Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A New Year and Budgeting and Health (updated on 2/15/2018)


New Vent Fan Arrived after a long delay. Fan-Tastic Model 7350.

January, I spent time with Gal Van Nation (GVN) FB group and also made an appearance at Rubber Tramp Rendevous (RTR) – to say hi to Bob Wells during one of his Meet and Greet sessions, and Women’s RTR.  There were more than 150 people at that session alone… and he had three other similar sessions.  Yes, RTR has outgrown me.


Entrance into RTR area off of Mitchell Mine Road.  In the people hardly anyone camped this close to the main road.  BLM estimated there were about 3,500 people there this year.

Took a break from RTR and GVN to help Jenn Abel ( on a cleanup project along the Colorado River in Ehrenberg.  Very rewarding experience.


Budget Update

Month / Pay Period





No Receipts

Sep 20- Oct 17






Oct 18 Nov 14






Nov 15 – Dec 19





not calculated yet

Dec 20 – Jan 17





not calculated yet

UPDATE: It is getting harder to live off of Social Security alone and it is time to tighten my belt and change my spending habits.  I am putting it all out here for the world to see and am open to suggestions.

1) Gasoline … Dec 19-Jan 17… I travelled less, hence lower gas expenses.  For the next couple of months, I don’t plan to do much driving, so this figure should come down.

2) Fast Junk foods… My eating habits have totally changed (since the removal of a tumor in March 2017).  (All $ is gas $… I keep telling myself.)  I can’t seem to help myself when I get into towns, running errands and then resort to fast foods, but dropped almost $50 from Nov. 14 total.

3) Groceries are much lower as I resupplied last month, for longer stay in boondocks without frequent resupply. 

4) Meals Out… dropped a little and will drop even more but seems like a couple meals out in a month isn’t bad.

These are not by any means my only budget items. Verizon/internet fees, Gym membership/showers, SPOT fee, membership, Cloud fees, and other ETs as auto and dental insurance, come to: $295.00 monthly.  I can’t change much of those right now.  I am, however, cancelling my gym membership as there are no gyms near where I boondock.  I am using military base fitness centers when I am near them. 

Major changes to my rig:…got my new vent fan installed, moved my solar suitcase onto roof of van, and got some of the paint fixed, but more to do.  The new fan has a remote control, and after nine years with cheaper model, I highly recommend investing in this model instead (see top of page).  So many more options, and love the rain sensor which will close the vent if it rains.  There is a temperature control too… so if you have pets… and it is so very quiet, you can’t even hear it at the three slowest speeds.


Still to do:  Finish fixing peeling paint the van.  Hard to do with shoulder situation so I bought an oscillating sander to assist.  Also, building a box on the floor of my trailer in order to slide the kayak into the trailer without any overhead lifting involved.  Lifting the kayak may not be possible after the surgery, so I want to prepare for that possibility so I can continue to be independent and keep kayaking.  Spent time at Mittry Lake kayaking, some with new friend Kris, and some with old friend, Bev.  I truly love kayaking.  I feel more at home alone on the water, in wilderness areas, than anywhere else on earth.




I have been concentrating on my health and fitness lately and I promised a graph of weight loss since taking up the vandwelling lifestyle.  Changes over time.  LOL


Left: Misc old fat photos; Right: 2005 compared to 2014.




2005 Total Knee Replacements. I had no ability to walk down a grocery store isle, and was shopping for a wheelchair.  I was bow-legged. 300 lbs
2007 Feb Retired on SS Disability.  Was finally regaining my balance and being more active, but a care accident give me PTSD, and I was unable to work.  Injured shoulder also. 285 lbs
2007 Oct Began walking more and trying to get healthier. 260 lbs
2008 Jan Diagnosed with COPD.  Probably had it for years.  Got Pulmonologist, had Bronchoscopy, other health tests. 262 lbs
2008 Jun Continued to be more and more active.  Riding bike.  Got some other medical issues resolved, including a couple of surgeries. 251 lbs
2008 Dec Was feeling healthier then ever and looking for new goals and challenges.  Learned to kayak and volunteered for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary… patrolling the Bay by Kayak. 240 lbs
2009-2014 Bought my own kayak and hit the road to vandwell fulltime and Kayak America.  Completed 50th state Hawaii, on my 70th birthday, 5/16/2014. 236 lbs
2017 Mar Carcinoid tumor (benign) found in my right lung and removed.  My COPD symptoms stopped almost completely. This tumor did not show up in the 2008 Bronchoscopy.  This tumor was putting excess hormones in my body:  Serotonin, Bradykinin, Histamine, and Prostglandins.  This stuff can mess up your body chemistry.

BUT my shoulder is getting very bad and I consulted two shoulder surgeons, both recommended  Reverse Shoulder Replacement (I cursed).  Recovery from this is lengthy, and it could be a year before I can resume normal activities.
234 lbs
2017 Nov Trained for long distance hiking and still contemplating a “Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement”.  I am in a lot of pain.  Getting 2nd opinion on Shoulder.  My weight has not been this low in 24 years. 214 lbs
Postponed shoulder surgery decision.  Continue to loose weight and prepare for the possible shoulder surgery. 210 lbs
Goal Because I am off the charts in bone density, I am at my ideal weight and a size 12 at 190.  I am not trying to loose weight, I am trying to be the fittest I can be for my age. 190 lbs

In addition to getting my house in order in 2018, I will endeavor to get rid of all the genealogical materials I have been collecting and dragging around for 5+ decades.  Postage of $50 to mail materials off to archives around the country.  Much more to do.  Tall order for a year, but I will be in a much better frame of mine to deal with possibly life-altering shoulder surgery if all of this is under control.  These are hard adjustments for me indeed.20180213_142113

Now resting and regrouping in Yuma area.  Seeing doctors, etc.  Rest is good.


  1. I just read up on Reverse Shoulder Replacement. Sounds rough. I'll cross my fingers for you.

    1. Thanks Al. I can barely do stuff for myself now. I don't know how I will do some of this after surgery. Ughhhh.

  2. can you go into a nursing home for a while?

    1. Yes, I can, but I hate them. Was in one for a month with each knee replacement. Someone might not survive the experience should I have to do it again. I would rather be able to go into a good sports medicine rehab facility and am shopping around. Would also feel much better if I have local community support. Still sorting it all out. Thanks.


Who is Swankie?

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Anywhere, USA, Full-Time USA traveler, United States
Visit me on In 2006, I was shopping for a wheelchair. By 2007, I had new knees, better health and by 2008 a kayak. In Aug 2013, I kayaked my 49th state, Alaska, at the Holgate Glacier and in May 2014, I kayaked Hawaii, my 50th state, to celebrate my 70th Birthday and the finale to the wonderful adventure of Kayaking America? Next up... Solo Hiking the Arizona Trail, 820 miles in Spring 2017. In training now for the hike.