Mike was born and raised in Oregon, went to school in Oregon, joined the Army and after discharge settled in California. He worked in the prison system for the State of California for 25 years, retiring in 2002. He spent his time focused on his family. He and his wife Edie, along with their two kids, traveled across the U.S. in an RV, cruised into Mexico, toured China, Japan, Europe and the Cook islands. The kids are grown and establishing their own honorable lives now so we decided it was the right time to have our “adventure” before grandbabies and ill health force us to slow down.
Edie was born and raised in California, went to school in California, worked for a County Sheriff’s Office, worked at a small school, and then worked at a small home infusion pharmacy. Edie officially retired in 2013, but resigned from the pharmacy in July, 2012, when this adventure began. She has a gypsy gene and loves to travel.
In 2011, Edie told Mike she was tired of working and wanted to travel. Mike took the challenge of how to make that happen and ran with it. About a year out we started planning how to live cheap on the road for two to five years. We began the list of places we wanted to see. A few years earlier we had purchased an ocean going cargo container. It is 8′ wide, 8′ high, and 40′ long. Like most Americans, we filled it with junk that we accumulated over the years. We had to empty this out and ruthlessly sell, donate, or throw away almost everything but the most precious. This then created room for the household items we absolutely wanted to keep or pass on to our children. We held garage sales, sold off Craigslist, EBay, and donated or gave tons of things away. It felt good to Edie to be free and downsize. Mike, left to his own devices, might be a candidate for a Hoarders episode.
In July of 2012, we had gone through the house, repaired and polished everything. The house looked beautiful and we wished we had done it years earlier. We then contracted with a neighbor to be our property manager, and how wonderful that is. He looked up the hill every night when he got home. He dropped in, he was fully available to the renters, and he is our friend that we see when we’re in the area. We also contracted with him to handle our mail and forward it when necessary. We paid him 12-1/2% of the rent proceeds, and a flat monthly fee for the mail service. The house took almost two months before it was rented but we went ahead on our adventure the first part of July, 2012.
UPDATE: We moved back into our home at the end of 2015. We wanted to sell the home and in order to do that we needed to remodel and fix it up a bit. After the remodel, Michael decided he liked it so much he didn’t want to sell so our son and his girlfriend, Arla, now live in the house and AirBnB out of it.
We traveled to Salem, Oregon in our 2007 Toyota Prius. We loved the Prius and called it “the shuttle craft.” We rented an apartment right next door to where Mike’s 94 year old Mom was in an assisted living facility. It was a one bedroom apartment, unfurnished. Our original plan was to go to different places and rent apartments, furnish the apartment off Craigslist or classifieds, and then when we left, to sell the same way or donate. We kept the basics for living in the Prius to take with us from place to place. (Minimal amount of dishes, silverware, coffee pot, pillows, pots, pans, bought a blow up bed that had good reviews, towels and clothes, pictures of family, two small televisions. Needless to say, the Prius was packed.)
While looking for furniture, we rediscovered garage sales. It was fun meeting people, getting furniture, bargaining and figuring out how to get a huge dresser in the back of the Prius. We were always amazed that everything would fit. It might hang out a little but it always fit and we always got it to where we wanted.
Back to the apartment – they wanted the first month’s rent, security deposit, and a pet deposit. (At that point we had a small dog, Kiki.) In addition, cable, electric, internet, buying furniture, buying a modem. It added up quick. It turned out to be more expensive and more of an ordeal than we had envisioned. We stayed there for almost two months, which was wonderful being so close to Mike’s Mom. We were able to take her hot food, fresh baked bread, and just spend a lot of time with her as we knew she was near the end of her life. We took side trips and explored things that were of interest to us. We tried to take two to three side trips a week to explore the area.
After we left Oregon, we visited dear friends for a couple of weeks, our kids for a week or so, and then traveled to South Lake Tahoe for two weeks at our home timeshare. We then left for Las Vegas as Edie had gotten some wonderful deals on Cyber Monday. She got The Quad (used to be Imperial Palace) for an average of $10.00 a night. In retrospect, Mike thinks that was way too much. While in Las Vegas, we went to a timeshare presentation and realized the benefits of belonging to a timeshare exchange (RCI, II, etc.). When we got back to The Quad, we called and re-joined RCI (after letting it lapse for several years since we never used it and didn’t know how to use it) and booked a stay in Sedona, Arizona with a Last Call. We wanted to get away from the smoke and congestion of the strip. We were in Las Vegas less than a week but it felt like a year.
We had a wonderful week at the Highlands Resort in Cornville, Arizona. In the meantime, we had been monitoring EBay and bought a two bedroom, one week stay in Las Vegas, away from the strip, at a very reasonable price. Mike’s Mom fell into rapidly declining health the day we checked into the two bedroom and we had to leave the next morning to catch a flight back to Oregon. Mike’s Mom passed away and it took until Christmas day to finish all the family obligations and saying goodbye to our beloved Mother. At about this same time we had gotten news that our dear friend and renter of many, many years was moving out of our mobile home. We moved into the mobile on January 1, 2013 and spent the next three months completely refurbishing it and the attached studio apartment. It took us until April 20th to resume our adventure.
We are now fully back into the swing and spirit of our journey. We have abandoned Craigslist apartments and are focused primarily on timeshares. We write this on May 16, 2013, and are booked, with few exceptions, through January, 2014. We try to see how frugally we can stay while still having a great time and doing what we want. We watch for sales and have bought a Worldmark membership for its flexibility and its trading into a different company other than RCI.
We hope to continue our adventures by cheaply cruising to Europe and then finding bargain deals at timeshare resorts for a few months. We would like to share our adventures and detailed information about the resorts, the monies, the internet speed, the sounds, the smells, the ups, the downs, the successes and the failures of our adventure with you. Forgive advertisements that appear on our blog. We are wanting to pursue this as a business adventure.
If you have any ideas or suggestions, please let us know. We appreciate all input and strive to help others out who wish to do something similar in their lifetime.
Safe travels and may you have as much fun as we are having!