Sunday, January 25, 2015

Ed and the Aberts Video...with My Thoughts

Some of you may have already seen the video from other sources, but we now have the completed video that was shot just before Christmas, at our house, with Ed Helvey present. The video was shot by documentary film maker Michael Tubbs ( But before you watch it, I encourage you to read on down and see my thoughts on it, then come back and enjoy it.

As with most videos of this type, there was a lot more captured that never made it to the final edit. However, I commend Michael on the great job he did in editing it down to a watchable video, although from a marketing standpoint, I would not have used names (ours or anyone else's) in the title, as that is not something people would search for on YouTube. It should have contained better keywords for the public to find it.

As far as content, there were only two things that I would have left in:

(1) My on-screen credit to Randy Vining, the famous "mobile codger" himself (, because if I hadn't found his blog and started reading it from the beginning very early in my research, I may never have had the idea to develop our cargo trailer into what it is slowly becoming.

You see, Randy started out with a cargo trailer of his own design long before he moved into a factory-built trailer. When I saw what he had done, and how much enjoyment he got from staying simple and debt free, it gave encouragement to my own thoughts to do the same.

But as with Randy, we don't look at the cargo trailer as a "forever" thing. Once we get out traveling again by this new lifestyle, and figure out what we really want going forward, we will be in a position to buy whatever we desire. Our cargo trailer is simply a temporary means, to get us out of here (where we cannot find what we might want) to a place where we have a huge selection of RV's to choose from...someplace like East Main St., Mesa, to East Main St, in Apache Junction, which is one continuous road with practically wall-to-wall RV dealers for about ten miles.

The other thing that did not make the final cut was:

(2) The elaboration on finances. In the video, all that was mentioned is our food budget. My reference to not doing without anything means much more than that. We are fortunate enough to now have Medicare, and along with that, we also both have a Plan G Medicare supplement, which will cover everything but $140 per person per year, no matter what or where it occurs. Along with that, we also have decreasing balance term life insurance to age 90. The only things we pay for are prescriptions (which we currently are not on anything), dental and eye glasses. We consider those small expenses and is not worth paying insurance for. Our vehicles are fully-insured right down to collision and rental car coverage.

We normally buy what we want when we want it, but at this stage of our lives, our wants are few, and becoming even less! All of our trailer components are brand new except what I already have on hand.

Due to our well-paying careers, we have a nice Social Security income, and even without anything else coming in from other sources, we will already have roughly one-third of our income available as excess, over and above our fixed expenses. Those fixed expenses also include the fees on two time shares, and three RV membership resort systems, mail forwarding expenses, annual bills savings plus regular savings, normal fuel costs at roughly twice what we are spending now, and many other things. So basically, the only things not already figured into fixed expenses are camping fees and entrance fees to parks, attractions, museums, and other such things. Those, along with fuel costs can easily be controlled by how much we are on the go. We estimate our average camping fees to be about $300 per month, which includes both free sources as well as paid nights in campgrounds. What we don't use will continue to go into savings for future vehicle trades, as well as normal reserves.

The point being not to brag, but to point out that not everybody who chooses this lifestyle is "down and out". We obviously have a home now (that we just spent $9,000 on last year for a complete new septic system). Although we didn't pay cash for the home, we did finance it like an RV, with 20% down for 15 years, as we have all the real estate we've purchased. We bought the home in November of 2004, so we will have very little to pay off when we sell it (hopefully this summer), and plenty of equity. Let's just say our desire to leave here is stronger than our need for maximum value, so someone will get a deal when we sell it! "Cutting our losses" (i.e., not spending any more on this place) to gain a third of our income to use for travel, far outweighs what we might gain by hanging onto it longer than we need to. It's that simple.

Also mentioned in the video was our deadline on plans to do this (also shown in the countdown timer in the right margin), but nothing was mentioned about how far back those plans go. Think in terms of mid-eighties. That's roughly 30 years! We both knew we liked to travel, and once we started RVing, we knew that it was in our plans for retirement. When we bought our first RV resort membership, we had the foresight to know what that could do for us when we could enjoy it on a "most-of-the-time" basis. Now that we have gotten rid of all obstacles to doing away with a home base completely, that dream has now turned to full-time travel, with no real estate at all. If we need a home base later, we'll go rent a place. (See the menu items at the top for more information.)

This early start also gave a chance to "get our feet wet"...with RVing nearly all over this great country in everything from pop-ups to a 40-foot motorhome. We've stayed in some very nice resorts as well as camped out in the woods with no hookups. We even managed an 866-acre RV resort for what was back then, a major player in the industry. So we aren't starting out as many retirees do...with no experience, and suddenly jumping into a huge RV that they don't know how to drive, maintain, or even how to save money with traveling in it. We've already "run the gauntlet", and now have the experience to know what we are doing and what to expect.

The cost of home ownership was "touched on", but it goes way beyond what was mentioned, and includes expenses that most people don't even include when calculating their "basis" for their house. If you are still living in a "sticks and bricks" house, your expenses go way beyond what you even thought of! Again, you'll find out more by reading the menu items at the top of this blog.

Our future plans started out with membership resorts, which will be a big part of what we do, but also moved toward time-shares, so that we could take a break from RV life a few times a year. We also want to visit people that we did not have time to visit before, as well as to take into consideration our own lives and lifestyles. Two shorter, and yet fully independent and livable vehicles (a trailer and a tow vehicle that can be slept in), seem to fit everything about our future travel plans. Here's our tow vehicle:

Our '97 Chevy G-1500 Express Conversion Van.

You can read more about our reason for our choices on the New Beginnings post, available in the archives in the right margin.

If I were buying a new cargo trailer, I would have picked something newer, maybe a size bigger both directions, and more "square-sided", but we had this one already and we're using it...for now. Keep in mind that in the video, it looks dirty and stained, but that will all be cleaned up, the paint touched up, new roof coating applied, and new wheels before we leave here. This trailer has been sitting since I closed my service business and retired in 2010.

And we only had about a week's notice, in the dead of winter, that Michael was meeting Ed here, and wanted to include us in the video. It will look a lot better by next summer.

We did NOT go out of our way to be in this video, and had to fit it all into our daily lifestyle, which right now is very chaotic, with having boxes and cartons setting all over from trying to get things listed on eBay and organize garage sales for everything else. Worrying about what this place looked like to strangers was the last thing on our minds.

During our past travels, we found that some parks have length restrictions, and 32-feet seems to be the magic number, although some places are less than that. In order to enjoy the lifestyle, we have to also consider where we want to go with any RV that we own in the future. We don't want another huge 40-foot motorhome like we had before. The expense and stress of maneuvering something that big is more than we want to deal with. Yes, we "could" afford it...we just don't want to!

Also, unless you actually download the floor plan for the trailer, you might be wondering "what about a stove?" Under the refrigerator will be a full-slide 100-pound capacity drawer, on which will be our Coleman camp stove, with a one-pound propane cylinder behind it. This way it can be used inside, while still being out of the way, or outside, if we want to cook outdoors. The latter will be true in most cases, weather permitting. Below that will be a 4-gallon under-counter electric water heater, and below that, the 12-volt water pump. The rest of that area will be storage, probably for pots and pans.

We may also purchase a Zodi portable water heater and camp shower unit, with it's own pump and reservoir, for times when we will be out boondocking and can't use the electric water heater. Don't worry, we WILL be prepared for anything before we've got everything the way we want it!

Zodi Camp Shower courtesy of

To the right of that storage compartment will be drawers above and two pull-out pantries on either side of the fresh water storage. There will also be a flip-up counter extension at a 30-inch height on the end of the kitchen counter unit. It will also double as extra table space for the couch. You can read more details about that in previous posts, along with plans for under the couch and the other closet areas. Altogether, we will have nearly 42-inches of closet width for hanging clothes, and that's almost as much as we had in our 40-foot motorhome. The shorter storage area at the end of the piano will house Sharon's accordion, and above that, a box large enough for legal sized file folders.

And yes, we will have a porta-potty, and even a stand-up shower! You'll have to go back and read the past posts to figure out how we do that!

The last thing I want to mention is that the solar panels have been delayed until probably March. Due to vehicle issues and weather, it was mutually agreed to wait until a more convenient time for both of us to meet up at a half-way point.

And if you see me tip my head back, please don't take it as a sign of being "haughty"'s the result of the focal length on my progressive lenses and trying to get closer objects in focus. The camera itself was only about 3-feet from me, due to the lack of a room big enough to shoot this video. Michael was literally across the table from us, coaching us with questions to answer.

With not being out there traveling yet, this video justifies a follow-up video, probably next winter, after we have some travel time under our belts again. Hopefully, we will have far more time to prepare for it, and have better input ahead of it being released to the public.

We also hope to do some of our own videos by then, but the reason I haven't done any so far is because I'm looking for a particular with an external microphone jack on it. And that may have to wait until we get out of here.

Please feel free to comment as you see fit, What did you think of the video? Does it add to your knowledge of what the lifestyle is all about? Don't be shy. Speak up!


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the video and am very interested in how things are going! Will you be updating this blog or is there another blog with more recent updates?


John Abert said...

Thank you for asking. It's been a nasty winter again, with little progress, but some new work has been done recently that will be posted soon. As the weather warms up, I will be posting much more often. We are still on track for our target of being out of here by July 28th.