Ron & Elena's 2007-2010 Travels travel blog

None of the arts and crafts at the show could compare with...


(Ron Writing) It was another beautiful day at North Ranch. There was a craft show in the Activity Center. There are many very talented artists and craftsmen living here and many of them had their creations on display and for sale. Associated with the craft show was a soup and sandwich luncheon. For just $5 they served a sandwich, a bottomless bowl of soup, cake, and a drink – what a deal.

After lunch Elena and I tackled our dirty truck and got it looking almost like new inside and out. We’re glad that job is over with.

I keep pretty detailed records of expenses and other data directly related to our full-time RV adventure. For those interested in some of that data for our summer 2009 round trip from Arizona to Newfoundland and many points in between, here are a few highlights:

Days traveling: 223

Miles driven: 18,840

Truck fuel: $6,118

Admission fees to various attractions: $1,319

Bridge tolls, highway tolls, and ferry fees: $796

Camping fees and dumping fees: $608

Propane: $303

Generator Fuel: $109

Most other expenses we incurred this summer were not a direct function of this trip or even whether we were traveling or parked.

The cost of tolls and ferry fees is dominated by the costs of the ferry between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland which was $531.78 round trip and the ferry from Riviere-du-Loup, QC across the St. Lawrence River to St-Simeon, QC which was $150.18

If you’ve been reading our journal this summer you know we do a lot of boondocking and this is reflected in the low expense for Camping fees. Camping fees could easily have exceeded $5,500 had we stayed in commercial or government campgrounds every night.

Since we seldom had electrical hookups we depended on our solar panel and generator for power. While driving, the truck generator also charges the trailer batteries. Typically the solar panel can supply most of the power we need on sunny days except if we use the power hogs like the microwave or air conditioner. On a typical day we run the generator for a half hour or so while preparing and eating breakfast. During that time we make a pot of coffee, and sometimes use the toaster and microwave. The battery is also in bulk charge during this time. Running the generator for a short while in the morning allows the batteries to recover much of the charge lost during the prior evening when we have the lights on and the computers operating. There isn’t enough sun early in the morning to recharge the batteries with the solar panel and I don’t like to have the batteries too low when I start the truck in the morning because it puts a very heavy load on the truck’s alternator. We also run the generator for a short time in the evening most days while we’re using the microwave to prepare dinner so the batteries also get some charge then. The generator run-time also depends on the weather which can have a large effect on how much electric the solar panel provides. On average we use between a pint and a quart of gasoline per day in the generator (overall average was 0.192 gal/day). It is the solar panel and the generator which allow us to boondock and save money on campgrounds. But it’s more than saving money – for a variety of reasons we prefer to boondock while traveling.

We love this style of exploring North America. It’s not very expensive compared to other modes of travel which might involve tours or staying in hotels and eating in restaurants. Each day is a new adventure planned just a day or two in advance and every plan is subject to change as we go along and discover places and things that interest us. Every night we get to sleep in our own bed and Elena prepares most of our meals in a way that is generally much less expensive and healthier than restaurant food. As the adventure unfolds each day we seldom know where we’ll spend the night. Typically we start thinking about a place to park around 4 PM and then find a suitable spot right along our intended route before 5 PM. For us, this is so much more enjoyable than planning our day around finding and staying in suitable campgrounds. Most of the time going to the campground would be out of our way and then when we get there we would usually have to unhook the trailer from the truck to park in a campsite. Then each campground has their own version of the 100 rules that must be followed. Sometimes they require checkout before we’re ready to leave in the morning. We don’t need a “campground” or an “RV Resort”, we just need a place to park and “Home is Where We Park It”.

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