We have finally left Montana. Right now (9/30) we are sitting in a library in Rapid City, South Dakota This is our third day in the library and we will probably return tomorrow. Luckily, it is a really nice library. Very quiet and they seem to be taking social distancing and mask-wearing very seriously. Library hours are from 9 am to 7 pm on weekdays and 10 am to 6 pm on the weekend and we have been taking advantage of all those hours. The only issue is that there is only two-hour parking in front of the library so every second hour Greg has to go outside and move Ballena Blanca to a different two-hour location around the block.
We are here in Rapid City waiting for some merchandise. Greg finally had an eye exam. Although he had the exam at Walmart in Billings, Montana we were hoping to fill the prescription at another Walmart in another city. This ended up being difficult since Walmart directed him to order the contacts online and then we found out they couldn’t deliver them to an address (another Walmart) that wasn’t our billing address. We ended up ordering the contacts from Pearle Vision here in Rapid City. I also order some basket organizers for the van from Lowes. We keep bringing more things (like new contacts) into the van but are running out of storage places for those new things. We have picked up the contacts but are still waiting for the baskets. And now tomorrow we need to go to a Ford dealer to replace a lost key fob for the van. The expenses go on and on.
We actually did a lot of waiting in September. After our big trip through the Upper Missouri Breaks National Monument, we hunkered down for a while and did some major van cleaning. Besides a regular sweeping of the floors, Ballena Blanca hadn’t had a big clean for well over a year. We found a free city campground where we could stay for a while and methodically removed things, wiped up the layers of dust, and put everything back in place. Since we were in one spot for so long it was also a good time to strike some other things off our to-do lists. We had a package sent from our mailbox service in Florida with new credit and debit cards. As I mentioned, Greg had his eyes examined. We made an Amazon order for new lighting to replace some fixtures that were failing and accessories to go with my new camera. And, oh yeah, I bought a new camera.
My old camera had some serious issues. I don’t think it was built to be out in the elements all the time. Although it is just a little point and shoot with a zoom lens somehow it got dust inside the lens. I have been spending a lot of time touching up spots with photoshop on my pictures for a while now. The preview function wouldn’t work anymore without shutting down after a few pictures. The electronic zoom was having trouble zooming and finally stopped zooming altogether. And finally, the camera lens wouldn’t extend at all and was shutting down right after I turned it on.
I had been thinking about a new camera for a while but the one I wanted (a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 IV) costs a lotta bucks. It’s a bridge camera – much better than a point and shoot, as big as an SLR but without interchangeable lenses. I don’t like interchangeable lenses for fear of getting dust inside the camera – which is kind of ironic now. This camera has a much longer zoom – so much better for taking pictures of birds! It is supposed to be dust and moisture resistant. And has all kinds of other great features. I decided it was time to get serious about this photography thing so I ordered one through Best Buy.
I also ordered a camera cleaning kit, case, and lens filter through Amazon. I am promising myself to take care of this one – keep it clean, learn how it works, and become a better photographer.
And our total expenses for September were…
Here is the break down of categories…
The camera expense is included in the Gear total. There are a few other miscellaneous things in Gear but the vast bulk of it is camera.
As you can see we spent a good bit on cleaning products. Greg scoffed at me when I mentioned that we might want a bigger bottle of Armor All. We ended up running out to the local IGA in Columbus for more Armor All, Pinesol, and good ol’ white vinegar. I’m pretty serious when I clean which is why it doesn’t happen real often.
We also took some time to do some campervan repairs. The varnish on the countertop around the sink was starting to peel so Greg did some sanding, staining, and applied new poly. We replaced some hoses on our water tank and the flange that attaches our sink to our grey water tank. We were quite productive!
A few stats you might be interested in
Camping totals (all camping is free unless otherwise indicated):
1 – night BLM campground
1 – night paid ($12) BLM campground
12 – nights at a free (donations accepted) City Park
2 – nights in a friend’s driveway
6 – boondocking (free camping) in a National Grassland
1 – night at a visitor center/rest area
2 – nights at a reservoir
1 – night dispersed camping in a National Forest
4 – nights in a Cabella’s Parking lot
Number of gallons of water bought/acquired for the van: 31 – we didn’t buy water by the gallon like we usually do in September. We filled up free at a campground, a friend’s house, and a national park – so our number of gallons might be a little inaccurate.
Number of miles driven: 1613 (this makes our September gas cost about 14¢ per mile)
We like to keep track of the value we have gotten out of our $80 National Park pass that we bought it in May 2020. So far we have visited 8 national park sites and a BLM site on our pass, a $260 value bringing our savings up to $180 savings so far!
Number of states we have now visited in Ballena Blanca: 28! See the interactive map below to see which ones.
To see all of our expense reports, click here.
If you are interested in reading other expense reports from people living on the road, check out these links:
*All pics are click to enlarge.