Monday, October 17, 2016

Costs of living simply

A lot of people assume it is expensive to live the way I do... I am rich, my parents must be rich.  So, I thought I would show you my dream budget... it's a dream because I rarely meet the minimum even when working 9 to 10 months out of the year like I have this last year.

I need around 1/3 of what I needed when living in one place.  When I lived in one place I went cheap.  No internet, No cable and all that extra stuff.  My furniture was all given to me or free off Craigslist.  I have never had money to just buy whatever.

Now, my motorcycle is paid for as Today would mark 9 years with Blue.  TicTac, I worked 3-4 jobs for 9 months to pay for straight out.

I don't have rent, I don't have utilities.  I use to do a pay as you go phone and spend $100 a year but my family didn't like not being able to get a hold of me so I am on their plan. I use public libraries for internet.

What do I pay for?
(Monthly budget)
  • $8-10 in gas for every 100 miles
I can easily spend $50 a month on gas if I am just wandering,  I am looking forward to spending more time in one spot.  You can spend 7-14 days in a lot of free camping areas and I really want to take advantage of that.  If I need to be somewhere for a job or visiting someone it would cost more but use less once I get there.  For instance, I spent less than $90 to get from New Hampshire to my friend's house in North Carolina.. and that was going a round about way.  Now being here I go out with my friend in her car so no gas money used.

  • $80-150 groceries
This has a wide range and it all depends on where I am.  This also includes Yoska's food which I only need a 4lb bag a month to 6 weeks depending on how much of my leftovers he gets.  If I am moving a lot and riding long days I eat out more often so the price is higher.  If I am boondocking I make my own meals and I usually eat the same meal twice in a day to not have leftovers without refrigeration for long periods of time. 

  • $100 motorcycle and trailer insurance
This is a bit high but I have a large amount for medical on my motorcycle insurance.  Injuries from a motorcycle accident can be expensive so I want to be sure to get as much as I can because with my lifestyle there isn't a lot of extra money lying around... usually no extra money lying around.  I want to be sure the burden on others will be as little as possible.

  • $500 student loan payment
This is the kicker.  My student loan bills are more than everything else combined.  They are at the lowest payment possible and will be a burden for many, many, many years to come.

  • $100 set aside for maintenance of Blue and TicTac
TicTac needs very little in the way of maintenance.  I just replaced the wheel bearings this summer so greasing them twice a year is really all there is.  I changed the tires about 2 years ago but the good thing about those they last a whole lot longer and cheaper than motorcycle tires.   I do this type of work with friends or when visiting my dad so the cost is parts only. 

Blue on the other hand can be a little more expensive.  I do my own oil changes, air filter cleaning on the road and when I visit my dad a couple times a year we tackle the bigger things so I save thousands by doing the work ourselves.  The only costly thing is the rear tire.  I try to order it online for about $130 and then find a mom and pop shop to change it costing around $40-60. A Harley shop can easily cost over $300. (Rear tires need to be balanced)  I do save a bit but I change the rear tire 2-3 times a year.  Front tire maybe every year and a half and I want to be able to do that when visiting my dad.

  • $100 for emergencies and odds and ends
It is nice to have a little extra around in case of needing to pay for a place to stay because of bad weather, extreme heat or just wanting to treat myself.  Then there are times you want a souvenir or need some sort of odd and end thing.  I also would really like the National Park Pass.  So this very minimal put away each month helps with all of that.

When I say I can live comfortably for $15,000 a year it is a true statement.  I can get away with $1000 a month but it's nice to be able to save a little each year for things like a new engine for Blue.

Don't forget to click thru the tabs at the top of the blog to see how you can help fund my journey.  From workamping, helping you with needs around the house to working for businesses ranging from 1 day to 6 weeks.  Marketing your business with Social Media Management or advertising on the side of TicTac. Speaking at an event about my travels, living simply or Eating Disorder Awareness.   There is even a bit of shopping with items I make or sending a personalized postcard.  Many different ways for me to make my Dream budget come true.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Here's what we have been up to

Yoska and I headed south a few weeks ago.  We weren't getting any work in New Hampshire and would have to leave soon because of the weather anyways.  We were sad to leave Michelle but talk to her daily.

We did a round about trip to our friends house in North Carolina.  I really didn't want to ride through 4 cities so we headed more inland.  Had a few days of rain but it was nice being back on the road.  We are staying with a friend in North Carolina hoping to find some sort of work... no luck just yet but something will hopefully come about.  Check the links above to see the services and products I have to offer.  They bring you to my website Every little income helps.

Yoska has some new friends and they play all day every day.  He misses Michelle but is getting along great with his new buddies.

We were in Hurricane Matthew but luckily inside my friends house with Blue and TicTac in the garage.  We all stayed dry but outside the house flooded quite a bit.

The water here is gone but we can't really go anywhere outside of town since all the surrounding towns are flooded.  

So, we are hanging out, looking for work, and planning our next adventure.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Flagging Don't do that! Part 2

For our third day of flagging we were sent to Jaffrey NH.  We met up with the guy we were working for at a gas station.  We were working on a very busy 2 lane hwy going thru town.  The people we were working for were digging some sort of huge hole in one lane of the road.

I knew from the get go it was going to be an interesting day by the look on the guy's face when he realized he got stuck with 2 women as his flaggers.  Some men like to make it impossible to work with.  I know language can be hard to some but some sort of communication is crucial when working together.  Michelle and I were standing there waiting for instructions, then standing there waiting for cones to be put out.  Wasted time really... Then we just had to read their pea brain minds to know they were ready to start working... Pretty much when they just went out in the middle of traffic with no warning was our cue.

They finally put out cones and the traffic was constant.  No rest for the weary.  Back and forth we let the cars thru as these guys dug a whole in the middle of the road... Then for quite some time stared down the hole in the middle of the road.  I was almost hit by a car or two, had a guy come right up to me and started waving his arms.  I gave him the bird and made him go around.  Another guy thought if he got in the other lane from over a block away I would change the sign to slow... Then when I didn't he sat in oncoming traffics way.  I was sure to tell him he was an asshole and made him go all the way down a side street to turn around.  Soon I was starting to feel light headed... I was getting hungry and needed a break.

The guys working had stopped and were packing up for lunch.  So, I called over to the head guy we spoke with and asked him when was lunch break.  We had been working straight with no breaks for over 5 hours.  He told me to call my manager he doesn't give breaks.  I told him someone has to give us a break.  He said he didn't have any certified flaggers on his team so we didn't get a break.  I told him it is the law... We need a break.  Then he gave that snort laugh that makes you want to kick a man in the balls so hard he kneels down, singing like a soprano and beg for mercy.  Then he gets in his car and drives away.  

While directing traffic I got on my phone to call our manager.  He told me he was sorry we didn't have any break and he will call the guy who was an ass and tell him he has to give us a break.  He hangs up and I wait about 10 minutes and call our manager back.  He told me the guy will give us a bathroom break when he gets back.  I told him that was not acceptable.  We had been working 5 1/2 hours by this time and we needed a lunch break.  Our manager said "we normally work thru our lunch break and just take two 15 minute breaks."

I told him "you may choose to do that but I need a lunch break, especially since we have had no break for over 5 hour."

Manager said "well, that is the way it is.  You get two 15 minute breaks"

Mind you, we have no idea when we start the day how many hours we will be there.  It could be 7 hour or up to 15 hours.  No one says anything... Even after we arrive.  We had been there for 5 1/2 hours with no break, no one willing to give us a break and we had no idea when we would be done. We are directing traffic that doesn't care about people on the road.  They would run you down for sport or complete obliviousness while talking on their cell phones.  We need to be aware and people who have not eaten or drank anything in hours are not at their best.  At this point I felt we could be in danger... Especially since I was having to rely on the stick to hold me up because I was feeling dizzy from lack of food and water.

After the guy came back one of the workers came to take my stick and told me we could go use the bathroom.  By this time I was pissed to say the least.  I got on the walkie talkie to Michelle told her we were leaving... They were not giving us a lunch break and I was done.  So we left them with no signs and walked away. I laughed as the men started yelling at us to leave the signs.  We kept walking.

The traffic was starting to build up and we saw a police officer where we parked.  He asked us if we were done for the day.  We told him we were done because they wouldn't give us a break.  The police officer was surprised that the company took that stance since now they don't have flaggers.  He told us he would go look at the situation.  When we left the police officer was directing traffic.

I did look up the the law on breaks for New Hampshire and it is 30 minutes for every 5 hours worked.  It says nothing about 15 minute breaks.  It does say if an employer can not give a break one can work thru their lunch if hey are able to eat and work.  They are also paid for that lunch.

I sent this info over to our manager, told him we quit and we would pick up our checks when we dropped off our stuff the next day.  I also contacted the New Hampsire Labor Department, who unfortunately doesn't care about the workers of NH.

The next day I got a call and many text messages from our boss saying he was sorry and wanted us to come back to work.  We said NO THANKS!

We figured out quickly why this business was whacked... Our boss looked and acted like Tweedle dumb.  How many people can say their boss truly looks like Tweedle dumb!?  He wore these long shorts that hung down, a t-shirt and a cap on sideways strutting out of the back office like he was 12.  We dropped off our stuff and he told us our last paycheck would be mailed to us.  No problem... Except when we got our last paycheck they didn't pay us for all hours worked... So that screwed me over to getting to the beet harvest for my next gig.  

Supposidely it is fixed and we will get our check in the mail in the next couple my time for the beet harvest is passing.  So, after all that I don't have a job and no money to get to my next spot.  I rearranged a few things and will be leaving this weekend to spend some time with a friend in NC and hopefully find work for the fall.  I have just enough money to get there... Keep you fingers crossed that I get there without any Blue or TicTac issues.  It's only 800 miles.  😳

I have mixed feelings as I am excited to be on the road to somewhere new but sad it will be just me and Yoska as Michelle is staying back for school.  It will be different being by myself after almost a year traveling with someone else.  Guess we will see what happens!  

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Flagging... Don't do that! Part One

For whatever reason I have wanted to try out being a flagger for road construction.  How hard could it be and everyone says you get paid so well.  So, when Michelle and I arrived at our new spot in New Hampshire and saw an ad for flaggers we decided to give it a try.  Mainly because we knew it was temporary until other jobs came through.

First, it is crucial to know it is not a well paying job unless you get in with the state.  We worked for a private company. The rate depends on the job but ranging around $10-$18/HR but from what I hear if you work for the state you are talking $30-$40/HR. 

Before we were hired we had to watch a couple videos and take quizzes of pretty obvious answers online.  Then they give you a call and text you a street to meet them on.  Our first day we had to arrive a little early to meet with our trainer. A random residential culdasac with about 3 houses on it in the middle of nowhere.  Our trainer was a guy with that hard Boston accent talking about football, hockey and baseball who couldn't stand in one place.  Right off they tried to pay us less than the advertised rate.  I was sure to put a stop to that right away. He told us the basics of what we needed to do, what we learned from the video.  Then waited for the company we were working with.  We waited over an hour having to listen to sports talk and face palm political talk.  

The company finally arrived, Asplundh, however you say that.  We were going to be flagging as they were trimming trees on the side of the road.  Our trainer kept telling us how he didn't like these people but Michelle and I thought they were all very nice.  The trainer also made a big to do over getting bathroom breaks.  I figured we wouldn't have a bathroom around so Michlle and I planned ahead for that.  No fluids for us. Haha. He seemed to think that would be the biggest concern for us.  We weren't sure why, but whatever.  

We were the first ones to be fully certified on the same day this whole summer... Actually, in about an hour.  Who knew you had to be certified to turn a little stop/slow sign.  I'm totally putting that on my resume. So we are certified flaggers in the state of New Hampshire.  Every state has different regulations so you have to be certified per state.

The first day wasn't bad.  A short day at 7 hours.  Our trainer said the days can be as long as 15 hours... He didn't know of anyone working longer than that.  

A few cars almost ran into each other because those 3 signs before us weren't enough to get people to slow down.  People are insane!  The trainer said if people aren't slowing down make them stop before letting them through.  That is exactly what I did... I treated them like the children I use to babysit who misbehaved.  Made them sit and wait for a minute before letting them pass.  Then there are those people who look like they won't stop at all.  You are suppose to drop the sign and run to the side of the road.  No one really came at me that fast so I would take a step forward, pound the sign into the ground as if I were Gandolf with his staff.  Everyone stopped.  The amount of people who then sped thru the actual part with people working is ridiculous.  Shame on them!!  No matter how much you tell them to slow down with hand signals or just yelling at them they don't care.  This really isn't a surprise for me since I ride a motorcycle and see this kind of crap daily.  People in a hurry, on their cell phones thinking of no one but themselves. 

With these people we worked with we got a 30 minute lunch we took on the side of the road as they headed off somewhere for lunch.  It sure didn't seem like much work was getting done on their end. They got a break at 10, noon and we were done at their afternoon break time, 2:30.  I was also shocked as to how many of them would be smoking while working with chainsaws in brush and trees during a drought.  Even when they went up in the lift part they were smoking.  The amount of swearing was also worse than a 90s cop movie.  F this and F that.  A few of them came over to chat and in a normal conversation the F bomb was used every other word.  Guess it was the only way they knew to show emphasis. 

Michelle working hard.

It really didn't seem too bad.  The road wasn't all that busy so Michelle and I could chat a bit over the walkie talkies while we waited.

The lingo we had to learn:

Car coming towards my side...

Me: Clear to send?
Michelle: Clear to send
Me: Sending
Michelle: copy 
If it was one car you would say: sending solo
If it was multiple cars you would say color, make of car and last 4 digits of plate of the last car you send thru.
Michelle and I don't know our car types very well so we just used color and the last 3 or 4 digits of the plate:  Red 4532
Michelle: Copy
after the car got to Michelle's side she would say: received red 4532
If there were no cars on her side she would say: all clear 
I would say: all clear 
but if there were cars we started all over again.

I'm not sure what was so funny... Talking on the walkie talkies, being in my own mind, me doing this job or the cars driving by but I laughed the entire first day.

I learned from my Australian friend that we are called lollipop girls.  That helped entertain me the next day we worked... The entire time with the lollipop guild from the Wizard of Oz was stuck in my head.  I would even do the dance and voices.  Yep, the job was that boring.  The second day we worked with the same company and we had to leave early so it was another easy day.  I did get a little scared for a bit as we were on a weird blind turn for a little bit.  No one slows down after the flagging signs before us so at full speed people would come around the corner and then slam on their brakes.  I had one lady yell at me that I should be elsewhere.  I told her I tried multiple spots before and after the curve but the signs are to advise you to slow down, that a flagger is ahead.  She got quiet and drove thru. One thing I learned from that spot, if you are too far away from the workers people go around you and back into the lane where they are working... Idiots! Hence, having to be in a awkward place on the blind curve.

Our third day, which turned out to be our last day, we worked with a different company.... I will tell you all about that drama and why you don't want to be a flagger in my next post... To be continued!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

New Part of New Hampshire

We headed out of the White Mountains at the end of August so Michelle could start her class.  I was quite thankful for new scenery.  The White Mountains are beautiful but dealing with the campers where we worked and stayed were a bit more than I care to deal with.  So, my limit was met and we headed south to Michelle's family in NH.

Leaving Crawford Notch Campground
So far Michelle has been enjoying her class, we are still looking for work but did try Flagging for road construction... Ummm... Don't do that. Will tell more about that on another post.  Yoska has been having a blast with all the attention.

Practicing before shift. haha

Yoska's new bow tie... A definte must have during all those formal occasions he attends.

Visiting the apple orchard
We had a picnic at an apple orchard.

And a must stop for this 80s kid to the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center.

Cool poster for sale at the museum of Christa McAuliffe

I'll be here for a bit more then hitting the road where I call home.  This time it will be me and Yoska as Michelle furthers her dream of being an architecture in New Hampshire.  

More to come...

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Up Mt Washington on the Cog

One of the many adventures we had while here in the White Mountains of New Hampshire was taking the cog up to the top of Mount Washington.

If you don't know what a cog is... It's a train of sorts.  It's on a track but the engine pushed the car up the side of the mountain and gravity and brakes is what brings it back down.  The amount Washington Cog has two different types you can ride... The steam engine which only runs once a day and for a shorter season and the diesel/electric train.  We got to ride up on the steam engine with ash in the air and all.  We even got to stop part way up to fill with water.  

Quite fun.  Then you spend about an hour up top and come back down.

Here are some of the many pictures I took that morning.

That's what it looks like... Remeber the engine pushes the car not pulls.

Yes, I cheated but that is the tip top of Mount Washington.

A hiker on the trail as we pass.  The AT goes right by here also.

On the way up it is this steep that Michelle is standing straight up in this picture.

Beautiful views.

On our way up.

On our way down

It was a beautiful morning.  Michelle and I got to go with our friend John!  Thanks John!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

5 Things You Need To Know When Visiting A Seasonal Rural Area

I have worked in small rural towns for the last few years as I travel around the country.  This list are the things I see the most working with tourists of these areas.  Hopefully this will help when traveling thru rural areas for less agrivation and stress during vacation.

1. Bring Cash: Businesses have a charge for every swipe of a credit or debit card. If they are a seasonal business they have a small timeframe to make money for the year and the rates are not any better for those only open seasonally.  That is why most places are cash only or have a minimum to use your card.

Not only bring cash but bring small bills.  These small seasonal businesses are not a bank.  If the last bank you saw was 30 miles ago that means the business has to drive 60 miles round trip for change and other banking needs.  So don't expect to break your $100 bill with a candy bar.  

2. Top Off Your Gas Tank: In rural areas there isn't gas at every corner. There isn't gas in every town.  I have been to places where it is 150 miles to the next gas station.  Don't assume.  Top off if you are leaving a larger town.  It won't hurt to be prepared and you will be thankful when your scenic drive isn't ruined by the worries of running out of gas.

3. Bring An Atlas: A basic atlas should be in every vehicle.  GPS is a nice convienence but it is not reliable.  GPS on your phone is even less reliable.  In rural areas the cell phone coverage can be spotty at best which means the GPS on your phone will be spotty at best.  Bring an atlas and have a basic idea of where you are going.  Pay attention when you drive, the signs will give you a lot of information if you know the basic route.

4. Be Aware Of Waste: In rural areas there will not be a trash can every time you stop.  Rural areas are also not the place to clean out the last 3 weeks of Starbucks cups from the back seat of your car.  A lot of rural areas do not have trash pickup and each business has to bring their trash to the dump themselves.  If there is trash pickup it may only be once a week and can be pricey.  Be courteous and don't make as much waste as you do at home.  Conserve and reuse as much as possible.  Don't expect to be able to throw things away at your convienence. 

5. Bring The Medical Supplies You Need: Remeber in rural areas there will not be a Walgreen/CVS on every corner.  The nearest Walmart or big box store may be 60 plus miles away.  Even a local pharmacy may be in the next town or two towns over.  Be prepared by bringing anything you think you may need from bandaids, pain relievers, medication and other medical needs. 

The moral of the story is to be prepared.  Don't assume there will be any convienences of the city.  Also, don't be upset when there isn't what you need in these areas.  They are seasonal and helping you visit their area for a short time. They do their best with limited resources.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Hiking Adventures

I'm not much of a hiker... I keep saying I'll become a hiker but I'm not into the hike just to hike... I want a view of some sort... 

Michelle and I have done two hikes since being here in New Hampshire.  We wanted to hike once a week but there is a lot to do so it is hard to have time to do so.

We did a short wander with Michelle's family to The Basin.  It really isn't a hike and I don't count it as one of the two we have done but thought I would share a picture anyways. :)

Our first real hike was Arethusa Falls.  It is a mile down the road, about a 3 mile round trip hike to the tallest waterfall in New Hampshire.  

Yoska and Michelle went over all the rocks to the waterfall.

Our second hike was to Mt Willard.  A little shorter of a hike than Arethusa, not a very interesting hike but the view was Awesome!  We hiked to the top and had a quick lunch we brought with us and hiked back down.

Michelle showing off. :)

There are a ton of hikes in this area.  The AT is only 3 miles from where we are staying.  There are 52 hikes with a view and 48 hikes that go to the top of the 4000 ft mountains in New Hampshire... Then there are hikes to waterfalls and swimming holes also.  We would never have to hike the same trail twice.  It's a bit hot for me now so we have been kayaking instead... Maybe some more hikes when it cools in the fall.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The rest of the way to New Hampshire.

Not much else happened on our way to New Hampshire.  We wanted to get here before Mother's Day so we had some miles to ride.  The first few days was rain and wind and we finally had a good day for riding so we rode from Maryland to southern New Hampshire... Somewhere around 550 miles.  It was a good riding day until the mountains of Vermont where we hit some thick fog, a bit of rain and it was getting dark.  We took it slow and made it to Michelle's family that night.  We spent a couple days there and then headed to where we are now in Crawford Notch, New Hampshire.

It is beautiful country here in the White Mountains.  I'm having a hard time staying still this long but we are half way done.  We've seen a few things in the area that I'll share with you with plans for many other adventures before leaving here in October.  I can hardly wait and have been working on a few things with my travels to help fund my way so I don't have to sit this long in one place.  Hopefully this will be the last of that.

So if you are in New England keep a look out.  You just might see us around. :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The People We Meet

We meet a lot of different people from many different places and backgrounds.  I always enjoy a good conversation and learning something new.

While in Kentucky my dad, Michelle and I went to the auto parts store to get a couple of things for Blue.  While there this guy started talking to me.  I told him we were getting things for my motorcycle and he went on about this car he was rebuilding.  He asked if we wanted to go check it out.  Since my dad was with us we said sure.  So we followed him to a hanger on the outskirts of town.  He had this old car he was rebuilding and showed us all the little parts and what was original and what he had to find to replace with original parts.  It was looking pretty good.  He even started up the motor that was just on the frame.

Also in the hanger was a biplane... The Triple Nickle.  I was in awe.  If you have been following my blog for a while you know that it is my dream to fly in an open cockpit biplane.  I was pretty excited to see one up close.  I didn't ask him for a ride but now I know where he is and hope I run into him again in town.  

This is a picture of the Triple Nickle I got from the Internet.

He was retired but he use to build factory grade mixers.  I guess he invented a new type of mixer that didn't brake where they usually broke... he showed us a picture and told us some of the factories around the country that use his mixer.  It was pretty cool to learn about.

After a few hours of talking to this guy we headed home... We could of spent all day with him learning all types of stuff.

Then the next day Michelle and I went to town to ship a few things to New Hampshire for our summer gig.  We went to this Insurance/UPS place (small town) and the guy who helped us ship started talking to us and I told him we were riding a motorcycle pulling a teardrop and heading to New Hampshire.  Next thing we knew he took us to the garage behind the counter and showed us his old truck he was fixing up and telling us all about what he has done so far.  Michelle and I just laughed... what are the odds??

On our way thru West Virginia we met the mayor of Albright WV who had followed us from Albright to the interstate just to talk to us.  He told us how he had black lung disease and his doctor wrote a note saying riding his motorcycle at 80mph helps him breath... He even showed it to us.  He talked to us for quite some time and while talking he started folding money.  He pulled out what looked to be a check book but it was a book of dollar bills. He ripped one out and folded a shirt for me then he ripped another one out and made Michelle a heart.

He then told me to give Michelle the heart and to confess my love.  Haha... I'm not sure but we may be married in the state of West Virginia.  

I love meeting people and learning about what they love.  These guys were all great. Michelle couldn't believe that people would just stop and talk to us and show us things like they do.  Life is about sharing experiences and I love that I get glimpses from people I may never meet again.  Life is good!