Saturday, March 24, 2018

Grateful for Help Received (3/24/2018)


March 1, I found myself pretty far away from everyone I knew.  I had budgeted just enough money for gas to reach the next location where I hoped to stay put and work on the van.  Suddenly, I realized… I was BROKE.  How can one not know that is about to happen???  Well, for me, it was stupidity.  I had failed to make note of the re-occurring Amazon Prime annual fee of about $100…. and had not cancelled it.  Now, taking into consideration the automatic Electronic Fund Transfers already set up for the rest of the month, I was left with only $40… and had no way of getting to the next destination.

Also, my shoulder pain was increasing to the point it was causing my Blood Pressure to be elevated and I needed to buy a blood pressure monitor to keep an eye on it.  In addition, I had infections in both ears which began from allergies… and I had co-pays for meds to cure that problem, I did not feel I had the money for all that, so decided to sit in that drug store parking lot and try to figure it out.  The itching was about to drive me mad.

I felt stuck, desperate.  Was I going to have to sit in this parking lot and wait three weeks for my March 21 payday???  I felt like a trapped wild animal.  I decided to ask for help, not an easy thing for me to do, as stubbornly independent as I am.  So, I sent out a plea, asking only for $5 or $10, to the contacts in my Google email, trying carefully to eliminate people I didn’t know, or who I knew were not in a position to help, or businesses, etc.  I didn’t do a perfect job of that I guess.  LOL

The response was immediate and gratifying.  Also a bit scary.  Two people whose email addresses sounded familiar, came back at me with a lot of hate, calling me names and telling me to grow up.  One said, it was the second time in seven years I had begged him for money.  I forgot what the other said, but he was also hateful.  All the others renewed my faith in humanity and gave me hope.  One wrote me yesterday, saying she finally managed to get the service dog I helped her with financially.  Friends help friends.  That’s what we do.

First my regular budget update for the month.

Budget Update

Month / Pay Period





Sep 20- Oct 17





Oct 18 Nov 14





Nov 15 – Dec 19





Dec 20 – Jan 17





Jan 18 - Feb 20





Feb 21 – Mar 20





These are not by any means my only budget items. My monthly Electronic Fund Transfers for bills come to: $295.00 monthly.  I can’t change much of those right now.  I tried to cancel my gym membership, but Planet Fitness said I could not, unless I paid for the remainder of the contract.  This is not what they told me when I joined and I am planning to try and fight this as there are no gyms near where I boondock.

So, here is an accounting of my expenses since 3/1 when my plea went out.

Supplies - $100.00
Groceries/meals out – $105.00
Solar supplies – $13.75
Gasoline – $141.21
P.O. Box/postage – $43.00
Kayak Chute Supplies – $100.00

None of that would have been possible without the help I received. Thank you again.

Major changes to my rig:

Kayak Chute:  For nine years I have loaded my kayak on top of my van.  It was difficult at best.  With pending shoulder surgery and a very long recovery, I had to find a better way to manage the 53-pound bulky boat.  Building a box on the floor of my trailer in order to slide the kayak into the trailer without any overhead lifting is the only solution I could come up with.  Lifting the kayak overhead 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.  This week I accomplished that due to financial assistance I received.


Once it was all helter-skelter in there, and whatever I needed was always under something else.  Now things are compartmentalized, and the kayak slides easily in and out with only a couple inches of lifting, which I can do with one arm.

No more of this:

tx_trip 048tx_trip 051tx_trip 052

Still to do – Peeling van paint:  Finish fixing peeling paint on the van.  Hard to do with shoulder situation so I bought an oscillating sander to assist.  My last major adaptation.  I like to keep the van looking neat and clean.  These Chevy vans were really bad about paint peeling off.  I keep postponing this as it hurts a lot to do it.

New thought: I now carry 3 six gallon jugs of water… when I make camp.  That is 48 pounds per jug.  Most the places I buy water sell five gallons for $1.00, so I began just getting the five gallons instead of six. But even the 40 pounds is getting too hard to lift.  I need to find a way to have a water supply on hand that does not involve me lifting those jugs.  I just might not be able to do it after surgery.  I am looking for affordable solutions now.  A friend is going to share plans for her system.

Van work needed:  I still need to replace the power steering fluid pump on the van and have the name of a trusted mechanic I will check with this week.  I have the pump donated by a supporter.  Big O tires also said I need a lot of front end work to keep my van from eating my front tires.  I had to buy two cheap new ones a couple months ago to feel safe and get by.  The estimate from Big O tires was over $2,000, for things like Pitman arm, etc. Same Big O gave a friend of mine the same estimate on his van… he said his van was not even worth that.  I am going to see what this local mechanic thinks, as I think my van is worth that to me… it is my home, the only one I really ever want to have.  If you wish to help with van work, you can use the donation button on the right.

I have thoughts of setting up a Patreon account to raise funds for the van work needed.  In the nine years I have had the van (and 100,000 + miles), I have only replaced the water pump, and tires.  I have driven places and gotten into situations I should probably not have gotten into… but I need to keep this machine working… and make it last me the rest of my life???  I would be selling notecards, reprints of my art work, maybe some original art and possibly some vandwelling mentoring sessions… where newbies could come camp with me for a week.  Any thoughts?

Another new thought?  Most likely the first few months after shoulder surgery, I will have to sleep in a recliner.  I really don’t want to spend that time inside a nursing home or someone’s sticks and bricks house any longer than necessary, so I have begun thinking about getting a recliner inside my van.  My bed is easily removed… and if a recliner will fit (it will have to be a power recliner or one with a left handed leaver)… I will find/get one… some way.

I CAN and I WILL do this.  (And I have not given up my Arizona Trail hike dream… but all the rest of this has kind of put it on the back burner.)

Thanks go out to all the generous supporters and I pray the trolls get a life and find some happiness out there.  (Don’t worry, Trolls, you have been removed from my Google Contacts.)  I am humbled by the support I have received and will pay it forward.


Maybe I should buy land here… southeast Arizona????
(and call it home)

Who is Swankie?

My photo
Anywhere, USA, Full-Time USA traveler, United States
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? Maybe. Still healing from shoulder and trying to decide.