Van on the Run.

I have not been around much lately.  I apologize for the complete lack of posting on the site here.

Two weeks ago, my son and I were on a high-adventure Boy Scout trip.  We were out at sea for a week.  Not sure I am cut out to be a sailor.  If you ever need to interrogate me, put me on a small boat in rough seas.  I’ll tell you whatever you want to know.

The day after he and I returned to terra firma, my family and I left Tennessee for a five-week odyssey trough the western states.

We have been out here for a week.  All seven of us will live in a 15 passenger van for four more weeks.  So far, so cramped.

Sounds like a pleasure trip, I know.  But, we ran away for deeper reasons.

I have posted about this before.  You can find that blog here.

As you know, I am a teacher.  The school year is pretty rough on me. I’ve been doing this for nearly 20 years, and, to be honest, I get tired of it.  During the school year, I get up at 4 a.m. daily to write and to work on my website.  I stop at 7 a.m. to eat with my family.  Then, it’s off to school until 3 p.m.  After school, I either teach online, or work at my maintenance/construction job until 6 p.m.  All work is cut off from 6 p.m. until 9 .p.m.  I spend the time with my family.  Once everyone is in bed, I respond to emails.  I generally start at 9 p.m. and finish around 11 p.m.

When June rolls around every year, I am exhausted.  I am also ready to spend all of my time with the people I love the most.  And, so… every June, we run away.

If you are waiting for an email response from me, you will hear from me, but, it may be a while.  I am catching up when I can.  Fortunately, I teach Latin and Greek.  How many Latin and Greek emergencies are there?   Not many.

On a side note, many people have been asking… “How are you doing this?  How can you afford it?”We arrived in Flagstaff, Arizona about two hours ago.

I will start posting about this in the weeks ahead.  Here, though, is the short answer.

We are not rich.  We are frugal.  My wife is frugal to a fault.  I am convinced frugal gets a little embarrassed when it looks at her.

Before leaving home, she rented our house.  This took care of all home expenses.  So, right out of the gate, we are not losing money.

Second, she packed all of our food.  We eat out only once a week, on Sundays.  This keeps our expenses way low.  I cannot believe how expensive it is to eat at restaurants.  We are a family of seven.  If everyone chooses a menu item priced at $9, which is reasonable these days, I will spend $63.  Multiply that number by three meals a day and I will spend $189 a day for food.  Can’t do it.

Incidentally, this points to the real reason we are out here.  The whole trip is a health trip for my family.  We are basically living on rice, beans, fruits, nuts, and oats.  All white sugar, white flour, and processed food is banned.  This also keeps our expenses low.  Rice, beans, and oats are cheap.  We think we are spending about $8 a meal for the entire family.

We have not slept in a hotel, yet.  We may, but, so far, the weather has been great.  It’s been hot, but, great.  We are able to sleep in our van… and, at least twice, we have.  We also have a tent.  We camp where we can.  On average, we are spending $15 dollars a night for lodging.  For a family of 7, most hotels require two rooms.  At a low average of $100 a night for a decent hotel, that’s $200 a night for lodging.  Again, I can’t do that.

Gas.  Well, I can’t do anything about that.  Gas is expensive.  We are spending about $50 a day, so far.  Sunk costs.  Can’t do anything about that one.

We are really out here for health reasons.  However, to keep my kids from noticing, we are touring the national parks and monuments.  To eliminate entrance fees, we are climbing the fences at the back of the parks.  We have only been chased down by park rangers twice.  Once someone shot at us.  Just kidding.  To eliminate entrance fees, we paid for the annual pass.  We recouped the cost, $80 by the time we entered the third park, Petrified Forest National Monument.

There is one more big cost.  Coffee.  Something, we just are not giving up.  My wife and I love coffee.  Since Starbucks offers free WiFi, we are stopping for coffee every three days.  We generally hang out for a few hours and take care of emails and any paperwork we should have taken care of before we took off.

All in all, we are spending less money out here than we do at home.  I’ll try to go into more detail in the days ahead.

We arrived in Flagstaff, Arizona about two hours ago.  Currently hanging out at Starbucks.  Headed to the Grand Canyon tonight.  Can’t wait.  I’ve never seen it.