Update – 17 June 2017
At the time of our last update on 14 May 2017 we had just arrived in Berkeley, San Francisco, California, USA. We are now in Bakersfield, California, USA – doing some shopping and getting organised to move on again.
Main features of this period:
Twice weekly famers markets, bakeries, restaurants and lovely meals out.
We managed to buy good bread again – this time from Fournee Bakery, Berkeley.
Time off from cooking and baking ourselves made us very pleased this last month. We had some really nice meals out in Berkeley and San Francisco, which made a lovely change.
We also had another change and watched some TV for a few weeks. We were able to download a few programs about Mexico to watch after leaving our house sit too.
We spent 3 weeks in Berkeley with 2 dogs and a cat who needed feeding, watering and also walking and balls thrown for [dog not cat]. Jon has been doing “truck enhancements” too.
We enjoyed seeing the San Francisco Mission District murals and taking the cable cars up and down the hills in the city.
Walking and waterfalls in Yosemite National Park.
Camping for free by a dry creek and various off-road places.
A hotel where we could do our laundry with a small pool to wallow in at the end of a hot day.
Now we are holed up in an RV park with a larger pool for 2 days.
What is happening with the weather? We Brits love talking about weather!
It has been quite warm and sunny. Now it is really hot and it is a good thing that there is a pool in the RV park. As a bonus – for once, the pool is big enough to swim more than a few strokes before you have to turn around, so a bit of swimming momentum can be achieved rather than just a wallow and slowly moving a few metres back and forth in a vague attempt at exercise.
It is too hot to walk and there is nowhere particular to go so a pool is useful now that we are in good habits with more exercise at least most of the time. We spend a lot of time sitting in the truck while travelling or when parked up for the night so we feel better if we move ourselves often too. It seems to be helpful to counterbalance the inactivity as it is keeping the weight, that we previously lost, off. Also no one complains of back ache very often these days, so less weight to carry/more varied exercise must be doing us some good.
We put on just over half a kilogram [each] eating lots of pastries in Berkeley so we need to shift that again. Mind you, regardless of getting any exercise, it is getting so hot that any sized pool is now welcome – just to cool off!
What have we been up to?
Jon took advantage of the use of a workshop at our latest house sit and got on with his long list of extra things for the truck, as well as the usual regular servicing. Sarah got left with the bank accounts, tax returns and organising while he did this.
We managed a bit of exploring in the city of San Francisco, plenty of eating out, and have been enjoying a change.
We did some relaxing by ourselves by a creek and did some steep rocky hikes in Yosemite Park for a couple of days. The campgrounds in the park were fully booked, the hiking trails very busy and the whole place full of people – so we didn’t stay long!
Are we within our budget? Are we beaten or penniless?
Strangely, yes, we are now straight overall. We are almost at the end of the first year since leaving our UK home and have added absolutely everything up for the 12 months overall.
Our practise of cautious accounting [rounding expected costs up and likely income down] has helped a lot. We have also spent less on maintenance costs than expected at our home in the UK, as well as spent time doing some work online to earn a bit more. If you add this to our serious efforts to spend even less by balancing expenditure with free camping/house sits then we are finally on top of things, even after a bit of a spree over recent weeks.
The exchange rate is a little [but not much] better, if still up and down, but we work on a low rate and consider a higher one a bonus anyway – so we are no longer disappointed!
Our Italian tenants have stayed on for another year at our home so we don’t have to pay to advertise the rental again. We have had to buy a new washing machine though as the old one packed up after being repaired twice. Our tenants seem to be happy in our house and we are told they are looking after it – so this suits us all.
What do we really think of it so far?
We enjoyed our brief house sit in Berkeley, meeting Daryl and Robb and Melva [their Guatemalan cleaner], and particularly the restaurants and bakeries. Being in a house in the city made a welcome change at this time. We then enjoyed leaving the city for quieter camps on our own in the sunshine.
Life is often busy, we have had the usual boring chores to do and planning/research/applying for house sits can be overwhelming – but we are very lucky people to be doing it all here. We break up the chores with walking, fresh air, a bit of pool wallowing to cool off in the heat, some proper swimming and uphill rocky hikes to get some exercise, and some serious eating out when we can [to balance out the exercise] and sightseeing.
We have a lot of organising to do for our next moves especially as we have to cross a border again soon, so we need different insurance/visas/vehicle permits/currency/phone sim etc etc. Just when we think we can just do exactly what we did last month, it all changes again! Life is a reasonable mix of work and play – which is probably as it should be as an imbalance in favour of one or the other doesn’t seem to work that well.
We have different challenges to tackle wherever we go but we are finding it easier than our winter travels – although we wouldn’t have missed those despite the difficulties! We feel we are on holiday far more than previously so we must finally be getting the hang of constant travel and change. Sometimes we wish we were at home with all the conveniences and predictability that would give us – but we soon get over it as there is too much to see for now.
Where do we go from here?
We have still not made a concrete plan, as we are waiting to hear back from some house sit applications, but we will definitely cross into Mexico soon, regardless of anything else. We have to leave the USA by mid August as our latest 6 month visa will expire. Our extortionate road insurance also expires in September and we are not keen to renew it after swallowing the cost for 12 months now – there are other places to go and we have spent longer than we expected to in North America. We have been watching some TV programmes on Mexico, while we had a TV in a hotel and at our house sit, and we are tempted by many places there so it will soon be time to move on south and enjoy another challenge and something different again.
Please use the Booking.com link above to book your next discounted hotel. We used this web site a lot in the winter and it is really useful. If you use it [at no extra cost to you] we will get a small commission that will help to buy us a pancake or coffee sometime. Thank you!