Tag Archives: FAQ

FAQ # 8 – Stuff

What did you do with all your stuff? I can’t even begin to think about sorting through all these years of “Stuff”.

Man, did we have some stuff!
Before we lived in our 300 sq. ft. house on wheels,
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we lived here.
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3500+ square feet of stuff. We’d lived in that old house for almost 25 years and trust me, you can accumulate a lot of Stuff in that many years. We had kid stuff, collectible stuff, Mom’s stuff, Grandma’s stuff, sewing stuff, tool stuff, old stuff and new stuff. Fortunately, I had over five years from the first mention of this adventure to the day that we actually took off, so I was able to get a head start with the liquidation of the Stuff.
Here’s how it worked for us.
Every Spring (and then sometimes in the Fall, too)I would have a yard sale, getting rid of the easy stuff. You know, those placemats you never really liked and that ceramic statue your favorite aunt gave you that never quite made it out to a shelf. For me it was kind of like peeling an onion. Every year I would just get rid of another layer of stuff. If it didn’t sell, it wasn’t allowed back in the house – off to the local thrift shop it went. Each year that went by, more stuff moved into the “do I really need this?” pile and less stuff remained in the “must keep” pile. Oh, I made sure that the kids got what they wanted (not to mention all their old report cards and other early years memorabilia) and that precious family heirlooms were distributed appropriately.  With the exception of a couple of pieces of furniture we left for our house sitters to use, by the time we hit the road in 2004 we had boxed up our remaining “must keep” stuff and had everything contained in one small room in the back of the house. The “For Sale” sign was firmly in place (of course, it had been there for a while without much action), we’d kept (what we thought were) the essentials and we were on our way.
We returned to PA after a year with a new understanding of our adventure. Instead of this being a one or two year adventure, after which we would purchase a small house and go back to work, we realized we didn’t want to have an “expiration” date on this journey. So I went through all those boxes and had one final Yes-this-is-the-good-Stuff yard sale. The last of the furniture went to family and friends, and we whittled down our “keeper” boxes to about 15. The house still hadn’t sold, but I wanted it to be as ready as possible, so we moved those last boxes into a small unused space in a friend’s basement.
A couple of years later (remember, no known expiration date) we moved those boxes to our son’s house in Ohio. And every year or so, during a visit, we’d pull out a box and see just what still needed to be kept.
And finally this year we did one last purge and moved the remaining Stuff to our daughter’s basement. (Here’s a tip – have someone from the next generation go through the piles of pictures you’ve kept and decide which ones to keep. After all, they’re the ones that will get the task later down the road!). When all was said and done, we had condensed our stuff into this –
Stuff
It only took us 10 years, plus those five to start with, but I think we’ve done pretty well.

Full Disclosure – just because we’ve condensed our ‘previous lifetime’ into 3 plastic tubs and a cardboard box (and the box is headed to the cabin!) that doesn’t mean we’ve actually conquered the “stuff” battle. Whether it’s 3500 sq. ft or 300, stuff just accumulates. We try to stick to the one in-one out (or one in-two out) rule, but a quick peek at the under bed storage compartment will tell the tale.
And no – there will not be a picture of that!

Thanks for stopping by!

Steph

FAQ #4

Waaaay back in February I began a series entitled “FAQ”. Those Frequently Asked Questions that folks tend to ask about our life on the road and the work we do. I’ve been quite remiss about following through with that series, but I recently received an email chock full of some great questions, so it seemed like a good time to get back on track.
Let’s go!
FAQ #4
Do you miss your house? I KNOW you don’t miss insuring, maintaining, and cleaning it, not to mention paying property taxes on it. But do you miss the whole notion of h-o-u-s-e and h-o-m-e. Not having a place of my own is a daunting thought. I love my husband of 36 years. But I also like curling up in one room with a book at night while he is watching the game in another room.

Ah yes, the house thing. When I would tell my friends about the 5 Year Plan (when the kids are out of college, he said,  let’s sell the house, buy an RV, take a year off and travel around the country) they wouldn’t say – wow, you’re going to take a year off and travel? They would say – you have to sell your HOUSE?????
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With a big gulp I would shake my head and say, yep, that’s the plan. This is the house that we lived in for almost 25 years, having moved there when our youngest son was just 6 weeks old. I remember standing in the yard with my mom, looking at that diamond in the rough (and it was very rough, trust me!) and saying that this would be our final house. It would become The Homestead, and my grandbabies would come here to frolic in the big back yard.
Yet, when you ask me today if I miss my house, I would have to say – No.
Maybe.
Sometimes.
As we set off on our adventure (which began as a 1-2 year adventure and is now in its 10th year) I was surprised how easily we both adjusted to less space. Yes, at first we would bump into each other (sometimes intentionally, I confess), but we soon mastered the yin and yang of life in 300 sq. feet. Over the years we’ve settled into our own favorite spaces (mine – here at the computer or stretched out for a nap on the sofa, Gary’s – up in the front at his computer or back in the bedroom reading (and falling asleep!))and I can honestly say that I have rarely felt crowded. As the vacation feeling wore off and we added some little pieces of our “previous life,”

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we realized that we did indeed have a house and a h-o-m-e.  It was little, but it was definitely a place to call our own.
So when does the “Maybe and Sometimes” come in? Well, probably the hardest time (emotionally) for me NOT to have that big ol’ house in Pennsylvania is this time of year. The Holidays. Oh, how I would love for my kids and grands to go over the river and through the woods to come to My House. How fun would it be to say to the little ones that ‘this is the room where your Daddy slept” as I tucked them into bed. To pull that big turkey out of the oven and tell the dear DIL’s to go and sit down – I’ve got it covered! But then, as the scent of fresh balsam fades into my memory, I remember the cleaning and the laundry and the fact that probably Mommy and Daddy will be doing any tucking in (since it will be a strange bed and everything!). So the Norman Rockwell holiday begins to fade, and I become content once again with being the holiday guest instead of the holiday host. I still like to tell the DIL’s to go and sit down (bossy MIL that I am!), but I try to respect that these are my children’s homes and their traditions, and now is the time for us to be the (helpful, I hope) guests. “To everything there is a season….”

One more reason that I don’t miss the house –
Tomorrow morning I am going to get up bright and early and thoroughly clean the living room, dining room, kitchen, computer room, TV room, bathroom, and bedroom. And be done by 10AM.
And you gotta love that!

(If you’re interested in the previous FAQ’s, I’ve put them together in a category over on the right column. Just so you know!)

FAQ #3

Since you live in a house that you drive around the country, isn’t the price of gas KILLING YOU???
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Of course!
Isn’t it killing all of us????
Here’s the thing thing. Yes, we do drive our house around the country. But we do NOT drive it to the grocery store. Or to the bank. Or to pick-up a burrito at Chipolte.
Last year we traveled just about 6400 miles. (And some of you came along for all of them! Thanks! :)) It’s true that when we fill up, it really hurts. Let’s face it, anyone with a 100 gallon gas tank is in pain when he fills up!
Gary at Work
We spent a whopping $3172.11 on diesel fuel in 2012. Yowzer. So (last year, anyway) it cost us about fifty cents a mile to drive the house.  Now that might seem like a lot, but there are a couple of the big expenses we DON’T have.
Like property taxes. Or utility bills. Oh, we still have some of the same expenses that you have – food, clothing, phone/internet-, but all in all we feel that our house on wheels is a pretty economical way to live. We try to be smart about our travel choices (the days of crisscrossing the country are over for most RV owners), and will try to work SOWER projects on our way to different destinations.

As as for driving around our truck and the expense of that, we’re quite fortunate on that front also. Most of the time, when we’re on a SOWER project anyway, we are within walking distance of our jobs.  The majority of miles we put on the truck are pleasure miles.  Miles of choice, not necessity.  And that’s pretty sweet!

One more thing that’s related to the whole “price of fuel” discussion –

We NEVER have to buy gas for a lawnmower!
🙂

FAQ #2

Probably the second most asked question we get is –
What’s your favorite place/project?
And believe me, that’s a really tough question.
First of all – Places.
My. oh. my – we’ve been in some beautiful places!

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Alaskan Drive - Day 15-4
Alaska
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Colorado
Lake Tahoe Day-11
Lake Tahoe
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Michigan
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Utah
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Florida
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Arkansas
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Pennsylvania

Let’s face it – this is a country rich in beauty and diversity. And the fact that we’ve been able travel through all but two (continental) states  (Nebraska and North Dakota) – well, that just about blows me away! And to then choose a favorite place? Well it’s just about impossible. Because every time I think about a place that I especially loved, I think – oh wait, what about…..? Or maybe….?  I think I better just stick with my heart on this one –

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Of course, it’s the beloved family cabin in Vermont. Still (and always will) has the first place in my heart!

And favorite SOWER projects? Again, impossible to say. We’ve worked at over 65 different locations in these last 8+ years, and I can honestly say there isn’t one that I didn’t like. We don’t usually repeat projects, but that’s not because we didn’t enjoy working there. It’s just because we always enjoy the adventure of working at new ministries. I’ve often said that each project has its own flavor – and that is very true. The people we’ve met, the ministries we’ve become aware of (everything from camps and conference centers to rescue missions and homeless shelters), the ways we’ve seen God at work all around the country – THAT’S my favorite project. For truly we have learned that God cannot be kept in a box and that He is working around the country (and the world,of course!) in unexpected ways and in unlikely places to bring people to Himself!

How blessed we are to be on this journey! And we thank you for joining us along the way!

FAQ #1

Absolutely the first question folks ask when they learn that we live full time in our motor home and move, on average, monthly is –

What about your mail?  How does THAT work?

The answer is pretty simple – we use a mail forwarding service.  Actually, that mail forwarding service is also our “home address”, and considered our domicile.  Right now we are using a Florida service (though we almost “moved” to South Dakota a couple of years ago). That address is important for taxes, vehicle registrations, drivers licenses, and voting.  It gets a little confusing for folks since we have FL drivers licenses and FL tags on our vehicles, but when asked where we’re from we always say Pennsylvania. Well, unless  it’s a US Customs guy or a state police officer.  Then we’re from FL all the way-we don’t want to confuse THOSE guys!!

(Of course it doesn’t help that we have a Vermont tag on the front of the RV –
Vermont Tag_edited-1
It’s an old tag leftover from my grandfather. He and my grandmother were the 781st and 782nd people to register vehicles in Vermont. (This odd picture is from when we were getting new tires on the RV – it was the first picture I could find that showed the VT tag!))

But I digress. We were talking about the mail, right?

I imagine that as recently as 10 years ago keeping up with your mail (and bills) was a big hurdle for full-timers. Today, however, it’s a very different story. We handle everything on-line that we can. Credit card and bank statements, phone and internet bills all arrive in my email in-box. And because life can get pretty busy some months, I also have anything that I can set up for automatic payments. We “order” our mail monthly (although with a mail service you can get it as often as you like), and generally it has some investment statements (and who wants to open them!), an RVing magazine, a receipt or two from a charitable donation and maybe a request for a contribution or two. I know in April to look for vehicle insurance and registration forms, and of course during January and February we keep an eye out for tax stuff. If we’ve been to the doctors then we know to watch for those bills. And it’s true that once I got a notice for jury duty and I was supposed to have called in two days before I got the mail. Oops. It all got straightened out, but that could have been a bit messy!

All that being said – I do LOVE to get mail. You know, the hand addressed kind of mail. 🙂  The address over on the “contact us” page is good as long as it isn’t a rush message.  And if you ever want to send something that will arrive right away (or at least as “right away” as the USPS can manage!), check the “Where are we now” page – or send me a quick email.  I’d be happy to give you a current address. Well, it will be current for a little bit anyway!

Oh – and to make my banking even a bit easier, on the rare occasions that we get checks I can now use my phone to do the deposit. How cool is that!?!

Have another question? I’d be happy to answer anything about our Life On The Road during my Post Ever Day month of February!

Thanks for stopping by!

PS – this whole “where are you from” question really confuses the US government too!  Here’s an exchange I had with a US Census worker back in 2010!