A budget busting 2018

Holy moly – it really is the end of the year and time for us to reflect back on our life ‘on the move’.

Real 2018 track

Near the end of 2017 we set a rough plan on where we would go.  As life happens, Glenn had some sudden health issues while we were in Michigan and we ended up cutting out our plans to travel to the northernmost Northeast states and the Canadian Maritimes.  Instead we spent the summer in the northern portion of Michigan (both lower and upper peninsula).

Still we visited 20 states this year from Florida, where we celebrated New Years Eve in the Keys, worked our way up several Eastern states over to West Virginia, Ohio and Indiana before heading through Michigan to Wisconsin and Minnesota.  We wanted to experience working at the Sugar Beet harvest (blog post soon) in Northern Minnesota.  After we were released we headed to Texas to see friends and family before heading to the Rio Grande Valley where we will spend a couple of months enjoying warm swimming pools, surf fishing and pickle ball. 

What were our top campgrounds out of the 73 we stayed at this year?  (note –our internal rating depends on my subjectivity for sure and Glenn’s objectivityJ.

Lums Pond State Park in Middleton, Delaware – super nice open sites with hiking trails and the best Philly Cheese Steak within 10 miles.

French Creek State Park in Elverson, PA – two lakes, disc golf, a pool and hiking/biking trails.

North Bend State Park in Cairo, West Virginia – West Virginia was a surprise state for us.  Very, very pretty and their state parks are wonderful.  Lots of hiking, rafting, and fishing at most of them.

Ft. Wayne City Park in Ft Wayne, Indiana – Right on a city bike trail that goes for MILES, this small, wooded park was a gem.  Unlike many city campgrounds, the restrooms that been renovated and were clean.

Montague City Park in Montague, Michigan – Short walk and bike ride to a fishing pier, two marinas, and two different towns made this park a winner.  It is also located on a 22 mile long bike trail to several small towns.

Pere Marquette RV Resort in Baldwin, Michigan.  While not on the Pere Marquette River, it is close for fishing and kayaking.  It is a 5 star type of resort and they bent the rules to allow our truck camper in for two nightsJ

Chequamegon Nicholet National Forest Lost Lake Campground in Tipler, Wisconsin.  Very wooded, secluded sites with access to a  scenic no-wake lake.

Chequamegon Nicholet National Forest Black Lake Campground near Clam Lake, Wisconsin.  The sites here are huge and neat hiking trails close by.  No services in park but loads of beauty.

Lengendary Water Casino in Red Cliff, Wisconsin.  Right on breathtaking Lake Superior, the views couldn’t be beat.  An indoor/outdoor hot tub was well….spectacular.

Cedar Ridge US Corp Park near Belton, TX  Beautiful views of Lake Texoma Belton in large, shaded spots with easy access to tthe lake.

Some of the more unusual campgrounds that didn’t make our top list but are noteworthy for sure:

Dads Blue Grass CG in Franklin KY (Bluegrass bands play in the park venue on weekends), Elks Lodge in Tavenier, FL (right on the bay side and on the bike route), Crawfords Campground in Murphy, NC (rock field in middle of park for jeeps to use in climbing competitions), the Soo Locks CG in Soo City, MI (see huge Great Lake tankers from your campsite) and Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio (unexpected hiking grottos).


Since we track all our expenses by category by month, we are able to see the differences year over year.  Total for 2018, we’ve spent just over $39,000 which is up over last year by $4,000.

Where did we spend the $4,000 more than last year?  New radiator in the 2012 Ford 350, getting two different trucks ready as towed vehicles (the first one was to make sure we liked having a towed), gas/diesel expense and more campgrounds (we travelled more places than in previous years).  Specific expenses – camping $4,400, gas/diesel $4,300, food/eating out $8,900. 

We always appreciate our friends and family helping us to save money by driveway camping.  I also look for other boondocking opportunities which was not as easy this year because of being on the Eastern side of the US (fewer national forests) and we were in cooler weather in many states so we wanted to plug in.  Even with these needs, we logged 158 free nights during the year.

What did we do instead of camp hosting this year for some income?  Sugar Beet Harvest!  It did turn out to be an unusual year since the harvest lasted longer than a month.   I’ll post our thoughts on this work camping experience soon.

Coolest places?

What about some of the neatest places we saw this year?

For Glenn it was the Soo Locks in the UP of Michigan – seeing HUGE 1,000+ ft tankers raise and lower in the water to make it through the Great Lakes and receive supplies via other boats was more than interesting.

For me walking the Mackinaw Bridge over Labor Day and seeing Pittsburg were lifetime check offs.  For both of us having a boat trip through the Apostle Islands was pleasant and seeing a cranberry bog operation was an eye opener.


My next post will be about our 2019 plans.  Over our hot tub soaks the past few nights,  we decided our general path for the year.  We still love the change and uncertainty of our nomadic lifestyle and know ‘life happens’ so we will adapt to what comes our way.

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