Roaming About

A Life Less Ordinary

Category: Roadtrip (page 1 of 2)

Southern Utah’s National Parks – 12-Day Adventure between House Sits

Between our month-long house sit in Rollinsville, Colorado and the next, three-month one in San Diego, California, Mark and I faced a gap of two weeks. Initially, we were on the look-out for a short pet sit, but pretty soon, we realized this would be the perfect opportunity to really test the van life. Longer than one weekend, and for fun, instead of as a means of transportation to get from point A to B. It was an attractive plan for many reasons, including these four: we have always wanted to visit some of Utah’s incredible National Parks, they happened to be en route, we could use a break from our computers (when not?), and, coincidentally, our business partner appeared to have a scheduled vacation within the exact dates we’d be on the road. Now, if that wasn’t the ideal time to relax The Wirie work a bit ourselves!

A window to Delicate Arch

Arches National Park

Not much planning and anticipation went into this camping trip. I checked the map, saw Canyonlands, thought “I guess we stop there,” then noticed a green spot called “Arches” along the way and yelled: “Oh yeah, that’s the famous one in Utah, not Canyonlands. We have to go there!” Now, I don’t know whether you have ever looked at Southern Utah on a map… it is one national park after the next! How exciting! All we had to do was pick and choose, be happy about not doing it all, and not feel rushed! Oh, did I mention that the two biggies, Bryce Canyon and Zion are here as well?

Our selection of Utah National Parks

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Monthly Expenses – August 2017

Expenses - image

Every month, I post a report of our expenses to show that it is possible to live a comfortable, exciting and relatively adventurous life without breaking the bank. The less money you spend, the less you need to make. 🙂 That being said, Mark and I seem to manage one big expense a month for some reason, whether it is car, plane, travel or computer-related. Luckily, we live totally rent-free, wherever we end up.

This report includes ALL of our expenses, in US$, for the two of us. Under groceries we incorporate all the food, produce and non-alcoholic drinks (100% orange juice, almond milk for Mark and organic 2% milk for me) predominantly bought in supermarkets. Toiletries belong in that category as well. Dining out means eating at a restaurant/event or purchasing take-out food. The health category covers non-prescription medicines and Mark's vitamins and supplements; medical contains prescription drugs and doctor's visits. Utilities are always Skype-related, since that is how we make phone calls. 

Health insurance and costs are related to my health care. Mark is still eligible for free health care in the state of Massachusetts as of today. If a non-emergency were to happen outside of that state, it will be expensive! For check-ups, we return to the East Coast. I still pay a small quarterly fee in Belgium for health care (required to keep my citizenship), which I mention in my year report.

August was another expensive month for us, thanks to being new camper van owners. Between fuel (long trips in California and to New Mexico for our current house sit), maintenance to and items bought for our Westy, we spent almost US$1000! At least now we know where our money goes. Once we realized the impact of this, about half-way through the month, we tightened our belts, postponed some planned Amazon purchases to September, and attempted to keep other expenses as low as possible. The result is not too bad, but I can't wait to go out and spoil ourselves one of these months! 🙂

Zesty in New Mexico


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Monthly Expenses – July 2017

Expenses - image

Every month, I post a report of our expenses to show that it is possible to live a comfortable, exciting and relatively adventurous life without breaking the bank. The less money you spend, the less you need to make. 🙂 That being said, Mark and I seem to manage one big expense a month for some reason, whether it is car, plane, travel or computer-related. Luckily, we live totally rent-free, wherever we end up.

This report includes ALL of our expenses, in US$, for the two of us. Under groceries we incorporate all the food, produce and non-alcoholic drinks (100% orange juice, almond milk for Mark and organic 2% milk for me) predominantly bought in supermarkets. Toiletries belong in that category as well. Dining out means eating at a restaurant/event or purchasing take-out food. The health category covers non-prescription medicines and Mark's vitamins and supplements; medical contains prescription drugs and doctor's visits. Utilities are always Skype-related, since that is how we make phone calls. 

Health insurance and costs are related to my health care. Mark is still eligible for free health care in the state of Massachusetts as of today. If a non-emergency were to happen outside of that state, it will be expensive! Every six months, we have to fly or drive to the East Coast for cancer check-ups. I still pay a small quarterly fee in Belgium for health care (required to keep my citizenship), which I mention in my year report.

July was expensive (over $2000!), because of a big garage bill and long-distance travel from Arkansas to California. We had to buy a lot of diesel, but camped for free every night of that six-day journey. Owning a 12-year-old camper van incurs higher monthly expenses than a Toyota Prius, which we were fully aware of. This month's total hurts, but now Zesty is up to snuff and all the other maintenance, fixes and improvements are done ourselves, over time.

Swapping our Prius for an Airstream Westfalia camper van


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Welcome, Westy! – The New Development

The past weeks I have been insinuating a new development in our lives. It is time to reveal what we have been up to! Let me introduce our newest “family member”, Zesty. He is a 2005 Sprinter Airstream Westfalia camper, endearingly called a Westy. Ingeniously built in Germany and known as a Westfalia James Cook in Europe, only 250 of these campers were imported into the US. Airstream did those honors and “Americanized” them by adding an air conditioner and a generator, and swapping the cassette toilet for one with a holding tank. The Mercedes engine was re-branded as a Dodge for the American market. Confusing? The main thing is that Mark and I now own one of these unique, compact and decked-out camper vans! Indirectly, this plan has been brewing for a couple of years.

Second night, in Oklahoma

“I think our next adventure should be in a camper again.” I share with Mark something that has been on my mind for a while. It is March 2015 and we are anchored in beautiful Huahine, French Polynesia. Continue reading

Long Weekend Away in Friesland, the Netherlands

Warning: this post is photo-heavy!

When my cousin Griet and her husband Wim visited us in Sebastopol, California two months ago, we picked a long weekend in May to go on a trip together while Mark and I are in Belgium for four weeks. The destination was to be determined: Normandy in France or Friesland, in the north of the Netherlands.  The two of us had never been to either place. The coast of Normandy would more than likely remind us of the one in California, so we were happy the decision fell on Friesland, with its famous Waddeneilanden, five islands in the Waddenzee or Wadden Sea. This area (which also stretches into Germany and Denmark) is a World Heritage Site with a character and outlook that changes with the tides. At low tide, people in excellent physical condition can attempt a walk to some of the islands with a guide, certain times of the year.

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Driving across the USA – East to West via I-80

View near Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah

Utah

After four days of attending the Annapolis Boat Show as vendors, Mark and I left the East Coast on Columbus Day (Monday, October 10th) in an attempt to cross the country at a fast pace. We were pretty exhausted when we started our trip at 7am, but were assured that sitting on our bum would be the main activity for the week to come. Fortunately, the owners of our new house sit in Northern California managed to postpone their departure with a day, which gave us five days to cover 2800 miles/4500 km. Google Maps predicted that that would take about 40 hours in perfect conditions, but with road work, accidents and some traffic congestion, it took much longer. By the time the Annapolis Sailboat Show came to an end that Monday, we had already reached Chicago! We were very happy with our bonus day on the road, which made it possible to reach Rocklin, CA late afternoon on Friday.

Day 1: Annapolis, MD – Joliet, IL (730 miles/1175 km) Continue reading

Cape Cod Adventure – Towns, Beaches, and Lighthouses

I am interrupting my Acadia broadcasts with an unexpected development: Mark and I recently stumbled upon a six-day house and pet sitting assignment in Truro, Cape Cod. We couldn’t resist applying and within 24 hours, we secured “the job”. The timing was perfect: we didn’t have much planned at our home base the last week of September and, usually, this is one of the best times of the year to visit the Cape. We also, coincidentally, happened to be asked to babysit our twin nieces, right over the bridge onto Cape Cod on Friday, so we had a decent start on Saturday, September 24th, to explore the sights between there and Truro. It was a bit chilly, but the sun was out. And of that, we took full advantage! Continue reading

WW – Gorham Mountain Trail in Acadia NP, Maine

I have decided to post photos of past travels in general and our eight year sailing adventure on SV Irie in particular for Wordless Wednesdays. I hope you enjoy them. Also, I can’t manage completely “wordless”, but I try my best at “almost wordless”. 🙂

Start of the trail

Start of the trail

There is no photo challenge at the Daily Post this week, so I’m diving head first into the Acadia experience with a photo gallery of the Gorham Mountain Trail. If there is only one hike you can do in Acadia National Park, I highly recommend this one. The views are spectacular and get better with each step you take towards the top. It is a short, but moderate hike that involves climbing over rocks and boulders and that combines the right dose of exercise and beauty. Continue reading

Feeling the Bern in Burlington, VT – A Mid-Week “Weekend Away”

Our plan did come with some serious considerations, but we took the risk anyway. It is not our fault that most weekends in August had contained rain! Who likes camping in the rain? And, we really wanted to visit Vermont again while in this area. One weekend had not been enough. So, all we could do was go on a two-night camping trip during the week. The weather predictions were perfect. The campground we had set our minds upon had most of their eight spots available, so no reservation and extra cost was required. Maybe we would be lucky with a quiet few days in regards to our Wirie business?

While the voice in my head was being positive (or naive), my gut knew better. We cannot and should not leave “the office” on weekdays. It does not bode well; sh*t happens. We know this from experience. Especially when it is the most inconvenient. When you run your own business, you do not get a break. Ever. We ignored my gut, ready for a couple of days away (You never know!), planning to be online and deal with customers and issues intermittently, whenever possible. That is the beauty of being able to work remotely, right? Anyway… As often, my gut was right, and Mark ended up spending many hours behind his computer and on his phone at the picnic table of our campsite or bent over on multiple patches of grass in the shade of Burlington’s parks. But, let’s focus on the stuff I should – and usually do – blog about!

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A Weekend of Camping and Hiking in Vermont; and a Visit Beyond

I can’t quite remember the last time Mark and I went camping for pleasure, as in when we really wanted to go camping. My recollections go back ten years ago or so, when our dogs, the Grand Canyon and loads of insect bites were part of the experience. I mention the “for pleasure” part, because the previous time we seriously camped was for two months in 2007, when a tent and a car were all we owned, so camping was our lifestyle. It wasn’t necessarily our preferred way to live, but the cheapest option in between other adventures. We had just moved out of our truck camper and were in the process of searching and eventually buying our sailboat.

Trying to set up the tent at home - check. All parts are present.

Trying to set up the tent at home – check. All parts are present.

The tent we had for ages was finally traded for some local handicrafts in the San Blas Islands, Panama, a few years ago and a new tent recently became ours through a promotion online. It was time to test it out in earnest. Continue reading

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