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Friday, May 1, 2009

The Gypsy Life

Life on the go is really fun.

We rented an RV for 9 days and explored the Salt Lake area, Idaho Falls and the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks from this box on wheels. Renting an RV is an expensive affair:

First you need to pay rental for the vehicle itself. Funnily enough, bigger RVs for 4-5 persons cost less than one that fits 2-3 persons. In the RV world, ours was classified as a Type B Motorhome - i.e. a 2-in-1 vehicle and apartment. Some of the trailers, which are separate compartments hooked to an independent vehicle (usually a pick-up truck like a Dodge), looked like something out of a Transformers movie! Just press a button and you have an extra room here and there, and a porch, and a deck, etc. Wow.

Then, the price includes a limited number of miles. So you need to plan your entire route in advance and decide whether you need to purchase extra miles in advance at a lower price than if you paid for them upon returning the vehicle. We chalked up a bit of extra mileage cos of unexpected winter road closures, zipping back and forth over the state lines of Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana.

Thirdly, the RV is a serious gas guzzler. A full tank set us back by more than US$50 each time.

Finally, getting an RV does not replace the cost of paying for accommodation. RV parks can charge an outrageous amount for a full hook-up (i.e. water, electricity, WiFi and dump facilities) but since it was still early in the season, we managed to get a couple of good discounts. Also because many of the RV parks were just starting to get into the swing of business and were only half-functioning (e.g. no fresh water cos the pipes were iced up, shower stalls under renovation, credit card facilities not available, etc.) It helped that some kind campers contributed information on
free campgrounds online, which helped cut down the parking costs a bit.

Dan spent a fair amount of time researching and comparing prices online before we decided to make a booking. It almost broke the bank, but it would be an experience we would never be able to get driving around Southeast Asia, so we went for it.


The apartment we rented

Of course, someone needed to do the driving. And I'm mighty proud of the hub for taking this on and doing really well. He also learnt a few things from manuevering the massive load:

DC: Baby, when you get pregnant, I'll be totally sympathetic when you tell me that you feel like a whale.

YL: Huh? What's that got to do with anything?

DC: Cos it's so difficult moving this massive RV around. And that's what pregnancy must feel like.

The happy driverman

There were a couple of nights where finding a place to park for the night proved to be a challenge. There were no campgrounds open in Grand Teton and within close proximity of the park. Even the helpful guy at the visitor centre was at a loss for suggestions. In the end, we camped out in a supermaket parking lot. We found slight comfort in knowing that we weren't the only squatters there that night. Even though we had bought alot of groceries from the supermarket earlier that day, we still felt rather guilty and scooted off at 5am the next day to a less obvious spot. The wildlife observation area was pretty adequate and provided us with a wonderful view of the sunrise while we brushed our teeth.

Trying to blend in with the wildlife.

Cooking turned out to be pretty fun! We had pasta... lots of pasta. It was mostly my job to cook and Dan to wash up - but sometimes we swapped roles cos he makes a pretty mean pot of instant noodles.

The chef hard at work

I'm pretty pleased at rediscovering some basic cooking skills, which regressed and went into hibernation after home economics lessons ended in lower secondary school. I did get an 'A' in home econs after all. And I remember baking alot - just for fun - with friends during those old school days (yes, for those who did this particular Facebook quiz, SCGS girls do gather at each other's houses to bake cookies and cakes.) Well, it proved good enough for the hubby to chow down!

When you're wife puts her cooking before you, you EAT IT.

Every night, after the washing up is done, we turn up the thermostat to make the RV nice and toasty and invite one of our friends to join us for dessert. Sometimes, one of them volunteers by jumping out of the open freezer earlier in the day when the vehicle is in motion. The volunteer is the chosen one. If not, we just pick from our selection.

Ben and Jerry are friends, not food. Riiiiight.

At the same time, out come the lappies and this is pretty much the scene until (a) we run out of battery cos we're at some free campground with no hook-up facilities, or (b) we get our money's worth of electricity and WiFi by surfing and sorting out our photos till we nod off at the table.

Surf for all it's worth!

Then it's the last stop before going to bed:

Use me! Not!

But we can't bring ourselves to pee and poop in our own backyard. Cos the thought of driving around with your ex-bodily contents swishing around in the tank is seriously rather gross. Not to mention having to dispose of it yourself before returning the RV 9 days later. So we braved the cold and made dashes for the RV park's restrooms in our slippers. There were a couple of times when it was waaaay too cold to go out early in the morning or late at night, so we succumbed to doing a few Number 1s in our RV loo.

Dashing through the snow...

Then we climb into the sleeping compartment, struggle into our navy blue sleepsacks (sorta like sleeping bags but without the padding) and looking like a pair of blue cocoons, we knock out for the night.

Come to bed NOW!

Life on the go is fun. If we stayed here, I think I would love to get our own RV!

4 comments:

johari said...

Very cool you guys, and obviously you are well suited for gypsy life (well, almost). Enjoying the pics and the blog entries.

And you are right, while it may be an expensive endeavour, you cannot put a price on the experience. You will have many more chances ahead of you where you have to make a similar choice between budget and experience, and usually experience wins over. My first 4 month trip to Europe when I was 18, we quickly learned this, and adopted the motto, "we are here for a good time, not a long time"...so the budget often was tossed out the window.

Have fun and travel safe!

Cheers,
Jeff

Yi Lin said...

Hi Jeff,

Yeah, choosing is really difficult sometimes. The first thing we check out whenever we head for a city is to check out what there is to do for free. So far, the annual national parks pass has been the most value for money. That said, the need for a car and gas to access the parks still chalks up the expenses. But we've seen so many beautiful and exciting things that, cliche as it sounds, money can't buy.

Thanks for the well wishes. Keep following our blog!

Yi Lin

Christine said...

your RV sure looks cosy!

Yi Lin said...

Yeah Christine, it's nice for 2-3 people, might be a tight squeeze for anything more. And more people means needing to dump the sewerage more often too... eeeee.

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