Good morning and Happy New Year from Collinsville, Mississippi where we've been for a few days ducking the inclement weather along the gulf coast. We're camped at Twiltley Branch an Army Corp of Engineers campground.
I'm cutting and pasting much of the text from last year's annual report to save some time.
As many of you who have been following us 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 in 2023 provide an assist.
2023 was different in that we were volunteers on San Juan Island, Washington at San Juan Island National Historical Park for 4 and 1/2 months from May to September.
I again 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/remains your oyster.
In 2023 we traveled 12,528 miles. That's down from 21,491 miles in 2022 and reflects our time on San Juan Island where we only traveled a little over 300 miles during our time there.
We continue to chase those ideal temps and climate from state to state, sometimes succeeding, sometimes, not so much.
Winter 2023 was the coldest (overall) and wettest we've experienced. Past winters in the southwestern US where we usually winter have been nothing short of wonderful, but this past year was dramatically different. We did our best to find warmer temps that, for the most part, simply didn't materialize.
We camped in 85 unique spots in 19 different states in 2023.
We spent 31.3 % of our flexible costs budget dining out and 20.8% on groceries (flexible costs represent 20% of our total budget). We spent more in 2023 on dining out and a bit more on groceries too. See also inflation and living on San Juan Island where costs were higher overall.
Campground fees last year were $7,964.01 (12.8% of our flexible costs), an average of $663.67 a month. In 2022 we spent $10,380.65, a difference of $221.33 less monthly than in 2022. The National Park Service provided us with a full hook up campsite for 4.5 months at no charge to us as volunteers which, in part explains the difference.
Our time is divided between staying at private campgrounds, National Parks, State Parks, 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 or a driveway 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, but usually our choice of campground is determined by a given route we've chosen. We prefer National, State, County, City, and BLM or free spots when we can get them, choosing private campgrounds for amenities like proximity to a city or bike trail, laundry, pool, hot tub, etc.
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 $4,312.37 (6.9% of flexible costs) or an average of $359.36 a month in 2023 a decrease of $180.98 monthly over 2022. No mystery here. Traveling about 300 miles in 4.5 months while on San Juan Island decreased overall consumption.
We're glad to see prices continuing to drop, and are anticipating further reductions in 2024 barring unforeseen circumstances. Fuel prices were in the $5 plus range as we departed Washington State in September. We paid $3.32 a gallon for diesel in Robertsville, Florida a few days ago.
AAA reports that national wide the average price of diesel today is 3.947 a gallon. A year ago it was 4.638.
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 $940.00 in 2023. We had an A service done in the Spring.
We spent $3,847.43 (6.2% of flexible costs) on miscellaneous maintenance items such as dumping tanks, tank treatment, DEF, water filters, replacing our diesel generator with a portable Honda generator, replacing our microwave/convection oven, new Mercedes battery, replacing valves on dually tires, new shower caddy, trickle charger, and other miscellaneous items we needed for general operation.
Our two electric assist Trek bikes cost us $1,333.76 (2.1% of flexible costs) to ride in 2023. Costs include repairs of flats, miscellaneous items for both bikes and major tune ups for both. The bikes serve us as transportation and recreation since we don't tow a car.
November and December 2023 were spent traveling to various locations to visit with friends and family.
We spent time in Nashville with our children, in the mountains of North Georgia with our long-time friends who are more like family, and Birmingham, Alabama with other of our long-time friends who are family and most gracious hosts, Wade and Jen Anderson.
We also spent time at Lake Martin with long-time friends who are family, Keith and Beth Johns. They have a wonderful and cozy cabin there.
Thanksgiving was with family in Faunsdale, Alabama, Christmas with our children, Tate and Zoe, was in Nashville and Henderson, Tennessee with Zoe's family, and New Years in the mountains of North Georgia with family and friends.
While we would normally be making our way to the southwest this time of year, this year we'll remain east so we can more easily make our way north to Vermont for the April 8th total solar eclipse.
While we're a bit cooler than we'd ideally like to be, and tornados and hail in January are not particularly what we want to dodge, we continue to travel to new and interesting places. We plan on visiting the Atlantic coast and making our way into Florida in the coming months before heading north.
We anticipate another great year on the road. Watch this space.
Steven and Melanie