Sunday, July 18, 2010

Some people get it.

It's not about the money, it's about living well. All we have in life is time. We can spend it with our shoulders to the wheel . . . or we can go fishing. The choice is ours.

A few years ago my wife and I were on big sailing ship for a day cruise out of Key West. We'd gotten a heck of a deal on the trip at the last minute as the boat wasn't full at sailing time. There was food, drink and a darn good guitar player on board. My wife and I were having a great time.
Quite a few people weren't very happy. During the course of the day, we heard their stories. They'd flown down to the Keys from up north. They were paying $1400/week for their place to stay. To save money, they were eating all their meals at a fast food place.

They'd amost spent more for lodging in a week than we'd spent for all our expenses for a month. Since we were partying and making a vacation out of the trip, we were a bit looser with our budget than normal. Unlike them, we were planning to check out a great restaurant some of the locals told us about. (It really did have great prices, good food, and was a good time.)

To be fair, we weren't spending the night in Key West itself. We were camped right on the water at a state park just up the road a bit. We'd traveled down from NH in our waste oil burning car and hadn't spent money on fuel yet that month. About half the time on the trip down, we'd stayed with friends or relatives. The other half we camped out, often in great private campgrounds that cost less than state campgrounds.

Camping, we ate a lot of meals that I cooked myself. I even did some thermos cooking so we'd have hot food while picnicking along the road. That saved us enough money so we could eat at some great places on occasion.

I do feel bad for being a bit unkind to the other passengers on the cruise. I told them how we were living. Kept asking them if they'd seen any of the interesting things we'd seen along the way. They had not. Some people don't like it at all when poor folks are having a much better time than they are. Should have just shook my head and said something to the effect of Key West sure being expensive.

During our meandering trip down the Keys, we talked to a lot of people. One guy I met set us up with some free waste vegetable oil to run the car. I shared some fine single malt scotch with a fellow camper and he told me of some great little known camping places. A street magician I'd met in St. Augustine showed me how to do his tricks. We'd hit it off and chatted a good long while. Got some hints on how to avoid the nastier cops in the area. Had some fun helping out other people. Fixed a guy's taillights on his camper. Got another guy's generator going. Shared coffee on a drizzly day with a nearby camper. Learned an amazing amount of stuff about edible mushrooms.

We got to connect with a lot of interesting people on the trip. Learned some amazing and useful stuff along way. Took a few months on the road to travel instead of a week or two. We had a lot more fun than most of the vacationers we met along the way.

By the way, this was a working trip for me. At the time I was managing an on-line S/F and Fantasy Internet magazine, Quantum Muse. I traveled with a lap top that was powered by an inverter pugged into the car's cigarette lighter. As long as I could occasionally get to an Internet connection, I could run the zine. It worked for me. One time I jacked in at a bar in Key Largo, right on the water. Occasionally I'd reach behind me to get a fresh beer out of the bar's cooler. Could not help but compare my working conditions to my friends who toiled away in airless cubicles.

Of course, they were making a lot more money than me. Don't think they were as happy though.

Often I'd hear people I know tell me how they'd like to travel that way I did. Of course, they'd say, I'd have to stay in a hotel every night, or have a big motor home, or they would have to fly instead of drive. Well, that's not the way I traveled. Their dream trips were first class, but mine actually happened.



  1. A friend of mine once said it's not how much money you make,it's what you do with the money you make.Great story all the more interesting because you actually lived it.


  2. Yessir, If it were up to me, I'd be writing right now with my feet propped up in the cockpit of an old but well maintained (by me) sailboat, anchored out in some little cove somewhere... I don't know how to break the robots' programming. I've tried for five years on my robot, ain't workin'....

  3. One morning I woke up at 3 AM with the bright idea of hitting the road. Woke my wife up and told her about it. God bless her, she is as nutty as I am. We cleared up some debt and she quit her job. Then we hit the road.