I've been a member for some time.....but.........

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Well-known member
Nov 12, 2018
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I haven't been very active. I joined when I got nomad fever. Just after retirement.

That happened a bit earlier than planned. I was only 58 years old. But my job was turning into garbage. Revenues had fallen badly, with no real prospect of recovery. Those who still had jobs at the place were suffering badly. And I despaired of finding anything else worth having at that age. So I retired gave up the rat race. I haven't regretted this, by the way. Life has been better this way.

My wife actually retired a bit before me. She did it in order to take care of her aging father, who has since passed away. She's a bit more listless in retirement than I am. She surely is happy not having to punch a clock. But she's having a bit more difficulty than I in finding constructive things to do. She's doing more "nothing" than I am. It's not really severe and I think she's more happy than not. But her notions of "what to do?" are less solid than mine. (She got out of the workforce at a mere 52 years of age. Some people have all the luck :)

I love my home. It's modest, but it has virtues and we've been here 30 years now. But it demands too much of me. When I was working 40 hour weeks.........plus other times being a sole proprietor, which demanded even more time.........I would do what absolutely had to be done on the home. And I'd dream of the day when I could devote more time to our home. I had plans for the place.

But in retirement I've found that I just don't seem to be able to make much progress. I work myself to exhaustion and soreness, only to feel disappointment that I've accomplished perhaps 10% of what I wish I'd accomplished. Time and time again.

And I think I knew it would be this way when I retired. At least, the notion of setting up a tiny home on wheels and hitting the road for better weather was very, very appealing to me. And my wife was on board with this. "On paper" anyway. What I found, though, was that she'd become mule-ish......and even a bit destructive.......when I'd get close to starting out. Even on very small 'test' trips which didn't involve long distances. I reached the conclusion that while her interest in getting out and seeing a few things was probably sincere, she was panicking when it came time to take the plunge.

To be fair to her.....I had not provided the sort of road home which many ladies would dream of. I've collected some perfectly good camping equipment. Some of which is now four years old and only now getting it's first uses. But our vehicles were anything but those one would consider for van life. She has a Chevy Impala and I have a Chevy pickup truck. Standard cab and nothing fancy in it at all. I figured the two together would be adequate for getting our feet wet, rather than jumping straight into some other vehicle. It seems my logic did not sway her.

But you know what did sway her? It was when I said, "Why don't I get us a mini-van?" Boy.....she was on board with that!!! She was so enthusiastic that I realized I'd better not dawdle. So I bought it just a few months ago. Just before Easter, I think. Not brand new. But not far from it either. A Chrysler Pacifica.

I expected it to be good. I find that I can hardly praise it enough. I honestly doubt if........say..........a 1965 Imperial could be more comfortable. And it would probably be inferior. Longevity? Well.......it's too early for me to testify. But I'll guess that a Chrysler mini-van.....properly maintained......can be trusted for some time.

We've already been on two, week-long camping trips with it. We'll be going on a two week trip here in about a week. Plus we did a month-long 4650 mile trip from early May to early June. About two weeks of that trip was spent visiting my brother. Who has in-law quarters in their basement. So the Chrysler was merely parked in the driveway during that time. But we camped for the last week of the trip at a spot about 8 hours from home. And during the actual travelling my wife got her first tastes of sleeping and showering at a Flying J, for instance. And she found it enjoyable. By the way......4650 miles with an average MPG of 28.1. I'm impressed.

She found the shower tent thoroughly okay with her. She's not even too very intimidated by the porta-potty. She will go to a bit of trouble to reach plumbing if at all possible. But she's getting along without it without apparently suffering. And she found that having a porta-potty in that van when in the desert is very handy. She probably would have doubted my word on that. But they say that experience is the best teacher......

When we left on that month-long trip I powered the house down and shut off the water. Only a few days later, my sister-in-law moved in. Powered everything right back up and opened the water shut-off. Damn it! I was trying to save some costs there! It's actually not as bad as it sounds. For one thing, when this has happened before it was one of my darned kids. I love them. But two out of three are too damned feckless to take care of business in any meaningful way. Such as keeping a stable roof over their heads. At a rather advanced age, I might add. We're getting tired of bailing them out.

But my sister-in-law is a different matter. She kept a job faithfully since high school. It's been just about thirty years now. And she's provided one of my children a place to live for many years now. She even intends to leave her house to my kids. (I do, too. And the two homes are right in the same neighborhood. So I guess they won't be homeless.) But last fall she had a health crisis. And her recovery has been slow. It's not clear that she'll ever be able to work again. I think I regard it as doubtful.

So now she'd fallen on hard times? Well......she's most certainly got a home with us. So moving in was not a problem. I do wish she'd have given me some notice.........but........okay. I might have just given her the money to make her liabilities. But I couldn't have done that forever. And maybe it's better this way. We'll all live a bit cheaper and she'll be relieved of keeping a house up and running. I've tried to help her with that. And I've made some contributions. But I have trouble keeping up with my own house. I think it's better this way. She and I get along well. She once remarked that I soothe her. And she's had need of soothing at times during her life, I can tell you. She and her sister......my wife.....get along pretty good. Though they are capable of bickering unnecessarily. Yet I can usually get them to stop that silliness. Both of them have always needed someone to lead them out of their combative anxieties. And I've been working on them for more than thirty years now. And I've made some progress. Their volatility is not wholly gone. But it's definitely less. I think we can live harmoniously most of the time.

I guess if she can't return by fall her company will be able to terminate her. I suspect that even if she makes it back, she won't be particularly wanted there. And I doubt if anyone else would be very interested in a roughly fifty year old, questionable health employee. She's probably going to have to retire.

If she does retire, then she's pretty enthusiastic to just go out on the road with us. She's all in on a travel trailer in the 5000I lb or so range. I've been urging her to think smaller. She doesn't know what she's getting into there. I won't be too uncooperative there since it's not my choice to make.

But she recognizes the desirability of cutting way back on the responsibilities and worries of maintaining a conventional home and living a simpler life. Both she an my wife seem to be more hopeful even than I am of spending this coming winter in Arizona or some other warm place.

So......we're not van-lifers yet. But we kinda hope to be before a year or two have gone by. And maybe we've established ourselves as part-timers. And I'm glad.
Wow, that is a lot of information to absorb! We retired when I was 53 or 54 and started traveling which we did for a while. We found seasonal jobs when money started to run low even though we could have done better managing it, we didn’t want to and we were not afraid of struggling to get by as we had done it many times trying to keep our sticks and bricks home. Eventually we found easy good paying jobs in a National Recreation Area and have continued to live cheaply there as well as travel a few months a year. I’m turning 71 this year and the last 17 years have been much better than I ever expected they could be. Hope all goes well for you in your journey.
We all think we are going to live forever, and it's the other woman's husband who is going to drop dead of a heart attack or something. But if anything happened to you like a heart attack do you think your wife could survive and look after the home or the kids do anything so many mom's think they will be able to do for them in their old age & widodom ? The barber who cut my hair since I was a kid had a story identical to yours.
He had a Class C and liked to go to reunions and meet up with old Navy buddies.

She didn't like it and he showed her how it was cheaper in every way than staying in motels & eating in restaurants while away from home. Then one day he had a heart attack and the doctor gave him some bad news regarding his time being at hand. His wife was angry and depressed as she thought she was supposed to have a man look after here all her life. No one plans to fail, they just fail to plan and his wife never realized she would become a widow at some point. His daughter in laws wanted their husbands at home with them feeling to let the other brothers look after "mom". All they were concerned with was that "mom" was giving the other brothers financial aid and not her husband.

Within a couple of years mom went into an assisted care home. She really didn't need the assistance but her Husband's lawyer thought that it would be the only way to wean her sons and their wives and they finally grow up. Mom was after 2 years happy to be rid of the house and not have to listen to the constant begging of her offspring.

I would suggest taking inventory of all of the cost of & operating the home with your wife assisting. Then pretend you are dead & gone and look at the finances she would have to maintain and live in the home. Could she even afford to keep the home and would she have been better off to consider a smaller retirement house....all one floor no basement or attic, near the conveniences of the city, and near public transportation.

Planning for old age should be established by 50's. I'm glad she relented and went along with camping in the Mini Van and enjoyed herself for you.
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All three of you have truly interesting stories. Wow! I wish more people in the forum could write as you do; fully, honestly, and so interestingly. And I can identify with everything you said, starting with being slow to get things done as an old man, quick to run out of energy, and concern for what my wife needs to be happy while I'm here and after I'm gone. You each brought up real issues.

I just told the story of my several "van life" vehicles as the thread My Four Seasons of Vanlife. Also, I tell the first story of my current van in the link below titled How I acquired White Cloud. You can see White Cloud on the left as my Avitar. I spent a year to get White Cloud all the way from an empty shell to the finished product I now live in; even though I made it all so simple and basic. Being old, I focussed on easy and practical rather than "pretty".

I felt a little ashamed about the "not so pretty" part, until I saw a video of a "beautiful" van which demonstrated how hard it is to maintain things in such a van compared with my van. It took her about 20 times longer to switch an empty water jug out for a full one than it takes me. To make the exchange, she was digging boxes and plastic tubing out of the way and carrying jugs around the outside between back and side doors to install a full jug out-of-sight under her lovely sink. In my van, I just lift the pump up out of one jug and drop it down into the jug next to it, both bungee-corded to the wall right there in plain sight, right where I need them. So now I'm proud that I did not go for "pretty"; I feel like I went for "smart". And my sink is a collapsible basin I tuck away when not needed, while the one-and-only water faucet is also my "shower head" used on myself in a collapsible dog bathtub. All so simple and easy -- all so perfect for me.;)
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I wish more people in the forum could write as you do; fully, honestly, and so interestingly.
Most posts I read here strike me as full, honest, and interesting.
The lengths vary. That is a good thing.
Theoretically, we are not here to judge but to share, each in our own way.
As far as looks are concerned, they are low on my priority list. Would I like my stuff to look good? Sure.

But my experience is that most of the things we have or might have may be economical, they may be practical and they may be stylish. But we can usually only pick two.
At the time I was preparing to retire, my 32 year old son was living with me. He DID have a job, but basically was still counting on me to provide him a place to live. We lived in a 2 BR apartment. I had to sit him down one day and explain that once I retired I was going to make my life living in a 6x12 cargo trailer being pulled by my pickup truck. That meant he was going to have to start taking care of himself. I give him credit; he handled it pretty well. However, after 5 years, he no longer speaks to me and doesn't return phone calls or emails. I've heard this kind of story so many times from so many people that I don't feel bad saying "What the heck is wrong with the younger generation?" They seem to literally expect their parent(s) to take care of them till their parents die. I just don't get it.

I know that wasn't the OP's main point, but it seemed to be a big part of what his post was about. Once it's time, we have to take care of ourselves and if the family can't take care of themselves, it's just not the job of us old people to do it for them. I am absolutely convinced of this. If I didn't, I'd probably feel a lot worse having 2 kids who seem to want nothing to do with me.

Boy, did I peel back the onion on that one! Welcome aboard the "Patrick Express"!
If you don't want your kids hanging around after the age they should be gone get an early start on being tough on them when they mess up! Just joking of course. I am not a family therapist and only give terrible advice regarding family life 🤪✌️

Every family has it's own dynamics as families are very different blends of previous parenting role models versus children with a wide variety of personality types as well as likes and dislikes.
No one can predict what retirement will really be like, there are way too many variables.
As we planned for our retirement we decided that I would be traveling most of the time solo. I have taken 3 extended
trips so far and life is good. I just returned from a 5400 mile trip through MT, ID, WA, OR, CA, and WY. I took almost 800 pictures and my wife was impressed, impressed enough that she now wants to travel with me. My cargo van was enough for me but now we are looking for a high top van to convert.

Just like you, things change all the time. Like others have said, you have to always have a back up plan because you don't know what life will bring you. We have never thought about livng full time in a van so we will always have our home to fall back on.
Just speaking for myself, I utilized a preset strategy with my son from the time he was small - in a nutshell, the strategy was 18? HS Grad? OUT! He had three options: Go to school and get out, Get an apartment and a job and get out, or join the military service of his choice and GET OUT. Period, no other options. I checked regularly to make sure this had sunk in. Me: "Hey YOU - Porkchop! What happens when you turn 18 and grad HS"? Him: "I'm OUT" Me: "Good Boy" :ROFLMAO:

Cruel? Maybe a little, but I've found that when you make sure your kid knows exactly what your expectations are, they'll often live up to them. He gradded HS 5th on the Honor Line, 4.27 GPA, most of an AA done with duel enrollment at the local CC, Senior Class President, , a football team Captain, president of several school clubs, top 3 national ranking for 3 years in his category of the DECA Business competitions, 5 full ride scholarship offers at major universities (he turned down the USAF Academy and went to Auburn on a AU Presidents's Scholarship and a full USAF Technical Scholarship in Computer Engineering - It was a GIRL of course...:sneaky:)

Did I ride him hard and make D*mn sure he performed? Yup, he really had some anger issues at me at times too, Oh well! The upside? He had a BMW 330 Ci convertible sitting in the driveway on his 16th BDay for one. I made sure he had great stuff but also made sure he fully understood that these were NOT bribes. They were the REWARDS for hard work, performance, dedication, and sacrifice. They could just as easily dispear if he slacked off... The approach may not be everyone's cup of tea with their kids but it worked for me and he's successfully launched - which was my only real goal in all of this. To give him a fighting chance in the brutal, rotten rat race that life nowaday's has become for most people... I'd do it again in a heartbeat...

Basically, if you plan your life and retirement correctly, you won't leave anything behind! Now, I didn't really PLAN it this way, but it works out. I have no real estate, my vehicles are not worth much, and I live on Social Security. Just got to make sure I get my 2 dogs taken care of... Hopefully, I'll outlive them.

This is not as dark as it sounds. I'm actually kind of relieved. :)
I'm a boomer. No one had to tell me to get out when I turned 18, I WANTED out! My mother in particular hated the idea of me moving out on my own.

Always bemused when I read about modern kids who don't want to leave. In all fairness though, I think it was easier then to afford an actual life on not much more than minimum wage.
I'm a boomer. No one had to tell me to get out when I turned 18, I WANTED out! My mother in particular hated the idea of me moving out on my own.

Always bemused when I read about modern kids who don't want to leave. In all fairness though, I think it was easier then to afford an actual life on not much more than minimum wage.
Yep, I waited until my Jr year of college, and then ... zoom... but in almost every case of people I know NOW with kids who won't leave, drugs are involved. I do not envy them.
However, after 5 years, he no longer speaks to me and doesn't return phone calls or emails. I've heard this kind of story so many times from so many people that I don't feel bad saying "What the heck is wrong with the younger generation?" They seem to literally expect their parent(s) to take care of them till their parents die. I just don't get it.

I'm a boomer. No one had to tell me to get out when I turned 18, I WANTED out! My mother in particular hated the idea of me moving out on my own.

Always bemused when I read about modern kids who don't want to leave. In all fairness though, I think it was easier then to afford an actual life on not much more than minimum wage.
You can't generalize about young people.

I have five kids ranging from 21 to 32 and all left home when they graduated. I wanted them to stay, lol. Three already own their own homes. They are super hard workers. They weren't handed anything... ever. I didn't have much to give them.

All love camping:D
One morning at the end of freshman year of college (I was on scholarship and the DNA pool had been out of the picture for some time), I walked into the dining hall and the dragon lady that guarded the entrance said "you can't come in here anymore, it's just for seniors now." Surpise, oh clueless teen! adult life starts now.

I hustled a lot of short jobs, talked some people into renting me a room even though I didn't have proof of income, and scraped through. It was a weird and complicated situation, but looking back I think it had a lot in common with kids "aging out" of foster care, which thousands do every year I'm sure. There were a couple of vaguely supportive adults around but they had their limits.

One thing that made it easier back then was they still had rooming houses. You could live cheap and safe without signing your life away or having a ton of money up front, and cr@ppy unskilled jobs paid enough to survive. I would hate to try it now.
Military service worked for me but even it had more automatic benefits for people that completed their time honorably then than today. It gave me time to form a plan and use the automatic educational benefits to at least have a possibility of having a successful way of making a living. Most of the good things that happened were not planned but because I was prepared and willing to try, happened. Fate and good luck have better odds of working if you have skills and the education needed to get the opportunities that fate provides.
I posted a comment, changed my mind and can't delete it. So... here's nothing.
That happens to me once in a while too, Pat. First time, I asked the monitors to delete it for me, which they did. But I never asked them again, not wanting to become a pain. It's happened twice since then, so I just reduced my unwanted message to four dots ". . . ." and saved it again. The last time I did this, someone later posted a message in the same thread and I wanted to respond to it. So I made use of my ". . . ." message above up above theirs. (1) I clicked "Reply" on their post. (2) copyied their name & message from the new unsaved reply that appeared at the bottom. (3) Scrolled up and clicked "Edit" on my ". . . ." message above, and pasted what I'd copied replacing the ". . . .". (4) There, I wrote my reply to them there and posted it.
The never-saved Reply" box I'd opened at the bottom then disappeared.
I bet they wondered what happened that a reply to their message appeared above instead of below their message!