I celebrated my 50th Birthday on Monday, November 6th. It was a grand affair including a lavish dining experience, an abundance of expensive gifts, and the grandest cake you’ve ever seen!
Ok, Ok, obviously that’s an exaggeration and not at all what I would have wanted anyway. 😉
I did have a nice brunch with The Monster at Denny’s, where I received a free ‘create your own Slam’. I’ve done this for the last several years on my birthday because, well… it’s free. My email inbox also has free birthday offers, good for the day of my birthday, 7 -14 days after my birthday, and a few for the whole month of November. Score!
Cheapskate Pro Tip
I’m a big fan of free stuff. When you’re on the road it definitely helps with the food budget during your birthday month. It’s also a nice treat if you aren’t prone to spend money eating out. I have a separate email address for this kind of thing so my regular email doesn’t get junked up. I use this same email for things like contest entries. (Someone has to win. Eventually, it might be me!)
To get most of the birthday freebies, you have to sign up in advance for the reward club offered by the restaurant or business. This year my email inbox was full with offers from Culvers, Arby’s, Red Robin, Jamba Juice, Orange Julius, Starbucks, Dairy Queen, Chili’s, Sweet Tomatoes/Souplantation, IHOP, Pizza Hut, Mellow Mushroom, Krispy Kreme, Buca di Beppo, Hay House, Sephora, and much more. And those are just the ones I can recall offhand!
In recent years, since I began planning this change in lifestyle, my parents have been overwhelmingly supportive. For Birthdays, Christmas and any other gifting occasion, they have given me practical but AMAZING things. Experienced, passionate travelers themselves, they know a thing or two about being on the road.
This year was no exception. I got a cool set of reusable, battery-operated flares. They’re magnetic, so they can adhere to the van directly, or on the ground with the included stands. In a second much larger box, there was an abundance of non-perishable food items and other gadgets. PLUS, a number of gift cards, including one for Starbucks since they know I am prone to work from Starbucks regularly. Thoughtful gift perfection if you ask me.
That Cake Looks Like A Donut
Since the best cake I know (other than my Mom’s) is a cupcake from my favorite little spot in Yuba City, CA, I settled for Krispy Kreme. Don’t judge me. I got a couple (ok, I got 3) of my favorite glazed creme filled and a cup of coffee. (one donut and the coffee were free with a birthday coupon) It was an acceptable substitute, but make no mistake, I will go to Yuba City to get a decadent delight from Cupcake Magic in the next few months.
All That Remains of 2017
The year is quickly coming to an end and I have been in AZ longer than I hoped I would be. Thankfully, the worst of Monster’s health issue is behind us. We’re in the healing part of the process now. The new challenge is regulating the medicine Monster needs to take going forward.
Technically I could leave for 2 weeks at a time, perhaps slightly longer. I have chosen to stay close until now, but I may explore Arizona a bit going forward. I haven’t been impressed with the parts I’ve seen over the last 6 years, but I also haven’t left the desert areas of the state.
Most people in the nomadic community seem to love the desert in winter (Arizona in particular). While I agree the weather doesn’t suck, I am just not a fan. I have a long list of reasons, some of which I plan to share in a future blog post about Arizona (and the desert).
My remaining 2017 plans are actually fairly simple. I’ll be staying in AZ through the end of the year (and into January). With one exception. Monster and I have a short trip planned to San Diego in December. Otherwise, I will be around the state through the end of the RTR in January.
Missing The Van Build
In my last post, I mentioned I would be leaving for the Van Build in a few days. That did not happen. As I also mentioned in that same post, the original work I intended to have done (solar) was no longer an affordable option. In its place, I planned to have my MaxxAir fan installed (since I already have it). I wouldn’t be able to power it without solar or buying additional items, but at least it would be in.
When I saw how busy the build was in just the first few days and considered the Monster’s continuing needs, I decided to wait. Sure I would like to have the fan installed, but I’ll just wait until I can get the things I need to power it. Solar is at least a year out, but perhaps a battery isolator will work if I can install the fan before then.
There are many at the van build who have more pressing needs than mine anyway. It’s hard to miss what you don’t have and I’m surprisingly content with my current set up. Anything beyond what I have now is just a bonus.
Recently, someone asked for my winter prep tips. This is pretty much it:
I purchased this blanket to layer with a blanket I already own. The current blanket keeps me warm when temps dip to around 55. Layering with this blanket should keep me warm from 55 to as low as 35 degrees.
While we’re talking about blankets, I wanted my mattress to last so I bought this mattress protector. It was cheap and saved my mattress this summer when I sat a tray of strawberries on my bed and went to Starbucks for the day. It was a particularly hot day and the strawberries were very ripe. Bad combination! 🙂 If not for the mattress pad, I would have had an awful stain and lingering smell.
This is a zero degree sleeping bag that I have not used yet but the reviews are good. So was the price, as these can be pretty expensive. I’m hoping it alone will do the trick when temps dip below freezing. If the forecast predicts temps near zero, I don’t plan to stick around to experience it. lol
Non-weather related but super helpful in organizing: In my preparation for van living I made several purchased well in advance over the past 3 years. I purchased these storage cubes over a year ago. Until recently I completely forgot about them as they were at the bottom of a Rubbermaid. Clothes organization has been a struggle for me so when I found them recently, I immediately implemented them. They are fantastic! I have since purchased this set to supplement the existing set. They work great for clothes, towels, sheets, and other soft items.
That’s it for now friends. Hope everyone is having a great Fall!