Good morning from beautiful, sunny and mild San Antonio, Texas and a happy New Year to all who happen on this, my first post of 2023. We will have been traveling full time in Miranda for 4 years on the 6th.
As many of you who have been following us around for the past 4 years know, I started keeping tabs of all our expenditures when we started living in Miranda full time. For those of you out there who may aspire to the van life, living in a van down by the river, I hope this glimpse into what our costs are this year provides an assist.
I offer this disclaimer. You may experience traveling full time differently. Variables include your means, your interests, whether you're working or retired, how often you like to move, etc. Use this as a very general guide for the related costs. Costs reflect our way of traveling. The world is, indeed, your oyster.
In 2022 we traveled 21,491 miles. If I'm feeling industrious later on, I may check to see how many states we camped in, but at this juncture, not feeling it. Suffice it to say at this point in our travels we continue to chase those ideal temps and climate from state to state, sometimes succeeding, sometimes, not so much.
[Edit: 1/9/23: We camped in 25 different states last year, spending the most time in Washington followed by Vermont. In those various states we camped in 127 unique spots.]
For example, we experienced our warmest temps to date in August 2022 in South Dakota while traveling towards a conference in Lincoln, Nebraska. Being in either of those states in summer living in a van is not advisable. The Mercedes thermometer read 109 degrees Fahrenheit moving east through South Dakota and just before Thanksgiving and then at Christmas the mercury reached lows of 20 and 16 degrees respectively in Louisville, Kentucky and Faunsdale, Alabama (of all places). Neither temperature extreme is recommended and should be avoided when possible.
We spent 26.8 % of our flexible costs budget dining out and 20.7% on groceries. We spent less in 2022 on dining out and a bit more on groceries than in 2021.
Campground fees this year were $10,380.65, an average of $865. a month. In 2021 we spent $9,980.58, a difference of $400.07 more in 2022.
Our time is divided between staying at private campgrounds like the one we're in currently in San Antonio, National Parks, State Parks, and County and City Parks. We also have the Harvest Hosts service which provides us a data base of businesses and private individuals who will allow us to stay for free for up to 5 nights. We stay on BLM land too.
Every now and again we park and sleep on a city street for a few days. That generally happens when we are visiting a friend or family. We also have a few friends with summer homes in great places that offer us refuge when we visit them.
I could, of course, get off in the weeds here and tell you precisely how the Campground category is broken down by location, but not feeling that one either this morning.
Campendium is my go to application for finding campgrounds. While the service is generally free, we support their efforts and receive a few perks for our donations.
Diesel fuel cost us $6,484.08 or an average of $540.34 a month in 2022 an increase of $1,911.69 over 2021. No mystery here.
We're glad to see prices continuing to drop, but are not anticipating any great reductions in 2023. We paid a high of $6.50 a gallon in California in 2022 and recently paid $3.94 in Texas.
We use Gas Buddy sometimes to find fuel, but generally just to give us an idea of what prices are like in the area. Prices along major highways are generally anywhere from $.20 to $1.00 more per gallon than prices sometimes only a few miles off the major highway.
Also, be aware that using Gas Buddy doesn't always mean the price you see listed is the price you'll pay. Not sure what is going on, but increasingly I've found that the price is inaccurate when I get to pump. Not always, but enough to give me pause. It's a bit frustrating especially when you've traveled a bit out of the way to get the price you believe is a substantial savings.
Mercedes scheduled maintenance cost $2,924.99. We had a B service done in the Spring and a brake job done in the Summer. The brakes were replaced at 85,000 miles.
We spent $1,774.91 on miscellaneous maintenance items such as dumping tanks, tank treatment, DEF, replacing LED lights in van (my fault), front end alignment, water filters, repair levelers (leaking), repair Island Bed (my fault), and other miscellaneous items we needed.
The holiday season and the time leading up to it were good to us in 2022.
We were able to visit our friends Chip and Pif Hicks in Louisville, Kentucky for a few (very cold) days. They welcomed us with meals and great conversation. It was very fun catching up with them.
We then traveled to Nashville, Tennessee and spent a week with our son Tate and his girlfriend, Zoe, during the Thanksgiving holiday. We parked Miranda on the street just down from their apartment, temperatures moderated, we slept in the van and had an outstanding time and are grateful for their hosting us and other extended family for Thanksgiving lunch.
We ate at a few of our favorite Nashville spots and were introduced to a new bakery.
Birmingham, Alabama was fun. We camped in Wade and Jennifer Anderson's driveway again for an extended period of time and, as always, are most grateful for their kind and generous hospitality.
Brooks Adams and his wife, Carol, invited us to have a beer at Birmingham District Brewing and talk about our travels. We each put up an invitation to come to the brewery and about 10 folks showed up. It was great to see Keith and Beth Johns, Wade Anderson, Tim and Carla Hamilton, who also have (two) vans, Lee Beyer, and Michelle and Rod Reisner.
I came down with the seasonal crud a few days later and was sick for about a week. Two COVID tests (because that's what you do) were both negative.
Our great friends (extended family) Keith and Beth hosted us at their home for an evening of catching up and then we met them downtown Birmingham for lunch at Tasty Town.
While we didn't get in any bike rides while in Birmingham, there were some good walks taken downtown and in Mountain Brook.
We left Birmingham for Columbus, Georgia where our friends Teresa and Trip were gracious enough to host us for a couple of days.
We had lunch in downtown Columbus, Georgia at Agave with our friends Mike Venable, Jill Tigner, and Marquette and Rick McKnight. Teresa and Trip joined us too.
Michael and Allison Owen treated us to a great dinner and we had fun meeting Katy, their new-to-them beagle.
Leaving Columbus we headed towards Melanie's hometown growing up, Faunsdale, Alabama where we had Christmas at Merkle Manor with her father and friend, Janie Stockman. Melanie cooked for us and we withstood the brutal cold for a few days. Great spending time with those folks again.
Finally, we begin our 5th year with a bit of news. Melanie has decided to step away from her position as Executive Director of Episcopal Peace Fellowship. The last day of this month will be her last day as director.
She's planning on taking a sabbatical with no definite plans at this time to return to work.
We've enjoyed touring the country in support of all the social justice issues EPF supports and are grateful for all the new friends we made along the way. We look forward to catching up with many of them as we continue our travels.
With Melanie no longer needing to be connected for work, we're freed up to spend more time off grid. And, since we'll be in the Southwest for winter, we'll have plenty of remote spots to choose from as BLM lands are plentiful.
We look forward to another great year on the road. Cheers, y'all.
Steven and Melanie