The morning after our rude awakening by the police, we were up and out before sunrise, exactly as promised. Wisconsin’s Door Peninsula felt practically abandoned in early November, with no sign of vacationers and just a few locals out and about. Our encounter with the cops had left a bad taste in our mouths, and we weren’t exactly eager to linger in the area, but we still spent the morning exploring some of the area’s parks and taking in the beautiful fall colors and lake scenery.
Cave Point County Park
It’s been just over a year since we began this lifestyle experiment of semi-retirement and full-time travel. When we quit our jobs at the end of January 2016, I had about one year’s worth of spending money held in cash. The rest of my savings remained invested in stocks and bonds.
My rough financial plan was to spend down most of our cash first (offset by any side hustle and rental income), then begin drawing from investments. We’d use the 4% rule as a guide for long-term sustainability, but we wouldn’t treat it like gospel. We plan to earn more income in the future in some form.
By my estimates, we’d need to start selling shares sometime around January 2017. That turned out to be just about right. As of last month, we were getting low on cash, and I was starting to plan our first stock sale.
Then this happened:
One of the better e-mails I’ve received this year
Well, that changes things a bit.
I woke to the sound of a car door slamming. It was pitch black in the van. I felt around for my phone and checked the time. 1:45 AM.
We were camping in Door County, Wisconsin, out on the Door Peninsula that juts into Lake Michigan. In six months of van travel, we’ve had many glorious nights of legal dispersed camping on public land, usually in National Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management areas. Unfortunately, there’s not a ton of public land east of the Rockies, but we had found a site listed online as U.S. Army Corps of Engineers property. It had three or four positive reviews – a nice place to spend a night in a small RV or camper.
I laid still and listened to the crunch of footsteps in the gravel as they worked a full circle around our vehicle.
A beam of light burst into the van, pausing on our duffel bags and cooking gear for a moment before it reached the two of us in our resting place for the evening.
I shook Daniel awake. “We’ve got company,” I would have announced if our lives were an action movie. “We’re getting woken up by the police” were my actual words.
There was a knock at the window. “Police department!”
My suspicions were confirmed. Ah, fuck.
One of my goals in writing this blog has always been to encourage others to live their dreams – bucking societal expectations and pursuing independence, whatever that means to them.
I was intrigued, then, by a recent request to speak with a television producer about appearing on a show about van-dwelling and traveling on a tight budget. We’re not dying to be the next reality TV stars, but I’m all for new experiences, and I would happily take advantage of such a public platform to spread the word about financial independence, frugality (or pseudo-frugality), early retirement, and full-time travel.
I agreed to an informational phone call to learn more.
I’m late in sharing these photos from the end of our fall U.S. road trip, but hey, what else would you expect from two unemployed travelers like us? Anyway, maybe we can provide some inspiration for your own domestic travel plans in 2017 and beyond!
After two lovely weeks in Yellowstone and Grand Teton, we drove east through Wyoming, making stops in the cowboy town of Sheridan, the hippie-climber-rancher-Indian melting pot of Lander, and Devils Tower National Monument. We found enough free campsites to make do in Wyoming, including some with spectacular scenery.
Off U.S. Highway 26 near Crowheart, WY