Wow – this is the 100th post to LiveMoho since we started out back in January 2016! January 17th was the first post. Even though we didn’t actually hit the road until April 15th, a lot happened in the months leading up to that. Like leaving our jobs, selling our houses, and everything (almost) that we owned.
Heather suggested the 100th post be another top 10 list. I liked the idea, but am not quite sure how to approach that. There are so many possible top 10 lists I could make.
I thought I would list the top 10 things that really stuck out to me so far.
1. Destination yin/yang
One of the best spots and one of the worst spots on the trip so far were in the same place. Carlsbad Caverns rates as one of the best – if not THE best – single attractions we have seen on the trip.
Don’t get me wrong, other places offer much more overall than Carlsbad Caverns. Carlsbad is a one-trick wonder. And I understand that the appeal of a place is highly influenced by personal taste. But from a single attraction standpoint, Carlsbad Caverns is just incredible.
The road from Carlsbad to Pecos TX, in contrast, is the single worst road we’ve driven in over 3,000 miles. I guess it is the yin/yang of tourist spots.
A new annoying vacation habit has formed among tourists, one which I hope none of you participate in.
It goes like this: Find a scenic spot, preferably one that only has room for a few people at a time. Plant yourself in that spot, taking time to get just the right picture. Then block that spot for everyone else by immediately opening your phone to a) inspect the picture and discuss with your friends/family, b) post the picture to Facebook along with a pithy comment, c) doing the same thing to Instagram. All while everyone waits for you to move.
Take the photo and move on so the next person can do the same. Millennials, I’m especially talking to you!
3. People have too much money.
They spend a pile of it on something expensive but don’t bother to learn how it works.
Example: a big super zoom camera or DSLR. By all means, block everyone while you stand in a prime photo spot while you try to figure out how the settings work. Or, don’t bother learning how to turn off the flash and blast it in places which prohibit flash and/or have it come on in daylight for a subject 50 feet away. Or take a flash picture through a window.
Read the manual people. You paid a lot of money for that camera. Learn how it works.
In that same vein, buying a $45,000 car and not understanding how the alarm system works. Prove this by setting off the alarm as often as you can, but particularly at quiet memorials, crowded neighborhoods, or in RV parks. Extra points for doing it late at night or early in the morning. Baby boomers, I’m talking to you. Geesh.
4. Pensacola beaches
The Pensacola beaches are absolutely without peer. The sugary white sand. The emerald water. The lack of crowds. The lightning bolts that come out of nowhere nearly killing the beachgoers.
Wait. that last one doesn’t fit with the others. Note, Pensacola beaches are great, but pay attention to the weather warnings!
We have sampled beaches all around the country, and so far Pensacola takes the top spot.
5. Vacation pace is grueling, expensive, and the opposite of living MoHo. If you have only 2 weeks, 3 weeks, or a month for your entire trip, by all means rush around seeing everything you can possibly see.
But if the road is your new home, slow the frack down and smell the roses! I could go on and on about this, and probably already have. But take my word for it. Living like a tourist for months on end is not as fun as it sounds. Give yourself some time to find all the local gems and tucked-away corners. Talk to some locals. Eat at some local spots. You will thank me for this.
6. Jeannie – diesel pusher.
7. Fast southern drivers?
We all like to joke about the slow Southern pace of life, and its true. Everywhere except the roads, that is.
I think everyone in the South, particularly the area from Jacksonville up to North Carolina, secretly believes they are NASCAR drivers. Or training to be NASCAR drivers.
I haven’t seen such fast and aggressive driving anywhere else in the country.
Our RV campground in Charleston was on a busy road. We have seen 6 accidents so far. 6!! When I calculate the amount of time we have actually spent on the roads in this area, I calculate that every 30 minutes there is a car accident. I’ve never seen anything like it!
Put a Southerner into a car and they transform into Dale Earnhardt Jr. Or Sr. Either one.
You’ve never been run off the road until you’ve been run off the road in by a little old lady in the South! Driving Miss Daisy my @$$.
8. Sweet vs unsweet tea.
OK. This one just doesn’t make sense. In the South, when we order iced tea, we are asked if we want “sweet or unsweet?” Huh? Shouldn’t it just be “tea or sweet tea?” I mean, tea is just that. Tea. Put sugar in it and it changes from tea into sweet tea. Seems simple enough, right?
Unsweet tea = tea.
Why add the “unsweet” label? Its not necessary.
“Now hold on a minute, y’all,” says the Southern gentleman. “Tea is properly prepared with sugar. If y’all order tea, y’all will get sweet tea.”
OK, fair enough. If the default is sweet tea, i.e. sweet tea = tea, then shouldn’t the choice be “tea or unsweet tea?”
Actually, I think I might understand.
Sometimes unsweet tea = tea.
Sometimes sweet tea = tea.
Aha! There is no consistent definition of the phrase “tea.” To me, “tea” might mean just plain tea. To you “tea” might mean tea with enough sugar in it to keep an insulin factory in business.
So the only fix is to label both unsweet tea and sweet tea. I guess it does make sense to have unsweet tea and sweet tea after all. I get it.
But I’m not done with tea. Half of the time when we order tea, especially on the west coast, we are offered a variety of herbal concoctions. No. No. No. Tea is a specific drink!! It comes from the tea plant Camellia sinensis. If it doesn’t come from this plant, it is not “tea.” Chamomille tea is not tea. Its an herbal infusion.
Don’t believe me? Then why don’t we have “herbal coffee?” Go to Starbucks and order some herbal coffee and see what happens. So why is coffee always coffee, while tea can be anything that is ground up and soaked in water?
So I just looked it up and there IS such a thing as herbal coffee. My only conclusion is that I have no idea what I’m talking about when it comes to the naming of drinks. Just know that as you travel around the US, you’ll encounter a lot of funny names for stuff you thought you knew.
9. The budget
Since I had no idea what it actually costs to Live MoHo, I started keeping a spreadsheet of every single expenditure since we hit the road.
Those of you who know me are thinking “Bryan? A spreadsheet? No way!”
Yes, its true.
Keeping the budget is kind of tricky. There are some “startup costs” that shouldn’t really be counted since they are one-time and won’t recur. I tried to make judgement calls about including them in the budget.
For example, it cost almost $4000 to have our Winegard satellite system installed. I counted that as part of the purchase price of the MoHo, not something I wanted to add to our expense tracker.
On the other hand, there are some big costs that will recur, like vehicle registration. Which we paid in both California and in Florida. For the same year. Florida was about 60% cheaper than California, if you were wondering.
Also, some of our insurance costs I paid for a year up front, so those skew the breakdown since they will not recur for a year.
Overall though, the budget breaks down like this:
Several trends can be seen. First, we love to eat!
Travelling around gives us such a great opportunity to try local food and local restaurants. It would be much cheaper to eat at home every night, but we would miss out on a lot of amazing food! The green chile in New Mexico. The TexMex and BBQ in Texas. The Cajun and Creole in New Orleans. The seafood in Florida. The fried catfish and grits in Georgia. The low country boils in South Carolina….mmmmmmm!
Campgrounds have been reasonable even considering our short stays and tendency to stay in higher-rated campgrounds. Average so far is $45/day. Not bad.
Entertainment costs are reasonable. And keep in mind that Orlando alone was a huge part of the costs. They call it the Magic Kingdom because all your money magically vanishes!
Insurance is a big item I had not appreciated. RV insurance for full-timers is not cheap (around $3000/year). Then there is renters insurance for the contents of the RV. Car insurance (roughly the same cost in Florida as in California). Health insurance (way cheaper in Florida than in California). Plus the insurance I take out on my hands in case I get back into the spokes-hand-model business. Its possible I just made that last one up.
Vehicle costs are for maintenance. We’ve spent about $1800 getting the 6 month service done to the MoHo, and will spend about that much again at the 12 month mark. After that, services are once a year.
Overall, my big surprises so far are that food is a bit more than we estimated while campgrounds are a bit less. Since most of our stays are a week or less, we aren’t taking advantage of discounted camping rates so those costs could go lower if we ever decide to slow down.
10. Just do it!
IF you are on the fence, just do it! You only live once. Don’t wait until your chance has passed you by. Every single person who we’ve told our story to has the same reaction. Every single one.
And that reaction is not “wow, that sounds horrible.”