Monday, August 31, 2015


So far 2015 has been a long series of ups and downs.  Medical emergencies and Murphy hits have alternated with debt payoff, and learning we can start actually living like no one else.  A true roller coaster ride. A ride that has kept me from keeping up with my blogs. That is the past and this is today, time to prepare for tomorrow. Time to finish off the series of blog posts I had started and to move on to the future.

With the demise of our debts we can actually think about retiring and traveling the way we want in 2016.  What does that mean though?  What are the challenges of retirement?  Having done a trial run on it in 2009 and 2010 under completely different circumstances we have a general idea of some of the challenges, and joys of the type of travel we want to do.

The Trial Run series will be about all the steps we will be taking to prepare for what we hope will be a successful retirement.

First of all being debt free this time will be a major plus over our last foray into retirement.  We still have a little debt left.  Hopefully it will be gone by the end of the year or shortly thereafter.  With retirement coming in the spring after we build up our savings some more.

For those of you who are new to my blogs we achieved this miracle by following the Dave Ramsey Total Money Make Over .  It has been a rough road at times, 18 months of unemployment definitely slowed what will end up being a seven year journey down.  Murphy has hit us more times than I care to think about from minor things like a flat tire to emergency runs for life threatening medical conditions to the hospital and the huge hospital bills that followed.  If we can do it, so can you, that is a subject for another post.

Being debt free does not mean not having bills.  Utilities still exist, insurance will still need to be paid, repairs on vehicles will need done and by all means we will want to eat.  So doing a retirement weekly budget is essential.  Again this will be discussed more heavily in future posts as we work through setting ours up.

Today’s post is more about the general preparations for the fun part of our retirement: travel.

We know what we want to do.  We know how we want to do it  Making it happen may be another story. Especially on a budget.

Our travel will be in the fashion we call Penny Hiking.  Some of you already know what I mean by this term.  My first Penny Hikes were as a Brownie in the Girl Scouts.  When my mother wanted to get our group out for some exercise we would go to a destination, be it in our neighborhood or at a nature trail and we would hike by flipping a penny at every spot that required us to decide which trail/street to take.  Letting chance determine our route.

Penny hiking with a fifth wheel is of course slightly different, but still left up to chance and on the spot decisions.  Our goal is to truly SEE the entire USA.  This will be accomplished by looking at travel brochures, websites, facebook groups, and maps before we ever leave home to decide our first destination.

It will be a four to eight hour drive from our home and hopefully a national or state park.  We will set up camp there to be our home base for that area.  With the aid of all our research we will visit all the free and near free sites in the area, along with an occasional major attraction. 

Because we will have and use a National Parks Pass for each of us we can possibly stay as long as we want in each national park by alternating the reservations in each of our names for half price.  Many other government own campgrounds honor this pass at the same rate.  While our budget will be calculated on staying at privately owned campgrounds we hope to cut that budget line item tremendously by staying in the government ran parks.

While many government own campgrounds have full hook-ups others do not This means the first thing we need to look at is are we able to dry camp? 

Our new to us camper will do it for a limited amount of time.  Lights and a few other items will run off the two batteries for a limited time.  Water from our holding tank comes from the battery powered pump.  Waste water can be removed via our portable honey wagon, but total dry camping for any length of time is not a viable option.  So our campsites selection will need to be well researched. 

Since we just purchased this camper, a 2004 Keystone Montana. It’s length, height and 50 amp electrical hook up requirements are some of the things that must be considered when choosing camping sites.

We have a grocery list of preparations to do on the Montana itself.  I will blog about the organization of camper in a future post over on my organizational blog Patterson’s Princess Plan on the organizational part.

One of those preparations is learning how to maneuver it.  It is six foot longer than our old camper and while that doesn’t sound like much it makes a huge difference in how you maneuver it.  Having four slides instead of two, makes a difference.  The location of the utility hook ups make a difference.  It all makes a difference.  So that is where the “trial runs” come in,

Over the next few months we will be traveling to familiar campsites to practice all these items and more with the new camper.

Besides the camper differences we will experimenting with other concepts we currently plan on implementing while traveling full time.

Our next trip out will be to Branson, MO as you who follow my posts know we generally go there and go to Silver Dollar City and that’s it when we go to Branson.  This trip we may or may not visit the park.  Instead we are going to go to area attractions that our lower budget items. While we own Silver Dollar City annual passes that are good through the 2015 season we may not own such passes in the future.  So theme parks are likely to be less attended than in the past.

Life at the camper will be different as well.  Instead of the rush, rush of “gotta go here, there everywhere” because we have a deadline that we must be home by,  we our planning down time at the camper as well.

Besides the usual tablets and or computers we are taking cameras, craft supplies, books, games and other quiet relaxation items.  We will trial run how well these items will work in the camper.  Remember space and weight are always a consideration, so we need to weigh the pros and cons of each item we take.  Thus the trial runs. Better to figure out ahead of time that an activity takes up too much valuable space or weighs more than we want to allow for it now when we can easily leave that item at home in the future than to get three states away and have to ship it home.

Another change will be groceries.  I am a bulk shopper, I buy big, I pre-cook big, I cook scratch for the most part.  That is is not going to work in a camper.  Menu planning, limited pantry space and weight are all items that need to be considered.

With this trip we have planned out our meals for the five days.  Now I am working out the recipes to include using my dried foods to make those meals both tasty and light weight to pack in as little space as possible. 

As time goes on my Patterson’s Pantry blog will include the menus and Patterson’s PantryRecipes will include the recipes for those lightweight but nutritious meals.

While over at the Patterson’s Princess Plan the storage of these foods will be discussed.

Here on this blog campground and sight seeing reviews will return.

Mind Your Pennies, will have more on saving money while traveling, and here at the home base as well.

Yes, the home base.  We will still have the Rock ‘n Tree Ranch, but it will be our son living here.  Our flock of birds is down to six guinea fowl.  Then of course there are the two dogs and five cats. So someone needs to be here on a daily basis. 

Anytime we venture in the area we will come home to regroup, visit with our son and head out again. 

Because this house will basically become Sean’s there is a lot to finish culling out before we head out.  In our nearly 18 years here we have definitely added a lot of junk, despite all we have culled this last few years.

So hang on here we go. 

Jan who can’t wait to hit the road in and away from OK

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