After nearly 20 years of doing without family vacations and assorted personal unnecessary purchases, and after nearing five years as a state employee of Wyoming with great benefits (good vacation time buildup, great insurance, etc), we’ve enjoyed two vacations in 7 months. Both were to visit family, and both were extremely frugally planned and pulled off. These vacations were absolutely bare minimums of transportation, NO eating out, NO getting souvenirs, or other normal vacation activities.
In both vacations, my wife Annie and I watched every penny, kept every receipt, took the minimum stuff needed for the trip, and considered it an almost off the grid experience away from everything. Both trips were to visit my daughter in Lamar, Colorado, and both times, my son flew out from Nashville to take a break from his music work and other active lifestyle activities as a 20 something in one of the most dynamic cities in the country.
While dear daughter and son-in-law don’t live off grid, their location and property is pretty rural. No home internet, but their own well water, and a good solid home. For me, visiting them is doing without internet access for days or a week at a time. Like us, they don’t run A/C unless they have to…and the first week of June there were two 112 degree days in a row. It’s been year’s since I’ve dealt with that kind of heat, and one of the reasons we now live in the cooler climes of Wyoming.
So, what kinds of events can I share with you about actually taking time to take a break from your every day life to find peace and solitude for creating magic moments of creativity? Having a place to go where you know someone (a relative or close friend) really helps. Having a plan for what you’d like to accomplish with your time off from work is another. I have long lists of household chores I need to do, and I get to many of them a big chunk at a time. Vacation time is special, and means planning truly worthwhile things to accomplish in that small window of the time/space continuum.
For me, it was practice what I preach. Do good things. Help others. Develop goals that can help more than just myself. Don’t waste money. Barter. Give more than a full measure if helping others. Show love. Mean it. Develop skills every stinking day. Do something new. Stay safe.
It was my hope to really pull together a LOT of my own ideas, snippets, thoughts, dreams, and future projects, and sort them out and prioritize them for more efficient follow through and real objectives. In this, I got a lot done, but not as much as I wanted to. But, positive movement occurred, and I was able to relax and think on so many great things that I’m going to be working on in the near future.
While on vacation this summer, I traded a lot of computer geekage for two trailers, a couple of folding chairs, an antique barrister bookcase, and a couple boxes of books…OLD books. In exchange for cleaning and securing a plumbing office computer, setting up a website, and taking dozens of pictures of the contents of a newly purchased old building being converted from church to a plumbing business space and warehouse to sell the pews, desks, and older items on Craigslist, I took home a pickup bed style 1 ton trailer, a much smaller homemade trailer that I’m going to convert into a trailer for my motorcycle, two steel folding chairs, and a glass doored antique bookcase.
I also spent a lot of time with my four grandkids, my son Kenny, and daughter Laurie, including a lot of time swimming in the Arkansas river trying to cool off. Saw some bad weather from the massive heat wave, to 80 mph wind gusts from thunderstorm outflow boundaries, to the actual lighting strike that caught the forest by the river’s side on fire for many hours, shutting down half the town with moving emergency equipment and fire fighters. Gas prices were up much higher than springtime, and was our biggest expense for the trip. We did bring down about 120 pounds of beef from our beef cow we purchased in the spring, to feed the crew over the vacation and leave my daughter’s freezer full after we left.
All in all, a much needed break from work, a not really wanted break from the internet, and some quality family time with those I love the most. We finally stopped a while to actually smell the roses. We even got to practice using some of our prepper skills in various aspects of this trip, such as first aid, bugout buggy loading, roadside repairs and adjustments, dealing with wildlife we don’t normally worry about, and a few psychological and physical needs and therapy for a few little things. I have to say, one of our best family vacations yet.
What to take away from this story? Even in a down economy, with very little savings, using what tools and skills and food storage we have, and most definitely planning ahead with all the family involved, we were able to travel across two states, help each other, trade some skills for some tangible items, and have loads of fun using nothing but our wits, our abilities, and the tools and resources at hand.
Would this kind of trip be possible in a time of great unrest and civil disturbances? Maybe, but probably not as safely. There were and are many backroads, and fuel issues might be the worst. Current trends indicate that bad times right now are going to keep getting worse, as our selfish leaders lavish everything on themselves, and continue stealing from our future. I suggest if you’re overdue for a family get together, soon is better than later to make it happen. And, think about the older generations as well. Visit…while they’re still around to share with you…
Have a great summer.