Feb. 25, 2016 – Employment Choices and more

Another beautiful sunny day. I spent the morning trying to straighten out auto insurance issues over the phone. Because I do not own a printer or a fax machine both businesses I have to deal with are required to snail mail documents to me which is really slowing down the process. Very annoying but sometimes that is just how technology has to be. I asked if I could attach a digital signature to an emailed document but was told that was not acceptable. In my mind I want to know how that is any different than a faxed document. Of well, I’ll just spend the next week watching for something to show up in the mail.

That process reminded me about finances and the type of work I do. When we first hit the road, I was at a loss of how I could generate extra income. My husband receives a small monthly income but it is not quite enough to met our needs. I have always had small businesses throughout my life so I figured I would find some way to make that work. I had been creating and selling jewelry both at a local flea market and on line on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/OriginalPoetryJewels) for the past few years anyways so I figured I would continue to do that. Then I studied the craft show laws for the new state I am in only to discover that it was never going to work due to huge fees that this state imposes. SO I had to set back and rethink my strategy. So First I decided to open an Etsy store (https://www.etsy.com/shop/OriginalPoetryJewels) and see how that went. It is okay but with current shipping rates its not a steady income by any means. SO I decided to do a little research and find out what people do that live in RV’s and travel a lot. I wish I could remember which blog I stumbled across because I would love to thank the writer but I remember he had all kinds of advice for things like photo sites that pay for nature pictures, travel companies that pay for articles about travel locations, and about 20 other really useful ideas that I would never have thought of on my own. What really stood out though was a recommendation to check out a company called Upwork (Https://www.Upwork.com) which allows clients to hire freelancers for a wide variety of online work. Because I have a varied background and love to write, I signed up with this company and started applying for writing jobs. It did not take long for me to find I had almost too much work to handle. I have become a ghost writer for several different people. I wrote a novel and many self-help books over the past few months. I’m not getting rich by any means and my husband thinks I should focus on writing for myself since I have self published some children’s books on amazon.com (As Gabe Grows Series by Peggy Sue Florka). For now I am enjoying working for people around the world and getting paid to research and develop books for others. I can see his point though and have started several projects of my own that I will eventually self publish.

Out side of those work opportunities, the campground manager approached us in November and asked us if we would like to work for him in exchange for our site rent. We thought about it for a few days and then accepted his offer which was really quite generous. So for one day a week we provide campground services which range from desk duties to bathroom cleaning and lots of things in between. It seems to working out very well for both him and us. We get to meet a lot of very interesting people and it gives us something to focus on rather than just being fully retired. Of course my writing never lets me be fully retired but I like being challenged and with the campground job, the book writing, the jewelry making and selling, and the everyday normal tasks that everyone does, I stay very busy.

The hardest thing I think we face is that living in a tent and using a screen room for an office tends to put us at the mercy of the weather. When the winds are strong, sand blows around and is not a good environment for my computer. If it rains we have to store most of our items either in the tent or in the back of our truck and again the computer is at risk. If the temperature drops too low, we have two small heaters we can use but even that is not always enough and sometimes we are forced to huddle in the truck. And of course we also have the days when it gets so hot that my computer shuts down even with a cooling fan operating underneath it. The sun comes up at seven in the morning and is totally set by seven at night so when I decide to work into the late hours of the evening, which I often do, I end up working by the light of a lantern. Its takes some adjustment but we seem to have gotten it down pat after seven months.

Campground tent living is a unique experience and requires a lot of patience and perseverance. Some days my husband and I look across the table at each other and shake our heads in disbelief that we are really doing this and are doing it so well. He tells me I am tenacious and not like most woman. I tell him that he is wonderful for putting up with me and my strange ways of looking at our reality. Our choice for alternative housing is not a matter that should be taken lightly and is not for everyone.


Feb. 24, 2016

After another night of howling winds and very little sleep, the sun comes up and starts another beautiful day.  I have been following the weather reports of the tornados on the east coast and am glad we did not decide to live in that vicinity of the world.  Those families will be in my thoughts and prayers for a long time to come.  Its hits hard when you see an RV park flattened by the forces of nature.  Thankfully there were not more people killed.  I feel lucky to have such minor complaints as wind, chilly nights, and hot afternoons.

People often ask why anyone would want to live in a tent.  I am not sure I can totally explain the amount of freedom that is granted when you give up everything and start over with next to nothing.  First off, the less you own, the less you have to worry about fixing, replacing, repairing, maintaining, breaking, storing, or having stolen.  You learn to truly appreciate what you do have and you learn not to take things for granted.  Then there is the financial side of things.  My house (tent) costs about $150.00 and lasts anywhere from six to twelve months.  My air mattress runs $20.00 and last about the same length of time.  A typical tent site in a campground runs between $300 and $400 a month and includes a lot of amenities depending on the campground.  Currently our site includes water, electric, Wi-Fi, a picnic table, a fire ring for campfires, a campground hot tub and pool, a campground bathroom with showers, access to a laundromat 24 hours a day, an on site camp store for basic supplies, games and books that can be borrowed for free, on site mail delivery and pick-up, a large flat screen television in the store if I chose to watch it during business hours, and free trash removal.   A small town is less than two miles away and a bigger town is only twelve miles away.  The only difference between living in a tent and living in an apartment is that I have to walk a lot further to get to the restroom than you would in an apartment or house.  I consider that part of my exercise for the day.  I breathe fresh air everyday, I get plenty of sunshine, I hear the birds sing all day long, I see the stars shine brightly every night, and I feel healthier because of it.

Living in a tent in a campground or anywhere else for that matter has a lot less stress than trying to maintain a house.  I don’t need to own a vacuum cleaner nor do I have to mop floors.  I’ve learned I don’t need a closet full of clothing and can survive very nicely with about five different changes of clothing.  Make-up and perfumes are for a younger crowd that is dissatisfied with who they are so that was no big issue to leave it all in a trash can when I was deciding what was essential for this journey.  I have no one to impress but myself because my husband loves the real me and not something that comes out of a container or off a shelf  in a department store.  My husband downsized from several large tool boxes to one small travel tool box and has managed very nicely.  An 18 gallon plastic tote houses all of our cooking utensils and dishes, not several cupboards full of extra items that rarely get used.  Food storage has been our biggest struggle for space and we could probably do better.  We have three 18 gallons totes and two 5 gallon buckets just for food, besides the small Styrofoam cooler.  One tote for beverage and beverage related items such as coffee, creamer, teas, hot chocolate, water drink mixes, and bouillon. One tote is for dry goods like pasta, crackers, oatmeal, instant potatoes, soup mixes, and cornmeal. The other tote is for anything that comes in cans including tuna, chicken, soups, vegetables, and gravy’s.  One bucket is full of white and brown rice and the other bucket if full of dry beans and peas.  I doubt we will go hungry anytime soon.

Storage space is very limited when you live in a tent.  Our space is limited by the fact that everything needs to fit into the back of our S-10 pick-up should we decide to up and relocate anytime soon.  Which is another reason we chose this style of living; if you don’t like the neighborhood, you move on easily.  There is no long term lease that forces us to stay in any one place for any length of time.  We are truly free to travel and see whatever sights we can afford to travel to.  Free to be who we are, go where we want when we want, free to do just about anything we want whenever we feel like it.  Its that freedom that enticed us to give campground tent living a try and what has kept us here for so long.  I don’t see us moving back into what is considered regular housing anytime soon.

Feb 23, 2016

Another bright and sunny day.  Windy but there is nothing that can be done about that other than to wait it out.

Still working on figuring out how this blogging process works.  Not sure I have a firm grip on it yet so for the person that actually gets out here and finds this site, please leave me a message and let me know what I am lacking or what I may have missed.  I spent some time updating the “About” section today.  That will give you some history of who I am and how I ended up not only as a tent camper but also out here telling you about the journey.

There are so many topics to cover about tent camping and campground tent camping that I am not sure where to begin without boring a person to tears.  It really helps if you have some survival skills to begin with before you undertake a journey of this nature.  It also helps if you have some good equipment to begin with and have half an idea how to use that equipment.  Too many times we have seen people show up with a brand new tent, still in the box, just as the sun is setting, and we watch as they struggle to figure it out as it gets darker and darker.  Of course we normally offer to help, but often people are too proud to admit that they have no clue about what they are doing and they refuse any help that is offered.  Its fairly easy to spot a newbie as soon as they step out of their vehicle.  They stretch, look around their site like their measuring it out for its limited space, they kick a few rocks around, they look back at their vehicle, and then they wander away for a soda or a beer before they even attempt to unload any equipment.  When they return they look up at the sky like its some kind of enemy attack and then they start rapidly hauling boxes of new equipment out and dumping things on the ground looking for instructions.  We tend to wait until they have that glazed look in their eyes before we intrude with an offer of assistance.  Maybe we wait too long, I don’t know, but it seems the newer a person is to tent camping, the quicker they are to refuse help.  A seasoned tent camper will chime in with “sure, grab that pole over there will you” and within ten minutes were all kicking back enjoying the evening.  The newbies crawl into their tents about an hour later looking like they’ve just come home from a war.  So a word of advise, accept the help when its offered and you’ll get to enjoy more of your evening.

Food is another big issue that has many tent campers confused.  Bread molds, bananas get brown and mushy, can openers always break at the worst of times, and those little propane cylinders always run out half way through cooking your dinner.  It never fails that someone shows up with a great big cooler and no way to get ice to keep their chicken cold over night.  Canned food is okay but its bulky and not very nutritional.  Sure people buy the new coolers that plug into their cigarette lighters.  Next morning they get up to a dead battery in their vehicle.  Camping requires that you plan ahead, way ahead.  Rice lasts a long time and is a great filler, but unless you have a pressure cooker and a way to utilize electricity with a camp stove, your going to burn through your propane way too quickly.  Of course every person has their own dietary needs.  We have found that we can shop by the month for our canned items or dry goods but have to shop every three days or so for anything fresh like produce, dairy, deli, or meats.  Because we moved to a warm area, nothing stays cold long.  Luckily for us, electricity is available at our site and someone recently gave us an ice maker so we could stop spending $2.25 a day for a ten pound bag of frozen water cubes.   Not everyone can get that lucky though.  Prior to that we had to be very selective in what we tried to keep cold in a tiny Styrofoam cooler.

We also had to learn that food of any kind can not be left setting around.  Our first month here we made a big mistake of leaving a pan that we had cooked a tuna casserole in filled with water (but not washed out) out side our tent by our water source.  In the middle of the night I heard strange sounds outside.  I unzipped the tent window and looked out to find a large wild cat from the puma family staring back at me as he lapped away at the water.  Luckily he drank his fill and wandered away.  It could have been much worse.  We learned and have never done that again.  Not only did we endanger ourselves with our carelessness, we also endangered others staying at the campground, especially dog owners that might have chosen that time to walk their furry little children.  Tent campers have to be respectful of not only their own environment, but also of the environment of those around them.

Well, enough for today.  The wind has died down now and its time to get back to some of my other work.  Have a great day everyone.


Welcome to alternative living

Tent camping has been looked at as a hobby and recreational activity for so long that many fail to see it as a real form of housing.  Six months ago when my husband and I decided to make the switch from traditional housing that we could no longer afford to maintain on a fixed income, many people were in disbelief that we would chose such a radical extreme by choosing a tent to live in.

After much modification to our life style and a few surprises along the way, we are adapting very well and enjoying the daily experiences that randomly occur.  Some experiences are funny, some are strange, and some even frightening.  Through it all we have grown closer as a couple and have learned a new respect for the weather and others that have chosen to live like us.

What we do find disturbing is the fact that in most typical campgrounds, we are considered part of the slum sites, the other side of the tracks, or one of those people.  For anyone who has ever tent camped, you know that you are never placed right next to one of those half million dollar RV rigs.  Where has this negative image arisen from?  We bathe regularly, we don’t play loud obnoxious music, we don’t use drugs, and we are very respectful of not only the people around us but also the environment around us.  And yet we continue to run into this attitude that somehow we are less than human and should be treated as such.  People from those big rigs will walk on by and shift their gaze away as if they are shamed by our presence in their vicinity.  Not all of them, but a large majority of them.

We have had the opportunity to settle into a modest RV park which will remain unnamed and have even been given the opportunity to work for the park.  It wasn’t until we became employees that people started to talk to us and find out we were here by choice.  Some of them probably still talk about us behind our back but at least now they have some facts not just useless assumptions.  Some people have told us that they just can not wrap their minds around giving everything they own up and living in a tent full time.  We try to explain that there is more freedom in this life style than most people could imagine.

We arise with the sunrise every morning without the need for alarm clocks.  We retire at night when the sun sets.  We have endured roasting hot day time temperatures and below freezing night time temperatures with a small amount of discomfort and adjustments that we had to make.  Over all, I would make the same choices again.