2017 is in the books, finally. It was a weird year, mostly because I hadn’t planned on breaking things, but for a while there, everything wanted to break and it all cost money: 2 windshields, 2 phones, 1 tire, 1 trailer strut, 1 caravan mover motor, 1 car strut, and (the big one) a ring finger. It was that last one that changed most of my summer plans and added to my lodging costs while I stayed in hotels since I could not cook or clean dishes — or me — very well with a cast on one hand. But, like Stella, I eventually got my groove back and (knock on wood) the break-things-spell seems to be itself broken now.
Without further ado, then, let’s review my 2017 Vagabond Life.
I spent a fair amount of time in the southwest this year, then trekked across the plains states to the east, and came back across the northeast and Great Lakes states.
Public campgrounds: 217 nights in 61 places (National, State, County parks, COE, TVA, and BLM).
Driveway surfing: 65 nights in 10 different places, about half of that due to the need for hand therapy, so endless gratitude to my friends Deidre in Terre Haute, Peg in Lancaster and Peg in Falmouth for their generosity and hospitality).
RV Parks: 56 nights in 11 different places, either in the LA area (family and friends) or because I needed the hookups in summer to work around my hand injury.
Hotels: 16 nights in 13 places, all due to the hand injury.
The remaining nights were vacations. Yes, even vagabonds need vacation time!
Favorite Campgrounds of 2017:
New places for me, in no particular order, that I loved:
- Oliver Lee State Park, New Mexico (so nice I visited it 3 times!)
- City of Rocks State Park, New Mexico (twice)
- Lake Ogallala State Park, Nebraska (twice)
- Chiricahua National Monument, Arizona
- Plomosa BLM, Quartzsite, Arizona
- Watauga Dam TVA, Tennessee
- Porcupine Mountains State Park, Michigan
- Myre-Big Island State Park, Minnesota
Not surprisingly, the month I was hand rehabbing came in with the lowest mileage (only 80 miles!) while the push to get from New York State to Colorado (by apparently the most indirect route possible) in October gave me the highest mileage month (2295 miles. I should have just tacked on 5 more miles to get to an even 2300).
Total towing miles = 13,804
Average/month = 1150
Not surprisingly, the gas costs per month mostly mirrored the mileage, although not as tight a correlation as I’d expect. The big push from New York to Colorado certainly showed up in the October high.
Total gas = $3,010
Average/month = $250
Lodging, was the wild card in this year’s budget. kTwo weeks of hoteling in June made it my most expensive month, even though I cashed in reward nights for some stays. September was second highest due to a planned vacation weekend and two unplanned nights at a hotel for trailer repairs. The cheapest month was March, thanks to New Mexico state parks having very reasonable prices, especially after I bought that 12-month camping pass.
Total lodging = $9,567
Average/month = $798
Average/night = $26
Next year, I’m going to pull out vacation nights since those really are treats. If I’d done that this year, the stats would be lower:
Total lodging: $8621
Average/month = $718
Average/night = $23
This first full year of vagabond life was about learning what worked and what didn’t: trailer stuff (levelers, electrical, hoses, chairs, etc.) bedding, groceries and meals, campsite preferences, and so on. I feel now like the trailer inside and out is kind of dialed in, so 2018 will be focusing on more boondocking (cheaper lodging), better meal planning (and maybe cheaper grocery bills), and, yes, new adventures! The southeastern US and the Canadian Maritimes are on my list… So much to see, and only 12 months in a year.
I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.
Eric Roth (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)