The Story Of Wandering Spirit and How This Lifestyle Came To Be (Part 3)

In the story so far:

Retirement looms in the not so distant future and I make the decision to be a full time RVer and living in a minimalist way, getting in touch with nature…and perhaps even with myself. I buy a used 2011 17ft Casita with the Freedom Deluxe floor plan. I begin parting with some of my belongings.

It’s October of 2013, and in the next 10 months I need to bring this plan all together and make the dream a reality. Looking back I feel like there were 3 major projects that consumed my time.

1. I need to continue working of course. I need to do financial planning, learn about and implement Social Security benefits, Medicare and a supplemental health insurance, and moving my residency to South Dakota. These things involve research, phone calls, meetings and paperwork.

2. Getting serious about minimizing my possessions. This entailed going through closets, cupboards and drawers and putting things in 3 piles, those to keep, those to let go of and those I wasn’t sure about. And after I go through everything, do it again. And again. The group of things I was letting go of went in further piles of things to give to friends, things to donate, and things to save for an eventual yard sale.

The yard sale was held over the Memorial Day week end and I sold or gave away all my furniture, and many household items and cloths. With still 2 months until retirement, I slept on an inflatable mattress, sat in lawn chairs, and used upside down storage bins as tables. I still had too much stuff however, so I continued the process of elimination. (and it’s STILL going on even today!)

The yard sale

The yard sale

3. Preparing for the journey. In early March I finally had time for my ‘shakedown’ with Wandering Spirit. I took the dogs and we went to Betabel RV Park, as mentioned in part 1, so I could make sure everything worked, and I knew how to work everything. Long story short, yes, everything worked just fine, I just had to figure out how it was done. With the help of the Casita Forum, I even changed my hot water tank anode!

During these months I was also packing and repacking WS and JR to get a reality check on how much I really could…or could not…bring along. I was even making diagrams on graph paper. ๐Ÿ™‚ Still, somehow more fit in on paper, than it did in reality!

The Freedom Deluxe Casita has a small side table with a captain chair on each side. One of the first things I did was remove the chair nearest the door, so there would be more floor space for the dogs. We needed ‘turn around’ space. This is a major reason I’m glad I have the Freedom Deluxe, because removing that chair made a big difference in our space.

I decorated, adding my own touch to make WS ‘home’ and very dog friendly. I was going to use my old stuff to save money, but in the end I bought new things at minimal expense. I figured, ‘new life = new stuff’.

Happy colors!

Happy colors!

This was mostly new towels and linens and a few decorative items that I sewed or purchased, all in cheerful bright colors and designs.

I studied maps on and off line for hours and hours (and enjoyed every minute of it!) I highly recommend the Benchmark Atlas Books and the Allstays and Google Maps apps. I also like to have large maps of large areas to get the big picture, so I have AAA maps for that purpose.

I planned the first leg of my travels, which was a trip to South Dakota to become a resident. The plans incorporated lots of sightseeing, but also visiting friends and family on the way.

Towards the end there were various retirement parties. The last one given by the ladies I worked with was the Grand Finale, complete with showing and re-showing a skit they did and put on video to the song “Hey Micky!” I treasure that and have it on my laptop. Every time I watch it I laugh AND cry.

After July 31 I was FREE! After working for 50 years or so, it’s a little much to take in…don’t know if I’ve completely assimilated it into my being, even now.

Sunday, August 10 I headed out. First stop was in Palo Alto to visit friends Laura and Joel for a final send off and to do some fine tuning on the “Joel Pole.” That first night after getting through the Silicone Valley and East Bay traffic, I stayed at a little park in Winters, CA, beside a stream under a full moon.

The full moon at my first campsite.

The full moon at my first campsite.

The little stream by the light of the next morning.

The little stream by the light of the next morning.

Was I nervous and anxious? Yes! But the feelings of accomplishment and joy to finally be living my dream were humungous. The blog I posted then was called “I Did It!”, and gosh…I’m still doing it! And I hope to be doing it for quite awhile.

And….if I can do it, you can do it…if that is your dream. You will have your own set of lists to accomplish. You will have your own time frame. You will have your own hurdles to jump…physical, mental, emotional, and financial. Just work your plan, one step at a time, until you reach your goal. I think you will find that the end result was worth the effort!

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8 Responses to The Story Of Wandering Spirit and How This Lifestyle Came To Be (Part 3)

  1. rambler2b says:

    Micky, reading this is such an inspiration. Every week, I take a load of stuff to Goodwill (or throw stuff out) and I just look around and it seems impossible to clear all this stuff out. Plus all the research about Medicare and Social Security. I get weak just thinking of it! You give me hope that I can do it if I just hang in there. Thanks!

    • Hi Mary, I know it can be daunting, and you have a whole house and garage to deal with. Good thing you have already started the process. Just keep plugging away, slow but sure and it will happen. Sometimes when I was deep into the letting go process it would all depend on my mood. One day I could put lots of things in the ‘let go’ box and the next day I’d feel like I wanted to hang on to everything. It’s not easy.

      As for understanding Social Security/Medicare/insurance issues, check out the Monterey County Council On Aging. (I know it sounds terrible!). They have a class they hold regularly to explain all that stuff and you can make private appointments with them too if you need more help, which I did. Everything was free. The class I went to was at the Marina Library, but they hold them in other places too. Lots of people attend because it’s really confusing stuff!

  2. Great blogs on your “getting there”…I remember your backing exploits. …you have come a long way in a short time…..enjoy your success & happiness…..

    • Hi Leslie,
      Thank you for your good wishes! Yes, it was just a year ago I was deep into this process. So glad it’s in the past, because I really like owning less stuff! I honestly don’t miss anything I let go of, and in fact I can’t remember what most of it was! Amazing!

  3. Ego says:

    LJ, enJOYed your story. I don’t always comment but do read everything
    you write. I’m so happy for you!

  4. Kathy says:

    Thank you so much for this series. I’ve been trying to stay off the net and get some work done so I read all 3 posts this morning. Perfect timing for me.
    On my way into work this morning I decided to check in with your blog and ask how you like your truck. I’m only 5’2″ so I would need a step ladder to get into the back of a truck or to check the oil in the engine. Also there is more storage area in a van. But there are a lot of good quality trucks for sale in this area and very few vans with low mileage.
    So the questions are: did you consider buying a van? after your experiences of this past year is there any reasons you would prefer a truck over a van or vise versa?
    I appreciate any input you can give me. Thanks

    • Hi Kathy, welcome to the 5-2 club. :-))

      I am also 5-2. Used to be 5-3, but…oh well. I was pretty set on a truck from the start. I did think about a van, and I think they both have their advantages and disadvantages. For some reason I wanted a separate storage area…the truck bed. I didn’t want to have to keep the whole area cooled or warmed. I didn’t want to have to look at that load back there, and I like being up high too. Weird reasons I guess. Generally, I was just into the truck idea. The van sure seems to be working well for RVSue though, so it just depends on what you want and what you can work out.
      I do have to tell you about my tailgate though. When i open it, i can pull an attached step out! It’s wonderful! I can just climb right in that way, no problem. There is also a handle there that i can use if i want to. I don’t need that. I do carry a small ladder with me, but also a one step, step stool and I can use the step stool for most things, like looking under the hood. There are running boards on the sides, so getting in and out of the truck is easy too. (I’d post a picture but have no idea if or how pictures can be posted in comments. I will post a picture in my next blog just for you. )

      An advantage to a van is that you would have more ways to enter the storage area if you get one with doors on the back sides. That also makes it easier for things to fall out I guess. It can get pretty jammed and crowded back there!

      I didn’t realize it at the time but for registration purposes in California, my truck is considered ‘commercial’. Therefore it costs about $500 to register it! I explained to the powers that be that it was not being used in a commercial way, but it didn’t matter. When I changed my residence to South Dakota and registered the truck there, I found that I save around $400 a year on that alone. So registration and residency is something to consider too.

      Good luck with your decision Kathy. Take your time making it if you can. Maybe ask RVSue about the van idea in her comments? Any questions you come up with as you go along, I’d be happy to try and answer here!

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