My last day of work was July 15. After that, the plan was to start heading northwest and get out to Washington and Oregon where a couple of my close friends live – and spend the tail end of summer up there before it gets cloudy and rainy. I’m on track – today I’m in Bozeman, Montana.
TOTAL SPENDING: $1071
- * -$343 – Gas/Van expenses. (includes $85 yearly AAA membership)
* $291 – Health (mostly insurance!)
* $229 - Food
* $152 – Hobbies/Entertainment
* $56 – Household stuff and clothes
I bought health insurance a few days ago. My income is too high this year and I get no subsidy. The cheapest plan was $235/mo. The one I bought was $277. It has better coverage outside of network and after deductible is passed. There was only one “Nationwide Network” plan. It is a gold plan offered by Samford – and word on the internet is they cancel coverage of people like me who use mail forwarding addresses. What a bunch of jerk-faces, huh?
Next year I’ll get a lot of subsidy and I’m confident insurance cost will be under $100/month.
I invested the proceeds of my house sale in PEY and VPU. I sold some of the PEY when I found a couple stocks to buy: EMR and CMI. The yield on PEY and VPU is about 2.75%, so I plan to sell of shares over time as I find stocks I want to buy.
This month I got raises from RAI, OHI, VPU, and CMI. Their dividend increases in 2016 amount to $169/year. RAI made a huge jump – a 28% increase. I still have a vision of National marijuana prohibition ending and my tobacco stocks making a killing. It’s a long-term bet though.
In this chart, I use 4% for the theoretical yield – the blue double line. It represents potential income when I invest all my 401k and pension money. The challenge will be in how much yield I can actually get. When I first started buying dividend stocks a few years ago, I was getting an average yield of around 4.3% on my purchases. Now my average is down to 4.1%. I expect that as I convert my stock mutual funds to individual DGI stocks, I won’t actually achieve that theoretical line. But I have to remember that I’ve gotten a lot of capital gains in my 401k from those same price increases. So about the only way I get a high yield is if prices go back down, and the only way I really win in that case is if they go down after I sell the mutual funds, or if I’m just successful in picking winners. So I think my total net worth and probably that theoretical income line are overinflated.
I saw today that the PSX price dropped to the level I bought it at a few months ago. I’ll see if there was any major problem and if not, I may buy more.
I haven’t done any work on my hobby income stream for over a year, but I’m still getting $60-$90 per month from it. When I was last making new stuff, I tried making content for which interest would not drop off over time, and I think that helped. I expect to do more work on it starting near the end of this year, and that income should increase.
I’ve achieved most of the goals I set for the first half of 2016, so now I need to set some new ones. Right now I’d guess they will include:
THE LAST FIRST DAY
- * Increase hobby income. Maybe starting new streams, but that would be in 2017
* Fitness/health goals. (diet, exercise, physical fitness/strength/resilience)
* Finance - converting 401k and pension to income producing investments (I don’t really need to do this yet, except for the bit of money flowing into my Roth IRA each year)
* Some kind of self-actualization?? Uhhhh?
I bought and started making my van into an Adventure Mobile in April 2015. Since finishing the van around March this year, I’ve had a number of what felt like “First Days”. The first was moving into the van. I did that on March 25. Then I sold my house and drove the van out of St Louis for good – that felt like a big first day. Then I finished up some work in Iowa and could drive the van west to Colorado. Then I had my first camping trips (of this year) in Colorado. Then I had the van in and around Denver for 3-4 weeks – what felt like a transitional period.
But on this day, I had finished my last week of work. I had made my preparations to embark – to leave Denver and head towards the northwest. This time, there would be no more going back to work. There would be no more ‘launch days’. This was it – this was the Last First Day.
First off, here’s the general route I’m taking from Denver to Seattle:
After the end of the route above, I’ll keep going west and south into Seattle. If any of you live in/near my path and want to meet up, don’t be shy.
I told my friends that I wanted to get out to Seattle around August 10, and to Portland around August 25. This means that on the way to Seattle, I’m moving much quicker than I expect to be in the future. I’ve often felt like I’m rushing more than I want to – for one - by spending more on gas, and more so because I’m not spending much time in a single place. Many times I camped just one night in National Forests. I don’t really like that. I think the rest of the way to Seattle I’ll do more driving at a time, and then camp two nights at a time.
The vandwelling/travel is going very well. I’m having a blast. One awesome thing that has happened since quitting: I don’t have to spend any “decision energy” on work. I’ve made changes to other things much quicker – so far: diet and exercise. Even in the van with a very minimal kitchen, I’m eating as well as I ever have. I’ve also started exercising almost every day.
I hadn't been eating that great over the past two years. My job required a lot of travel, and it was much more difficult to eat well while traveling. Also, I let my diet go a bit over the last year while I was building the van, getting my house prepped for and selling it, spending time with a girlfriend, and getting ready to quit my job.
After quitting my job and that “last first day” (hitting the road for good) - it only took about a week to change my diet.
When I moved into the van in late March, I was eating food that I could prepare without cooking: mostly sandwiches and salads. I started cooking gradually. Now, I’m eating almost the same as I would with a full kitchen:
- Most meals are a sort of stir-fry, always including chicken*, bell peppers, rice, and 2-3 other types of vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cucumber, mushrooms, etc.). Then I add some type of sauce - these days it’s mostly green chili sauce. Using different sauces makes the meal seem very different. I also use some types of indian and asian sauces.
- Smaller meals are typically an apple, orange or banana, and either a can of sardines or a whey protein shake.
- When out on a long hike or bike ride (2-3 hours or more) I bring along peanut butter and jelly sandwiches - using some wonderful jelly and jam that my brother’s girlfriend makes.
The only other thing I eat is a bit of dark chocolate. mmmmm. And some tea occasionally. About 65% of the food I eat by volume is now vegetables and fruit. Then about 25% meat, and 10% bread or rice.
* Chicken — when I had a kitchen, most of my meat (including for sandwiches) came from buying and roasting whole fresh chickens. I don’t want to carry and clean a solar oven, so roasting meat is out of the question now. I’ve started buying the rotisserie chickens at grocery stores. I know these aren’t the greatest chickens, but they’ll work well enough for now.
I’ve been exercising nearly every day. I’m doing a lot of hiking, some bike rides, and some strength-training calisthenics. I’m hiking about 5-10 hours per week, running 1, bike riding 1-2, and doing the strength training once or twice.
For the strength training, I’m currently doing:
- One-leg squats, while holding onto something static to give more resistance
- Sort of one-arm pushups (I put the other arm out further and keep that arm straight. If there is a way to do it with my feet up higher, I do)
- Pull ups (pronated grip, fairly wide. I switched to these from supinated grip which I I’ve used for years because it is easier on my tendons)
I do 4-5 sets of each. Sometimes the pull-ups are a challenge - it can be tough finding a tree with a good branch. In cities it’s easy - find a pull-up bar in a park, or use playground equipment. I imaging after some time I’ll need to add more resistance for all three of these. I can wear a backpack with stuff inside.
There are some things I want to add to this regimen:
- Replace overhead press - I’ll probably start trying handstand pushups
- Grip/hand strength. I have an Ivanko Super gripper. Need to start using it. Plus other things I can do without needing equipment.
- Stomach/core strength
- foot raises - for the muscles on the front of my lower leg.
- Neck strength (I haven’t done them much, but I’m not a fan of bridges. I can figure something else out - I could use the weighted backpack)
I’ve gotten to be what I consider too fat over the last few years. When I use a caliper on a certain spot of my stomach (about 2” above the top/front of my pelvis) I’m at 18mm. I expect to get down below 10mm. In very ballpark conversions, that will be less than 10% body fat. I’m quite good at gaining and losing weight, but not having a scale makes it significantly harder. In lieu of that, I’m using the fat caliper, and body dimension measures. I feel like I may be losing weight a little too quickly, but it’s hard to tell without a scale. I should check the caliper and measurements again soon.
I’ve ridden my bike exactly one time on Forest Service roads. It did not go well. One issue was washboarding on the road – when I went down some too fast, I got a flat tire and my saddleback attachment broke (it has a plastic part that was already cracked). The other problem is riding my road bike tires on gravel/dirt/sand that is too soft and too deep. I’m going to take a look at how wide of tires I can fit in my current bike, but I expect to be buying a different type of bike soon. I’m looking at cyclocross bikes right now, which will allow tires of at least 35mm, and in some cases up to 45mm. I want a bike that I will also be happy riding on roads. I think a flat-bar bike will be harder to store than one with road/curved handlebars.
I’ve started reading “Undaunted Courage” by Stephen Ambrose. It’s about the Lewis and Clarke expedition. It’s incredibly interesting for me. There are some very specific details - starting with how the trip originated and the relationship between Meriwether Lewis and Thomas Jefferson (I’ve been learning about Jefferson over the last year or so from listening to the “Thomas Jefferson Hour” podcast. If you like podcasts, you should check it out)
There are some interesting similarities between their expedition and Vandwelling. The beginning of the book has a lot of details about Lewis’ preparations - from building boats to use as their main means of transportation (at least for much of the trip), deciding what provisions to bring, and studying various subjects before leaving.
I’m in Bozeman now and today I went on a bike ride – on a road someone here recommended. It’s funny, I’d spoken to her last night about the Lewis and Clarke book, and she knew a LOT about them and their trip. What she didn’t tell me is that on the bike route she had already recommended, there is a sign noting that Clark and the other men camped right there
on their return trip. Awesome!
I was hanging out in parks quite a lot in Denver (Washington park and Cheeseman)
In Colorado, out west of Nederland, on the way to Yankee Doodle and Jenny lakes
Yankee Doodle Lake. I camped pretty close to the lake, my spot is visible in the picture – in that road just above the lake, but the van is obscured by a couple trees.
I’ve been doing a lot of hiking. This area was my favorite. I hiked up along the top of the ridges visible in the right 40% of this picture. I love this kind of hiking – no trails, but without a lot of trees – so you can decide where you want to go and you can see where you’re going.
Up along that ridge line
This was in northern Colorado – the lake is one of the Hohnholz lakes. I loved the drive up to these.
There are SAND DUNES in Colorado!
A lake along the Green River. Near this beach was the coolest historical sign I’ve seen so far. It described:
- The Indians that lived along here, and how the lake was named by three different groups of people.
- That the Oregon trail crossed Green River right around here (I’m all but certain the river was not as wide then, assuming it is damned downstream) – and that a lot of people drowned here, and that they were buried next to the river, some with simple grave markers, some with writing done on rocks, and some with nothing
- Something else that I can’t remember right now
Of course, I went for a swim here.
This was along a back road from La Barge to Alpine. It was a wonderful drive. About a hundred miles of road like this. I broke the drive up into two days.
Yellowtone. One wrong step off this platform and it’s certain death!
(The orange light is an “OD off” light. Not a check engine.
Hiking in Yellowtone (Mt. Washburn I believe)
Taking a forest service road to camp just outside the northeast entrance of Yellowstone.
Hiking up above that campsite
I drove the Beartooth Scenic Byways and it is incredible! There are incredible views.
Red Lodge, MT.