Friday, May 15, 2009

Frugal Friday - Rent a Fire Lookout

Yesterday I walked downtown with my daughter. Walking is our transportation of choice for library excursions. On foot we listened to the birds chirp and watched them gather bits of twig and grass for their nests. We stopped and lifted our noses like curious dogs; inhaling the rock daphne’s fragrant aroma. We chatted about things to which I have no answer. Mom? Why does the wind blow? We pulled our windblown hair out of our faces and forged ahead hoping the rain would wait. At the library we checked out movies and books then stopped to sit on the couches with the huge teddy bears. Mama knit and little giggled as boys ran past. On the way home we detoured downtown for cocoa with extra whipped cream. It was a very lovely day.

On the way home I saw an ad in a shop window. I can’t remember exactly what it said but something along the lines of “come find yourself in Henderson Park.” In other words buy this over-priced piece of real estate and you will, finally, have the life you’ve always dreamed of. Me? I wondered what the taxes were and who planned on cleaning the place.

You see I think there are better places to find yourself. Camping for instance. What better way to get to know yourself than by stripping luxury to the bare bones. No silk sheets. No fancy bath bars. Just you, a tent and a cooler full of bean cakes. Or, if you’re really hard core, strip down to the marrow. Just you and nature. Mano a mano.

As great as this idea is I’m a bit of a wimp. My aging bones are not thrilled with a rock-laden bed. Don’t get me wrong. I’m no princess. I’ll sleep with a pea; or a whole bag if life necessitates. But rocks? Awww mom do I have to?

My ideal solution would be to buy a camping trailer. Specifically an Airstream pimped out sixties style. There’s only one problem: though an Airstream is cheaper than an extravagant condo I still can’t afford it. So here’s what I did instead.

I booked our family a mini summer vacation; two nights in a fire lookout. It has four walls, a roof, a propane stove and a bed. It does not have running water or a bathroom (though a porta-potty sits outside). And the best part? Our dogs can come too.

I am very excited about this trip. I expect to return fully refreshed and with a new appreciation for all I have (though I may want for a room with a view after sleeping under the stars). Had I opted for the luxury vacation I suspect I might come home broke and lamenting all the things missing from my life. 1000 thread count anyone?


It seems my brother and sister-in-law have been making fun of my frugal ways. "You both have jobs," they say, "why are you living like paupers?" I’d counter we aren’t living like paupers but we are living smart. We have debt. We’d like to retire. We want our children to go to college. Taking care of these things somehow seems more important than dinners out, TIVO or plasma screen televisions. Yes we both have jobs but contrary to popular belief brewers and veterinarians do not rake in the cash (laughs evilly as she drives away in her 2009 Ferarri - ha!).

Last year I read a story on Three Little Indian’s blog. This story resonated with me and described perfectly why we do the things we do. So make yourself a cup of coffee with the ugliest mug in the house and go read about hot chocolate.

Happy Frugal Friday!


TAMI said...

My husband has an excellent engineering job with the government and I work part-time on staff at our church. We are not rich, but we have plenty ... and CHOOSE to live very simply - or SMART as you say. Our only "debt" is the mortgage on our modest home ($800 per month)in SoCal. While it would be kind of painful to be FORCED to live simply via finances, it feels GREAT to live this way on purpose, sticking the "surplus" in savings!! Freedom is marvelous!

I LOVE the idea of vacationing in a Fire Look Out! "Lookout" was actually a summer job that my husband did in college, so it'd be a little reminiscent as well! Great idea!

Donna said...

Before my husband and I got married we spent 6 months back packing and camping across Europe. So I think my camping days are done. Now when he takes our boys on a camping trip, my daughter and I stay at home and do some indoor camping. Much more my speed. I wonder if staying in the lookout comes with the responsibility of watching out for fires.

SE'LAH... said...

I firmly believe: to each, his or her own. Whatever works for you and your family, go for it. It's nobody else's business really.

Enjoy your family vacation this summer. Can't wait to see pictures and read about it.

One Love.

Gayle said...

Your library excursion with your daughter sounds like a perfect day!

I can't wait to hear about your mini vacation! What a cool website that is.

sunnymama said...

Those fire lookouts look so cool! This post is so inspiring to me as I'm currently trying to think outside the box in order to take sunnyboy on a holiday this year. He's told me he'd like to go to the beach and I'm determined to come up with something! Thanks :)

Erin said...

We have WAY too much debt and we're working hard to pay it down (missteps and all along the way). I think our neighbors think we're cheap, but I really don't care. I've grown to love home-made bread, line-dried clothes, and nights at home as entertainment. I've grown so much by learning to make things for my family and friends (vs. buying them) and we're certainly healthier because I know what it is in what we eat.

As for camping...we have a trailer and I could camp and camp and camp...I'm old enough to not want to squat in the woods or dig rocks out of my is the perfect compromise for me/us.

Erin said...

P.S. Thanks for the link to the hot chocolate spoke to my soul.