Yesterday we celebrated what we used to call a Gold Star Day. We didn’t spend any money. We didn’t go out to eat, go shopping, take in a movie, or take in any local sights; we just stayed home and spent a pleasant day together. This morning we went for our now-daily aerobic walk, we made appointments to meet with our new Primary Care doctor and complete an annual physical next month in Jacksonville; we checked on a friend who has just run up against a tough medical issue; we spent some time surfing the net, reading, napping, watching some TV, and we ventured down to the campsite’s Adult Lounge and played Ping Pong, a game I haven’t played in years. We didn’t have to worry about bothering anyone with our laughing as we were the only ones there.
Entertainment can be expensive. Restaurants, movies, admission fees, gas; when your day is not taken up working and you don’t have boat maintenance to complete and check off the ever-growing list, entertaining oneself can be either expensive or boring.
Socializing with friends isn’t necessarily expensive, and has rarely ever been boring. There are always stories to tell, lives to recount, and things to learn from one another. We also enjoyed several games with our cruising friends: Dominoes, cards, a dice game we learned from some couples we met in Vero Beach called “Farkle” was one of the funniest games we’ve ever played, and quickly established a friendship that made our stay there memorable. Including snacks and drinks in our monthly grocery expenses proved a relatively cheap way to get friends together and socialize. Potlucks were also a fun way to meet new people, and there’s one on the bulletin board for this Friday night at the park so we’ll see how it goes here.
Our current campground is almost fully occupied with RV rigs, but if it weren’t for the cars parked outside the rigs you’d think that no one was home. I’ve observed that some of our greatest comforts tend to make us close ourselves inward. Air conditioning makes us cool and comfortable when the heat and humidity are both high, but you have to keep the doors and windows closed to keep your atmosphere pleasant.
Television provides multiple channels of shows vying for our attention, although I’d hardly call it entertainment as most of it doesn’t hold much substance. When we visit family or friends they invariably have either cable or satellite TV which provides hundreds of choices for entertainment. Chairs are comfortable and all eyes are turned towards the screen. In the RV Park most rigs have satellite dishes set up, so we can tell their focus will be inside for most evenings. We only have an antenna at this point and I’m boycotting Satellite TV as I believe it just provides more channels of things I don’t care to watch.
Access to the internet can be expensive as well. Free Wifi is advertised as a perk at most parks and while it’s an honest effort, in actuality it can’t provide adequate bandwidth over such a wide area. The only viable way is to limit it to lounges or small areas, so we usually resort to the data plan on our cell phone.
There is another monthly cost we didn’t have while cruising. Cell service was just for making phone calls, but adding data for internet access has made it a substantial expense on a monthly basis.
This sounds like whining, I know. We’re as guilty as the neighbors at closing ourselves inside. We’re exploring better ways of dealing with the social aspects of our new lifestyle, as well as some richer ways to spend our time like hobbies and books. Carrie can’t wait until the end of this month when the 5th season of Game of Thrones becomes available on DVD. She has also returned to one of her favorite pastimes when we owned a boat and had access to the internet, which was scouring the net for boats for sale. A friend aptly labeled it “Boat Porn” as it’s very addictive. She sends me links on email for boats to look at on a regular basis these days.
We’re not giving up on the RV lifestyle yet, but we might visit a boat she found in the Jacksonville area while we’re there for our medical appointments. The prospect of working hard on boat maintenance and upkeep doesn’t seem quite as daunting as it once did when balanced with the simpler aspects of daily life that it afforded.