Tuesday, May 31, 2016

First trip report: we did it! - part 2

We slept so well that first night!

It was pitch dark at the campground, which is something we are not used to, living in a city! I might have woken up once or twice at the sound of the security patrol car driving by.

Time to test our systems

We woke up to a cold Buddha, since the temperatures dropped during the night to approximately 5C! Time to test the furnace. Youppi we have heat :)  I feel bad for the people who are sleeping in tents... then again, I'm quite content with glamping at the moment! Coffee and breakfast hit the spot and we are ready to carry on with our day.

All systems are working well. We have not hooked up to our sewer yet. Quite frankly, a sewer hose snaking around the ground is not appealing to me and also, it prevents tripping over it for some clumsy folks!

Water heater works well, so do the shower, sinks, etc. Although towards the last part of our stay, we discovered that we have a small leak at the hot water line in the bathroom. We tightened it by hand but still ongoing. At the next trip, one of us (likely Chantal, since she's more flexible and smaller) will have to slide under and check if the gasket is well placed. I might as well use some good old teflon tape on the threads too.

If that does not work, it'll be up to our dealer to deal with it, along a few things that got overlooked at the pre-delivery inspection (which was not done, in my honest opinion) and will be covered under warranty. Not using the hot water in the bathroom is not a big deal. We'll survive for a couple of outings, I am sure. ;)

Is it time to leave already?

Come Monday morning, we are totally relaxed into our spot and new lifestyle. Then comes the local hydro crew, right at our site, to replace a few posts. Seriously? Of all the posts in that big campground, they had to replace the ones around us?

Nevertheless, we got breakfast done, went for a bike ride (seems it'll be a daily event for us, which is awesome!) and started to think about dumping our tanks and packing up our items. Guess who was dragging their feet, eh? Yes, we were not happy campers at the prospect of leaving this place.

A campground rep came over to talk to us, and even offered us a couple of extra nights free of charge for the trouble caused by the hydro work being done. Oh man... yes we'd love to, but no thank you. :(
Because the work around us was in full swing, including digging a few trenches, they moved our fifth wheel to a secure road that allowed us to hitch and go easily.

I cannot thank enough the staff at the Campers Cove campground - everyone was great to talk to, helpful and friendly. From the ladies at the front office, to the workers who helped us and to the campground owners who paid a visit and wanted to know how we heard about them.

Tanks emptied (and we discovered we have a leaky grey water tank valve), it was time to hitch and depart. An uneventful ride home, followed by a rough back into storage (gosh hope we'll get better at this!), concluded our first adventure into the world of RV'ing.

Till next year, Point Pelee!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

First trip report: we did it! - part 1

What a first day this was!

Demo and hitch install

We were up early to finish packing the truck (how is it that we own so much stuff!?!). It was a pleasant drive out of town (it is always pleasant to drive out of town!) to get to our RV dealer for the fifth wheel "demo" and hitch installation. That was a 3 hour process which we had planned for, so to make it out of there at lunch time was expected. When I say "demo", yeah we had a tour of the unit and learned the basic stuff. However there was a lot of unexplained things that, in retrospect, doesn't impress us at all. Thanks to the online channels I follow on You Tube, I had learned quite a bit already (without the practice part). We learned a few things with the demo guy, but not impressed. Anyhoo...

Off we go!

I drove our Lucky Buddha out of the RV dealer lot - a privilege that was granted to me as, I suppose, a reward for finding our unit and all the research I put him through!!!

It was an easy drive to Wheatley ON. We stopped halfway there so we could 1) have lunch and 2) switch drivers. We had chosen a campground outside of Point Pelee that looked nice and well appointed for newbies. Campers Cove is a nice campground that has helpful staff and very pleasant seasonal people. We would go there again!

It didn't go without a hitch (pun intended)

We had a few unhitching problems, thanks to unleveled grounds. We also learned that "bumping the pin" helped disengage the hitch lever. Next was de-winterizing our unit (again, why wasn't this done at the RV dealer?). After a bit of head scratching to figure out the right valves' configuration for the water heater, we had it done! The water pump worked well, so did the water heater, so we switched it to city water since we had full hookups, only to realize there was no water coming through our plumbing! Not a big deal, we figured out soon after that we had forgotten to turn the valve back on at the pedestal. Oops. ;)

Settling in, finally!

By then, it was time for Rob to start a campfire. He loves doing that! We opened up a small bottle of bubbly we had brought for the occasion. I then proceeded to cook a pizza in our RV oven and devoured it quickly with 2 beers around the fire. We slept well that evening!

More to come.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The final countdown to new beginnings

This is it!

We are a day away from picking up our brand new fifth wheel, that has been sitting in the cold in a lot at the RV dealer, waiting for our arrival. It sucks to pay for something you can't benefit from!! Our appointment for the demo is confirmed and the excitement has reached peak time.

(on that note, I cannot imagine how I'll feel tomorrow morning!)

This girl here is mega excited and nervous. It's a great feeling!!!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Our motivations

When we first thought of traveling for a year, by selling the house and quitting our jobs, we knew we'd face a few objections, or at least, a few questions. We came up with a list of "reasons behind our motivations" in order to answer those questions.

What is it that motivates us to:
  • sell a house (considered an investment)
  • quit our jobs (how are you gonna pay for stuff? how can you afford to travel?)
  • buy a fifth wheel, a truck, get storage, increase the gas budget (are you nuts? can't you rent hotels like everyone else?)
  • minimize and purge a good chunk of our stuff (there's that word again - stuff!)
  • not look back in regrets
All good questions. It all comes down to 3 reasons for us:  
  • We want to be (and remain) debt-free
  • We want to travel
  • We know there's more to life than working for the weekend (and your 2-3 weeks' vacation)
Now, we know that we have an easier life than others. We don't have 2 kids to feed, raise and put through university. We aren't in bad shape financially. My parents are still in fairly good shape. We are healthy (physically and mentally). It's been good and my obsessive-compulsive nature will want to ensure that we remain in good financial position.

Reason 1: Be debt-free

I am proud and glad I did the "I want a house, it'll be a good investment". For 8 years, the house I purchased has been a good home to me, and then to us when I met my better half. We can afford it, but we cannot "work less to travel more" with a mortgage on our backs.

The way I see it, I am still working at my current job for the only reason that I cannot afford the house otherwise. I got the house because I was working at that same job and realized I made a good enough salary to afford a mortgage. Funny, eh? Over time, I grew comfortable in that job. Also, the job changed and most importantly, I changed.

I want to be my own boss doing what I love. For now though, I cannot do it while having the house to pay for. That will likely lead me to use my emergency fund and I do not want that. Staying at my current job is not a long-term option. Finding another job? Not interested, at least not in the town we currently live in. We are tired of the neighborhood and the town too. I despise the downtown core so it's not really an option for me. It would involve a longer commute, extra expenses (either for common transit or parking downtown), which I think defeats the purpose.

What I need to do is take that leap and start freelancing. Be able to work from anywhere is a nice thing. By selling the house, I will get rid of my biggest debt. The money invested, plus our savings between now and then, will be our ticket to buying a small property without the need for a mortgage.

That will see us debt free. And I love it.

Reason 2: Traveling

We decided, for a year, a year and a half, or more (!), to make traveling and exploring a priority. With still 22 years to pay on a mortgage, I was going nowhere fast. How can you pay a costly mortgage and travel 4-6 months per year? That also involves a lot of extra steps such as closing the house, have security or someone to check on it, insurance issue, etc. No thank you, not for me.

We have been saving for over a year already for that adventure. Yes, we will use a part of the house sale profit to fund it. It is my given right to do so for all the work we've put into it! We are also selling what we do not want to keep and putting in storage what we are keeping (items such as artwork, a bed frame and bedroom set, a few pieces of furniture, etc. that will all go to our new home). I will sell my small car (which is soon to be paid for) as well.

We are leaving on our adventure with no excess baggage (aka stuff), no debt and the savings to keep us afloat for at least a year (on a budget, but a debt-free budget!).

After that, we don't really have a plan. However, if we come back and rent an apartment or buy a small house (mortgage-free), we would still make travel a priority. That means it is up to US to be in charge of OUR jobs, OUR schedules, OUR lives.

Reason 3: Live your life

We aren't delirious, we know that we need to work to buy food and have a roof over our heads, etc. However, I think it is time to start thinking outside the "conventional box", the box that most people think is "normal".

I am tired of asking for vacations. I have 4 weeks vacations and I find it not enough. I can't imagine starting over somewhere else and have to go back to 2 weeks vacations. Also, when it's time to go on vacations, everyone else is likely on vacations too! And in those weeks you have off, you try to cram as much sightseeing as possible. No wonder why most people are tired coming back to work after a vacation.

If I am my own boss, then I am dictating my own schedule. I hope the same for my husband - that he can find a writing position and be able to do what he loves. I know it will take time and effort before either one of us can be producing enough money to be sustainable. But I am willing to try it. With our house expenses being a lot less, we won't need to bring in $5000 (net) per month in salary. We need to be able to eat, to have food, to warm the house and save. The rest is fluff.

We want to live. We want to get up, open the door and view the mountains. We want to smell grass and hear birds chirp. We want to lounge in our PJs until 10 am, sipping on coffee that we brewed on our camp stove. Then decide to pack up a lunch and go for a hike! Come back mid-afternoon, "work" if needed (hey, being a freelancer means working at odd hours!), then have a drink and watch the sunset together before prepping dinner, and either spend the evening around a campfire or play Scrabble inside.

That's life.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The "making money" priority

Don't get me wrong, I (Chantal) love money. We need money! To buy food, to have some sort of basic utilities such as heat and electricity, and so on. But how much money does one need?

If you have a roof over your head, food on the table, can keep warm at night, have water to drink and are able to save money at the end of the month, then I think you have more than enough.

If you love what you do and have a passion for it, great. I am sure that working 60 hours a week is not an issue for you since you love it. It's your career. You have a family. That is great. This is not my/our situation. We both grew out of passion for our jobs. 2-4 weeks vacation is not enough for us to do what we love.

I want to be able to work doing something I love (translating and photography). I love to translate, I love using French every day and I should be using it every day. I am working hard to establish myself while I still have a job so that the transition isn't so hard. It is less money, but it could be just enough.

So I am confident that, after all our debts have been erased with the sale of the house, our "RV trip savings" will be more than enough to get gas in the truck and food on our table. And if we need more money? We'll get a part-time job, I'll take on more translations, or we'll stay put for a while. Nothing wrong about that.

Work for what you know you need, not for what you think you want.