Roaming About

A Life Less Ordinary

Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming, USA

By the time Mark and I hit the road in Zesty, the end of July, summer had progressed a lot and I felt in a rush to reach our main destinations. Yet, we also needed to wind down, relax and forget about our stress and issues from before making this lifestyle switch. My blogging break helped a little bit, but our days were filled to the brim, either with driving, sightseeing, translation jobs, or catching up with internet chores (research, emails, …) Soon, I realized that I needed to let go of this internal pressure to get everywhere as soon as possible. That attitude allowed for spontaneous events and encounters to happen. If it would get too cold or rainy without reaching our sightseeing “goals” this summer, so be it!

Taggart Lake – photo from Mark’s phone to wish our twin nieces a happy 5th birthday

Upon arrival in the Grand Tetons area, Wyoming, Mark and I were in search of a free campsite, something that had been easy to come by the first weeks of our adventure. While driving in and over deep grooves and potholes on the dirt road, needing to back down a steep, bumpy hill and turning around a couple of times bottoming out, Zesty got pretty beaten up the first day. We swore to never do this again, as we settled in a dusty, shady spot for two nights. The last one in miles that was unoccupied.

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The Best Laid Plans – Start of Our RV Adventure

Well, my blogging break has finished. It was a nice change to abandon mine and other people’s websites for the last month, and focus on internet-unrelated pursuits, the things I’d like to call “real life”. 😊

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

It took weeks to wind down, if I ever got there. Mark and I still had and have business-related obligations, being without internet at our fingertips felt weirdly unfamiliar and, whenever I planned a day off from sightseeing to relax for a day, a translation project would pop up. When it comes to making some money or making no money at all, that choice is a relatively easy one. Unless, of course, there was no internet to even see the assignment.

While I screamed off the roofs before that I would use our limited data towards planning our itinerary and camper-related chores, I had no idea that big parts of Colorado and Wyoming don’t have T-Mobile cell coverage. No worries here about running out of our monthly 5Gb data allowance. We managed to check emails at McDonalds, visitor centers and libraries.

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Monthly Expenses – August 2018

Expenses - image

Every month, I post a report of our expenses to show that it is possible to live a comfortable, exciting and 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 camper, plane, travel or computer-related.

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 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. Health insurance and costs are related to my health care as a permanent resident in the US. 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 both return to the East Coast. I still pay a small quarterly fee in Belgium for health care (required to retain citizenship), which I mention in my year report.

August was different from all previous months, because it was the first full month we've lived in our camper van Zesty.  We have been on the road full-time since the end of July and are slowly adjusting to a lifestyle switch from house and pet sitting to van living.

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IWSG Writing Update September 2018 – Beta Reader Feedback

Every first Wednesday of the month, the IWSG (Insecure Writer’s Support Group) engages writers to share their fears, thoughts, progress, struggles, excitement, encouragement, or anything really, about their writing. A different question is posed each month, as a writing prompt for IWSG members. Answering it is optional. For September, the question is: What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why?”

This amazing, supportive group of writers was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Today, the co-hosts are  Toi Thomas,T. Powell Coltrin, M.J. Fifield, and Tara Tyler. Feel free to swing by their sites and see what they’re up to.

My answer to the question (What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why?)

While I realize you can never plan too far ahead when it comes to the writing path, thinking about publishing my memoir while I haven’t touched the manuscript in months feels a bit presumptuous.  That being said, I have read about the pros and cons about traditional publishing and self-publishing. Author Jane Friedman has a ton of valuable articles about this topic on her website, with this blog post being all-encompassing.

In general, the indie way seems to offer most benefits in regards to publishing quickly, being able to print on demand (which is also cost-effective), and more freedom with the title, content and cover art. Yet, there is that one big (mis)belief about a higher success and accomplishment rate when an author manages to snatch a (renowned) publishing house. Going the traditional route, however, means creating a non-fiction book proposal, which is an entire project in itself. While the verdict is still out, I ought to start with rewriting parts of my memoir!

My book progress and why there has been none…

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Blogging Break & On the Road

Hello everyone,

For the first time in eleven years of blogging (eight years on my sailing blog It’s Irie and almost three years on Roaming About), I am taking a break from all things blogging, until September 5th, 2018, when another IWSG writing update is due.

The first half of 2018 was tough, hectic and tiring for Mark and me, what with a string of bad luck, business intricacies, house sitting, camper projects, health provider problems, writing my memoir, translation work, travels by trains, cars, and planes, and relatively draining visits to both of our families. When we returned to our camper, rats had chewed up some parts under the hood of our vehicle. We are pretty exhausted, to say the least.

As of July 26th, we have moved into our camper van Zesty for the foreseeable future. We plan to intersperse camping with house sitting when we see fit. The rest of this summer is devoted to visiting national forests in Colorado, national parks like Grand Teton, Yellowstone and Glacier NP, and an extended stay on Vancouver Island, if we don’t run out of warm weather by then. I’m looking forward to gaze at rushing rivers, smell pine trees, marvel at sunsets, and watch chipmunks chase each other. We plan to hike, sight see, photograph, and fully explore our upcoming destinations.

For the next month, our limited data and internet time will go to researching free campsites and attractive places. I might post a few photos on Facebook, but my focus will be on our travels, reading, meeting friends, and hopefully some memoir progress.

See you in September and have a lovely rest of the summer,

Liesbet xox

Sunset over Antero Reservoir, Colorado last week

PS: Our current location will be updated in the right column, as always.

Monthly Expenses – July 2018

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 camper, 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 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. Health insurance and costs are related to my health care as a permanent resident in the US. 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 both return to the East Coast. I still pay a small quarterly fee in Belgium for health care (required to retain citizenship), which I mention in my year report.

Most of our July was spent in the company of friends and family, in Belgium and in Massachusetts. There were a lot of social events and life-time celebrations, where gifts and taking family members out to lunch and dinner made up a big chunk of our expenses. Other than that, the usual grocery shopping and fuel for two cars (our Zesty back in New Mexico and Mark's parents' car in New England) played a role. We had a flat tire, and dealt with damage caused by rats.

On the three-day train ride from Boston, MA to Santa Fe, NM, Mark and I didn't spend a dime, and once back in our camper, we stocked up for a week.  July was more expensive than usual, but as August progresses we continue our full-time frugal adventures on the road with nothing but free camping so far.

July 2018 Overview:

Gifts:

Dining out:

Cars (fuel: $127; parking: $18; repairs: $134):

Groceries:

Alcohol:

Health insurance Liesbet:

Drinking out:

Computer (domain hosting):

Charity (Best Friends):

Phone (Skype) Liesbet:

Medical:

Entertainment:

Camping:

 

TOTAL:

 

$296

$295

$279

$255

$72

$44

$24

$16

$10

$5

$4

$1

$0

---------

$ 1301

IWSG Writing Update August 2018 – No Memoir Progress

Every first Wednesday of the month, the IWSG (Insecure Writer’s Support Group) engages writers to share their fears, thoughts, progress, struggles, excitement, encouragement, or anything really, about their writing. A different question is posed each month, as a writing prompt for IWSG members. Answering it is optional. For August, the question is: What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?”

This amazing, supportive group of writers was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Today, the co-hosts are Erika Beebe, Sandra Hoover, Susan Gourley, and Lee Lowery. Feel free to swing by their sites and see what they’re up to.

My answer to the question (“What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?“)

I have no experience publishing books, so I can’t report on any pitfalls about that process (yet). When it comes to publishing articles, I highly recommend reading the writer guidelines for the magazines you want to submit to, be courteous, professional, and communicative, and stick to the given deadlines. Not following these common-sense rules could turn into pitfalls. Continue reading

A Flood of Memories – Emotions and Closure

“My parents are selling their house and moving to a one-bedroom flat. They’re kicking me out,” I whined to Mark a few months ago.

“Your mom and dad aren’t kicking you out,” he responded. “Besides, be happy you managed to stay there and use their address as your Belgian residency all those years. I don’t know any other 42-year-old who still lives with her parents…”

Of course, I don’t really live with my parents in Belgium anymore, but my childhood home has been a safe, familiar, and reliable haven during the last 15 years of my travels. I grew up here, made friends, played volleyball as a teenager, enjoyed long walks in nature a couple of blocks away, and happily returned a few weeks of almost every year. While never a vacation, I did soak up the attention and care I received from friends and family, eager to see me, and ready to spoil me with home-cooked meals, a car to use, and laundry services.

Goodbye, childhood home!

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Guest Post on Global Housesitter X2 – Housesitting in America

Thank you to Suzanne, who interviewed me about house and pet sitting on her informative and entertaining blog. To learn more about this lifestyle, pros and cons and some tidbits thrown in, please hop over to Global Housesitter x 2, and leave a comment if so inclined. I’ll see you there!

Introduction to the interview:

Housesitting in America – Liesbet & Mark

In my series “Interviews with Housesitters”, I will be introducing you to various people who live life differently via slow travel and housesitting.

Liesbet and I have been following each other for a while now, well, since I started getting involved with the Blogging Community.  I have thoroughly enjoyed our interactions and have found Liesbet very informative, fun and a straight talker, a personality trait I find a breath of fresh air.  Then if you are like me you start reading more about her travelling life you too will be inspired at what these two have achieved and enjoyed as a team.

Meet Liesbet and Mark

Mark and Liesbet in Tahiti_edited

Liesbet was born and raised in Belgium but calls herself a world citizen.

Since being a teenager, her two passions have been travel and writing. That’s mainly what she has been doing since her graduation as a teacher, many years ago. Her explorations backpacking and camping led her to many parts of the world and into the arms of her American husband Mark.

With him, she continued her adventures by truck camper, sailboat, and camper van. The closest they’ve ever come to settling down is choosing a lifestyle of house and pet sitting in North America. She is in the process of writing a memoir about the last decade of her unconventional life. Her blog Roaming About – A Life Less Ordinary reports on her writing journey, travels, housesits and expense reports.

What made you choose housesitting as a way of life?

After my husband, Mark, and I sailed full-time on our 35ft catamaran for eight years, while maintaining an income, we were pretty exhausted. We decided to sell the boat in Tahiti and return to the United States, we but didn’t want to settle.

Continue reading here.

 

Our summer update:

Mark and I are currently wrapping up our last week of being with family in Newburyport, Massachusetts, USA. On Monday, we go on  a three day/two night Amtrak train ride back to Zesty in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Once there, after a deserving shower and a good night sleep, we will be ready for new adventures!

Monthly Expenses – June 2018

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 camper, 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 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. Health insurance and costs are related to my health care as a permanent resident in the US. 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 both return to the East Coast. I still pay a small quarterly fee in Belgium for health care (required to retain citizenship), which I mention in my year report.

On the Amtrak train from Santa Fe, NM to Boston, MA

June was a bit of a different month, compared to others. Half of it was spent in the camper, exploring New Mexico and the Four Corners region of the US. Then, Mark and I traveled three days and two nights on an Amtrak train from New Mexico to Massachusetts, where I had just enough time to take a shower and rest up in a bed again, before jumping on a plane to Belgium. The latter half of the month, Mark stayed with his family in Newburyport, MA, while I was spoiled rotten by my own family. The biggest part of our June expenses are related to living in Zesty.

June 2018 Overview:

Camper (fuel: $105; parts: $142):

Groceries:

Health and Fitness (vitamins Mark, haircut Liesbet):

Health insurance Liesbet:

Entertainment (National Park tours and Taos Pueblo):

Drinking out:

Alcohol:

Dining out:

Gifts:

Camping (1 night in Chaco Canyon, NM):

Charity (Best Friends):

Household:

Medical:

 

TOTAL:

 

$247

$184

$90

$44

$38

$35

$27

$20

$19

$15

$10

$4

$4

---------

$ 737

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