Thursday, January 20, 2011

Spring Break for Old Farts

(‘Boomerville’/Quartzite, AZ) First thing Wednesday morning I double bagged our garbage and took it over to the group tent where two of the other Boomers had offered to make a garbage run in to Quartzite.

We then had a great breakfast and social time with a 9:30 Potluck Brunch at the Boomer Fire Ring.

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There were a great variety of offerings. We took a electric skillet full of Ken’s fried potatoes with garlic, onions and peppers which were wiped out in short order so I think we know what we’ll take to the next Brunch potluck as well!

As usual we dropped by the group tent to check out any activities planned for the day. You can see that behind the tent is a tarp containing free items, where folks leave things they no longer need and take things they could use. We left a few things like the electric heater we had that Ken doesn’t trust around the dogs because it doesn’t have a ‘tip over’ control. That disappeared pretty quickly. I took a Beatrice Small novel I hadn’t read yet.

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As you can see, you can find something to do almost all day with the Boomer group. It’s important to check the board regularly since the activities are not formally planned or organized but mostly just something one or two people come up with and then everyone else can join in.

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Besides the activities, we are learning a lot about the equipment that other folks around us are using.

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For example, it turns out that the folks that have the Boomer pancake breakfasts use the same 3-burner propane Big Gas Grill that we use. What caught our attention was the griddle attachment they have. Hint, hint kids…..looks like a great anniversary gift for your two favorite gypsies that I’m sure will have payback when Dad does breakfasts and stir fries for you!

Of course, some of the Boomer toys may be a bit more of an investment. Here’s our favorite motorhome brand, Tiffin, with a great collection of solar panels on top. No, we know they don’t have a good payback, but we are loving this desert and the idea of alternative energy so we aren’t ruling out this addition if we do get a new rig.

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After the late breakfast, we did some cleanup, dog walking and then I took a look at a blogger issue that one of the other Boomers was experiencing. I’m a big advocate of free software and love this tool but there are times when you have to try a couple of different approaches before you can get it to do what you want. I’m learning to grow back the patience that I didn’t need when working and could just yell out at one of my guys to come fix something. Actually, I’m hoping to get to spend some more time with this lady to help her get her blog started. I always said that working with others to learn cool technology is something I would probably do even if I didn’t get paid for it!

We also did our first attempt at minimalist hair-washing. I was able to do a good job of washing Ken’s hair with only about a quart of water. We were quite satisfied with this but the real trial will come when Ken reciprocates and washes my hair tomorrow.

The general Escapee’s camp was hosting an Escapee’s social gathering from 1-3pm Wednesday and again on Thursday. This is where Bob and Molly, and Keith and Donna are parked. Some of our new RV acquaintances staying in Yuma, Kevin and Arlene, Mac and Netters, and Karen and Donnie were heading up for today’s event so we decided to stop in. The group was huge. They even had organized entertainment.

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What we really enjoy is getting to meet folks we’ve communicated with online for the first time. RV bloggers all get to know one another pretty well online, and our list of kindred spirits on the road who write valuable and interesting blogs continues to grow. In this case we met Brenda and JB, and Janna and Mike for the first time at this event.

Our planned exploration for the day was to check out the BLM areas south of town that have dump stations and water. Our thinking was that this would be the best of both worlds. These are large areas of open desert where you can park for a minimal fee, and then have access to a BLM dump site in the vicinity. We were a bit put off because of the very long line where it appeared you’d spend hours waiting for your turn at the dump station and water. This was especially disturbing since the big tent RV show is still several days away meaning the area is still far from the height of its expected population.

It was interesting to drive around a bit in the area with the jeep though. You can find a lot of interesting groupings of rigs, like this one of Bluebird Wanderlodges. While the shot is only of a few, I’m thinking there were probably about 20 total in this encampment of really neat looking rigs.

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Driving through Quartzsite, its obvious there are a lot more tents and vendors setting up every day. Until you’ve experienced this place there’s just not adequate words to describe it.

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We dropped by another RV dealer where we wanted to look at some of their used Tiffin motorhomes and then stopped at a cafe for late lunch/early dinner which seems to be our new schedule. The attached lounge packed with rowdy gray-hairs singing karaoke. Ken commented as we got back in the jeep, “Kind of like spring break for old farts around here!”

Ken had fun with the jeep doing the back roads back to the rig. I got this shot to the East of our encampment as we drove in with the sunset making beautiful shadows along the mountain ridges.

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We did a dog walk and slipped on some jeans before heading over to the Pace’s rig for their presentation on Burning Man. This is an event we’ve considered putting on our futures adventures list, and with the exception of seeing the tremendous amount of dust the attendees deal with, we’re now more interested than ever.

Before I sign off tonight I’d like to attempt answering Jeff and Barbie’s question from yesterday… In considering going to full-timing and a rig for that purpose have we considered a 5th wheel. You are asking what is probably one of the most highly debated questions in fulltiming and one I can easily get in trouble answering!!

Yes, we definitely have considered a 5th wheel and I still won’t say it’s out of the question. However, I decided it was time to give this some serious thought as to why we actually feel the way we do and here’s some points from the way we live on the road:

1. The biggest reason keeping us from fifth wheels is the toad. Once parked, we spend a great deal of our time exploring in our jeep which, for our lifestyle, is the PERFECT vehicle to get us in to back roads, small streets and tight parking spots at busy stores. When we’ve seen a fifth wheel we feel would come close to meeting our needs its usually one Ken would want to pull with at least a large dually pick up to feel truly safe on the road. We just don’t think we’d be happy with our primary means of transportation from our site being a great big truck. Yes, we have several friends who actually move with the truck, 5th wheel and another vehicle driven by the wife but we don’t really want to give up the time we enjoy together driving from spot to spot together with me driving a separate vehicle and don’t like the idea of three separate units to maintain, insure, park, etc.,

2. We also really like the fact that I can be doing other things in the motorhome when we are on the road, especially making coffee or meals without the need to stop. I am a person that hits the bathroom more than most so this means one less reason for Ken to have to find a place to pull over.

3. We know what is going on in ‘our house’ as we go down the road. If something falls over, we hear it, see it. We are seeing how things are riding and can adjust before there is a problem. We don’t have to ask, did you remember to lock that shower door, or did you remember to dump those coffee grounds, or what was that crash after we just hit that unexpected bump. I can look without stopping and have at times been able to avert what would have been a mess or further breakage.

4. We’ve observed the time it takes to get ready to move and get set up. In most parks we can back in and set up very fast with a motorhome. Again, just an impression but we seem to set up and get on the road faster than 5th wheels. I also like the fact that all my ‘pink’ jobs are inside meaning we can be on the road before I ever have to put on my shoes, jacket or even my makeup in the morning!

5. I HATE BAD WEATHER!! I really don’t sleep well when I hear or feel a lot of wind or when there are storms. Years ago we sold a small travel trailer we had for that very reason. Our impressions sitting in 5th wheels has been that they don’t feel as substantial during those kind of weather events as motorhomes….I just feel more settle sitting inside a vehicle that has a lot more weight holding it down and when parked has never felt like it was being rocked by wind or storms.

6. I know that if one of us is sick, or somehow separated, the other is capable of doing all the steps to get on or off the road. I don’t know any women at present that can hook up a fifth wheel all by themselves – this may be insignificant to some, but I’m kind of a control freak. I want to know I can take care of things myself if the need arises. Along with this, I like the idea that when we are at an overnight stop, we can get back on the road without ever having to go outside—there is a certain feeling of safety that gives me.

All that said, we could probably get a full-timer fifth wheel in RV sites where we’ll not be able to get a motor home. While the length with truck and fifth wheel would together would actually be longer than our motorhome you have more flexibility with angling the fifth wheel in. Fifth wheels are also more tolerant of uneven sites.

In terms of cost, for us, we don’t see a huge difference in what we’d buy total in truck and fifth wheel and what we’d have in a motorhome.

All that said, I think this is a decision that really has to fit each individual couples lifestyle and approach to day-to-day living. That said, we are not so entrenched in motorhomes that the ‘perfect’ fifth wheel might not be in our future.

For us the bigger issue is whether the benefits of a more full-time suitable, higher end rig outweigh the costs of moving up. For us, since there are no loans involved, the equation is rather simple. Let’s say for sake of argument that in real numbers we end up paying $125K for an upgraded rig over what we have today. From what we’ve seen, we have to go about that far before we feel we are really moving up. If you go by of my personal favorites guides, “Work Less, Live More”, you can figure that after inflation, taxes, etc., over time you really can expect, based on US financial history, to have about 4% of your investments available to live off of long-term. If we pull $125K of our investments and put them in an upgraded motorhome, it then means that we have $5000 less per year for the rest of our lives to live on. Is it worth it? There are also some minor additions such as increased insurance costs, fuel costs, etc., with a newer rig. I can easily rationalize that these costs are offset if we sell our current home just with the real estate tax and home maintenance costs we’d eliminate. However, realistically, if we’d fulltime in this current vehicle versus that new rig, we’d have about $100 extra in weekly spending money ….hmmm….ok, so we are now in to some lifestyle trade-off’s. I wonder if having a ‘home on wheels’ that has the feel of quality of our current stix n brix is more important than being able to eat out a couple more times a week or buying the new and future grandbabies a few more goodies! And, what if things get really bad in terms of fuel or the economy – do we really want that much more invested in something that could become virtually worthless on the resale market? It’s not a simple cost benefit analysis on these kind of choices even though my anal corporate business self falls in to that mode. No we can’t really justify the higher end vehicle without doing some rationalizing like I won’t give up the cost of my home without a better rig to live in full time. But then, if we made all of our decisions based strictly on cost/benefit then we’d never buy big screen TV’s, sports cars, or take cruises, but looking back in all those cases we’re glad we did. So there’s a lot more involved than anal cost benefit analysis! Can we afford a nicer rig – yes. But, do we want to give up using that money for other discretionary spending – not so sure. Do we want to give up the fun we are having fun shopping and learning about all the neat new offerings – absolutely not!!

So, for now, we feel we are in the best of positions, we can enjoy exploring all the RV offerings on the market, with no compelling need to have to do anything since our current vehicle meets all our needs. If we happen upon the next perfect ‘FrerxAdventures’ home then we’ll be going in with our eyes open.

I’d love comments back from our other RVers since I know some folks feel strongly on both sides of this.

Hugs, C

5 comments:

Molly & Bob said...

Great post Cindy! Your points about the MH decision are 'spot-on' and no-one-size-fits-all! The search is half the fun so enjoy!! One of our favorite sayings (a-la-Dennis Hill) is "Old farts having fun with young hearts"...spring break most of the time!! Hugs!

Donna aka Froggi said...

So enjoying the photos everyone is posting from Q. Hate that we aren't there this year but definitely plan to do it next winter!!!

Nancy and Bill said...

Enjoyed your thoughts on finding the 'right' rig. We are enjoying the search ourselves.

We visited Quartsite, but never camped there. Very interesting and something we might considered in the future. Thanks for all the info.

See you at the Rally in April.

Safe Travels and Happy Trails

Debbie Goode said...

Ok...you got my attention on the "not knowing a women who could "hitch" all by herself. Well, my name is "Debbie" and I'm glad to met you....LOL! It is always nice to work as a team, but it is really not that hard...you could do it! We love our fifth wheel, but there are things about motorhomes we like as well. It is all about what works best for you and you have a great list started...

Frerx Adventures said...

Debbie, Wow!! I guess I have met a woman who can hook up a 5er all by herself then!! Now I know you are on talented lady even beyond your awesome artistic talents!

Nancy and Bill, we are enjoying following your search as well. Anxious to see where it finally lead you.


Donna: Geez, I'm really hoping we get to meet some time. I think we will probably head back here next year again, considering how much we like it here...so maybe then!

Molly/Bob: ...like the "old farts with young hearts". Let us know when there's another eating out adventure as we love hanging out with you guys!