Mind Traveling

So you think it’s exciting, romantic, and adventuresome to travel around in an RV – be free to go where you want and do what you want? Well, today I’m going to tell you some of the down side to all that. First of all you can only go as far as your money will go. And you must do at least a little planning for where you want to go.

This summer I’ve been staying in the New Mexico State Parks. An annual park pass is $225 for an out-of-state ‘resident’, and that allows me to park either free, without an electricity hookup or for $4 a night with electricity. Not too bad. Depending on which park you’re in, you either have water at your site where you can connect your hose, or you come to the park with water in your fresh water tank. Only the first time you arrive you don’t know whether there is a hookup or you need to come full. So in a few places I’ve filled plastic jugs from the water spigots that are located variously within the parks. And there are usually electric sites that are first-come, first-served; or you can to make a reservation, for a fee of $11 per reservation.

The parks have beautiful locations; however, many of them are old and not in good shape. The infrastructure is minimally cared for. For instance, at Santa Rosa it was hot, and almost everyone who had an electric site had their air conditioning on, myself included. I don’t have a voltmeter to test my voltage, but I’m going to get one – the low voltage at this park damaged my air conditioner, I don’t know to what extent. I haven’t had it on since July 4 weekend. At another park there was a brown-out for the entire area, and I heard that this happens frequently. This all has driven my decision to have solar panels installed on my rig this winter. So the summers will necessarily be spent in a higher elevation, either in New Mexico, or another beautiful state where I won’t need AC.

Then there’s the consideration of gasoline – when towing I get about 9.5 miles per gallon. Now, I know I have some issues with my truck, so there will be some expense to address those, and maybe I’ll get 11 miles per gallon afterward. One reason I chose to stay in the parks is so I wouldn’t have to travel many miles to experience different locales. New Mexico is beautiful. What I didn’t realize is that all the parks are about 10 to 25 miles from the nearest town – so I don’t do a lot of sightseeing. Repairing my 10-year old truck is still cheaper than buying a new one, so I’m babying it – not making it go very far at a given time.

Since Don passed away, and his financial support of our lifestyle fell away, I have reordered my finances. I receive ‘early’ social security and a small pension. Setting aside my necessary insurances and credit card payments (I’m still paying for last year’s trip to Oregon for repairs to the truck and trailer), I live on less than $800 a month. So that money has to cover my ‘rent’, gasoline, food, telephone and air card, Medicare Part D (that I enrolled in to avoid a penalty for late enrollment) and incidentals (like non-food items, water filters, batteries, etc.) Now that I have Medicare, I finally have insurance after five years of retirement, without any insurance, and it’s lowered my net income by $125 per month.

Another way I shifted expenses was to change my ‘legal domicile’ to South Dakota and pay less for vehicle registration and insurance. That change is saving me about $500 a year, beginning next year(I have to go to South Dakota to get a new driver’s license, and I’m not taking the rig to do it – so I’ll take the bus next month.)

I’m not complaining – this is just the way it is. I’m grateful that I can stay at the New Mexico parks for a small amount, relatively speaking. The parks are much more beautiful than the higher-priced RV parks with all the amenities, where one is parked 10 feet away from one’s neighbor on a concrete pad, with no shade. And now that I have my LoW lifetime membership I can stay at the ranch for half of what I paid last year, which was very reasonable.

What I AM saying is that living full-time in a travel trailer, as my home, my house, my shelter, and retreat, is not the same as going for a weekend, or a couple of weeks, or even a couple of months on an adventure, and then returning to a house or apartment. Living simply is an ideal some people have, but don’t necessarily practice. Living simply sometimes requires really living without things that others take for granted. I’m still getting used to doing it by myself. The world is generally ordered into pairs…when you’re not paired, you learn to be creative about things you would never have come across otherwise.

And finally, I am learning a lot about myself, and my requirements for my life. I understand myself to need a lot of solitude – getting used to that is a bit of a challenge. I can go for days without speaking to anyone, and then having conversations as I walk about. I’m liking my own company, and yet I sometimes would love to have an intimate conversation with a friend, over dinner perhaps, at a decent restaurant…A hug would be nice, too.

Most of the time I’m quite satisfied with things. Today I just want to say some truth about what I’ve been experiencing. I’ve been moving about New Mexico since early May. It’s now four months later, and I think I’m feeling the need to get back to the ranch and some folks I know, and those Monday potlucks! And I think I’m going to try traveling with one or two others this winter to either Texas or Mexico.

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