Experiments in Decision Making

Have you ever had a problem that grew the more you thought about it? How when you weighed your possible answers you kept thinking of more things to consider? More pluses and minuses, more options, and what if this happened, or what if I tried that instead, until suddenly what was once just another problem became a tangled mess that was impossible to sort through?

It wasn’t that the problem was insurmountable, we just made it that way. Until finally perhaps frustration and indecision force us to confide in someone we trust about the problem and they give, maybe not a perfect answer, but at least a reasonable one without thinking more than a minute about it?

It’s not that the person has super-human reasoning abilities, it’s that they have a fresh perspective and aren’t weighed down by all the extra baggage that you’ve walled up about the problem. Basically, you over thought it.

I’m realizing that that is one big benefit of traveling with someone. You have another person to bounce ideas off of and together the two of you can probably work to a good answer. You temper each other. It doesn’t all rest on your shoulders.

Before I hit the road I thought that decision making and working through the problems of where to go and what to do would be easier being solo, because then you don’t have to take anyone else’s well-being and interests and concerns into account but your own. But now I’m finding that it isn’t so.

Actually, thinking of it now I’d imagine that if you’ve learned to be self-sufficient already, that this kind of decision making would be nothing new to you and you’ll adapt quickly to applying that skill to the unique kinds of problems full-time RVers face. I’ve always lived with someone to share the responsibility of big questions like where to go and what to do though, so not having the support network ready at hand is a new experience for me.

In the end, I have no doubt that I’ll be a more capable and self-reliant person by the end of this grand experiment in decision making that is RVing. In fact I’ve already learned a lot about myself in just the two and a half months I’ve been traveling alone. This is just one more hump to get around, and get around it I shall. But right now, it’s a bit nerve-wracking.

Right, so where was I again? Oh yeah, I’m making the issue of where to go after Wisconsin more complex than it needs to be. My tentative plan had me boondocking out in Arizona after the holidays, but I’m concerned that I didn’t get as much overtime at Amazon as I was hoping. After the gas to drive half a country away to get there, investing in a propane heater and a solar setup good enough to live off of for a few months, I’m thinking that I wouldn’t have enough money to make it to the end of winter, and wondering what I should do now.

As much as I’d like to head out West and spend the next few months doing the true traveling and vacationing thing in the desert, which I haven’t been to in ages and can’t wait to see again, the long term sustainability of full-timing for me depends on money, and while I probably have enough where I wouldn’t starve, I’d be worried the whole time about running out and that’s not really a vacation in my eyes.

So I’m going to winterize Cas and take him up to Wisconsin with me, depending on what the weather is like that might be an adventure in itself. I’ll be staying with my folks in Rapids and visiting friends in Madison for a total of about 2-ish weeks probably, between which I’ll be on the internet looking for my next gig. If it takes longer than 2 weeks to find something, then I stay longer.

I’ve found the problem with trying to find jobs too far in advance is places usually only advertise when they need someone, and they want that someone right now. Especially with temporary work, and especially this time of year – employers are still looking for holiday help.

I could continue to sit here scouring craigslist and help-wanted ads and work myself up into a panic that these jobs aren’t going to be available after Amazon and the holiday visit is over (because they probably won’t be) or I can accept it for what it is and move on. I’ll find something after Christmas is over, because I won’t give up until I have.

I’m going to be looking for stuff that’s south and southeast of Wisconsin for the winter months, to save on gas and not be terribly far from both Wisconsin and South Carolina as a safety net in case plans fall through. I know, if I’m looking hard enough work isn’t impossible to find, but it’ll do much to ease the fear, having those options nearby.

For a while I was kicking myself and feeling like a failure for wanting to head back to the familiarity of the southeast, but now I’m cutting myself some slack and realizing that you can’t just wake up one morning and suddenly be that awesome person who can do everything themselves without fear, change takes time. My trip to South Dakota and Kansas was a test of sorts, a trial run before the big takeoff. Overall, I’d say it was a success. The next one will be longer, I’ll make it out to the desert southwest yet, just you wait.

Looking past the first part of the year, for the summer I’m applying right now to some seasonal Forest Service jobs which sound interesting and pay reasonably well, and would actually make use of my two Associate in Applied Science degrees, gasp. I’d also like to make this the year I perform at a renaissance festival with Julie, since I’ll be in the general area, and next year probably won’t be. Again though, sustainability comes first so if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out.

Last Friday I was on the phone with Julie and we came to a conclusion about full-timing without a steady income source or saved up money to rely on: It’s like a leap of faith, but one that never ends. Landing the Amazon job was great, but I need to keep leaping ahead to the next gig or I’ll run short of funds and the adventure is over. It’s like in those old 2D side-scrolling games where you land on a platform but quickly need to jump to the next one because it’ll crumble from underneath you and then you fall.

* * *

Oh, there is another thing I need to stop thinking too hard about also. At the beginning of last month I had a little teaser at the end of a post saying there was an announcement coming and that I’d be giving more information out later in the month.

You guys might not even remember it now because the announcement never came – I agonized over how to make it sound perfect and what post it should come at the end of, and…screw it. As Mary Risley once said, “Just Put the F***ing Turkey in the Oven”.  Nothing’s perfect so here it is:

I’m writing an e-book on RVing. Right now it’s focusing on going small and going solo because that’s what I know how to do and there are already plenty of RVing e-books out there with more general info.

I’ve made some good progress on it I think, but the truth is it doesn’t matter what I think about it, it matters what you guys think! Part of the inspiration for writing the Ahoy Landlubber post was to get a sense for what sort of issues you all have surrounding RVing, so I could incorporate more detailed answers than the ones I was able to give in the comments into the book.

Quick important facts:

  • If there’s something specific you’d like to see in it, please do comment or e-mail me and let me know
  • This will not affect the blog in any way. I’ll still be updating 2-ish times a week with the same sort of content I’ve been doing all along
  • More information about it will be coming down the road when it’s closer to completion, but I promise not to be spammy and obnoxious about it

And there, announcement done! Yeah that was much easier than the 72 step action plan you can find online for how to properly announce and launch an e-book.

* * *

One last thing!  The 19 short little videos from the sprint from Indian Springs to Sioux Falls are now up on the Videos page for your viewing pleasure.  I’ve also redone the format a little to hopefully make it easier to navigate.

Man, this post is kind of messy. Well, that’s okay. Life is kind of messy sometimes, too. Have a good Monday everyone.

Image courtesy of sacks08

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30 Responses to Experiments in Decision Making

  1. Pat Bremer December 3, 2012 at 6:05 am #

    I don’t know if you subscribe to Chuck Woodward’s rvtravel.com newsletter, but this week he had a blurb about applications are being accepted for camp hosts for Michigan state parks for the 2013 season: http://www.michigan.gov/mobi/dnr/0,,7-153-10366_10871-27524–,00.html
    Requires a 30 hour/week commitment, which could cut into a work schedule where you get a paycheck, but on the flip side, you’ve got a free site for several months and it’s close to Wisconsin.
    Pat Bremer recently posted..“Doomsday Preppers” teardrop trailer debuts at RVIA trade showMy Profile

  2. jack December 3, 2012 at 6:30 am #

    Learn from yesterday, Live for today, Hope for tomorrow???????

    • Becky December 3, 2012 at 4:27 pm #

      Yep, pretty much Jack. 😀

  3. Eric December 3, 2012 at 8:24 am #

    Cool…go at your own pace. On the other hand, some of my happiest memories are when I was in the middle of nowhere and broke. Sometimes things work out in ways you would never suspect.

    • Becky December 3, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

      Yeah, I’ve found that life surprises me a lot more now that I’m actually out and living it.

  4. Teri December 3, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    I agree with your thoughts on overthinking things and the need to just wait and see what happens. I also agree with not traveling halfway across the country unless you plan to stay and work in that area to recoup some of the time and money to get there. I plan to workamp in Alaska and hope to workamp along the route to get there and then may stay for longer than one season to spread the travel expenses over a longer period of time.

    The only thing I can think of for the book, is what you have stated today, the emotional issues. Everyone thinks this is a totally blissful way of life and although I would never go back to my old way of living – we still have to deal with normal everyday issues.
    Teri recently posted..Cooper’s HawkMy Profile

    • Becky December 3, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

      Heya Teri.

      Yep, the fact that RVing is a lot like real life is definitely going to be in there! it’s just a different, and in my case, funner version of real life.

  5. Dale December 3, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

    The whole thing is a leap of faith – like life and Hobbits “and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no telling where you might be swept off to” ;).

    I do get how having another perspective to tap can be helpful at times when you over dwell on an issue, that is
    If you avoid the nay sayers who dis on everything with their paranoias.
    I’m a Solo RVer as well.
    I do have a somewhat of support system in the southeast as well (a shack in the North GA woods to work on things at)
    The bottom can fall out of your RVing plans, it has mine several times. I get back up, and build new foundations.

    Treasure your journals, I should have never stopped doing mine, I should have changed how I did them to keep them fresh to me, I got sick of the blog thing, but mine never took off. It was still handy to look back on though.
    I think I will be spinning a journal again (with a new approach of some kind).

    You can use your journals or blogs to look back on things that worked “for you”, notice the road blocks and try again.
    We RVers are often a unique lot.
    And we WILL have problems on the road,
    I have some ways of dealing with mine (like the ability to fix stuff), others have their own super powers.
    But then again, I’ve also been taught how handy a good RV membership in an auto club can be.

    I recently saw a single dude RVer in a SWEET workcamping gig for the winter.
    They are almost always couples.
    I’m not new to RVing. and yes, I’ve seen the occasional single dude with a hosting gig in a middle of nowhere hunt camp that no one else will take now and then,
    but this recent single dude was on Saint George Island, FL for the winter.
    That was encouraging to me. It said “keep asking”, and “keep at it”. I could actually see something that said “Dale get over your silly idea that they will not pick you just because you are single”. Seeing it for yourself is just not the same as reading on an RV blog from people who have little in common with you.
    As an non retired RVer, who has had some troubles now and then. I know that gigs matter, but now and then (if you get stuck for a time and regardless of gigs),
    go out and look at and inspect the wheels of your RV/camper.
    Remember their magic (make them work a little if you can-). These wheels keep a camper/RV home from being just another trailer. Their ability to change is their romance, It helps you and the magic that makes it an adventure tool. Heck even if you just move to the other end of a park to change the view at the end of a month – Something simple as that can help keep the RVing mojo alive. To me it is a kind of alchemy (mixtures of a bit of this and that), keep hunting and perfecting your unique formula, and now and then, you will make common straw into the gold that is grand adventure.

    Good luck with your ebook.

    • Becky December 3, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

      Thanks Dale,

      Yeah it’s true workamping gigs for solos are harder to find, but they do exist, for an example in GA:


      The second one in Town’s Bluff will take a single.

      Sorry I’m running short on time and can’t respond properly to your whole post but, there is good stuff in there and I appreciate it.

  6. Gene December 3, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

    I dont know much about how to get the job, but here in South Texas’ Eagle Ford Shale oil patch, they pay people to ‘man the gate’. You camp at the gate and log people in and out of the site. They set up a generator, a water tank and some way to pump or handle the tanks.

    It is warmer here, and with electricity (and pay) you would not need the solar panal and it would solve the problem of money.

    The downside is that it can be a bit lonely I think, you can not travel as you are working, and with the ‘winter texan’ season in full swing, there may be plenty of others that are willing to take the positions.

    It may be a good gig for a few months, though.

    • Becky December 3, 2012 at 4:43 pm #

      Oh, gate guarding, yep I’ve heard of that before.

      That’s a couple’s thing though usually though. The gate needs to be watched day and night 24/7 so one person sleeps while the other keeps watch. I do know a couple who’ve done it before and they enjoyed it.

      Thanks though! Maybe opportunities for singles do exist.

      • gene December 3, 2012 at 7:50 pm #

        The only time I saw this was last year in the summer. It was a single woman but she set up a motion detector alarm. when something got in the “beam” (like a motion detector light) it set off a chime in her camper and she would look out to see if someone was there.

        If there are 2, I can see it being better, though.

        Another plus for this person was that she had her own camper, so she was paid more.

        • Becky December 4, 2012 at 4:27 pm #

          Ahhh. The motion detector thing is pretty clever, I wonder if all companies would accept that as having someone watching “all the time”. Thanks again Gene.

  7. Pleinguy December 3, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

    Don’t overlook staying at a campground for a monthly rate, and taking a local regular job. There are temp jobs almost anywhere you go, and you wouldn’t need a high paying one. It’s preferable to choose a no income tax state like Florida, Texas or Tennessee. FL puts you near SC, and Texas gets you half way to the southwest. Also, consider that hanging out in the desert southwest in the winter is going to be far cheaper than anywhere in the southeast. I encourage you to move forward with your new life.

    • Becky December 4, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

      Working a regular temp job and paying for my site is what I’m planning to do Plein, regular workamping gigs just don’t pay enough extra to cover the rest of the costs of living.

      I’ve spoke to some couples here at Amazon who do the Arizona thing, it sounds like I could a site out there for maybe $250 a month in the Quartzsite area if I looked around, which is cheaper than in the southeast yeah, but then I also gotta think that it’s a less populated area too, less job opportunities and probably more driving to get to them. It’s give and take, although I won’t really know which is the better option until I get out there and see it. For this year though, I’ve made up my mind. Once I have the spare money for solar power and a good propane heater and can truly boondock, the odds fall much more in favor of the SW.

      In the meantime, yes I did make sure to include Florida areas when I was applying to the Forest Service, it would make taxes easier. 😛

  8. cozygirl December 4, 2012 at 8:38 am #

    Beck I thought I posted a long list of possible job links…did it not go through?

    • Becky December 4, 2012 at 4:38 pm #


      Doesn’t look like it.

      I have a spam filter set up by necessity because I get around 100 spam comments a day on this site and having to manually go through and approve or deny all of them would drive me insane (this is also why first time posters have to be approved, to try to keep that garbage from getting in). If the post was a lot of links my spam filter probably caught it and tossed it out – Very sorry about that, I do appreciate the effort!

      I can temporarily change the settings if you want to try again and I’ll dig through and find it? Or maybe just post the name of the site without the link and I’ll go find them myself? Either way I’m sorry again for the inconvenience.

  9. Kristine December 5, 2012 at 3:31 pm #

    As usual love your posts!! I have been single in my stick home for 5 years so didn’t think solo on the road would be much different but I liked your thoughts on having someone to bounce things off etc. It’s funny because in all this planning and in my minds eye I see me in the Rv and I see my dogs are with me but no guys……..LOL. Maybe a cute neighbor in the Coachmen parked beside me…I hope!! Anyway good to know what your finding as a solo female traveler!! Thank you.

    I like the things you post about now, very informative.

    I also am already trying to plan Mass in summer, Amazon maybe then Fla. and thinking f jobs and stressing a bit but just tell myself calm down, the right job will come!!

    Peace out!!


    • Becky December 5, 2012 at 7:31 pm #

      Your welcome Kristine, sounds like you have a good plan coming together so far!

      And yeah, everyone’s needs for people time are different, if you’ve done it for 5 years alone you’ll probably be just fine. 😛 I just haven’t had the experience before.

  10. Cimms December 6, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

    Sounds like you are a bit homesick. It is normal this time of year. I moved from NC to OR when I was about your age and the holidays were depressing for the first few years. 20 years later now and I still feel it even though I am now happily married.

    Family and holidays go great together. Rest, recoup, make some money, make some plans, and carry on with your dream 🙂

    • Becky December 6, 2012 at 5:08 pm #

      Well the thing is I am going home for the holidays Cimms, in fact this’ll be the first time I’ve seen my family at Christmas in four years, so I don’t think that’s it.

      It’s less about family in specific and more about social time in general. It’s an aspect of full-timing that I don’t think I gave as much attention to as I probably should have because it’s not as concrete as making sure I have the money, and mail forwarding is set up correctly, etc.

      • Cimms December 6, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

        Just be sure to keep blogging. You are a good writer and I am currently looking for a Casita myself. Not planning on fulltiming till I retire but I would like to take a month off and get a taste of it. Thanks for all the info you have provided.

        • Becky December 7, 2012 at 5:38 pm #

          I certainly will Cimms, and you’re welcome.

  11. Mary December 6, 2012 at 11:51 pm #

    Have you looked into Corps of Engineers jobs? There are many, many Corps sites in the south/southeast and they pay well. Do you subscribe to Workamping News? The Corps advertises there. Good luck and don’t give up!

    • Becky December 7, 2012 at 5:38 pm #

      I seem to remember there being some special requirement about the corps jobs that I didn’t meet, was it that they wanted couples? I can’t remember. But I’ll look again, thanks Mary.

  12. Terri August 25, 2014 at 5:33 am #

    I don’t know if you have already posted on this somewhere (probably) but would you be willing to share some of your ideas on how to keep your costs down while fulltiming? I get this feeling you and I are very similar – when push comes to shove, you get going and are willing to do whatever you need to do to keep this dream going. I plan on being like you – doing whatever i need to do to make sure I always have a job set up ahead of time – I just need that security of knowing what the next step is going to be, even if it’s just “ok, I’m going to be in this part of the country, etc.”

    I have been good at keeping my costs down lately and paying off a lot of debt, and saving, too. But I”m always open to hearing new ideas. Do you eat a lot of fresh food? I’m kind of looking forward to having a smaller fridge which will force me to keep better track of my groceries. In fact, I’m thinking of just forcing myself to use a smaller portion of my apt fridge so I can get used to what it takes to fill a smaller space like that.
    Terri recently posted..Getting Rid of my Debt (What # am I up to now?)My Profile

  13. Becky August 26, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

    I probably have written more specifics for RVing in particular (I have in the book I’m writing too) but basically it comes down to this:

    * Travel slower, take advantage of lower monthly rates in campgrounds
    * On travel days (weeks) alternate staying at paying campgrounds with dry camping at Walmarts and other free locations
    * Eat in instead of eating out
    * Avoid high priced tourist traps and fancy RV resorts
    * Think twice before any purchase about how much it really benefits you

    And I’ve never been much of a cook, most of my meals are frozen microwaveable stuff just because I don’t like too, but if you like cooking, there is certainly a lot of advice out there to be had.

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