Tag Archives: Vagabonding

Yes, Full Time Travel Really is Less Expensive than Staying Home

Our Spending

It doesn’t seem possible, but it is completely true. Traveling 365 days every year is less expensive than traveling just five or ten or fifteen days per year. And the reason for that is simple: living at home requires a huge amount of overheard that doesn’t exist on the road.

If you don’t believe me, try it out for yourself. Tally up your five largest monthly expenses – such as rent/mortgage, car payment, state income taxes (by traveling full-time we get to choose our state of residency and ours, just so happens, doesn’t have an income tax) – and then multiply the total by 12. If you’re like most people in the U.S., the number you’ve calculated is somewhat greater than a realistic full-time travel budget.

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Everywhere Once by the Numbers

Fire, fire, fire!

Months on the road: 31
Miles traveled: 46,197

Words written: 147,211
Photos posted: 1,046
Destinations visited: 185
National parks or monuments explored: 62
State capitol buildings toured: 15
People who started talking to us because they thought we were Texans: 42
People who lost interest upon learning we are really New Yorkers: 40
Sharks snorkeled with: 7
Countries visited: 4
Days spent scooping rabbit turds: 1

Museums frequented: 32
Plays seen: 5

Caves spelunked: 3
Planes jumped from: 1
People flipped off: 3
People who deserved it: 176
Campfires lit: 0

This last one is something that fascinates me. In the roughly 880 nights we’ve spent in campgrounds we never once lit a campfire. Moreover, we never felt the urge to light one. And yet almost everywhere we go someone nearby feels compelled to set something ablaze. I don’t quite understand it.

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A Virtual Stroll In Montreal

As with just about everything recently, we’ve had to adapt our style of travel to the realities of living in an RV. In the past, we would land in a city, pick up a map, and stroll around to get our bearings. We’d always feel helplessly lost at first, but within a couple of hours we usually owned the city. We’d know what could be done reasonably on foot, where we’d want to take the metro to, and what might require a taxi. We’d also have a strong sense of which things on our to-do list should be grouped together.

But now we don’t have a city hotel room to retreat back to after our stroll. If we want to explore the city, we have to get there first, and even that takes some degree of planning. Do we drive in or take public transportation? Where is the best place to park for what we want to do? In what order should we do things? All this, and more, has to be decided before we’ve even set foot in town.

Thankfully, Google has this neat feature where you can plot destinations on an interactive map.  This allows us to visualize our itinerary for Montreal, and capture some of the benefits of our stroll virtually. For example, we know we want to catch a free jazz concert on Thursday night, but we don’t know what else on our itinerary made sense to do the same day. After plotting a bunch of ideas on Google Maps, we can easily see what else is in the neighborhood.  The “walking directions” feature tells us that a walk from Notre Dame, to the Archaeology Museum, to Marie-Reine-du-Monde Basilica to the Jazz venue takes about 40 minutes; a pretty good day’s itinerary. More importantly, it tells us that the botanical gardens and the Jean-Talon Market are probably too far to walk, and too much of a pain for the metro. So we’re grouping them together and driving.

You can play around with our map here, to see how it works and maybe create something similar for your own next trip. In the future, we’ll be plotting more of our itineraries this way to get a feel of a city’s geography, if not its culture, before we arrive.

The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Plant

The strength of Shannon’s empathy for this plant is so great that one could rightly mistake her for a Druid (unless, of course, they were also aware of her notoriously black thumb).  For years, though, this hardy little plant has managed to not only resist her finger of death but also routine snacking by our first cat, Emma. It is a remarkable survivor.

Uncertain how the plant would fare in the RV, Shannon considered entrusting its care to her mother while we were on the road.  In the end, Shannon decided to take it with us. And it was good. Sunlight has done remarkable things for our spindly little friend, and it has thrived during our three months of travel.  But now, as we prepare to make way for the Canadian border, we are certain there is one thing this plant will not survive: customs. Either when crossing this way or that, some douchey customs agent will declare this little plant a dire national threat and, for the sake of God fearing Canadians or Americans everywhere, will do their heroic duty and have it destroyed.  Of this, we have no doubt.

Fortunately, we are close enough to relatives who kindly agreed to act as “plant sitters” while we don berets in le Canada Français.  Of course retrieving said plant upon our return will require a two hour round trip drive and a $25 ferry ride. Such is the burden of vagabonds who become attached to things.

Conquering Moby Dick

View from Stony Ledge

“All that most maddens and torments; all that stirs up the lees of things; all truth with malice in it; all that cracks the sinews and cakes the brain; all the subtle demonisms of life and thought; all evil, to crazy Ahab, were visibly personified, and made practically assailable in Moby-Dick. He piled upon the whale’s white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart’s shell upon it.”

– Herman Melville, Moby Dick

My, oh-my, Melville must have hated Mount Greylock to have written such vitriol.* For it is rumored that the snow-covered profile of this gently sloping mountain peak provided the inspiration for his leviathan, Moby Dick.  From a distance, and with enough psychotropics, you can definitely imagine the mountain as the hump of a great whale breaching the surrounding granite waves.  But our objective today wasn’t to view it from a distance, it was to summit Massachusetts’ tallest peak.

Mt. Greylock as seen from Herman Melville's house

That certainly sounds impressive, and it might have been, if only we had taken the nine or so hours needed to hike the entirety of it.  But we were short on time and ambition today so we packed a lunch and drove to the 3,491 foot peak.  From the summit you can see several mountain ranges (the Adirondacks, the Catskills and the Green Mountains) depending on which direction you look.

Stony Ledge Trail

While Greylock’s vista is admirable, the better view, in our opinion, is from the lower summit of Stony Ledge. Some 900 feet beneath its larger sister, Stony Ledge gives an excellent view of Greylock, as well as the undeveloped valley on its western slope.  The hike to the ledge would have been fairly easy, but the wide trail just begged to be tackled via mountain bike, which proved to be harder than we expected.  The entire trip is a hill, halfway up, and halfway down.  Going down is loads of fun, but biking a mile or so straight up kicked the asses of a couple of fatties like us.  Good thing we got back early enough for a nap.

(* This will wind Shannon up good, because Melville loved Mount Greylock.  Heh, heh, heh, heh.)

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