trying to pedal up, so I stayed behind. John went on to the top. When I saw him start back down, I turned around so I’d be ready when he caught up to me.

Next thing I knew, he was not on his bike any more. He was pushing it toward me. I did not see what happened, but he found himself in danger when the back of the bike upended over him and threw him off. He was descending the hill over some, apparently slippery, rocks, and lost control when the back wheel came over his head. The bike was now impossible to ride as the back wheel turned in a squirrelly pattern left and right, so he had to push it back to our campsite. Thankfully, he did not break any bones, but he did get a bad sprain on his left wrist.

Solar Additions and Moves 

Up to now, the decisions that needed to be made before adding solar were still in limbo. After the bike incident, the sprained wrist made it unlikely that any solar would be worked on, including moving any of our own panels.

More Scenes in the Forest 

Sunset thru the pines


Flagstaff Area 

Even though it is a large area, we found it to be a fairly easy area in which to maneuver. We usually made a trip into the city every seven or eight days. Some of the Giant gas stations had dump stations and water to refresh our tanks. One day while at Walmart, there was a vendor set up across the street who was selling “Chicago-style hot dogs”. We had to satisfy our taste buds and they were very good. We found propane at the U-Haul, even though it was not the cheapest price. There was a separate turnoff for the post office, so it was fairly simple to navigate when we sent or picked up mail. In the opposite direction, they had a Camping World store.

Sedona and the beautiful red rocks is the site of our next post. That is beautiful country. While there, the "action" came to us and was another incredible experience!

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