I’ve been having an amicable discussion with my older (retired!) brother Don about whether or not I have the will to adhere to the kind of budget that will be required should I decide to retire soon. I will be turning 60 this year, and have been a slave to the Corporate Ball and Chain since I was in my early 20’s. I am growing weary of the effort required to stay competitive in a rapid paced, ever “bar raising,” cut-throat environment.
Taking my job on the road has been a blessing, as it has enabled me to stomach the rigors of the job for a little longer. Without the promise of the ability to roam, to see ever-changing sights outside my window, and have enriching experiences (at least on the weekends!) I would have quit two years ago. But I have to be honest, sitting inside a 160 square ft living space for 8-10 hours a day, five days a week while listening to the sounds of play outside my window is starting to get to me.
One of the many reasons work has become so intolerable is because they keep cutting staff. I used to joke that my biggest fear was being the last person left on the team to “clean out the stables” after all the young thoroughbreds had moved on to another race. And sure enough, my prophecy has come true. I don’t want to work this hard anymore. When I was young, I thought people over 50 were too slow to cut it in the corporate arena. Now, I see we are just too wise.
I spent the last year circling through the more populated parts of the Eastern USA….lots of cities with infrastructure nearby, like Austin, Asheville, and up the eastern seaboard where there was an abundance of nature to be found just outside large cities with strong cell signals for both Verizon and AT&T. Some of those cities like New York and Atlanta even had “built in friends” from previous years when I lived there to coax me out of my fiberglass virtual office each evening.
So as I now turn my compass toward the less populated west, I can’t help but worry if the infrastructure will be there to offer the support that I need to continue to be an “engaged employee” in this demanding work environment. And can I find the balance I need to keep me from losing myself in the job. As I search RV parks near places I long to visit like Big Bend, the Davis Mountains, and all those National Parks spread out west, is it realistic to think I can do this in between the work days? Hopping from town to town on the weekends to be ready to roll come Monday morning?
And once I get to the \wide open spaces that so many RVers blog about, am I going to be content to sit under “house arrest” like a rolling prison cell, when the only diversions are distant trails to be hiked, remote rivers to be kayaked, and so many National Parks with no hook-ups?
I won’t kid myself, Don is right. I have always enjoyed “the finer things in life.” But looking back, do I really miss those things? The high rolling parties and luxury hotels? Weekend jaunts to the Hamptons? Twelve dollar Vodka Martinis and French manicures? Not in the least. I cherish those memories, but I have no desire to have that life back. At all.
So I am testing myself these two weeks while in Austin. Can I live here in a “foodie city” with so many entertainment venues to tempt me, yet still do it on a budget? Can I find ways to enjoy all the city has to offer “on the cheap?”
My first real test came upon finding out that my second-favorite opera, Tosca, was playing right down the street at the beautiful Long Center for Performing Arts on Lady Bird Lake. It is only a short walking distance from the Pecan Grove RV Park. Could I stoop to seats in the nosebleed section, yet still feel the passion of the show?
Or could I go to Uchi, Austin’s number one restaurant, and hold fast to the “Sake Social” menu, the “early bird special” of sorts where sake is $3 a glass and a large yellowtail roll can be had for $6?
Of course, all the places along Barton Springs Restaurant Row offer Happy Hour specials. Chuy’s has $4 margaritas with free chips and queso, while Uncle Billy’s offers $2.50 drafts all day on Tuesdays.
And there’s always the Food Trucks. Although there was no power in “Ms. P’s Electric Cock,” I have enjoyed healthy, good value meals on the fly from Torchy’s Tacos to Thai food.
So which comes first? The chicken who is seeking a cheap place to roost? Or the egg in my hot off the grill breakfast taco from the deli next door that costs more than a carton of eggs? Truth be known, if I didn’t need the infrastructure for work, I probably wouldn’t be staying in RV Parks where it costs me $250 a week to park along a hike and bike path, near brew pubs, restaurants, and theatres.
I see the remote desert out west as a Catch 22, the draw being the wide open spaces and an abundance of nature to be explored, with lots of solitude and sunsets. But is it only going to frustrate the hell out of me, since I am confined to a fiberglass cell?
I guess there is only one way to find out…but one thing I do know, if it comes down to want for the finer things versus will to keep the nomadic lifestyle going, no question –The lifestyle wins hands down. Nothing has ever felt so right…even during this dreadful, seemingly never-ending winter!