The Distance: 2,406 miles while traversing the country from Southern Appalachia to Southern California, our biggest travel month in a long time. And since we did not leave North Carolina until the 19th of the month, we did al of that in less than two weeks. This nearly tripled our 2021 total so far, bringing us to 3,758 miles.
Look at that nearly dead straight shot! When we say we are headed west, we mean it.
The Places: So many places! We finished our slightly more than two month stay at Lake Powhatan, then sprinted across the country with mostly one day stops all the way to Arizona. This included a COE campground (Seven Points in Tennessee,) two Air Force Base Family Camps (Little Rock and Tinker,) and two spots in New Mexico (Blaze-In-Saddles and Red Rock Park.) We then had two “destination” stops at Petrified Forest and Sedona. After that we finished the month with a modest sprint to California, stopping for a night each at two inexpensive sites near I-40 (Route 66 Golden Shores and Arabian Oasis.)
But making such a journey means exchanging the leisurely life of camp hosting in Asheville…
Breaking it down by campground category and services: we stayed 23 nights in public spots (18 national rec area, 1 COE, 1 municipal, and 3 BLM,) 3 in military Family Camps, and 5 in private parks. We had full hook ups for 24 days, partial for 4, and dry camped for 3.
The Money: May was a month of financial contradictions. On the one hand, we received our last 2 1/2 weeks of camp host pay, enjoyed heavily discounted camping fees, and did not have anything break on the motorhome requiring significant expenditure. On the other hand we drove over 2,400 miles (with the associated gas expenditures for our 7 miles per gallon motorhome,) paid a modest sum to the IRS, purchased an eye exam and prescription glasses, made our annual $84 WordPress blog hosting fee, and had a $446 mechanic bill for Loki. That all balanced out to a modest 9.5% over budget.
…for an arduous life on the road.
A few of those points deserve clarification, You would think after the ordeal we went through to replace the entire engine on our Geo Tracker that we would not have anything significant to repair for some time, but this latest bill was for a transmission seal replacement and AC troubleshooting. The WordPress bill increased significantly this year due to our reaching the maximum picture and media storage limit for the cheap plan. You don’t think this level of online literary and photographic entertainment comes without a cost, do you? Rose had not had an eye exam and real prescription glasses in years, for the first time in four years our federal tax bill was more than $2, and we spent $986 on gas just for the motorhome this month.
And also swapping the wet mountain forests…
That is probably a bit more than you cared to know about our monthly finances, but since I have already delved this deep, why not a bit more? Our campground fees for the month averaged just under $14 a day, which is quite good and well under our loosely applied goal of $30 or less. When we first started full timing back in 2015 we aimed for closer to $20, but its been nearly seven years and both inflation and realistic expectations have affected our assumptions. Our campground fee while working at Lake Powhatan was heavily discounted ($450 a month) but we also benefitted from the nearly defunct Air Force Frequent Camper Program (which provided us one night free at Tinker AFB), three nights on the Passport America 50% discount rate, three nights boondocking for free in Sedona, and otherwise quite cheap rates at military, COE, city park, and gift shop parks. That’s about as cheap a month as we can do without settling in for a seasonal rate in one place or cranking up the boondocking ratio. We aren’t for staying in place that long yet, but nor are we living like Nomadland.
…for the deserts of New Mexico and beyond.
The Drama & Improvements: As our time at Lake Powhatan ended, we made preps for an aggressive year of travel. That included the aforementioned eyeglasses and Tracker repairs, but also standard things like oil changes for both the Serenity and Loki, generator checks, storage compartment reorganization inside and out, and the resulting trips to donation centers to drop off all the things found during the reorganization.
Next up: Travis Air Force Base and Concorde, CA.