Too Old, or Too Spoiled – Our Search For a Class B Travel Van

There are plenty of folks who will look at the places we want to go and think, “You don’t need an RV, just get a tent.  We will be the first to admit that many of the adventures we have planned would not be suitable for a large motor home or travel trailer.

I really like it when we head up forest service roads that seem to climb up, up, up to the top of the world.  We’re always on the look out for places where I can look across the tops of mountain ranges.  But I don’t want to hike there.  I want to be able to drive there. On not too rough roads.  Taking my bed and my potty with me.

So that’s why we’re starting to look at travel vans.  We’re not planning on living in the thing, so don’t need a motor home.  I’m not planning on cooking in the thing, hell, I hardly cook at home!  I just would like to be able to nuke a frozen lasagna, pop some popcorn, and of course, keep the wine chilled and the salami and cheese fresh.  And have my own potty.

Are you seeing a pattern here?  Yep, my mom brought four daughters out west of the Mississippi, and never taught us how to “use” the great outdoors.   Also, there have been many of our day trips when hubs and I have needed to leave earlier than we wanted in order to make it home.  If we’d had a travel van, you know, with the push button bed, we could have just kept on going…

So that’s the plan.  To keep on going.  Sort of like having a really fancy tent.  Only I’m too old and too spoiled to want to camp out on the ground…or to potty in the woods.

Lynn

Another Dream…Another Plan

In the interest of not waiting for our dreams to happen, Jeremy and I recently executed another one of our “plans.”  Because we dream of being able to take off and discover the many hidden gems in our state and country, we decided to start by exploring yet another back road.

The picnic got packed, the tank got filled, Roxy took her position in the back seat of the truck, and off we went, in search of another mountain lake.

We ventured into the mountains to an out of the way Idaho reservoir, where I spotted an eagle having a bit of lunch.

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From there, we climbed up a US Forest Service road to the top of the world, until we arrived at Trinity Lake, a beautiful little alpine lake in the Boise National Forest.

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If you look closely, or zoom in, you’ll see the cow moose having a little salad lunch in the shoreline waters on the other side!

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I tried to take a selfie with the moose, but missed the moose entirely!  What can I say…the sun was in my eyes!  We had a nice lunch and enjoyed the afternoon, but sadly we needed to start the trip back to avoid traveling down steep mountain roads in the dark.

Jeremy is so patient with me each time I yell, “Stop!” because I’ve spotted some kind of eye candy like this splashy little creek in the afternoon sun.

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It was a step in the right direction, not waiting for every little detail in order to pursue our dreams.  But it made us even more determined to move the plan forward.  If we had been in our dream travel van, we would have been able to stay longer and travel farther from home.  How delicious it will be to pull out the chairs, pop a bottle of wine and view the stars from a location such as this.

Needless to say, we now have multiple salesmen hunting for the travel van which meets our specific requirements, and I’ve spent way too much time on line researching.  We’re getting close to pulling the trigger.  Stay tuned!

Lynn

I am Grateful for the Young!

For a while there, I was in danger of becoming one of those grumpy old gals declaring, “You kids get off the lawn!”  I would comment to my friends about these useless young people, who spend their days in coffee shops –  who think they will become millionaires based on their knowledge of essential oils.  How can these crazy kids ever amount to anything when they are going into debt up to their eyeballs, and are unable to delay gratification of any kind???

But then some recent happenings caused me to reevaluate my position (or at least bring it into sharper focus.)  I have been asked to guest post by Janis over at Retirementally Challenged.  So how about if you pop on over there and check out my new appreciation on Janis’s GratiTuesday post!  While you’re there, visit the rest of Janis’s offerings.  You’ll be glad you did, because Janis is awesome at being retired!

Lynn

Old Dog – Reeeeally New Tricks!

You know how I keep telling you all that you need to be brave and experiment with new things once you are retired?  You know how learning new skills is supposed to keep your brain young?

Well I’d like to introduce you to

Nelson

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I’ll wait patiently for any of you car people to figure out why his name is “Nelson.”  OK, here’s a hint:  He’s a 1946 Jeep Willys.  (I was gonna name him “Wonka,”  but my friends convinced me that “Willys Wonka” sounded a bit naughty.)

Jeremy bought him…he says it’s for me, for my upcoming 60th birthday.  I told him, “Fine, I can work with that, but it better not be my ONLY 60th birthday present!”  Secretly, I Love, Love, Love Nelson!  He’s the original four-wheeler. His top speed is about 40 mph, and he could probably climb a wall!  I have visions of us on our mountain explorations, saying,

“I Wonder Where That Goes?!”

Talk about MAKING PLANS!  And here’s where the “new tricks” part comes in.  Jeremy says he’s had lunch boxes bigger than Nelson’s engine.  He’s pretty simple, and built to last.  With that in mind, I innocently asked him,  “Do you think maybe I might be able to do some work on him?”

We had discussed in the past how Jeremy had learned his automotive/mechanical skills by hanging on the shirt tails of his dad, who showed him the ins and outs.  And so it has begun…

So far, I’ve put in a new fuel pump, cleaned Nelson’s fuel filter, given him a new battery hold-down, put on a new rear-view mirror and new tail-gate chains.  Mostly all by myself!  (With my dear hubs right there every step of the way, showing me what to do and checking my work.)

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That’s my handy-work!  I’m pretty proud of myself!  Dirty fingernails, greasy fingers, smelled like gas – but I did it (mostly) all by myself!  And now I can see the attraction!  And I find myself wanting to fix and change out all kinds of things.  So time will tell if he’s created a monster!  I’ll keep you posted on how Nelson is coming along as we get nearer to my real 60th birthday!  In the meantime, he’s a blast to drive!  If you see me, wave!

Lynn

They’re Plans, Not Dreams

Hubs and I have always been dreamers!  We have all kinds of ideas about the things we’re gonna do “someday!”  Remember how we’ve talked about getting that travel van?  Gonna explore this country and drink wine while boondocking at amazing sites.

Well, we’ve decided to stop dreaming, and just start DOING!  Maybe not all at once, maybe just in baby steps, but every chance we get – crossing items off OUR LIST.  The van is still in the plans – we’ll plan to find the perfect model and price.

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In the meantime, I started up our Encore Voyage Instagram account, to share the photos of our wanderings…

Instagram:  encorevoyage

So pop on over and follow me, okay? Because we’re gonna take you with us on our adventures!

Lynn

Cutting the Cable in Retirement

You know what they say about people who still have land-based wired telephone lines?  Everyone under the age of 35 has never had one, and everyone over the age of 55 is afraid to get rid of theirs.  We got rid of our land line, and within two weeks, we didn’t really miss it.

Now we’ve moved on to the television.  We’ve been on a satellite-based TV service for over a decade.  Every two years, as the TV contract became void, the satellite company would raise the rates, and we’d do the “dish dance” from one provider to the other in an attempt to get lower rates.  Why these companies don’t have better policies in place for customer retention is beyond me.

But being the ever so curious type, and wanting to stay young like the Millennials, I started doing research about streaming devices.

We carefully evaluated what we liked about the satellite providers, made a list, and then I set about determining how to meet our needs.

What We Wanted

  • We like being able to record shows to watch later – Hulu Plus allows us to record up to 50 hours of programming.
  • We like being able to pause and rewind live TV – I know, we’ve gotten spoiled by being able to say, “Back up!  What did he just say?” Hulu Plus, through it’s live recording also allows you to pause.  (In some cases you can’t skip forward through commercials.)
  • We like being able to start watching in one room, and continue in another –Because all of the streaming services are account based, you can pretty much do this with any streaming provider.
  • We wanted to be able to watch network TV, along with some of our favorite channels.  This took some research, as different providers carry different programming.  Interestingly, Hulu Plus and several others carry both ABC and NBC, but CBS doesn’t seem to want to play nice.  I needed to subscribe to CBS All Access in order to get all three major networks.
  • We wanted to slash the price we were paying for monthly TV – Here is where you need to be careful.  We already had Amazon Prime for shopping, and I already subscribed to Netflix because of some shows I routinely watch.  I added Hulu Plus and CBS All Access.  We now have way more TV options than we can possibly watch.  But here’s the warning.  It would be extremely easy to keep adding on extras (HBO, SHOWTIME, STARZ) and end up paying just as much as you did before.

What We Chose

After studying up, I chose to order an Amazon Fire TV Stick for each of our TVs.  (About $40.00 each) While they do present programming options with Amazon content forward, the device was absolutely simple to install and get started.  I went with Amazon because we were already Amazon Prime members, and so it made sense to access video content as well.  The Roku Express Streaming Stick would be another outstanding option, just as easy to get started.

What We’ve Learned

Well, here’s the first rule:

Thou shalt NOT leave the TV on for the dog, (upon leaving the house)
when one is STREAMING their live TV!
(She now listens to radio!)

  • That was just a little bit dumb, and we got a nasty gram from the cable provider that we had blown through our data package during that first month.  The good news is it hasn’t happened again.
  • We lost our on-air TV guide.  We were used to flipping down the guide to see what was on tv.  It was easily replaced by the free TV Guide app which we downloaded to our phones and tablet.
  • We needed to learn to access our TV programming in a different way.  You kind of need to learn what content is available on which app (Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, CBS, etc.)  Then you navigate with a simple remote through the apps to find your shows.
  • Many of the providers allow you to set up separate profiles, so hub’s stuff is all together, and mine is in a separate place.  It’s kind of nice.
  • I got the Fire Sticks with the built in Alexa function, but to be honest, we haven’t really used it as much as I thought we would.  It is a pretty cool feature if you are looking for something specific.  Alexa, find James Bond movies…
  • You NEED to know your wi-fi log in password, and the login information of any other accounts you might already have. (Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, etc.)
  • Because all of our TV is now account-based, we can log in and watch TV on any account, from any device, from anywhere we have wi-fi connectivity.  We can even take the Fire TV stick with us and plug it in to any other TV if we choose.  (We’ll probably do that in a motor home.)

I think the most important thing for us is that we now choose to watch television much more intentionally!  No more just leaving the TV on to make background noise.  No more falling asleep in front of the television.  We specifically choose what we want to watch, do so…and then turn the thing off!

The good news is this…You CAN Teach an Old (erm….seasoned) Dog some new tricks.  BTW, we have cut the cost of our monthly TV bill IN HALF!  I’m curious how many other retirees have changed their lifelong TV watching habits!

Lynn

 

Retiring Without Children

Mother’s Day ALWAYS serves as a reminder to me that we are child-free (as compared to childless.)  It was a decision we made very early in our lives, and we’ve generally been OK with our decision.  Along the way, well-meaning friends would ask us, “Who will take care of you when you grow old?”  To which I always responded,

“Having someone to wipe my drool
was NOT a good enough reason to have children.”

And I still stand by that.  But now, as we get further along in our retirement years, our child-free decision does come with some interesting, but not insurmountable dilemmas:

  1. What is the best way for us to celebrate holidays?  The siblings all have families of their own, and we are always invited to participate.  But is it just wrong of us to want to take off, just the two of us, and leave all the holiday hoopla behind?  I see the tropics at Christmastime in my mind’s eye!
  2. What, exactly, should our will and estate planning look like?  Yes, there are siblings, nieces and nephews, and even a God-daughter, but the whole “who should get what” is a much more difficult decision when they’re not your offspring.  Literature is replete with examples of the young pandering to their elders in order to inherit!  God forbid!
  3. How much should we plan on leaving to charities, education foundations, the arts and such.  The desire to give back to this wonderful community of ours is strong!
  4. What if we start having mental challenges?  This one is probably the scariest of all.  I have many friends caring for siblings and parents with issues along the dementia spectrum.  Should that happen to us, would we even know??  A hard one to prepare for, for sure!
  5. Will we have enough money to either care for ourselves, (retiring in place and hiring any assistance we might need), or to move into a high quality retirement facility if necessary?
  6. And what if we don’t have enough money for any of this?

This would all be so very much easier if we knew exactly when we were planning to die!  Some very good friends of ours (also child-free) have suggested we plan it out like this:

We figure out how much we want to give to church, philanthropy and family, and set that pot aside.  We set aside enough to cover the nursing home for a couple of years (about the average stay.)  We make sure the insurance coverage is adequate to prevent catastrophe…and then we go out and have a blast!!!

Our goal is this:  If we play all our cards right, we want to cash out of this life NET ZERO!!  With any luck, the check written for our caskets will bounce!

Happy Mother’s Day to those of you who happen to be moms!

Lynn