The Facts of LIB

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Where do you go?

Where do you stay?

How much does it cost?

These questions are highest on our frequently asked questions list – even before we left San Diego.

Until today, the answers have been anybody’s guess.

Yes, it might be as boring as egg-salad, but the facts and figures are now in.

Introducing: LIB Infographics!

From our first complete year, we’ve mined-out 12 months of information and created a landscape of facts about our travel adventure. Okay … truth is there’s no “we” about it. Since we’re talking about facts here let’s keep it real … this is my personal project. Just because I’m a retired CFO doesn’t mean I should stop doing what I love – play with numbers.

But, to be fair, most people get no kicks from mundane – so, as a gift to Carmen I curated the data with visuals. Last night we opened a good bottle of cabernet to celebrate Year One and I presented Carmen with the beautiful data, and we called it a date.

Essentially, this is the bare-bones facts of our journey: We bought our Airstream, Beauty, in April 2015 in Alabama, towed her to San Diego in July 2015, moved into Beauty in April 2016  and, finally, took her the road on July 18, 2016. So, the following statistics begin on July 18, 2016.

Okay, without further ado …Unveil the infographics!

Below is the map of our journey. Click the map for an animated version at your own risk.

Click on the map for an animated journey

Now for the details…

So, what surprised us and what didn’t? What part of our experience was hidden in the data? How can these pictures inform our future LIB plans?

Well, fuel costs were much lower than projected and camping fees much higher. Around a ¼ of our nights were spent with no out-of-pocket costs!

And, it’s been a challenge to adhere to the 4-3-2 rule. Our opinion hasn’t changed that a perfect year would be spent in 24 unique locations as we follow the weather – but we’ve stayed in three times as many places with an average of 4 days in 88 different places – far, far from our intended forecast!

But, this first year has been a period of discovery. How can we know where we’d like to be if we’ve never been there? Example: Michigan. While just passing through the Mitten State last month we learned to love the place, the weather, the people … and we hope, someday, to spend an entire summer of two-week “vacations” around Lake Michigan.

Our original plan had been to frequent the National Parks, but unless a park fell directly on our route, we usually passed. Several reasons for that:

  1. Federal parks are hard to access without making reservations – especially in the summertime, weekends and holidays.
  2. Cell service is usually nonexistent.
  3. Sites are mostly primitive with no electrical hook-ups, water, sewer or a source for propane.
  4. Few sites are large enough to accommodate our rig.

We love our national parks, so we’re working to adapt by:

  1. Installing solar and a DC to AC electricity converter to relieve our dependency on infrastructure. And, now that we don’t need electrical hook-ups (which are often faulty or disrupted by weather situations, anyway) we’re also conserving propane.
  2. Our new energy efficiency has enabled us to focus on water conservation. Now – given fair weather – we’re confident enough to plan for fourteen-days straight of dry camping (no hookups at all).
  3. Now, with a grip on solar and water, our current project is to boost cell service. Connectivity is a primary necessity for a two-week stay. Most National Parks (and many State Parks) intentionally resist providing services, or they throttle provided services during peak hours. Lack of services hinder hiking, kayaking, shopping, or even walking the dog at night unless we stay together in case of emergency. The walkie-talkies are okay for short trips apart, but connectivity is a safety issue for us – not a toy or media dependency.

So what did Carmen and I learn here? Not much. But the data confirms and, therefore, advises our plans. As a result, we’ll visit protected wilderness areas more often; drop in on more Harvest Hosts and BLM sites  because we prefer public lands, top-notch resorts (both urban and countryside) and quiet, secluded hide-aways.

As we continue LIB the data will grow and, periodically, I’ll update the infographics. Our home certainly isn’t static, but the data we gather along the way will be a familiar place – a clearing, if you will – where we can return again and again to reflect, think, plan and where I can hoard as much as I want.

I’m a simple man and my needs are few … a big pile of data, a growler of beer and my beloved beside me in the wilderness.